Community Prospect Rankings: Robert Stephenson Plunders #1 Spot

milb.com

There's a new captain in town

Despite an electric cup of coffee at the end of the season, Billy Hamilton's underwhelming 2013 has allowed Robert Stephenson to take over the coveted top spot in Red Reporter's 2014 CPR. It's hard to argue, as Long John Slider had an impressive season. A couple new names today to spice things up. Happy voting!

BILLY HAMILTON, CF, 23
Highest 2013 Level: MLB (Cincinnati Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: After breaking the professional record with 152 stolen bases in 2012, Billy swiped 75 bags in 123 games with the Louisville Bats and had 13 steals in 13 games with the Reds in September.
Most Worrisome Fact: 102 K with 38 BB in AAA
Aliases: Cool Papa Billy, Snax, Billy the Quick, Sir Quix-a-Lot

Billy followed up his incredible 2012, by stumbling out of the gate in 2013. A solid second half of the season, buoyed his numbers to a not completely terrible .256/.308/.343 line in Louisville, but still not what you would expect from the #11 prospect in all of baseball. The most troubling aspect of Billy's 2013 was that it seemed like he kind of forgot how to take a walk. His 6.9 BB% last season was by far the lowest of his career, with his 18.6 K % staying right around his career norms. Billy did get a cup of coffee in September with the Reds where he was pretty damn endearing, stealing 13 bases and slashing .368/.429/.474 in 19 ABs. Granted, the competition in those ABs was not particularly stiff, but he did manage to rack up 0.7 bWAR in just 13 games. That's a completely meaningless tidbit, and not at all predictive, but it's pretty neat nonetheless. It's looking more and more like Hamilton will be the starting CF in 2014, and if he can get on base, he should be able to help the Reds win some games next season. Unfortunately, that's looking like a bigger if right now than it did this time last year.

PHILLIP ERVIN, 21, OF
Highest 2013 Level: Low-A (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .989 OPS in his first season as a pro
Most Worrisome Fact: Hard to say so early, but he profiles as a corner OF rather than a CF, and he's dealt with injuries already in his career.
Aliases: Magic, Uncle Phil

Ervin doesn't seem to waste much time. After the Reds took him with the 27th pick in last year's draft, he promptly signed for slot, and promptly began producing. A well rounded player, Ervin hits for power (.233 ISO) and average (.331), and is an above-average baserunner (14/15 SB). He played CF in college, but split his time between CF and RF in Billings and Dayton, with more reps at the latter. He'll most likely move to a corner spot as he rises through the organization, but if he continues to showcase strong on-base skills and a well-rounded offensive arsenal, he'll remain a very productive weapon for the Reds.

JESSE WINKER, 20, OF
Highest 2013 Level:
Low-A
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 16 HR in 2013 after just 5 in 2012
Most Worrisome Fact: Defensive questions could limit him to 1B
Aliases: Uncle Jesse, Rip Van Winker, The Fonz

Winker followed up a great 2012 (and a spot at #5 on last year's CPR) with a solid 2013. We really saw his power develop this year, as he slugged 16 homers to go along with 18 doubles and 5 triples. Like Ervin, he's a disciplined contact hitter, walking (13%) almost as much as he strikes out (15.4%). Some scouts wonder if he can stick in the outfield, but so far he's shown no tangible signs of needing to move out of LF. His value will certainly take a hit if he's forced to move to 1B, but even still he could turn into a Yonder Alonso-type there. Kid just doesn't strike out.

YORMAN RODRIGUEZ, 21, OF
Highest 2013 Level: AA (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Dem tools. So many tools. Drooly tools. More tools than a Duke home basketball game.
Most Worrisome Fact: Still strikes out three times as often as he walks
Aliases: Our Man, Michelangelo, Tool Shed

Yorman Rodriguez has been debated ad nauseum here. We know his raw tools are off the charts. We have yet to see him truly harness his skills. But 2013 was a huge step forward, and 2014 will be a big, big year for Our Man. If he can build on the very real improvements he made in '13, notably an uptick in BB% (career high 8.7% in half a season in AA), slightly lower K%, and flashes of in-game power, then it will be time to start getting even more re-excited for this kid. But patience has been the name of the game, and that, at least, hasn't changed.

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