No. 7 prospect Steer called up to Reds, debuts Friday

Reliever Fernando Cruz also promoted from Louisiville

September 1st, 2022

CINCINNATI – The first of several prospects the Reds acquired around last month’s Trade Deadline is headed to the Major Leagues. With rosters allowed to expand by two more players in September, Cincinnati called up infielder Spencer Steer from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday.

Steer, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s No. 7 prospect, will make his big league debut on Friday when the Reds open a three-game series vs. the Rockies. Also called up from Louisville was reliever Fernando Cruz.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Steer and Cruz, the Reds transferred infielder Mike Moustakas and reliever Jeff Hoffman to the 60-day injured list.

Acquired on Aug. 2 in the trade that sent starting pitcher Tyler Mahle to the Twins, the 24-year-old Steer is batting .274 with an .879 OPS, 23 home runs and 75 RBIs in 106 games across Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’s batting .294 with three homers in 23 games for Louisville since the trade.

Steer was primarily a contact hitter after being taken in the third round of the 2019 Draft. During the canceled 2020 season, the right-handed hitter worked with Twins instructors to develop his power.

“We looked at the lower half of my swing and how I could get some more power from my legs,” Steer told on Aug. 3. “That was a year-long process, almost, throughout the Covid year with the hitting coaches and player development staff. That was a really good change for me.”

Steer primarily plays third base and second base but has also gotten starts at shortstop, first base and right field since joining the Reds’ organization.

“At this point, I’m all over the place,” Steer said. “I don’t have one position I prefer over the other.”

The Reds made five trades ahead of the Trade Deadline and acquired 10 prospects, but Steer was the only one at the Triple-A level. Third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, also acquired in the Mahle deal, slugged his 30th homer of the season on Tuesday for Double-A Chattanooga.

Cruz, 32, is not a prospect but earned a promotion with a strong season at Louisville. In 51 appearances, the right-hander posted a 2.89 ERA with 23 saves, 19 walks and 66 strikeouts over 56 innings.

It’s been a long odyssey to reach the big leagues for Cruz, a former infielder who started playing professionally for the Royals as a 17-year-old. Since converting to pitching in 2011, he has bounced around the Minor Leagues, winter ball and independent leagues.

From Thursday through the rest of the season, under the rules, active rosters will have 28 players, including 14 pitchers. It’s a departure from past years when rosters could expand up to 40 players without a cap on the number of pitchers.