Candidates to Make Cincinnati Reds Team If Rosters Are Expanded For 2020
With the season shortened to 60 games, the rosters will be expanded for the 2020 season. The first two weeks of the season will see 30 players on the roster, then down to 28 for those next two weeks, then finally down to 26. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a unique situation for baseball, expanding the number of players in the dugout makes a lot of sense. With teams looking to save pitchers from injury or exhaustion, this is the best case for the league in a shortened season. So that comes to who are some candidates the Cincinnati Reds will have on their team for the 2020 season if the rosters are expanded.
Now, it’s more likely teams will employ more pitchers to fill those spots, but that’s up to the club’s discretion, especially with the universal designated hitter being used.
While there had already been debate as to who would fill the 26th man spot, a new rule that was implemented, the expanded roster to 30 players there will be a debate about how to take advantage of that. There is a player pool of 60 allowed per team, but there will be 35 players training at Great American Ballpark and 22 at Prasco Park in Mason. While it seems more likely to see players training at Great American Ballpark Here are some of the candidates:
Tejay Antone (Training at Prasco Park)
Tejay Antone is the 20th ranked prospect for Cincinnati according to MLB.com as he was a fifth-round prospect back in 2014. At 26, he’s knocking at the door for a spot on the Reds. This could be an opportune time for that. Antone had a strong 2019 in Triple-A and throws decently well. But because he is not likely to be a frontline starter, having him on the roster could be extremely beneficial. Antone could be used as a long reliever or as a spot starter. If an injury occurs in the rotation, he could slot in as the fifth starter.
Jose De Leon (Training at Prasco Park)
Jose De Leon was once a top heralded prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays, but injuries have derailed his chances. It didn’t help either that he had Tommy John surgery, but his trade to the Reds brings another opportunity. While he is getting back into pitching more and more innings, coming out of the bullpen will help. De Leon has electric stuff and he could make the Cincinnati bullpen dominant if he got a shot. However, injury concerns are holding him back.
Joel Kuhnel (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Many baseball fans, let alone Cincinnati Reds fans, have not heard of Joel Kuhnel. He was an 11th round pick in 2016 and wasn’t highly thought of. However, he shot up the ranks as he got some action in Cincinnati in 2019 and is the 22nd ranked prospect in the organization according to MLB.com. A huge plus for Kuhnel is that he throws hard and that’s ideal for a bullpen arm. While there is still a lot of development for him, Kuhnel could be a nice shot in the arm for the Reds in a shortened season.
Tony Santillan (Training at Prasco Park)
Tony Santillan is projected to be a future member in the Cincinnati rotation as he is the number nine prospect for the Reds according to MLB.com. However, with the rotation already set, his best chance is to come out of the bullpen. He is highly praised and throws hard. Santillan could benefit from being a long reliever or a spot starter like Antone. He probably has a leg up on Antone to be in the rotation if an injury occurs.
Tyler Stephenson (Training at Prasco Park)
Tyler Stephenson is the future starting catcher for Cincinnati, but it took a while for him to rise up the ranks after injuries. Finally, he has a good chance of making the club. He was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015. Expanded rosters could lead to Stephenson finally making the team. Many teams employ three catchers, but Stephenson is a better all-around player than Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali. Barnhart provides great defense and Casali is an offensive first type player. Stephenson’s skill set could give him a great chance at even starting.
Alex Blandino (Training at Great American Ballpark)
The Cincinnati Reds are very thin at shortstop and with not many established backup plans if Freddy Galvis gets hurt, Alex Blandino has a great chance of making the team. Blandino has already shown how capable he is off the bench, but he is great depth too. If Galvis was to fall to injuries, Blandino would be there to take over. While his bat isn’t overwhelming, he’s a good defensive player and is versatile. He should get a chance to earn a spot.
Scott Schebler (Training at Prasco Park)
Lots of Cincinnati fans know what Scott Schebler brings to the table. While he might’ve been leapfrogged for a spot in the major leagues, Schebler still provides something. He can hit for power, which would help with the universal DH. He can also play at any of the outfield positions. While Schebler is not a strong fielder, he does provide depth and experience.
Travis Jankowski (Training at Prasco Park)
Travis Jankowski was a former first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres back in 2012, but his career has not turned out as he had hoped. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds this offseason, but with a logjam of outfielders, it would have been hard to find consistent playing time. With the expanded roster, he might get that chance.
Nate Jones (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Nate Jones was a reliable reliever for the Chicago White Sox until injuries reoccurred for him. However, when healthy, he’s a very good middle reliever that can throw hard. He struggled with Chicago last season, but with rosters expanded, he has a great chance to make the bullpen.
Tyler Thornburg (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Tyler Thornburg was a reliable reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers, but like Jones, injuries happened when he joined the Boston Red Sox. That being said, if he’s healthy, he could be a nice arm to have in the bullpen. With rosters expanded, Thornburg could make the bullpen deeper.
Christian Colon (Training at Prasco Park)
Christian Colon was a solid bench player for the Kansas City Royals during their playoff runs in 2014 and 2015, but he has a chance to do the same for Cincinnati. He is a versatile infielder and has the experience, which could go a long way for the Cincinnati Reds. He did spend time with the club last season, so he also has some familiarity.
Matt Davidson (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Matt Davidson was seen as the next slugging third baseman for the White Sox, but he never amounted to what he was projected to be. While he is unlikely to start, he does provide power off the bench and could spell Joey Votto late in games. That being said, even with expanded rosters, it would be hard to see him make the club.
Derek Dietrich (unknown)
Cincinnati fans should be familiar with what Derek Dietrich brought last year with his towering home runs. While his production fell off drastically after a hot May, he still has a good shot at making the team for 2020. He is an offensive first player as he has serious power, but he is also versatile. With expanded rosters and his familiarity with the Reds organization, he’s got a great chance of making the club. His status is unknown, but there were only 57 players named to the player pool. He could be added later, but he was a notable absentee from the pool.
Sal Romano (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Sal Romano was once a highly touted pitcher in Cincinnati’s farm system, but inconsistency has hurt his chances of making the rotation. That being said, he’s shown that he could be a good pitcher out of the bullpen. With his stuff, he might actually make the roster. He could theoretically be a long reliever or spot start, but he’s likely to be a two-inning middle reliever.
Ryan Hendrix (Training at Prasco Park)
Ryan Hendrix has all the stuff to be a great reliever in the major leagues. Now he has the ability to make the team out of camp. However, there are also a lot of other pitchers trying to make the club. It will be hard for him to leapfrog over them. That being said, depending on the direction that the Reds go for a shortened season, Hendrix still has a great chance of making it to the majors.
Josh Smith (Training at Prasco Park)
Josh Smith has not had much success in the major leagues, but here he has a chance to make the Cincinnati bullpen. Smith is the longest shot of all the pitchers listed here. But he does have MLB experience and that helps in his favor. With the expanded rosters, he might get that chance to prove himself.
Mark Payton (Training at Great American Ballpark)
Mark Payton is a Rule 5 draft acquisition, but with a logjam of outfielders, it was hard for him to make the roster out of camp before the pandemic happened. Even with the rosters expanded, it still will be hard for him to make the club. However, being a Rule 5 player, it’s a tough decision for the club because of the possibility of having to return him to the Oakland Athletics. That being said he did show a lot of potential at Triple-A last season. Payton’s eye-popping offensive numbers give him a good chance at making the roster.
Other notable names are Aristides Aquino (Prasco Park), Jose Garcia (Prasco Park), Jonathan India (Prasco Park), Nick Lodolo (Prasco Park), Alfredo Rodriguez (Prasco Park), and Cody Reed (Great American Ballpark). It was a bit of a shock to see Aquino not be named to the Great American Ballpark camp. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t make the Opening Day roster. He struggled towards the end of the 2019 season and in Spring Training this past March. So that might be a factor, but there could be others that are unknown to the public.
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