Five Burning Questions for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

So who’s up next for the Reds’ left-field job?

Cincinnati hasn’t had a stable left field option since Adam Dunn … and yes I just used Adam Dunn as an example of stability. But honestly, Dunn had a five-year span where hitting 40 HR seemed easy. His defense was seldom pretty and never lust-worthy, but the Reds knew what they had. Since 2008, the Reds haven’t been able to comfortably say that.

Until 2016?

Well no, but there are some interesting options to man left field in the upcoming season. The currently-listed starter on the Reds’ MLB site is recently-acquired Adam Duvall. He came over in the Mike Leake trade. Duvall, in 149 career major league plate appearances, has the following: eight HR, nine BB, 46 K, .204 AVG. That’s the type of player Duvall is and it’s the type of player the Reds can expect in 2016. While maybe not to those extremes, Duvall is a power-hitting, high-strikeout, low-average player. Two 30-HR minor league seasons also give light on what may still be to come, especially in Great American Ballpark.

The second option is another recently-acquired player, Scott Schebler, who was part of the Frazier trade. Two years younger than Duvall at 25, Schebler is a quite similar player. Albeit in a smaller sample size, Schebler’s major league numbers in 40 plate appearances are the following: three HR, three BB, 13 K, .250 AVG. Schebler also has two 27-HR minor league campaigns, a nearly-identical MiLB batting average as Duvall, but a glimpse of mobility on the base paths.

The consensus with Duvall and Schebler is that they could be viable short-term answers for LF, provide some power to a power-deprived lineup, but won’t be a long-term answer. The following two names differ in that they could both be potentially short- and long-term options.

Devin Mesoraco: The Reds’ top pick in the 2007 draft and the organization’s No. 1 prospect as recently as 2012 according to Baseball America, Mesoraco started slow in his first two seasons before exploding in 2014 with 25 HR, 80 RBI and a .273 AVG en route to an All-Star appearance. Unfortunately, a hip issue resulting in season-ending surgery limited Mesoraco to just 45 at-bats in 23 games split at catcher and DH in 2015. He could still be asked to be the catcher-of-the-future if his hip responds well to surgery and rehab, but if not, as the Reds had discussed in 2015, Mesoraco could find himself in the grass. Either way, a healthy Mesoraco will be vital to a Reds’ 2016 lineup.

Jesse Winker: The Reds’ No. 3 prospect from a year ago, spent all of 2015 in AA. Thus, his chances at breaking the major league team out of Spring Training are slim to none, but he has an invite to ST nonetheless. In his age-21 season, Winker hit .282/.390/.433 with 13 HR. While some viewed this as a step backward after his SLG dipped from .518 in 2014 to .433 in 2015, Winker is still a gifted hitter who will be ranked at-or-near the top of my Reds’ Top 20 Prospects list which releases this Thursday, Jan. 14 here on Baseball Essential.

*UPDATED with the Reds’ Top 20 Prospects link*

Each of these two are probably less likely to be starting in LF on Opening Day, as Mesoraco is likely behind the plate and Winker in AA or AAA, but this seemingly four-man situation is one to keep an eye on. Adam Duvall is ultimately the likely answer barring any unforeseen moves.

2 Responses

  1. Carl Insco

    Nice article Brandon. I find it amusing that you said of Suarez when describing his experience: “with a paltry .242 AVG”. Given the fact that it looks like the Reds will have Hamilton, Cozart and Bruce (1/3 of the lineup) as starters, a .242 average looks awesome. Let’s face the facts: Hamilton cannot and probably will never be able to hit and will never or should never be a lead off hitter, Bruce has lost his mojo and should have already been traded giving someone valuable experience and Cozart has never been a high average hitter and even though he started off last season hot he was beginning to tumble like a rock right before his injury. It is sad when 1/3 of your lineup everyday can’t hit their weight. Sure it is nice to have the gold glove type defense of Hamilton and Cozart or the speed of Hamilton or the HR power of a Bruce, but man they have to get on base more and cut down on the SO. Hey I’m all for the rebuild, but they need to trade Cozart and Bruce to add to the rebuild. I would give Hamilton one more year and if he doesn’t improve then either trade him or send him to the bench as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. As far as Bailey goes….well they screwed up giving him the big contract instead of Cueto! He is nothing more than a .500 pitcher with injury concerns. Sure the 2 no hitters were exciting, but I’d rather have a healthy pitcher with an above .500 average.

    • Brandon Shrider

      I couldn’t agree more, Carl. Cozart has never been an offense-first player, and despite a nice start last season, I don’t expect that to change. I’ve never been a fan of Bruce, but he did have a nice run from 2010-13 hitting 30+ HR in three of those four years. Always seemed to be too inconsistent and unreliable to get the big hit. Hamilton, possibly switching back to RH-only could prove beneficial. I doubt he ever hits .300, but I think he can improve enough not to be a liability, and his OBP will prove crucial — maybe he’ll improve on taking walks.
      And definitely agree on the Homer deal. I said that from the time they signed him. The Reds are paying him like an ace, but hasn’t proven to be much more than a No. 3 starter who can’t stay healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this rebuild goes, with Bruce, Votto and Phillips all possibly on their way out if the Reds can find any takers … and the players waive their NTC’s which I think Phillips and Votto both have.


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