Cincinnati Reds director of player development Eric Lee has spent recent days and weeks assembling the opening roster of the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts.
His advice to those heading back to AT&T Field after last season was shelved due to the coronavirus? See the Lookouts early and often, and don't forget about the early part.
"You need to buy your tickets now, because this is going to be a really exciting group," Lee said Monday afternoon. "There are some names that are going to jump out to people, and there is going to be a little something for everyone. This group will have a lot of athleticism that makes this game exciting, whether on the defensive side of things, running the bases or playing aggressively in the right way.
"The purpose of this game is to score runs, and I think we have a lot of guys who embody that."
The Lookouts are scheduled to open their 120-game season tonight against the Rocket City Trash Pandas, weather permitting, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15.
Chattanooga has three of MLB.com's top five Reds organizational prospects with starting pitchers Nick Lodolo (No. 1) and Hunter Greene (No. 2) and shortstop Jose Garcia (No. 5). Garcia is a defensive wizard who played 24 games with Cincinnati last season, but he produced just a .194 batting average with two RBIs.
READY, SET, GO
The highest-rated organizational prospect to open the season with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the past decade:
2011 — 1B Jerry Sands (Dodgers)
2012 — P Nate Eovaldi (Dodgers)
2013 — OF Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)
2014 — P Chris Reed (Dodgers)
2015 — OF Byron Buxton (Twins)
2016 — P Tyler Jay (Twins)
2017 — SS Nick Gordon (Twins)
2018 — SS Nick Gordon (Twins)
2019 — OF Taylor Trammell (Reds)
2020 — No season
"Night to night, you're going to see one of the best young prospects in our organization and in all of baseball," Lee said. "He is a true shortstop defensively and is one of the best shortstops in minor league baseball. He got to the big leagues last year based off what he demonstrated in summer camp and then at our alternate site, and offensively, he has made big strides.
"You're talking about a kid who in 2019 was in low-A, and we know we have a special, special player who will be back in Cincinnati and playing shortstop for us every day in a short amount of time. There is just some seasoning that needs to occur, and we're confident that will happen in Chattanooga."
Lodolo and Greene are former first-round picks of the Reds who participated in big-league spring training back in March, and Lee is planning on each to perform very well for the Lookouts, adding, "We expect them to be knocking on the door of the big leagues here very, very soon."
When asked if he witnessed Greene throwing 105 miles per hour early last month, Lee laughed and said, "I was not there the first time." Lee doesn't, however, believe that Greene has technically reached 105 just yet.
"I've told him that we don't round up in the big leagues," Lee said. "I believe what we all saw on video was 104.9, so he still has one click to go, because we don't round up in the Reds organization."
Lee predicted that the power aspect to this season's Lookouts will be headed by Wilson Garcia and Robbie Tenerowicz, who have spent their careers in other organizations until now.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.