Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Cincinnati Reds

Tony Cingrani - Jamie Sabau

The Reds wouldn't be in the post-season without rookie lefty Tony Cingrani.

Cincinnati Reds (90-72, Wild Card)

HITTERS

Derrick Robinson, OF:
Speedy 26 year old outfielder originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round in 2006 from high school in Florida. Hit .255/.322/.323 with four steals in 102 games, just 192 at-bats though, used mainly for his defensive ability. I wouldn’t expect a lot of offensive improvement but the glove could keep him around for awhile.

Donald Lutz, OF:
Born in New York, but grew up in Germany, signed as a free agent in 2007. 24 year old power hitter, hit .245/.318/.424 in 65 games in Double-A, which was rather disappointing after hitting 22 homers in 2012. He received a major league trial and hit .241/.254/.310 in 58 at-bats in May and June, primarily as a pinch-hitter, a tough way to debut. Not sure how he fits long-term.

Billy Hamilton, OF:
Age 23, second round pick in 2009 from high school in Mississippi. If you think you know how fast Billy Hamilton is, take that number and multiply by about 50. He hit just .256/.308/.343 in a disappointing Triple-A season, but still stole 75 bases while learning to play the outfield. He hit .368/.429/.474 in 13 major league games with 13 steals in 14 attempts. "Game-changing" speed is a cliché but it is true in Hamilton’s case. We’ll have to see if how his bat develops, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t at least be Vince Coleman, who had his flaws but also stole 752 bases in a 13-year career.

Neftali Soto, 1B-3B:
A third-round pick out of Puerto Rico in 2007, 24 year old Soto is renowned for his combination of power and substandard plate discipline. He hit .271/.313/.414 with 15 homers for Triple-A Louisville, but with a poor 26/103 BB/K ratio in 461 at-bats. He went 0-for-12 in the majors with six strikeouts. That won’t get it done as a first baseman and his defense at third is marginal.

Henry Rodriguez, 2B:
Signed out of Venezuela in 2007, Rodriguez is a 23 year old switch-hitter who hit well in the low minors but didn’t dominate Triple-A, hitting .274/.319/.335 in 478 at-bats for Lousiville. He went 1-for-9 during a brief major league trial with four strikeouts. He is being groomed as a utilityman who can play second and third, but lacks the range for frequent play at shortstop.

PITCHERS

Tony Cingrani, LHP:
24 year old Cingrani was one of the best rookie pitchers in baseball this year, going 7-4, 2.92 ERA in 105 innings, mostly as a starter, with a 120/43 K/BB ratio. He is incredibly deceptive with a low-90s fastball, a curveball, and a change-up. A back injury cut short his pitching in September but the Reds wouldn’t be in the post-season without his contributions, and he has to be a key member of the staff going forward. He was drafted out of Rice University in the third round in 2011.

J.J. Hoover, RHP:
Originally drafted by the Braves in the 10th round in 2008 from Calhoun Community College in Alabama, Hoover is 25 years old and had an impressive season in the Reds bullpen, posting a 2.86 ERA with a 67/26 K/BB in 66 innings, allowing only 47 hits. A reliable relief asset, he has closer potential on the strength of his low-90s fastball and solid curve, though he won’t pick up many saves with Aroldis Chapman around. Hoover also has a slider and change-up, remnants of his minor league background as a starting pitcher.

Curtis Partch, RHP:
A 26th round pick from Merced Community College in 2007, 26 year old Partch posted a 3.68 ERA with a 45/14 K/BB in 37 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year, but had control problems during a major league trial, with a 16/17 K/BB and a 6.17 ERA in 23 innings. He can get up to 96 MPH and has a slider and changeup, but has to throw strikes more effectively.

Pedro Villareal, RHP:
A seventh round pick in 2008 from Howard Junior College, 25 year old Villareal made two appearances in the regular season but was outrighted off the roster in early September. He gave up 13 hits and eight runs in 5.2 innings, so this was understandable. His low 90s fastball, slider, and cutter could make him a useful utility pitcher at some point, although he hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.00 since leaving A-ball.

Nick Christiani, RHP:
A 13th round pick in 2009 from Vanderbilt, Christiani earned a major league trial with a 3.86 ERA and a 49/17 K/BB in 56 innings for Louisville this year. He threw four innings for the Reds in September, giving up one run, showing a low-90s sinker, slider, and cutter. He profiles as a middle relief type.

Justin Freeman, RHP:
26 year old Freeman pitched one inning for the Reds in April, but spent most of the season on the disabled list at Louisville. He was very effective in Double-A in 2012 (2.91 ERA, 16 saves, 68/16 K/BB in 68 innings) using a fastball, slider, changeup combination. He was a 32nd round pick in 2008 from Kennesaw State University.

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