Keep your eyes peeled on DeWayne Wise, the non-roster invitee this spring who nearly succeeded in becoming the Reds' fifth outfielder instead of the Mighty Q.
The 28-year-old Wise from Columbia, S.C., was originally drafted by the Reds in 1997, then lost to Toronto, who lifted him from us as a Rule V pickup. He played parts of two seasons -- 2000 and 2002 -- with the Blue Jays, and also resurfaced in 2004 with the Atlanta Braves.
He never hit above .240 during any of those ML stints, but he proved to be a versatile and reliable fielder, playing 635 innings in LF, CF and RF without committing a single error. Although relatively small in stature, he has a rifle of an arm, and considerable speed, collecting 12 SB in 13 attempts with the Blue Jays and Braves.
What's appealing about him is that he now appears to be putting together some solid offensive numbers to complement his superior defensive skills.
This spring, he hit .298 for the Reds with a .377 OBP, including 4 HR, 7 RBI and 14 runs in 47 AB. He's now poised for a promotion to Louisville after hitting .420 with a 1.238 OPS, including another 3 HR, 6 RBI and 9 runs in 45 AB, for Chattanooga.
If you ask me, we made a mistake in selecting McCracken over the lefthand-hitting Wise to flesh out our 2006 roster. I don't know how much mad money Krivsky can afford to burn, and how many guys he can DFA before the season runs its course.
But if McCracken keeps hovering well below the Mendoza line and Wise keeps up this flashy display of offense at Louisville, we'd be wise to give DeWayne a belated promotion. He's exactly the kind of fifth outfielder we ought to have in place moving forward -- speedy, a plus defender, some pop, vastly improving as opposed to deteriorating batting skills, enough experience to handle the Big Show, yet not a player whose career is going to be ruined by being the low man on the totem pole.