Though some of you jokers beg to differ, Billy Hamilton is your #2 prospect for 2014. We've talked about Billy for so long, there's not much else for me to add about him at this point. And he's graduating to the bigs anyway, so we'll get our answers soon enough. A pair of potential battery mates gets added to the list today. Rock the vote.
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.
TUCKER BARNHART, 23, C
Highest 2013 Level: AA (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .348 OBP in 2013, his highest since Rookie ball.
Most Worrisome Fact: Durability, maybe? He's yet to top 100 games in a single season thus far.
Aliases: Bad Mother Tucker, Drive by Tuckers, Tucker? I hardly knew her!
Tucker Barnhart has been one of the most consistently consistent player in the Reds minor leagues over the last three seasons - slashing .273/.344/.387 in 2011, .247/.330/.363 in 2012, and .260/.348/.348 in 2013. His 41 games in AA at the end of 2012 brought down his overall numbers, but his second stint in AA was much more successful at the plate while still providing the stellar defense he's been known for throughout his minor league career. As a switch hitter, Tucker hits much better from the left side of the plate (.754 OPS as a LHB vs. .428 OPS as a RHB). The comparison to Ryan Hanigan still seems apt, and if he can continue to get on base at the rate he has, we may see him in Red sooner rather than later.
NICK TRAVIESO, 20, P
Highest 2013 Level: A- (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: A plus fastball that can reach the upper 90's. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Most Worrisome Fact: Still a very raw pitcher that needs time to develop.
Aliases: Naughty Nick, Krampus
The Reds reached a bit in the 2012 draft selecting Travieso, a high school pitcher that was expected to drop to the supplemental round or later. Chris Buckley and his scouting team said they'd been following him for a while, and really liked the kid, so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Even though he was drafted before Michael Wacha. There is still a lot of upside with Travieso, and though his first full season as a professional wasn't all that great, he has plenty of time to develop into a top of the rotation starter. If not, his fastball/slider combination will still work well in the back end of the bullpen.