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Inbox: Is Garcia's spring enough to make bigs?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers questions from Reds fans
@m_sheldon
March 3, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds have a rare off-day on their Spring Training schedule, and they are holding no workouts and playing no games. There is no better time for us to open the Reds Inbox and take a look at some of your questions. We’ll start with two questions

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds have a rare off-day on their Spring Training schedule, and they are holding no workouts and playing no games.

There is no better time for us to open the Reds Inbox and take a look at some of your questions. We’ll start with two questions and one answer …

José Garcia appears to be the shortstop that the Reds were looking to trade for. Can he win the spot this spring, or do they have their mind made up already?
-- @nwalls3042, on Twitter

José Garcia. What’s his timetable? Another hell of a defensive play to start a DP vs. Brewers. With Freddy Galvis under contract for 2020, do we see Garcia in ‘21?
-- Donn S., on Facebook

I know excitement is high when a prospect starts flexing his talents in big league camp, but the brakes will have to be pumped for now. Garcia -- likely one of the Reds' top 5 prospects in 2020 once the MLB Pipeline rankings are unveiled -- has had a superb camp and leads the team in homers and RBIs. But he’s also had only two full seasons in the Reds’ system and none above Class A; he turns 22 next month. He will not be on the Opening Day roster.

As for 2021, that could be a different story. Obviously, it all depends on what Garcia does in ‘20, and I would expect him to begin at Double-A Chattanooga going by the way the organization has challenged him each year so far. He’s coming into his power as he adds size and muscle, and he remains a pretty slick-fielding shortstop with a great arm. Barry Larkin told me last week that one issue that could come up is if Garcia keeps growing bigger and loses some agility, he might have to move off shortstop.

Right now, Garcia looks great. I’ve spoken to a few players about him and they definitely agree.

There has been plenty of talk about Nick Senzel this spring. What are the chances of him moving back to the infield as a backup to Freddy Galvis?
-- Tyler C., on Facebook

Zero. Senzel is only playing center field in camp drills and workouts and is scheduled to play his first game -- as the designated hitter -- on Thursday. Galvis’ backup will likely be Kyle Farmer or Alex Blandino at the present rate. Senzel was tried at shortstop a couple of springs ago and apparently didn’t play the position to the organization’s satisfaction. Now if the Reds are in an extra-innings game or have some sort of emergency, Senzel could certainly play an infield spot.

What are the early impressions of Shogo Akiyama? Do you think the Reds view him as an everyday player (150+ starts), as opposed to a platoon player?
-- @Reds2Cents, on Twitter

So far, Akiyama seems comfortable. He’s making the effort to speak to his teammates in English and has handled the daily media attention from Japan quite well. He’s only got a few hits thus far, but he seems to have a plan in batting practice, puts in a lot of extra time and I’ve also seen him show a little power.

Who is the next-best option to close games after Raisel Iglesias?
-- @heckjeck, on Twitter

It looks like manager David Bell has multiple options. Michael Lorenzen did it when Iglesias was unavailable last season, and he saved seven games. Left-hander Amir Garrett could be a capable option if a lefty-centric part of the batting order is up for the opposition in the ninth. And don’t forget about new free-agent acquisition Pedro Strop, who had 23 saves for the Cubs over the previous two seasons.

Why do you think Scooter Gennett is getting little to no interest from other teams? Barring his injury season last year, he put together two very good seasons with the Reds, so is there something that we are missing?
-- Adam J., on Facebook

Basically, it comes down to versatility -- and his lack thereof. Gennett is getting crunched by the evolution of roster construction that baseball has moved toward in recent years. He plays only second base and isn’t an above-average defender there. He’s had shoulder issues in the past that affected his throwing. Gennett can definitely hit and has done it in some pretty clutch moments for the Reds in 2017-18. So, if Gennett ever got a chance to catch on with another club and get into the lineup, I would not count him out.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.