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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reds Have Tough Choices Over Next 10 Days

For Jake Cave and Chris O’Grady, the game against the San Diego Padres will go a long way with determining where they will be the rest of the year/

Both are Rule V draft picks that must be on the 25-man regular season roster all season or be offered back to their original team. The pool of players that have been left unprotected or not placed on the 40-man roster within the first three or four years after signing, depending on the players age when they are signed.  Roberto Clemente was a Rule V draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates off the Los Angeles Dodgers roster in 1954. Most recently the Reds got Josh Hamilton in the Rule V draft.  It is designed to keep teams from stockpiling players in the minor leagues like the Yankees did in the 40's and 50's.

Cave was selected from the Yankees farm system and O’Grady from the Angels system.

Cave, a 23-year old left-handed hitting outfielder, was drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round in 2011.  He is one of the group attempting to win the leftfield job on opening day.  He has the ability to play centerfield that gives him a leg up on the competition and the Rule V advantage is in his favor.  His competitors for the role, Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall have options and be sent to the minor leagues without being exposed to waivers.  Yorman Rodriguez would have to clear waivers and accept assignment or become a free agent.

This spring Cave is hitting .278 with one home run and three RBI.  He adds the element of speed to his mix of talents.  While he doesn’t have a steal yet this spring, he stole 47 bases in 380 minor league games.

O’Grady is a 25-year old left-hander, who was drafted by the Angels in 10th round of the 2012 draft.   He has a 10-13 minor league record with a 3.21 ERA in 38 games, all but two in relief.

The Reds are looking at him as a second left-hander in the bullpen along with Tony Cingrani.

O’Grady pitched in six games this spring and five of them have been scoreless outings.  He had a horrible outing against San Francisco in which he gave up five runs on three hits in 1/3 innings.  Aside from that disaster, he’s pitched six innings and allowed just two other hits and one unearned run.  Equally important he’s issued three walks and two of those were in the debacle against the Giants.

Manager Bryan Price laid it on the line recently.

“Performance will be extremely important from here on out,” Price said.  “We can’t tie up a roster spot for the future.  These guys need to make the team.”

Peraza in Centerfield

Jose Peraza is getting the start against the Padres tonight in centerfield.  Perraza has impressed Price at secondbase and shortstop already.

“I’ve already formed my opinion on Peraza as a secondbaseman and shortstop.  He plays both very well,” Price said.

The Reds coveted Peraza and traded ru for him twice. Once for Aroldis Chapman in a deal that fell through when the Dodgers discovered that Chapman had legal problems.  They finally obtained him in a three team trade, giving up Todd Frazier.  The original plan was to trade Brandon Phillips and insert Peraza at secondbase.  Phillips vetoed the trade as a 10-year, five-year player.

“We see Peraza as a regular rather than a utility player,” Price said.  “It will give us flexibility if he can play centerfield.  He has played more centerfield than most people probably realize.  He has closing speed, like Billy Hamilton, where he can make up ground if he mis-reads the ball or sets up in the wrong spot in the outfield.”

Peraza could be the answer to the Reds’ void as a leadoff hitter.

“We believe he will be an good offensive player,” Price said.

Peraza is hitting .361 and leads the team with five stolen bases.  He is among the best of the Reds running first to third.  In a game last week with Seattle, Peraza sped to third on a line shot to right by Joey Votto.

“That was impressive,” Price said.  “Joey hit a shot. Peraza made it to third easily.”

Dayton Dragons

A lot can happen after the Reds make the final roster cuts but it is a good bet that Dragon’s fans will see the top draft choice from last June, Tyler Stephenson.  The catcher, 19, caught 19 games in Billings last summer.  He hit .268 with one home run.

Brantley Bell, the son of former Reds’ bench coach, Jay Bell.  The younger Bell was in camp early and got some playing time in Cactus League games, making several dazzling plays in the field.

Jose Siri, 20,  is a non-drafted free agent from the Dominican Republic.  Siri is 6‘2“ and 168 pounds but he’s hit 10 home runs in his three years in the system with the Reds’ Dominican League team the Arizona Rookie League and Billings.

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