Christmas is over, and we're all finally recovered from our New Year's hangovers. We've gained 10 pounds, feel like poop, and work is requiring us to be adults once again. Maybe that's just me. You know what that means? It's also time for us to begin arguing over the prodigious Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings. This is important, and all you really need to start taking this seriously. Very seriously.
This looks to be one of the wildest CPR's in recent memory. The Reds are flush with high ceiling prospects and the system is incredibly deep. There's also a new stock of players to vote for after the Cueto, Leake, Frazier, and Chapman trades and the Rule 5 draft. Who knows, maybe we'll even get some more players to throw into the mix as we go along. Walt and Dick would screw us all over like that. Jerks.
Without further ado, I'll begin the rankings. I haven't really decided much yet, but I think voting will end earlier than it used to. I'm thinking midnight PST so all the west coasters (WEEEEEEEEZ) have adequate time to get their votes in. This helps keep players from winning at 7:30 am when we are usually publishing these things.
Have fun and remember to always vote for the players I agree with.
Robert Stephenson, SP, 23
Highest 2015 Level: AAA (Louisville Bats)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 9.4 K/9 across AA and AAA levels.
Most Worrisome Fact: Still wild... 4.7 BB/9 across AA and AAA levels.
Alias(es): Bob Steve, Treasure Island, Bobert
Robert Stephenson had one of the most interesting and exciting minor league seasons that I followed last year. He had some incredibly brilliant games, but also a very disastrous start. He got roughed up in the month of April, and his first start of May saw him give up 6 earned runs in 0.2 innings pitched. It was bad. He was striking out a bunch of batters, but was giving up way too many walks and hits. After that awful start, it seems that he started to change what he was doing. His ERA continued to drop month by month (May: 3.94, June: 2.54, July: 2.40). His vast improvements led to a promotion to AAA Louisville at the beginning of July.
With these improvements, his strikeout rates continued to drop but so did his walks, hits, and home runs. Stephenson struggled some to end the season, but with his electric fastball and off-speed stuff, there is no reason he shouldn't be at the top of this list. Even if almost anyone can throw 100 MPH anymore.
Jesse Winker, OF, 22
Highest 2015 Level: AA (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .390 OBP, 74 walks, and 83 strikeous.
Most Worrisome Fact: Slow start and defensive position.
Alias(es): Uncle Jesse, Funky Winkerbean, Rip Van Winker
Jesse Winker had kind of a tumultuous 2015 year. From my recollection, we spent a lot of time talking about what was wrong with Jesse Winker. The average and power were way down, and in some ways, he was looking over matched at AA. The only thing he was still doing right was taking walks and limiting his strikeouts. You want to know a fun fact? Jesse Winker actually had a pretty great year, and you should be excited about it.
Winker started the season hitting for sub .240 batting averages in April and May, and in May his .OPS dropped to a sickly .592. All was lost. It was over. Jesse Winker was broken. Oh, but wait, his final slash line for the season was .282/.390/.433. Again, the ISO rate dropped quite a bit lower (hitting the same amount of dingers in half the at bats) but that should be expected when you move from the California League to the Southern League.
Just to prop up Winker's prospect status just a bit, in the final month of the season he put up a Joey Vottoian slash line of .344/.465/.602. That's a 1.067 OPS, and it's really super awesome. He can walk, he can hit for some power, and he was arguably the 1A or 1B prospect in the system last year.
Jose Peraza, SS/2B, 21
Highest 2015 Level: MLB (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .293 batting average, 45 strikeouts, and 33 steals in 521 plate appearances.
Most Worrisome Fact: .316 OBP, 17 walks, 4 home runs.
Alias(es): Marco Polo, LOL WUT, Don't Walk This Way
Peraza was the headliner return from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox. He's a high ceiling player that has had scouts very excited for a while now, and has found himself incredibly high on numerous prospect rankings (Top 25's). Peraza can do a lot of things well (handling the bat, defense, and running), but isn't too attuned at taking a walk. He's like the anti-Billy Hamilton as in he is 6'0, 180 pounds, and doesn't get the bat knocked out his hand and still plays infield. His game is putting the ball in the play and letting his legs get him to first base. Kinda of like Ichiro, but he's obviously not Ichiro (at least not yet).
The one big draw back to his game is his complete inability, or unwillingness, to take a walk. He looks to hit the ball, which keeps his strikeout incredibly low. This also keeps his walk rates almost hysterically low. He hasn't had a walk percentage over 5% since 2013, and it's hovered around 3.5% the past two years. To put that in perspective, Billy Hamilton walks almost twice as much in the majors, and posted 10%+ numbers in the minors. So, I'm not really sure how this is going to translate.
Peraza does almost everything else well except for hitting home runs. He has some decent gap power, can steal bases in bunches, and can play either SS or 2B. The only reason the Braves moved him from SS is because of Andrelton Simmon, who is an other wordly defensive shortstop, still played for them.