Legends On Deck

How They Were Built: 2015 Cincinnati Reds

Starting Pitchers

Johnny Cueto – Signed as an amateur free agent with the Reds in 2004.  Cueto is the ace of this staff and would probably have more awards in his trophy case if it weren’t for that guy named Kershaw in Los Angeles.  Cueto won 20 games in 2014 with an ERA of 2.25, leading the league in starts (34), innings pitched (243.2), strikeouts (242), batters faced (961), and hits allowed (6.2).  He made his first All-Star team last season and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting.  Cueto needs to continue doing what he has been doing if the Reds are to change their fortunes in 2015.  He is in the final season of the four-year $27 million contract he signed in 2011 which would make him one of the more intriguing names on the free agent market if the Reds don’t lock him up.

Homer Bailey – Drafted in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft by the Reds.  Bailey owns a career record of 58-50 with an ERA of 4.17 in eight major league seasons.  He has two no-hitters on his resume, but has yet to ever make an All-Star team.  Prior to 2014, Bailey made over 30 starts for the Reds.  He was once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the game right around his debut.  He signed a six-year $105 contract extension avoiding arbitration in February of 2014.

Mike Leake – Drafted in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Reds.  The 27-year old is entering his sixth year in the major leagues all with the Reds.  He is 53-42 with an ERA of 3.92 in his career, with the last three seasons being a starter only.  Leake and the Reds agreed on a one-year contract worth $9.775 million avoiding arbitration.  His win’s went down from a year ago but should return to give Cincinnati 14-16 wins slotted in the number three spot barring any injury or time missed.

Tony Cingrani – Drafted in the third round of the 2011 amateur draft by the Reds.  Cingrani has appeared in 39 games in his career starting 29 of them.  He owns a career record of 9-12 with an ERA of 3.49.  He showed signs of what he could do in 2013 as he won seven games and had an ERA under three, but took a step back dealing with a shoulder injury and a demotion.  The Reds are looking for him to be the same left-handed pitching stud he was in 2013.

Anthony DeSclafani – Acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins in December of 2014.  DeSclafani was one of the players the Reds received in the Mat Latos trade this offseason.  He is currently a possibility to take the fifth starter spot this season.  He appeared in 13 games last season with the Marlins with five of them being starts so he has limited experience.  DeSclafani has been part of two large trades in his time in the game with the first being when he was a part of the Blue Jays organization.

Bullpen

Aroldis Chapman (CL) – Signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2010.  If you are a fan of baseball there is no way you haven’t heard of Aroldis Chapman.  Most of the country probably has only seen his highlights, but with the ability to get streaming video of all MLB games, more people have had the opportunity to see him on the mound.  Chapman throws pure gas and has a career 15.3 K/9, and has recorded 36 or more saves in three consecutive years.  In 259 games, Chapman has pitched a total of 252.2 innings with 430 strikeouts.  He can eclipse the 100 mph mark on his fastball making it scary and extremely intimidating for a hitter, so when he enters the game there is a good chance it is over.  He isn’t unhittable but he is a very exciting pitcher to watch.  Chapman is eligible for arbitration but it isn’t known at the time of this article what he will receive.

Sam LeCure – Drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Reds.  LeCure broke into the league as a starter but was moved to the bullpen.  He has made over 60 appearances the last two seasons and records almost a strikeout per inning.  2014 wasn’t his best season in the major leauges as he saw his WHIP rise to 1.518, home runs allowed to 1.0, and K/9 dip to 7.6.  Captain Obvious returns and says that in order for the Reds to be successful they will need a better showing from LeCure.

Manny Parra – Signed a two-year $5.5 million free agent deal with the Reds in 2014.  The 32-year old Parra spent the beginning of his career as a starter with the Milwaukee Brewers before being switched to the bullpen.  After a decent 2013 campaign the Reds decided to re-sign Parra but haven’t quite gotten the same return.  With Marshall on the DL, Parra gives the Reds a left-handed option that isn’t named Chapman.

Dylan Axelrod – Purchased from the White Sox by Reds in 2014.  Axelrod had a decent showing in 2014 for Cincinnati.  He appeared in just five games and started four of them, going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.95.  He gives them options for a spot starter or long reliever, but either way could be a serviceable pitcher out of the bullpen in 2015.

Jumbo Diaz – Signed a one-year deal with the Reds in 2012.  The 31-year old made his major league debut last season.  He appeared in 36 games and did fairly well recording 34.2 innings with an ERA of 3.38 and 37 strikeouts.  There is a chance that he could break camp with the Reds out of spring training and me a reliable option in the middle innings.

Sean Marshall (DL) – Acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in 2011.  Marshall is recovering from shoulder surgery he had back in June and may not be ready for the season.  He has been a good relief pitcher for both the Cubs and the Reds in his nine years in the major leagues.  The Reds need him to come back and be the 2012 version to give them another left-handed option out of the pen.

Starting Lineup

Devin Mesoraco (C) – Drafted in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Reds.  Mesocraco stormed onto the scene in 2014.  The 26-year old backstop made the All-Star team and ended the season with an average of .273 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI.  He is a star in the making that not many people know about.  Look for him to do the same or better this season as the starting job is undoubtedly his.  Mesoraco and the Reds avoided arbitration by signing a four-year $28 million deal in January and is signed through 2018.

Joey Votto (1B) – Drafted in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft by the Reds.  Votto was certainly a player that appeared to be on the fast track to Cooperstown and still very well could be depending on how he returns in 2015.  He has appeared in 952 games in his career with 163 home runs and 553 RBI in eight seasons.  His career batting line is .301/.417/.533/.950, which is probably why the Reds signed him to a 10-year $225 million deal with a club option in 2024 in 2012.  He missed the second half of 2014 with a quad injury but looks to be on track for his return.

Brandon Phillips (2B) – Acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians in 2006.  It is hard to believe that Phillips was acquired for a player to be named later in a trade in 2006.  Phillips has been a mainstay in the Reds lineup for a long time and still has plenty left to go.  He has over 1,500 hits in his career to go along with three All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves, and a Silver Slugger Award.  He has 30 home run power but usually stays around closer to 20.  He saw his production dip a bit last season playing in 121 games which is the lowest total since being a member of the Reds.  Phillips has three seasons remaining on the six-year $72.5 million contract extension he signed at the beginning of the 2012 season.

Todd Frazier (3B) – Drafted in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Reds.  Frazier put his name on the map last season with an appearance in the final round of the  home run derby All-Star break, ultimately falling to Yoenis Cespedes.  Frazier ended 2014 with 29 home runs, 80 RBI, and a batting average of .273.  He and the Reds have yet to reach an agreement to avoid arbitration and the numbers aren’t known yet, but I assume a deal will get done sooner rather than later and may be for more than just a year.

Zack Cozart (SS) – Drafted in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Reds.  Cozart is entering his firth season in the major leagues playing all 447 games at shortstop.  His numbers dipped in just about every offensive category last season.  He hit .221 and had a low on base percentage of .268.  On a bright note his defense improved and has improved over the last couple of seasons.  Cozart and the Reds avoided arbitration by signing a one-year $2.35 million contract in January.

Marlon Byrd (LF) – Acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Byrd is apparently is like wine and gets better with age.  Resurrecting his career with the New York Mets back in 2013, Byrd is entering his 14th season in the major leagues.  He has hit 49 home runs total the last two seasons and has appeared in more games then was believed before signing his last couple of contracts.  The 37-year old is reaching the twilight of his career but seems to be going out the best way possible.

Billy Hamilton (CF) – Drafted in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Reds.  Hamilton is fast.  Real fast.  He swiped 56 bases last season which propelled him to a second place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.  One of the knocks on Hamilton is his ability to get on base.  If he gets there forget about it, but it is the journey to that point.  The Reds have yet another star in the making, and he is only 23-years old.

Jay Bruce (RF) – Drafted in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Reds.  Bruce made a name for himself extremely early in his career and has continued producing.  His batting average took a serious hit in 2014 going from .262 to .217.  He will be just 28-years old when the season starts and will be entering his eighth season in the major leagues.  After bursting on the scene, the Reds signed Bruce to a six-year $51 million deal in 2010 with an option in 2017.

Projected Bench

Brayan Pena (C/1B) – Signed a two-year $2.275 million free agent contract with the Reds in 2013.  Pena is perfect in all meanings of the word for the Reds.  He has the ability to hit and field, but with his veteran presence will help Mesocraco along the way.  Pena is entering his 11th season in the major leauges and should appear in about 25-30 games depending on injury.

Skip Schumaker (2B/OF) – Signed a two-year $5 million free agent contract with a club option for 2016 with the Reds.  Schumaker’s appearances have dropped but has probably found a home around 85-90 game mark.  He has the ability to hit a bit and get on base and can play some defense.  Nice late game substitution and a left-handed option.

Jason Bourgeois (OF) – Signed with the Reds as a free agent.  Bourgeois gives Cincinnati another outfield option with experience.  He has shown when given the opportunity for at-bats that he can actually take advantage of them.  Like Schumaker, he can be used in the late innings as a pinch hitter and possibly a defensive replacement.

Donald Lutz (OF/1B) – Signed as an amateur free agent by the Reds in 2007.  Lutz gives the Reds an option in either corner outfield position and even has experience at first base.  He is more defensive than offensive which could also be seen as bonus depending how the current game is going.

Kristopher Negron (IF/OF) – Acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in 2009, and re-signed as a free agent by the Reds in 2012.  Negron doesn’t have a ton of experience but can play multiple positions.  In 49 games in 2014, he hit .271 with six home runs with an on base percentage of .331.

John Ginder

Site Co-Founder/Senior Editor and Co-Host at Legends on Deck® The Podcast
In the past John has been a part of such successful sites as MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net.John was born and raised in upstate New York and has a love of all sports but mainly baseball. He has grown used to heartache with his teams as he roots for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres too.John has a loving and understanding wife and is the the proud father of two amazing boys.He also loves heavy metal music.

You can also reach out to John at jginder@legendsondeck.com