We haven't even played a spring training game and the optimism for the Reds is really growing. Even though they really didn't add a big name in the off-season, the fact that they have a much improved lineup over last year's is exciting enough. Throw in the re-signing of Jonny Gomes and the impressive start of camp from Aroldis Chapman and you really do have some reasons to be optimistic.
As a long-time Reds fan, I have really gotten sick of the losing. The franchise has too good of a history to be down for so long. I truly believe we are ramping back up toward some really good teams. Not only is the roster full of talent, but the Reds have a lot of minor league players who are pretty close to contributing.
For a better breakdown of the Reds farm system, go to Doug Gray's RedsMinorLeagues.com. Here are a few names:
- Todd Frazier: drafted as a shortstop, he really has no full-time position. But, his bat is so good the Reds are eventually going to have to find a place for him. Guess: trade Phillips and play Frazier at 2B or keep BP and put Frazier in LF.
- Yonder Alonso: drafted as a first basemen, but with Joey Votto going nowhere anytime soon, he is a man without a position. Like Frazier, though, the Reds are going to have to find a place for his bat. Guess: LF or trade bait
- Chris Heisey: kid has really come on the last few years. Just tore up AA pitching and while he fell off a bit at AAA Louisville, he had a really good 2009. Has been impressive so far this spring. Guess: CF if Stubbs falters.
- Juan Francisco: monster power to all fields, but has trouble making contact. Had a cup of coffee in September and was pretty good. Killed the ball in AAA despite flaws in his swing. Still projected as a 3B, but with Scott Rolen signed for the next three years, Juan is going to have to find somewhere else to play or be traded. Guess: LF or trade.
- Aroldis Chapman: no need to run down his history. He still may be a few months of minor league action away from being ready for the big leagues. Has been very impressive so far though and wouldn't shock me to see him start the season in Cincinnati. Guess: AAA to start. Up by June.
- Travis Wood: lefty pitchers are always valued. Wood had a solid
2009 season and is on the cusp of making the 25-man roster with an
impressive spring. Still has options though, so Guess: AAA to start.
- Matt Maloney: Still may be the odds-on favorite to win the #5 spot in the rotation out of camp. Impressed late in 2009 with a newly-found cut fastball. If he is sharp this spring, he will be the #5 in my guess.
Are the Reds going to win the division? Probably not. But, if (and that is a big IF) they can stay healthy and guys like Aaron Harang bounce back, Homer Bailey continues his September run, Jay Bruce turns back into "Jay Bruce #1 Prospect", Scott Rolen stays healthy, Joey Votto stays in the lineup, etc...they CAN be good. That's a lot of "ifs" though. Guess we'll just have to see how things shake out.
Starting Friday, the Reds begin their very first Cactus League schedule against in-state, and camp-mates the Cleveland Indians. The game will be on 700 WLW and on FSO at 3:00 Eastern. Can't wait!