Before we see who earned their pay the last two weeks, I thought it would be good to take a quick look at where the minor league teams in the Reds organization sit right now. In AAA, the Louisville Bats are 27-25 after their sweep yesterday, and currently sit just 2.5 games out of the wild card spot. Down a level, Pensacola is only 21-29. They’ve improved from a slow start, but it is still a disappointing showing for a team thought to be loaded with near-ready prospects when the season began. Daytona is leading the Florida State League’s North Division by a whopping 6 games, with a shiny 32-20 record. Their magic number is down to 13 for clinching the first half division title. Finally, at Dayton, the Dragons are 27-25, currently just a game behind the first half wild card leader in the Midwest League’s East Division. The minor league teams from the Reds have put up some really bad seasons the last few years, so it is nice to see them performing pretty well this season. The draft is next week, so expect to see some new faces, some promotions, and the start of rookie ball when the next payday on the farm post comes out.
In the meantime, the last couple of weeks on the farm have been marked by a few standout pitching performances at the lower levels. Sadly, there’s really not anyone crushing the ball on the other side of the ledger right now. Dream on the pitching, because there’s still a lot of good stuff in the system, even with Lorenzen, Iglesias, and DeSclafani getting their feet wet with the MLB team right now.
As always, we’re going to identify the players on each team who have done the most to earn their paycheck this pay cycle. Selections are based on performance from May 16 to May 31.
Hitter: Eugenio Suarez
For the second pay cycle in a row, Eugenio "Oregonio" Suarez was the best hitter on the Bats team. He wasn’t spectacular, but the .288/.344/.462 in 61 plate appearances got the job done. Yorman "work" Rodriguez posted a robust .520 SLG to claim an honorable mention, but that ghastly 14/2 K/BB ratio is depressing - especially when you consider how valuable a good OF bat would be on the big club right now.
Pitcher: David Holmberg
David Holmberg "don’t play that" was solid enough in 18.2 IP, allowing 3 ER, 15 H, and 5 BB while striking out 12. It wasn’t eye-popping, but it was pretty good work. Pedro "not Martinez" Villarreal and Nate "no nickname required" Adcock each logged 6.2 good innings from the bullpen to claim honorable mentions.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Hitter: Zach Vincej
There were a few good performances turned in by Blue Wahoo hitters the last couple of weeks. Kyle Skipworth "Schumakerworth" went .300/.405/.567 in 37 PAs. Seth "Pinky and the" Mejias-Brean posted a .347/.439/.408 line in 57 PAs. I think Zach "Leonardo Di" Vincej gets the call here though. He put up a .333/.406/.630 line even though he only got 32 PAs. That’s not a lot of swings, but a .630 SLG has to be a welcome sight from a light-hitting all-glove middle infielder. His plate discipline numbers (3 Ks to 4 BBs) were better than his competition too, so I’ll choose to overlook the limited playing time.
Pitcher: Robert Stephenson
Robert "Louis" Stephenson is finally starting to show why he is considered arguably the Reds’ top prospect. After a rough start to the season, he’s been electric recently. For the two weeks, he threw 17.2 innings over three starts, allowing 5 ER, 11 H, and 8 BBs, while striking out 26 batters. That in itself would be good, but his last 10.2 IP he has struck out 21 against just 1 walk, while allowing 0 ER and just 4 H. Let’s hope the light bulb has come on and this is what we should expect moving forward.
Hitter: Alex Blandino
Alex "and/or" Blandino was pretty good for Daytona in the latter half of May, and no one else was really able to get much going. He hit .345/.426/.414 in 68 PAs. Not much power, but the 6 Ks to 7 BBs provides some reason to dream about the top of the 2017 or 2018 lineup featuring Blandino, Winker, and Votto.
Pitcher: Amir Garrett
Amir Garrett "Boulware" closed out May in impressive fashion. Over the two weeks, he threw 17.2 IP, allowing just 4 ER and 4 BBs while striking out 23. His last start was particularly impressive, as he threw 7 IP while striking out 12, walking none, and allowing just 2 hits. Honorable mentions to Barrett Astin "Martin" and Alejandro "Pena" Chacin as distant runners-up.
Hitter: Garrett Boulware
"Amir" Garrett Boulware and his .308/.406/.577 line was excellent, even though it came in a mere 32 PAs. He was buoyed by a solid 4 Ks to 5 BBs. Paul Kronenfeld "the barbarian" gets a shoutout for a similarly good performance in 38 PAs, but Boulware’s plate discipline and power output put him over the top.
Pitcher: Tyler Mahle
Despite a strong fortnight by Tejay "TJ" Antone, Tyler "Darth" Mahle earns the nod for the best performance by not only a Dragon, but by any Reds minor leaguer in late May. He allowed just 2 ER in 18.1 IP, with 21 Ks against only 2 BBs. With an ERA under 3 and nearly a 6/1 K/BB ratio at this point, Mahle is putting together quite the impressive season while being nearly two years younger than the Midwest League average. I’d expect him to shoot up prospect lists if he keeps this up. At the same time, I would be a bit surprised if he gets a promotion soon, simply because there are other, older pitchers performing similarly well who need to be moved up first to be challenged (notably Seth Varner). The Reds are building an impressive collection of pitchers throughout the organization. Let’s hope Chris Buckley brings in some similarly talented bats next week.