The fifth and final full month of the MiLB season just wrapped, which means it’s once again time to look at which players on the Cincinnati Reds farm had it going well and which ones fell off the wagon during August. In case you were wondering what July on the farm looked like, you can refresh yourselves here.
To the stats!
Who’s Hot - Hitters
Nick Senzel! That’s who’s hot. Or, rather, who was hot, since Nick’s now been sideline for about a week with some form of sickness that may or may not be an inner ear infection. What he did in his 22 August games played was plenty good enough to headline this list, however, as he hit an absurd .359/.451/.641 in 91 PAs, the best month of his already impressive 2017 season by far. He matched his 13 Ks with 13 BBs, swiped 4 bags without being caught once, and clubbed 6 homers - the most of any calendar month this year for him. As a righty with that good of a hit tool, it’s somewhat surprising to see he’s hit just .252/.358/.417 against LHP this season, but it’s also fun to drool over how good his overall line will be once he figures out that righty-hitters usuall maul LHP.
The top of the 2016 draft appears to be quite rosy for the Reds, as it wasn’t just Senzel having a great August. Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati’s second selection last year, has been fiery hot of late, too. Dayton’s superstar-in-waiting logged a .974 OPS in 118 August PAs, hitting .313/.432/.542 as a 19 year old in A-ball in the process. He, too, saw a peak power month, ripping 5 homers for his most in a month this year, too. Equally as impressive was his eye at the plate, as he actually walked (21 BBs) more often than he struck out (20 Ks) last month. Oh yeah...he tallied 11 steals - also his most of any month - to bring his season total to 40. He’s as tantalizing a prospect as the Reds have had in quite some time.
Finally, one of the toolsiest prospects the Reds have had a stellar August, as Gabby Guerrero turned in his best month of the year. If you’ll remember, the 23 year old won the AA Southern League Home Run Derby this year despite not having hit a dinger all season at that point - beating uberprospect Ronald Acuna in the process, no less. The power Guerrero has is real, though, and he’s now up to 7 dingers on the season thanks to 3 in the month of August. All told, he hit .310/.370/.469 for the month, with season bests of both 35 hits and 11 BBs in his 127 PAs. It’s his first full season in the Reds’ organization, but you can certainly begin to see the tools that made Cincinnati pick him up.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
Jose Lopez made the jump from A+ Daytona to AA Pensacola midway through the 2017 season, but he hasn’t missed a beat since. And heck, today’s his 24th birthday. The 6th round pick out of Seton Hall in 2014 had his best month yet in August, limiting opponents to just a .444 OPS in 31.1 IP (116 PAs). The 4 ER he allowed in that stretch translates to a 1.15 ERA, and he fanned 28 against just 6 walks in the process. For his season, he now sports a tidy 2.52 ERA in 143.0 IP across two levels, and the righty has pitched his way into the conversation for a 40-man roster spot before the Rule 5 Draft this winter.
Tanner Rainey got off to a phenomenal start to 2017 with A+ Daytona before a May-June slump torpedoed his overall numbers. He’s both rebounded and been promoted since then, joining AA Pensacola on July 30th and not missing a beat. In 11 appearances from the Blue Wahoos bullpen in August, he fired 14.0 innings of 1.29 ERA ball, striking out an impressive 24 batters in that time. Considering his electric K-rate and that he’ll turn 25 years old this winter, I wouldn’t be at all shocked to hear his name in the mix for a 2018 big league bullpen spot.
Finally, Wyatt Strahan deserves some dap despite some of his August numbers not jumping off the page. Yes, he’s now a 24 year old in A+ ball, but he’s freshly back after missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, and the 2014 3rd round pick is back to doing what he’s done best in his career - throwing strikes and limiting walks. A rough outing capped his month, but he still held opposing batters to a .239/.259/.339 line in 28.2 IP, but more importantly (especially considering the current Reds’ staff) he walked only 2 batters in that time. For the year, he owns a tiny 1.8 BB/9, and hopefully with a full, healthy offseason this year he’ll enter 2018 poised to limit walks and baserunners in the upper-minors of the system.
Who’s Not - Hitters
I truly hope Chris Okey is hurt. I’m not saying I hope he gets hurt, since that would be vile and evil as hell. I’m saying I hope he’s been hurt, since that would perhaps explain why he’s had such a brutal statistical season. He did miss 10 days at the start of August, so perhaps something’s truly up, but when he returned things were even worse than before. He hit just .150/.244/.225 in 45 PAs, sinking his season line to a barely fathomable .189/.271/.255 for A+ Daytona. Considering last year’s 2nd rounder was a college bat who was supposed to move quickly, well...that doesn’t appear to be happening.
On the whole, Gavin LaValley has had a solid 22 year old campaign. He’s clubbed 18 homers, driven in 78, and proved emphatically that he was due for a call-up to AA. It’s been since he got to Pensacola, however, that things have gotten a bit rough, with August hopefully the culmination of his struggles. For the month, he hit just .212/.261/.260 in 115 PA, failing to hit a HR for the first month all season. He might be the most powerful bat in the entire system, so that sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, it’s just a new-level slump and he’ll kick it soon.
Similarly, TJ Friedl blew through his first level of 2017 (Class A Dayton), but has struggled a bit since being called up to A+ Daytona. In August, he hit just .256/.289/.419, but part of why he’s here is that it came in just 46 PAs. It was at that point that he was placed on the DL with a left thumb issue on August 12th, as RedsMinorLeagues.com’s Doug Gray noted, and Friedl hasn’t seen the field since. Considering how little time is left in MiLB seasons, he might well be done for this year.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
I wrote in this section last month that I’ve got no clue why Amir Garrett has fallen so, so rapidly. The good news, I guess, is that his August ERA of 6.11 is a vast improvement on his 7.92 mark from July. However, he walked 12 batters in his 28 August innings and still allowed a .327 batting average to opposing hitters, which means he’s still barely getting anyone out. I give.
I’m still not sure who Kyle McMyne pissed off years ago to get stuck in homer-haven Bakersfield for three freaking years in a row, but I’m not sure it helped the reliever’s development. Now 27 and in AAA Louisville, things have unraveled for him after a decently solid start to the year. Dating a bit back into July, he’s allowed 23 ER in his last 12 IP, with 15 BB against just 6 K. That’s borderline hard to do even if he was trying to.
Finally, there’s Jake Ehret who has been demoted, promoted, and demoted again between AA Pensacola and A+ Daytona already this year. Now back with the Tortugas, he’s still having a tough time getting outs, as he walked 8 guys in his 9.2 IP and posted an 8.38 ERA for the month. All told, he now boasts a 7.62 ERA and 1.86 WHIP between both levels for the season.