Winter ball for Lutz

When Reds OF/1B Donald Lutz was near the final day of the regular season, he was preparing himself for a quick trip home to Germany to see family and friends. After about a week, he planned to head straight from there to Mexico to play winter ball again for Obregon until around Christmas.

“I need at-bats,” Lutz said.

Indeed he does. This will be a pivotal off-season for Lutz, who will be out of Minor League options when he arrives at Spring Training 2015.

One of the mysteries of the 2014 season, especially near the end, was why more at-bats didn’t come Lutz’s way to get a better idea of what he could do. While he’s been prone to strikeouts, he’s demonstrated some nice left-handed power when he gets a hold of one. He’s also shown, in the Minors at least, that he can often hit well when playing more regularly.

Over three stints with the Reds in the big leagues this season, Lutz got into only 28 games and had 54 plate appearances. He batted .176/.222/.255 with 19 strikeouts. He got only five starts at first base and five in the outfield.

In 23 games at Double-A Pensacola, Lutz batted .360/.412/.685 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

In 52 games at Triple-A Louisville, Lutz batted .236/.307/.395 with six homers and 33 RBIs. His best month there was in July when he batted .303 (10-for-33).

Last winter, Lutz played for Obregon to get at-bats to make up for lost time after he suffered a broken finger at Pensacola following his first big league stint with the Reds.

Lutz will be 26 in February, which is generally old for a prospect. But he’s only really been playing baseball since he was 16. It will be interesting to see if the Reds think he has a future with them or not next spring.

11 Comments

19 strikeouts in 54 plate appearances? Don’t we already have one Jay Bruce on the roster???

Donald Lutz is the German Neftali Soto.

What record are you looking at? When given regular playing time, he has put up some fairly decent numbers in the minors. Are you looking at the record where the Reds let him rot on the bench for days at a time and then give him the occasional at bat and expect him to produce? In 2011 A ball (his first full season played) he hit .301/.358/.492 with 20 HR. He fell off some in 2012 playing acrosss 3 leagues to .269/.336/.517. Since 2012, the Reds have not allowed him to play more than a half a season in the minors each year. They have called him up to the big club multiple times, interrupting his development and not giving him any playing time when they do call him up. He has very little AA experience and almost no AAA experience because of these interruptions. Since 2012, Lutz has a total of 344 PA at AA, 212 PA at AAA, and 112 PA in the majors. This is over two years, he should have twice that many plate appearances at AA and AAA. Yet even with the interruptions, his career MiL numbers are .273/.338/.472.

The Reds could could not have purposely designed a better program to assure a young player of failure. Despite being with the club for weeks at a time, Lutz has never had two starts in a row. For example just take this year. He had never played above AA before this year. He started out red hot at Pensacola (.360/.412/.685) after 23 games and the Reds called him up to the big club after a 5 day drive-by in Louisville to sit on the Reds bench for 3 weeks. He sat 4 days before he ever got an at bat and then he got a start and went 2-4 with a double. He then did not get another appearance for 3 days (PH), then a start the next game. After that he had 1 PH appearance in the next 7 days before getting a start. See the pattern? This was the pattern from May 23rd through June 9th and then they sent him to AAA where he naturally struggled. Not only did he have to shake off the rust from sitting on the bench, but he had to adjust to AAA pitching. Remember, he had never played above AA in the minors until the 5 AAA games he played before the call up. Of course he did have all that valuable ML experience, mostly sitting on the bench, but I guess that counts for something. Anybody that says sitting on a major league bench not being used is better for the development of a young player than getting his MiL playing time is full of it.

Of course the Reds weren’t done messing with him. After he got some AAA experience and started to adjust, and started hitting the ball again, they called him up again —- to sit on the bench. From July 11 until August 4, essentially a complete month, he got 20 plate appearances. He got the same treatment with the September callup. The way the Reds have handled Lutz is pathetic. Lutz best hope is the Reds trade or release him and somebody else signs him and gives him a fair chance. the Reds have already proved they are not going to.

Michael. Thanks for adding the statistical analysis. Supports the point about Reds not developing their talent properly. Soto may be another good example. After watching the playoff games and seeing the Cards play, I’m afraid will will be seeing their taillights for quite awhile.

Looking at his record there is a good reason why he didn’t get a lot of at bats. Previous comments cover the reason nicely.

Different take from above comments. I have felt for several years Reds don’t know how to develop their talent. Why is it that Cardinals pull unproven prospects from their system, put them in game situations and they produce over time. Which is why they are in the playoffs in spite of injuries and the Reds aren’t and continue to cry about the injuries. For our utility players it is always end of career guys who get the playing time and our young players, our future sit. Said before I hope they trade Soto, Lutz, and Partch so they will have a chance to make it elsewhere, because they won’t get a prolonged chance with the Reds.

Ditto! The Reds do seem to pick up a boat load of retreads and let their home grown guys sit . That says a lot about their minor league development and (or) judgement of talent .

Jim — Tough to make that point when the following players are all homegrown: Mesoraco, Bruce, Votto, Cozart, Frazier, Hamilton, Bailey, Cueto, Leake, LeCure, Heisey.

How neat I see in a report that Scott Rolen threw out the first pitch today in St. Louis.

REDS –Just get a right fielder who bats with his eyes open.

Mark, you got me there. Didn’t do my research very well .

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