This week in the State of the Farm series we will look at the corner outfielders. I’ve decided to break down the outfield to corner outfielders and center fielders for two reasons. First, it means I won’t be writing about 25 players all at once. Second, the expectations for hitters that are in the corners and for those that can play in center are very, very different. We’ve still got several spots to look at as we move forward each week through spring training (CF, SP and RP are still to come). You can see the entire series here.

The Reds appear to be hopeful that they can go into the start of 2017 with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler as their starting corner outfielders. Adam Duvall is coming off of an All-Star season for the Reds. Scott Schebler struggled to start 2015, but once he began playing every day in Triple-A he destroyed the ball. He then returned to the big leagues and hit very well down the stretch. Both seem to have jobs to lose in the spring, making it so the organization seems to have no immediate rush or need to fill a corner outfield spot.

The Arizona League Reds saw several players spending time in the corners. J.D. Salmon-Williams had the best season at the plate among that group. A 17th round draft pick in 2015, the 19-year-old hit .272/.361/.427 with 14 walks and 30 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. He’s got a quick bat and while he’s short, he’s got plenty of strength. Daniel Jimenez, a 20-year-old in his first season in the US, performed well. In 120 plate appearances he hit .284/.350/.367 with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. Raul Wallace struggled at the plate, hitting .228/.292/.350 in 137 plate appearances as a 20-year-old. Andy Sugilio also struggled at the plate. The 19-year-old hit .221/.287/.288 with eight walks and 27 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances.

In Billings there were three guys saw time in the corners, but Taylor Trammell is someone that will be talked about next week with the center fielders. That leaves Jose Siri and Satchel McElroy for the corners with the Mustangs. After an atrocious start to the year in Dayton for Jose Siri (.145/.163/.181 in 87 plate appearances) he was sent back to extended spring training. He joined the Mustangs when their season began. The 20-year-old hit .320/.348/.560 in 255 plate appearances. He showed off power and speed, adding in 17 steals (20 total on the year). His strikeout-to-walk ratio with Billings of 66-to-8, however, must improve as he moves forward. All of the tools are easily visible for Siri, but improving his approach and pitch recognition will be key to being able to use them in full-season baseball. 19-year-old Satchel McElroy struggled with an aggressive assignment to Billings. In 110 plate appearances he hit .212/.248/.269 with two walks and 23 strikeouts.

Dayton saw a revolving door of outfielders throughout the season. None of them hit very well with the Dragons. 20-year-old Shane Mardirosian had struggles in his first year of full-season baseball. He hit .226/.291/.299 in 434 plate appearances. He spent time in center, left and even some at second base. Reydel Medina split time between Dayton and Daytona. The 23-year-old hit much better in Daytona than in Dayton. Between the two stops he hit .265/.283/.455 in 321 plate appearances. The power is real, but the approach was nearly unprecedented. He walked just seven times and had 123 strikeouts between the two stops. Daniel Sweet was a 29th round pick in 2016 by the Reds. He hit very well in Billings in 92 plate appearances (.333/.484/.565). That led to a promotion to Dayton. He struggled some with the Dragons, hitting .243/.307/.407.

The corner outfielders in Daytona had a good run of things in 2016. Aristides Aquino took home league MVP honors . The 22-year-old hit .273/.327/.519 with 26 doubles, 13 triples and 23 home runs. He also had an incredible, almost unbelievable 28 outfield assists on the season. In the opposite corner or the Tortugas outfield was 23-year-old Angelo Gumbs. He turned his career back around, hitting .298/.342/.460 with 34 extra-base hits in 403 plate appearances. He made big strides at the plate from his past, drawing 25 walks with just 48 strikeouts. Brian O’Grady also saw action in the corners, center and at first base. The 24-year-old didn’t hit for much average, just .235. He did draw 67 walks, boosting his on-base percentage to .363 and he slugged .394 – giving him an OPS nearly 100 points better than the league average. He also added in 16 stolen bases.

Pensacola saw three players split up the majority of playing time in the corners. Phillip Ervin saw time in left, center and right field. Like Brian O’Grady in Daytona, Ervin didn’t hit for average. He hit .239 with the Blue Wahoos, though he showed big home/road splits.  Where he did stand out was getting on base (.362 OBP) and he also showed some pop. The 23-year-old outfielder had 22 doubles and 13 home runs in 505 plate appearances. He also stole 36 bases. He’s going to need to hit for a higher average to turn into a starter, but his game is quite well rounded beyond that.

Sebastian Elizalde saw starts in right field 96 times. The 24-year-old hit .297/.324/.387 in 438 plate appearances for the Blue Wahoos. 2016 saw his power drop off, but his contact rate go up compared to the rest of his career. The change in approach resulted in a career best average at the end of the year. Jeff Gelalich saw time at all three outfield spots, spending most of his season in Pensacola but also some time early with Daytona. In 347 plate appearances he hit a combined .246/.314/.354 with 29 walks and 123 strikeouts. His strikeout rate was very high (36% in Double-A) and will need to come down moving forward.

The Louisville Bats had plenty of guys play in their outfield in 2016. Only Jesse Winker remains both with the organization and is a prospect among the corner players. A wrist injury held back his power in 2016. He hit .303/.397/.384 on the year for the Bats in 448 plate appearances. The 22-year-old drew as many walks as he had strikeouts as well. He hit just three home runs on the year, something that will need to improve to his previous levels of production.

Overall Thoughtts

The Cincinnati Reds corner outfield has plenty of options. Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino are both Top 10 prospects in the system. Phillip Ervin makes three top 15 prospects in the corner outfield. Jose Siri may have the best overall set of tools in the entire organization, though there’s plenty of risk involved with his game. Beyond those guys, there’s more than a few guys who could profile as 4th/5th outfielders as well. There’s depth and top end talent at the position, giving it a high grade.

Grade: B+

Top Corner Outfield Tools

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Tool Top Player
Hitting Jesse Winker
Current Power Aristides Aquino
Raw Power Aristides Aquino
Speed Phillip Ervin/Jose Siri
Defense Jose Siri
Arm Aristides Aquino

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16 Responses

  1. Steve

    Thanks Doug.
    I think Elizalde, Ervin and Winker will be solid to start the year in Louisville with Amaral and Guerrero as backups.
    Like Aquino, Reynoso and Gumbs in Pensacola with Gelalich and Landry as backups. Medina, Friedl, O’Grady, Shields and Crook in Daytona and Sweet, Trammell, Siri, Gordon and Beltre in Dayton.
    JMO on OFs at each level of full season ball.
    Doug, do you think we should claim Mike Freeman off waivers to fill a bench spot and DFA Ogando? Freeman put up really solid numbers in AAA the last 2 years, but with minimal time at the MLB level.

    • Kap

      Friedl may end the year in Daytona but he’ll probably start for the dragons.

    • CP

      Don’t forget about Isaiah White that we got back in the Dan Straily trade. He is a CF that will be in the lower minors, perhaps Dayton…

      • Doug Gray

        Also Gabby Guerrero. At this point, though, I’d have a big wait-and-see on both.

      • Steve

        Didn’t forget about White. Just thought that he wasn’t a better option than the players I mentioned above at this point. If there is an injury or he’s tearing it up in Billings, he’s the first one up.

  2. Simon Cowell

    This is one position that I tend to agree with you on Doug. With that said though I think most teams are flushed with talent at their corner outfields. I am curious how the Reds depth at outfield stacks up to our competitors in the same division.
    Everybody has high hopes on both Winker and Aquino and this years stat lines are really going to determine just how successful our farm system is. Whether Winker starts at AAA or in the majors is irrelevant. We need to see a Major Leaguer in him by the end of 2017

  3. Dan

    What improvements does Aquino need to get to the big leagues?

    • Doug Gray

      Continuing to be more selective at the plate/pitch recognition. He took big steps there last year, but he’s still going to need to improve in this area. This jump to Double-A is a big one that will tell us about just how much progress he’s made against secondary pitches.

  4. wes

    Any thoughts on that Freeman guy the Mariners just cut? He seems to have an above 300 average in AAA….

  5. Greenfield Red

    Luis Robert would look really good in the corner outfield conversation. Sorry to beat a dead horse.

    • IndyRedsFan

      That horse isn’t only dead….he’s been turned into fertilizer. :)

      (I do agree the Reds need to go after him hard if he’s available in time)

  6. Madd

    Doug, what part of the season do you think we see Winker called up?

  7. terry m

    BA has an article on Robert today. Not a premium article