There was not a Minor League Baseball season in 2020, and for a lot of players that meant that they didn’t get on the field in much of a competitive environment beyond about two weeks in March in spring training – and that short period of time didn’t even reach the point where guys in minor league camp were playing games. A handful of minor leaguers were invited out to Mason, Ohio where the Cincinnati Reds held their alternate site roster practices at, and while those guys were put into some game-type situations against teammates, it wasn’t quite the same thing as facing opposition, either.
Instructional League opened up on September 29th when players began to arrive in Goodyear. Last week they began to play games – games that are shut off to the public – against other organizations. For many of these guys it’s their first real game action in over a year. With some games underway, I checked in with a few people out in the Phoenix area to see how some players were doing.
Rece Hinds, the Reds 2nd round pick from 2019, missed nearly all of the season last year with a quad injury following the draft. He played in three games before the injury and then missed the rest of the year. This season he didn’t play, either – but in September he was invited to Mason to join the Reds alternate roster in order to get some time on the field in a competitive environment. Now out in Arizona in Instructional League, Hinds put on a show the other night against the Cleveland Indians squad, hitting a long home run during the game that went over the batters eye. Well known for his raw power coming out of the draft – he’s still got it.
One of Hinds’ teammates in 2019 in Greeneville was shortstop Ivan Johnson. On my trips to watch the team play, Johnson stood out at times for his speed and athleticism. The 4th round pick out of Chipola Junior College hit .255/.327/.415 that season and was rated as the 13th best prospect in the Appalachian League following the season. The switch-hitting infielder did hit a little better from the left side, though it was mostly just showing off a bit more power and he only had 59 plate appearances from the right side of the plate. He came into instructional league filled out a little bit more and is showing some above-average pop. It was noted that he’s also been showing quality at-bats so far.
It’s not just the position guys out in Arizona, though. Funny enough, you need to have pitchers in order to play baseball. During the 2019 season the Reds brought a Dominican pitcher stateside as an 18-year-old to make his professional debut. That pitcher was Luis Mey. That’s a bit of a rarity – usually they will keep someone back at the academy and get at least a partial season in with the DSL Reds and adjust the plan from there. It was not a good season for Mey, though, who allowed 64 hits and 37 earned runs (along with 14 unearned runs) in 39.2 innings while walking 28 batters and striking out 28 batters. What Mey did stick out for, though, as his ground ball rate – which was 56% in the 2019 season and the best in the farm system among starting pitchers, and trailed only Jesus Reyes among all pitchers.
Still just 19-years-old (he won’t be 20 until June 24th), Mey has found some additional velocity since he last pitched in the AZL. In his outing this past week he was sitting 95-97 MPH and touched 99. He’s cleaned up his mechanics a little bit. His secondary stuff is still coming along and lags behind the fastball.
I’ll have more reports coming out over the next few weeks from Goodyear as the organization continues to play games, and eventually wrap up the instructional league in two weeks. See below for a way to get updates a little bit sooner.
This information all went out earlier to those who support the site through Patreon. While all content from Patreon eventually is published for free on this site, the support through Patreon helps keep the site alive and going. For more information on how to support the site and the perks that come along with that support, check out Patreon.com/Redsminorleagues.