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New Red Schebler competing for LF spot

No. 16 prospect joined Cincinnati as part of 3-team trade in December
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- New Reds outfielder Scott Schebler admittedly knew little about the team's home of Great American Ball Park, but one of his old teammates from the Dodgers filled him in with information that had him encouraged.

It came from Joc Pederson, a rookie last season who finished as the runner-up to Todd Frazier in the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- New Reds outfielder Scott Schebler admittedly knew little about the team's home of Great American Ball Park, but one of his old teammates from the Dodgers filled him in with information that had him encouraged.

It came from Joc Pederson, a rookie last season who finished as the runner-up to Todd Frazier in the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.

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"I talked to Joc last year a little bit about the Home Run Derby," Schebler said. "He was like 'Dude, you could potentially really like that place.' When I got traded, he texted me and said, 'Hey man, I know you've never been there, but you'll like playing in that ballpark.'"

Left-handed like Pederson, Schebler came from Los Angeles as part of the three-team trade that sent Frazier to the White Sox on Dec. 16.

Schebler, 25, saw 19 games of big league time over two callups to the Dodgers last season and batted .250/.325/.500 with three home runs. At Triple-A Oklahoma City, he batted .241/.322/.410 with 13 homers, 50 RBIs and 15 steals in 121 games. He also missed two weeks with sprained ligaments in his right wrist.

Two seasons ago at Double-A, Schebler produced 28 homers, and he hit 27 homers in Class A Advanced ball in 2013. Besides having some power, he has athleticism. At Cedar Rapids Prairie High School in Iowa, he played baseball, football, basketball, soccer and track. He set school track records in the 55-meter sprint, long jump and 800-meter relay.

Baseball wasn't Schebler's best sport, however.

"Not in high school; it was probably football or soccer," said Schebler, who was a safety and wide receiver in football. "I have to credit my college coach on that. He talked me out of football. That was probably the best decision I have ever made."

Instead of playing college football, where he could have been a walk-on for a large program at Iowa or Iowa State, Schebler chose junior college baseball, went to Des Moines Area Community College and was a 26th-round pick of the Dodgers in the 2010 Draft.

Reds manager Bryan Price is looking for Schebler to use his athletic skills to make him a more complete player. Along with Jose Peraza, Schebler was someone Cincinnati specifically targeted during trade talks with the Dodgers. He profiles as a corner outfielder.

"He runs well," Price said. "We want to get to the point where he maximizes his skill set, which is not just as a power guy, but a guy that can get on base and maybe cut down on his strikeouts a little bit. He can be a guy that can provide us with some power, both as a regular player or as a potential platoon guy. We're just trying to get familiar with him.

"We think he can be an above-average outfielder, an above-average baserunner with above-average power and still have the ability to get better as an overall offensive performer. I see him as potentially a regular outfielder. Right now, I don't know if he's an everyday player. I certainly can't guarantee he makes the club. I anticipate he will make a strong push to be in our outfield this year."

Schebler, who was ranked this week as the Reds' No. 16 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is one of the three favorites in line for the opening in left field on the big league club.

Right-handed hitters Yorman Rodriguez and Adam Duvall are the other leading candidates, with top prospect and lefty hitter Jesse Winker also in the mix. Schebler is trying not to focus on what is at stake this spring.

"I just need to concentrate on what I do well, and hopefully it shows up in the games here at Spring Training," he said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Scott Schebler