Reds Top 25 Prospects Update: 21-25 Doug Gray July 1, 2016 14 Comments We are finally here, the final piece to the puzzle of who the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prosepcts are at the midseason point of 2016. Each day this week we have looked at five different players, working our way through the list. You can see the entire list, with scouting reports here. 21. Scott Schebler | OF | Previous: #16 The first month of the season didn’t go as planned for Scott Schebler. He wound up as a backup outfielder for the Reds, getting a few starts a week, but never settled into the role. He managed to hit just .188/.246/.344 with the big league club before being sent to Triple-A in the second week of May. Things have turned around with the Louisville Bats where he’s hit .290/.337/.503. His low walk-rate warrants keeping an eye on, but he’s showing the power that disappeared in 2015 with the Dodgers and didn’t show up in limited action with the Reds in April and early May. Stock: Slightly down Level PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB K AVG OBP SLG AAA 199 10 4 7 25 10 39 .290 .337 .503 MLB 69 5 1 1 8 5 20 .188 .246 .344 22. Zack Weiss | RHP | Previous: #20 2016 was looking to be a very big season for Zack Weiss. He entered the year as the top ranked relief prospect, and coming off of a season in which he dominated Double-A, looked like he could see big league action early in the year. Things didn’t go as planned. While in spring training Weiss suffered an elbow injury and has yet to pitch in a game this year. He doesn’t seem to need surgery, but he’s going to have missed 60% or more of the season by the time he returns to the mound. Stock: Slightly down 23. Ariel Hernandez | RHP | Previous: Unranked The Cincinnati Reds picked up Ariel Hernandez for $12,000 in December as a part of the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft. The 24-year-old had a history of control problems and had never made it to full-season baseball. The first time I saw him pitch it was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen – laugh out loud kind of stuff was on display. He’s made huge improvements in his ability to throw strikes this season. His walk rate is still higher on the year than you want to see, but he’s improving in this area and his stuff is unmatched in the system. Stock: Way up Level ERA IP H HR BB K A 2.59 31.1 11 0 20 40 A+ 1.86 9.2 6 1 3 7 24. Jackson Stephens | RHP | Previous: Unranked Jackson Stephens was the forgotten starter entering the season for Pensacola. So much so that two weeks before the season began he wasn’t even expected to be a starter for Pensacola. The 22-year-old has gone out and pitched very well for the Blue Wahoos anyways, posting a 3.19 ERA in 14 games. He’s struck out 67 batters with just 21 walks in 79.0 innings pitched. He’s been incredibly consistent, allowing more than three runs just twice this season. Stock: Up slightly Level ERA IP H HR BB K AA 3.19 79 72 1 21 67 25. Shed Long | 2B | Previous: Unranked Shed Long finished out the 2015 season on an absolute tear in Dayton after spending the first half in extended spring training. He’s come out in 2016 and kept that right on going for the Dragons. He hit his 10th home run last night, more than anyone hit for Dayton all of last season. He’s shown very good power and solid plate discipline, particularly for a 20-year-old middle infielder. Stock: Up PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG 300 21 1 10 39 8 35 62 .274 .361 .479 That’s the list. Several guys were very tough to leave off, and I’d have no real argument of sliding them into this area of the list and sliding someone else down. I will try to answer as many questions as I can about the list today and tomorrow, but I will also be traveling to and covering games today (Dayton) and tomorrow (Louisville). Scouting Reports [private_subscriber] 21. Scott Schebler | The biggest weakness for Scott Schebler is probably his pitch recognition. He’s never walked much throughout his career. His pitch recognition skills may limit just how much he will hit in the future. His power and corner defense should eventually allow him to settle into an additional outfielder role if he isn’t able to hit for enough average to make it as a starter. At age 25, he’s running out of time to make that happen. 22. Zack Weiss | When healthy Zack Weiss doesn’t exactly show much of a weakness. He’s got four pitches as a reliever, though he’s mostly working with an above-average fastball and an above-average slider. He’s also got a solid curveball and change up when he needs them. He throws strikes with all of them and misses tons of bats. The injury leaves open some questions about exactly what he will do when he returns, but given that it doesn’t seem he needs surgery, the concerns aren’t all that large. 23. Ariel Hernandez | The biggest weakness for Ariel Hernandez has always been his ability to throw strikes. He has made big strides this year in that department. In his first eight games in 2016 he walked 11 batters in 15.2 innings, but he’s turned things around quite a bit since then. He’s walked just 12, to go along with 30 strikeouts in the 25.2 innings since then. His fastball works in the 95-98 MPH range and touches higher, and it does so with movement. His curveball is the best in the organization and works in the mid-to-upper 80’s. He also shows an occasional change up that, while lacking behind the other two pitches, is an above-average offering. 24. Jackson Stephens | The biggest weakness for Jackson Stephens is that nothing he does jumps out at you. His fastball velocity is pretty average, working 89-93 MPH and touching higher on occasion. His breaking balls and change up are solid, but unspectacular. Where he finds success is his ability to throw the ball in the strikezone regardless of the pitch he’s throwing. His curveball is probably his best secondary offering and it flashes itself as above-average. In many systems he’d get more credit as a future starter, but with the depth the Reds have he is likely going to be an option in the bullpen rather than the rotation at some point. 25. Shed Long | The biggest weakness for Shed Long may be his defense. He was originally drafted as a catcher and he’s still figuring out some things defensively at second base. He seems like he’s got the tools to stick there in the long run. At the plate he’s got strong bat speed and very surprising pop for someone listed at 5′ 8″ tall. He can barrel the ball well and the bat speed combine to let the ball carry. [/private_subscriber] 14 Responses Steve July 1, 2016 Great news, we signed Moss and Olsen. Just one more draftee to sign in Traver. Reds did an excellent job in signing their draft picks this year. Excited to see all draftees contributing to their respective teams this year. Arias, Senzel and Okey first 3 players out of the rookie leagues. Looking forward to more promotions as we need to keep promoting players up and releasing those that are not in the future plans of the organization. Santillan next one to Dayton? JBrashaber July 1, 2016 If I am the Reds, I would keep him in a much more controllable environment like Billings for the season. Like others have mentioned, since he is around an 85 pitch count, that plays much better at a place where rosters are extended as you will need more bullpen relief in his outings. I’d rather see him work on his third offspeed pitch, even if it is against lower competition, before moving up and having no trust in a third offering since he knows more advanced hitters will hit it. Bill July 1, 2016 With the Top 10 all signed, I would like to see the Reds aggressively work to sign JC Flowers and bring another promising outfielder (or RHP) into our system. He’s a very athletic and having split time between baseball and football should have a chance to really blossom as he concentrates on baseball. In addition to the $100,000 the Reds can pay to 11-40 round signees, they have $176,000 left in their signing pool plus $696,000 that they can spend without impacting future draft picks. I love the players the Reds drafted and how they’ve quickly signed their picks. Let’s get one more big win for this year’s draft class! Alex Reds July 2, 2016 Good to see Moss in the fold as he has good upside a recovered TJ injury player and he had a nice start about a month ago, on top of his normal relieving duties at Florida. Interesting to see, he got an overslot deal as a junior, albeit a smaller amount. On top of Flowers and Traver, I’d add to the wish list: Cooper Johnson the high school catcher, who was a top ~130 draft rated player, who may need a good amount of the remaining bonus pool, including the possible 5% overage. Doug Gray July 2, 2016 Flowers and Johnson have both already said thanks but no thanks. Norwood Nate July 1, 2016 At this point it’s always hard for me to identify a final 5. At least this year there seem to be some deserving candidates. 21-25: Long, Okey, Trahan, Stephens, Daal Also under consideration: Elizalde, Kahola, Bautista, and Weiss. As always Doug, good list. Thanks for doing these. Bill July 1, 2016 Doug, assuming your list stops at 25, who was the first guy just outside of your list? Doug Gray July 1, 2016 Here’s how I create my list: I open up Excel and create a column for each position, and rank everyone at that position accordingly. Then I create a Top 25 column. This way, I’ve only got to really look at the top row to compare the guys to each other to see who should be next on the list. Here’s the top guy from each position that didn’t make the list: Jake Turnbull, Gavin LaValley, Brandon Dixon, Taylor Sparks, Blake Trahan, Kyle Waldrop, Jon Moscot. That’s not the order for who would be next, and not necessarily the next 7 guys. Brennan July 1, 2016 No rookie Davis in the top 25? More surprising than leaving Trahan out for me. Elizalde and Kahola should be close too I hope. Doug Gray July 1, 2016 Rookie Davis having such a low strikeout rate dropped him off of the list. You just can’t have big league success with a strikeout rate that low. Elizalde and Kahola were both being considered for the final few spots. With Elizalde, if he keeps that low strikeout rate the rest of the way, could find his way there. Kahola just doing what he’s done so far in his career, but for the whole year is also very likely to get him onto the list. Brennan July 1, 2016 Thanks for the response. Seems like a deeper system than the last few years especially with some pretty good prospects not making the top 25. Probably a half dozen guys not on your 25 will make other top 25 lists but the thing is I don’t know who I would take off of your list to replace them with. Gaffer July 1, 2016 Rookie Davis had a much better K rate before the small sample size this year. No one from the Chapman deal even sniffs the top 25, wow. CP July 1, 2016 Big news about the Red Sox getting penalized for breaking international signing rules. Any chance the Red’s go after the players that they were forced to release? Krozley July 1, 2016 I had the same thought. Two of the guys who had contracts voided were in the top 25 of BA international prospects last year, plus all the players that had agreements with the Sox for this year are now out there as well which included some strong Venezuelan prospects. Could be some low hanging fruit for the Reds to pick if they decide to spend some money (including a $300K discount per player). Sadly, I doubt they will take advantage.