Re: Six-Year Minor-League Free Agent Rundown (Long)
Well, some of the guys on the list would be AAA insurance and some might be able to help at the big-league level. Players like Esteban German, Bryant Nelson, and Tony Schrager are probably not potential starters, but they'd be a cut above the average AAA vet. I've found that what keeps many of the minor-league veterans and journeymen from breaking through is a lack of power or plate discipline (or both). The Reds' crop of AAA vets from 2004- Aaron Holbert, Jermaine Clark, Jim Chamblee, Steve Lomasney- were by and large a pretty average bunch, even as AAA veterans go. There are players out there who are better, both for Louisville's record and for when an opportunity opens up in Cincinnati. It's likely that the better AAA hitters have serious other problems with tools like the glove or the wheels- but I think we've learned the Bob Boone Lesson (taught Berenstain Bears-style) about how it's usually better to have bats on the bench than gloves.
Some of the young pitchers are fliers for the future. Dominican/Latin American pitchers who were signed as teenagers and saw their careers stall due to injury or momentary ineffectiveness; now they're free agents at 23 or 24, and already with high-minors experience. Guys like Jeff Bailey and Chip Ambres seem to have solid hitting skills and plate discipline and are obviously undervalued by their former clubs.
You just never know which guys are going to surprise and make an impact in the big leagues, whether it's the same year they're picked up or three years later. But the Reds would increase the chance of getting one of these pleasant surprises if they picked players who seem to have results on their records that would indicate greater potential.
Plus, it's a really slow time in between the end of the World Series and the winter meetings.