After only one day on our ballot, King Kahaloa swoops in and grabs the 29th spot on our prospect rankings. Small sample sizes be damned, the 5th-round pick had a promising start to his professional career. He put together a solid 11.6 K/9 and 5.17 K/BB ratios in only 24 IP in Billings last season. He's only 18, so he is still raw and has a long way to go, but hopefully he continues to throw up these solid numbers as he develops. One more spot to go, so go vote. It will be good practice for November.
Jose Lopez, 22, RHP
Wyatt Strahan, 22, RHP
Nick Howard, 22, RHP
Highest 2015 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Potential ++ fastball that can touch 98, doesn't allow many hits
Most Worrisome Fact: Control has been awful, basically everything else about 2015
Alias(es): Richie Cunningham
The curious case of Nick Howard. Howard was the Reds first round pick in 2014 at number 19 overall. A big bodied, powerful right handed reliever (and pretty dang good INF), Howard fit the mold of recent Reds picks: hard throwing college relievers they'd attempt to make starters. Howard had previously been a starter for the UVA Cavs before transitioning to the bullpen where he became one of the more dominant closers in college baseball.
Howard's definitely build like a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he has three potential pitches, which the fastball being potentially dominant and the changeup being fringy. Unfortunately, the big problem with Nick is his ability to command and control his pitches, and that reared its ugly head in a yuge way this past season.
Howard started 5 games for the Tortugas in 2015, struggling to a 4.82 ERA, 1.98 WHIP in a little over 18 innings. The team moved him to the bullpen to try and ease the struggles, and, well, that didn't work. In 19 innings out of the bullpen, Howard's numbers skyrocketed, and not in a good way since he's a pitcher and all. The ERA climbed to 8.38 and the WHIP to 2.43. On July 14th, the Reds put the former first rounder on the disabled list, though I'm not certain the cause was ever determined. Howard finished the season with an 11.8 BB/9.
So, this is a very important year for Howard and the Reds. It's certainly possible that after the move to the bullpen, the organization was having Howard try to experiment with some things that was causing him to be crushed. If that's the case, it's certainly possible that he's had the opportunity to work out some of the kinks in his delivery to where he can actually get the ball to, you know, cross the plate. But, it's also certainly possible that this will be one of the biggest Reds busts in recent draft history. We should have a pretty good idea by the end of 2016.
Jonathon Crawford, 24, RHP
Highest 2015 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Former first round picked that showed a promising 2.85 ERA in 2014
Most Worrisome Fact: He may actually only have one arm now/be dead
Alias(es): Johnny Crawfish, the Crawdaddy, Johnny Crawson
The mystery injury of Jonathon Crawford. He was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2013 and came over to the Reds before the 2015 season with Eugenio Suarez in the Alfredo Simon trade. Crawford has shown signs at A- West Michigan, despite some scouts worries that he wouldn't stick in the rotation. He's had a great fastball that can dial up to 98, and a potential plus slider that is great when it hits, but it doesn't hit enough at this point to be considered anything but a solid maybe.
Problem is, Crawford began the season on the DL for shoulder tendonitis. And he stayed there, all the way until June 29th when he made his first rehab start with the Arizona League Reds in Goodyear. After three of those, he reported to Daytona two more starts but was then shut down and didn't see the mound again for the rest of the season. Rumor has it, it was the same shoulder with the same injury.
If we're being honest, we can probably just all agree to blame Aaron Michael for Crawford's lost year. When Crawford came over in the trade, Mr. Michael wrote the following:
He isn't much of an injury risk (knock on wood), and his frame and the way he throws the ball helps him get the most into the pitch and last long into the game.
So, thanks, Aaron!
2016 will be critical for Crawford just to see if he can get back on the mound for any portion of time. Finding updates on his status are easier said than done, but with Spring Training right around the corner, perhaps we'll start hearing some more rumblings. At age 24, with his highest level being 5 innings at A+, it looks even clearer that if Crawford is going to make an impact at the big league level, it'll be out of the bullpen. But, if the shoulder is right, he's certainly got the stuff to succeed at the back end of one.