Reds balance roster between development and depth

Team leaves three spots open for roster flexibility

Cincinnati Reds General Manager Nick Krall had to learn on the fly in recent months like everyone else in the front office.

When he said, “This was amazing,” on Sunday in response to a question about putting together a player pool for summer workouts, he was talking about all the hurdles the Reds had to overcome just to get to this point.

Where were they going to train? How were they going to transport players from site to site? How would they maximize the use of the space at the fields? These were all questions the Reds had to consider before picking the groups that will train at Great American Ball Park and at Prasco Park in Mason.

“It’s a lot of stuff we’ve never dealt with,” Krall said on a conference call with reporters. “It’s all part of the process.”

Teams had until 4 p.m. Sunday to pick up to 60 players who will be eligible to play in the 2020 season, which will start July 23 or July 24 for the Reds. The Reds announced a group of 57 players. That means they can still add three names in the coming weeks.

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The Reds tried to balance their selections between development and depth, meaning they invited several of their top prospects — including 2018 first-round pick Jonathan India and 2019 first-round pick Nick Lodolo — but mostly players who will be more likely able to contribute if needed in the 60-game season.

The Reds didn't consider 2020 first-round pick Austin Hendrick or 2017 first-round pick Hunter Greene, who underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago.

“He’s finished his rehab,” Krall said. “He’s a guy we’re trying to figure out how to continue to maximize this year for him. He wasn’t a consideration now, but again, we’ve got three spots open. You can always add people at a later date if and when someone’s ready to be put on the roster.”

One notable omission was Derek Dietrich, who hit 19 home runs for the Reds last season and signed a minor-league contract in February. Dietrich could still join the group at a later date. The Reds left spots open to have some roster flexibility.

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Another player who didn’t make the list was right-handed pitching prospect Vladimir Gutierrez, who was one of four minor leaguers from throughout baseball suspended Sunday for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He was the Reds’ 15th-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Krall said Gutierrez and the Reds have known about the positive test since March.

Of the players who participate in summer training, 30 will make the Opening Day roster. The rest will go on the taxi squad and be eligible to play if needed. The roster will be trimmed to 28 two weeks into the season and will number 26 for the final month.

Most of the players who will train at Great American Ball Park are established big leaguers who will be expected to make the Opening Day roster. Krall said all but two players are in the United States — relief pitcher Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic); and first baseman Joey Votto (Canada) — and he didn’t anticipate any problems with them getting to Cincinnati.

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Some players — and other members of the organization — have already gone through the check-in process with the Reds. That means they’ve undergone COVID-19 testing and have been instructed to stay at home until they get the results. They can’t return to Great American Ball Park until workouts begin.

The check-in process began Saturday and will continue this week with all players expected to check in by Wednesday. The first team workouts will be Friday.

“I didn’t get tested yesterday because I was going to this recital (Sunday),” Krall said. “Once I get finished with this, I’ll get my test and live life in the bubble. You don’t want to ruin the season for somebody else. I don’t want to go out and do something and test positive and then give it to somebody else and then you shut down a roster. That would be disastrous. No one wants to do that.”

Cincinnati Reds’ player pool

Great American Ball Park group

Pitchers: Trevor Bauer; Matt Bowman; Luis Castillo; Anthony DeSclafani; Amir Garrett; Sonny Gray; Raisel Iglesias; Nate Jones; Joel Kuhnel; Michael Lorenzen; Tyler Mahle; Wade Miley; Cody Reed; Sal Romano; Justin Shafer; Lucas Sims; Robert Stephenson; Pedro Strop; and Tyler Thornburg.

Catchers: Tucker Barnhart; and Curt Casali.

Catcher/infielder: Kyle Farmer.

Infielders: Alex Blandino; Matt Davidson; Freddy Galvis; Mike Moustakas; Eugenio Suárez; Josh VanMeter; and Joey Votto.

Outielders: Shogo Akiyama; Nick Castellanos; Phillip Ervin; Mark Payton; Nick Senzel; and Jesse Winker.

Prasco Park group

Pitchers: R.J. Alaniz; Tejay Antone; Jesse Biddle; David Carpenter; Jose De León; Ryan Hendrix; Nick Lodolo; Alex Powers; Brooks Raley; Tony Santillan; Josh D. Smith.

Catchers: Tyler Stephenson and Francisco Peña.

Infielders: Jose Garcia; Jonathan India; Christian Colón and Alfredo Rodriguez.

Outfielders: Aristides Aquino; Stuart Fairchild; Travis Jankowski; Boog Powell; and Scott Schebler.

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