After sustaining a freak elbow injury whilst running out what ended up being an infield hit last night against the Marlins, Royce Lewis looks set to be out for a while. Whilst no official diagnosis has been been determined, the issue is believed to be a bone in Lewis’ elbow. The Reds have today announced Lewis will be added to the 60-day IL, ending his rookie season.
Lewis had been a solid performer for the Reds this year, posting a 106 OPS+ (good for 5th amongst qualified NL rookies) with a .271/.341/.424 line, His 3.0 WAR is 8th among all rookies. Amongst rookie shortstops, Lewis is currently second in WAR, OPS+, HR and OBP (all to Millard Thomas, ATL). He leads rookie shortstops in AVG and SB (he’s 5th amongst ALL shortstops in SB). All in all, it’s been a promising season until today’s news.
With Lewis shut down for the year, Hiroya Oshima will get called up to take his spot in the Majors. 30-year-old Oshima has been kicking around in the minors forever seemingly, originally signing with the Brewers in 2012 as a minor league free agent out of Japan. He spent six years in the Brewers organisation before getting released, always between AA and AAA. He then spent all of eleven days in the Cardinals system, again being released and picked up by the Dodgers. He spent four months with the Dodgers before landing in Cincinnati in June 2020.
Now entering the final year of his contract, and with no further minor league extensions forthcoming, it seems this is his last chance to make it. The fact that he hasn’t been above replacement-level in AAA since 2017 (0.1 WAR) is unlikely to give Reds fans much hope. It’s do-or-die time for the Japanese switch-hitter, as with the glut of infield talent the Reds have both in the Majors and the Minors, there’s simply no room for him next season. His best hope is to hit the cover off the ball every night and hope to catch on with yet another organisation. Maybe the Cubs, he seems to like the NL Central.
Oshima is set to play second base, his primary position, for the remainder of the season, primarily as a backup, with Bubba Osborn moving to short when Oshima plays. Dee Gordon is likely to be the starting shortstop in the majority of the remaining games once healthy.
Elsewhere in the organisation, Raul Hernandez has skipped AA and moved from Daytona up to Louisville to take Oshima’s spot on the Bats roster. This may initially seem like great news for the 22 year-old Venezuelan, but Reds GM Jason Toms is known to be pretty rigid in terms of promoting genuine prospects through the ranks. Skipping a level likely means Hernandez is thought of as ‘just a guy’, and not part of the organisation’s long-term plans – in other words, someone needed to play second base, so it might as well be Hernandez because the Bats aren’t playing for anything this year. If anything, this is good news for Hudson Potts, who most fans would think of as the obvious candidate for the promotion. Not moving 22-year-old Potts, amidst a 4/5-WAR season in his first year with pennant-chasing Pensacola, is likely a sign that the front office consider him a decent prospect and want him to take his time. This is especially true when you consider that whoever goes to Louisville is likely to be playing behind Kevin Tidwell at second base as Tidwell tries to save his own baseball career.
Pensacola also welcome Elroy Cole back from the IL, meaning another demotion was needed. That ended up being recently-promoted shortstop Angel Bojorquez.
Reds Transactions 30/08/21
SS Royce Lewis: MLB -> 60-day IL
2B Hiroya Oshima: AAA Louisville -> MLB
2B Raul Hernandez: A+ Daytona -> AAA Louisville
P Elroy Cole: IL -> AA Pensacola
SS Angel Bojorquez: AA Pensacola -> A+ Daytona