The Cincinnati Reds made five roster cuts this evening, optioning Elly De La Cruz, Ricky Karcher, and Casey Legumina to Triple-A, and sending Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain to minor league camp.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand has arguably been the best hitter in spring training among every single player on the planet. He’s hitting .577 and slugging 1.192 with two doubles, a triple, and four home runs. He’s only struck out two times in 27 plate appearances. While spring training stats don’t necessarily predict future success when the season begins, to cut a guy doing that on March 14th is certainly a decision. As a non-40-man roster player he was simply reassigned to minor league camp.
Among the other players in big league camp, Matt McLain may have been hitting better than anyone not named Christian Encarnacion-Strand. McLain hit a walk-off home run early in camp and hasn’t really slowed down all that much since. In his 24 plate appearances the infielder has hit .375 and slugged .688 while walking eight times and striking out just three time. Like Encarnacion-Strand, he’s not on the 40-man roster so he was simply reassigned to minor league camp.
Top prospect Elly De La Cruz was also sent back to minor league camp as the team optioned the shortstop this evening. He got out to a slow start in the spring but had picked it up a little bit of late. In his 27 plate appearances he was hitting .200/.259/.480 with two triples and a home run. He was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. That option destination, however, isn’t written in stone until the season actually begins (in the minors). For now it’s all just book keeping for available roster spots. That said, he likely does wind up starting in Triple-A this season.
Joining De La Cruz in being optioned to Triple-A were pitchers Casey Legumina and Ricky Karcher. Legumina had pitched in four games and given up seven runs in 5.1 innings (11.81 ERA), giving up eight hits, two home runs, two walks, a hit batter, and he struck out five. Karcher had allowed just two runs in his six appearances that covered 6.0 innings (3.00 ERA), but walked seven batters with five strikeouts in that time.