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.
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.
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.