Two rankings down, two position prospects in the top two. Uncle Jesse Winker makes his last appearance (probably, hopefully) in the RR CPR, and after spending two seasons at number 1, he drops down to number 2 in our prospect rankings. It was a close race between Winker, Cody Reed, and Amir Garrett, but the outfielder pulled away at the end of the day. Tyler Stephenson joins the list today as we decide on the 3rd best prospect in the system.
Amir Garrett, SP, 24
Highest 2016 Level: AAA (Louisville)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 144 innings pitched, 2.55 ERA, 3.7 BB/9
Most Worrisome Fact: BB/9 and K/9 took a slide after his jump to AAA. It’s worrisome, but probably not a big deal.
Alias(es): Mr. Basketball, Michael Jordan, Amir Cat
Outside of stupid nicknames, I think we can be done with making fun of Amir Garrett for being a basketball player. Sure, it slowed his overall development, but once he committed himself to baseball you could really see his potential. He’s turned himself into one of the best, and most likely one of the more coveted prospects in all of baseball. He’s an athletic freak. Garrett sits in the low to mid 90’s with his fastball, and has what scouts consider to be a pretty good slider. Like most prospects, he’s trying to put some polish on a third pitch to make him a reliable starter. Unlike most prospects, Garrett seems to have some semblance of control to go with great stuff. His peripherals aren’t eye popping, but there is something about him that keeps batters for making good contact with his pitches.
Garrett pitched in AA and AAA in 2016, is on the 40 man roster, and will get to prove to everyone this spring training he should start the season in Cincinnati. Realistically, the team will make him take some more lumps in Louisville before a probable midseason call up. In 2016, Garrett pitched 144 inning split between AA and AAA. He had a 2.55 ERA, 1.092 WHIP, 6.2 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 8.2 K/9. His AA numbers were much better than his AAA numbers, but that is to be expected. Plus, his AAA numbers really weren’t bad for his first stint at that level.
Robert Stephenson, SP, 24
Highest 2016 Level: MLB (Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Showed flashes of brilliance and still has a big arm.
Most Worrisome Fact: 1.316 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, and 7.9 K/9 in AAA.
Alias(es): Bob Steve, Treasure Island, Bobert
What else is there to say about Robert Stephenson? He arguably has the most talent and the best arm in the system. He’s tall, he’s strong, and from everything I’ve read he’s a hard working and smart kid. The problem? Once he got to AA he couldn’t find the plate, and his secondary pitches couldn’t support his fastball against advanced hitters. He’s still on these lists because he has the potential to be a #1 or #2 pitcher, but the older he gets the less likely it looks like he’ll put it all together. If you don’t look at his ERA and remember some of the games he pitched for the Reds, you’ll remember that he held his own. He didn’t embarrass himself. Not that that is a glowing recommendation for a top pitching prospect. That’s something you say about a Tim Adleman type pitcher.
That’s a mean comparison because Tim Adleman pitched better than Robert Stephenson in 2016.
It was a rough year for Robert. He didn’t show us what we needed. He was called out publicly by his manager (though, I think he pitched better after), and he’s getting to the point where he needs to put up or shut up. A lot of scouts are thinking he’s taking the Homer Bailey route, and eventually he’ll just figure it out. With the abundance of pitching prospects we can afford to be a little patient, but Stephenson is quickly being overshadowed by his peers.
Cody Reed, SP, 23
Highest 2016 Level: MLB (Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 3.08 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in AAA
Most Worrisome Fact: Watch his major league debut.
Alias(es): Big 'Un, Squints, Four Eyes
Cody Reed has Robert Stephenson type stuff, and he’s left handed. He can also hit the plate on a more reliable basis. There wasn’t much that Cody Reed did wrong in the minor leagues. If you look back at his numbers you can argue that he was a tad bit hitable. But, you can’t argue why the Reds called him up. He’s got a live arm. He sits in the mid 90’s, and like most top prospects he can dial it up to 98. His slider is one of the nastiest I’ve seen and his change up isn’t half bad. There is a lot to like right?
Go back and watch his major league debut.
It is one of the worst in recent memory, and it had nothing to do with his stuff. It had to do with something between the ears. He was too cute. He wasn’t aggressive enough. He nibbled around the corners and put himself in bad situations. When he wasn’t off the plate he lived right in the middle of it, and he was crushed for it. The Reds had planned for Reed to take his lumps and just play out the remainder of the 2016 season with the Reds. But, his pitching eventually became embarrassing, and to save the young guy’s mental health they let him get some more reps in AAA. Even with his bad showing with the Reds in 2016. Don’t be surprised to see him get a spot in the rotation out of spring training.
Taylor Trammell, OF, 19
Highest 2016 Level: Rookie League (Billings)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .303/.374/.421 in 254 plate appearances. 24 steals.
Most Worrisome Fact: Two homers.
Alias(es): TT, Tay Tram, Tramm-a-lamma-ding-dong
Remember when Billy Hamilton was all the buzz because he had a D-1 offer to play football at Mississippi State and was really fast? Yeah, Taylor Trammell had a D-1 offer to play football at Georgia. He's a freak athlete. The difference between Trammell and Hamilton is a smidge less speed and about 35 more pounds. Trammell was being rumored to be a Top 15 pick in the 2016 draft. He's got all the tools. He can hit, run, field his position, has a pretty good arm, and there is projection that he may fill out more and hit for power. Remember, he's only 19. The best part in all of this is Trammell slid to the Reds so the could take him with their competitive balance pick, which was incredibly popular at the time.
All Trammell did once with the Reds was set the Pioneer League on fire. He hit .303/.374/.421 in 254 plate appearances. He didn't show a ton of power, but he's young yet. What he did show is a pretty advanced approach at the plate for an 18 year old kid in his first season of pro ball. He walked 23 times with only 57 strikeouts, and added 24 steals as he victimized pitchers all over Montana and adjacent states. There is every reason to be patient with this kid, but expect him to start the whole season in Dayton. If he's tearing the cover off the ball he could see a trip to Pensacola to finish up the year.
Tyler Stephenson, C, 20
Highest 2016 Level: A (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .356 OBP in his first season of professional ball.
Most Worrisome Fact: Only 8 extra-base hits in 39 games last season.
Alias(es): Ty Steve, The Bat Flip
Taken 11th overall in the 2015 draft, Tyler Stephenson was hoping to build off a mostly successful first professional season. He came into 2016 with plenty of hype, as MLB.com ranked him as their #2 overall catching prospect heading into the season. Unfortunately for Ty Steve, concussions and wrist injuries pretty much derailed his 2016. He was limited to only 39 games in Dayton, hitting only .216/.278/.324. Considering how well he hit in 2015 against mostly college pitching, we can probably chalk up his poor performance to his poor health. The one thing that is worrisome is that he hasn’t shown much power since he was drafted. He only hit one home run in Billings in 2015 and followed it up with three in Dayton in 2016. Again, it is hard to read much into his 2016 numbers due to the injuries. Hopefully a healthy Stephenson in 2017 gives us a much clearer picture of what we should look forward to down the road.