This marks the third full month of the 2017 baseball season, and all year we’ve been carving off our selective endpoints by calendar pages to look at which performances from the Cincinnati Reds farm have stood out - both the good, and the bad. Now it’s time to look closer at June.
Who’s Hot - Hitters
Alex Blandino has kicked his slow April to the curb in a big way, and June was his finest month to date. In 17 games with AA Pensacola, he clubbed 9 doubles and 3 dingers, posting a .333/.379/.667 line (1.046 OPS) that raised his season line with the Blue Wahoos to a solid .259/.374/.462 (.836 OPS). Of course, that work got him a promotion to AAA Louisville, and in the 7 games with the Bats to close the month he kept right on raking, going 7 for 20 with 2 doubles and 6 walks against just 4 Ks. He got a bit overlooked after his poor overall 2016 season, but the former 1st round pick is firmly back in the prospect spotlight.
Playing in the outfield next to Taylor Trammell is an easy way to automatically get overlooked, but Jose Siri has lately been drawing plenty of eyes his direction, too. His June was tremendous, as the 21 year old CF cracked 5 homers and 9 doubles to fuel a .293/.351/.576 effort in 96 PA. That .928 OPS helped raise his season line to .279/.333/.483, with 11 homers and 23 steals to his credit already. You’d love to see his walks up and K’s down - he’s got 19 and 71 respectively in 71 games this year - but with plus defense in CF, that’s a damn talented player to keep an eye on going forward.
Finally, it’s exciting to note that Dilson Herrera has finally, finally started to hit the ball again, and his June numbers certainly reflect that. It wasn’t a ‘knock the cover off the ball’ month, by any means, but his .298/.344/.509 (.853 OPS) month at least suggests he just might be finding his swing again. He hit the MiLB concussion DL for a short stint towards the end of the month, but has returned to keep raking early in July, and since he’s landed firmly on the Who’s Not list already this year, this is optimism as much as performance here.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
Cody Reed still hasn’t found a way to stop walking folks at a rather prolific rate. However, he has managed to figure out a way to keep them from hitting him at all, too, and his June reflected that talent in a big way. In 33 IP (6 GS) for AAA Louisville, opposing batters hit just .179/.289/.214 against him - with no dingers at all, importantly - and in all he posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.09 WHIP for the month. He still is striking out batters at a solid rate, too, fanning 10.6 per 9 IP in June, which just might be enough to look past the 15 walks he issued in those 33 IP. Still a damn solid month, all told.
It’d be cheating a bit, but I could almost copy/paste Reed’s blurb and use it for Robert Stephenson, since the pair’s career arcs seemed destined to remain inexorably linked. Bob keeps walking guys with Louisville, but in his 5 June starts he allowed just a .136/.238/.330 line to his opposition. Of the 12 hits allowed in 102 PA, 4 went for homers, however, but he still managed a solid 2.73 ERA and 0.91 WHIP for the month while striking out more batters (27) than he had innings pitched (26.1), most all of which is a great step in the right direction.
Zack Weiss was a decent candidate to make the Cincinnati Reds bullpen in 2016 before an elbow issue that cropped up in Spring Training sidelined him for more than a year. He finally returned on May 31st, and his June numbers with A+ Daytona were every bit as excellent as he’d posted prior to the injury. In 9 games (12.1 IP) with the Tortugas, he fanned 17 against just 2 walks, posted a 2.19 ERA, and allowed the opposition to hit just .171/.205/.268 against him. That earned him a promotion back to AA Pensacola, and if he keeps showing he’s back to his former self, he’ll be in the mix for a September call-up to the Reds again this year.
Who’s Not - Hitters
Perhaps it was because the rest of his infield teammates got promoted to AA while he did not, but for whatever reason, Alfredo Rodriguez fell off a cliff in June. After Nick Senzel, Shed Long, and Gavin LaValley all got called up after June 20th’s game against the St. Lucie Mets and Fred-Rod did not, he went just 3 for 32 to finish the month - and being Fred-Rod, all 3 hits were singles. He hadn’t exactly clubbed the ball prior to that rough patch, so for the month he finished with a .179/.217/.231 line in 84 total PA.
After hitting 23 homers last year in the hitting wasteland that is the Florida State League, Aristides Aquino rocketed up prospect lists everywhere, as a toolsy OF with great power and a tremendous RF arm, to boot. His 2017 season, however, has been brutal, specifically his June performance. Aquino hit just .213/.284/.300 on the month, his tremendous power producing just a lone dinger and 3 extra-base hits in 23 games played. Not good, Bob.
Tony Renda got off to a blistering start with AAA Louisville, good enough in April to make us wonder if another utility call-up was in store for the versatile infielder. Since then, however, things have gone terribly, culminating with a .179/.233/.179 June. As if that wasn’t rough enough, now he’s facing playing time pressures with Blandino and Herrera both around and healthy, which makes it a tough time to be slumping.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
Tanner Rainey got off to one of the best starts by a reliever in the Cincinnati system in recent memory, allowing just 3 hits and a .290 OPS against in his first 11 appearances with A+ Daytona. Since then, however, it’s been a completely different story, culminating in a dismal June in which he yielded a 1.89 WHIP and an even 7.00 ERA in his 7 appearances, with opposing batters owning an .838 OPS against the once unhittable reliever.
Wennington Romero turned just 19 years old in January and was nails through the first two months with Class A Dayton, so I feel a bit bad listing him here given what he’s already accomplished so early in his career. However, he got hit hard in June, giving up 19 ER in 21.0 IP, an 8.14 ERA that dovetailed with a 1.77 WHIP and .345/.392/.609 line allowed in 98 PA against him. I trust that’s merely a blip on the radar, but it was no doubt a rough June for the young lefty.
Finally, there’s Max Wotell, who along with Herrera came to the Reds in exchange for Jay Bruce last year. Well, it’s been a rough year for Wotell so far, specifically in the trio of starts he made with Billings in Rookie League play in June. In 54 PA against him, opposing hitters teed off at a .349/.481/.628 level against him, good for a 10.13 ERA and 2.25 WHIP. Just as alarming was his BB/K ratio, since he walked 9 in his 10.2 IP while striking out just 4. Ouch.