2019 got out to a disappointing start for Josh VanMeter. That was only because he did not get an invitation to big league spring training. That didn’t happen despite performing very well over the final two months in Triple-A during 2018. But once the season began, everything has been coming up Milhouse. VanMeter tore up the International League in April. He took home the Player of the Month honors for the league and was embarrassing pitchers and their families along the way.
He didn’t let up, either when the calendar flipped. In his 49 games in Triple-A he hit .348/.429/.669. That came with 24 walks and 37 strikeouts to go along with 14 doubles, a triple, and 14 home runs. His performance earned him a call up in early May. Over the next two months he went back-and-forth between Triple-A and Cincinnati.
Josh VanMeter began getting more time as a starter of late, and he’s basically just kept on raking. In 43 games played for the Reds he’s now hitting .312/.418/.532 over 91 plate appearances with 12 walks and 19 strikeouts.
I’ve been beating the drum for a while now that the Cincinnati Reds need to find a way to get Josh VanMeter time in the lineup nearly every single day. I’m simply a believer that the changes he’s made in the last 13 months are real and that he warrants time every day. The approach is strong, the power is real (look no further than the 463-foot moonshot he hit last week), and he can play a little bit of everywhere. With the Reds trading Scooter Gennett on Thursday at the trade deadline it appears that, finally, after all of these years, the Reds are listening to me (they aren’t, at all), and plan to get Josh VanMeter time on a daily basis.
Reds General Manager Nick Krall joined local sports talk radio host Lance McAlister on Wednesday night. He talked about all of the trades that were made. One of the things that Krall said was this:
We just felt that this year a couple of guys in Josh VanMeter and Derek Dietrich took some steps forward and really progressed. And we also have Jose Peraza who can play second base. With Scooter being a free agent at the end of the year, we felt the need that these guys have come in and played well at different times and we need to find a way to get them playing time.
And for us we can get playing time to the guys that are playing well for us. Josh VanMeter is a guy who has really taken a step forward this year. We want to try and get his bat in the lineup and see what he can do on a daily basis. And this kind of gives him a chance to play.
Nick Krall didn’t come out and say that Josh VanMeter would play every day at second base. But that seems like where he will likely see the most time. The outfield is a bit crowded still. Jesse Winker has been hitting the ball well since the second week of April began (.287/.372/.514). Nick Senzel is the only guy remotely close to a true center fielder on the team. Phillip Ervin has taken advantage of his limited action, hitting .353/.421/.588 in 43 games. Then there’s Derek Dietrich, sporting an .863 OPS this season who has some time in the outfield, too. And none of that counts what would happen if they brought up someone from Triple-A. Aristides Aquino may very well be getting the call. That’s the news being reported on by Hector Gomez of Z 101 in the Dominican Republic.
Los Rojos de Cincinnati subieron al dominicano Arístides Aquino desde Triple A.
Aquino azotó el pitcheo de Triple A jugando para el conjunto @LouisvilleBats, en donde conectó 28 jonrones, remolcó 53 carreras y un promedio de .299, SLG .636 y OPS .992 en 78 partidos. pic.twitter.com/xZjuzyB5ET
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) July 31, 2019
Josh VanMeter gives Reds manager David Bell a lot of options. If a right-handed pitcher is on the mound and he wants to stack lefties in the lineup, VanMeter can slide out to left, allowing Derek Dietrich to play second, and Jesse Winker to play right. Unlike Winker or Dietrich, at least for this season, VanMeter has crushed left-handed pitching. In 75 plate appearances against them this season in Triple-A and the Majors he’s got an OPS of 1.142 against them. While there may be some time going to Jose Peraza at second with a left-hander on the mound, and the outfield being Phillip Ervin, Nick Senzel, and Aristides Aquino – among the lefties on the team not named Joey Votto, it’s VanMeter that could see time with another lefty on the mound.
Moving forward for the rest of the season, getting information on Josh VanMeter is important. If he showed over the next eight weeks that he can indeed keep on hitting then the offseason gets a little bit easier. It takes one spot off of the table that the team needs to address. In a scenario where he doesn’t, well, that gives the Reds the information that they do need to look for another potential option, too. Either way, for both VanMeter and the Reds, these next eight weeks are big. Get ready. This team looks a lot different today than at the start of the year. And it very well could be a preview-of-sorts for 2020.