Steer eager for new opportunity with Reds

August 3rd, 2022

MIAMI – When the Reds sent Tyler Mahle to the Twins before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, the veteran starting pitcher knew he was likely going to be dealt for weeks. For one of the prospects in the transaction, power-hitting infielder Spencer Steer, being traded was a big surprise. 

“You never really expect stuff like this to happen,” Steer said on Wednesday. “I was actually on a bus on the way to the field. It was a shock with some nerves, some excitement, a lot of emotions came rushing in. After having the night to think about it, it’s actually a really exciting time and an opportunity for myself. It’s a pretty cool change and opportunity.” 

Of the 10 prospects the Reds acquired for the five veteran players they traded in the past week, Steer is the closest to the big leagues. The Twins promoted the 24-year-old from Double-A to Triple-A in May.  

Steer was in Omaha with his team when he got word of the deal and was flying Wednesday to Indianapolis to meet Cincinnati’s Louisville affiliate. Now ranked as his new organization’s No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and sitting just outside the overall Top 100, he has been viewed by some observers as just about Major League ready.  

The Reds aren’t rushing Steer, who plays both third base and second base. 

“I'm not going to rule anything out. But at this point, he's going to go to Triple-A and play there and we'll see where it goes through the end of the year,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. 

Here are four things to know about Steer:  

The right-handed hitter found his power during the Covid shutdown 

During his three years at the Univ. of the Oregon and his first pro season after being a third-round selection by the Twins in 2019, Steer was a contact hitter. He never hit more than six homers in a season. 

The 2020 season was canceled by the Covid epidemic. On the other side, Steer hit 24 home runs combined over 110 games at High-A and Double-A.  

“Ever since the Twins drafted me, they wanted me to improve that part of my game and start to hit for more damage. During Covid, we made a lot of changes through trial and error. We looked at the lower half of my swing and how I could get some more power from my legs. That was a year-long process, almost, throughout the Covid year with the hitting coaches and player development staff. That was a really good change for me.”

The power stayed, but Steer’s strikeout rate is going down
This season at Double-A and Triple-A, Steer already has 20 homers in 83 games.

“It’s always good to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and that’s who I want to be as a player going forward – a guy that can consistently get on base but also have some power,” Steer said. “It’s good to see those numbers come back for the second year.”

Last season (110 games): .254/.348/.484, 24 homers, 105 strikeouts (21.5 percent), 55 walks (11.3 percent)

This season (83 games): .269/.361/.528, 20 homers, 66 strikeouts (17.0 percent), 42 walks (10.8 percent)

Steer didn’t lose his contact-hitting discipline and was able to cut down on his strikeout rate.

“I was trying to find the middle ground of trying to do damage but put the ball in play,” he said. “My identity as a player was always contact first, low strikeouts. I was trying to find the balance between hitting for power but going back to my old self too by putting the ball in play.”

Steer is flexible on defense
Steer has primarily played third base, second base and shortstop in college and the Twins system. He will likely play either third base or second base for Louisville.

“At this point, I’m all over the place,” Steer said. “I don’t have one position I prefer over the other.”

An Angels fan growing up
Steer, born in 1997, was a young kid growing up in Long Beach, Calif., when the Angels won a World Series in 2002.

“I hopped on the bandwagon. They were close to home and just won a World Series,” Steer said. “I grew up 20 minutes from the stadium and I went to a lot of Angels games growing up. I watched the early 2000s team. Garret Anderson was my favorite player.”