Back at the end of April, we looked closer at which members of the Cincinnati Reds farm system had stood out statistically, be it for being really good or for being really bad. With May now in the books, it’s time to look back to see who stood out over the last calendar month.
Who’s Hot - Hitters
Jesse Winker had a huge final day of the month, but it wasn’t the only game in which he’d swung a hot bat in May. In 28 games, Winker hit .360/.435/.480 with 13 walks against just 17 strikeouts, belting a pair of homers along with 6 doubles. While the power he once displayed while winning the A+ Home Run Derby back in 2014 still hasn’t totally shown up, the rest of his offensive prowess is both well known and readily visible, this May particularly. It’s safe to say at this point that there’s not much left for him to prove in AAA.
Nick Senzel had a rather pedestrian April by his standards, hitting just .278/.333/.402, but heated up significantly once the calendar page turned. He hit .337/.400/.537 through May 30th (when I first sat down to start writing this), and while an 0 for 6 day in the month’s final game shrunk those numbers a tad, the fact remains that Senzel has hit of late in a way that exudes why he’s a consensus Top 10 prospect in the game. His 20 doubles on the year lead the entire Florida State League.
Fellow 2016 1st round draftee Taylor Trammell is following a similar path as Senzel, as he flushed a .222/.312/.309 April with a stellar .287/.382/.553 May. Both his power and plus athleticism has been on display in that process, as the Dayton OF cracked 7 doubles, 6 triples, and a pair of homers on the month along with walking 15 times and swiping 5 bags. And he’s doing at all as a 19 year old in A ball.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
Austin Ross may be a 28 year old journeyman with little to no prospect status left, but that doesn’t discount what he was able to pull off in May. In 32.1 innings across 5 starts for AA Pensacola, he posted a 1.39 ERA while allowing opponents to touch him up for just a .583 OPS, striking out 28 in that time. That earned him a promotion to pitching-starved AAA Louisville, where he allowed just 2 ER in 8 IP in his lone outing. Not bad.
It must be dank & soggy on the Cincinnati farm, since Scott Moss lichened up the joint in May, too. After earning a mention here after April thanks to leading the Midwest League in strikeouts - a lead he still owns - Moss also began limiting runs effectively in May. In 31 innings over 6 starts, he posted a 1.74 ERA with 34 Ks, yielding just a .501 OPS to opposing hitters. The 22 year old was a 4th round pick out of the University of Florida last year not due to his talent, but due to elbow issues that plagued him during his college career, but so far he’s shown the kind of top-end talent we’d all hoped to see when healthy, and looks the part of a steal from a draft perspective.
Another Dragon gets a mention here, as Tony Santillan threw rocks in May. His April was solid enough - a 3.13 ERA with 24 Ks in 23 IP - but May showed what made him a 2nd round pick back in 2015. He posted a 2.02 ERA in 35.2 IP across 6 starts, which shows you how deep he was getting into games, and after having walked 14 in those 23 April innings, he yielded just 8 free passes in those 35.2 May innings. Those numbers also include a May 3rd outing in which he allowed 4 ER and 4 walks in just 4.0 IP against the Beloit Snappers; over his final 5 starts of the month, he went bonkers: 31.2 IP, 29 K, 4 BB, 1.14 ERA, and an absurd .384 OPS allowed. Unfortunately, it was also announced while writing this that he’s hit the DL with shoulder stiffness, which sucks fonky apples.
Who’s Not - Hitters
Phil Ervin earned a cup of coffee call-up from the Reds in late April, walking once in his three trips to the plate after a solid .286/.352/.531 start to his AAA campaign. It’s been a godawful return to the minors for the former 1st round pick, however, as he hit just .176/.231/.200 in May, his power completely evaporating with nary a dinger in 92 PA. He walked just 6 times against 26 strikeouts, and has truly petered out just over a month shy of his 25th birthday.
Speaking of once promising prospects, Ervin’s Louisville teammate Dilson Herrera qualifies at the moment. Contrary to Ervin, however, Dilson didn’t even have an April worth remembering prior to his putrid May, as he hit just .236/.286/.361 in April prior to just .221/.284/.312 in May. With just 4 XBH in 90 May PAs, his power has disappeared, and it truly makes you wonder if his undiagnosable shoulder mystery is still causing him issues.
I’m not trying to pile on Chris Okey for listing him in this section for the second consecutive month, but when you back up a .481 April OPS with a .489 May OPS, it’s hard not to. His BB% and K% are right in-line with what he showed in a solid enough start to his professional career in 2016, but the power, the luck, the everything has cratered for the 43rd overall pick of the 2016 draft. To date, he’s hitting just .169/.223/.255 on the year.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
That Cody Reed is a minor leaguer and eligible for this here minor league roundup is “Not” enough in itself, I suppose. That he walked 17 batters in 24.2 May innings in AAA Louisville and got tagged at a .299/.409/.412 rate in that span makes it even worse. That’s essentially turning every hitter he faces into Jesse Winker. That’s not good. That he managed to only have a 4.01 ERA in those outings despite the peripherals actually becomes a bit remarkable.
Jonathon Crawford is actually on mounds and actually pitching, and for the injury plagued former 1st round pick of the Detroit Tigers, that’s a good thing. I guess. Crawford’s May, however, was brutal to the tune of a 1.86 WHIP, with 21 hits and 20 walks allowed in just 22.0 IP. And that’s as a 25 year old who’s still in A+ Daytona, which doesn’t bode well.
Nick Howard. He is not hot right now. In fact, if you see him, please alert the local authorities of his whereabouts.