The final month of the minor league season is coming up, so it is time we take a look at how our farm system has performed. While it has been easy to keep up with the day-to-day results of our minor leaguers, it's good to have a rundown of the overall performance of our top prospects. And, since rankings are fun, I've decided to rank them for you.
Each off-season, our community of readers helps us rank the prospects in our system based on potential and past performances. I did my best to stick to rating the same way, but I tried not to favor potential over performance and vice versa. For instance, Phillip Ervin still cracks this list even though he has struggled recently, but he has shown the potential in his career to still be one of our better prospects so he still makes the list. Amir Garrett has not only shown the potential to be a great player, but his performance this season has shown that he is probably the best prospect in our system at this point. Needless to say, there will be some differences in our Community Prospect Rankings from the winter until now. I also decided to only rank the top 15 for two reasons: First, the top 15 probably have the best chance at getting to the big leagues at this point. Secondly, I wanted to give a quick blurb about how each player has done this season with a possible outlook for their future, and it would take a really long time to do that for 30 guys. Lastly, I have left off guys that are either in the majors or have received extensive playing time in the majors this season, so that is why you won't see Cody Reed, John Lamb, or Jose Peraza on this list.
Without further ado, I present your 2016 Red Reporter mid-season prospect rankings:
- Amir Garrett, 24, LHP
2016 Stats: 1.92 ERA, 107.2 IP, 68 H, 39 BB, 97 K at AA Pensacola and AAA Louisville.
After deciding to play baseball full-time in 2014, Amir Garrett has done nothing but exceed expectations the last two seasons, especially in 2016. After mowing through Double-A to the tune of a 1.75 ERA over 12 starts, he earned his promotion to Louisville at the end of June and has continued to impress since his call-up. In 4 starts he has a 2.35 ERA and has held opponents to a .167 average, which is lower than the .184 he allowed in Pensacola. His BB/K of 11/19 in Louisville certainly could improve, but he has shown every reason to believe that he will continue to adjust in Triple-A. If he continues at this rate, there is a solid chance that he'd end up in Cincinnati as a September call-up when the rosters expand.
- Robert Stephenson, 23, RHP
2016 Stats: 3.69 ERA, 100.0 IP, 75 H, 51 BB, 89 K at AAA Louisville.
Bob Steve has been solid in his first full season in Louisville, amassing a 3.69 ERA over 17 starts so far in 2016. His biggest issue this season has been his command, walking 4.6 batters per 9 innings. Even more concerning, perhaps, has been that his strikeout rate has dropped to 7.7 batters per 9 innings, which is down from his 9.4 rate in his minor league career. He had a rough go of it in June, which contributed to his walk rate and low strikeout rate, but since July came around he has started decreasing his walks and his strikeout totals are closer to his career average, including a 0 walk, 7 strikeout performance in his last start on July 23. It is also worth mentioning that he did well in 2 spot starts in Cincinnati this season, giving up 9 hits and 4 earned runs in 12 innings pitched back in April. With the need to limit the innings of some of our younger pitchers, he is also expected to be in the rotation by the end of the season.
- Jesse Winker, 22, OF
2016 Stats: .304/.382/.381, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 36 BB, 34 K in AAA Louisville.
Jesse Winker continues to be an on-base machine for Louisville this season, accumulating more walks than strikeouts so far this season. He was put on the DL with a wrist injury in the middle of June that seemed to have zapped his power, as you can see by the incredibly low SLG% above. He seems to have healed up since his return, as he already has 5 XBH since returning from the DL a week and a half ago. His ability to get on base at such a consistent rate will be a refresher to a line-up that has struggled to do-so in the last couple of seasons. He is another prospect we can probably expect to see in September.
- Nick Senzel, 21, 3B
2016 Stats: .269/.388/.407, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 20 BB, 22 K in Billings and Low-A Dayton
The Reds' 2016 first-round draft pick has had an impressive start to his professional career. After hitting .352/.456/.595 in the loaded SEC for the University of Tennessee this season, he has continued to show the ability at the plate that made the Reds take him with their first pick. After struggling in Billings, he has mashed the ball in Dayton, going .320/.430/.507 with 2 HR, 13 RBI, and 9 SB in 21 games since his call-up. The sample has been small, but he has been impressive so far in his first crack at professional baseball. He could end up in Daytona for the last month of the season if he continues hitting at this rate.
- Tyler Stephenson, 19, C
2016 Stats: .235/.307/.346, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 13 BB, 46 K in Low-A Dayton
Tyler Stephenson has not had the season that he expected when he came into the year. In the middle of his 3rd DL stint of the season, he's been hampered with 2 wrist injuries and a concussion, injuries have derailed his season. He was hitting well after his return from the DL on July 13, improving his batting average from .198 to .233 in only 7 games including a 4 for 4 night in July 18. His walk and strikeout numbers are a little concerning, but the kid is young and has plenty of time to adjust to professional baseball, especially when he can play a full season.
- Tyler Mahle, 21, RHP
2016 Stats: 2.83 ERA, 117.2 IP, 97 H, 30 BB, 108 K in A-Advanced Daytona and AA Pensacola
After having his best season in the minors in 2015, Tyler Mahle responded by moving up a level and pitched even better. After putting up a 2.50 ERA in 13 starts in Daytona, he moved up to Pensacola and still kept up the solid pitching that we have seen the last season and a half. While he had a couple of bumps in the road in his first few starts, he responded by giving up only 1 earned run over his next three combined. He has also shown great control this season, allowing only 30 walks to 108 strikeouts.
- Taylor Trammell, 18, OF
2016 Stats: .286/.355/.330, 0 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI, 13 SB in Billings.
Taken in the competitive balance round in the 2016 draft, Taylor Trammell has started off with a bang in his first season in Billings. Considered one of the top 15 players in the draft, he fell out of the first round due to signability issues, netting the Reds two top 15 talents in their first two picks. He has the speed to cover the outfield and wreak some havoc on the base paths and his high OBP so far shows that he has already adjusted to professional pitching. His power hasn't shown up yet, but he is still only 18 and has plenty of time to develop.
- Antonio Santillan, 19, RHP
2016 Stats: 3.92 ERA, 39.0 IP, 32 H, 16 BB, 46 K in Billings.
After struggling to adjust in Billings in 2015, Tony Santillan came out on fire in 2016. In his first 3 starts this season, he struck out 27 batters while only walking 4 in only 13.1 IP. He has improved his command this season, allowing only 16 walks so far, and is striking out batters at a rate of 10.6 per 9 innings. It was announced yesterday that he would be promoted to Dayton to finish out the season. It will be exciting to see if he can keep up his fantastic numbers at the next level.
- Keury Mella, 22, RHP
2016 Stats: 3.48 ERA, 103.1 IP, 111 H, 43 BB, 75 K in A-Advanced Daytona.
Keury Mella came into our system as the main prospect in the Mike Leake trade with San Francisco last July. Previously rated as the Giants' top minor league prospect, he came in and pitched well in 4 starts in Daytona, striking out 23 batters and giving up only 7 runs over 21.1 innings. Command has always been a concern with Mella and continues to be in 2016, as he has walked 43 against 75 strikeouts so far this season. He projects as a back of the rotation starter or reliever as he works his way towards the majors.
- Nick Travieso, 22, RHP
2016 Stats: 4.16 ERA, 84.1 IP, 80 H, 38 BB, 68 K in AA Pensacola.
After having a very solid campaign in Daytona in 2015 that was cut short by a wrist injury, Travieso stumbled out of the gate in his first season in Double-A. His season ERA was as high as 5.54 on June 9, but since then he has really started to figure things out. In his last 6 starts he has struck out 18 batters while walking 7 and has seen his ERA drop down to 4.16, the lowest it's been since April 24. Unfortunately, he was injured on July 18 covering a play at first base and was placed on the DL shortly thereafter.
- Rookie Davis, 23, RHP
2016 Stats: 2.68 ERA, 84 IP, 72 H, 22 BB, 48 K in AA Pensacola
Rookie Davis is enjoying a great season in his first full season in Double-A. While he has done a great job of keeping guys off the base paths and from scoring runs, his strikeout totals have been concerning. For someone who struck out 129 batters in 2015 (24 in 33 innings in Double-A), 48 strikeouts in 84 innings is incredibly low. His most recent outings have been much more encouraging, as he has struck out 18 in his last 3 outings and only walked one. His overall control has been much more encouraging, as he has only walked 22 batters all season, so hopefully he has finally figured something out and can accompany his low walk rate with a high strikeout rate to finish out the season.
- Aristides Aquino, 22, OF
2016 Stats: .283/.337/.518, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 45 XBH, 26 BB, 78 K in A-Advanced Daytona
Aristides Aquino has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in 2016. After a disappointing 2015 where he missed three months with an abdominal strain, he struggled to get much going at the plate, where he just hit .234/.281/.364 in Dayton with only 5 HR and 27 RBI. This season, his power is back and he is hitting the ball much better. He could use some better discipline at the plate, as his BB/K leaves a little to be desired, but this turnaround at the plate has been a relief to see after struggling so much last season.
- Phillip Ervin, 24, OF
2016 Stats: .229/.347/.397, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 45 BB, 71 K, 29 SB in AA Pensacola.
Phillip Ervin is in the midst of his third straight season where he has struggled at the plate. After busting out of the gate after being drafted in 2013, he dealt with a wrist injury that required surgery at the end of that season. The recovery from surgery seemed to have zapped his offense in 2014 and his numbers still haven't recovered. He still gets on base at a good rate and still has the speed to do well on the base paths, but the overall lack of production in his offense is concerning. The potential is there, so hopefully a switch can flip and he can start turning things around soon.
- Alex Blandino, 23, 2B
2016 Stats: .195/.299/.305, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 35 BB, 83 K in AA Pensacola.
The first full season in Double-A has not gone well for Mr. Blandino. After suffering a hamstring injury while playing with the Nicaraguan national team before the season, Blandino never was able to get going at the plate. Not only has he just not hit the ball this season, but his BB/K has been astronomically worse this season compared to the rest of his career. He even had 18 walks to 21 strikeouts in 30 games in Double-A last season. Hopefully we can chalk this up to his injury setting him back enough that it effected his season this much and not a trend in the wrong direction for the young infielder.
- Chris Okey, 21, C
2016 Stats: .229/.286/.406, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 24 K in Billings and Low-A Dayton.
Don't let the overall season statistics fool you, Chris Okey has hit the ball well this season. After getting off to a slow start in Billings, Okey was promoted to Dayton after 9 games and immediately turned things around. Since his call-up, he has hit .271/.348/.542, has hit all 4 of his dingers, 4 of his 5 doubles, and collected 6 of his 7 walks. He has basically been, to a lesser degree, fellow 2016 pick Nick Senzel since moving up to Dayton. His high OBP is encouraging and his power has come around since he has moved up. Hopefully this last month of the season he can continue moving in the right direction.