CINCINNATI—The Reds sent a dozen of their top prospects to a two-and-a-half day leadership training event at Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point, N.Y., to help develop leadership skills among the organization’s youngest players.
“Leadership is obviously a hot topic in all of sports,” farm director Jeff Graupe said. “The age old question is how do you develop leaders?
“There’s a lot of methods you can try, a lot of things you do within baseball, but with the investment of putting these guys on field, we wanted to match that off the field with the nutrition program, with sports psychology, with all the sports science initiatives.”
Cincinnati invited the following prospects to the event: righthanders Jonathon Crawford, Rookie Davis, Nick Hanson and Sal Romano; catcher Tyler Stephenson, second basemen Alex Blandino and Shed Long, third basemen Brantley Bell, Gavin LaValley and Taylor Sparks and outfielders Taylor Trammell and Jesse Winker.
There they went through boot-camp style physical training each of the three mornings at 6 a.m., followed by both field exercises and classroom work.
“I have said that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to build the foundation for future Reds success,” general manager Dick Williams said. “Building leaders at all levels of the organization is critical to our future success and is a goal of mine.”
Though not part of the Army academy, the Thayer course mirrored military lessons. Many of the instructors have a background in the military.
“It gives us a bonding experience that you just can’t get unless you go to West Point and do that,” Winker said. “It’s just a different experience to bring guys together as a team.”
Said Davis: “I’m all-in on what we’re doing. Very rarely in minor league baseball do you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, and I honestly, truly feel that I am.”
• Catcher/first baseman Chad Wallach played in the Arizona Fall League for a third straight year. A left hand injury limited him in 2016, and he went 17-for-68 (.250) with three home runs in 20 games.
• Winker said he is fully recovered from a wrist injury that bothered him for much of 2016 at Triple-A Louisville.