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2018 Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings: Phil Ervin Is #20!

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The former 1st round pick looks to stick with the big club as a 4th outfielder in 2018.

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Phil Ervin rounds out the top 20 in our Community Prospect rankings. The selection for prospects for the list is getting much more difficult as I’m sure selecting the winners is as well. There is still plenty of upside to choose from as we make our way to #25.

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

BB-Ref Page

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

BB-Ref Page

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.

Gavin LaValley, 1B, 23

Highest 2017 Level: AA (Pensacola)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: Solid power hitter, hit 18 dingers and 30 doubles in 2017.

Most Worrisome Fact: 24.6 K%, .101 ISO in Double-A.

Alias(es): Gavin “As I walk through” LaValley, Lily of LaValley, Mountains and LaValleys

BB-Ref page

Although he was drafted as a third baseman in the 4th round of the 2014 draft, Gavin LaValley made the switch to first base full-time in 2017. While the good news is that he found a position where he can stick, the bad news is that he is blocked by a guy named Joey Votto. LaValley started the first half of the year in High-A Daytona where he put up solid numbers. He hit .288/.322/.538 with 15 dingers and 14 doubles in Daytona, which was by far his best start to a season. That earned him a call-up to Pensacola in June where he saw his power drop off, as he had a meager .352 SLG% for the second half.

While LaValley has the ability to spray the ball all over the field, his best tool is his power. While he struggled in that department in his first two minor league seasons, balls started leaving the yard and finding gaps at a much higher rate in 2016 and 2017. He has also shown solid pitch selection over his four minor league seasons, posting a career BB% of 8.4%. While his defense wasn’t good enough for him to stick at third, he is capable of staying at first base in the long run. Look for him to start the year in Double-A Pensacola.

Ariel Hernandez, RHP, 25

Highest 2017 Level: MLB (Cincinnati)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: 10.4 K/9

Most Worrisome Fact: 7.0 BB/9

Alias(es): The Little Mermaid, Wild Thing, Broadside

BB-Ref Page

I waffled a bit about adding Hernandez to the list, but in the end I couldn’t look past the potential. Hernandez has a wild and crazy career so far, which mirrors his actual pitching style. He made his professional debut in 2009 with the Giants at the age of 17. It looked like he was out of baseball in 2014. Hernandez has some of the best stuff out of any pitcher in all of baseball. The problem? The dude literally can’t hit the broad side of the barn. He’s better suited just closing his eyes and firing away with a hope and a prayer. Literally, his career BB/9 is 6.7. That’s bad.

However, if you look at the facts above there is plenty of hope for Hernandez. While he’ll never be a control guy, because I can’t see his BB/9 ever going below 4.0, maybe he can get it below 5.0. Shit, I’d take a 6.0. Hernandez has a fastball with terrific movement that he can dial up to 100 MPH. He also has one of the greatest curveballs in the game. One that scores out as probably a 70-80 on the scouting scale. Seriously, it’s that good. However, with that much talent there is a lot of refinement and tailoring that goes into creating a pitcher. Expect to see him up and down this year depending on his control.

Up to date Community Prospect Rankings for 2018:

  1. Nick Senzel
  2. Hunter Greene
  3. Taylor Trammell
  4. Jesse Winker
  5. Tyler Mahle
  6. Jose Siri
  7. Shed Long
  8. Tony Santillan
  9. Vladimir Gutierrez
  10. Jeter Downs
  11. Tyler Stephenson
  12. Alex Blandino
  13. Jose Israel Garcia
  14. Stuart Fairchild
  15. Jimmy Herget
  16. Jose Lopez
  17. TJ Friedl
  18. Scott Moss
  19. Chris Okey
  20. Phil Ervin
  21. ???????????????

Poll

Who is the Reds #21 prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Tanner Rainey, RHP, 25
    (64 votes)
  • 17%
    Keury Mella, RHP, 24
    (21 votes)
  • 17%
    Gavin LaValley, 1B, 23
    (21 votes)
  • 13%
    Ariel Hernandez, RHP, 25
    (17 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now