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2016 RR Community Prospect Rankings: Tanner Rainey Is #27!

There is really no comparison to Tim Raines other than no one wants to vote for him.

Tanner Rainey spent something like 2 or 3 weeks (at least that's what it felt like) on the voting board before he was finally picked.  There were some problems with people getting confused by names, and since he is such a relatively new prospect I think it turned people off from voting for him.  Because there are still five prospects on the list to vote on, and I doubt anyone really cares at this point, I'm not adding any new prospects.  Hate me if you want.

Jose Lopez, 22, RHP

Highest 2015 Level: Rookie (Billings)
Eye-Poppingest Fact:
10.6 K/9 in his pro debut.  1.91 ERA with a 6.14 K/BB over his final 7 starts in 2015.
Most Worrisome Fact: High likelihood of ending up in a bullpen role.

Alias(es): No known aliases.

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Jose Lopez fits the mold of hard throwers with low mileage on their arms that the Reds can't seem to stay away from.  Lopez, a New Jersey native, was taken in the 6th round of the 2014 draft out of Seton Hall, where he logged just 99 innings between his freshman and sophomore seasons.  With a fastball that could touch 98, as well as a power slider, Lopez was predicted to be a high-round pick before he blew out his elbow and ended up needing Tommy John surgery.  The Reds took a risk selecting Lopez in the 6th round, but they hope that with a full recovery, they could end up with a steal in the 6'1" righty.

Lopez made his debut in Billings this past season, and the Reds were careful with the young hurler as he slowly upped his innings after a long break from the mound.  Midway through the short season, the Mustangs let off the reins a bit, and Lopez dominated over the home stretch.  All told, he finished the season with a 3.16 ERA over 57 innings, striking out 67 and walking 19.

He's still a long way from the majors, and the Reds may be a bit more conservative upping his innings year to year if they want to keep him in a starting role.  However, with a high 90's fastball, and an above average slider, they could choose to fast-track him for a bullpen role in the more near future.

Wyatt Strahan, 22, RHP

Highest 2015 Level: A (Dayton)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: 2.79 ERA in 164.1 innings pitched.  2.9 BB/9
Most Worrisome Fact: 7.3 K/9

Alias(es): Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Derp,

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Wyatt Strahan was a 3rd round pick out of USC in 2014, and he spent the entire season in Dayton where he pitched pretty well.  He put up a good ERA and a respectable 1.284 WHIP, though I'd like to see it a little lower.  Strahan is obviously a higher pick who has performed well.  His strikeouts are a bit low for a pitcher who is supposed to be as polished as he is.

Strahan got a lot of innings under his belt and he's a definite candidate to be a starter in the future.  I wouldn't say his ceiling is awfully high, but he could be a quick mover through the organization.  Teams don't typically give former college picks a ton of time if they're doing well.  I'd come up with some scouting reports, but I'm feeling super lazy.

Kyle Waldrop, 24, OF

Highest 2015 Level: MLB (Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Can play both outfield spots and is a toosly outfielder.  Put up a very good season as late as 2014
Most Worrisome Fact: Doesn't hit many dingers, adverse to walks, had a very bad 2015
Alias(es): Balldrop, NASCAR, Wallflower

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Kyle Waldrop is a prospect that shot up the organizational lists pre-2015 after a very strong showing in A+ and AA ball the year before.  He was dropping hits like they were hot, and keeping pace with Jesse Winker for offensive goodies.  Doing so got Waldrop a 2014 trip to the Arizona Fall League where he continued to perform well.  Prospect watchers started to take notice, but then 2015 happened.  I hate 2015.

In 2015, Waldrop got off to a slow start in AA and things got even worse with a promotion to AAA.  His OPS for the entire season was .605, so I'll let that sink in for a bit.  That's bad.  It was a .300 point drop from the year before.  There were many concerns that Waldrop's 2014 was very BABIP driven, and it looks like some of that luck wore off in 2015.  Kyle did get called up to the big leagues for one plate appearance where he struck out.  Whatever the case may be, Kyle Waldrop is still a guy to watch in the minors and that's why we're including him on this list.  There also aren't many other choices in the minors since Juan Silva is no longer in the organization.

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

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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

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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.