Fay: Reds Question 5: Is Scott Schebler the right man in right field?

Hamilton's got center and Duvall's in left
Posted at 9:00 AM, Feb 09, 2017

This is the fifth in a series of nine questions about the Reds as they head toward spring training.

CINCINNATI -- At the final Winter Caravan stop, a fan asked Bryan Price who the third outfielder would be.

It took a second for the question to register. Then Price quickly said: "Scott Schebler. We like our outfield."

That outfield would be Schebler in right, Billy Hamilton in center and Adam Duvall in left. It's understandable that the fan would not have noticed that Schebler had won the job in right. After all, Schebler's best work came after a lot of fans quit paying much attention to the Reds.

Schebler hit .290 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 55 games as the right fielder after the Reds traded Jay Bruce on July 31. That projects to 24 home runs and 94 RBI over a full season. If the Reds get that from Schebler, they'll do cartwheels down Joe Nuxhall Way. That would give the Reds a reliable left-handed bat to go with Joey Votto.

Schebler, obtained  from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way trade for Todd Frazier, has that potential. He's a lot like Duvall: Both came to the Reds with great power numbers in the minor leagues but were unproven against big-league pitching.

In the minors, Schebler hit 27 homers in '13 and 33 in '14. He's also athletic enough to play center field.

Schebler, 26, made the Opening Day roster with a good spring. But he struggled from the start. He was hitting .175 when he was optioned to Louisville on May 5. He responded by hitting .311 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 75 games at Louisville.

Schebler got the call after the Bruce trade. He hit a walk-off, three-run home run in his first appearance after the trade to beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

At that point, Schebler was seen as the left field option because Duvall's stronger arm makes him more suited for right. But after Duvall played two games in right, he went back to left, where he was more comfortable.

While Schebler projects as the Opening Day right fielder, that is not to say he's going to play 150 games there. Top hitting prospect Jesse Winker is close to big league-ready. Jose Peraza is going to get playing time in the outfield. And the club is finalizing a minor league deal with Desmond Jennings, the former Tampa Bay outfielder.

But Schebler is at the top of the depth chart.

 "He's earned that," Price said.

Question 6: With Homer Bailey out, who joins the rotation?
Question 4: Will we see first-half Votto or second-half Votto?
Question 3: Who closes? Storen? Iglesias? Cingrani?
Question 2: What should fans expect from Homer Bailey?
Question 1: Where does Price play top prospect Jose Peraza?