Siani's super power restored in Fall League

October 25th, 2021

Telling Michael Siani that he’s not allowed to play the outfield would be like telling Superman he was grounded.

The Reds' No. 11 prospect has been known for his defensive prowess since high school and certainly added to his profile in the 2018 Draft. He gets 60s on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for his glove work in center field as well as his arm. But an elbow issue from last year that required substantial rehab work meant Siani had to begin the year in the lineup, but not on the field, taking away some of his super powers.

“It was definitely tough at the beginning of the season, only being able to DH, not being able to play,” Siani said. “But the rehab went well. I’m sticking with the program I’ve been going through the whole season, so I’m going to keep that going. It’s been good, no problems, no setbacks, anything like that, so should be all good to go 100 percent.”

The speedy outfielder has gotten off to a slow start for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League after playing in just 97 games for High-A Dayton during the regular season. A total of 21 of those came as the DH for the Dragons, so he was thrilled when the Reds asked him to head to Arizona.

“It was definitely a big deal,” Siani said. “It’s an honor to come here and be able to extend the season a little bit, get a lot more at-bats, a lot more games in. It’s great to come out here and keep competing.”

In order for Siani to be able to compete well at the higher levels, he is going to have to hit more. While he stole 30 bases this year after swiping 45 in 2019, he has just a .675 OPS in just over 1,000 professional at-bats. He draws walks, but hasn’t been able to impact the baseball consistently. He’s working on that and so much more, hoping to soak up as much baseball wisdom in the Fall League as possible.

“My goals are staying healthy and having consistently good at-bats, hitting the ball hard and feeling comfortable in the outfield,” Siani said. “And learning as much as I can from these coaches and my teammates that are here. It’s important to get an idea of how every organization does it. Obviously, I’ve only been with the Reds in my career, but it will be good to get a vibe of how everybody does their thing and maybe take some stuff and go from there.”

Others in the AFL might want to get his notes on patrolling the outfield. Siani can flat-out play center field and has already been getting a good idea of how things work in Arizona.

“I think it’s just instincts and reps, honestly,” he said about his defensive tools. “Going out there during batting practice and just seeing as many balls off the bat as you can, being able to adjust to that. Obviously, it’s a different atmosphere here than it would’ve been in Dayton, higher sky, ball is going to fly a little bit more. It’s just adjusting to where you’re at.”

Siani also has one other resource to talk outfield with: his younger brother, Sammy, currently a prospect in the Pirates organization. Michael’s a year-and-a-half older, but they use each other as sounding boards, even if it’s just to touch base about the grind of being a professional player.

“I like to let him do his own thing,” Siani said. “I know he has his own career and I know he wants to do his own thing. But at the same time, I’ll talk to him often, just check in and see how he’s doing. Maybe he’ll give me some advice, I’ll give him some advice, but nothing crazy. It’s pretty low-key.”

Reds hitters in the AFL

Ivan Johnson, SS/2B (No. 16): The switch-hitting middle infielder parlayed a huge season at Chipola Junior College in 2019 into becoming the Reds’ fourth-round pick in the 2019 Draft. After a strong showing at instructs in 2020, he maneuvered across two levels of A ball in 2021. He recorded double-digits in home runs and stolen bases despite playing just 79 games, mostly at shortstop, after spending a month on the injured list.

Drew Mount, OF: A dislocated ankle kept Mount, a 16th-round pick in the 2018 Draft, off the field for nearly two months at the start of the 2021 season, though he returned and played well in Double-A. The former college football player brings that aggressive mentality to the field, along with good mistake pull power, average speed and defense. If he can improve his all-fields approach, he has the chance to be a fourth outfielder or platoon type.

Reds pitchers in the AFL

Michael Byrne, RHP: A 2018 draftee, Byrne spent most of 2021 as a reliever in Double-A, though he got a taste of Triple-A at the end of the season. He doesn’t have wow stuff from a fastball velocity standpoint, but natural deception helps everything play up. He uses his cutter and slider as his primary weapons and stays away from hard contact consistently.

Eddy Demurias, RHP: Coming off a strong year, mostly in the Double-A bullpen, in which he posted a 2.24 ERA and .168 batting average against, Demurias uses his fastball-slider combination very well, with good ride on the heater and a sharp breaking ball. He needs to keep working on his command (4.88 BB/9 in 2021), and while he’s a bit fatigued after a long year, he’s super-competitive on the mound.

James Marinan, RHP: The Reds got Marinan from the Dodgers in July 2018 and he’s shown glimpses of exciting stuff coming from his 6-foot-5 frame, but injuries have really held him back. He had an elbow stress fracture in 2019 and pitched just 64 2/3 innings during the regular season. He finished well in High-A, and like Mount, Byrne and Demurias, he’s using the Fall League as a 40-man roster spot addition.

Jacques Pucheu, LHP: A 2019 non-drafted free agent, Pucheu began the year in High-A and finished it in Triple-A, seeing time both as a starter and reliever. He has fringy stuff, with a below-average fastball velocity-wise, but he commands the pitch well and knows how to use it along with a plus changeup that’s his out pitch. His breaking ball is also fringy, though he throws it for strikes as well.