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Price encouraged by rotation health pre-camp

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- At Spring Training last year, the Reds lost two starting pitchers early to injury, and before April was over they had lost four-fifths of the rotation to the disabled list. Heading into camp for the upcoming season, manager Bryan Price was optimistic.

Three veterans who spent much of 2017 injured -- Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan, are healthy and having normal offseasons.

CINCINNATI -- At Spring Training last year, the Reds lost two starting pitchers early to injury, and before April was over they had lost four-fifths of the rotation to the disabled list. Heading into camp for the upcoming season, manager Bryan Price was optimistic.

Three veterans who spent much of 2017 injured -- Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan, are healthy and having normal offseasons.

Unity, study hot topics at Reds' pitching summit

"I've spoken with several of [the pitchers] and have gotten good reports from [strength coach] Sean Marohn and [head trainer] Steve Baumann," Price said.

The only pitcher behind schedule and not expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training is Rookie Davis. In early October, Davis had right hip surgery to repair the labrum and remove a bone spur. The right-hander began a throwing program this week.

"We'll certainly be cautious with how we get him ready," Price said. "We are at 31 [pitchers] total coming into camp. Thirty out of the 31, right now as we speak, we consider healthy and ready to compete in Spring Training on time without being behind schedule."

Video: Sheldon on Reds' rotation outlook heading into 2018

Finnegan had surgery last season to repair the teres major muscle near his left shoulder. Following a slip and fall on a boat during the summer, he also had right shoulder surgery. DeSclafani missed the entire season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Bailey had bone chips removed from his right elbow just before camp opened -- his third elbow surgery since 2014. He was limited to 18 starts and posted a 6.43 ERA.

Price anticipated all three men to be members of the 2018 rotation, along with young right-hander Luis Castillo. The Reds rotation's 5.55 ERA ranked at the bottom of the National League while being last in the Majors in innings pitched. No significant acquisitions were made to bolster the starting staff because of confidence in the arms that are in house.

Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle and Michael Lorenzen will be among those vying for the fifth spot in the rotation. 

"We draw this up with as much optimism as you can," Price said. "But in the end, we have to be healthy and we have to perform. We have not done that in our recent history. We have to start to outperform our opponent at a much higher rate."

During the Winter Meetings, Price said he identified two starting pitchers that would likely be used in bullpen roles. This week, he kept their names withheld.

"We have to see what we get when our guys show up," said Price, who held a pitching summit for 11 pitchers in Arizona this week. "Unfortunately, we've just had too many early Spring Training injuries. Before games start, guys will know what they are competing for. In the same respect, you have to have fallback options."

As Price has handicapped the favorites for the rotation, and feels there are enough good arms to form a second rotation of quality depth at Triple-A Louisville, he cautioned that things could change during camp.

"Guys could come in injured or unprepared and it's easier to lose a spot in this environment than it's been the last three or four years because we've got enough depth now where we feel like we're covered," Price said. "If someone takes something for granted, that job can be taken by somebody else."

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Unity, study hot topics at Reds' pitching summit

Hurlers, backstops and coaches gather at Arizona training facility
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are calling this week's workouts a "pitching summit." While the term sounds like meeting of pitchers of different disciplines seeking to make peace and levy sanctions on rogue knuckleballers, manager Bryan Price's vision is team building and unity.

Eleven young Reds pitchers and four catchers gathered at the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., to both throw in the bullpen and learn. Price last held a summit in January 2016, when the roster was loaded with many pitchers that didn't have experience above Double-A.

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are calling this week's workouts a "pitching summit." While the term sounds like meeting of pitchers of different disciplines seeking to make peace and levy sanctions on rogue knuckleballers, manager Bryan Price's vision is team building and unity.

Eleven young Reds pitchers and four catchers gathered at the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., to both throw in the bullpen and learn. Price last held a summit in January 2016, when the roster was loaded with many pitchers that didn't have experience above Double-A.

"We were somewhat depleted through trades and injuries at the big league level and were looking forward to this next wave of young pitchers to come through and supplement the big league roster," Price told MLB.com by phone from Arizona. "We knew we had to pick up the pace of their development and unify the group. We're building a team/organizational mentality, not an individual mentality."

For the 2018 version of the summit that began Monday and ended on Thursday, most of the participating pitchers have reached the big leagues. They include Brandon Finnegan, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Zack Weiss, Jackson Stephens, Keury Mella, Kevin Shackelford and Ariel Hernandez.

Tweet from @Reds: We have action!Several #Reds pitchers are in Goodyear already for early work before the official start of spring training next month. ������🌵 pic.twitter.com/KLIz6mNwuv

Cincinnati's pitchers are trying to improve greatly after a 2017 season in which they ranked last in the National League with a 5.17 ERA, while leading the Majors in home runs allowed (248), walks (631), opponents' slugging percentage (.465) and hit batters (77). Depleted by injury and often hampered by underperformers, the Reds used 31 different pitchers, including 16 starters. The rotation provided the fewest innings (820) in the Majors.

In 2016, the Reds' pitching summit was held in early January, before pitchers were ready for mound work. Timing it late in the month for this year was essential.

"Spring Training and regular-season games are starting earlier. We know these kids need to initiate their mound work earlier, by at least a week," Price said. "The pitchers involved are aware that this season is starting earlier so they have to pick up the tempo and start the offseason throwing program earlier. That allowed them to be ready.

"It's nice to have a robust staff of pitching coaches here to oversee these guys as they get started. They get to initiate their bullpen throwing work in front of a Major League pitching coach and our upper-level pitching coaches in the system."

Video: Price discusses the Reds' potential rotation in 2018

After morning bullpen sessions and lunch, the players and coaches headed upstairs to the conference room for what was termed "chalk talk." A large portion of that is the discussion of advanced metrics and data.

"Some of these guys -- just getting their first taste of the big leagues -- will be a little bit more familiar with our analytics and data usage, and our video system, the ways that we use it and the way we evaluate," Price said. "It's such a big part of baseball now."

Price also felt it was important for the coaches on the player development side to also get exposure to the analytical side.

"When you interview for a big league job, if you're not familiar with a lot of the analytics and how we access data, Trackman and the bat system and those things, it does put you behind the 8-ball when you go in for a job interview," Price said.

Ultimately, the message of the topics covered mirror what was discussed two years ago.

"Unification," Price said. "And doing whatever it takes to help the team in a team-first focus."

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Reds prospect Greene rated among top RHP

Former shortstop checks in at No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's list
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, has logged a mere 10 professional games and only three were on the mound. But that hasn't stopped talent evaluators from giving him a high ranking.

MLB Pipeline, which is revealing its Top 10 prospects at each position in the coming days, ranked Greene No. 8 among right-handed pitchers. The list is compiled with input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, has logged a mere 10 professional games and only three were on the mound. But that hasn't stopped talent evaluators from giving him a high ranking.

MLB Pipeline, which is revealing its Top 10 prospects at each position in the coming days, ranked Greene No. 8 among right-handed pitchers. The list is compiled with input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.

The No. 1 pitcher on the list was Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, who was signed by the Angels in December.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

Greene, 18, was arguably the best Draft prospect in the country as a two-player player -- pitcher and shortstop -- for Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The Reds and Greene are focused on having him pitch exclusively, and his fastball can exceed 100 mph. Although he did appear in seven games as the designated hitter last season for Rookie-level Billings, he pitched in three games and posted a 12.46 ERA.

Greene, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect, will move up to Class A Dayton at some point in 2018, but the Reds have not finalized that as they map out his workload for the upcoming season.

Video: Greene on why he chose to pitch in pros

"Like we do with every individual player, we're going to create a plan to best manage the year," Reds senior director of player development Jeff Graupe told MLB.com on Thursday. "Hunter is coming off of a season where he had limited innings and pitches thrown. Just progressing him safely, but at a challenging level, will be the key for the 2018 season. We'll manage his timeline with what we think will be best for him, long term."

Video: Greene on track for first full professional season

While Greene anticipates pitching in Dayton, his gaze is firmly fixed on the big league city one hour south -- Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park. An ETA to the Majors remains a murky prediction, but it's possible Greene would move up quickly through the system if he's healthy and performing well.

"I'm just trying to get there as quick as I can, perform the best that I can to help the team out and handle my business each year," Greene told MLB Network last week. "I don't want to be the same guy each year. I want to get better at some aspect of my game. That's what I'm trying to focus on, getting stronger during the offseason."

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Francisco crushes dinger, then crazy bat flip

Former Major Leaguer Juan Francisco is playing for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League this year. He's a dinger legend in the D.R., already tying the league record for career long balls with his 60th last month. And he can't stop hitting them. The 30-year-old leads the league with eight homers in 35 games. And on Thursday night, he hit a grand slam that went ... well ... we're not really sure where it went. Nobody is. He also unleashed a bat flip that rivals some of the best of all time.

Longtime Minors skip Kelly to manage Louisville

DeShields to be Minor League bunting/baserunning instructor
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- There will be changes in the coaching staff of the Reds' top Minor League affiliate, Triple-A Louisville.

Pat Kelly, who was managing at Double-A Pensacola for the past three seasons, will move up to be Louisville's next manager. Kelly is replacing Delino DeShields, who will remain in the organization as the Minor League bunting and baserunning instructor.

CINCINNATI -- There will be changes in the coaching staff of the Reds' top Minor League affiliate, Triple-A Louisville.

Pat Kelly, who was managing at Double-A Pensacola for the past three seasons, will move up to be Louisville's next manager. Kelly is replacing Delino DeShields, who will remain in the organization as the Minor League bunting and baserunning instructor.

Kelly has managed Minor League teams for 26 years, and he will be making his fifth stop for a team in the Reds' system.

Leon Durham, who played briefly for the Reds in 1988, is returning to the organization as Louisville's hitting coach. Durham spent the past 17 seasons in the Tigers' organization, including last season as their big league assistant hitting coach, and the other 16 with Triple-A Toledo.

Kelly is bringing his bench coach from Pensacola, Dick Schofield, to the same position with Louisville. Jeff Fassero will be back as the team's pitching coach.

At Pensacola, the team told its local media that Jody Davis would be its next manager. Davis was the hitting coach for Louisville last season. Danny Darwin will be back at pitching coach.

Class A Advanced Daytona will have Ricky Gutierrez as manager, Tom Brown at pitching coach, Desi Relaford as bench coach and Alex Pelaez as hitting coach.

For Class A Dayton, Luis Bolivar is returning for his second season as manager, and he will be joined by pitching coach Seth Etherton, bench coach Kevin Mahar and hitting coach Daryle Ward.

Ray Martinez will be back for a third season as Rookie-level Billings manager, and he will have pitching coach Derrin Ebert and hitting coach Bryan LaHair.

Besides DeShields' addition, the Reds' player development coordinators and instructors are largely unchanged from last year, with Billy Doran as field coordinator, Tony Fossas as pitching coordinator, Milt Thompson as hitting coordinator, Darren Bragg as the outfield and quality control instructor, Corky Miller as the roving catching instructor and Joel Noboa as the Latin America field/hitting coordinator.

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Inbox: Will Suarez move to shortstop in '18?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers Reds fans' questions
MLB.com @m_sheldon

Would you rather see Eugenio Suarez at shortstop and Nick Senzel at third base? What do you think?
-- Don, Cincinnati

Even though Suarez wasn't listed among MLB Network's Top 10 third basemen, he's become excellent at that position in a short amount of time, and he is probably better than he was at shortstop. I've never seen Senzel play in person, but have, of course, heard good things. I'm not saying Suarez can't move, but the Reds seem to have a good thing going with him at third base. They also believe he can become an elite player at that position. Senzel appears to be much more versatile and athletic. He could play shortstop, second base, and he's going to try the outfield this spring. They view him like Todd Frazier was in that he played multiple positions when he first came up. Let's see how that goes before deciding the future of third base.

Would you rather see Eugenio Suarez at shortstop and Nick Senzel at third base? What do you think?
-- Don, Cincinnati

Even though Suarez wasn't listed among MLB Network's Top 10 third basemen, he's become excellent at that position in a short amount of time, and he is probably better than he was at shortstop. I've never seen Senzel play in person, but have, of course, heard good things. I'm not saying Suarez can't move, but the Reds seem to have a good thing going with him at third base. They also believe he can become an elite player at that position. Senzel appears to be much more versatile and athletic. He could play shortstop, second base, and he's going to try the outfield this spring. They view him like Todd Frazier was in that he played multiple positions when he first came up. Let's see how that goes before deciding the future of third base.

You say we can't compete for free agents or resign our top players because we're a small market team, then how does Cleveland do it?
-- David L., Albany, Ohio

:: Submit a question to the Reds Inbox ::

The Indians' recent history says they identify a few players they feel they can keep and/or afford for the long term and then they move on from many of the others. From 2009-12, they averaged almost 92 losses per season. The last rebuild began in '08, when CC Sabathia was traded and in subsequent years, the Tribe dealt Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook and Shin-Soo Choo. Among the prospects Cleveland got in those deals were Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco. This offseason, it let Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce go as free agents. The Indians' only big-splash signing in this era was Edwin Encarnacion. Otherwise, they built a winner with smart trades for prospects and/or big leaguers like Andrew Miller, and with homegrown talent -- which is exactly what the Reds are trying to emulate.

Does Homer Bailey have a "no trade" clause in his contract? If not, doesn't he hit his 10-and-5 rights soon? Why not move him now and save some money?
-- Tim M., Cincinnati

Bailey, who has three years and $69 million remaining on his six-year contract, doesn't have a no-trade clause. But if he's traded, money that's deferred in the deal must all be paid. He has nine years of service time so his 10-and-5 rights could kick in. The obstacle about moving him and saving money is he's had three elbow surgeries since 2014 and a disappointing and shortened '17 campaign. His trade value and demand for him isn't exactly robust.

Video: CIN@MIL: Bailey K's four over seven scoreless frames

In view of losing Zack Cozart, in no way expecting Scooter Gennett to have the same year as in '17 and it being unlikely Joey Votto will duplicate a phenomenal year, and only one minor trade, why would the Reds think they can improve much over last year?
-- Dick G., Southport, N.C.

Fair question. I don't think lack of lineup production sent the Reds to a 94-loss season. The pitching fell way short of expectations -- in part because of injuries and because some guys simply didn't pitch well. Although there have been some bullpen upgrades, the Reds are banking on improved health from guys like Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan, and the continued maturation of guys like Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett, and Robert Stephenson. Will it work? Only playing out the season can tell us. By the way, I wouldn't count out Votto from having another great year. The back of his baseball card shows he can, and has, strung a few seasons like that together.

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Senzel lands on Pipeline's All-Defense Team

Nats' Robles receives most votes in survey of front-office execs
MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

Though home runs and upper-90s fastballs may be more eye-catching, defense wins an awful lot of championships. The 2017 Astros were nothing special with the glove, but the 2016 Cubs recorded one of the best season-long defensive performances ever while the 2015 Royals and 2014 Giants also excelled at turning balls in play into outs.

Defensive metrics are improving, giving clubs a better handle on how valuable individual players are in the field, yet it's still far from an exact science and even less so at the Minor League level. In MLB Pipeline's annual survey of front-office executives asking them to identify baseball's best defensive prospect, the 19 respondents tabbed 14 different players.

Though home runs and upper-90s fastballs may be more eye-catching, defense wins an awful lot of championships. The 2017 Astros were nothing special with the glove, but the 2016 Cubs recorded one of the best season-long defensive performances ever while the 2015 Royals and 2014 Giants also excelled at turning balls in play into outs.

Defensive metrics are improving, giving clubs a better handle on how valuable individual players are in the field, yet it's still far from an exact science and even less so at the Minor League level. In MLB Pipeline's annual survey of front-office executives asking them to identify baseball's best defensive prospect, the 19 respondents tabbed 14 different players.

Video: Jim Callis on best catching prospects

Top 10 Prospects by Position

Nationals center fielder Victor Robles, the lone repeater from our 2017 All-Defense Team, led all prospects with four votes. Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford and Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras were the only others to get multiple mentions and join Robles on our 2018 squad, which is based on our survey results as well as separate discussions with scouting and development personnel:

Catcher: Jake Rogers, Tigers
Some scouts considered him the best defender in the entire 2016 Draft, when he went in the third round to the Astros, who used him to pry Justin Verlander from the Tigers last August. Rogers erased 46 percent of basestealers in his first full pro season, enhancing solid arm strength with a lightning-fast transfer and impressive accuracy. His agility and soft hands also make him an outstanding receiver and blocker who excels at framing pitches.

"His defense is so slick," an assistant GM with an American League team said. "He has more of a 55 arm [on the 20-80 scouting scale] but it's so quick and accurate. He has such a pretty release."

Video: Rogers has potential to win a Gold Glove in future

Catcher was the toughest call on our All-Defense Team. The Athletics' Sean Murphy, another 2016 third-rounder, has similar receiving skills and even more pure arm strength but hasn't had the same success nabbing basestealers.

Video: Jim Callis on whether defense is still valued

First Base: Evan White, Mariners
Like Cody Bellinger, the first baseman on last year's All-Defense Team, White could be a Gold Glove first baseman or an everyday outfielder. He has more range than most first basemen, excels at digging errant throws out of the dirt and one scout said he's the best defensive first baseman to come out of college since Nick Swisher. White also has plus speed and solid arm strength, so he's potentially capable of handling all three outfield spots.

Second Base: Luis Guillorme, Mets
He could have challenged for shortstop honors if the presence of Amed Rosario in New York hadn't led the Mets to shift Guillorme to the other side of the bag last June. He's not the quickest middle infielder, but his hands, reflexes and instincts are as good as anyone's in the Minors. He has solid range and arm strength, and he would have led the Double-A Eastern League in fielding percentage at both second (.983) and short (.968) last year if he had played enough at either position to qualify.

Video: Guillorme's defensive versatility at short and second

Third Base: Nick Senzel, Reds
He saw time at second base and shortstop at Tennessee and didn't become an everyday third baseman until his junior season in 2016, when he was the No. 2 overall pick. Senzel is faster and more athletic than most players at the hot corner, where his hands and strong arm are also assets.

Tweet from @Vol_Baseball: ICYMI: Here's a look at @Vol_Baseball third baseman Nick Senzel's No. 1 #SCtop10 play on @SportsCenter tonight! pic.twitter.com/LQTNRPytH0

Shortstop: J.P. Crawford, Phillies
After getting significant support when we assembled our 2016 and 2017 All-Defense Teams, he makes it this time around. Crawford's range at shortstop belies his average speed, and his quick hands, strong arm and uncanny internal clock help him make all the plays. He moved all over the infield for the Phillies last September, looking very good at second and third base for someone with little experience at either position, but is their unquestioned shortstop after they traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres.

"He's very advanced at a premium position," a pro scout with an AL club said. "There are others with better tools at shortstop, but this guy can really play the position and his tools are still plenty good. His feel for shortstop, secondary tools and defensive intangibles help separate him from others."

Video: NYM@PHI: Crawford makes a slick spin and throw

Outfield: Cristian Pache, Braves
Braves überprospect Ronald Acuna can do almost anything on the diamond, including play quality defense in center field, but he'll eventually have to cede the position. That's because Pache's blazing speed and fine instincts allow him to cover more ground in the outfield than perhaps any other prospect. He also has plus arm strength, unusual for his position, and used it to top the low Class A South Atlantic League with 17 assists last summer.

Watch: MiLB Video

Outfield: Victor Robles, Nationals
If Pache doesn't have the best range among outfield prospects, then that distinction might belong to Robles. He not only has plus-plus speed but also the arm strength to match. While he could cruise on natural ability, he has worked diligently to improve his reads, routes and throwing accuracy.

"He's a game-changing defender," a National League farm director said, "with both his arm and his glove."

Video: WSH@NYM: Robles shows off defensive skills in right

Outfield: Leody Taveras, Rangers
One of the best athletes available during the 2015-16 international signing period, Taveras is highly advanced for a teenager. He makes the most of his plus speed in center field, getting quick jumps and taking direct routes, and his solid arm strength would fit anywhere in the outfield.

"He plays center field so easy," an AL farm director said. "I bet Carlos Gomez was like that as a teenager. It's a similar body and an explosive athlete."

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

Reds sign Hamilton, Lorenzen, DeSclafani

Suarez, Gennett appear headed to arbitration hearings
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- At the Friday 1 p.m. ET deadline for clubs and eligible players to exchange salary figures, the Reds avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts with outfielder Billy Hamilton, reliever Michael Lorenzen and starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. According to FanRag Sports, Hamilton will sign a $4.6 million contract, Lorenzen will get $1.31 million and DeSclafani $860,000.

That left Cincinnati with two players eligible for arbitration in third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett. Negotiations can continue right up to the scheduled arbitration hearings, which will run from Jan. 29-Feb. 16. But in recent years, the club has instituted a policy of going to arbitration hearings once figures are exchanged.

CINCINNATI -- At the Friday 1 p.m. ET deadline for clubs and eligible players to exchange salary figures, the Reds avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts with outfielder Billy Hamilton, reliever Michael Lorenzen and starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. According to FanRag Sports, Hamilton will sign a $4.6 million contract, Lorenzen will get $1.31 million and DeSclafani $860,000.

That left Cincinnati with two players eligible for arbitration in third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett. Negotiations can continue right up to the scheduled arbitration hearings, which will run from Jan. 29-Feb. 16. But in recent years, the club has instituted a policy of going to arbitration hearings once figures are exchanged.

Suarez filed for $4.2 million, while the Reds countered at $3.75 million. Gennett filed for $5.7 million and the club countered at $5.1 million. Both players would have their cases against the club heard before a three-person panel, which will choose between one side's salary proposal over the other's for a binding one-year contract.

Video: PIT@CIN: Suarez launches two-run homer in 6th

The last time the Reds went to arbitration with a player was 2016, when they lost their case against reliever J.J. Hoover.

Suarez, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time, batted .260/.367/.461 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs in 156 games last season. Claimed off of waivers from the Brewers at the end of Spring Training, Gennett emerged with a career year as he hit .295/.342/.531 with 27 homers and 97 RBIs in 141 games. Eligible for the second time, he signed a contract worth $2.525 million with Milwaukee in 2017.

Video: STL@CIN: Gennett goes deep four times vs. Cardinals

Hamilton batted .247 with a .299 on-base percentage, 85 runs and a career-high 59 steals over 139 games in 2017. Eligible for arbitration a second time, he avoided the hearing last offseason by signing a one-year deal worth $2.625 million.

Lorenzen, who will compete for a rotation spot this spring, has worked exclusively out of the bullpen the past two seasons. He finished 8-4 with a 4.45 ERA in a career- and team-high 70 appearances in 2017 while earning $555,000. He was considered a Super Two player, which allowed him early eligibility for arbitration after two-plus years of service time.

Video: CIN@ATL: Lorenzen gets a force out to secure the win

DeSclafani missed the entire season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. In a 2016 season shortened by a strained left oblique, the right-hander went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA with one complete game in 20 starts spanning 123 1/3 innings. He made $585,000 in '17.

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani, Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton, Michael Lorenzen, Eugenio Suarez

Hamilton stands courtside before Pacers game

The Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was the place to be on Friday night, as the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers were in town to play the Pacers. It was a hot ticket, but Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton was lucky enough to nab one.

That's not all, though -- Hamilton also got to stand courtside before the game, decked out in all-white clothes in support of the Pacers.

Greene looking forward to first full year in pros

Highly touted prospect hopes to start 2018 season in Class A
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Although the Reds have not made an official decision yet, Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene is dreaming on the idea of beginning his 2018 season at Class A Dayton.

"I guess they sell out every game," Greene said Thursday during an interview with MLB Hot Stove on MLB Network. "There should be a good crowd and a lot of support from the fans, which is great to see. I'll have a great time out there, meet some new guys and go win as many games as possible."

CINCINNATI -- Although the Reds have not made an official decision yet, Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene is dreaming on the idea of beginning his 2018 season at Class A Dayton.

"I guess they sell out every game," Greene said Thursday during an interview with MLB Hot Stove on MLB Network. "There should be a good crowd and a lot of support from the fans, which is great to see. I'll have a great time out there, meet some new guys and go win as many games as possible."

Greene, 18, was the second overall pick by the Reds in the 2017 Draft and is ranked as Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect and No. 18 overall by MLB Pipeline.

Video: Top Prospects: Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds

Dayton, Ohio, and the team's home at Fifth Third Field, is about an hour from Cincinnati. That is, of course, Greene's ultimate destination as a professional.

The Reds, including senior director of player development Jeff Graupe, have not made a firm commitment as to when exactly Greene might begin pitching in Dayton.

"Like we do with every individual player, we're going to create a plan to best manage the year," Graupe told MLB.com on Thursday. "Hunter is coming off of a season where he had limited innings and pitches thrown. Just progressing him safely, but at a challenging level, will be the key for the 2018 season. We'll manage his timeline with what we think will be best for him, long term."

Greene enjoyed his first professional games at the Reds' Short Season affiliate in Billings, Mont. Before he was drafted, he was viewed as a potential two-way player since he can also hit and play shortstop at an elite level. But the right-hander, who can throw 100 mph, is glad that the Reds have him pitching exclusively.

Video: Greene on his offseason training, preparing for 2018

"I love to be in control of the game," Greene said. "When I have the rock in my hand and I'm on the mound, it's like I'm in complete control of the whole baseball game. I like to do that and be on that island and feel like I can control everything, pound the zone and just go after guys on the mound. It's something I really look forward to."

Greene has spent his offseason working on building strength for his first full year as a professional. But on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif., he spent time giving back. He held his first leadership camp, baseball exhibition and community festival and had guests like Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, Reds great Eric Davis and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.

Greene, who grew up in nearby Santa Clarita, did not want to wait until he was in the Major Leagues to start doing community outreach.

"I wanted to give the kids something that I had. I think having the right resources and the right people around you to tell you how to succeed and fulfill your dreams is the biggest part," Greene said. "I wanted them to have that connection with the right coaches and the right people to help them as much as they can."

Video: Hunter Greene Baseball Fest provides outlet for kids

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Blandino's breakout in Minors has Reds giddy

Former first-round Draft pick takes part in MLB's Rookie Career Development Program
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds infield prospect Alex Blandino seemed poised to play himself right off of the organization's radar in 2015-16 as he struggled to hit. That all changed in 2017, as Blandino's bat started to click, powering him to a breakout campaign.

Blandino was added to the 40-man roster in November and was among those invited to the MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Virginia last week.

CINCINNATI -- Reds infield prospect Alex Blandino seemed poised to play himself right off of the organization's radar in 2015-16 as he struggled to hit. That all changed in 2017, as Blandino's bat started to click, powering him to a breakout campaign.

Blandino was added to the 40-man roster in November and was among those invited to the MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Virginia last week.

"It's a huge honor to be here and to learn from so many guys that have been here and done this," Blandino said of the program to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. "I'm thankful for the Players Association to put this on for us."

Video: Blandino on Bubba Watson hitting golf balls

Blandino, 25, is the No. 25 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline. Last season, he batted .265/.382/.453 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs over 125 games combined with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville.

How did Blandino turn his career around?

"I think just getting back to the things that always made me successful growing up and in college -- just competing every day and doing the little things," he said.

A first-round pick (29th overall) in the 2014 Draft, Blandino's struggles began after he was promoted midway through the 2015 season from Class A Advanced Daytona to Pensacola. Although he had a .350 on base percentage, he hit just .235. He spent the entire '16 season at Pensacola, hitting .232/.333/.337 with eight homers and 37 RBIs.

"It's all about the journey," Blandino said. "It's hard to plan when you're young. You don't always know what to expect. But every step of the way, it's about improving and learning and having a successful career moving forward. Luckily last year, I got back on the right track I was looking to be on. I'm really excited for 2018."

Blandino was selected out of Stanford University as a shortstop, but played only five games at the position last season. He primarily plays second base now, but also got significant time at third base. The Reds view him as someone that could come up and handle himself defensively at any of the three positions.

"Coming up through the Minors, it's finding your place in the organization, finding where you fit in and where you can help them," Blandino said. "Bouncing around, having that defensive versatility, I think it's something I pride myself in for sure. I think the Reds are looking forward to having me help them. If you can hit and play multiple positions, it's easier for them to find a place for you."

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Alex Blandino

2018 Reds Caravan schedule announced

Players, prospects, broadcasters will cover 18 stops across five states
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Members of the Reds -- current and past -- and the front office will be hitting the road to talk baseball with fans as Spring Training is just around the corner.

On Wednesday, the club announced its schedule for the 2018 Reds Caravan, which will be held Jan. 25-28. Presented by CincinnatiUSA.com, the team's busses will spread out around the region and visit five states -- Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee.

CINCINNATI -- Members of the Reds -- current and past -- and the front office will be hitting the road to talk baseball with fans as Spring Training is just around the corner.

On Wednesday, the club announced its schedule for the 2018 Reds Caravan, which will be held Jan. 25-28. Presented by CincinnatiUSA.com, the team's busses will spread out around the region and visit five states -- Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Caravan provides fans the chance to see players, Minor League prospects, broadcasters and front-office members and ask questions before autograph sessions. All 18 featured stops are free and open to the public.

Reds Caravan info

Here is the breakdown of the four Reds Caravan legs:

The North tour will travel through the Ohio cities of Columbus, Lima, Dayton and Hamilton. Featured will be Reds pitcher Amir Garrett, general manager Dick Williams, broadcasters Jeff Brantley and Jim Day and Minor League catching prospect Tyler Stephenson.

Tweet from @Reds: It's almost time for us to hit the road! 🚌Everything you need to know about the 2018 #RedsCaravan is right here: https://t.co/pHoajE3cro pic.twitter.com/tNOlpNTK0f

On the South tour are stops in Louisville, Bowling Green and Lexington, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. Outfielder Phillip Ervin, outfield prospect T.J. Friedl, former catcher and current Minor League catching instructor Corky Miller, president and chief operating officer Phil Castellini and senior director of player development Jeff Graupe. Left fielder Adam Duvall and advisor to the CEO Walt Jocketty will be at the Louisville stop only, and former Reds outfielder Austin Kearns will be at his hometown stop in Lexington only.

The West tour exclusively covers Indiana, with stops at Muncie, Evansville, Bloomington, Indianapolis and Batesville. Led by broadcasting icon Marty Brennaman, it will also have left fielder Scott Schebler (Thursday and Friday only), catcher Tucker Barnhart (Muncie, Indianapolis and Batesville only), Minor League outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, former player Dmitri Young and assistant GM Nick Krall.

And headed out on the East tour through Athens, Ohio; Charleston, Huntington and Parkersburg in West Virginia will be manager Bryan Price, pitchers Sal Romano and Cody Reed, Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, former pitcher Tom Browning and senior advisor to the GM Buddy Bell.

The final Caravan stop will reunite all four tours at the Florence Mall in Florence, Ky., on Sunday, Jan. 28. Doors to the mall open at 9 a.m. ET, with the Q&A session set to begin at 11 a.m. From 12-2 p.m., fans can get autographs.

There will also be 20 stops at Reds radio affiliates and four schools as part of the "Reds Caravan Takeover."

For the full schedule and itinerary details, go to the 2018 Reds Winter Caravan page at reds.com/caravan.

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Iglesias leads strong back end of bullpen

Peralta, Hughes provide quality setup options in front of closer, but questions remain
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds' rotation compiled the fewest innings in the Majors last season, it was left to the bullpen to fill in the gap. Manager Bryan Price left the role definition fluid, and at first, Reds relievers provided the zeros needed when the starters faltered.

But workload and attrition eventually caught up to them. Reds relievers led the Majors in walks and hit batters and led the National League in runs allowed while ranking 14th out of 15 clubs with a 4.65 ERA.

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds' rotation compiled the fewest innings in the Majors last season, it was left to the bullpen to fill in the gap. Manager Bryan Price left the role definition fluid, and at first, Reds relievers provided the zeros needed when the starters faltered.

But workload and attrition eventually caught up to them. Reds relievers led the Majors in walks and hit batters and led the National League in runs allowed while ranking 14th out of 15 clubs with a 4.65 ERA.

Votto's influence strong on Reds' 2018 lineup

Combo of young arms, vets fills out rotation

Heading into Spring Training, there will likely be several new faces. On Dec. 26, veteran right-hander Jared Hughes was signed to a two-year, $4.5 million contract. Vance Worley, Kevin Quackenbush and lefty Kyle Crockett will be among those in camp as non-roster invitees, and general manager Dick Williams may not be done making additions.

Video: Reds sign reliever Hughes to two-year deal

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpens for all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training, including this look at the Reds.

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Raisel Iglesias, RHP (closer)
Wandy Peralta, LHP
Jared Hughes, RHP
Michael Lorenzen, RHP
Kevin Shackelford, RHP
Austin Brice, RHP
Vance Worley, RHP

STRENGTH
Iglesias quietly emerged as one of the game's more dependable -- and durable -- closers last season. He had 28 saves in 30 chances with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 63 appearances. Iglesias also pitched 76 innings, leading the Majors with eight saves of at least two innings. Peralta led all big league rookies with 69 appearances and showed no fear in the lefty setup role while demonstrating improved command of a slider to go with his fastball. Lifetime at Great American Ball Park, Hughes has a 2.11 ERA in 21 games while pitching for the Pirates and Brewers. He excels at keeping the ball on the ground.

Video: STL@CIN: Peralta gets a double play, escapes trouble

QUESTION MARK
There are plenty in the front end of the bullpen, which lacks pitchers with extended track records. Brice and Shackelford got extended looks but have to do more to prove that they can do the job. Worley is coming off of a rough year in Miami, where he had a 6.91 ERA, but his versatility might come in handy.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
A lot could shift in this area, depending on if there are more free-agent signings. Any additions made would likely be Minor League deals or one-year big league contracts as prices drop before Spring Training. During the Winter Meetings, Price noted that two unnamed pitchers in the organization who have historically been starters would be given chances this spring only in bullpen roles. Lorenzen, who is being given a chance to start in camp, would return to a setup role if he didn't make the rotation.

Video: CIN@CHC: Hernandez K's Schwarber with bases loaded

The Reds like Ariel Hernandez, who has a big curveball and triple-digit velocity, but he has command issues. He could find a spot if he smooths things out. Also, those who are competing as starters this spring that don't get a spot in the top five could find work as relievers -- much like Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed did coming out of camp last year. Prospect Jimmy Herget, 24, is a sidearm pitcher who did very well in Double-A and Triple-A last season and could work his way onto the staff. Same goes for more experienced pitchers like Quackenbush and Crockett, who have not pitched as well in recent years as they did when they first reached the big leagues.

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Jared Hughes, Raisel Iglesias, Wandy Peralta