Possibly the highest upside pitcher in the system, you all voted for basketball-player-turned-baseball-hurler Amir Garrett as your number four overall prospect.
Today, your choices get mashier.
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 Adlemantype 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.
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.comranked 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.
Vladimir Gutierrez, SP/RP, 21
Highest 2016 Level: Has not played in an American pro league
Eye-Poppingest Fact: #4 International Prospect in 2016. Grade 60 Fastball and Curveball
Most Worrisome Fact: Has primarily pitched out of the bullpen.
Alias(es): Dracula, Gooter, The Impaler
Vladimir Gutierrez is an international prospect that was signed out of Cuba for $4.5 million. Note: Alfredo Rodriguez was given even more money. With the signing of both the Reds went over their international signing bonus allotment, which turned that $4.5 mil in to really $9 mil. So, they gave up quite a bit to get Vlad, and there is a good reason for that. Vladimir Gutierrez comps out pretty well to former Cuban player, Raisel Iglesias.
Vladimir Gutierrez is 6'1 and 172 pounds. While that's about as tall as Iglesias, he's actually about 10 pounds lighter. He's only a bit bigger than Billy Hamilton. Gutierrez packs a punch in such a slight frame. He sits in the low to mid 90's with a hammer curve and good control. He also throws a changeup that has shown some life. Given his size and history there is a real risk he will end up in the bullpen, but there are some scouts outside the Reds that believe he has a pretty good shot to be a starter. With that kind of upside he has to be placed rather high even if we don't know much about him.
Aristides Aquino, RF, 22
Highest 2016 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 23 HR, .519 SLG in FSL both ranked 2nd of those with at least 300 PA.
Most Worrisome Fact: 6.5% B%; at 22 (23 in April) and having not played above A+, he’s not getting any younger
Alias(es): Heiress Titties
Aquino’s been hyped before; after a strong and powerful break out 2014 season at Billings, you all were astounded enough by his potential to vote him into the number 11 spot on 2015’s list (just behind Nick Howard, but let’s not go to those dark thoughts). He would struggle through 2015 with an underwhelming season marred by a wrist injury suffered in late April. The prospect shine had faded.
He returned to our conscience in a big way in 2016, providing loads of offense in a league that does its best to temper it and was named Reds minor leaguer of the year. Aquino is who he’s always been: amazingly gifted with power for days. His K% fell and his B% rose slightly over 2016, but neither stand out as good traits, and both will need refinement going forward for Aquino to reach his true ceiling. His adjustment to AA Pensacola will be one of the more interesting minor league storylines to follow this season.
No longer a mysterious 20 year old like he was when he first appeared on this list, Aquino has some fascinating abilities, but he cannot afford a 2015-like stumble in the coming year.
UP-TO-DATE COMMUNITY PROSPECT RANKINGS FOR 2017:
1. Nick Senzel
2. Jesse Winker
3. Cody Reed
4. Amir Garrett