With the Cincinnati Reds season now completed, President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams met with the media one final time to discuss a bit of the season, or anything else that anyone had questions about. Some of those questions revolved around player development and the missed 2020 Minor League season.
On the minors season not happening and how it affected what the Reds had planned
“We were really, really hurt by not having a minor league season this year,” said Williams. “You could make the argument that all teams kind of were in the same boat, so we still had a chance to make more use of this year than our competition – I think it’s all about how you handled it – but no matter how well we handled it, and I think we did accomplish a lot of things we would have liked to accomplish remotely. There’s no substitute for that year of games and there’s no doubt that that hurt. Especially with guys that we may be counting on in the spring to come compete for the big league team, guys like (Nick) Lodolo, (Hunter) Greene, (Jonathan) India – to lose that year of development is going to affect different teams differently depending on how much they were planning on players from the minor league system coming up to compete for a big league spot.”
Almost exactly one year ago, the Cincinnati Reds hired Kyle Boddy to become their minor league pitching coordinator and pitching initiatives. It was a big move with the hopes that Boddy could help break the what feels like forever inability for the organization to develop starting pitching. The 2020 season was supposed to be the first true step along the way to that goal. But that didn’t exactly happen. The season never happened, and while the organization did what they could in order to have pitchers work in their area, it’s not quite the same as having them working with the coaching staffs in person, getting the feedback of game action, having all of the tech available to show players the metrics, slow-motion video, etc in order to help them make adjustments.
Likewise, the Reds also hired a new hitting coordinator last year, bringing C.J. Gillman about seven weeks after Boddy. He, too, was going to be bringing something new to the organization’s approach to developing hitters on the farm. But much of that work didn’t get a chance to get going. While spring training did begin for the minor league players, it never reached a point where they began playing games against other teams. Like the pitchers, the position players were in contact with the organization while the season was shut down, and were doing what they could to get work in – but it’s not a replacement for in-person instruction, games, and all of that.
With many organizations cutting scouting and development staff, where do the Reds stand?
“We have made some personnel, some staff changes,” Williams said. “We had a small reduction in head count in player development, largely tied to the fact that we’ll be down two affiliates. So we lost some head count there, although we were able to, some of those coaches would shift to other levels and help with development moving forward. In terms of amateur scouting and pro scouting, we’re not having any head count reductions in those areas. We’re very thankful for ownership’s commitment to continue to provide the resources for scouting and player development, which as so important to us.”
It’s good to see that the Reds aren’t reducing their scouting presence when so many other organizations are. Last week I noted that with the reduction in teams, that the organization may choose to try and expand coaching jobs to try and keep some of the guys around who wouldn’t have managerial or coaching jobs available to them simply because there were going to be two fewer teams. That was pure speculation on may part as to a possible solution. It seems that I’m not completely out of my element, as according to Williams, that is something that happened to some extent.