2014 Cincinnati Reds

C – Chadwick Tromp – AZL Reds/LoA Dayton –  19 yo;  –  (2013 – International FA/Aruba) –
  • .311 – 3HR – 13RBi – 15R –  .345/.472/.817  slash   –  csPAG: 2.73
  • Baseball America -NR   –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  Baseball Prospectus-NR
  • With the state of the Reds organizational catching, I’m guessing Cincinnati’s front office breathed a gargantuan sigh of relief when Devin Mesoraco broke out, making him an easy top 10 fantasy catcher in 2014. This prompted the Reds to offer the Punxsutawney, PA native a 4-year contract extension; and giving time for the minor leaguers to sort things out. So, looking across the landscape, when you compartmentalize the stats, the Aruba-born Tromp came out on top. Is Tucker Barhart poised to be Mesoraco’s backup this season? He should be. I tabbed 20 year-old Jose Ortiz as my 2014 Breakout Prospect of the Year for MLBDepthCharts and he struggled posting a Mendoza line-like PAG of 2.00 for LoA Dayton. Tromp didn’t light the world on fire, but heading into 2015 as a 20 year old with the possibility of opening the season for LoA (then making HiA?) the 5’9 – 180 lb. righty could take his 35% caught stealing percentage, build upon his 2014 and become one of, if not the, top catchers in the system. 
1B – Argenis Aldazoro  – Rookie Billings – 21 yo;  – (2009 – International FA signee-VE)
  • .325 – 11HR –  39RBi – 44R –  .356/.575/.931 slash    PAG: 3.95
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Monitoring every major league roster, it gives us an idea of how secure each major leaguer could/should be as well as how hard minor leaguers at each position must work to reach the highest level.  With all due respect, I don’t think Joey Votto has to watch over his shoulder anytime in the near future. Yet that doesn’t mean the rail thin 6’2 – 160 lb. Venezuelan Aldazoro is a slouch. He came out of nowhere to post a PAG score of 3.95 after logging PAG’s of 2.21 and 2.73 in ’10 and ’11 for the VSL; and 2.56 and 2.10 in ”12 and ’13 for the AZL Reds. With power and an advanced bat leading the first base offense profile, Aldazoro needs to take an even bigger step in 2015 to prove he’s better than the overall mediocre depth the organization currently boasts. He might begin 2015 again with Billings or even LoA Dayton. 
2B – Ty Washington  – LoA West Michigan – 19 yo;  – (2011 – 43rd round)
  • .288 – 4HR – 22RBi – 40R – 20SB –  .336/.424/.761  slash    –  PAG: 3.64
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  BP-NR 
  • In my explanation above about how All-Star 1B Joey Votto doesn’t have to worry about looking over his shoulder at any impending minor leaguer bearing down on his job, the same can be said about defensive wizard, All-Star and Twitter favorite Brandon Phillips. To put it bluntly, the Reds minor league second base cupboard is extremely bare. This was one of those times when using heavier statistical data was necessary and when all was said and done, my choice of Plano East HS (TX) draftee Ty Washington stood out. He came to the Reds with speed and supreme athleticism at the top of his draft profile and proceeded to post a 17 game pro debut PAG of 3.53 for the AZL. The organization promoted him to Rookie Billings in 2013 and with the increased work load, his production took a small hit (2.75) but still, his game showed overall growth, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. This season he repeated the Pioneer League and things seemed to click. He made bigger strides defensively once again. Washington leaves Reds fans wanting more; a lot more, and if he’s going to separate himself from the 2B hierarchy, he needs to play up to his athletic strengths and let the speed and athleticism guide his game.
3B – Taylor Sparks  – Rookie Billings  – 21 yo;  –  (2014 – 2nd round)
  • .232 – 10HR – 30RBi – 41R – 14SB –  .350/.490/.840 slash   – PAG: 3.87
  • BA-NR(2014)  –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • Third base offered quite a challenge. Not so much that the prospects were few and far between (as they are above), but more notably the opposite. Three candidates stood out in the grand scheme of things.  Twenty-three year old Seth Mejias-Brean collectively posted a solid season between HiA Bakersfield and AA Pensacola with a 3.21 PAG.  However, the disparity between levels was alarming. He posted a 4.04 PAG in HiA then crashed to a AA PAG of 2.32.  That left two 2014 draftees in Sparks and 4th rounder Gavin LaValley. The 6’3 – 235 lb. LaValley is a two-sport transition who isn’t your typical skill position cross-over. He played offensive line, therefore it’s no surprise that power is his game. After his debut mainly at 3B in the AZL and Rookie Billings, the organization is already prepping for LaValley’s move across the diamond to 1B.  (Makes total sense due to the lack of prospect punch at the position.) That leaves Sparks the top choice. Pound for pound he had the best season. Even though the 6’4 – 200 lb. righties batting average isn’t what the position standards prefer, Sparks boasted a 52% extra base percentage and brings a fluid swing, power, speed and great defense to the position; even though he committed 12 errors (.913 fld%). With his age, my gut tells me the Reds are going to push Sparks hard.  They could challenge him to harness his over aggressiveness offensively, try getting past the massive strikeout potential in hopes to witness more boom than bust.  
SS – Alex Blandino  – Rookie Billings/LoA Dayton –  21 yo;  –  (2014 – 1st round)

  • .283  – 20 2B  –  8HR  – 32RBi  – 40R  – 7SB  – .367/.480/.847 slash    – csPAG: 3.57
  • BA-NR(2014)  –   MLB Pipeline/#8(2015)  –  BP/#6(2015) 
  • Blandino is the first prospect highlighted on the list that put his top prospect pedigree and draft status where his statistical mouth is.  He was an undoubted O.A.S. choice at shortstop with an even 4.00 PAG for Rookie Billings then a strong 3.21 for LoA Dayton. Blandino gives Reds faithful a lot of be excited about. With speed being his only below average tool, the Stanford product posseses a strong compact swing, plus plate discipline, pop to all fields, good hands, footwork and a strong enough arm to play both short and third. Reports on the 6’0 – 190 lb. righty are fairly diverse. Some scouts see him as a potential regular, everyday player, while others see his career capping out as a top bench-style player.  I like him. A Lot. It would’t be a surprise to see Blandino begin 2015 with a very short stay in LoA Dayton, then a promotion to HiA Bakersfield. Blandino has the potential to become Cincinnati’s top position prospect once left fielder Jess Winker becomes a mainstay in Great American Ballpark. 
LF – Jesse Winker – HiA Bakersfield/AA Pensicola –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – 1st round)  –

  •  .287 – 15HR – 57RBi – 57R – 5SB –  .399/.518/.917    – csPAG: 4.31
  • BA/#3(2015)   –   MLB Pipeline/#2(2015)   –   BP/#2
  • What more can we here at UTRMinors say about the undisputed top position prospect in the Reds system? Go to any and every Cincinnati Reds prospect list or Top 100 and Winker is deeply embedded amongst the top talent in all the minors. As I stated above, Winker is clearly a bat-first profile and will stay the position prospect King as long as he remains a minor leaguer which might not be long if he continues his multi-tool assault (speed being his only lesser tool.)  He will most likely begin 2015 in AA Pensacola and if he shows no lapse in production, I’ll be a little aggressive and state that a September call-up isn’t out of the question. Not bad for a kid that could make his major league debut a month after turning only 21 years old. 
CF – Phil Ervin – LoA Dayton – 21  yo;  –  (2012 – 1st round)
  • .237 – 34 2B  –  7 3B  –  7HR  –  68RBi  –  68R  –  30SB  –  .305/.376/.680   – PAG: 3.02
  • BA/#3(2014)  –   MLB Pipeline/#7(2015)  –   BP-NR
  • “The game is 90% mental, 10% physical.” “He tried to rush back from injury.” “He was pressing at the plate and in the field.” Theses are obviously a few clichés you often hear when describing baseball players. Players just like Ervin, who in 2013 after being drafted out of small Samford University (AL) in the 1st round, blasted out of the starting gate posting a 4.46 PAG for Rookie Billings and LoA Dayton. He showed the Reds he could be the next superstar boss prospect of the the organization. A left wrist injury suffered in late 2013 ended his season and it’s lingering effects spilled over into what was a disastrous 2014. Yet when you look at the 5’10 – 200 pounders overall production, you might begin to realize how scary good Ervin could become.  Even though his stats don’t profile as your prototypical centerfielder, still, his 34 doubles and 7 triples and 30 stolen bases led all Reds minor leaguers. Ervin also committed one solitary error all season long. So, when you add it all up: The 2014 stats (bat & glove), rushing back from an injury, pressing his game, trying to be a hitter he isn’t, 2015 could be terrifying for opposing pitchers. I’ll boldly predict Ervin’s 2015 extra-base percentage sells out to batting average and his stolen base totals (could drastically) increase. With 100% health and a fresh mental approach, Ervin’s stock could soar once again.  
RF – Aristides Aquino – Rookie Billings –  20 yo;  –  (2011 – International FA/DR)
  • .292 – 16HR – 64RBi – 48R – 21SB –  .342/.577/.919   –  PAG: 4.39
  • BA/#9  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-“Prospects On the Rise”
  • The Reds Organizational All-Star list reminded me of the quote, “Where there’s a negative, there’s a positive.” With every position down and two-thirds of the outfield complete, the Reds obviously contain as much strength/weakness discrepancy than any organization I’ve analyzed to date. Reds fans should definitely appreciate having Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier gracing your major league infield because the minor league infield drawer is near empty.  Hope is far far away.  Outfield talent, however, is abundant.  Stud Jesse Winker is on the cusp of major league stardom.  Uber-talented Phil Ervin is ready to prove 2014 was a total fluke. This brings me to Dominican-born Aristides Aquino. Now, having Winker, Ervin and Aquino leading the list of O.A.S. prospects is no big deal right? You’ve seen similar talent, yet fellow outfielder Sebastian Elizalde adds significant punch to the disparity I mentioned. Winker’s season couldn’t be denied which left Elizalde on the outside looking in.  Had the former Mexican star logged more games in RF, I would have strongly considered making him my choice. Aquino’s 2014 was a step above his 2013 which was in a sense a breakout season. He posted a csPAG of 3.84 for AZL and Rookie Billings. The five-tool talent repeated Rookie Billings in 2014, but his game got even better. He should see his first full season for LoA Dayton in 2015. I believe fellow outfielder Sebastian Elizalde will see AA Pensacola and try building on his 2014 csPAG of 3.45 between LoA Dayton and HiA Bakersfield. He’s a bat-first profile that poses a lot of intrigue. Another great season at the plate should force more than us deep level prospect miners to take notice. 

 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Daniel Wright – (13) cSR/TPS .101
  • 23 years old – (LoA Dayton / HiA Bakersfield)
  • 10th round – 2013
  • 30Time UTR Mention – (May 6thMay 22nd, July 3rd)
  • Out of nowhere came Daniel Wright. You will see below in the TPS 5 that if I didn’t have this separate criteria, Wright could have been truly buried under my own radar. Without the Mention Points and plus…. if Ben Lively wouldn’t have been dealt, the right-hander would have been an also-ran on my list. Attention to his peripherals, especially the 6.41 K/BB ratio would have one believe that Wright would garner elite prospect status. Yet he continues under the radar even though he posted a 8.60 K/BB ratio in 2013 with Billings in the Pioneer League. He doesn’t have outstanding stuff, but what he throws…it’s with command. He fared well in the California League to finish the season, so it will be interesting to see what Double-A hitters can do against him.
 2. LHP Amir Garrett – (12) SP/TPS .090
  • 22 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 22nd round – 2011
  • Ranked #18 by Baseball America / #19 by MLBPipeline
  • 3-Time UTR Mention – (June 11thJuly 27thAugust 13th)
  • Even though Garrett split time between basketball and baseball, he was still able to be listed as a Top 20 prospect for the Reds. Now that he has fully committed to baseball after his first full season at Dayton, all bets are off over how high his ceiling might be. His stuff is raw, but he is throwing a low-mid 90’s fastball with good movement and a changeup that is above-average.
3. RHP  Nick Travieso – (11) SP/TPS .105
  • 20 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 1st round – 2012
  • Ranked #8 by Baseball America / #9 MLBPipeline / “On the Rise” Baseball Prospectus
  • Travieso took a step back in 2013 when he lost some of the velocity on his fastball. This may have slowed his development as he repeated LoA in 2014, but we saw an uptick in his K-rate this season. More importantly was the right-hander’s BB9 rate, which has held steady over his three seasons as a pro. Seeing him get some Hi-A innings in 2014 would have been a luxury, but there is no hurry to rush the now 21 year old. ETA to Cincy could be some time in 2017, about the same as Amir Garrett. As a 1st round pick, Travieso is somewhat flying low; and could be a nice stash for your fantasy team.
4. RHP Sal Romano – (11) SP/TPS .109
  • 20 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 23rd round – 2011
  • Ranked #17 by MLBPipeline
  • 4-Time UTR Mention (April 10thMay 23rdJune 2ndJuly 28th)
  • Had Romano not tired down the stretch in August, he could have been the only UTR pitcher to be mentioned for each month of the season. I predicted the right-hander would breakout in 2013, but he decided to wait until 2014 to make some noise. His stats  weren’t glaring by any means, but solid for repeating LoA as a 20 year old throwing 148.1 innings. I have the same type of crush with Romano that I had with Daniel Corcino back in 2010. Let’s hope his development takes a smoother path to Cincinnati and he becomes a UTR success story as a back-end starter.
5. LHP Ismael Guillon – (10) cSR/TPS .098
  • 22 years old – (LoA Dayton / HiA Bakersfield)
  • Undrafted – 2009
  • Ranked #12 by Baseball America / #10 MLBPipeline / #9 Baseball Prospectus
  • UTR Mention (April 23rd)
  • There’s a lot to like about Guillon’s stuff, but not his control. He has a 3-pitch mix but only his fastball and change-up rate as above-average. He profiles at the back-end of a rotation, but some predict he would be best as a late innings reliever. Guillon has been on the 40-man roster since signing, so the clock is ticking fast for the lefty.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
 1. RHP Alejandro Chacin – (10) RP/TPS .064
  • 21 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • UTR Mention (April 11th)
  • Chacin had an outstanding 2013 making 44 appearances as the closer for LoA Dayton . One would have thought the right-hander would make his 2014 debut with Hi-A Bakersfield, but was sent to repeat at Dayton. Instead of being the closer, he saw innings in long relief and the set-up role. This went well until the month of June when he posted a 5.93 ERA. The closer at that time suffered the same circumstances and lost his job. Chain stepped into his familiar role and was lights out for the remainder of the season. He was selected as the 2014 Relief Pitcher of the Year for the Reds minor league system.
2. RHP Zack Weiss – (8) RP/TPS .064
  • 22 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • Weiss put up identical stats as Chacin, but Chacin has been the consistent one where as Weiss has made a vast improvement over 2013 (- .060 TPS). Some reports say that the right-hander could be a starter, but he finds himself in the bullpen with all the other quality arms in system. Weiss was on the staff with the 2013 UCLA Bruins who won the NCAA title that year.
3. RHP Ben Klimesh – (8) RP/TPS .074
  • 24 years old – (HiA Bakersfield / Double-A Pensacola)
  • 15th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (May 19th)
  • Klimesh has posted consistent TPS rates over the last 3 years. Can miss bats, but needs to master his control. He had a rough August and may have tired while getting his first taste of Double-A hitters.
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
 1. RHP Pedro Damian – cSR/TPS .053
  • 21 years old – (DSL Reds / AZL Reds)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • 4-Time UTR Mention – (June 19thJune 26thJuly 14thAugust 1st)
  • The Dominican right-hander was on the verge of spending another whole season (his 4th) in the DSL. This after an uneventful 2013 where he posted a 4.39 ERA, but a K9 rate (10.5) that remained consistent from 2012 (10.9). Though old for the league at 21, Damian pitched lights out (72 K’s in 47.1 IP in 10 starts) and the organization brought him the States and the AZL Reds. He made 3 appearances from the bullpen.
 2. RHP Ben Lively – SP/TPS .072
  • 22 years old – (HiA Bakersfield / Double-A Pensacola)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked #9 by Baseball America / #7 Baseball Prospectus
  • Lively was unbelievable to start the 2014 season (5-0, 0.31 ERA, 29 IP, 13 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 40 K in 5 starts).  Back in late April, I made a comment of Lively becoming a possible trade chip….well, that hunch came to be when he was sent to the Phillies in the Marlon Byrd deal. With Lively now gone to the NL East, Daniel Wright would have made this list at #5 with everybody else moving up.
3.  LHP Amir Garrett – (12) SP/TPS .090

  • 22 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 22nd round – 2011
  • Ranked #19 by MLBPipeline
  • 3-Time UTR Mention – (June 11thJuly 27thAugust 13th)
  • Even though Garrett split time between basketball and baseball, he was still able to be listed as a Top 20 prospect for the Reds. Now that he has fully committed to baseball after his first full season at Dayton, all bets are off how high his ceiling might be. His stuff is raw but he is throwing a low-mid 90’s fastball with good movement and a changeup that is above-average.
4. RHP Adolfi Telleria – SP/TPS .091
5. RHP Wyatt Strahan – SP/TPS .094
  • 21 years old – (Pioneer League Billings Mustangs)
  • 3rd round – 2014
  • Could turn out to be a huge pick-up for the Reds. Reports state the kid has big-time stuff. His fastball ranges in the mid-90’s and tops out at 97 mph. The curveball could be a plus pitch and change-ups rates as solid. He has had some issues with control during his time with USC, which scouts say may be due to this mechanics. Those issues didn’t appear during this first season with Billings where he strikeout 4o over 42.1 innings with 12 walks.
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
 1. RHP Alejandro Chacin – RP/TPS .064
  • 21 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • UTR Mention (April 11th)
  • Chacin had an outstanding 2013 as the closer for Dayton making 44 appearances. One would have thought the right-hander would make his 2014 debut with Hi-A Bakersfield, but was sent to repeat at Dayton. Instead of being the closer, he saw innings in long relief and the set-up role. This went well until the month June when he posted a 5.93 ERA for the month. The closer at that time suffered the same circumstances and lost his job. Chain stepped-in his familiar role and was lights out for the remainder of the season. He was selected as the 2014 Relief Pitcher of the Year for the Reds minor league system.
2. RHP Zack Weiss – RP/TPS .064
  • 22 years old – (LoA Dayton)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • Weiss put-up identical stats as Chacin, but Chacin has been consistent one where as Weiss has made a vast improvement over 2013 (-060 TPS). Some reports say that the right-handers could be a starter, but finds himself in the bullpen with all the other quality arms in system. Weiss was on the staff with the 2013 UCLA Bruins who won the NCAA title that year.
3. LHP Brennan Bernardino – RP/TPS .066
  • 23 years old – (Pioneer League Billings Mustangs)
  • 26th round – 2014
  • The late round draft pick had an outstanding year serving as closer for the Billings Mustangs. He picked up 9 saves in 22 appearances and strikeout 31, walking 9 over 26.2 innings. Though he turned some heads, 2015 could have a lot in store for the left-hander and will be “one to watch”.
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
 SP Jeremy Kivel – Kivel put-up similar stats this season compared to his first year as a pro. Difference was that the right-hander put too many on-base giving up 54 hits and 21 walks over 40.1 innings. Grade C-
 
RP El’Hajj Muhammad – Muhammad is still working his way back after being told he may never pitch again when bone chips reeked havoc in his knee. Taking him so soon as a possible breakout was a risk but he had a decent season in working back to HiA Bakersfield. Potential is still there. Grade C+ 
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s