5 takeaways from Reds Spring Training

March 16th, 2020

When the Reds arrived to Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., in February full of optimism after an aggressive offseason, no one could have imagined how camp would eventually come to an end. Spring Training is done for now and the regular season is delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, there were still some developments to take note of from the Reds’ time in the desert. Here are five things we learned and what it might mean when the regular season gets underway:

Akiyama is as advertised
Although they never got a chance to roll out their Opening Day-type lineup with all of their regulars, the Reds’ revamped offense showed some life and it’s a good sign for their chances to contend. was as advertised with his skills of putting the ball into play and getting on base, which will be crucial to Cincinnati creating run-scoring opportunities for the middle of the lineup in 2020.

Offense showed life, but work remains to be done
missed nearly a week on paternity leave but returned to hit a couple of home runs and has fit into the clubhouse very well. and also appeared ready to make the questions about the crowded outfield even tougher for the Reds. All are good signs, as Cincinnati is focused on producing more runs than it did in 2019.

But there was still work to be done. , who missed a week because of illness, had yet to click at the plate. was batting .095 before the stoppage of play but was tied for the MLB lead in walks. Votto said he was starting to feel like himself again at the plate and making good swings. Outfielder and catcher were among those still not having success.

Gray, Bauer, DeSclafani looking good
The Reds' rotation was expected to be the biggest strength of the club going into 2020, and there were some good signs during camp. , who pronounced himself ready after his last Cactus League outing, allowed one earned run in nine innings with eight strikeouts.

“I’m able to command all my pitches, the [velocity] is there and I’m recovering well,” Bauer said following his March 8 outing vs. the Angels. “My prep is good. I was 94-95 [mph] today with basically no adrenaline. All of my stuff is sharp.”

looked good in his two Cactus League starts and worked an additional "B" game. was completely healthy after bone chips were removed from his right elbow, and he was able to spin his curveball freely without stiffness or discomfort. Gray didn’t have a good last start in Arizona, but he looked very strong in his first two starts.

On the other hand, ace wasn’t as crisp with nine earned runs, 16 hits and four walks over 9 1/3 innings in four starts. was still finding his form after his two starts, having allowed seven earned runs on six hits over only 3 2/3 innings.

Suárez and Senzel should be ready
Based on what was seen in camp, it wasn’t too optimistic to believe that third baseman and center fielder could be ready for the originally scheduled Opening Day. Suárez, who had right shoulder surgery in January following an injury from an accident at his home swimming pool, progressed rapidly during his rehab and was taking full batting practice and throwing. Had games not been canceled, he was set to begin making Cactus League appearances.

Senzel, who had right shoulder surgery in September, already played four games (all as the designated hitter) and felt good making throws from the outfield during workouts. His first hit of spring was a home run to the opposite field. Senzel added muscle during the offseason, and with a rookie season of experience behind him, he appeared ready to take the next step in establishing himself in the big leagues.

José Garcia appears legit
Ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Reds' organization by MLB Pipeline, shortstop José Garcia impressed everybody during his first big league camp. Garcia led the club with four homers and showed plenty of agility and skill defensively.

“What everyone is seeing is certainly what we expect from him. He’s a special player,” said Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, who worked with Garcia in camp.

Garcia was expected to begin 2020 in Double-A, but a strong regular season could speed his arrival to the Major Leagues to 2021 or, perhaps, later this year.