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2017 Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings: Phillip Ervin Is Your #14 Prospect!

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2017 could be a big year for Phlervin.

The newest addition to the RR Community Prospect Rankings should be a familiar face to many, as outfielder Phil Ervin has been voted the No. 14 prospect by the people of Red Reporter Dot Com. The former first round pick hasn’t flashed the hit tool once hoped for, but has shown consistently strong on-base and stolen base abilities that could still make him a productive big leaguer.

Now, it’s time to round out the top 15.

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

The newest addition to the RR Community Prospect Rankings should be a familiar face to many, as outfielder Phil Ervin has been voted the No. 14 prospect by the people of Red Reporter Dot Com.

Alias(es): Alf-Rod, Pasta-Rod,

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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.

Tyler Mahle, 22, RHP

Highest 2016 Level: AA (Pensacola)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: 141:37 K:BB between A+ and AA

Most Worrisome Fact: Hit a roadblock at Pensacola, 4.78 FIP

Alias(es): Poppin' Mahle, Darth Mahle, Good Golly Miss Mahle

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Mahle ran into his first bit of real trouble in his pro career in 2016, when he reached AA Pensacola, with a 1.374 WHIP and 4.92 ERA through his first 71.1 IP as a Wahoo. That's concerning, considering he's never had any trouble before, but what he did in Daytona was vintage Mahle (2..50 ERA, 4.47 K:BB).

Mahle doesn't have the top level stuff that the upper tier pitchers in this system have, but gosh darnit if he doesn't know how to use it. His fastball sits in the low 90s, touching 96mph. More interestingly is his secondary offerings, of which he has three. All of them are average or better, and he can throw them all for strikes at will.

The Reds brass probably wish they could morph Tyler Mahle and Robert Stephenson into one, superfreak pitching prospect. If Bob Steve had the pitchability and feel that Mahle has, or if Mahle had Bob Steve's stuff, we're talking about the cream of the crop. Alas, they are two separate pitching prospects, both of which could be fixtures in the Cincinnati rotation in the not-so-distant future.

Chris Okey, 22, C

Highest 2016 Level: A (Dayton)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: .436 SLG, 6 HR in 169 PA at A

Most Worrisome Fact: 29.0% K% at A

Alias(es): Annie R. U. Okey, Okey Dokey, Okey & Peele

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The Reds selected Okey with their second round pick in 2016, number 43 overall. The well-rounded college catcher had a very fine career at Clemson, but struggled once he hit the Pioneer League, stumbling out of the gate with a .369 OPS through nine games.

Didn't matter much to the Reds, though, as they moved him along with second overall pick Nick Senzel to Dayton after only a couple of weeks. Once there, Okey played well, slashing .243/.323/.432 with eight doubles and six home runs.

Okey doesn't necessarily have eye-popping crazy talent, but he's nearly a lock to stick behind the dish (and play it well), he's athletic as far as catchers go, and there isn't anything about his tools that is particularly bad. He likely won't be a perennial All-Star, but with there's no reason to believe he can't serve a valuable purpose on as catcher on a good MLB team.

If you're into this sorta thing, scouts and the team seem to rave about his "makeup" and "intangibles." He's apparently a very hard worker that is willing to learn, and was very receptive to the teachings of Reds catching wizard and all-around-suave Corky Miller at instructional league.

TJ Friedl, 21, OF

Highest 2016 Level: Rookie (Billings)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: .423 OBP

Most Worrisome Fact: College bat in Rookie League, .419 BABIP will regress

Alias(es): TJ "Land of the" Friedl, Teej, Friedl Pie, TJ "Not Antone" Friedl, Friedl-Dee Friedl-Dumb

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The Reds practically stole TJ Friedl this summer, because no one knew that he was actually eligible for the Amatuer Draft as a red-shirt sophomore from Nevada-Reno. Not even Friedl himself, initially. It wasn’t until after his fantastic showing with Team USA that MLB teams started seriously inquiring about the 20-year-old. The Reds, helped by their ample pool money and scout team’s due diligence, were the benefactors of everyone’s oversight.

This Jerry Crasnick piece is a helluva outline of Friedl’s rise.

In Friedl, the Reds got a speedy outfielder that’s capable of playing center field long term. If he’s capable of hitting his ceiling, Friedl’s advanced batting approach and line drive swing from the left side could spot him at the top of the Reds lineup down the road. TJ doesn’t have a ton of raw power to speak of (despite his .500+ SLG in the Pioneer League), and his body type figures to have him be more of a Ryan Freel than an Andrew McCutchen.

Regardless, the Reds got Friedl, seemingly a top five talent, without using a top five pick on him. Through some serious scouting effort and a bit of luck, they found themselves a talented, hardworking outfielder that should pay off for years to come.

Jackson Stephens, 22, RHP

Highest 2016 level: AA (Pensacola)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: 3.16 ERA over last two seasons

Most worrisome fact: Lack of standout pitch, lack of prospect recognition around baseball.

Alias(es): "Stonewall" Jackson Stephens, "Miss" Jackson Stephens, "Jack Steve"

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Jackson Stephens has been under the radar from the time he joined the Reds’ organization as an 18th round pick in 2012. His performance throughout the first couple of years of his pro career reflected that of an 18th round pick, but Stephens turned a corner in 2015, turning in a 2.97 ERA in 145.1 innings of work in Daytona in 2015. His 2016 continued right on track, posting a 3.33 ERA in 151.1 innings of work at AA Pensacola as just a 22-year-old. He also improved his strikeout rate from 6.0 K/9 to 7.8 K/9 over the last two seasons, while also cutting down his home run rate.

Stephens has never particularly dominated at any level, but he’s moved quickly through the Reds’ system while continuing to improve against what has always been older competition. He doesn’t have the raw stuff of a Sal Romano or the pitchability of a Tyler Mahle, but he’s found a way to make things work to this point, and could very well find himself debuting at AAA Louisville this April before his 23rd birthday. Stephens isn’t among the first names many think of when it comes to the future of the Reds’ pitching plans, but if he continues to improve in 2017 the way he did in 2016, he won’t continue flying under the radar for long.

UP-TO-DATE COMMUNITY PROSPECT RANKINGS FOR 2017:

1. Nick Senzel

2. Jesse Winker

3. Cody Reed

4. Amir Garrett

5. Robert Stephenson

6. Taylor Trammell

7. Luis Castillo

8. Aristides Aquino

9. Vladimir Gutierrez

10. Tyler Stephenson

11. Antonio Santillan

12. Sal Romano

13. Shed Long

14. Phil Ervin

15. ??????????????