Last week I reached out to those of you who support the site on Patreon to submit questions for the November edition of the Cincinnati Reds mailbag. It’s one of a few perks that I give to those users who support the work I do. Let’s jump on into the questions and answers.

Are Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan etched in place as starting rotation pieces next season if both are healthy, because of past success? If we get to ST and, say, Homer and Castillo keep their spot, Stephenson and Romano build off of September and have a good showing in ST, what are the odds one or both of Disco/Finnegan are optioned to start the season?

If they are healthy, then yes DeSclafani and Finnegan are locks. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t have jobs if healthy. Both have proven in the Major Leagues that they can get the job done. Spring training performance is not indicative of regular season performance, and it really shouldn’t be used to decide who gets jobs and who loses them. I can’t see a scenario, where they are healthy and lose their job due to performance in the spring unless they are just truly terrible (think something like an ERA over 7.50 and just look terrible while doing it, too).

Assume the Reds don’t add or subtract any infielders in the off-season and Senzel plays well and is healthy in AAA. Who is your starting infield at the MLB level when May/June rolls around?

  • Barnhart at catcher.
  • Votto at first.
  • Senzel at second.
  • Suarez at third.
  • Peraza at shortstop.

Second base is the big question. Senzel won’t be there opening day unless something just absolutely bonkers happens. Even with injuries all over the place, keeping him down for 10 days just makes too much of a difference to bring him up for opening day. I’ll assume that Scooter Gennett has the job out of spring training. But, even following up his breakout year, he’s going to have to repeat that. I don’t expect that to happen, but even if it does, his splits and defense still likely mean he’s move into a utility role to open up a spot for Senzel at some point – it’s just more likely a matter of when, not if.

Chris Okey- what happened? did he still show the same tools last year? Any news on him from instructional league?

That’s a rather good question. Coming out of the draft, and even after the 2016 professional debut, the reports on Okey were: enough defense to stay at catcher, but doesn’t stick out anywhere – but has plenty of pop in his bat. The reports this season were about as opposite as can be to that. He was praised for his defense throughout the year, but he struggled to show anything at all with the bat. The power disappeared completely, even in batting practice it didn’t show up like it used to. The tools showed very different. On both sides. I’m not sure I’ve seen much like that over such a short period of time before.

Vladimir Gutierrez and Jeter Downs are two prospects I expected to be higher on your prospect list based on their excellent strikeout to walk ratios in addition to their very strong tools. What are your main questions or drawbacks on them as prospects?

With Gutierrez I want to just see how he holds up over a full season of 150 innings. In 2017 he wore down in the second half as the innings piled up, and he barely reached 100 innings. I do think that all of the off time between when he left Cuba and pitched in 2017 (nearly two years) factored in there, but, I want to see it in action before really pushing him into the upper echelon.

With Jeter Downs, it’s sort of the same. When guys hit in Billings, they are expected to. It’s one of the most hitter friendly leagues in the minors. Some of the ballparks in the league are absolute jokes. Missoula for example, is 309 feet to left, 398 to center and 287 feet to right (27-foot tall wall, but get out of here). The gaps in Ogden are only 350 feet. In Orem it’s only 305 and 312 feet to the respective lines (though left-center is 427 feet). Grand junction is 302 feet to the left field corner. That’s not to say that what Downs did wasn’t impressive. But, he didn’t destroy the league, either. So I’m just wanting to see a little bit more before pushing him up the list.

Both are very strong prospects. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were Top 100 guys at this point next year.

Who do you see emerging in 2018 draft?  

I honestly have no clue. It’s simply too early at this point. Wish I had an answer for you, but I really don’t.

Giving Fairchild’s good rookie season- where do you see him starting and could he be a potential mid season promotion guy?

I think he’ll start in Dayton. And yes, he’s a mid-season promotion type if the performance is there. As a college player the Reds could be a bit more aggressive with him if he shows well in the first half.

Who’s your top 1 or 2 trade targets reds should go after and what do you think it takes to get that guy?

The Reds need to improve their offensive output out of shortstop or center field in the worst kind of way. Finding someone that fits that bill would be my number one offseason priority. That said, I would also be looking at starting pitchers that could be 3.50 or lower ERA types who are under team control for a few years, too.

None of those kinds of targets will come cheap. The Reds have assets at second base, starting pitching, and the outfield. Scooter Gennett, Shed Long, Dilson Herrera, Alex Blandino are all second basemen that could be used in a package deal. In the outfield the team has Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Taylor Trammell, Jose Siri, Miles Gordon, Stuart Fairchild, Andy Sugilio, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin, Nick Longhi as options that could be picked from in a package deal. On the mound they could look at Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Tyler Mahle, Tony Santillan, Vladimir Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes as possible options in a package deal.

The team has enough parts to land most players in baseball. A package of Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton, Taylor Trammell and Tyler Mahle could bring back a very valuable player. Personally, I’d be looking at Christian Yelich and try to put him in center field. He would be my top target. He’s an All-Star caliber player in his mid-20’s under team control with a great contract. He’ll cost a small fortune, though. It wouldn’t be an easy deal to pull the trigger on, but he’s a difference maker, right now.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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