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.