Rookie Davis is the last man standing to salvage what is left of the return in the Aroldis Chapman trade. While he showed some solid results in 2016, his peripherals left much to be desired. A newcomer to the system joins the ballot today.
Keury Mella, 23, RHP
Highest 2016 Level: Triple A (Louisville)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Great velocity on his fastball with a solid curve.
Most Worrisome Fact: 1.70 K/BB, 1.565 WHIP in 2016.
Alias(es): Mella Yella,
Keury Mella was supposed to be the highlight of the Mike Leake, up until Adam Duvall won the everyday left field spot with the Reds and then smacked a bunch of dingers and earned an All-Star spot. So what do any of us know, really?
Mella is still big and he still throws hard, but he went from having a 2.59 SO/BB in 2015 to having a 1.70 SO/BB in 2016, along with a 1.565 WHIP and, well, it’s hard to project a successful future for the big right hander if he’s not going to strike anyone out.
It was kind of a one year blip at this point, I guess, but Mella’s future as a starter is in doubt. And that’s not necessarily such a bad thing, as Keury’s velocity was able to increase in shorter outings. Meaning the Reds could have another multi-inning hammer that the league is currently coveting.
The Reds have no reason not to give Mella a long starter’s leash in Pensacola in 2017.
Blake Trahan, SS
Highest 2016 Level: High-A (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .337 career OBP over 2 seasons. 25 SB in 2016.
Most Worrisome Fact: Power, .360 career SLG% over 2 seasons.
Alias(es): Blake Tree-hee-han, Kinder Kid
Blake Trahan was drafted by the Reds in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. After smoking the ball in 47 games in Billings, the Reds promoted him to High-A Daytona where he really struggled. Going into 2016 the Reds kept him in Daytona and he initially struggled, hitting .128/.198/.186 over the month of April. He finally turned things around and had himself a solid year at the plate, slashing .263/.325/.321 in his first full season in Daytona. He is a high floor player who relies on speed, defense, and plate discipline as his biggest assets, demonstrated by his 25 steals and 49/73 BB/K in 2016. His biggest issue is his power, as he only has 5 home runs in his 2 seasons. He should see time at Double-A Pensacola in 2017.
Zach Vincej, 25, SS
Highest 2016 level: Double-A (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .309/.353/.434 after June 1 in 2016. Only 4 errors in 105 games at shortstop in 2016.
Most Worrisome Fact: Turns 26 in May and has not played higher than Double-A
Alias(es): Soft J, Cincy
Always known for his defense, the former 37th-round pick out of Pepperdine finally had his breakout season in Pensacola in 2016. After hitting just .207/.270/.234 through May, he went on a tear starting in June, going .309/.353/.434 the rest of the way. He would follow that performance up by slashing .352/.425/.676 in the Arizona Fall League, good for the third-highest batting average in the league. Vinej has always made consistent contact and showed great plate discipline throughout his career, but his power was always lacking. While his strikeouts increased last season, he showed more power at the plate, doubling his extra base-hits from 15 in 2015 to 30 in 2016. He is getting up there in age (he turns 26 in May) so time is starting to run out for the shortstop, especially with the crowded infield situation in the Reds system at the moment, but the improvement at the plate combined with his exceptional defense is certainly encouraging for the Reds.
Gavin LaValley, 22, 1B/3B
Highest 2016 Level: Daytona (A+)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 195 ISO, .334 OBP
Most Worrisome Fact: Can he play 3B? It sounds like it's a no.
Alias(es): Deep in LaValley, LaValley of Death, Big Boomer Sooner
Gavin LaValley has now been with the Reds since 2014 when he was drafted as a 1B that they thought had a chance to stick at 3B. He was a very big kid that lost a ton of weight to get ready for pro baseball. In all reality, he would have been a higher pick but concerns about his college commitment and his weight pushed him down to the 4th round of the draft. The Reds continued to be interested despite those concerns because scouts raved about his tremendous bat speed. Gavin is/was strong.
The strength and power had not shown up previously to this year, but he had shown a rather advanced approach to hitting for such a young player. The ball wasn't flying over the fence or into the gaps with any kind of regularity but he was still finding himself on base. After an injury slowed his start to 2017, LaValley showed he has some of that pop scouts fawned over. He kept rather similar walk and strikeout rates, but his ISO rates spiked up about 100 points from his career average. His final batting line for the season was .275/.334/.470. He hit 11 dingers, 29 doubles, and 2 triples in 374 plate appearances. The downside is he played 2/3rds of his games at 3B. Gavin should start the 2017 season in AA.
Austin Brice, 24, RHP
Highest 2016 level: MLB (Miami)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 89/30 K/BB, 1.098 WHIP in AA and AAA in 2016.
Most Worrisome Fact: 7.07 ERA in 14 MLB innings.
Alias(es): Austin "City Limits" Brice, Austin Brice "Harper", "Cold as" Brice
Austin Brice is a newcomer to the Reds organization in 2017. In a trade that has already shook up these rankings once, Brice was one of three prospects sent from Miami in the Dan Straily deal. He was the Marlins 9th round pick in 2010 and, up until the 2016 season, spent all his time in the minor leagues as a starter. After compiling a 4.67 ERA as a starter in his first season in Double-A Jacksonville, he split time as a starter and a reliever in 2016 and fared much better. He put up a 2.89 ERA over 93.1 innings with 79 strikeouts and 29 walks, earning him a short call-up to Triple-A New Orleans before making his Major League debut in Miami at the end of the season.
His short stint in the majors could have gone better, as he complied a 7.07 ERA over his cup of coffee. He gave up a lot of runs in 14 innings, as young pitchers tend to do sometimes, but had some solid peripherals that were encouraging. He struck out 14 batters over those 14 innings while walking only 5.
Brice throws a fastball that sits at 90-95 with a slider that reaches the high 80s. He also throws a solid curve and a changeup. Control has been his biggest issue throughout his career and it plagued him as a starter. His move to the bullpen seemed to alleviate those issues, though, as he went from walking 5-6 per 9 each year to a 2.6 BB/9 in the minors in 2016. Don’t be shocked if he is competing for a spot in the bullpen in early 2017.
UP-TO-DATE COMMUNITY PROSPECT RANKINGS FOR 2017:
1. Nick Senzel
2. Jesse Winker
3. Cody Reed
4. Amir Garrett
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. Tyler Mahle
16. T.J. Friedl
17. Alfredo Rodriguez
18. Chris Okey
19. Ian Kahaloa
20. Jackson Stephens
21. Alex Blandino
22. Rookie Davis