View Full Version : People who will help shape the Reds (4/1)

04-01-2006, 01:22 PM

The next 10 people who will help shape the Reds

Larry Barton Jr., Gene Bennett and Squeaky Parker, pro scouts - Veteran trio has a vast background to draw upon in analyzing the opposition

Jay Bruce, outfielder - Last year's top draft pick looks like best pure hitter in the minors, could be a future big-league right fielder

Marco Davalillo, Latin American field coordinator - Drew high praise from Bob Castellini for his work with the Reds' Dominican facilities, a key talent pipeline

Aaron Harang, starting pitcher - With his solid build and ability to throw strikes, the 27-year-old could be a workhorse for years to come

Dr. Tim Kremchek, team medical director - His profile is growing around the game, and numerous Reds have relied on his skills to get back in action

Felipe Lopez, shortstop - An All-Star in his first year as a full-time starter, the 25-year-old still has room to evolve into an all-around star

Bob Miller, director of baseball administration - The former Diamondbacks exec will handle many of the contract negotiations and arbitration cases

Mario Soto, pitching consultant - The Reds Hall of Famer's work during spring training earned rave reviews, and his role figures to grow

B.J. Szymanski, outfielder - Long, lean former two-sport star at Princeton University is one of the organization's top prospects at age 23.

Dick Williams, special assistant to the GM - Newcomer to baseball operations has impressed and likely will become a key figure in the department


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Here are 10 people who will shape the Reds over the next decade

Age: 40
Position: Director of player development and international operations

Who he is: One of the most productive respected scouts in the game in recent years, Almaraz is in his first season overseeing the Reds' farm system. A Baseball America survey last year revealed that only one active scout had signed more players that had made it to the majors than Almaraz, who has brought in Adam Dunn and Jason LaRue, among many others. He spent the past three seasons as the Reds' director of international scouting and player development and served as a special assistant to the GM for two years before that. A former pitcher drafted by the Reds in the 14th round of the 1988 draft out of Southwest Texas State University, he's in his 16th year with the organization.

Why he matters: He already has had a significant impact on the organization in recent years by scouring Latin America - a resource the Reds had all but ignored for a while - for talent. Now he'll get a chance to oversee their development firsthand as he takes over the farm system. Almaraz will do everything he can to give players a chance to succeed, but he doesn't have much patience for those who have on interest in following the rules and doing things the right way. His trained evaluator's eye should play a big role in ensuring that prospects are advanced through the system in a timely manner.

In his own words: "For me, it's very personal. This organization is a big part of my life, and I'm going to do everything that I can do to get these pitchers and position players to the major league level."

"Talent doesn't grow on trees, quality ability is hard to acquire. When we do, we have to be patient and we have to teach. Every single day, we have to be persistent. We have to wake up and attack the weaknesses of every player on a daily basis and impact them every single day."

What others have to say: "Johnny has a very good perspective on where this organization has been and an idea of what needs to be done to get us where we want to go. He has really taken to this job with a lot of enthusiasm. He's not putting up with any laziness - everybody's got to get with the program, that's what's going to make us better, a lot of hard work. If you're not with the program, we're going to find somebody else, make changes. I just think Johnny has set a real positive tone: Getting back to the old school, doing it the right way, working hard, fundamentals, work ethic, running programs, stretching - things that are going to help you become a baseball player." - Reds GM Wayne Krivsky

Age: 19
Position: Right-handed pitcher

Who he is: The Reds' first-round draft pick in 2004 out of La Grange, Texas, he's the consensus top prospect in the organization and rates among the better pitching prospects in baseball. His minor league numbers - 8-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 34 games over two levels - aren't a reflection of his ability. He was restricted by pitch counts in the Reds' tandem starter system last year in Dayton, reaching the sixth inning just once in 21 starts.

Why he matters: Simply put, he's the franchise. He has the best fastball and curveball in the organization, and he's only going to get better with more experience. Though the Reds will start him in high-Class A ball this spring, it's conceivable that he could be in the majors sometime in 2007. He demonstrated during the spring that he could get major league hitters out right now, but the Reds want to be careful not to push him too fast and hinder his long-term development. Still, the temptation will be difficult to resist.

In his own words: "I don't feel responsibility toward anyone but myself. I could go out there and have a good outing and somebody says 'Great job.' Well, I didn't see this 'great job' - I expect that out of myself. If I go out there and don't give up a run, but maybe I walk two people and they get a hit, that's a bad outing, that's 'OK.' Obviously, I didn't give up a run, and if you don't give up a run most people would say everything's good. No, everything's not good. It's OK. It's satisfactory. You can't be content with that."

"In all honesty, I go out there and I play the game every day, and whatever is written or said, I really don't care. I don't read it. You hear things here and there, but I really don't care to hear them. What is it going to do if I read what some reporter thinks about me? Is that going to help me go out there and win a baseball game? It's nice to get compliments, I guess, but you've just got to take it with a grain of salt and go about your way."

What others have to say: "There is no doubt in my mind you could put him in the big leagues today and give him 35 starts. He would have some terrible games, but he would run out some outstanding games. There is no doubt in my mind about that." - Reds manager Jerry Narron

"We want to see him dominate. We're going to let Homer Bailey dictate to us when it's time for him to leave." - Reds player development director Johnny Almaraz

"Homer Bailey will get you excited. That kid is terrific." Reds CEO Bob Castellini

Age: 64
Position: Chief executive officer

Who he is: Led a group that purchased control of the Reds from Carl Lindner last fall. Previously held an ownership stake in the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. Since 1967 has been an executive with the Castellini Company, a family business centered on produce. Holds degrees from Georgetown University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Why he matters: In less than three months on the job, Castellini has transformed the attitude of the entire franchise. He emphasizes hard work and accountability, and he already has been a far more visible leader than his predecessor. His passion and accessibility already have paid off in helping change the public perception of the Reds, and his influence within the city and the sport of baseball figure to grow as he gains experience.

In his own words: "I'm having a lot of fun. What's not to like? It's baseball."

"There are certain managerial things that are universal. Rule No. 1: Surround yourself with good people. Rule No. 2: When push comes to shove, you've got to take responsibility for the things that happen that maybe you don't want to happen. It's on your watch. That's something I've spent 40 years at as a manager. You can be proud when things go right, but you've got to take responsibility when things go wrong, and I knew that coming in. It's not anything new to me."

"My style is to get these good people in and empower them and let them run. Just like a manager has to do with the guys on the field."

What others have to say: "You don't hear the word 'compete' out of their mouths - it's 'win,' and I've seen no reason not to believe them." - Reds outfielder Adam Dunn

"He has a vision. There will never be another Big Red Machine, but he wants to see the Reds organization respected like it once was, and he wants to see us being in a position to be a consistent contender. He'd like to see it done yesterday, but he understands it is a process." - Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky

Age: 47
Position: Senior director of scouting

Who he is: Hired by the Reds the day pitchers and catchers reported to camp, Buckley will oversee Cincinnati's amateur scouting operation. He spent most of his career in various scouting capacities for the Toronto Blue Jays, ascending from area scout (1989-95) to national cross-checker (1996-2000) to scouting director (2000-03), plus the last two seasons as a special assistant to the GM. During his time on staff, the Blue Jays drafted current Reds Felipe Lopez and Ryan Freel. Buckley had been with the Chicago Cubs for a month and a half as a special assistant to the GM when the Reds hired him to run their show.

Why he matters: He'll be the driving force behind the Reds' decisions on draft day each June. Working with his predecessor, Terry Reynolds, who remains on staff, Buckley will lay out a plan for scouting and signing prospects to shore up a farm system ranked second-to-last in the majors in talent by Baseball America. He leans more toward traditional scouting methods rather than the newer school illuminated in Michael Lewis' bestseller "Moneyball," but wants to see a "complete player" above all else.

In his own words: "You do have to rely on lots of people, and that's why you have them. There's no scouting staff out there where one guy's picking all the players - and if there is, I guarantee you they're not doing very well."

"The 'Moneyball'-type approach is more about guys that know how to play the game, and a lot of those guys are more limited physically. Those limitations will show out. We're looking for well-rounded players and well-rounded pitchers, but that's what the other guys are looking for, too. These players are not invisible."

"The way pitching is - you saw A.J. Burnett get $55 million last year, and he's a sub-.500 major league pitcher. It would seem to me that teams are going to go as far as can to get pitching. So we'd better start to develop our own."

What others have to say: "I respect Chris for his work ethic, his evaluation skills, his communication skills. He has a lot of positives working for him that I think are really going to make him a tremendous scouting director. ... The guy's a grinder. He's a worker. He's a baseball rat." - Reds GM Wayne Krivsky

Age: 26
Position: Left fielder/first baseman

Who he is: One of the game's preeminent young sluggers, he has hit at least 40 homers each of the past two seasons while also topping 100 RBIs, runs scored and walks. Only one other player in franchise history, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan in 1976, has done that. Among big-league players younger than 26 at the end of last season, only Albert Pujols (201) had more homers than Dunn's 158. A second-round draft pick in 1998, the Texan signed a two-year deal with an option for a third year just before spring training.

Why he matters: He's an offensive player the Reds can build around, and they intend to. Dunn's new contract was designed for him to stay in Cincinnati - which is what he would prefer to do - as the option year voids if he is traded. Whether he remains in left field or ends up at first base eventually, Dunn's bat should be a presence in the middle of the lineup for years to come. Never one to get too worked up about anything and hardly a baseball junkie, he nonetheless hates to miss a game. Over the last two seasons, he has played in all but four possible games, and that's valuable on a team that has absorbed its share of injuries.

In his own words: "I don't say I want to play 10 more years, 15 more years, five more years. As long as I'm having fun and the team's doing well, I'm in."

"I still don't think I've played a lot of baseball. The more that I play, the more I'm going to get used to how they're going to pitch me and that's just going to help me down the road. I've stunk, I think. I haven't played to my capability at all."

"I think it's just playing and getting used to my swing. I don't know if there's a particular thing I can put my finger on, I think it's just going to happen. And it better happen soon."

What others have to say: "The one thing about Dunner is, he comes to play every night. You don't have to worry about, when you write his name in the lineup, this guy showing up and playing. I'd love to see him cut down on the strikeouts, I'd love to see him more aggressive early in the count. But you cannot argue with the numbers he has. When you get on base like he does and drive in runs like he does - not even counting the home runs, but just the on-base percentage makes him a very valuable player." - Reds manager Jerry Narron

Age: 23
Position: Third baseman

Who he is: The Reds' third baseman of the present and future shed his prospect status last year when he took over for Joe Randa for the final two months of the season. His ascent was not without its growing pains, as Encarnacion sometimes appeared frustrated at the plate and had his share of difficulties in the field, but everything in his background suggests he'll overcome those problems. The 2001 deal that brought him over from Texas along with Ruben Mateo in exchange for Rob Bell could prove to be ridiculously lopsided by the time Encarnacion is finished in Cincinnati.

Why he matters: The Reds haven't had anything resembling stability at the hot corner since trading Aaron Boone in the middle of the 2003 season. Perennial prospect Brandon Larson finally flamed out, and Randa exceeded expectations as a placeholder for the first part of last season, but he was never going to be the long-term solution. Encarnacion has the tools to fill that void. He hit .288 in more than 600 minor league games and has shown some pop, combining for 24 homers between Louisville and Cincinnati last year. His power stroke only figures to develop with time. Encarnacion's greatest shortcoming is his defense, but he has worked hard to improve on that, particularly over the last year. His arm is strong but erratic and he has to continue to refine his footwork. As long as he keeps driving balls into the gaps, though, everything else will eventually sort itself out.

In his own words: "I'm very happy with where I am - a lot of people want to be where I am right now. All the years I was down in the minor leagues, every year I'd just go to play hard, because I wanted to be where I am now. That's why I've been working hard the last four or five years in the minor leagues, to be here. Now I want to stay here for a long time. If you want to stay a long time, you have to work hard and be smart."

What others have to say: "For the Reds to get where they want to go, Edwin's got to be a big part of it. He's a young guy that's getting a chance to play every day that's got tremendous potential. If he fulfills that potential, the Reds will win a lot of games over the next few years.

"For every young guy that comes to the major leagues, the one area that separates everybody is the mental focus on the game. When he learns to come out and be locked in every day, every pitch, every time a ball's hit to him, I think he will be a consistent player." - Reds manager Jerry Narron

Age: 51
Position: General manager

Who he is: Prior to being named Reds GM on Feb. 8, Krivsky spent the previous 11 years in the Minnesota Twins' front office, the last eight years as assistant general manager. Before that, he spent 15 years in baseball operations with the Texas Rangers. A graduate of Duke University, he played three seasons of baseball for the Blue Devils.

Why he matters: He'll have the ultimate call on Reds baseball operations decisions in the coming years, and he's off to a fast start. Forced to remake his front-office staff and roster on the fly after being hired a week before spring training, Krivsky already has proven to be decisive in acquiring and getting rid of players - a quality that wasn't always evident in Dan O'Brien's regime. It may be a year before Krivsky is able to fully implement his ideas and personnel, but he's not going to stand still in the meantime.

In his own words: "It all boils down to, the more good decisions you can make on talent over time, the more you can accelerate the development process to where you're going to win for a period of time. It's all about making good decisions. It's all about making the right talent evaluation. It's all about being thorough and having the best information you can and having trained and experienced scouts who know what they're looking at. You put all the pieces of the puzzle together to make that good decision that's going to move you forward."

What others have to say: "He's a terrific evaluator. He really knows talent. And what I like about him is, he's got confidence in his knowledge. He's not afraid to tell you what he thinks, and he's usually dead-on when it comes to evaluating talent. He's surrounding himself with people that know talent. And he's got no agenda, as far as, no ego in the way. He's just a hard-charging, hard-working baseball veteran." - Reds CEO Bob Castellini

Age: 50
Position: Manager

Who he is: Named interim manager on June 21, 2005, Narron signed a one-year contract in the final week of last season. He has a 180-208 record as a big-league manager, including the 46-46 mark with the Reds last year and a nearly two-year stint with the Texas Rangers. From 1993-2001 was a coach under Johnny Oates in Baltimore and Texas. As a player, he spent parts of eight seasons with the Yankees, Mariners and Angels.

Why he matters: Don't let his contract status fool you. There are indications Narron could be in it for the long haul with the Reds. His style meshes well with GM Wayne Krivsky's, though the two didn't know each other personally before Krivsky took over as Narron's boss. Narron is extremely well-regarded throughout the game and known as a no-nonsense teacher. He has the respect of the clubhouse, and he isn't afraid to chew anyone out if they make a mistake, but he maintains an air of openness.

In his own words: "I try not to look at it short-term, I do try to look at it over 10 years. If you're looking at it short-term, you're going to do everything you can to win a game today at the expense of tomorrow, when it comes to overusing guys or guys might be injured. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to look at this as a long-term thing and I'm going to do everything I can to give guys a chance to play who deserve a chance to play and have a chance to help us long-term.

"I want to win, don't get me wrong - I'm going to do everything I can to win. But I'm not going to throw away five years for one month. I've seen guys manage games and manage the club just to keep their jobs, and I'm not going to do that, either. I'm going to do everything I can to make the Reds be successful."

What others have to say: "Jerry's such a good teacher. He lives and dies with baseball, and that's something we needed. He preaches the little things, and he's been around the game for so long and played the game, he knows what it takes to be successful." - Reds outfielder Adam Dunn

Age: 37
Position: Manager, Class AA Chattanooga

Who he is: Entering his fifth season as a minor league manager in the Reds' farm system and his third with the Lookouts, Owens has a 140-136 record in Chattanooga. He was named Southern League manager of the year in 2004 as the Lookouts posted the best record of any Reds affiliate. He won a California League championship with the Reds' Stockton affiliate in 2002. A Cincinnati native and Glen Este High School graduate, Owens spent 10 years playing professionally, mostly in Colorado's system. He appeared in 130 games in the majors for the Rockies from 1993-96.

Why he matters: He's entrusted with one of the most important links in the player-development chain. The Class AA level can make or break a prospect, and Owens is there to shepherd along the elite prospects in the organization. Known for his discipline and work ethic, many in the organization believe Owens will be a big-league manager in the future.

In his own words: "This is what I've done my whole life. There's a little special place in my heart because it's the Reds. I grew up in Cincinnati, and I got brainwashed by the Big Red Machine as a kid, so I didn't have a choice but to love baseball and of course love the Reds."

"All it comes down to is player development. It's two words. That's what I want to do at this point and I enjoy it. And absolutely, one day, I want to get back to the major leagues as a coach or a manager, that is my goal."

What others have to say: "He's the type of guy that you know is going to carry out the plan that's at hand. He does a good job of working in the fundamentals over the course of the year. That an important quality to have in the organization as a manager, because they're your eyes and your ears, they're the guys that implement it on a daily basis. If you don't have that, you don't have anything.

"He's really done a good job. For a while, I've said that he's going to be a major league guy, whether he's a manager or a bench coach or some other type of coach at the major league level. I think he definitely has the ability to do that." - Reds minor league field coordinator Tim Naehring

Age: 19
Position: Left-handed pitcher

Who he is: The Reds' second-round pick in last year's draft, Wood dominated at two levels in his first year of pro ball. In eight games for the Gulf Coast League Reds, the Arkansas native allowed two earned runs in 24 innings (0.75 ERA) while walking seven and striking out 45. Moved up to Billings ahead of schedule, he held his own with a 1.82 ERA in six appearances.

Why he matters: He's young, he's a pitcher and he knows what he's doing on the mound. Despite his small frame (listed at 6-feet, 165 pounds), Wood throws hard, reaching the mid-90s with his fastball. But his devastating changeup is the pitch that draws most of the attention. Baseball America rated it the best in the Reds' organization, and it can leave opposing hitters flailing at the plate. Most young pitchers need to work on their command above all else, but that isn't as much of an issue for Wood. The Reds want him to keep working on his curveball and he'll pitch his way up the organizational ladder.

In his own words: "It's not about how hard you throw, it's where you put it. I had to learn that. Just watching baseball my whole life, you see people throw different speeds - like Greg Maddux, he doesn't throw that hard, but he's able to put it wherever he wants to and that messes up hitters."

What others have to say: "All Travis Wood needs to do is go out and pitch. He has command of three pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup) in the zone. He's a strike-throwing machine. He just needs to grow physically, get stronger, and we're going to be patient with that. But I'll tell you one thing, he's a very polished pitcher right now. He's something else." - Reds player development director Johnny Almaraz


04-01-2006, 04:12 PM
I really enjoyed the article of the top ten people who will help shape the Reds over the next decade. A very good read, in my opinion. I disagree with Jerry Narron being on the list; I would probably replace him with Jay Bruce, but other than that, a very good article.

The Post has a whole section dedicated to Castellini and the future of the Reds. Pretty impressive stuff.