This marks the fourth 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 July.
Who’s Hot - Hitters
If you hadn’t heard of Jose Siri prior to this season, you can be forgiven. If you haven’t heard of him by now, well, you’ve simply not been paying attention. He’s on a current 37 game hitting streak with the Dayton Dragons - a Midwest League record - and entered July fresh off making this here June list due to his excellence then. Well, he backed up the .928 OPS he posted in June with a .344/.362/.680 month of July, in which time he clubbed 10 dingers, 3 triples, and 6 doubles in 130 PAs. Safe to say he’s seeing the ball pretty well at the moment.
It’s not like Nick Senzel has been cool in the other months of the season, but in July his bat really took off. In 27 games and 116 PAs, he cracked 4 homers, a triple, and 9 doubles, and his first full calendar month with AA Pensacola ended up at .358/.414/.575. It seemed sort of weird that I couldn’t think of something more profound to say about the guy this franchise has pegged as their future star, but I guess that’s just what happens when the stud prospect you follow just keeps going out and posting stud prospect numbers everywhere he goes.
When the Reds picked up Darnell Sweeney at the end of May, they got a 26 year old who has tasted the big leagues and has been traded for both Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick in his career. A true utility man, he’s played CF, LF, 3B, 2B, and SS with AAA Louisville already in just 48 games with the club, and in July his versatility came with a potent bat, too. Sweeney hit .315/.375/.466 in 80 July PAs, which has brought his overall numbers since joining the Bats to .294/.365/.437. Considering he’s also a switch hitter, that profiles as exactly the kind of bench bat the Reds should have their eyes on.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
For being a former 1st round draftee, we don’t really hear much about Deck McGuire despite his presence in the Cincinnati system. Now 28, Toronto’s 1st pick from 2010 has been plying his trade with AA Pensacola all season, and has been doing so rather damn effectively. July, though, was his best month to date, as he posted a 1.41 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in his 5 starts, covering 32.0 IP in the process. For the season he now boasts a 2.65 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 132.2 IP for the Blue Wahoos, and when you consider how it cost nothing to acquire both him and Asher Wojociechowski - also a Toronto 1st rounder from that same 2010 draft - the Reds have to feel pretty good about now having both in their system.
Lisalverto Bonilla, on the other hand, has been back and forth from Louisville to Cincinnati all season, so you know him well by now. While he’s struggled at the big league level, he’s flashed brilliance in the minors, and July was no exception. Prior to his one game cameo with the Reds on July 18th, he’d fired 16 innings of 1 ER ball for the Bats, his 0.56 ERA backed by an absurd .154/.214/.154 line allowed. And while that was good, since returning to AAA he’s been somehow even better. He wrapped the month by tossing 12 scoreless innings in which he allowed just 7 hits. All told, it was a 0.32 ERA month for Bonilla in the minors, which is damn tasty.
Finally, Jesus Reyes was signed by the Reds after going undrafted in 2014 out of ASA College in Brooklyn, a school that has also produced other incredibly named minor leaguers such as Wyatt Trautwein and Andrickson Zorilla. Unlike those two, however, Reyes has shown some serious potential, and his 1.50 ERA in 30 July innings is a testament to that. Only the first 6.2 of those came with A+ Daytona, as he earned a promotion to AA Pensacola after that, but he maintained his excellence there with just 4 ER allowed in 23.1 IP - even with a .323 BABIP against him there. He’s got a live arm and is already 24 years old, so don’t be surprised to see him move quickly if he keeps up this level of success.
Who’s Not - Hitters
It’s been a yearlong struggle at the plate for Blake Trahan, the 2015 3rd rounder who currently ranks as the 29th best prospect on the farm according to MLB Pipeline. July, however, was the worst of his worst, as he hit just .196/.260/.239 in 102 PA with AA Pensacola. He’s been lauded for his steady glovework at SS, but he’ll turn 24 in September, is hitting just .217 with a .556 OPS on the season, and is quickly falling down the future middle infield pecking order with the glut of SS/2B guys progressing well through the minors.
Speaking of former high draftees, Kevin Franklin was a 2nd rounder in 2013 and has largely dropped off the face of the planet since that time. He split July between Dayton and Daytona, getting 4ish starts a week all around the diamond, but for a guy who was drafted for his bat first in hopes he’d find a position, hitting .189/.246/.283 for a month isn’t going to cut it. He’s still just 22 years old, but after having hit .235/.283/.351 across 5 seasons (and never having played more than 61 games in any of those years), time’s just about up on his time on the Cincinnati farm.
Finally, Jake Turnbull is a name you FO wonks have seen floating around for a few years since he signed as a catcher out of Australia at age 16 back in 2014 and flashed promise with the AZL Reds in a solid 2015. Well, not only did he struggle to a .212/.278/.333 line in limited action with Billings in July, Doug Gray also revealed that Turnbull’s catching days are likely over (with a move to 1B the current destination.) Talk about a bummer of a month.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
Wendolyn Bautista has alternated between solid months and rough ones with Daytona, and July certainly qualified as the latter. He was shelled for 42 hits in his 29.1 IP for the month, as opponents hit .326 against him en route to an unsightly 6.37 ERA. The strikeouts also dried up - only 17 in that span - so hopefully it’s just a case of a rough month and he’ll right the ship accordingly.
As for Wennington Romero, it may well be a case of the 19 year old simply running out of gas as the season drags on. He’s now reached 110.2 IP on the year, far more than the 49.2 he threw between Arizona and Billings this year, and all have come with Class A Dayton (where he’s a full 3 years younger than league average). July was especially rough, as he yielded a 7.27 ERA in his 5 GS, a 26.0 inning sample where he 32 hits and 11 walks. He’s flashed brilliance at times, so I’m chalking this one up to wearing down, and hopefully it’s merely building up strength for a bigger, badder 2018 (and beyond).
Dear lord, Amir Garrett has fallen completely apart. Fortunately - fortunately? - his 7.92 ERA in July was an improvement on his 9.47 mark from June, but still featured 30.2 innings in which he allowed 52 batters to reach by hit or walk. I don’t have any idea what else to say about it, frankly, other than it’s one of the more depressing devlopments of this entire rebuild.