When the Daytona Tortugas took the field on Thursday evening to resume their game that was suspended on Wednesday in the 3rd inning and then their regularly scheduled game, Austin Hendrick was 1-14 on the season with no extra-base hits, four walks, and eight strikeouts. That’s a .071/.278/.071 line, good for an OPS of .349 on the year. Incredibly small sample size to work with here, but after getting a hit in the opener, the 2020 Cincinnati Reds 1st round pick went into a slump, going zero for the next three games.

On Thursday, though, Austin Hendrick was feeling good and he took that feeling to the plate with him against St. Lucie. In the first game the outfielder went 3-4 with a walk, two doubles, two runs scored, and he drove in four. During the second game – a 7-inning affair – he went 1-2 with another walk. Hendrick went from one hit on the season and a .349 OPS when the day started to having five hits on the season and a .250/.423/.350 line with a .773 OPS on the season.

The shortstops just keep hitting

Alfredo Rodriguez entered Thursday night with five career home runs in over 1300 professional plate appearances. It’s safe to say that power is not at all a part of his game. But last night he got into one and he knew it as soon as he hit it. The Bats shortstop pulled the ball down the line, but it wasn’t a wall scraper of any sorts – my guesstimate using google maps puts it at 371 feet. Through eight games played, Rodriguez is hitting .348/.483/.609 for Louisville with a stolen base, four walks, and just three strikeouts in 29 plate appearances.

Jose Garcia‘s been manning shortstop for Double-A Chattanooga. Last night he extended his hitting streak to six games, going 2-5 with a double, run scored, and an RBI. Garcia, who struggled in his big league call up last season at the plate after making the jump from what was then Advanced-A Daytona (they are now the Low-A affiliate), is at a level that is more in-line with his natural progression as a hitter and it’s showing. With Cincinnati he had one walk and 26 strikeouts against the big league pitchers who were much more advanced than pitchers he had faced in the past. In Double-A this season he’s walked five times with 10 strikeouts in nine games played. Across his 41 plate appearances he’s hit three doubles, a triple, and three home runs while posting a .306/.390/.694 line for the Lookouts.

Dayton’s been playing with Miguel Hernandez at shortstop this season. The 22-year-old began the year 0-9 against Great Lakes in the first two games of the season. Since then he’s run off a 5-game hitting streak, including grabbing two hits in each of the last three games. Last night he also drove in two runs.

Generating the swings and misses

The best thing a pitcher can do is get a strike against a hitter. A strike looking is just as good as a strike swinging (well, perhaps slightly better in the sense that a taken strike is almost never a wild pitch, while some strikes swinging will be in the dirt and occasionally get away from the catcher and lead to movement on the bases and or the batter getting to first on a dropped 3rd strike – but you get the point!).

This season there have been 23 Reds minor league pitchers to throw at least 5.0 innings this season. Most of them have been starters, but a few relievers are on the list, too. When looking at this group and their swinging strike rate it is two relievers atop the board – Jacques Pucheu, who is pitching with Dayton, and Carson Rudd, who is pitching with Daytona. Pucheu leads the way with a 20.2% swinging strike rate in his 6.2 innings pitched (his ERA is also 0.00 on the year). Rudd is just behind him at 19.8%. Rounding out the top five is Hunter Greene (19.5%), Nick Lodolo (18.5%), and Pedro Garcia (18.5%). Just for context: In 2021 the MLB swinging strike rate is 11.5%.

6 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    Better news than came out of Colorado last night for sure!

  2. enfueago

    Doug, thanks for your coverage on all this. Your enjoyment at being back at is palpable. Any sense for how the players in the minors are viewed by the Reds given the late start to their season? Normally we would be looking at who is hot at AAA to see if they deserve a call up, at least as a replacement. The sample size is so small though I don’t know how much we (or the Reds) can draw from it at this point. I know that’s hard to answer from the outside but you are a lot more in tune to this than the rest of us.

    • Doug Gray

      Right now it’s mostly just “hey this is a good start”. Some of the guys, though, have been playing since February (guys that were in spring training with the big league club, whether it was on an actual invite or as a part of early minor league camp). Those guys have more time and “data” to work with.

      That said it’s been really interesting to see and hear about some other organizations and how they operated/are operating right now. I’ve heard that at least two organizations basically have a “don’t worry at all about the first month or so of the season, just get out there and play and get your work in” kind of thing going on because of how limited things were in spring training for the minor leaguers. Not only was MiLB spring training much shorter than usual, they played fewer games, and the games that they did play were almost exclusively against one other organization. The Reds for example only played Cleveland affiliates. Most teams had a working relationship like that in the spring in both Florida and in Arizona.

      I’ve talked with a few people around baseball that work for teams and one thing that’s been noted by several of them is that it’s very clear early on which organizations prepared their guys to start the season and which organizations didn’t. One person I spoke with said it was understandable for one organization they were familiar with – they just wanted to try and avoid injuries due to ramping guys up too quickly after such a long layoff.

      It’s going to be a weird year, for sure.

  3. donny

    Doug if Hendricks plays good in A-ball after coming out of high school. You know very well as i do the Reds have something very nice here.

    It’s early , but i have been impressed with a lot of players in the minors .

    Tortugus ,
    Alex McGarry , Danny Lantigua , Tyler Callihan , Allan Cerda with his good walk to K ratio, and Austin Hendrix and Rece Hinds even though he’s a little bit of to a slow start. You mention that Allen Cerda resembles Aquino in his batting stance . I see the resemblance , but you can clearly see that Alen Cerda just getting out of the batter’s box to run to first is clearly more athletic and of course i am sure you will agree.

    Dragons ,
    Brian Rey , Noah Davis , Graham Ashcraft

    Lookouts , Mark Kolozsvary