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Name: Kyle Waldrop
Acquired: 12th-round pick in 2010 amateur draft
Highest Level: Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos
2014 Statistics (minors): 14 HR, 67 RBI, .338 BA, .385 OBP, .516 SLG, 14 SB
The Reds took some steps to shore up a Major League lineup that struggled to score runs last season, primarily through the signing of Marlon Byrd, but if Kyle Waldrop’s 2014 production is any indication, Cincinnati might get another boost in offense on the Riverfront before too long. Waldrop began the season at High-A Bakersfield, where he had ended in 2013, and proceeded to scorch California League pitching at a .359 clip. Called up to Double-A Pensacola at mid-season, Waldrop’s batting average dropped to .315, but his power remained strong, and he finished the year with 14 home runs and a nifty .338 batting average.
The left-handed hitting Waldrop split most of his time between left field and right field in 2014, with a couple of games at first base thrown in for good measure. Given that he committed two errors at first base in that short span, and only one in 59 outfield games, the infield is probably not in his immediate future.
The problem for Waldrop, of course, is that that the Reds have Jay Bruce entrenched in right field and that Byrd is just keeping left field warm for one of the top prospects in the system, Jesse Winker. If that logjam isn’t relieved, Waldrop may be forced into a utility role or traded.
Given the Reds’ health problems last season, though, and that Bruce is fighting a calf injury this spring, nothing is guaranteed for 2016, or even for 2015, really. If Waldrop can make the jump to Triple-A at or before the All-Star break this summer, he will have a shot at cracking the Big League team sometime in 2016.
For a bat like his — assuming it holds up — the Reds will find room.
Riverfront ETA: 2016