The Cincinnati Reds hold the #2 overall selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft (held on December 8th). The roster is currently full, so if the team plans on making a move in the Rule 5 draft they will have to clear a roster spot up. That, of course, could come via a trade or by designating someone on the roster for assignment.
If the Reds do decide they want to look for a possible player in the Rule 5 draft, where is it likely that they look? Well, I’d imagine that a first baseman is out of the question. However, it would seem that just about any other position could be useful in terms of what to look for.
The team currently has two players on the roster who are likely battling for the utility man role: Arismendy Alcantara and Tony Renda. The two players are drastically different from each other. Alcantara is a former top prospect with plenty of tools, but has a big problem with pitch identification and it’s led to real problems hitting at the big league level (career .587 OPS with 22 walks and 122 strikeouts in 351 plate appearances over three seasons). Renda is more polished in his approach to hitting, but the results in the big leagues (in very limited action) have resulted in a .463 OPS with five walks and 11 strikeouts. He’s not nearly as toolsy as Alcantara is, but he may also project better because he seems to be able to recognize non-fastballs as non-fastballs. Neither option should be handed a spot on the 25-man roster out of spring training given their lack of big league success.
On the infield though, the bigger need may very well be behind the plate. Devin Mesoraco, reportedly, may not be ready to begin the 2017 season. That leaves Tucker Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera as the options for the Reds out of the spring if they don’t add someone else. Those two held their own in their respective roles while filling in for Mesoraco (and Cabrera filling in the role vacated by Barnhart as the backup) in 2016. With that said, Ramon Cabrera didn’t exactly set the world on fire, hitting just .246/.279/.357. While he learned the pitching staff, the team could look for a possible different second option to him in the draft.
It’s not likely that the team looks for an outfielder, but it’s not out of the question. With Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall and Jesse Winker all seemingly vying for three starting spots, along with Phillip Ervin and Steve Selsky as options in Triple-A/the Majors and maybe a wild card option of Jose Peraza in certain situations it just seems unlikely that the team adds another outfielder to the mix.
With pitchers, it’s unlikely you’re going to find a player ready to step into a starting role, but finding bullpen help does seem quite a bit easier. Not all of the options will be minor league relievers, as there are plenty of starters in the minor leagues who become big league relievers. In the 2015 Rule 5 draft the Blue Jays selected Joe Biagini from the Giants. He went out and posted a 3.06 ERA in 67.2 innings for Toronto this year and had his highest strikeout rate since leaving rookie-ball. The big difference was that in the minors he was always a starting pitcher, but the move to the bullpen saw his strikeout rate jump from 15.6% as a Double-A starter to 21.1% as a big league reliever. The options here could be endless, and with the way that the bullpen is looking, the team certainly could be looking to add another arm to the competition. There are plenty of big arms out there that are available, including some within the organization that were left unprotected. There may also be options out there that are flying under the radar, much like Biagini was (he was unlisted by Baseball America in their Rule 5 preview last year that included dozens of players).
We will get into more specific player discussion over the next two weeks, but for today I just thought it would be a good idea to get into the types of guys that the Reds could be considering. Which type of player do you think the organization should be looking at for a possible selection to fill out their roster?