Leake to the ‘pen; Reds sign first-round pick

Tuesday was quite an eventful day for the first-place Cincinnati Reds. And that was before they even took the field in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

First up, the team made the decision to put rookie Mike Leake in the bullpen for the rest of the season. The rationale is they can limit his innings while still keeping a proven weapon on the roster. There was talk that the Reds would let Leake pitch through the end of August as a starter and then shut him down for the remainder of the season. However, due in large part to the breadth of quality starting pitching that they have, they can afford to use Leake out of pen. Hopefully he’s comfortable there because that could be a nice addition to the relief crew. And then you have to think Aroldis Chapman will be with the Reds soon as well. He’ll be up no later than Sept. 1, but I’m surprised he’s not already with the big club.

As for how the starting rotation will look from here, the Reds will go with Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey (who was extremely impressive in his first start back from shoulder inflammation) and rookie left-hander Travis Wood. The Reds also have Aaron Harang as an option down the stretch, but even in his first rehab start for Louisville, he was rocked for five earned runs in five innings. Sound familiar? So, hopefully the above five will be able to hold the fort down in terms of the starting rotation and the Reds won’t need to use Harang as a starter for the rest of the season. Maybe they will end up using him out of the bullpen as well.

Reds ink Grandal

Also on Tuesday, the Reds signed their 2010 first-round draft pick (No. 12 overall), switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal from the University of Miami. General manager Walt Jocketty was quoted as saying he thought Grandal was a “steal” at that point in the first round because the team thought he would go “somewhere around third, fourth or fifth” according to Jocketty.

I still think the Reds will re-sign Ramon Hernandez for one more season (if he’s willing to come relatively cheap) and use him in a platoon with Ryan Hanigan like they are this year. As good of a season as Devin Mesoraco is having in the minors, I don’t think the team wants to “rush” him and put him on the big club to start out next season. I think they want to see him start at Louisville next year (he started at high-A this season and is now at double-A) and then if he tears it up, they could always bring him up. But for 2011, I think the Reds will still have Hernandez/Hanigan as their catchers with one of the young guns ready to come up if need be.

I fully expect Grandal to start out next season playing at the high-A level. Then if he does well, they can quickly move him up to double-A. Then in 2012, it will be Mesoraco and Grandal competing for a roster spot alongside Hanigan who will be the unquestioned starter by then most likely.