I've been kind of putting this off because I've felt lazy lately. I planned on writing as soon as the CPR was finished, but I guess now is as good a time as ever. I don't know if Bryan or Weez plan on writing up lists or not. We did last year, but they were just simple lists. This will have a little bit of commentary based on my thought process. I figure I might as well explain myself.
I'd like to point out these are just my opinions. I'm not really basing it off Sickels, MLB.com, Baseball America, or anyone else. I've never watched any of these players in person or scouted them. I have seem a few during call ups and during the very small amount of games I may or may not have watched them play in previous Spring Trainings on the ol' boob tube. Any scouting information I give is pulled almost 100% from others. A lot of this is just gut instinct and from crunching minor league numbers. Here we go.
1. Robert Stephenson, SP
Realistically, I think Bob Steve and Jesse Winker are 1A and 1B. I think if you would give them both a grade, they would grade out very closely. I'm putting Stephenson above Winker just because of his higher ceiling and Winker's defensive positioning. It's a cop out, I know, but Stephenson has an arm that can throw 100 MPH and a killer curve. If he can figure it out, I think he has more worth than Winker overall.
2. Jesse Winker, OF
The buck stops here for the cream of the crop of our top prospects. I'm enamored with Winker, even if I ranked him #2. He's an incredibly fun player to follow, and I think his bat has a very high ceiling. May only have 20 home run power, but I love his plate discipline and line drive approach. He could be Joey Votto playing left field, or he could just be a guy that hits .270/.350/.450. Both of those have value, and I think Winker is one of the safer prospects in the country.
3. Michael Lorenzen SP
Here are where things get fishy and people start flip flopping prospects. I put Lorenzen at 3 because of the potential he has, the 2014 season, and the fact he'll be pitching at AAA in what is basically his 2nd professional season. For a guy that rarely pitched in college this is huge. He's also a freak athlete. If he gets the strikeouts up watch out.
4. Anthony DeSclafani, SP
Actually, I think there is a very good argument to put DeSclafani at #3 because he is Major League ready. I think he'll perform well this year, and I like his approach to pitching. He's a low walk, keep the ball on the ground kind of pitcher. He has some insane K/BB numbers in the minors and isn't afraid to strike people out. The only knock on him is he doesn't have a high ceiling and isn't a big name prospect. I think he'll out perform Mat Latos this year.
5. Raisel Iglesias, SP/RP
Originally, I had him lower on my list. I was thinking 7 or 8, but I've been reading too many good things from scouts and prospect gurus. He has great stuff and there seems to be little concern about that stuff working in the majors. The big question is whether or not he can start. The Reds were apparently the only team to think so, and they threw $30,000,000 at the guy. I'm gonna go with that huge potential above some of the American pitchers we have in the system we know more about.
6. Nick Howard, SP/RP
I wanted to put him above Iglesias but whatever. The Reds have a lot of high ceiling relievers they are converting to starters. It has been the draft strategy for the past couple years, and they seem to be the only team doing it. Nick Howard was a dominate closer last year for Virginia, but he had started in the past. He has a dominate mid to high 90's fastball and a plus slider. He showed some good stuff in Dayton in the AFL. Hopefully, he doesn't lose much when he starts.
7. Alex Blandino, INF
Blandino was the compensation pick for Shin Soo Choo and was drafted out of Stanford. A lot of teams don't like taking guys from Stanford because of the whole "Stanford Swing" thing. Whatevs. I like Blandino's bat. He tore it up in Billings and had respectable numbers in Dayton. He also struck out way too much in Dayton, but I think he has a good hit tool and power (especially for a middle infielder). What raises his stock for me is scouts saying they liked what they saw from him at SS this year, and I'm just gonna ignore the last season K's.
8. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
Yorman slipped this year, but it wasn't because of anything he did. He was hurt, and then he secretly put up his best season in a while. He's hurt in the rankings because of his familiarity in the rankings and because people think he's 25. He's was 3.5 years younger than his competition in AA. Only problem is he has one option left with the Reds. That shouldn't hurt his prospect rankings, though.
9. Jonathon Crawford, SP
Honestly, he might be the best arm in the system outside of Stephenson and Iglesias. There is no question about Crawford's stuff it is all about his mechanics and repeatability on the mound. He didn't strike out many guys in A ball, but he had an ERA below 3.00. Basically, he's hard to make solid contact with.
10. Phillip Ervin
I hope Sweet Uncle Phil can come back from his stupid wrist injury that hurt his 2014. He has too many tools. I don't wanna talk about it.
11. Nick Travieso, SP
We knew Nick Travieso was going to be a project, but he still has a super low amount of innings on his talented arm. He repeated Single A Dayton and lowered his WHIP, BB/9, H/9, and raised his K/9. Basically, he was better.
12. Amir Garrett, SP
I know, Garrett had an vastly improved 2014. I know, Garrett quit basketball to focus on baseball. I know, he has really good potential. However, he's had a lot of bad years, and I want to see him repeat a good year before I put him higher on the lists. I'm not a nonbeliever, but I need him to show me more.
13. Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B
I like guys that take a walk and play good defense. This is probably too high, but I think he has one of the better shots to make the Reds and make an impact then the guy I'm going to list a little farther down on the list.
14. Kyle Waldrop, OF
I think Waldrop's 2014 was mostly BABIP noise, but he's still a decent prospect and a good defender. I think he has the ability to hit for a little more power.
15. Aristides Aquino, OF
National writers have this guy in the Top 10. He has all the tools, sure, but he hasn't played past the Pioneer League. It's hard for me to put a guy higher on the list unless he's played against a higher competition. He was hitting the bejesus out of the ball, but his plate discipline was awful. Vlad Guerrero are nice, even if they are redonkulous.
16. John Moscot, SP
There isn't much to say. He has the lowest potential of our pitching prospects, but is probably the closest to the majors. He has a very Sam LeCure vibe and that's not a bad thing.
17. Sal Romano, SP
Had a pretty good year in 2014 if you are checking out his peripherals. He's kind of hitable, but I like his potential. I think there is good argument to have him as high as 10. Just depends on your preferred flavor of pitching prospect.
18. Gavin LaValley, 3B/1B/DH
Big dude can absolutely rake. Questions about defense and the fact that he's so young.
19. Tucker Barnhart, C
Defensive first catcher. That will keep him in the majors, but I don't think his bat will ever play.
20. Chad Wallach, C
This guy is gonna end up being my pet prospect, replacing Juan Silva. 12 more walks than strikeouts last year?Scouts like his defense behind the plate? Comes from a baseball pedigree? I like all those things very much.
21. Tyler Mahle, SP
People talk about Jeremy Kivel, but they need to talk more about Tyler Mahle. He is young, but hasn't failed at a level yet. He has a career 4.39 K/BB ratio, and should start in Dayton. Quietly, he was the best pitcher on the Billings staff.
22. Caarlton Daal, SS
This is more groupthink then anything and I'm running out of names. I don't think his bat will ever play, and his 2014 was all BABIP. No power, doesn't walk, and his defense was shaky last year. 39 errors is a lot no matter how young you are.
23. Juan Silva, OF
I'm just gonna keep trotting him out there because of the walks and steals. If he plays he's one of the better players on the team. STAY HEALTHY!
24. Wyatt Strahan, SP
Only threw 40 innings this year for Billings after being drafted by the Reds in the 3rd round out of USC. Don't know a whole lot about him, but I like his name.
25. Jeremy Kivel, SP
Does MMA. Can beat my ass.
Hope you like them. Argue with me in the comments if you want.