Earlier this week I reached out to the group who supports the work here at the site via Patreon to submit some questions for a mailbag as one of the perks for helping keep the site going. Patreon supporters will also get early access to all of the upcoming prospect rankings and scouting reports before they wind up here on the site, so if that’s something you’re interested in there’s not a better time to sign up than now (because the prospect list and scouting reports will begin this upcoming week at Patreon.com/Redsminorleagues). Now, let’s dive into the questions.

With major changes at the top of the Cincinnati Reds minor league development staff what direction do you think the organization are heading in that area?

There’s a whole lot of stuff to tackle here. First, let’s talk about the changes at the top. There have been three departures so far this year. Back in June we saw Senior Director of Player Development, Eric Lee, leave the organization. Then there was the situation later in the season, when both Director of Pitching Kyle Boddy and Hitting Coordinator C.J. Gillman left the organization.

The fact that three high-level people in the player development chain all left the organization while the season was going on is a very bad sign of something that’s happening behind the scenes. While we never got a statement from Eric Lee, both Kyle Boddy and C.J. Gillman indicated in their statements that the organization was going in a different direction than they believed in. Boddy and Gillman both joined the organization when Dick Williams was the top guy in the baseball operations department. With Williams out, perhaps the direction of the organization will be doing in a little different direction with regards to development.

Chris Welsh also mentioned something interesting on The Red Alert Podcast with Steven Offenbaker. Paraphrasing here, but Welsh alluded to the organization wanting former players in these jobs.

Earlier this week the organization posted a job for a Minor League Co-Pitching Coordinator job. It seems that while the team may not have a “Director of Pitching”, the job responsibilities itself will not just be absorbed by someone else in the organization on top of their other job. It would seem that having Co-Coordinators on the pitching side that those responsibilities will be shared between two people once again.

As for the exact direction that the farm is going…. well, that’s really tough to say at this point. While three guys did leave during the season, it seems that everyone else has contracts that run through at least instructional league (which ends this upcoming week). We don’t know who will be brought back, yet, nor who will be joining the organization in place of those who don’t. That makes it a bit tougher to get a good idea of where the front office wants to take things.

Mariel Bautista has been considered a top prospect, at least in the past. Any idea why he got so little playing time this year?

You know, I’m honestly not sure. It was something that was a bit perplexing to me throughout the season, too. I do think that there’s something to the situation where with fewer teams there were more guys who needed playing time with fewer spots available and that led to almost everyone getting a little less playing time overall. Even the very top end guys wound up getting a few more days off than they used to.

With that said, he did have an injury that cost him a little bit of time. It’s possible that it was something that was nagging all year and that I simply hadn’t heard about it. On the positive side of things, while playing at a higher level than he had in 2019 – granted in a little less than half of the time on the field – his OPS jumped from .650 to .734.

Do Reds fans need to be concerned beyond normal about the health and durability of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo as 2022 approaches?

The short answer is no, they don’t. The long answer is still no, but we’ll get into why. Hunter Greene only skipped on start during the season and then got back on the mound and never looked back. He threw 106.1 innings, officially, in the 2021 season. But Greene was also pitching earlier than that, too. He was among nine pitchers that were invited to “early minor league spring training” in 2021 that operated at the same time as big league camp. Unlike regular minor league spring training that began in early April, this began in mid-February. While I don’t know the exact numbers here, Greene certainly threw more innings than the 106.1 he was officially given during the regular season.

As for Nick Lodolo, like Greene, he was also invited out to Goodyear early. Unlike Greene, Lodolo missed plenty of action during the season. He spent time on the injured list two different times while dealing with a blister issue. Officially, those stints on the injured list cost him 5-6 starts (depending on just how that final start may have fallen given his spot in the rotation). But even beyond those missed starts, when he did return, he didn’t pitch deep into games as he was being slowly brought back to try and avoid the blister issues from returning.

Late in the season, Lodolo was shut down while dealing with some shoulder fatigue. You never want to hear shoulder-ANYTHING when it comes to baseball players, but even more so pitchers. With that said, it didn’t sound like it was anything that was overly serious in nature at all. When he was on the mound, he was dominant. There were plenty of hiccups along the way, but long term there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think the issues dealt with in 2021 will be there moving forward.

24 Responses

  1. MK

    Too much credit went to Boddy and not enough to the scouts who went out found and signed the non-drafted Free Agents, who were really the success stories of 2021 development. And, Boddy was happy to take the credit. If Welsh is correct about former players maybe they are looking for people who have experience in a teamwork setting. From what I saw he was great at teaching how to throw pitches but not as good teaching how to pitch.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think you listened to Boddy talk enough. He lauded the scouts that went out and found the guys.

      Boddy’s job was never to be a pitching coach, though. So that he wasn’t good at teaching how to pitch shouldn’t really matter much because that wasn’t his job. That’s why the whole “we want former players” thing that Welsh spoke of, at least to me, was incredibly stupid. Kyle Boddy wasn’t out there being a pitching coach. It’s not what was asked of him. He filled in as a pitching coach in Dayton for a few days when Brian Garmin had something to take care of, but aside from that, his job wasn’t to work directly with any of the pitchers.

    • Stock

      I agree with MK. The Reds turnaround is due to scouting and focus not to Boddy. It started with the fantastic 2018 draft. India, Noah Davis and Josiah Gray are no longer Reds prospects. But these three alone make it a good draft (except they traded Gray). However, still in the system are Richardson, Siani and lesser prospects Maysonet, Brian Rey (13th round), Michael Byrne (14), Drew Mount (16) and Eddy Demurias (27). It is very early but India is looking to be the best pick in the first round thus far.

      Ivan Johnson was a great pick in the 4th round in 2019. Ashcraft was a great pick in the 6th round in 2019. Yassel Pino was taken in the 27th round.

      The 2020 draft was only 5 rounds but Bonnin in the 3rd round was fantastic and Boyle in the 5th was too.

      2021 is looking to be the Reds best draft of all the drafts above. McLain was a gift at 17. Allen may be the best player in the draft. Torres in the 3rd round is looking to be a steal as is Thomas Farr in the 5th round.

      Then you have the international players for $500,000 or less in this time frame: Elly De La Cruz, Carlos Jorge, Leonardo Balcazar, Yerlin Confidan, Gabriel Aguilera, Johnny Ascanio, Luis Mey, Iverson Espinosa, Yassel Pino, Diego Omana and Jose Serrano

      and the expensive ones: Minier, Almonte and Valdez

      Add to this the projected 2021 class of Cabrera, Valencia and Pineda.

      • Doug Gray

        Stock, I think you drastically underestimate what Boddy did/does if you think he just “changes grips” and deliveries.

      • Stock

        Then educate us on what we are missing with his departure. I would love to know what I am missing.

        The way I see it pitching can be broken into two distinct groups. Physical and mental.

        Physical is Boddy’s area of expertise. Grip, Arm Slot, and follow through. In other words Grip and delivery.

        The mental is better left for someone with experience, namely a former pitcher or catcher. This would include situational pitching. Every pitch should have a purpose and sometimes it is to get a batter out on the next pitch and use this pitch to set him up. Sometimes it means recognizing a hitter is struggling vs. a specific pitch. Sometimes it means getting the batter to kill some worms.

      • Doug Gray

        You basically said all he does/did was change grips on pitches and or change mechanics and that’s drastically underselling what he or anyone in his position does and or is responsible for.

        They are doing analysis of things, figuring out what is and isn’t working, how to implement things for the coaches, helping determine who is in need or promotion/demotion. With specific to Boddy, one thing he brought to the organization that wasn’t really present before he arrived was tailoring individual plans for each pitcher rather than just having a general “this is what Reds pitchers do” plan and leaving things up to the individual pitching coaches to decide what they think each pitcher should work on (which more often than not meant you would have multiple different things told to you about who you should be and what you should do as you worked your way through the organization – shocker that the Reds failed over and over and over to develop pitchers forever with that kind of approach, right?)….. There’s a lot of stuff that Boddy, and just that general job itself is that isn’t teaching the art of pitching or specific pitches – in face, that’s almost not even a part of the job description. That stuff falls on the actual pitching coaches.

      • Stock

        Let me see if I get this right. Boddy did analysis before working on their mechanics of their delivery. Forgive me for assuming analysis before, during and after working on their mechanics was a given. For that matter, you did not mention analysis during or after because it is a given.

        Boddy did bring tailoring programs for individual pitchers and sticking to that no matter the level. However, as I said I don’t think that disappears with Boddy. And in fact this should be easier to maintain than creating the program. Great that he had input on what level a pitcher starts and when they are promoted. Again not something that will be missed.

        I have seen videos of what Boddy did for driveline. He broke down the mechanics and before you know it a pitcher throws his fastball 2 MPH faster because of it. I’d like to think that was his focus with the Reds.

    • Stock

      I also agree that Boddy is no longer really necessary. I think his reputation helped the Reds land Spiers. However, my understanding is he value is limited to changing a players grips and deliveries. As such this is not pitcher specific. He would say pretty much the same thing to every player. But these sessions were probably recorded. These sessions were attended by other people within the system. Therefore, why can’t someone else with the same tools do what Boddy did? The Reds had 2 years to learn what changes work, whom to work with and how to create the change. There should be several players in the system who can do exactly what Boddy did.

      Boddy was an instructor and not a coach. Instructors are easily replaced.

    • Jim Walker

      So Mariners have to trade Long or lose him because he has already been outrighted once prior and can reject outright assignment which he almost certainly will do.

      • Doug Gray

        His agent released a statement yesterday that he was looking forward to a new organization in 2022….. so I’d bet the farm (that I don’t yet own) that he’s not accepting the outright.

    • Stock

      The Reds are not a good fit unless they make a trade. They already have 6 infielders better than Long. The way I see it Votto, India, Barrero, Moustakas and Suarez will start at DH, 1B, 2B, 3B and SS. Farmer will be the Utility IF. I think the Reds will go with Winker, Senzel, Naquin, Shogo and Schrock in the OF at this point.

      He would start in Louisville and even then I would bring up Lopez before Long.

  2. MK

    So don’t you think the Director of pitching should know how to pitch? He gave credit to scouts when he knew who was talking to had already anointed him a god, present company included.

    • Doug Gray

      Do you think the General Manager of a baseball team should know how to pitch? How to hit? Almost none of them ever played an inning of professional baseball.

      Dave Duncan is considered one of the best pitching coaches ever. He was a catcher.

      The responsibilities given to Boddy in his job were not to teach guys “how to pitch”. So no, I don’t think someone with the responsibilities given to him necessarily needs to have been a professional pitcher. Of course I don’t think that an actual pitching coach needs to have been one, either.

      • Optimist

        All true, but I’m looking to see how the replacement staffing comes in. Driveline May have been the innovator, but it’s lineage goes at least back to Mike Marshall of the Dodgers. I hope they keep some strand of that intact, whether it be a lesser staffer tied to Boddy Inc. or another Caleb Cotham type. It’s one portion of the analytics/data foundation, and you can change staff without changing the approach. Very back office matters, but it sounds like you’re closely following it. Thanks.

  3. Jim Walker

    To comment on several things above about “how to pitch”, I believe the Reds need somebody to teach guys how to maximize the use of their skills. In particular, they don’t seem to be getting all they might from the raw skills and stuff of Castillo and Mahle. My guess would be it comes down to some minor nuances and tweaks versus any major changes. Maybe it takes a guy who has been there and done that (or not done it himself and realized too late he should have).

  4. Redsvol

    Regarding the mailbag, I’m actually quite concerned with Lodolo. A college pitcher with his experience shouldn’t be having trouble throwing more than 40 innings – and I don’t put much stock in spring training innings. Every pitcher pitches some innings in pre and actual spring training that aren’t calculated in their annual numbers. 40 innings for an experienced prospect we are counting on to carry staring pitching load spells trouble.

    On Boddy, somethings not right and we will probably never know. Personally I’d like to have Caleb Cotham back.

    On the hitting coordinator, you can’t tell me he had much impact on our minor leaguers in 1 year so no big loss. Not a good look but cest la vi. It would take 5 years minimum to adopt enough change to where a new hitting philosophy and coaching would make enough impact to notice at the upper levels.

    • Doug Gray

      Lodolo missed most of his innings due to blister issues. Not elbow or shoulder issues.

      • Doug Gray

        And to add, while yes, every pitcher throws some in spring – guys like Lodolo and Greene threw in spring training for 6 weeks longer than almost all of the other minor league pitchers did because they started in mid-February with the big league guys, while minor league spring training didn’t begin until like April 2nd. It’s a little bit different this year because of how spring training was handled – those two guys did throw more than other minor league guys did because of that.

  5. Tom

    If the Reds can add 3,4, 5 bullpen replacements they can head into the season with the same rotation as last year with Greene and Lodolo ready to help immediately if there is an injury. Ashcraft may be ready by mid summer as well.

    What is the prevailing idea for Santillan? Is he headed for the 8th inning, 9th inning? Or is he back to AAA as a rotation candidate?

    • MBS

      I’ve been going into the offseason with a pessimistic view on team spending. If by some chance they do retain Castellanos, and keep the rotation, Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft could really bolster the pen.

      Sims, Warren, Cessa, Santillan, Sanmartin, Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft

      That would be a young talented pen, maybe too young.

      • Tom

        Plenty of reason for pessimism. An average bullpen would have meant a real shot in the playoffs.

        I was also thinking Lodolo might bolster the pen as a lefty. But we haven’t often seen the Reds be able to re-transition a starter from the pen back to starter. Would much rather he stick in the rotation.

  6. BK

    Good discussion … what is the sense among those working with the Red’s minor league system? Did the Red’s technology catch up to the point they didn’t need Boddy, or is Krall moving in a different direction (if so, what is the direction)?

  7. TimJ

    In my mind, we need somebody to start getting these prospects moving. The average age of our top 6 prospects is 24. That’s not young anymore. If I was one of these guys I’d be angry. Most of them won’t see free agency until their 30’s if ever.