There was interesting voting for our #7 spot and things were quite divided. But, what you have told the world is that homers still catch the eye. If there is one thing Aquino can do is hit the ball hard and often. He's had some up and down years with definite reason as to why scouts drool over his skill set. He's dangerous with the bat and has a killer arm from the outfield. He looks every bit of a power hitter and skilled defender in right field. This season we'll look for him to improve his plate discipline, hope he can stay healthy, and continue to rake.
Who will be #8. You'll be given another often criticized outfielder even though he was a former first round pick and has some real upside to his game.
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.
Sal Romano, 23, RHP
Highest 2016 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 8.2 K/9, 2 BB/9 in 2016 was a career best.
Most Worrisome Fact: Still lacks a 3rd pitch, the bullpen looms
Aliases: Sloppy Sal, Mad Man, The Real Salvatore
Romano reached Pensacola late in 2015 and got crushed, and it looks like because of that we left him off of our rankings last season. Sal took note, because he came back with a vengeance in 2016, limiting AA batters to a 3.52 ERA through 156 IP, leading to a career best K and BB rate.
Romano’s a big dude that throws a good mid-90s fastball, and compliments it with a hard breaking slider. Sal’s started nearly every professional game in his career, and he’s done well, once he adjusted to each level. Problem is, he lacks a sufficient third pitch needed to be a top level starter, despite having a bulldog work ethic.
Perhaps he’ll find a good changeup in Louisville. Perhaps not. Scouts believe he has the capability of being a shutdown late inning reliever, when he’s able to run the fastball up into the triple digits.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Alfredo Rodriguez, SS, 22
Highest 2016 Level: DSL Reds
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Defense! Cuba's Rookie of the Year in 2014-2015
Most Worrisome Fact: The hit tool is, uh, lacking
Alias(es): Alf-Rod, Pasta-Rod,
The Reds spent a long time to make this deal official, but finally got this signing done in early July 2016. The Reds gave him upwards of $7 million to sign, the largest in the class, but will actually cost around $9 million since the Reds exceeded their pool money to pull it off.
Rodriguez is raw with a flashy glove. He was honored with the Cuban League's Rookie of the Year award in 2015, and the Reds value him as a future everyday SS in MLB. The bat is still a major question, however. Rodriguez spent all of his time in the DSL after having visa issues last season, and he didn't exactly light up the scoreboard despite playing against less-experienced talent.
The Reds did a lot of scouting here and are very confident in Rodriguez's ability, but he's very much a question mark in the organization. His glove is going to give him a leg up, but he still has a lot to prove once he comes stateside.
Phil Ervin, OF, 24
Highest 2016 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .362 OBP in 2016
Most Worrisome Fact: .399 SLG; has lacked the power stroke since his debut
Alias(es): Uncle Phil, Phlervin, Mr. Magic
It seems like one hundred million years since Phillip Ervin was 1) a first round pick and 2) a fringe top 50 prospect, according to some prognosticators. A wrist injury tanked his first full season in as a pro, and it’s questionable whether he’s ever fully recovered from it. After slugging over .500 in 2013 (albeit against much inferior competition), Phlervin hasn’t cracked .400+ in any full season sense.
Ervin’s background as a small school, one plus season standout makes it questionable whether he ever had the ability to mash at this level, but one thing he has consistently done since becoming a professional is get on base. His .362 OBP comes in spite of his good speed only netting him a .271 BABIP. That speed did allow him to steal 36 bases last season, however.
Ervin plays a decent outfield, but he’s better in the corner than up the middle. However, if he’s going to ultimately stick in right field, he’s going to have to figure out how to raise the .160 ISO.
UP-TO-DATE COMMUNITY PROSPECT RANKINGS FOR 2017:
1. Nick Senzel
2. Jesse Winker
3. Cody Reed
4. Amir Garrett
6. Taylor Trammell
7. Aristides Aquino