The Cincinnati Reds have announced some of their non-roster spring training invites for 2020, and headlining the list is 2019 first round pick Nick Lodolo. He was one of 16 players who have received an invitation to big league camp in Goodyear.
For Nick Lodolo, it’s unlikely that he will be competing for a spot on the roster. While he is certainly an advanced pitcher that’s coming out of college, and had plenty of success on the mound – his time on the mound was rather limited in 2019 after becoming a professional. His future is on the mound as a starter, and as things sit right now there’s not really a spot in the rotation open. Instead, Lodolo will get things started a little earlier than the guys in minor league camp and will get to work with the big league staff – both the coaches and the other pitchers. His invite this season is more to gain experience in this setting than to likely grab a job with a strong performance.
Everyone else, though, will be out there pitching for a job on the big league club. After a tough season in Triple-A with the juiced baseball, Vladimir Gutierrez went to the Dominican Republic and posted a 3.21 ERA in seven starts for Licey before shutting things down for the year (to rest and recover before the 2020 season). Alex Powers was a teammate of his in Louisville in the second half, and he dominated during the regular season – posting a 1.64 ERA in 49.1 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He continued his season in Mexico, pitching in 11 more games and allowing just one run in 12.0 innings (0.75 ERA) before he shut his season down, too.
R.J. Alaniz began 2019 with the Seattle Mariners organization, but on the final day of May the Reds picked him up on waivers. He spent much of the year in Louisville after that, posting a 2.93 ERA. But he did see action in eight games with Cincinnati, posting a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 innings. In early December he was placed on waivers, and cleared them.
After not pitching in the Major Leagues from 2016-2018, David Carpenter got back to the big leagues briefly in 2019 with the Texas Rangers. The 34-year-old gave up two earned runs in 3.1 innings over four games for the Rangers last season. In Triple-A Nashville he posted a 1.63 ERA in 38.2 innings during the year.
Brooks Raley was just signed, and I wrote about him this morning – including a brief scouting report from his time pitching in Korea over the last five seasons. A little less than two weeks ago the Reds picked up Tyler Thornburg. He’s struggled the last two seasons, but as was written at Redleg Nation when he signed – there could be reason to believe he’s got the right stuff that could be corrected and find plenty of improvement on the mound.
Catchers Chris Okey and Francisco Pena will both be joining the Reds in spring training. Pena has big league experience, spending parts of 2014-2018 in the Majors – though only in 2018 did he play in 15+ games at the level. In 2019 he hit .290/.327/.547 in Triple-A with 20 doubles and 17 home runs in just 74 games played. Okey struggled to hit for much average, but he did show some pop for Double-A Chattanooga in his limited action. In 49 games for the Lookouts he hit .228/.318/.423 with 14 extra-base hits.
The Reds #4 prospect Jose Garcia and #6 prospect Jonathan India headline the infield group. Garcia is coming off of a season in Advanced-A where he missed most of April but the shortstop still led the league in doubles, racking up 37 of them to go along with a triple and eight home runs. He hit .280/.343/.436 on the year for Daytona. In the pitcher friendly league, that works out to a 131 OPS+ on the season (31% better than the league average).
Jonathan India split his 2019 between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Chattanooga. In his 121 games played he hit .259/.365/.402. There was more power output in Daytona, but his average, walk rate, and strikeout rate were all much better in Double-A with the Lookouts.
It’s unlikely that either player is going to break camp with the big league club. But like Nick Lodolo, getting that experience and time with the veterans and the coaching staff is not going to harm them at all and in all likelihood going to be quite beneficial.
Alfredo Rodriguez holds the record for the largest amateur signing bonus handed out to an international prospect by the Reds. But since his signing in July of 2016, he’s struggled to do much at the plate. His 2019 season, though, was by far the best he’s had since signing. In Double-A he hit .286/.325/.347 over 104 games. He spent the last month in Triple-A, struggling at the plate as he hit just .169/.261/.221. The shortstop has a quality glove, but the concerns with his bat that were there even before his signing – they persist.
Christian Colon had a solid year in Triple-A during 2019 for the Bats. In 136 games for Louisville he hit .300/.372/.443 with 57 walks, 58 strikeouts, and 24 stolen bases. In mid-September he got a call up from the Reds and went 3-6 while being hit by two pitches. The 30-year-old cleared waivers following the season, but re-signed with the Reds.
Matt Davidson spent parts of four seasons in the Majors from 2013-2018. The latter two of those years he saw significant playing time with the White Sox, hitting 39 doubles and 46 home runs in 241 games – but also hitting just .224/.291/.435. The power is real for Davidson, who will turn 29 just before the start of the season. He hit 33 home runs in Triple-A during the 2019 season with Nashville in 125 games.
Stuart Fairchild, the Reds #7 prospect, is joined by Boog Powell as a non-roster invitee to spring training. Fairchild split his year between Daytona and Chattanooga. Between the two stops he hit .264/.352/.441 – but he hit .275/.380/.444 in the second half after joining Double-A Chattanooga. With the Lookouts his walk rate jumped up, and his strikeout rate saw drastic improvement, dropping all of the way down to just 12.8%.
Boog Powell has a famous name, but this one is about to turn 27-years-old next week. He spent part of 2017 and 2018 in the Major Leagues with Seattle and Oakland, but all of his 2019 was in Triple-A. With El Paso he was solid, hitting .288/.391/.438. The power didn’t impress much in a season with a juiced baseball, but he got on base a lot and played all around the outfield with the Padres Triple-A club.