Thursday morning news and notes Doug Gray January 5, 2017 9 Comments Yesterday saw Baseball America release their Cincinnati Reds Top 10 prospects list. Later in the afternoon JJ Cooper held the chat about the list. There is plenty of good information in there, so check it out. A few things stuck out to me, though. Thom (Indiana): Reds spent a ton of money on ARod how is his development coming? It looks like a lot of money for a SS who can’t hit. J.J. Cooper: Clearly the Reds think that he’s going to hit. Their evaluation is different than than majority of scouts who saw Rodriguez in Cuba, but there are examples of Cuban shortstops exceeding expectations as a hitter. I remember watching Jose Iglesias struggle to hit the ball past the pitcher early in his U.S. career. He’s gone on to be a productive enough hitter to be a regular in Detroit. His ranking on the BA Reds Top 30 does incorporate a lot of those outside voices, so he’s not knocking on the door of the top 10, but we’ll see how his Stateside debut goes in 2017. This was one of my bigger questions from the chat that I hoped to see. I ranked Alfredo Rodriguez as the #20 prospect in the organization, and I even wrote that it was the ranking I felt least comfortable with. I did not hear good things from those who I talked to that saw him play in 2016. With that said, I talked to very few people who actually saw him in 2016. Unfortunately, it sounds like Cooper heard similar things. Mike (Danville CA): Which Reds prospects see the most 2017 MLB playing time? J.J. Cooper: Winker, Reed and Garrett. Also Zack Weiss if he shows he’s healthy. There are two things that are interesting with this response. First, it doesn’t include Robert Stephenson. You can take that how you want to. Second is the inclusion of Zack Weiss. That part is specifically of interest given that he’s currently not invited to spring training. I agree that if he’s healthy, he will be in Cincinnati during 2017. It’s just surprising at this point that he’s not invited to camp with the big league club. Later today the Baseball Prospectus Reds Top 10 Prospect list will come out. There’s also a chance that the Fangraphs list will come out, too. When and if each list comes out, we will have updates on them. 9 Responses Arnold Ziffle January 5, 2017 The word is getting out on Robert Stephenson. Overhyped, overrated. Trade value keeps going down. Reds 1st round draft fizzles: Robert Stephenson, Phillip Ervin, Nick Howard, Alex Blandino, Tyler Stephenson, and with Nick Travieso on the cusp of joining them. A little draft redemption in 2016. Greenfield Red January 5, 2017 That’s a little over the top to me. RS is still 23 years old. TS is 20, and NT is 22. I will give you that at 24 both AB and PE need to have good years in 2017, but the others I don’t agree with your assessment. AlphaZero January 5, 2017 Outside of Howard, I don’t think it’s fair to call any of these guys busts yet. Robert Stephenson still has a solid arsenal of pitches. The results haven’t been there for a while now, and I’m a bit down on him as well due to his apparent inability to improve his BB rate. But the fact of the matter is that he still has a lot of potential as a starter and could be a valuable BP piece even if he fails in his current role. Ervin has a career MiLB OBP of almost .350 and has some power and speed to boot. The guy will likely be in AAA this year and still has a shot at being an average starter with a floor as a solid fourth OF. He isn’t a star, but not many guys are (1st rounders or otherwise). Blandino was a supplemental first rounder, so I won’t bother talking much about him. Tyler Stephenson had a decent debut in 2015 and struggled during an injury plagued 2016. He’ll only be 20 next year at a position where it takes guys some time to develop. The injuries last year were unfortunate, but he’s nowhere near bust territory yet. And Travieso? How exactly is he a bust? His K rate isn’t quite where you’d want it to be, but it isn’t bad either. He did take a step back in the control department last year despite the fact that he has been great with limiting walks prior to 2016. He has a career 3.54 minor league ERA and posted a 3.84 mark as a 22 year old in AA last year. Not sterling, but certainly not bust territory either. And most of these guys were picked down the draft board a bit since the Reds were competitive in that 2010-2013 window. It’s much easier to score low-risk high-end talents like Senzel at the top of the draft. There have been some disappointments with the bunch of guys you listed, but the majority of them are still in the mix to provide useful production to the big league team in the near future. Arnold Ziffle January 5, 2017 All you have to do is look who was drafted just after the Reds selections. In 2011 after drafting Robert Stephenson at #27, players like #28 Sean Gilmartin (Atl), #29 Joe Panik (SF), #36 Henry Owens (Bos), #40 Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Bos), #45 Trevor Story (Col), #46 Joe Musgrove (Tor), #52 and Blake Snell (TB). In a very very deep draft in 2012 the Reds selected Nick Travieso at 14. At #15 Tyler Naquin (Clev), #16 Lucas Giolito (Was), #18 Corey Seager (LAD), #19 Michael Wacha (STL), #22 Marcus Stromen (Tor), #36 Stephen Piscotty (STL), #39 Joey Gallo (TX), #41 Lance McCullers (Hou), and #44 Travis jankowski (SD). Jesse Winker came in at #49 and Jeff Gelalich #57 for the Reds in the 1st/S round. In a weak 2013 draft, the Reds took Phillip Ervin #27. At #32 was Aaron Judge (NYY). Lorenzen came in at #38. The 2014 draft brought the Reds Nick Howard #19 and Alex Blandino #29. There was also Bradley Zimmer (Clev) at #21, #22 Grant Holmes (LAD), #26 Michael Chavis (Bos), #27 Luke Weaver, #33 Michael Kopech (Bos), and #37 Derek Fisher (Hou). What the Reds could have looked like with a few better selections in those spots. Lorenzen and Winker are the only keepers for the Reds. Doug Gray January 5, 2017 You do understand that for almost every player, you can find better players taken after them, right? And to ignore signing bonuses paid also misses the mark. Let’s take Travieso for example. Yes, Lucas Giolito went after him. He also signed for 50% more money. Not exactly a great comparison to make as for a bad pick. Then there’s Michael Wacha. How soon we forget that he actually failed a physical before the draft. Yes, it has all worked out for him, but there’s a reason he fell down draft boards. It’s also worth noting that comparing high school picks, to college picks doesn’t work. Nick Travieso was 22 last year. Michael Wacha and Marcus Stroman were 24 and 25. They’ve got a bit of a head start on the “oh, look at how they’ve performed” train. Maybe in 5 more years it will look the same, but right now, the comparison to performance simply isn’t a fair one. Bill January 5, 2017 AZ, keep in mind that scores of other teams passed on the players you mention in addition to the Reds. Doug Gray January 5, 2017 It’s awful early to be counting those chickens, Arnold. The Duke January 5, 2017 No reason to give up on Stephenson yet. MLB is littered with all talent guys who didn’t put it together until their mid to late 20’s. The hot shot really 20’s dominant pitcher is the exception, not the rule. Howard is a bust, T Stephenson had only had one full season and he was injured for most of it, I haven’t given up on Ervin yet (every facet of his game had been above average, expert for average and even then he has a good K rate), Travieso I’m a little pessimistic about after 2016, 2017 is an important year in determining his future, he should be back in Pensacola. Norwood Nate January 5, 2017 That was a great chat to read. I’m still in the give Stephenson time/chances camp. With two options left and his age under consideration it would premature to make any permanent decisions on his future.