With June officially in the books and enough minor league action filed away for many players to have been promoted system-wide, it’s high time again to look at which Cincinnati Reds prospects excelled in the last calendar month - and at which ones will rip that page off their calendars and toss in the fireplace.
To the numbers...
Who’s Hot - Hitters
Dilson Herrera - 2B/3B, AAA Louisville (24 years old)
Perhaps there’s no player in the entire franchise right now who could stand to benefit more from Nick Senzel’s finger injury than Dilson Herrera. Booted off the 40-man roster after being still hurt and out of options earlier this year, he’s now healthy, playing similar positions, and deserving of a call-up at some point in 2018 - especially if Scooter Gennett is ultimately moved.
Herrera’s June was scorching hot, at that. Prior to finishing the month on an 0 for 9 skid over his final two games, he posted a .359/.457/.564 (1.022 OPS) line in 94 PA, with 28 hits in his 21 games played. Heck, even with those final two games, his .322/.417/.506 month is precisely the kind of production he’s been capable of when healthy - and the kind that was good enough for him to debut as a 20 year old with the New York Mets years ago.
Ibandel Isabel - 1B, A+ Daytona (23 years old)
The Reds landed Isabel when they shipped RHP Ariel Hernandez to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year, and all the tall righty-swinger has done since then is mash - particularly in the month of June.
In 90 PA across 23 games, Isabel blasted 11 dingers as part of an overall .269/.356/.692 (1.048 OPS) line, with his 18 dingers on the season now leading the entire Florida State League. In fact, nobody else has more than 15, which is cool enough to make you casually overlook that Isabel has struck out roughly 37% (!!) of the time so far this year.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
Vlad Gutierrez - RHP, A+ Daytona (22 years old)
Vladdy has somehow made a habit of putting up otherwise admirable peripheral statistics while simultaneously having an ERA that’s otherwise kinda ugly. He throws strikes, gets Ks, walks few hitters, but somehow gets tagged for more than you’d expect, as his career marks of 8.4 K/9, 1.22 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and 4.83 ERA relay pretty well.
June, for him, was finally a bit different. He fired 25.1 IP across 5 GS, held opponents to just a .183/.283/.280 OPS against, and posted a finally tidy 3.20 ERA. As impressive, he struck out 31 in those 25.1 IP against just 9 BB. Those all become even more impressive when you factor in that his first start of the month saw him yield 4 ER in just 2.1 IP against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp before he ripped off a 23.0 IP run of 1.96 ERA ball across his final 4 GS of the month, innings that saw 26 K against just 5 BB.
Kevin Quackenbush - RHP, AAA Louisville (29 years old)
Quack’s no prospect at this point, but as you saw earlier this season he’s still an arm that big league teams are willing to consider for their bullpen in a pinch. His first stint with the Reds was just about as ugly as can be, but what he’s been up to with the Bats helps emphasize just how volatile relief production can be at times - and that he just might be a guy the Reds can call-up and lean-on again should someone else in their pen get some momentary yips.
Quackenbush appeared in 9 games in June, threw 9.2 innings in that time, and did not allow a run. His 0.00 ERA for the month featured 12 Ks against a lone walk, and also all came despite a rather unlucky .423 BABIP against him. What’s almost as impressive as his June numbers alone is his entire run at AAA since being shipped back to AAA - 24 G, 24.2 IP, only one stinkin’ earned run allowed (0.36 ERA), with a 28/2 K/BB ratio.
Who’s Not - Hitters
Gavin LaValley - 1B, AA Pensacola (23 years old)
LaValley has, at times, taken a bit of time to acclimate to a level before finally thumping it there the next year, and the hope was that would be the case at AA in 2018 after he struggled there in 2017 after a mid-season call-up from Daytona, where he’d mashed. So far, that’s not been the case at all for him, unfortunately, as June helped emphasize.
The burly 1B hit just .213/.279/.295 for the month in 20 G, with only 3 XBH in his 68 PA. That helped sink his season-long numbers to just .207/.297/.324 as a Blue Wahoo, which is a big ol’ bummer. LaValley was drafted out of high school in 2014, and that means he’ll be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft this winter if not added to the Reds 40-man roster, though admittedly his overall production’s going to have to spike between now and the end of the year for either of those things to have a realistic chance of happening.
Stuart Fairchild - OF, A+ Daytona (22 years old)
Of all the players on this month’s ‘Not’ list, Stu’s the one about whom I’m least worried. He’s shown a great propensity for getting on-base in his early career, and this month saw him get a promotion to A+ Daytona up from Class A Dayton, and that’s hopefully the largest cause of his month-long dip. He’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.
As for June, though, things hit a rough patch. In 23 G - 16 at Dayton, 7 with Daytona - he hit just .198/.309/.370, albeit with 3 dingers, 2 triples, 10 walks, and 4 steals in the process. If anything this here blurb on Stu is meant to highlight that even when he struggles, he still finds a way to produce at a decent enough clip, and the fact that he’s a college bat that’s a plenty capable CF means we just might see him move quickly up the minor league ladder as a result.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
Jose Lopez - RHP, AAA Louisville (24 years old)
Lopez got off to a sold enough start to the 2018 season, his first since being added to the team’s 40-man roster. June, though, saw everything largely fall apart for the former 6th rounder out of Seton Hall University.
He threw 25.0 IP in 5 GS, which was OK.
He allowed 18 ER in those 25.0 IP, which was far from OK.
His 6.48 ERA for the month went hand in hand with him being lit up for a .299/.370/.526 line by his opposition, as he allowed 29 H and 9 BB in that span. His 18 K in that time helps to show that he truly wasn’t missing many bats during a month-long struggle.
I’ve still got some hope that he’ll turn into a back of the rotation innings-eater, but he’ll certainly have to do better than this to warrant that opportunity.
Brandon Finnegan - LHP, AAA Louisville (25 years old)
That Finny’s even in the minors and eligible for this list is ‘NOT’ enough, in many ways. That his June numbers stunk enough to smell them out here in Colorado just adds to the frustration he’s been slogging through for two years now.
Finnegan’s June was as bad as it gets. In 22.0 IP split between the rotation and bullpen in Louisville, he allowed 23 ER. More earned runs than innings pitched is not great, Bob. The peripherals were just as alarming, unfortunately: 18/12 K/BB, 6 HR, and a .308/.402/.582 line against him.
He’s been moved to the AAA bullpen for now, and hopefully will find his groove there accordingly. But man, what a complete fall apart for a guy who once seemed like a promising piece of the future of this club.