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Reds Pipeline

Reds prospect Greene rated among top RHP

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

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

Blandino's breakout in Minors has Reds giddy

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

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

Greene looking forward to first full year in pros

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

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

Reds prospect Greene makes splash with camp

MLB.com

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Not even seven months into his professional career, since the Reds made him the No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, Hunter Greene is already making an impact.

The 18-year-old, rated as baseball's 18th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, may still be a ways away from reaching the big leagues, but he's leaving his mark by giving back to the Southern California community from which he came.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Not even seven months into his professional career, since the Reds made him the No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, Hunter Greene is already making an impact.

The 18-year-old, rated as baseball's 18th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, may still be a ways away from reaching the big leagues, but he's leaving his mark by giving back to the Southern California community from which he came.

Greene -- who grew up near Santa Clarita, attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks and was a fixture for many years at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton -- headlined the first leadership camp, baseball exhibition and community festival on Sunday at Inglewood's Darby Park, where he once played in tournaments when he was younger.

"I feel like I was just here playing with these kids," Greene said. "A lot has happened. You know, seeing them and being able to be here with them and share this day is very special."

He's just 18 years old and has only 10 professional games of rookie ball under his belt, but Greene's presence felt natural alongside Sunday's other headliners like Mets ace Noah Syndergaard, Reds legend Eric Davis and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.

"I know how much of an outstanding citizen Hunter Greene is, so coming out here was a no-brainer," Syndergaard said.

"It's not something that you see all the time with a kid that's 17, 18 years old, who just was possessed with so much so fast, who thinks about others at that particular age," said Davis, a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer who won a World Series with the team in 1990. "This is just the first of many things that we're going to be talking about Hunter doing in the community."

Video: Greene on his offseason training, preparing for 2018

Former Major Leaguer Royce Clayton, Angels prospect Dalton Blumenfeld, D-backs prospect Tyler Mark and Inglewood mayor James Butts were also on hand for the event, which featured baseball instruction and demonstrations for children ages 9-14 and a leadership clinic.

"This is the beginning of the year community festival to get everybody energized and involved and supporting baseball," said Winfield, a 12-time All-Star who won a World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992.

The half-day camp centered around five pillars: Integrity, humility, compassion, courage and discipline. All proceeds benefited the Inglewood Baseball Fund, a non-profit that serves local youth through player development, coaching internships, field renovations and college counseling.

"It's special to be here. We have a really good camp that's set up," Greene said. "[Young athletes] need to have the right resources and exposure to move to the next level. They need to have the right coaches out here, have the right mindset, because it's hard, you know. It's a challenge. As long as you have the right circle with you and the right people telling you the right things, I think everything will work out well."

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Rookie's kindness comforts Reds fan's family

Pitcher invites 7-year-old Chace, family to spend day at Redsfest
MLB.com

Rookie Davis saw the tweets in his timeline every so often. They stood out to him because they were a little different from the typical fan tweets a professional ballplayer may see pop up on his social media platforms.

They were just so -- nice.

Rookie Davis saw the tweets in his timeline every so often. They stood out to him because they were a little different from the typical fan tweets a professional ballplayer may see pop up on his social media platforms.

They were just so -- nice.

Davis didn't know Chad Gibson personally, but he learned a lot about him through Twitter: Chad was a lifelong Reds fan, a devoted husband to Lacy, a proud father to Chace, and, man oh man, did he love baseball.

"It didn't matter if it was Major League or Minor League," Lacy Gibson said. "We'd go on vacation to Florida, and we'd always stop at a Minor League team, just to make him happy. He didn't care how far we drove, as long as there was baseball to see."

A quick scroll through Gibson's Twitter verified his deep love for his favorite sport. His timeline consisted mostly of pictures of him and 7-year-old Chace at various ballparks. They collected batting-practice balls together. They watched games together. They obtained autographs together.

They created memories together.

Tweet from @ChadoMGibson: Just bought tickets for my son to see @rookdavis24 in Indy this Sunday. Be prepared he will be the little kid yelling for an autograph pic.twitter.com/2LNDeq0dsb

As Davis navigated through his rookie season as a Reds pitcher in 2017, he took note of Chad's encouraging tweets to him. Like when he made the team out of Spring Training: "@rookdavis24 congrats man. Super excited for you. Good luck this season."

Tweet from @ChadoMGibson: @rookdavis24 congrats man. Super excited for you. Good luck this season.

And when he was preparing for his Major League debut on April 6: "Good luck today @rookdavis24. If You get a win I'll buy @skyline for you. #GoGetThem. #KsForDays #GoReds."

Tweet from @ChadoMGibson: Good luck today @rookdavis24. If You get a win I'll buy @skyline for you. #GoGetThem. #KsForDays #GoReds

The tweets continued after Davis was sent to the Minor Leagues, too. In late June, Chad, a native of Greensburg, Ind., sent a tweet to Davis that he and Chace would be attending a game that weekend in Indianapolis between the Triple-A Indians and Davis' Louisville Bats.

Davis, however, was in Arizona on a rehab assignment, and he couldn't meet the family. Next time, Davis told himself.

In September, Chad bought tickets for him and Chace to attend batting practice before a Reds game at Great American Ball Park. Davis, battling a right hip injury, intended to see the family then, but scheduling conflicts prevented them from officially meeting. Things happen over the course of a day in the life of a Major League pitcher, and free time is often fleeting.

"I wasn't able to make it over to sign," Davis recalled. "I remember seeing the tweet that morning and I remember making it a point that I wanted to find them. Unfortunately, there were other things I couldn't get out of."

Video: PIT@CIN: Davis whiffs Ngoepe in the 2nd

Sadly, tragedy struck a week later. What started as an infection in Chad's arm turned into something much worse. On Sept. 26, 33-year-old Chad Gibson passed away.

Davis, thrown by the news, immediately asked the Reds to help him track down Lacy's number. He exchanged texts with her, facetimed with Chace, and offered what support he could.

When the season was over, Davis, who underwent right hip surgery in October, took that extension of friendship one step further. He invited the Gibson family to Redsfest and asked Chace to hang out with him as his guest throughout the day.

Dec. 2 was a day that would surely have made Chad proud. Davis took Chace on a tour of Great American Ball Park, where they walked around the clubhouse, checked out the pitcher's mound and pretended to rob home run balls in right field.

Then they were off to the Duke Energy Center for Redsfest. With both of their families following closely behind, Chace accompanied Davis during his autograph sessions and other appearances throughout the day.

"Epic," Chace said. "I can't even describe it. It was just so awesome."

This meeting was entirely Davis' idea. While fan-team interactions typically start with the club making the first overtures, this one started with Davis reaching out to the Reds to get things rolling.

Tweet from @alysonfooter: Here���s a Reds pitcher to root for: Rookie Davis recently befriended 7-year-old Chace Gibson, who lost his father suddenly and tragically two months ago. Davis invited the family to hang out with him at Redsfest. Took Chace on a clubhouse/field tour at GABP this morning too. pic.twitter.com/kcf7EYn8iP

"It's a great reminder of why we do this," Davis said. "If you're able to use your platform, and use even social media for in-person experience like this, I know it's something I'm never going to forget. And I hope that for [Chace] and his family, they won't either. I'm incredibly honored to have them here."

An emotional Lacy Gibson gushed about how kind the Reds have been throughout, from sending flowers to the memorial service to the special day at Redsfest.

"It shows there are still nice people and there's still a bright spot to every day," Lacy said. "People can just be nice, for no reason."

Tweet from @lacygibson: We had the best day with @rookdavis24 and his family. Thank you for everything. You amaze me! pic.twitter.com/dCqyJfmldC

The Gibson family wore matching T-shirts to Redsfest. On the front was a depiction of a man with a thick beard -- Chad's signature look -- and on the back were these words: "Love is the most important, but baseball is pretty good too." -- Yogi Berra. In memory of Chad Gibson 1984-2017.

Tweet from @alysonfooter: Chace Gibson & family wore these t-shirts at Redsfest in memory of Chace���s Dad, Chad, a loyal Reds fan. Chad often sent encouraging tweets to Rookie Davis; that���s how the 2 met. Last tweet arrived a week before Chad���s unexpected passing. Rookie reached out to family soon after. pic.twitter.com/uMGa77r4iL

Looking around the scene at Redsfest, Lacy noted how much her husband would have loved this.

"It's been unreal," she said. "My husband was such a huge fan. I know it was so hard to lose him, but I know he kind of orchestrated some of this, you know? There has to be something."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Rookie Davis

Reds trade Rule 5 pick Keller to Royals

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- During the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the Reds selected right-handed pitcher Brad Keller from the D-backs and quickly flipped him in a trade to the Royals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Keller pitched for Arizona's Double-A club in 2017 and had a 4.68 ERA in 26 starts. Cincinnati did not lose any players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- During the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the Reds selected right-handed pitcher Brad Keller from the D-backs and quickly flipped him in a trade to the Royals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Keller pitched for Arizona's Double-A club in 2017 and had a 4.68 ERA in 26 starts. Cincinnati did not lose any players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

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 not on Ohtani's list of finalists

MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The Reds and general manager Dick Williams put a lot of time and attention in efforts to recruit Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. But it appears that they are not one of the finalists to sign the two-way player.

The Reds have not commented on the multiple reports that Ohtani has narrowed his list of choices of to seven teams -- the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Rangers and Cubs.

CINCINNATI -- The Reds and general manager Dick Williams put a lot of time and attention in efforts to recruit Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. But it appears that they are not one of the finalists to sign the two-way player.

The Reds have not commented on the multiple reports that Ohtani has narrowed his list of choices of to seven teams -- the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Rangers and Cubs.

Although Ohtani appeared to be interested in some of Major League Baseball's smaller-market clubs, his list clearly indicates a strong desire to be on the West Coast.

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

On Friday, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters officially posted Ohtani, which gives him until Dec. 22 to sign with a Major League team. Because he is under 25, Ohtani is subject to the international bonus pool signing restrictions. Once he selects a team, the club must pay the Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee.

Cincinnati already exceeded its international signing pool limits last year, which meant it could only offer Ohtani $300,000 for a bonus. But with an understanding that Ohtani wasn't necessarily chasing the top dollar and was interested in issues like training facilities, medical staffs, Minor League organizations and the city itself, Williams hoped that the Reds could emerge from long shot to serious contender.

"We've put a lot of thought and effort into this project," Williams said on Friday.

Ohtani was coveted by virtually all 30 MLB clubs because he is the rare elite two-way player. As a right-handed pitcher, he can throw in the upper 90s, but he is also a left-handed power hitter who can be in the lineup on days he doesn't pitch.

Williams traveled to Sapporo, Japan, in October to signal Cincinnati's interest. He would not describe the types of recruiting material the club provided to Ohtani's representatives during the process.

Besides the signing bonus and geography working against the Reds, Cincinnati lacks a large Japanese population. The Reds are also the only Major League club to have never signed a Japanese player.

Cincinnati manager Bryan Price had given considerable thought to how Ohtani would fit on the roster and how he would use him both as a starting pitcher and a hitter.

"We're not going into this putting our toe in the deep end or testing the waters on this, we are making a full attempt to be a player in this negotiation, so we've had to," Price said on Saturday during Redsfest. "The one thing we don't want to do is make false promises. We won't do that. We're not going to say, 'We're going to do this,' and then pull the rug out from underneath him. We have no interest in doing that."

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 getting early start on new positions

Reds' No. 1 prospect working at 2B, SS, OF in offseason
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Reds top prospect Nick Senzel isn't waiting until his first big league Spring Training to learn the new positions he's already been told he'll play. Senzel is spending time at home in Knoxville and college alma mater, Tennessee, getting prepared.

Senzel, a third baseman, will get chances at second base and shortstop along with both corner-outfield spots. Although he's played the other infield positions in either high school or college, he's never played in the outfield.

CINCINNATI -- Reds top prospect Nick Senzel isn't waiting until his first big league Spring Training to learn the new positions he's already been told he'll play. Senzel is spending time at home in Knoxville and college alma mater, Tennessee, getting prepared.

Senzel, a third baseman, will get chances at second base and shortstop along with both corner-outfield spots. Although he's played the other infield positions in either high school or college, he's never played in the outfield.

"I've already started to try and get an early head start on it," Senzel said during Redsfest. "It feels good. I'm trying to learn the basic stuff right now."

Ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLBPipeline.com, the 22-year-old Senzel is also listed as the eighth-best prospect in baseball. Currently, Cincinnati is happy with the performance of Eugenio Suarez at third base. The club believes Senzel is athletic enough to play other places on the field.

"When opportunities and challenges present themselves, especially on the baseball field, they're exciting," Senzel said. "It's some different positions I've never played before, especially left and right field. It could create some opportunity for me. I'm just going to go out there and try to get some guidance from people who know what they're talking about and play it to the best of my ability."

Cincinnati trio honored by club at Redsfest

The Reds have players at the other positions, as well. Scooter Gennett had a breakout 2017 and became the everyday second baseman, and Jose Peraza has the inside track to replace free agent Zack Cozart at shortstop. Former All-Star Adam Duvall is in left field and Scott Schebler is in right. Both Duvall and Schebler hit 30 home runs last season.

"It's a good problem to have, getting to that point where we have a lot of good players and we don't have enough at-bats for all of them to be everyday players. That's a good thing," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

He is looking forward to his first extended look at Senzel in camp. Price recalled speaking with Reds special assistant and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin last spring about Senzel.

"[Larkin] said if need be, he could play shortstop at the big league level. I want him to help our ballclub, but I also want him to do it at a position where he's comfortable doing what he does," Price said. "I need to build up a stronger familiarity with him to create my own opinions of where he's best suited or if he is a multi-positional asset to our club."

Video: Senzel named the Reds' Pipeline hitter of the year

Senzel batted .321/.391/.514 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games combined last season at Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Pensacola. He missed a few games in the final week of the season while being treated for vertigo, but said the problem is now under control.

It appears likely that Senzel will begin the 2018 season at Triple-A Louisville. However, he's going into spring with higher expectations and wants to make the big league team out of camp.

"That's for sure, that's the goal," Senzel said. "You get invited to big league camp and you feel like you have an opportunity to make the team. I do want to make the team out of camp. That's my goal. Why should it not be? I feel like I've put myself in a pretty good position, and the work I've put in to be in that position. I'm going to continue to keep trying to work."

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, Nick Senzel

Greene taken aback by support at Redsfest

Reds' No. 2 prospect personalizes every autograph for hundreds of fans
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Before he came to Redsfest for the first time on Friday, 18-year-old pitcher and 2017 second overall Draft pick Hunter Greene tried to get as much intel as possible about the event by reading up about it online.

Then Greene went to his autograph station at the Duke Energy Convention Center and the line waiting for him was already at capacity, with several hundred fans. Not too shabby for a guy who is still years away from pitching in the Major Leagues.

CINCINNATI -- Before he came to Redsfest for the first time on Friday, 18-year-old pitcher and 2017 second overall Draft pick Hunter Greene tried to get as much intel as possible about the event by reading up about it online.

Then Greene went to his autograph station at the Duke Energy Convention Center and the line waiting for him was already at capacity, with several hundred fans. Not too shabby for a guy who is still years away from pitching in the Major Leagues.

"I saw it and thought, 'This many people are here to get my autograph?' That was cool," said Greene, the Reds' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. "It's special and it's nice to see that, for sure."

Greene was one the most sought-after high school players in the country before the Reds selected him, and his polished-beyond-his-years personality has already made him a popular person around baseball. He signed for a $7.23 million bonus with Cincinnati and was able to pitch in three games for Class A rookie-level Billings.

Video: Clark on young African Americans in baseball

Fans already have high expectations. Even before Redsfest, he was asked if he was going to lead the Reds to a World Series. How does a kid handle that?

"Just say you're going to do it. And hopefully you do it," Greene said. "They're really nice. I just did the autograph signing and they were really cool. They're just really appreciative that I'm taking time out of my day and helping people out and making people's day."

Greene's autograph line didn't move particularly quick. In a departure from the usual protocol of mass signing sessions, he personalized each autograph for the fans as he talked with them.

Reds general manager Dick Williams believed the exposure of Greene to the fans -- and vice versa -- is good for everybody.

"I'm glad the fans have someone like Hunter Greene to get excited about," Williams said. "In the baseball Draft, it doesn't always work that way, where you have a flyer that's well-known and kind of has his own celebrity in the Draft. Last year, [2016 No. 2 overall pick] Nick Senzel wasn't a household name. Hunter, because of the Sports Illustrated coverage and all that, really has that celebrity status. It's fun for the fans to see someone they can identify with, relate to and feel like it coming."

Video: Price gives reaction to Reds drafting Greene

Following the whirlwind of his senior year at high school, Draft preparation, signing his contract and his first pro season, Greene enjoyed the chance for his first real offseason downtime. He got a new home in Las Vegas and bought himself a 2018 Mercedes-Benz convertible . Otherwise, he doesn't feel he's changed much.

"I'm the same guy, same family members and friends," he said. "Same ol' thing, just the money, I guess, is different."

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, Hunter Greene

Reds add 6 players to 40-man roster

Top 30 prospects Long, Siri, Blandino among those protected from Rule 5 Draft
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The Reds added six players to their 40-man roster to protect them from next month's Rule 5 Draft ahead of a deadline on Monday evening.

Infielder Alex Blandino, second baseman Shed Long, outfielder Jose Siri and right-handed pitchers Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes and Zack Weiss had their contracts selected. Blandino, Long and Siri are Top 30 prospects in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com.

CINCINNATI -- The Reds added six players to their 40-man roster to protect them from next month's Rule 5 Draft ahead of a deadline on Monday evening.

Infielder Alex Blandino, second baseman Shed Long, outfielder Jose Siri and right-handed pitchers Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes and Zack Weiss had their contracts selected. Blandino, Long and Siri are Top 30 prospects in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com.

The moves gave Cincinnati 39 players, and left space for one more addition.

Hot Stove Tracker

Players who signed at the age of 18 or younger become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after five seasons. Those who were 19 or older have to be protected within four seasons. Any eligible player left off the roster becomes available to the other 29 teams in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 14.

A 12th-round pick by the Reds in the 2013 Draft, Long split last season at Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Pensacola. In the 104 games combined, he batted .281/.358/.477 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. MLBPipeline.com ranked the 22-year-old as the organization's No. 7 prospect.

Siri, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, batted .293/.341/.530 with 24 homers and 76 RBIs in 126 games with Class A Dayton. The 22-year-old is ranked as Cincinnati's 22nd-best prospect.

Video: Top Prospects: Jose Siri, OF, Reds

The No. 25 prospect in the organization, Blandino rebounded from a poor 2016 season at the plate in Double-A. In 2017, the 25-year-old batted .265/.382/.453 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs over 125 games combined with Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville. He was a first-round pick (29th overall) in the 2014 Draft.

Lopez, 24, was a sixth-round pick in 2014 and split last season with Daytona and Pensacola. In 26 games (24 starts) he was 9-6 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, while tallying 147 strikeouts and 49 walks over 147 innings.

Reyes was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 and also split last season as a starter with Daytona and Pensacola. He was 8-9 with a 3.60 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, 47 walks and 111 strikeouts over 25 starts and 137 1/3 innings.

A reliever, Weiss was in big league camp with the Reds in 2016 but missed the season because of right elbow surgery. In 34 appearances in '17 with Daytona and Pensacola, he had a 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 13 walks and 56 strikeouts in 41 innings.

Two top 30 prospects were not protected Monday in first baseman Gavin LaValley (No. 20) and first baseman/outfielder Nick Longhi (No. 26). Also left unprotected were catchers Chad Tromp and Joe Hudson and right-handed pitcher Wyatt Strahan.

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 to try Senzel at multiple positions in camp

GM Williams on No. 1 prospect: 'He's got the talent' to play all over diamond
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' No. 1 prospect, Nick Senzel, will need to purchase some new gloves for some different positions next year.

Senzel was drafted second overall in 2016 as a third baseman, and he has seen time solely at the hot corner amid his express lane through the system. When Senzel arrives at his first big league Spring Training in February, he will be given looks at multiple spots.

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' No. 1 prospect, Nick Senzel, will need to purchase some new gloves for some different positions next year.

Senzel was drafted second overall in 2016 as a third baseman, and he has seen time solely at the hot corner amid his express lane through the system. When Senzel arrives at his first big league Spring Training in February, he will be given looks at multiple spots.

"I think he's got the talent to play a couple of different positions, and we're going to let him do that," Reds general manager Dick Williams.

Cincinnati has the so-called good problem in that its third baseman, Eugenio Suarez, is coming off of breakout year. It doesn't mean that Senzel is necessarily blocked, because Suarez -- a natural shortstop -- could always be moved to a different position. But Senzel has experience elsewhere, too.

"This is a guy that played shortstop in college [at Tennessee], played third base in college, played second base as an amateur," Williams said of Senzel. "We think he's clearly athletic enough to go to left field or right field. He's got the bat to do it."

Video: Senzel named the Reds' Pipeline hitter of the year

Senzel, 22, batted .321/.391/.514 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games in 2017, combined among Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Pensacola.

Over the 57 games he played for Pensacola after his June 22 promotion, Senzel hit .340/.413/.560 with 10 homers. It appears likely that he will begin next season at Triple-A Louisville. Besides being ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLBPipeline.com, he's listed as the eighth-best overall in baseball.

Williams likened Senzel's potential trajectory to former Reds All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier. When he was taken 34th overall in the 2007 Draft, Frazier was a shortstop. As a prospect, and during his early days in the big leagues, he played numerous positions -- third base, first base, second base and left field.

"We knew he was going to be able to hit in the big leagues," Williams said of Frazier. "When Todd came up, we thought maybe the opportunity would be in left field, maybe third base, maybe shortstop. He had the ability to play multiple positions, and we played him that way. There's no reason why you wouldn't get [Senzel] some time at different positions."

Video: Top Prospects; Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds

Many have opined that Senzel could have a future as the Reds' second baseman. Scooter Gennett, a March 28 waiver claim, emerged with a breakout season and is under club control for two more years. The organization also has the oft-injured Dilson Herrera, who will be out of Minor League options next spring with little track record since his 2016 trade from the Mets for Jay Bruce. In the corner outfield spots, the Reds have Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and prospect Jesse Winker.

It's often said in the Majors that if a player can hit, teams will somehow find a place for him in the lineup to play. In the short term at least, the club can kick the can down the road a little and find a spot when for Senzel when they have to. Trading him elsewhere is definitely not one of the solutions, but having him be versatile in the field certain is one.

"We see him as a guy we really want to keep," Williams said. "We see him as an important part of our lineup and team in the future. I think he's valuable enough and talented enough that depending on our situation, when and if he's ready, we have flexibility with him."

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

Bells making Fall League a family affair

Father Jay managing Brantley on Scottsdale squad
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League -- with players and coaches from different organizations sharing a single clubhouse -- often acts as a place for new friendships and bonds to form.

For the Bells, the Fall League is an opportunity to strengthen a bond between father and son.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League -- with players and coaches from different organizations sharing a single clubhouse -- often acts as a place for new friendships and bonds to form.

For the Bells, the Fall League is an opportunity to strengthen a bond between father and son.

Not only are Jay (an 18-year Major Leaguer, two-time All Star and 2001 World Series champion) and Brantley (an infielder in the Reds system) participating in the AFL, but both are on the Scottsdale Scorpions roster, with Jay managing Brantley for the first time in several years.

"It's been great after games, just driving home talking about baseball," said Brantley. "It's fun, living at home again. Baseball is both our passions, so it's been awesome so far."

Jay, who just completed his first season as manager of the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees, has wanted to manage in the AFL for a while, and the fact that he's getting a chance to spend so much time with one of his sons is an extra blessing.

"It's a huge thrill to be able to come here and manage," Jay said. "I've wanted to manage in the Fall League for a long time. To have the opportunity to manage him too makes it that much sweeter."

Although he was elated to have the chance to manage his son, Jay had to sit on the news for about a week.

When Jay found out he was managing and that Brantley would be on his team, the Reds had yet to tell Brantley, something Jay wanted the team to have an opportunity to do.

Video: Jay Bell's son, Brantley, drafted by the Reds

The two talked nearly every day, with Jay keeping the secret from his son, but once Brantley found out he was headed to Arizona, he understood why his dad had kept it from him.

"I called him and was like, 'Why didn't you tell me?'" Brantley said. "But he wanted my coaches to tell me. That's one of his favorite parts about managing, he said. Giving the guys the bump up to Double-A or Triple-A is so much fun because he enjoyed that as a player. He takes so much pleasure in our success, he enjoys every single part of this."

As someone who tries to treat all his players as if they are his own kids, Jay truly enjoys watching his players succeed. Jay, a first-round pick of the Twins in the 1984 Draft, has been in professional baseball for over 30 years and knows how grueling and challenging the game can be.

Brantley, an 11th-round pick from the 2015 Draft, is still learning about life as a professional. The 22-year-old hit .232/.293/.300 across 125 games with Class A Dayton and Class A Advanced Daytona this season, but he has a chance to take his game to the next level playing against the advanced competition the AFL offers. Through his first 10 games, he was hitting .262 with six runs, four RBIs, two walks and three stolen bases.

"It thrills me," Jay said. "I don't know where he's going in this game, it's a hard game. I hope he has an opportunity to go to the big leagues and is there a long time, but there's no guarantees. For him to have this opportunity right now is pretty special."

While the duo is relishing the time together and enjoying sharing a dugout, they certainly aren't the only ones excited about the current arrangement.

"My mom loves it," Brantley said. "She knows baseball really well because of my dad, but anything I do she makes it seem better than it is. She's loving smothering me with all that stuff. It's been great, I love her cooking, can't get much better than that."

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

 

Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees

Reds' Arizona Fall League overview

Trahan motivated by Altuve, looking to take next step in AFL
MLB.com

Blake Trahan has heard it before. At 5-foot-9, he's been told at various stages in his career, from high school to a fine college career at Louisiana-Lafayette, to today, that he isn't big enough to succeed. Like with many undersized players, he uses those doubts as fuel and feels fortunate to have a big league role model to follow.

"A lot of professional athletes are bigger guys," said Trahan, who played well enough at Louisiana-Lafayette to land with the Reds in the third round of the 2015 Draft. "But you look at [Jose] Altuve, he has the chance to win MVP. He's put a lot of hope in the little guy's heart, learning from him, seeing what he does. Us little guys, we have to have that edge. We have to be able to play harder than everybody else."

Blake Trahan has heard it before. At 5-foot-9, he's been told at various stages in his career, from high school to a fine college career at Louisiana-Lafayette, to today, that he isn't big enough to succeed. Like with many undersized players, he uses those doubts as fuel and feels fortunate to have a big league role model to follow.

"A lot of professional athletes are bigger guys," said Trahan, who played well enough at Louisiana-Lafayette to land with the Reds in the third round of the 2015 Draft. "But you look at [Jose] Altuve, he has the chance to win MVP. He's put a lot of hope in the little guy's heart, learning from him, seeing what he does. Us little guys, we have to have that edge. We have to be able to play harder than everybody else."

Arizona Fall League roster & stats

Trahan and that positive attitude are currently in Arizona as the infielder ranked No. 27 on the Reds' Top 30 prospects list plays with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. His own worst critic, Trahan was thrilled to head west to get more work in after his first taste of Double-A in 2017.

"It's definitely an honor to play in this league," Trahan said. "A lot of good players have played in this league. You want to follow in their footsteps and you want to hold yourself to that standard. I didn't have a great season and for me, it was another chance to show, work on some things and improve."

Trahan hit just .222 with an OPS of .585 over 136 games with Pensacola in the Southern League. The jump to Double-A didn't throw him off as much as it made him realize there are some things he needs to work on to master the level and move beyond it. "At the end of the day, it's still baseball," Trahan said. "You still see the same pitches, but the pitches are a little better. You have to figure out how to beat the pitcher to his spot.

"One thing is getting your swing shorter and working on certain mechanics. You try to shorten up and use all fields. Working with the swing and becoming a better hitter, a more complete hitter, being able to hit to all fields and having a great approach. That's something I work on, and it's something I look to take care of in this league."

Video: Trahan on improving during the Arizona Fall League

He's also learning how to play on the right side of second base. Outside of one game at third during his debut summer back in the Pioneer League in 2015, every professional game Trahan has played has been at shortstop. His ability to defend there is a source of pride, but he also sees the benefits of playing other positions, something he is doing this fall. "That's just another tool you can put in your pocket," Trahan said. "I've been working a little bit at second base, just to get more comfortable there. I feel I'm ready to go there. I'll get two games a week at shortstop and one at second.

"You want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you do get out of position, whether it's a shift or another position, you want to be comfortable with that and be able to do your job. The ball's hit your way, you want to be able to make that play for your team."

Reds hitters in the Fall League

Chadwick Tromp, C -- The Aruban backstop was on Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic this past March, though he didn't get an at-bat. He earned a promotion from the Florida State League up to Double-A after batting .311 in 33 games with Daytona, though he struggled with the move (.204/.302/.239 in 119 at-bats with Pensacola).

Brantley Bell, 2B -- The son of Jay Bell, who managed the Tampa Yankees in the FSL in 2017, Brantley Bell gets to play for his dad with the Scottsdale Scorpions after facing him when he moved up to Daytona this year. The infielder struggled with the bat in 2017 (.232/.293/.300), though he did steal 29 bases. Work on his plate discipline (130 K's vs. 30 BB) is key in Arizona and beyond.

Taylor Sparks, 3B -- Sparks missed more than two months of the 2017 season because of a broken wrist, so he is using his time in the AFL to literally get back in the swing of things. He's always had legitimate raw power, even managing to homer 10 times in the 57 games he played this season, but he hasn't always made enough contact (460 K's in 366 career Minor League games) to consistently tap into it.

Video: Sparks on facing best competition in Fall League

Reds pitchers in the Fall League

Wendolyn Bautista, RHP -- Signed in December 2012 at age 19 out of the Dominican Republic, Bautista made his United States debut in 2015 and has slowly made his way up the organizational ladder. He spent most of the 2017 season in the Florida State League, but he did make a double-jump to Triple-A for two outings in May and two more at the end of the year. His first two starts in the AFL (8 IP, 14 H, 11 ER) have not gone particularly well.

Joel Bender, LHP -- Bender missed all of the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery and made it back for 20 total innings in 2017, mostly in the FSL, finishing with a 2.70 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19 total outings. The left-handed reliever is making up for some of those lost innings with Scottsdale.

Brennan Bernardino, LHP -- A product of Cal State Dominguez Hills, Bernardino has been exclusively a reliever since the Reds drafted him in the 25th round of the 2014 Draft. The southpaw spent the 2017 season with Double-A Pensacola, striking out better than a batter per inning (42 K's in 40 1/3 IP) while also inducing groundball outs (1.55 GO/AO).

Jake Ehret, RHP -- Ehret began the year in Double-A, but he moved back down to the FSL in May. He did get another shot at the Southern League in late June, but he found himself back with Daytona in August. The 2014 14th-round pick out of UCLA finished with a combined 7.62 ERA and walked (30) nearly as many batters as he struck out (31). He started to right the ship with four scoreless innings over his first two AFL appearances.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Italy's Seminati exceeding expectations at Reds instructs

MLB.com

Because of the rules on international spending, the Reds can't sign a player for more than $300,000 during this signing period due to having gone over their spending allotment last year. That hasn't kept them from scouring the globe for talent.

Nearly all of the players they have signed since the period opened on July 2 come from Central and South America, all but one to be precise. The outlier is also the one who received the Reds' largest bonus of $135,000, and he happens to hail from Italy.

Because of the rules on international spending, the Reds can't sign a player for more than $300,000 during this signing period due to having gone over their spending allotment last year. That hasn't kept them from scouring the globe for talent.

Nearly all of the players they have signed since the period opened on July 2 come from Central and South America, all but one to be precise. The outlier is also the one who received the Reds' largest bonus of $135,000, and he happens to hail from Italy.

Howard, Crawford working to get back on track

First baseman Leonardo Seminati starred for the Italian national 18-and-under team at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Canada in September, hitting .424/.531/.654 with a pair of homers in 26 at-bats. He went from there to Arizona for his first action as a member of the Reds, participating in instructional league play, which runs through Saturday for Cincinnati.

"This is our first time we've seen him," Reds farm director Jeff Graupe said. "He's playing above expectations."

Reds love Heatherly's raw stuff, willingness to learn

Italy's baseball program has grown; it went 2-6 in the WBSC tournament, finishing with an identical record as Nicaragua and Mexico and ahead of South Africa. There has been a small handful of Italian-born big leaguers, but only one since 1962: Alex Liddi, who saw time with the Mariners in 2011-2013 and, like the 18-year-old Seminati, had some raw power to tap into, though he never did so at the Major League level. But the Reds think Seminati could be more than just a loud bat.

Tweet from @WBSC: HOOOOME RUN !!!!!!!!! 🇮 Leonardo SEMINATI. He knew it. 🇮 ITA 1-1 KOR 🇰 5th Inning #U18WorldCup @fibspress pic.twitter.com/cWvwygRisu

"He has major power," Graupe said. "He hit a ball over the scoreboard in Glendale. But he's also a really good athlete. He has the ability to play first, third, and I think he could play the outfield."

Reds Pipeline

More than anything, the Reds have been very impressed with how the Italian teenager has carried himself. Even with an improved program back home, the assumption was that Seminati would be behind others given that baseball in Europe isn't exactly equivalent to the game here. The player development staff has been pleasantly surprised.

"For a young kid who hasn't played a lot, he's not as raw as you'd expect, and it looks like he'll be able keep up with the speed of the game," Graupe said. "You'd think he'd totally get thrown to the wolves, but he's been really good."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

 

Cincinnati Reds