May isn’t completely in the books yet, but it’s the 31st, a Friday, and that’s just about as close to a wrap as it can get. With that in mind, let’s check on the Cincinnati Reds farmhands to see who had a month to remember, and who fell flat.
Who’s Hot - Hitters
Jonathan India - 3B, Daytona Tortugas (A+)
With the 2019 MLB Draft just days away, it’ll put a bit of a spotlight on the Reds most recent 1st round pick. Fortunately, Jonny India has been raking, so that spotlight will shed some positivity. He hit .300/.425/.486 over his last 20 games (87 PA), again showing his elite strike zone prowess, and has hit .291/.386/.478 over his last 37 games (157 PA). Of course, this is supposed to be just about the month of May, and neither of those samples is ‘just May,’ but know that his May line - .275/.396/.462 in 111 PA - was damn rock solid as well. If there’s anything that stands out particularly with India to date, though, it’s that he’s played nothing but 3B so far this season despite having played some SS last season.
Stuart Fairchild - OF, Daytona Tortugas (A+)
Give Stu some serious credit for rebounding in May, since his April - a putrid .370 OPS across 59 PA - was tremendously awful. May, though, has been a completely different story for the former 2nd round pick, as he mauled to the tune of .338/.425/.595 in 87 PA to date, clubbing 3 dingers and driving in 18 runs in just 20 games. And after I noted a month ago that he had stopped stealing bases entirely - perhaps due to that balky hamstring - he even managed to swipe a pair of bags again in May.
Brian O’Grady - 1B/OF, Louisville Bats (AAA)
Despite the exploits of those two Tortugas, nobody in the Reds system was hotter in May than O’Grady, the 27 year old Rutgers product. He clubbed 10 dingers this month, fueling a masterful .340/.395/.738 line across 114 PA. He’s certainly selling out for power, as his 28 K this month and 53 overall in 42 games played this season suggest, but the power is very obviously there. Considering that’s pretty much the trend for modern hitters, perhaps there’s still a chance he’s a very late bloomer who could still have a chance to do damage at the big league level.
Who’s Not - Hitters
Michael Beltre - OF, Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Beltre, currently ranked as the #16 prospect in the Reds system by MLB Pipeline, began his season at the Reds complex in Goodyear, AZ despite being 23 years old and fresh off a solid 2018 season. Apparently, it was some form of kidney issue that held him back. Anyhoo, he returned on May 2nd and has picked up a grand total of 4 hits in 51 PA since. That equates to a .093/.220/.140 overall line, which is decidedly not great, Bob. Hopefully, his .129 BABIP begins to rise to a normal level, since his usually strong walk rate is still there to prop things up a bit.
Taylor Trammell - OF, Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
It’s been a rough go of things for the top Reds prospect still in the minors during the month of May. This, of course, comes on the heels of him hitting .292/.416/.431 in April and landing in that month’s ‘Hot’ list. May has seen him hit just .198/.350/.275 in 117 PA, and while this month of work is troubling in its own right, it’s beginning to mirror how his 2018 season played out, too - off to a very hot start, and limp to the finish. Hopefully, he can turn it on again soon and buck that trend, but that certainly didn’t happen in May.
Bren Spillane - 1B, Dayton Dragons (A)
Again, this is supposed to be just about the month of May, but from April 19th to May 4th - nearly two calendar weeks - Spillane went hitless in 37 PA across 9 games played. Then, from May 9th through May 15th, he again went hitless, this time through 20 PA. After that May 15th game against the Great Lakes Loons, Spillane was sent back to Goodyear to begin to try unraveling what the hell was wrong with his swing, as the 2018 3rd round pick has looked completely broken all year. For the record, his May tally was a brutal .079/.239/.263 with 22 K in just 49 PA, as his swing and miss issues have become virtually unmanageable.
Who’s Hot - Pitchers
Scott Moss - LHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Moss got off to a bit of a rough start early in 2019, but his May saw a distinct turnaround. In 6 starts this month he pitched to an excellent 1.80 ERA, striking out 33 in 30 IP while holding opposing batters to just a .547 OPS. His 6.9 BB/9 this season is decidedly not nice - and represents a career worst number by a large margin - but he’s also holding hitters to just 5.9 H/9, which is by far a career best. At this juncture the 24 year old might well be the second best healthy pitching prospect on the entire farm.
Ryan Lillie - RHP, Daytona Tortugas (A+)
Lillie, 23, is yet another poached prospect from the Miami Marlins, one who came to the Reds last October as Miami was loading up on international bonus pool money in their chase of the Victors Mesa. So far, Lillie has looked quite solid, specifically this month of May. He fired 35 innings of 2.83 ball, striking out 27 against just 7 walks, and considering he just turned 23 and spent time in A+ ball last year, too, my best guess is that he’ll be getting a call-up once next week’s draft is finished and the roster shuffling begins.
Tejay Antone - RHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Antone, 25, fired 29.2 innings of 2.43 ball in the month of May, posting an excellent 24/4 K/BB in that time. Just as important was his ability to keep the ball in the yard, as he did not allow a single dinger all month. That .592 OPS allowed to opposing batters was quite nice, too, suggesting that the lack of dingers was no fluke.
Who’s Not - Pitchers
Vlad Gutierrez - RHP, Louisville Bats (AAA)
Showing up on one of these ‘Not’ lists is bad enough. Going 2 for 2 to start a season is just play brutal. Unfortunately, that’s where Vladdy Gutes is these days, as his May was just as awful as his April. After allowing 19 ER in 21 IP in April, Gutierrez backed that up by allowing 25 ER in 26 IP this month, and the 23 year old has lost all success at fooling anyone. He yielded a .991 OPS to opposing hitters with 7 dingers in this month alone, and it’s just about time to scrap whatever methods the Reds are using with him and try something, anything different to get him back on track.
Jose Lopez - RHP, Louisville Bats (AAA)
The Bats pitching, as you’re about to notice, has been abysmal of late. Lopez, back in the organization after a DFA and sojourn with the San Francisco Giants organization, was just about as bad as Gutierrez this month, allowing 23 ER in 25 IP while allowing hitters to whack him around to the tune of a 1.026 OPS. On top of that, he walked 18 against 19 strikeouts, and the 25 year old Seton Hall product isn’t fooling anyone these days.
Keury Mella - RHP, Louisville Bats (AAA)
Mella wraps up the Louisville trifecta here, and I promise I perused the stats for the other Reds minor league affiliates to make sure I wasn’t overlooking other teams’ poor performances. Next to his teammates, Mella’s Mell numbers actually look half decent - a 6.00 ERA in 24 IP, with a 21/11 K/BB - but in reality those are still plain poor. At 25 and now much further down the pitching pecking order than he was when first acquired from the Giants, it’s probably time to begin using Mella as a reliever and see if that’s how he’ll ever give value to the big league Reds.