Schebler honing defensive skills in right field

Originally viewed as CF or LF, 26-year-old fits better for Reds in right

March 1st, 2017

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- When the Reds traded to the Mets on Aug. 1, they considered shifting All-Star from left field to right field. Duvall would have switched spots with .

Then they decided against it and it was not reconsidered during the offseason.

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"The decision we all came to was let's leave the guy who is playing Gold Glove defense in left field and give Scott the chance to see if he can establish himself in right field," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Fortunately, it's worked out to this point. Scott, defensively, can play the position well with the glove, and the throwing is improving to the point where he looks like he can handle right field more comfortably."

On Sunday in the first inning vs. the Giants, Schebler provided a little reassurance. He fielded a two-out base hit and threw out Joe Panik with a perfect one-hop throw to the plate as he tried to score from second base. It's not always perfect, however. On Wednesday vs. the Brewers, a throw to the plate one-hopped and was well short as scored easily on a Scooter Gennett RBI single in the first inning.

Schebler came to the Reds from the Dodgers in a December 2015 three-team trade with a reputation for a below-average throwing arm. He was viewed as a left fielder or center fielder especially after some poor throws during Spring Training last year. But he spent much of the summer at Triple-A Louisville working on his throwing, and soon after his Aug. 2 recall to Cincinnati, he had two outfield assists from right field.

"I feel like my arm strength has gotten a lot better," Schebler said. "It's one of the things I worked on for quite some time, and it's getting there. I would never say I have a cannon. I may never have one, but you work toward that and maybe you end up somewhere in the middle.

"It helped me to have a bad arm at the beginning of my career because I had to learn ways to stop runners in a different way. I had to get to the ball quicker."

As a right fielder, on balls graded by Statcast™ as being caught by Major League outfielders between 0-50 percent of the time (balls that are hits more often than not) Schebler made the play 30 percent of the time. The MLB average is 33 percent.

According to Statcast™ data from last season, Schebler averaged 86.2 mph on competitive throws, just below the league average of 88.8 mph of all outfielders.

"I think the thing for me last year is that he was a guy who put a lot of air under his throws, and we really wanted him to be online even if there's a hop, as opposed to being able to throw straight through to the plate on the fly," Price said. "We'd rather he threw the ball with less air underneath it, a ball we could cut off and redirect. I think he really had to work physically on this throwing mechanics, which he's done. With the improvement in mechanics, we've seen the improvement in arm strength and accuracy."