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Inbox: Why do Reds want true center fielder?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers fans' questions
January 31, 2019

Not too sure I understand the "potential" for acquiring a pure center fielder. Why even entertain the thought ... while players are all around already on the Reds? Scott Schebler comes immediately to mind and Phillip Ervin, and the Nick Senzel experience looms. Even Yasiel Puig could do the job.

Not too sure I understand the "potential" for acquiring a pure center fielder. Why even entertain the thought ... while players are all around already on the Reds? Scott Schebler comes immediately to mind and Phillip Ervin, and the Nick Senzel experience looms. Even Yasiel Puig could do the job. Why all the hubbub about reaching out for a pure center fielder? Not too sure I get it. Help me understand.
-- Neb, Pasadena, Calif.

I get your question, completely. Having a corner outfielder playing center field for the Reds, or an infielder like Senzel try it, isn't a terrible solution. Especially at Great American Ball Park where the dimensions are tight, a superstar defender isn't necessarily required. The Reds had Shin-Soo Choo play center field in 2013 and he was competent enough while providing superb offense.
But then I think, "What about the other 81 games?" There is vast outfield terrain at many other ballparks -- with Colorado, San Francisco and Arizona immediately coming to mind. Having a true center fielder, even for a year, could be a good safety net.
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Did the Reds' brain trust commit brain rust by too quickly releasing the defensive center fielder in Billy Hamilton? They now are looking to replace him for 2019. Why did they react so fast to release him without a replacement in mind?
-- Keith G., Piqua, Ohio

They did not react too fast. Hamilton's escalating salary via arbitration and diminishing offensive returns prompted the Reds to go in a different direction. They are willing to give up some defense for better offense in the lineup. And they did have replacements in mind, as they have kept an eye on the free-agent and trade markets. They also have three in-house candidates they feel good enough about in Schebler, Puig and Senzel. Down the road, prospects like Jose Siri and perhaps eventually Taylor Trammell could be the long-term solutions. Siri is ready for the big leagues defensively, but still has some work to do with his hitting.
Who is the next projected starter we could expect to see out of the Minors? Somebody we have not seen yet. Not Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett etc.
-- Bill P., Cincinnati

Take a look at power right-hander Tony Santillan, who was the Reds' Minor League pitcher of the year in 2018 and the No. 5 ranked prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. Santillan reached Double-A last season and has the potential to be a frontline starter. He possesses a well-above-average fastball that stays consistently at 93-97 mph with good movement. His secondary pitches are coming around, and he made big improvements with his command and control the past couple of seasons.

Mark, do you know what the process will look like for the voice to follow Marty Brennaman? Are there any frontrunners?
-- @gregfish_fish on Twitter
 
Although the Reds employ a cavalcade of broadcasters for television and radio, there are no immediately known frontrunners to replace a legend like Marty. Jim Day spent last season trying radio play-by-play, but will return full time to TV this season. Marty's son, Thom Brennaman, expressed no interest in doing radio when he spoke to the Enquirer's John Fay. One name I'd keep an eye on is Tommy Thrall, who came up from Double-A Pensacola last season and called three games. Thrall did a pretty nice job and he will be back to call more games this season. If that goes well, I could see him getting a shot. I could also see the club doing a nationwide search.
With the big 150th anniversary celebration in 2019, why is there no mention of anything related to Pete Rose? You can't celebrate the Reds without Pete.
-- Phil W., Washington Court House, Ohio

To the best of my knowledge, not one player from the Reds' storied history has been singled out for special attention during this anniversary season. Rose has been included in big events like his own number retirement and statue dedication and Reds Hall of Fame inductions in recent years. Especially when the throwback jerseys from the 1960s and '70s are worn during 2019, I'm sure there will be highlighted moments from Rose, Johnny Bench and the rest of the Big Red Machine.

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 and listen to his podcast.