Today we are looking at the prospects ranked 1-5 on the 2014 Top 25 Cincinnati Reds prospects list. Later today I will hold a chat/question and answer to try and answer all questions on the list. All listed ages are the official age during the season, which is calculated by their age as of June 30th of the playing year. Subscribers will get to see the best tool for each player.

5. Yorman Rodriguez | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Bakersfield Blaze & Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Acquired: International Free Agent, 2008 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 197 lbs. | Age: 20

Rodriguez came off of a very rough 2012 season that saw him demoted and came out much stronger in 2013 and earned a promotion after hittingĀ  .251/.319/.470 with Bakersfield. With Pensacola he would hit .267/.329/.385. He finished the year with a career best walk rate of 8.3% and his best career strikeout-to-walk ratio as well. He also set career highs in doubles, triple and home runs as he had 54 extra-base hits.


Bakersfield 278 251 41 63 20 4 9 35 6 3 22 77 .251 .319 .470
Pensacola 289 262 30 70 15 2 4 31 4 0 25 76 .267 .329 .385
Total 567 513 71 133 35 6 13 66 10 3 47 153 .259 .324 .427


4. Jesse Winker | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Dayton Dragons

Acquired: 1st Round, 2012 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 210 lbs.

Jesse Winker came out of the gate hitting as a professional in 2012 and didn’t slow down too much in his first full season with a .281/.379/.463 line with the Dayton Dragons where he showed off strong plate discipline with 63 walks and 75 strikeouts. Winker had 18 doubles, 5 triples and 16 home runs. The 16 home runs were the 6th most in the league.

Dayton 486 417 73 117 18 5 16 76 6 1 63 75 .281 .379 .463


3. Phillip Ervin | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Billings Mustangs & Dayton Dragons

Acquired: 1st Round, 2013 Draft | Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 190 lbs. | Age: 20

Ervin had one of the best debuts among draft picks in recent memory as he hit .331/.425/.564 in 2013 as he split time between the Billings Mustangs and Dayton Dragons. He showed strong plate discipline with 25 walks and 34 strikeouts and he showed off good power with 11 doubles, a triple and 9 home runs in just 172 at bats.

Billings 149 129 27 42 9 1 8 29 12 0 17 24 .326 .416 .597
Dayton 51 43 7 15 2 0 1 6 2 1 8 10 .349 .451 .465
2 Teams 200 172 34 57 11 1 9 35 14 1 25 34 .331 .425 .564


2. Billy Hamilton | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Louisville Bats & Cincinnati Reds

Acquired: 2nd Round, 2009 Draft | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 160 lbs. | Age: 22

Billy Hamilton struggled in the first half of the season, but hit .280/.327/.355 from July through September as he turned his season around. After a record breaking 155 steals in 2012 at the minor league level, Hamilton only stole 75 this year at the minor league level and added another 13 with the Reds in September. His walk rate dropped from 14.2% in 2012 to just 6.9% in 2013 in the minors. His transition defensively to center field was much quicker than most expected and by the end of April he looked very natural at the position.

Louisville 547 504 75 129 18 4 6 41 75 15 38 102 .256 .308 .343
Cincinnati 22 19 9 7 2 0 0 1 13 1 2 4 .368 .429 .474


1. Robert Stephenson | Right Handed Pitcher | 2013 Teams: Dayton Dragons, Bakersfield Blaze & Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Acquired: 1st Round, 2011 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 190 lbs. | Age: 20

After a slow start to the season Stephenson quickly turned things around to post a 2.99 ERA in 114.1 innings between Dayton, Bakersfield and Pensacola. He walked just 7.5% of opposing batters on the season and struck out 29.2% of opposing batters. He held both lefties and righties to an OPS between .624 and .650.

Dayton 5 3 2.57 0 77.0 56 5 20 96 0.99 6.5% 31.3% 4.8
Bakersfield 2 2 3.05 0 20.2 19 3 2 22 1.02 2.4% 26.5% 11.0
Pensacola 0 2 4.86 0 16.2 17 2 13 18 1.80 17.3% 24.0% 1.4
3 Teams 7 7 2.99 0 114.1 92 10 35 136 1.11 7.5% 29.2% 3.9


Scouting Notes


5. Yorman Rodriguez

Best tool: Arm. Rodriguez features a plus arm that plays well at any position that he finds himself at in the outfield.

4. Jesse Winker

Best tool: Hitting. Winker has an outstanding plate approach and can hit the ball hard to all fields while also making plenty of contact that should help him hit for a quality average.

3. Phillip Ervin

Best tool: Hitting. Ervin has a strong plate approach that helps him get the most out of his hit tool where he consistently makes hard contact and has a good rate of contact that should allow him to hit for a quality average.

2. Billy Hamilton

Best tool: Speed. Perhaps the fastest player in his generation on the baseball field, Hamilton has special speed. It isn’t just the pure speed though, he knows how to use it well.

1. Robert Stephenson

Best tool: Fastball. Stephenson sits in the 94-98 MPH range with his fastball on most days and can top out at 100 MPH with his plus-plus fastball.


27 Responses

  1. IndyRedsFan


    Have enjoyed following the list this week and reading the comments. Look forward to the discussion today.

    Fellow Readers,

    Just in case you missed it a few weeks back…..Doug has decided to keep the site going for at least another year. He needs to make some additional investments to do so.
    Please note that there is now a “Donate” button on the upper RHS of the page.
    If you have the means to do so, please contribute something to the cause. I really hope to see this site continue into the future beyond next year.

  2. MDRon

    Doug – Was there any consideration for Travis Mattair for the bottom end of your list? I like his defense, and RH power is really tough to find.

  3. Alpha Zero

    Winker, Rodriguez, Ervin, and Stephenson are all about the same age, so there’s an exciting new wave of guys who are all 1-2 years off. It’s nice to know that there are OF reinforcements on the way, and I hope the Reds continue to build on this group of players so that the Reds can expand their competitive window.

  4. doctor

    good stuff Doug. Love seeing who to watch for as well as comments and lists from the other posters. good work.

    and Kudos to those who from last year on this site critical of Reds picking Travieso over Wacha. Looks like you nailed it at this stage. reminds of a couple drafts in past where I felt same Reds made mistakes(lucky guesses on my part vs any real expertise), when Reds passed on Mike Mussina for Dan Wilson in 90 draft, and skipped Scott Kazmir for Chris Gruler in 2002 draft. Hopefully Travieso will prove to be better than those cases.

  5. doctor

    Interesting to see potential Reds OF of future in Winker Hamilton Ervin(odds against it though realistically). Does Ervin have arm for RF?

    • Doug Gray

      Yes he does. It isn’t a plus arm, but it is plenty strong enough for right.

    • Norwood Nate

      With Bruce signed up through 2017 I wonder which of the 5 between Ervin, Winker, Hamilton, YRod, and Bruce won’t be with the Reds. I would think by the end of 2015 Ervin, Winker, YRod (especially due to option years) will all be knocking on the door, if not kicking it in. By this point, if Hamilton makes the adjustments to the majors he’ll be the everyday CF.

      I fully expect both Winker and Ervin to finish next year at Pensacola (at the very least). That should make 2016 interesting. Two more years of Bruce. Hamilton still on rookie-contract. YRod out of options. Winker and Ervin set to repeat AAA.

      Obviously YRod is not guaranteed to take over LF, and it may be that Winker or Ervin is ready to take it over sooner. Maybe Hamilton struggles to hit/get on base and the Reds find out he’s not the everyday player/lead off guy we all hoped for. I guess there is a conceivable way that all 5 players will be on the roster at the same time.

      A good problem to have. With SMB and Barnhart right there in the mix with this group of prospects the Reds could see the next wave of homegrown talent mixing in with some established players. The only real piece missing is a middle infielder that can play both sides of the bag.

      Just to dream a little for the future, a 2016 depth chart: Mesoraco, Barnhart, Votto, Phillips, HRod, Cozart, Frazier, SMB, YRod, Winker, Ervin, Hamilton, and Bruce.

      On the pitching side: Stephenson, Cingrani, Travieso, Moscot, Rogers, Corcino, Contreras, Guillon, Hoover, LeCure, Lorenzen, and Crabbe.

      And that’s without re-signing anyone. I hope that Latos, Leake, and some of our relievers can get locked in. I’m also sure this is not how the 2016 will look in actuality. But it’s nice to ponder.

      • The Duke

        Ideally, there will be a defensively capable middle infielder who can hit for average and draw some walks at spot #20 in next year’s draft

      • Norwood Nate

        That would be ideal. We could really use a top prospect in that mold.

  6. The Duke

    I’m still hesitant to believe in YRod. He made some substantial improvements this year, but he is still a prospect with substantial improvements that need to be made to even be a useful utility player in the Heisey mold.

    Winker and Ervin are the kind of easy bat speed that the system needs and the type of contact hitters that the Reds desperately need.

    I like Hamilton and believe he can be a good mlb player, but if I could leverage him as a key piece to get a difference maker, he is the guy in the top five I would move. Sell while his value is at its peak. Not going to happen though his speed sells tickets, and that is something Castellini isn’t going to discard, just like Chapman’s fastball.

    If Stephenson handles AA this year, I wouldn’t rule out a September callup and use out of the bullpen in the playoff run in 2014.

    My top 25

    1. Robert Stephenson
    2. Phillip Ervin
    3. Jesse Winker
    4. Billy Hamilton
    5. Nick Travieso
    6. Yorman Rodriguez
    7. Carlos Contreras
    8. Michael Lorenzen
    9. Chad Rogers
    10. Ben Lively
    11. Jon Moscot
    12. Dan Corcino
    13. Tucker Barnhart
    14. Seth Mejias-Brean
    15. Mark Armstrong
    16. Jose Ortiz
    17. Jackson Stephens
    18. Cory Thompson
    19. Jeremy Kivel
    20. Jonathan Reynoso
    21. KJ Franklin
    22. Tanner Rahier
    23. Sal Romano
    24. Dan Langfield
    25. Avain Rachal

    • Alan Horn

      I’m with you on YRod. He has made significant improvements but still is a ways off. I hang onto Hamilton. He can be special if he hits just decent. I agree on Winker and Ervin. The top 4 are a no brainer. Order on some is subjective.

  7. Krozley

    Looking at different lists posted here, there were probably 40 different prospects that made it on one list or another. I’m not sure what to make of that.

    Breakdown by draft class:
    2013 – 4
    2012 – 6
    2011 – 4
    2010 – 2
    2009 – 2
    2007 – 1
    Int’l – 6

  8. Norwood Nate

    Top 5 is pretty easy, and for me the tiers were top 6, 7-14, 15-beyond. I found out I was much lower on Moscot and Ortiz than some others, higher on Rogers and Barnhart than some as well.

    My list:

    1. Stephenson
    2. Hamilton
    3. Ervin
    4. Winker
    5. Travieso
    6. YRod
    7. Rogers
    8. Barnhart
    9. Contreras
    10. Corcino
    11. SMB
    12. Lorenzen
    13. Lively
    14. Garret
    15. Guillon
    16. Moscot
    17. Rahier
    18. Franklin
    19. HRod
    20. Arias
    21. Romano
    22. Cisco
    23. Ortiz
    24. LaMarre
    25. Bueno

    Others considered for the list: Soto, Duran, Waldrop, Stephens, Kivel, Vincej, Langfield, Thompson, Armstrong, Garcia, Washington, Aquino, Rachal, Muhammed.

    • sultan of swaff

      I’m with you Nate. I like Barnhart a lot more than most. He hammers RHP, so you could easily make the case that he will be a starting ML catcher. Besides SS, catcher is the hardest position to fill, so his ranking may not be indicative of his true value to the franchise. If you take Mez out of the equation, we’d be viewing him in a different light.

      I also agree with Duke that Hamilton could/should have his ‘untradeable’ tag removed. I love the guy, but in terms of who is the safer bet to give you 6 years of above average performance in CF, Ervin is probably who I’m putting my money on. By that logic, you have to listen when people come calling. That said, I think people will undervalue Hamilton because of the low OBP while ignoring the runs created (and saved). So I would have to be bowled over (like what teams are offering for Profar) to make a deal. Good problem to have, though.

      • Norwood Nate

        For me, Stephenson is the only untouchable prospect (and only in the sense that it would take nothing short of a Mike Trout-type player to make him available). Anyone else in the system could be had for the right price. But that price would be pretty high on the top 4 guys.

  9. MK

    Not a lot of questions with these 5. Guess my only comment I would have is: I would list Yorman’s bat speed as his big tool.

    • Doug Gray

      Technically it isn’t a tool. I am still not sure it is his best tool, though it is pretty good.

  10. mace

    Fully agree with the folks who favor Barnhart. To me, his prowess against right-handed pitching tips the balance. When you combine that with his surpassing skills at the catcher position, I don’t see how he can rank below the top 10.

    I should also note, though, that while I often disagree with Doug’s evaluations I have to respect them, because there’s no doubt that he knows his stuff and puts in the work. And with that preface, I’ll submit that I’m surprised to see a Top 25 without Guillon, Waldrop, or Cisco.

    Anyway, it’s all good reading–including the lists and remarks by other folks.

    • Doug Gray

      Free 2014 Prospect Guide Preview: Waldrop is #26 in the book. Cisco also found himself just outside of the Top 25. Guillon was further down the list.

      • The Duke

        Next year is an even year, time for Guillon to look good again.

  11. stock

    Top 5:

    5. Rogers
    4. Winker
    3. Ervin
    2. Hamilton (closer to Stephenson than many think)
    1. Stephenson

    • Alan Horn

      After the first 4 it becomes a lot more subjective on number 5. I can see a argument for several. I too like Rogers. He has had success at the higher levels of the minors.
      May even help the Reds next season.

      • stock


        I think he can help the Reds also. I think long term he could be better than Arroyo.