With the new additions to the Reds’ farm system, we had to hold a special vote to determine where Luis Castillo would end up in our prospect rankings. After much deliberation and discussion you, the great people of Red Reporter, determined that Castillo is the 7th best prospect in our system. With that vote, the top 10 is finished. Who is #11? A baseball-mashing second baseman joins the list today.
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.
Antonio Santillan, RHP, 19
Highest 2016 Level: A (Dayton)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 11 K/9, Tony blows people away
Most Worrisome Fact: 5.2 BB/9, Tony is dangerous
Alias(es): il Stanto, Guns Up Tony,
The Reds selected Santillan with their second round pick in the 2015 draft. The fireballing right hander comes from Seguin, TX.
Tony’s been absolutely electric in his time with the Reds, for both better and worse. Santillan runs up a plus fastball to the high 90s, while sitting in the mid-90s throughout, while also mixing in a hammer curve as an out pitch. Problem is, he only knows where it’s going approximately 10% of the time, illustrated by his 1.681 WHIP and 5.2 career BB/9.
Only 19, the Reds knew what they were getting when they pried him away from Texas Tech in June 2015. Santillan is a million years away from Cincinnati, seemingly, but that also means there’s plenty of time for him to iron out his control issues. If he does that, he’s as good as anyone they have in the system.
Shed Long, 21, 2B
Highest 2016 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .371 OBP in A- and A+ in 2016.
Most Worrisome Fact: 120 strikeouts in 2016.
Alias(es): ShLong, Shed me Long time, Shed digs the Long ball
Shed Long was selected in the 12th round of the 2013 draft. Starting out as a catcher, Long struggled through his first couple of seasons in the minors. After getting an extended spring training, he joined the Dayton Dragons in June 2015 as a second baseman. After starting the season slow, he rallied in late July to finish the season slashing .283/.363/.474.
Going into 2016, Long picked up right where he left off and pretty much dominated the competition. He played in 94 games in Low-A Dayton, hitting .281/.371/.487 with 11 dingers and 26 doubles. This was enough to earn him a call-up to Daytona where he hit even better, going .322/.371/.503 over 38 games. He is a line-drive hittier that can occasionally show some power, marked by his 15 home runs and 30 doubles in 2016. The thing to really get excited about is his ability to get on base. Other than 2014, his lowest OBP was .333 while with the AZL Reds in 2013 and he has had an OBP over .350 each of the last two seasons. He struck out 120 times last season, which is a little concerning, but he was still able to walk enough to make up for it. He did have a post-season wrist surgery after the 2016 season, so hopefully he bounces back well from that and can continue hitting the way he has for the last 2 seasons.