Keith Law of ESPN ranks the Cincinnati Reds farm system 16th overall Doug Gray January 29, 2014 5 Comments Tis the season for national prospect rankings. Yesterday saw Keith Law at ESPN.com rank the various farm systems (Insider access needed) in all of baseball and the Cincinnati Reds were ranked 16th in all of baseball. That sounds about right to me based on past rankings and how the Reds system looks like. Law sees plenty of outfielders and power arms in the system but believes it is missing up the middle talent and questions the starting pitching depth. His assessment, from a national point of view makes sense. While I think the Reds have some pitching depth, from a national point of view, it is Robert Stephenson and a bunch of other guys way behind him. Guys like Nick Travieso, Jon Moscot, Ben Lively and others, while known to Reds fans, they aren’t really in the conversation nationally at this point. With the outfield it seems like the group of Billy Hamilton, Phillip Ervin, Jesse Winker and Yorman Rodriguez left a good impression. Law should be releasing his Top 100 Prospects later today. I will have an update when that list goes live with a new topic to discuss that list. 5 Responses CoachD178 January 29, 2014 I don’t get the lack of love for Jesse Winker. There are other Reds guys we could make a case for, but Winker and Phil Ervin are the two that most stick out to me because of who else is in the lists. For eaxmple, Law has Brandon Nimmo in his Top 100. He has Hunter Renfroe in his Top 100. Nimmo is 21 and will play at 22 this year. He has 699 career AB’s and has hit .260 in parts of three seasons. He has hit a grand total of 36 doubles, 8 triples and 10 homers while driving in 84 runs. He has walked 123 times and struck out 223 times in 699 AB’s. Winker is 20 and will play most of the season at 20. He has 645 career AB’s (in two seasons) and has hit .301 with 34 doubles, 8 triples, 21 homers and has driven in 111 runs. He has walked 103 times and struck out 125 times in 645 AB’s. Nimmo has never hit above .271, Winker has never hit below .281. Also, he rates Nimmo has a fringy defender so it’s not like he can use his defense to boost him up the rankings. Renfroe is a little more understandable in regards to Nimmo b/c he was just picked last season so it is likely still too early to start picking apart his game. But Renfroe’s numbers do not even come close to Ervin. Renfroe hit .271 with a .308 OBP and a .459 slugging across two levels (Short A and Low A). Renfroe hit 14 doubles, 6 homers and drove in 25 runs. He walked 9 times and struck out 49 times in 170 AB’s. Ervin hit .331 with a .425 OBP and a .564 slugging across two levels (Rookie A and Low A). Ervin hit 11 doubles, 1 triple and 9 homers and drove in 35 runs. He walked 25 times and struck out 34 times in 172 AB’s. There are also a couple of Yankee outfielders I could make the same case for, but I picked the two lowest ranked guys here for discussion sake. What gives? Doug Gray January 29, 2014 Nimmo plays CF, so that gives him a big advantage. With that said, he hasn’t exactly blown the doors off with his bat either. I am more confused trying to figure out Robert Stephenson being behind 28 other guys than Winker or Ervin not being ranked. Stock January 29, 2014 I totally understand why national writers look at our top 4 and stop there. There is such a huge gap between 4 (Ervin or Winker) and 5. After our top 4 I have major concerns as to whether most of our next 5 prospects (per Doug’s ratings) will even make the show as many have shown major flaws. 5. Yorman struck out 27.7% of his PA in Bakersfield this year. I could not find another ML hitter who struck out that much in their minor league career. If he doesn’t do something to improve this he will not contribute at the ML level. 6. Travieso’s fastball was only 92 this year per Sickels. His K/BB ratio is well under 3 (2.26) and his K/9 ratio is well under 9 (6.72) which to me are other indications of him being nothing more than a control pitcher. Hard to get excited about control pitchers who put up a 1.35 WHIP in A ball. 7. I like Moscot. 8.59 K/9 is good as is his 2.92 K/BB ratio and his 2.95 BB/9. 8. Lorenzen. He may well have been the worst pitcher in the AFL this year. I don’t think I had ever seen a legit prospect with a K/BB ratio less than 1. In the AFL this year Lorenzen’s K/BB ratio was 0.42. He just didn’t miss any bats. His K/9 ratio in the AFL was 2.60. For the season his K/BB ratio was 0.96 which is better but still the worst I have ever seen. Between Bakersfield and Pensacola it was 1.00. 9. Contreras. I like Contreras to make the majors as a RP. His control just doesn’t play for a SP. I was going to compare Contreras to Edinson Volquez but when I went to look at Volquez’ minor league stats I was surprised to find out that Volquez had a BB/9 ratio of 2.8 in A, A+ and AA ball and a K/9 ratio of 8.3, 9.4 and 8.5 at those levels. This combination gave him a K/BB ratio north of 3 at all three levels. Contreras K/BB ratio at the three levels is 2.68/2.35/1.24. Volquez was so much better than Contreras at these levels it is a poor comparison but worth noting. In short, outside of Moscot, I understand why scouts would not be very high on our system outside the top 4. Doug Gray January 29, 2014 I think it is the top 5, not the top 4. Rodriguez, at least in some circles is rated right there with Winker/Ervin. I can find plenty of guys with higher K rates than Rodriguez had. Ryan Howard, at a much older age, struck out 29% of the time split between AA/AAA. The problem with comparing Rodriguez to almost everyone else is that there simply aren’t many guys his age who were at the same level he was. No college drafted player is going to be comparable at all because they are 20 when drafted and aren’t getting 500 PA, so there goes 70% of the players drafted that aren’t even possible to compare to him. What would his strikeout rate have been if he were in Dayton this year? 22%? 23%? Those would be perfectly fine. But he was 1-2 levels above that. Travieso was above that at times this year, topping out at 97. There were times where he was 90-92 as well. But let’s not confuse him with Drew Cisco, who is a control pitcher. I think Travieso is getting a raw deal a lot of places. He wasn’t consistent, but there were stretches where he was very, very good. Couple that with his absolute lack of starting pitching experience compared to other guys his age and it is plenty for me at this point. Norwood Nate January 29, 2014 If YRod had not taken a step forward this past year, I would be very doubtful that it was going to happen before he had to be taken off the 40-man. But his ability to maintain at AA and his good showing in the AFL make me believe he will keep putting it together. His age is a plus factor for him going forward. The more I think about Moscot, the more I like him going forward. I’m not as high on Lorenzen as some, but the Reds seem to like him a lot based on the rapid advancement and invite to the AFL. This year will be a much better indicator of future success for him. How he transitions to being a starter, and how he handles a bigger work load will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses. I think Travieso is doing well considering his age/level/experience. In another season or two, and he’s still putting up average numbers, then we can talk about the Reds misevaluating him. I think for now he’s underrated. I have high hopes for Barnhart and SMB to advance along with Winker/Ervin/YRod. Those five and Hamilton should make a great young core going forward. The unfortunate thing is that 4 out of the six are OF’ers and Bruce will be around for a while, blocking someone. The good thing, is if they all continue to advance and improve, we will have a stellar OF group and a trade chip or two to address the middle infield.