FanPost

Red Prospect Top 10 (+1): Mid-Season Edition

USA TODAY Sports

After watching that horrid, horrid game last night, I decided I needed to spend some time revising the Red Top Ten list after halfway points of the minor league seasons. If you disagree, come up with your own rankings, reasons, and rationales.

So, without further ado:

1. Jesse Winker, AA OF

What the Optimist Says:

Great googly moogly, look at that BB rate! Look at it versus his K rate! He’s Joey Votto, circa 2012! Seriously, Winker’s done nothing but produce since being drafted. He’s well ahead of his age-relative peers, 4.6 years younger than AA league average. Not only that, his career line—

.304/.408/.500/.908—is borderline dominant, no matter his age. There’s nothing not to like here. Winker’s power is progressing nicely. (He’s won the last two league-affiliated All Star HR Derbies, so he should have even more in the tank.) His BB:K ratio has held steady as he’s moved up the ladder as well. He’s not a dominant athlete, but it looks like Winker’s a baseball player—and that’s exactly what the Reds need more of.

What the Pessimist Says:

Of course he hit in California—everyone hits in California. His low A season from the year before, where he hit 280 with patience and a little power, is his more likely career arc. Is that really what you want from a slow, defensively-challenged LFer? Sure, he’s likely to be an mlb starter, but he’s hardly worth the number one spot on a team’s list of prospects. C’mon!

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Kal Daniels without the speed

2. Robert Stephenson, AA SP

What the Optimist Says:

The Red run on super starters continues! Stephenson is a bone fide ace based on his K rate and three plus pitches. It’s only a matter of time until he joins Bailey, Cueto, Latos, and Cingrani as TOR starters who dominate opposing teams. Stephenson’s all about projection—his fastball regularly hits the high 90s and occasionally strays into triple digits. His curve can be a true put away pitch, and his change-up can also be dominant. In 250 career professional innings, he’s given up 200 hits. His K rate is 10.1. The rest of the league loves him too. Check out John Sickels’ glowing report.

What the Pessimist Says:

Sickels’ report was before the season began, and make no mistake, Stephenson has regressed since the beginning of this season. He can’t find the plate and gives up HR at a fairly high rate. That signifies that he struggles not only to throw strikes, but to hit his spots in the strike zone. In short, he’s still a thrower. He’ll be a major leaguer unless he gets injured between now and then. He’s likely going to be a decent starter. But until he improves his control (both in the strike zone and as a whole), he’s early career Homer Bailey.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Homer Bailey

3. Ben Lively, AA, SP

What the Optimist Says:

The sight of a meteor majestically bursting across the night sky conjures images of portents, both vitally important and infinitely rare. However, Lively’s meteoric emergence onto the minor league scene is almost a carbon copy of Tony Cingrani’s just two seasons earlier. His numbers in the California League are staggering, considering where he pitches and what he has to deal with in that park. He doesn’t walk all that many and his K rate is exceptional. Even in college, Lively was dominant. He’s simply continued that dominance through to the minor leagues. A recent move to AA should cement his status as a TOR starter with a high K rate, extremely low hit rate, and acceptable BB rate. The future’s bright for Lively.

What the Pessimist Says:

Like Cingrani, Livey profiles less as a TOR and more as a MOR starter. His stuff is almost entirely uninteresting, in the way that low 90s fastballs, great minor league control, and an ability and affinity for changing speeds are in today’s pitching-thick world of Red prospects. Lively hasn’t shown an especially great ability in eating innings, though his frame would suggest he should. Perhaps, like Hailley’s Comet, Lively’s brief tenure as dominant arm will be soon over.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Tony Cingrani

4. Michael Lorenzen, AA SP

What the Optimist Says:

When drafted, Lorenzen was tabbed by most as a fast-riser, possibly helping out the Red bullpen by as early as the 2014 season’s-end. The Reds chose, instead, to try the former Cal Fullerton star OF and RP as a starter. One short year later, his conversion has been an unqualified success. Lorenzen’s been All-Star worthy in AA in his first full year as a starter. More than that, his stuff—a mid 90s fastball and a hard slurve/ curve/ slider—has played up all year. The heaviness of his fastball is apparent in his .4 HR/ 9 (in an extremely HR-friendly home park) and 7.9 H/9, both exceptional numbers.

What the Pessimist Says:

For as much as prospect experts insist Lorenzen’s stuff is dominant, he just doesn’t generate all that many swings-and-misses. His 6.0 K rate is pedestrian, even a step below that. He got absolutely rocked in the AFL this past year; that may mean he’s feasting on the dregs of AA rather than challenging the upper crust. Likely to make it as a reliever at least.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Frank Pastore

5. Seth Mejias-Brean, AA 3B

What the Optimist Says:

Prospect mavens likely hate this pick this high; however, all SMB has done since turning professional is hit. The reigning Minor League Player of the Year is once again dominating and has earned a well-deserved promotion to AA after a .300/ .396/ .476/ .872 line in Advanced A. That bumped his overall professional line to an outstanding .306 / .389/ .478/ .867 all while playing Gold-Glove level defense at the hot corner. (Very good E rate and range factor, not to mention scouting takes.) Mejias-Brean’s best attribute, however, is similar to Winker’s—his willingness to take a walk while not K’ing all that much. In his career, Mejias-Brean has 124:161 BB:K ratio. That’s outstanding. He’s another Todd Frazier-style player—older than league average doesn’t mean useless.

What the Pessimist Says:

Yeah, he’s been outstanding. He ought to be, as he’s been consistently older than league average. That tends to skew his numbers a great deal. His bump to AA (where he’ll be younger than league average for the first time) will be his first real test as anything more than, say, Marquez Smith. At best, he’s a decent utility guy who can play first and third well and hit decently enough to play for two or three years.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Danny Driessen (+ one year)

6. Phil Ervin, A OF

What the Optimist Says:

A three-week slump brought about by injury shouldn’t mar Ervin’s accomplishments as a pro. He absolutely dominated in the Pioneer and Midwestern Leagues last season and is, with about a three-week slump excepted, is OPSing over 800 this year as well. Not only that, Ervin is also showing plus speed and base-running instincts, as his 35:2 SB:CS ratio would attest. He looks like a legitimate CFer as well; at his best, Ervin’s a plus CF bat with plus speed and SB ability. He’s a five-tool talent that can play all over the OF. What’s not to like?

What the Pessimist Says:

What’s not to like? How about his BA, for starters? And the fact that he’s lost power despite playing a league he should be dominating. Ervin’s 2014 line is abysmal. Perhaps, by the end of the season, he’ll bring it up to respectable, but he’ll need to really power up to do so. A giant step backward this year drops him from second in the prospect rankings to sixth.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Steve Henderson

7. Carlton Daal, A SS

What the Optimist Says:

Where’d he come from? The Red SS of the future hit .200, with a mid-.400 OPS in all of 21 games last year in Rookie Ball. However, Red brass really liked what they say from the young prospect in Extended Ball. This year, handed the reins of Cincinnati’s most-pressing positional need, he’s been a diamond in the rough. A .305 BA and .350 OPB would look mighty fine in place of Zach Cozart’s "production". Not only that, Daal profiles to hit for more power as he fills out. He should also learn how to use his speed a bit better, as he has only 11 SB attempts on the season.

What the Pessimist Says:

He may be hitting .300+, but it might be the emptiest .300 in the game. His OPS is only .693. He has a total of 7 extra base hits on the year. 7. I’m fairly sure Jesse Winker’s hit that many in a game. Not only that, he’s got 30 errors on the season. Daal needs to find his inner Gregorius and add some punch if he wants to play any role at all in the bigs.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: DiDi Gregorius

8. Jon Moscot, AA SP

What the Optimist Says:

Despite mediocre stuff (a low 90’s fastball, a decent change, and a work-in-progress slider), Moscot has pitched very, very well for most of his professional career. Not only does he have an advanced feel for changing speeds, he’s also a groundball machine. Both of these assuage effective pitching as he matures into a major leaguer. He might be a BOR guy, but his stuff and pitcher’s frame suggest an innings eater you can count on for 200 IP at league average or a bit better results for a few years. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

What the Pessimist Says:

Moscot is the type of pitching prospect the Reds had a dozen of in the Lost Decade. He’s a questionable stuff, low upside BOR guy who, if you squint hard enough, might eventually learn to do well enough to survive as a starter. With his limited arsenal, he’s not really a reliever as well. He’s pretty much only ever going to be a starter.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Take your pick—let’s go with Phil Dumatrait

9. Ismael Guillon, A SP

What the Optimist Says:

Guillon is the antithesis of Moscot. He’s always had very, very good stuff. His 3.7 BB rate might look high, but it’s 1.5 BBs less/ 9 than his career rate. His K rate is still exceptional as well, at 9.5 (career over 10/9). He’s still almost impossible to hit, with a H/9 of 5.6. Add it all up and he’s a boom or bust player—he’ll either be outstanding or irritating.

What the Pessimist Says:

Guillon has improved this season, no doubt. But he should be better—he’s 22 in low A ball. And he’s still struggling to find the plate—3.7 BB/9 is not great at all. This season, he might be effectively wild; unfortunately, the key word there isn’t effective, but wild.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Edison Volquez (yes, I’m cheating)

10. (T) Kyle Waldrop, AA OF

What the Optimist Says:

After three years of decent if not outstanding numbers, Waldrop repeated High A due to a log-jam of decent if not outstanding OFers in front of him. (His 2013 second half in Bakersfield was among the best in the California League, btw. That goes to show you how bad his first half was.) He’s overtaken all of them this year. A scorching .400 month of April saw to that. His power is above average. His hit tool looks much better over the past year or so. His K rate, once hovering around 25%, has dropped below 20% as well. He’s 22 too, two and a half years younger than his average AA competition. (That puts him above the Phil Ervin mlb age track, fwiw.) He’s played mostly RF this year and seems to have just enough glove to stick there.

What the Pessimist Says:

Waldrop is a decent prospect. I’ll even accept an intriguing one. But that hardly means he’s a top ten guy. No matter how hot his start, Waldrop still has holes in his swing and will be prone to massive slumps as he moves further up the prospect ladder. His 6.3% career BB rate is really poor. His 20% K rate added to it makes him questionable at best.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Chris Denorfia

10. (T) Nick Travieso, A SP

What the Optimist Says:

Travieso struggled in his first taste of pro ball, compiling a less than impressive resume against much older athletes. This season, Travieso’s improved across the board. His BB rate is miniscule, and he keeps the ball in the park, as his .4 HR/9 will attest. (Luck and small sample size alert!) One really nice piece of information is that he’s also adding K’s as he’s limiting BB’s. The 4:1 ratio is a precursor of excellent things to come.

What the Pessimist Says:

Going back 30 years reveals very, very few "control" pitchers ever make it past High A. And Travieso, despite his supposed mid 90’s fastball and hard slider, looks like a control pitcher at this point. Perhaps a move to the bullpen later in his minor league career presages a decent relief career. At this point, he’s likely not a starter.

Fearless Red prospect comparison: Jeff Russell

Honorable Mention


X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Red Reporter

You must be a member of Red Reporter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Red Reporter. You should read them.

Join Red Reporter

You must be a member of Red Reporter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Red Reporter. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker