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2018 Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings: Tanner Rainey Is #21!

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Took you long enough.

Moorpark, CA. 03–26–2005: Duncan Tanner 7, of Camariillo, pets at Scottish Highlander at Underwood
When I typed “Tanner Rainey” into the SBN CMS picture finder, this was literally the only image that came up in all of the databases they have to find. It’s awesome, and I’m leaving it.
Photo by Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

I mean, I would’ve selected Tanner Rainey WAY before Chris Okey. But that’s fine. The customer is always right. The most important thing is that we finally got him on the board.

Only a few more selections left. Who is going to round out the Red Reporter CPR Top 25?

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.

Aristides Aquino, OF, 23

Highest 2017 Level: AA (Pensacola)

Eye-Poppingest Fact: Walk rate actually went UP, highest it’s been (7.7 BB%)

Most Worrisome Fact: He still struck out a ton (28.8 K%, .282 OBP)

Alias(es): Heiress Titties,

BB-Ref Page

Aquino was a big riser in our prospect rankings a year ago, as a toolsy younger who socked the shit out of the ball and showed all of the athleticism you’d want to see out of a 22 year old, having signed and played in the organization since 2011.

He’d finally gotten a taste of pro ball past the rookie level and mashed. There were concerns, to be sure...

AA ball didn’t treat him so well, however, and he’s fallen out of favor not only here but nearly everywhere else you’ll read. His .216/.282/.397 line is basically everything the doubters predicted; his wont to swing tanking anything resembling plate discipline, and not being able to tee off on higher level pitching as a result.

He’s been somewhat of a slow riser, and he’s failed to adjust at the next level upon immediately arriving. He finally blasted the hell out of rookie ball and then struggled at Dayton (though he did immediately mash Daytona pitching).

So maybe something will click when he starts his second full try at Pensacola (he did have his lowest BABIP in years, for instance). And all of the physical tools are still there. Regardless, the hot “under the radar” name from 2017’s list has fallen way back. Can he right the ship?

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. Tanner Rainey
  22. ?????????????

Poll

Who is the Reds #22 Prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Keury Mella
    (41 votes)
  • 21%
    Gavin LaValley
    (25 votes)
  • 31%
    Ariel Hernandez
    (37 votes)
  • 13%
    Aristides Aquino
    (16 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now