Cincinnati Narrows Roster

Cincinnati got five players closer to their final 25 that will head north at the break of spring training. It was a bit of a surprise that trade return Eugenio Suarez was among them as he will resume his career with more development in the minor leagues after exhausting his rookie status with the Tigers last year.

As all teams work down toward their final 25 to fill active rosters for opening day Cincinnati got closer Monday by reducing their candidates by five down to 36 players. The most surprising move was sending infielder Eugenio Suarez to AAA Louisville. He came over from Detroit over the offseason in the Alfredo Simon trade. During 2014 Suarez exhausted his rookie eligibility with the Tigers while hitting .242 AVG/.316 OB over 277 plate appearances. He went 8-30 this spring training and with some progression in his second MLB season it was conceivable that he could challenge Zach Cozart for regular duty at shortstop with the incumbent coming off his worst offensive MLB season last year. Well, that’s not going to happen in the immediate future as the 23 year-old Suarez prepares to debut for the Bats. Comments from manager Bryan Price suggest that the organization still has big plans for him and the move was made to ensure he gets plenty of action as he continues to develop.

Recent reports that Tony Cingrani is headed to the bullpen were further confirmed when the team released southpaw Jose Mijares. The performance of veteran Paul Maholm, who has allowed only six base-runners in nine-plus Cactus League innings, might have contributed to making Mijares expendable. Assuming Cuban defector Raisel Inglesias gets a spot in the opening rotation it appears Jason Marquis will cover for injured Homer Bailey giving Maholm an inside track on the long-man job out of the pen.

Also removed from the organization is 2007 second round selection Neftali Soto. The corner infielder has made 44 plate appearances for the Reds over the past two seasons, but often appeared overwhelmed at the MLB level with a career average below .100. Perhaps the writing was on the wall last year when he did not make it back to the parent team after roster expansion even though he hit .302 AVG/.350 OB at Louisville. It didn’t help his cause when he managed only two homers and he’ll try to regain his power stroke in the White Sox system after Cincinnati traded him for cash.

A couple of others on the 40-man roster were also sent to Louisville: first baseman Donald Lutz and catcher Tucker Barnhart. Both saw action with the Reds last year when injuries left them short-handed. They were probably sent to the Bats for the same reason given for Suarez’s assignment, to get regular action against International League pitching.

Last week right-handers Matt Magill, Keyvius Sampson, and outfielder Kyle Waldrop were also assigned to Louisville. Magill is the trade return for sending Chris Heisey to the Dodgers. Cincinnati picked up Sampson after the Padres designated him to make room on their 40-man roster. This is the first year for Waldrop on the 40-man after being named Cincinnati’s minor league hitter of the year last season and when he takes the field for the Bats it will be his AAA debut. It won’t get any easier for Price and the Reds as they determine the final 25 over the final two weeks of spring training. Even though it makes the decisions tougher, he will certainly hope they come down to evaluating expected performances instead of injuries like the ones that influenced decisions that gave spots to some unexpected players one year ago. Depending on what type of opportunities materialize, players like Suarez, Sampson and others could get a chance to log some significant action with the Reds during the upcoming season. For now it is a luxury to be able to afford them generous action in AAA as they continue to develop.

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