The Reds are getting a .216/.311/.371 line from their left fielders and a .231/.282/.265 line from their shortstops, but manager Dusty Baker doesn’t think it makes sense to bring up Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier or Zack Cozart at the moment.
“We chose this team for a reason,” Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay. “That’s a very good Triple-A team down there. Whatever you do, it’s something with the guys who are here. You don’t pull the plug on those guys right now. It’s too early for that.”
Two months in doesn’t necessarily seem too early, especially with the Reds struggling lately and playing .500 ball overall. Alonso is hitting .324/.381/.519 while playing mostly left field for Louisville. Frazier, who was up for one day last month, is hitting .280/.362/.514. He’s played mostly third base, but he’s started 12 games in left field when Alonso has played first base. Cozart is batting .294/.336/.446 as the everyday shortstop.
Meanwhile, the Reds’ left fielders rank 13th among the NL’s 16 teams in OPS, while the team’s shortstops are dead last.
I’m not going to slam Baker here. None of those Triple-A players are sure things, and if the Reds do decide to make a change in left field, they might well be better off just giving the job to Chris Heisey. Cozart is a better hitter than Paul Janish, and there’s a good argument for giving him Edgar Renteria’s roster spot. However, I wouldn’t count on him posting a .700 OPS in the majors and Janish is a terrific defender.
Since they play in the NL Central, the Reds can hold out for now. Maybe they will consider changes in a couple of weeks if no one steps up in the left field mix and if Janish continues to slump.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.