So, Red Reporters really like them some TJ Friedl.
After only one day on the ballot, he won the spot. With that in mind, I have a feeling that some of you may also really like the newest addition to the list.
Scott Moss, LHP, 23
Highest 2017 Level: Class A Dayton
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 10.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, and 3.25 K/BB ratio in 135.2 innings
Most Worrisome Fact: Injury Concerns? Age? Overuse?
Alias(es): Mossy Fo Fossy, Not Austin Ross, Butt Floss
Here, I have a quiz for you. Did you know that Scott Moss tore his UCL and had Tommy John Surgery his Freshmen year at the University of Florida? Did you know he sat out his entire Sophomore year? That he only pitched 23 innings his redshirt Sophomore year? That he never pitched more than three innings at a time until a 6 inning, 7 strikeout, performance against LSU late in the season? That the Reds then drafted him in the 4th round?
Good, and now you know. That’s pretty freaking cool.
All Moss has done for the Reds is show a 88-95 MPH fastball coupled with what scouts are calling an already plus slider. He has a change up to improve on, but showed good control and stuff as a 22 year old in Class A Dayton.
In all, Moss pitched 135 inning, which is by far the most he’s ever pitched in his career in one year, and I’m sure was a daunting task for him. He locked it down with a 3.45 ERA. Obviously, there are some concerns about his arm holding up, but look for Moss to go to A+ Daytona and hopefully get some time in AA. Quite a story for a guy that only pitched 23 innings in college.
Tanner Rainey, RHP, 25
Highest 2017 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 40% K%, 15.1 K/9
Most Worrisome Fact: Control: 4.8 BB/9
Alias(es): Have You Ever Seen the Rainey, Tanner “Mount” Rainey, Purple Rainey
2017 saw the West Alabama prospect move to the bullpen full time since being drafted during the Competitive Balance Round B portion of the 2015 Draft, where it was hoped his plus-plus fastball would play up in shorter stints. Guess what: it did.
Rainey struck out 40% of the batters he faced in 2017 between A+ Dayton and AA Pensacola, and now that he’s a full time member of the bullpen, he’s got an easier and maybe even a fast track to the major league squad. You may have heard this before, but the Reds could use quality bullpen arms.
Rainey still walks too many batters, but his fastball is legit, reaching up to 99 MPH, while his filthy power curve has the ability to make batters look foolish when they swing at one in the dirt. He’s got high-leverage usage upside here, and is already one of the higher ceiling strictly bullpen prospects in the system. However, the Reds have several arms they have to figure out how to use for this season, so others will get the first crack. Regardless, don’t be surprised to see Rainey see spot usage as early as this season.
Keury Mella, RHP, 24
Highest 2017 Level: MLB (Cincinnati)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Made progress limiting walks; cut his BB% by 2% from 2016
Most Worrisome Fact: Command; is still missing within the strike zone, and getting punished for it; still walks nearly 3 per 9 IP
Alias(es): Mella Yella, Numma Numma, Hella Mella
So, this is what we wrote about Mella last year:
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.
A lot of the sentiment here is still true. His SO/BB ratio jumped back into the 2.5 range in 2017 because he was successful cutting into his astronomical walk rate from the previous year. However, the strikeouts were still down from their peak 9+ per 9 IP days within the Giants organization. And, as it showed in his cup of coffee at the MLB level, without being able to get the pitch by guys, his lack of command got pummeled.
Still, Mella is only still 24 years old and hasn’t really even had the opportunity to crack AAA in his career. The ball jumps out of his hand, his fastball clocking in at 94-97mph and touches 98mph, and he has a good breaking ball that he can throw for strikes.
Every year it looks more and more likely that he’d be better suited focusing his talents in the bullpen, but we said last year there was no rush to do so. Even one year later, there’s really not a rush to move him if they think there’s another stride he can make with his control. But he’s been in the organization for 2+ years now, and the book remains largely the same. Several guys will have to fail in front of him for it to matter in 2018 so we’re not exactly running out of time. But this year will go a long way in telling us what the Reds have for the future.
Phil Ervin, OF, 25
Highest 2017 Level: MLB (Cincinnati)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: SLG’d higher in 64 MLB PA than he had since his rookie year, actually basically healthy for a full season.
Most Worrisome Fact: Took a long time to get back into it after his first cup of coffee with the Reds (.431 OPS in 22 May games at AAA).
Alias(es): Uncle Phil, Phlerv,
You’ll remember Phil Ervin as the Reds first round pick in 2013 out of Samford University. His pro career got of to a big start, mashing a healthy .989 OPS through his first 200 plate appearances, and basically doing exactly what a somewhat advanced college bat should do in those leagues. He parlayed that into the 63rd overall spot on Baseball Prospectus Top 101 prospects going into 2014.
However, his second season was somewhat of a sophomore slump. He injured his wrist that season, which seemed to sap most of the power we’d seen the previous year. But ever since, he hasn’t really been the same player, while also dealing with a nagging injury here and there.
If Phil and the Reds had their druthers, I’m sure he would’ve made his impact at the Major League level before last season. That said, it was mostly a successful season for the former first rounder. He acquitted himself nicely at the MLB level, his .259/.317/.448 slash clocked in at a 99 OPS+, which is perfectly okay for your first shot at the Show. His overall line at Louisville was severely marred by a disastrous month of May, where a .176/.231/.200 line basically tanked his season long numbers.
Looking at the season as a whole, though, that particular split seems to be the outlier. Plus, he still has the same physical gifts that he had when the Reds chose him out of Samford in the summer of 2013. I’m sure they wished that some of his rawer tools would’ve developed more or quicker, but he does show flashes of what made them take him so high.
As the Reds outfield is currently constructed, he’s going to find it difficult to carve out regular playing time in Cincinnati. Even then, he seems well suited to be a 4th outfielder right now. Will his ceiling develop higher than that?
Up to date Community Prospect Rankings for 2018:
- Nick Senzel
- Hunter Greene
- Taylor Trammell
- Jesse Winker
- Tyler Mahle
- Jose Siri
- Shed Long
- Tony Santillan
- Vladimir Gutierrez
- Jeter Downs
- Tyler Stephenson
- Alex Blandino
- Jose Israel Garcia
- Stuart Fairchild
- Jimmy Herget
- Jose Lopez
- TJ Friedl
Who is the Reds #18 Prospect?
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