When I’ve written these the last couple weeks, I’ve had thoughts.
I have no thought about this pick. At least, not adamant thoughts. Keury’s a fine pick for where we’re at, and I hope he takes his big fastball and parks it right at the back end of the Reds bullpen for the foreseeable 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
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
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,
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?
Miles Gordon, OF, 20
Highest 2017 Level: Rookie League (Billings)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .530 SLG
Most Worrisome Fact: .530 SLG at rookie league, still young (and raw) as hell
Alias(es): Flash, James,
Miles Gordon was a 4th round pick out of Loyola Catholic in Oakville. “Where is Loyola Catholic in Oakville?” an astute follower of the Red Reporter CPR may ask. It’s in Ontario.
Canada. It’s in Ontario, Canada. The same province and country that provided Reds fans with Joey Votto.
Gordon actually played hockey as a kid and amateur prospect, and rose to high amateur status for that sport as well. Eventually, a love of baseball won out, and he focused on it most in high school, which led the Reds to selecting him in the 4th round of the 2015 draft at 17 years old.
He’s only spent time at Billings, where he struggled as a 17 year old against professionals in his first 129 PAs. His 2016 was cut short because of a shoulder injury, but Gordon returned ready to go in 2017, slashing .319/.389/.530 in his first full season.
You’re supposed to hit in Billings, so that SLG % is probably overstating the pop that he actually has. Regardless, he projects to be able to handle center field, both with athleticism and with the bat, though he won’t come near that slugging percentage at the highest level.
There are concerns about his swing and ability to hit for average, but shit, the dude’s 20 years old and has played exactly a full season. I’m willing to give it some time.
Expect to see him in Dayton ASAP.
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
- Scott Moss
- Chris Okey
- Phil Ervin
- Tanner Rainey
- Keury Mella
Who is the Reds #23 Prospect?
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