Last week Major League Baseball approved a plan to allow teams to host instructional league baseball starting as soon as later this week. There were contingencies for teams about COVID-19 testing among other things that needed to be met/done to move forward with their plans.
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported that the Reds plan to hold a version of instructional league next month at their spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. Instructional league can, and is, used for different purposes every year. For some guys it’s to work on very specific things in controlled settings. Some players use it to learn and or work on new positions in the field. Others use it simply to get extra time on the field that was lost due to injuries during the regular season.
In 2020 things are different. Everyone missed time on the field this year, even those who did wind up at Prasco Park on the Cincinnati Reds. But for the overwhelming majority of minor league players – they haven’t been on the field with other professionals since early March, and games hadn’t even started yet for those guys.
From Nightengale’s article, here’s what Shawn Pender, the Reds VP of Player Development said about how things are hopefully going to work out if things go as Cincinnati plans.
“We’re trying to get together with other teams out there to figure out how we can have games,” Reds farm director Shawn Pender said. “To me, that’s what we’re missing the most. I think everyone would prefer to play opposition as opposed to intrasquads, but there is COVID testing, some teams may want to remain in a bubble with just their own, so we’re going to have to figure that one out as we go.”
Getting players into a competitive environment against other professionals would go a long way, even if it’s just a matter of a few weeks of play. Recently the Reds, and several other teams, have gone from what’s historically been a fall instructional league to a late winter instructional league that takes place in late January or early February before spring training begins. It’s possible that if things go well that the organization could have both scenarios before the start of spring training next year.
The Reds would like to do all that they can to get as many players as much time on the field as possible in order to work with the coaches, get repetitions and playing experience that was missed out on during 2020. And of course, the plan would be to be able to do all of that while keeping everyone safe while doing so.
New Draft Rankings from Baseball America
Everyone loves the draft, right? It usually gives fans hope for the future, and for many of the players it’s a life changing event. Baseball America’s got their latest draft rankings up for the 2021 High School class. Two shortstops are at the top of the list with Brady House remaining #1, but Jordan Lawlar jumping up from #7 to #2.
Now, here’s where things get interesting: No one has a clue where they will draft in 2021. Major League Baseball has historically used the previous season’s record to determine the draft order. That has not been agreed upon for 2021, likely due to the fact that the season is only 60 games long.
How about Tyler Stephenson?
The Cincinnati Reds haven’t given Tyler Stephenson much playing time in 2020, but when he’s gotten the chance he’s taken full advantage of it. He homered in his first plate appearance in the Major Leagues. Last night he got the call off of the bench to pinch hit for Shogo Akiyama and hit a walk-off home run in a must-win game against Pittsburgh in the first game of the double header. He’s hitting .455/.538/1.000 in the five games he’s played in this season.
Aristides Aquino optioned to Prasco Park
Following the double header win in Cincinnati on Monday over Pittsburgh, the Reds optioned Aristides Aquino to Prasco Park and the alternate roster as they needed to get their active roster back to 28 players. With Nick Senzel being activated for the double header they were allowed to carry 29 guys, but once the second game ended a move needed to be made to get back to 28. Matt Bowman, who had been on the injured list, was removed from the 60-man player pool, leaving the Reds with 59 players total in their pool.
Here’s what the updated alternate roster look like:
|R.J. Alaniz||RHP||Mark Kolzsvary||C|
|David Carpenter||RHP||Francisco Peña||C|
|Brandon Finnegan||LHP||Alex Blandino||INF|
|Hunter Greene||RHP||Tyler Callihan||INF|
|Ryan Hendrix||RHP||Christian Colón||INF|
|Jay Jackson||RHP||Matt Davidson||INF|
|Joel Kuhnel||RHP||Robel García||INF|
|Nick Lodolo||LHP||Rece Hinds||INF|
|Riley O’Brien||RHP||Jonathan India||INF|
|Lyon Richardson||RHP||Alfredo Rodriguez||INF|
|Tony Santillan||RHP||Aristides Aquino||OF|