Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects: Keury Mella Doug Gray January 12, 2018 37 Comments The 2017 season got out to a solid, but unspectacular start for Keury Mella. The Cincinnati Reds sent the right handed pitcher to Double-A Pensacola to begin his year. In his first start he allowed three runs in 5.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. It was the next time he took the mound that he would have his worst start of the year. Biloxi touched him up for five runs and he didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning. The then 23-year-old rebounded well. In his next three starts to finish out April he allowed two earned runs over 18.0 innings with 14 strikeouts and just four walks. In 24.2 innings during April he posted a 3.65 ERA with six walks and 20 strikeouts. The strong finish in April didn’t carry into May. Keury Mella struggled in Chattanooga, allowing five earned in 3.2 innings with five walks. The next two starts went quite a bit better, allowing just two runs in the 11th and no runs on the 16th in a combined 11.2 innings. On the 21st things went south against Mobile for Mella, who was charted with seven runs in 3.2 innings. He would finish the month on a high note, though, with 5.1 shutout frames against Mississippi. Control was a bit of a problem during the month for the righty. He posted a 5.40 ERA in 23.1 innings with 14 walks and 19 strikeouts. June, like May, didn’t get out to the best start. On the 3rd, Keury Mella allowed four runs in 5.0 innings with three walks and a strikeout. The next time he took the mound would be in relief. Homer Bailey made a rehab start and Mella followed with 4.0 innings of 2-run relief that included four strikeouts and a walk. He returned to the mound as a starter the next time out and allowed one hit and a walk over 5.0 shutout innings. That momentum didn’t carry forward for the Dominican native. On the 23rd he allowed five runs over 5.0 innings. He would finish the month with a shutout inning of work on the 28th as his start was cut short by a long rain delay. The month was an up-and-down one, leading to a 4.95 ERA in 20.0 innings with eight walks and 12 strikeouts. July began with a start for Keury Mella where his defense didn’t help him out much. He was charged with four unearned runs, and one earned, in 4.0 innings with five strikeouts. The next time out he struggled some, but the issues came later. He had given up just one run through the 5th inning, but allowed three runs without recording an out in the 6th before being removed. Things improved the rest of the month from that point forward. In the following four starts he allowed just nine runs in 24.0 innings (3.38 ERA) with five walks and 17 strikeouts. After two down months, in terms of ERA, Mella posted a 3.82 ERA in 33.0 innings with eight walks and 27 strikeouts during July. August did not start out well for Keury Mella, following a strange trend for the year. In his first two starts he allowed 10 earned runs in 8.0 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. The right hander turned things around quickly. On the 17th he would allow two earned in 6.0 innings with three strikeouts. That was followed up with two more 6.0 inning starts with a combined 14 strikeouts and just two total earned runs. He closed out his regular season on September 3rd, allowing one run in 7.0 innings with six more strikeouts. With two hiccups to start the final stretch in the minors, over his last six starts he posted a 4.09 ERA in 33.0 innings with seven walks and 31 strikeouts. On the 40-man roster, the Cincinnati Reds would call up Keury Mella after the playoffs ended for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. . He would make his Major League debut on September 20th against the Cardinals, throwing 2.0 innings. He would make his next, and final appearance of 2017 with the Reds ten days later, allowing a run in 2.0 innings against the Cubs. For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason). Keury Mella Scouting Report Fastball | As a starter his fastball works in the 92-94 MPH range with him touching a tad higher at times. Out of the bullpen in the big leagues, he topped out just over 98 MPH. Curveball | An above-average pitch that works in the 78-82 MPH range with good breaking action when it is at it’s best. Other times though it’s not quite as crisp and is more of an average offering. Change Up | A third offering that lacks behind the other two offerings. It’s mostly an average pitch, but at times will show a little bit better, working in the low to mid 80’s. The 2017 season for Keury Mella was full of ups-and-downs. Consistency wasn’t a strong point for the right hander. The second half of the season was better than the first, especially if we want to look at his control. In his first 13 starts he had 25 walks and 46 strikeouts in 62.0 innings. Neither of those rates were very good, but he did keep the ball in the park, giving up just three homers. In his final 14 starts he walked just 18 batters with 63 strikeouts in 72.0 innings. Much better rates than in the first half, but did give up 11 home runs – a big step in the opposite direction. While Keury Mella is a starting pitcher now, his future may lie in the bullpen. While he has shown an ability to throw 130+ innings as a starter, he has struggled against lefties. Over the last two seasons he has 65 walks and just 81 strikeouts against lefties. Against right handers he’s walked just 35 and struck out 130. Toss in that we’ve seen him pick up good velocity as a reliever in limited action and he could profile as a back end of the bullpen kind of reliever. 37 Responses Bill January 12, 2018 I wonder if Mella is one of the two mystery starters that will move to the bullpen this spring. As a starting pitcher, I think he’s pretty far down the depth chart. After Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan our pitching depth looks something like this: 4. Castillo 5. Stephenson 6. Romano 7. Garrett 8. Mahle 9. Reed 10. Jackson 11. Lopez 12. Reyes While we might quibble on the order of those 12 pitcher, most would agree they are all ahead of Mella. That puts Mella at about #13 among the ready/near ready pitchers. So, barring injuries, its hard to see him from getting a rotation spot at Louisville. For a pitcher that will turn 25 in August, perhaps its time to let him refine his approach as a reliever. Norwood Nate January 12, 2018 I would think both Stephens and Mella have a better shot contributing to the next good Reds team out of the bullpen. Reyes probably too but he’s afforded more time as it’s his first year on the 40-man and only in AA. CP January 12, 2018 I’m with you on that Nate. The AAA rotation spots should be given to those with the greatest upside. Romano/Stephenson Garrett Mahle Reed Lopez Whichever of Romano/Stephenson doesn’t win the 5th spot in Cincy should start year in AAA and be ready as the first call up. Quickly after that is Mahle and Garrett if they are performing. Between performance and injuries, there will always be plenty of opportunity for most if not all of those guys to get a look in Cincy at some point over the next season. Then those of the following group that don’t stick in the Cincy bullpen can be in the AAA pen ready and waiting for their shot too. Stephens Mella Brice Hernandez Shackelford (I think he has a good shot of making the Reds pen out of ST) Weiss Herget With all this depth, not only will Mella be hard pressed to make it into the Reds rotation, but also he has competition for the bullpen. Considering how well his fastball played up in the bullpen, and his control issues, he sees to be a strong candidate to slide to the pen. Reaganspad January 12, 2018 I think Lorenzen will further complicate the starters this year as I think he will bring it given a chance to start citizen54 January 12, 2018 Couldn’t agree more. The Duke January 12, 2018 If I’m the Reds, I put Mella in the bullpen in AAA to start the season. Even with some injuries, there are likely 15 guys to man the starting spots in MLB/AAA/AA, and he simply hasn’t been all that good as a starting pitcher since joining the Reds organization. Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat January 12, 2018 I think the main argument for keeping him in the rotation would be if he still needs the extra innings to speed up his development. Otherwise I’m of the opinion that his long term future is as a reliever. Madd January 12, 2018 Could he be an outside contender for one of the remaining bullpen spots? I think he profiles as a decent bullpen option for years to come in my opinion. Brad January 12, 2018 Trade Idea: Scooter Gennett or Bolly Hamilton to Mets for Matt Harvey MK January 12, 2018 “or?” Don’t think Mets would do it for both. Norwood Nate January 12, 2018 I do think Scooter to the Mets is a decent fit. No idea what he’d bring back. But he probably fits their budget and they do have a need. Wes January 13, 2018 Maybe for both…..Harvey’s last season before he’s a free agent and he’s coming off a bad year. He doesn’t seem in long term plans of Mets to me. CP January 12, 2018 This is a bit off topic, but could be good discussion. Some interesting thoughts from Mayo in this article about why he see’s the Reds being ranked in the 8-12 range of minor league systems instead of in the top 5. I would be curious to hear others thoughts on this. https://www.mlb.com/news/pipeline-inbox-prospects-who-can-be-all-stars/c-264580592?tid=151437456 The Duke January 12, 2018 I’m not a big Mayo fan, but his response here is pretty accurate. Stock January 12, 2018 Good article CP. Seems like Mayo is repeating what I have been saying for months. Next year’s ranking could be top 5 where as they are not this year. I know everyone on here disagrees with me but next year we could be looking at the best farm system the Reds have ever had. Mayo suggested Trammell has to take a step forward. I think he will. I think Siri will also. If he can stay healthy and play a full season I think Stevenson will also. Gutierrez is the one I see taking the biggest step forward though. I could see all four of these in the top 100 next year along with Greene and our first round pick in the draft. Greene, Trammell, Gutierrez and our 1st round pick have a shot at making the top 50. I would not be surprised if Long, Lopez, Santillian, Downs or Garcia managed to creep into the top 100. In fact if Santillian can get he BB/9 down to the 3 – 3.25 range I think he will be for sure. Of course I don’t think he can do that. The Duke January 12, 2018 We lose Senzel, Winker, and Mahle from the prospect lists though. I bet we’re still in that 7-11 range next year. We have the potential for multiple guys to blow up, but odds are not all of them do. My prediction for our top 10 next year at this time is: 1) Hunter Greene 2) Taylor Trammell 3) Tony Santillan 4) #5 overall pick in the 2018 draft (Mize, Liberatore, Turang, Madrigal?) 5) Tyler Stephenson 6) Jose Siri 7) Jeter Downs 8) Vlad Gutierrez 9) Jose Lopez 10) Miles Gordon Possibilities: 2018 2nd rd pick, Stuart Fairchild, Shed Long, Scott Moss, Andy Sugilio, Jose Garcia, Jacob Heatherly, Miguel Hernandez We should still be pretty deep next year, but the question will still be how many top 50 impact kind of guys. The Bruce/Homer/Cueto/Votto combo were all top 5 guys, with Bruce #1 overall. Hunter Greene has #1 overall potential, but lets not be too presumptive. I’m a big Santillan believer though, I think he blows up next year. We need Trammell and 2 other guys to establish themselves as top 40/50 guys to be a top 5 system next year. Piggly Wiggly January 12, 2018 Duke is right, as you graduate ones up, you have to have equally good or better prospects to move in. I differ slightly on your top-10 this time next year. But it doesn’t reach the heights of a top-5 farm system. 1. Greene (RHP) 2. Trammell (OF) 3. Siri (OF) 4. Santillan (RHP) 5. J. Lopez (RHP) 6. V. Gutierrez (RHP) 7. T. Stephenson (C) 8. #5 2018 draft pick (Unk) 9. Fairchild (OF) 10T. Gordon (OF) 10T. S. Moss (LHP) They sure have depth in the OF and RHP. How many of these could find themselves in a trade package, if DW says next year is the time to add to the ML roster, not this year?? Stock January 12, 2018 I agree with both of you that when we lose Senzel, Mahle and Winker we need to replace them to remain a top 10 farm system. Assuming no injuries, I can easily see this happening. It happened last year when Trammell and Mahle went from #6 and #13 and outside the top 100 to top 5 in the system. Castillo was #9 last year and it is safe to say that if he were still a prospect he would be in the top 10 in the nation. Atlanta picked #5 last year and Wright is a top 50 prospect. The 2008-2009 class had two top 10 (Bruce and Bailey), two top 50 (Cueto, Votto), Stubbs at 100, Then you drop way of to Todd Frazier (just signed sandwich pick between rounds 1, 2 ala Downs this year but Downs is #11). The stats say the 10th best prospect would not be in the current top 25 as Weiss is a much better prospect then Roenicke. In short the 2008 class was really 5 players deep. 6, 8 and 9 were still in Billings. My Comparison of 2008 vs. next year: Greene = Bailey (both in top 10) Gutierrez = Cueto (25 – 50) 1st round pick = Votto (25 – 50) Siri > Stubbs (Siri 50 – 75, Stubbs 100) Trammell Bruce Stephenson + Garcia + Lopez + 2018 Draft picks + the rest of the farm >>>>>>> Frazier + the rest of the 2008 farm. I know this is expecting Trammell, Gutierrez and Siri to take another step forward. But I don’t see why this wouldn’t happen. I also think Downs and Garcia will make moves similar to Trammell based upon their play in Dayton next year. I would not be surprised to see one of them make the top 100. I also like Long, Lopez, Gordon and Sugilio but don’t expect them to make the top 100. There is a lot to like about this current group the Reds have and another year similar to last year could jump this farm to new heights. Stock January 12, 2018 I had Trammell Bruce Stock January 12, 2018 Try again Trammell is less than Bruce but Trammell + Santillian+Downs + Long is greater than Bruce The Duke January 12, 2018 Prospect lists are heavily weighted at the top. 4 guys ranked 75-100 doesn’t equal one top 10 guy. stock January 12, 2018 I am not sure if that is true or not but my thinking is that Trammell will be a top 20 prospect next winter. I would rather have a top 20 and 3 75 – 100 prospects vs. #1. Piggly Wiggly January 12, 2018 With that much of a tick up on his fastball out of the pen, moving Mella to the bullpen should be a priority this spring. Get him going to quickly acquire that bulldog mindset. I hear many fans incorrectly pronounce his last name like it is spelled, Mel-lah. But it is pronounced, May-yah. Spanish. Douglas, I didn’t see any mention of any movement on his fastball. Is he a JJ Hoover type that throws it straight as an arrow? Or does his fastball have some kind of movement on it? Hopefully he has some sinking action on that heater. He has change-up problems? Get him with Brandon Finnegan and see if Finnegan can teach Mella what Dan Straily taught him about a different type of grip on the ball. The Duke January 12, 2018 Random thought. If Luis Castillo and Hunter Greene are both everything we think they can be and we give Castillo something like a 5 or 6 year extension post arbitration, then Castillo’s contract will be up right about when Greene gets mega expensive. Piggly Wiggly January 12, 2018 I liked a suggestion I saw in the comments over at RLN. With the depressed free agent market, could Dick Williams sneak in and steal a legit ML free agent in an area of need, but not a glaring need? I am talking about Catcher Jonathon Lucroy. LuCroy and Barnhart could form a powerful Catching tandem that would definitely be the best defensive C tandem in the Majors, and arguably the best offensive C tandem. Lucroy had a down year last year but had a good second half. Injuries held him back in the first half. So with a down year last year and the depressed FA market, could Williams buy low on Lucroy? Barnhart is not good vs. LH pitching, while Lucroy is, and also Lucroy hits RH pitching almost as well as he does LH. Lucroy is a top pitch framer. In 2 months at COL, he helped reduce COL’s starting pitching ERA by 0.50. That would have a lot of value with the young pitchers Cincinnati will run out there. And it helps replace some of the offense lost when Cozart departed. Lucroy in a Reds uniform would be pretty awesome. Say a 3 year deal in the $30M neighborhood. Nobody is talking about Lucroy this winter. Williams could steal him now and improve the Reds in 2018 and 2019 and 2020. The big elephant in the room would be, what to do with Mesoraco? Option 1 would let him get plenty of AB’s in spring training to showcase his bat if it has returned any. Then talk all spring to AL teams in need of some DH help or backup C help and see if a deal can be hashed out. Option 2 could be if option 1 fails and no takers can be found for Mesoraco even with $$$ included in the deal, just release him. That would be a tough pill to swallow for the Reds front office to eat $13M. Option 3 would be to keep Mesoraco on as a 3rd C, backup OF and backup 1B. Maybe there will be a taker come July 31. But Mesoraco does have an OF mitt and a 1B mitt that he carries around. Mesoraco could be a heck of a bench bat, a pricey bench bat, but a powerful one nonetheless. Success in that role could pave the way for a July 31 trade. I like this idea of getting Lucroy to pair with Barnhart for the next 3 years. Mesoraco is gone sometime this year and nothing much in the upper minors at the C position. About time Lucroy’s contract would be up, Tyler Stephenson should be ready for the Majors. HavaKlu January 12, 2018 I’d love to have Lucroy but I doubt he sees himself as anything but an everyday catcher so his signing with the Reds won’t happen. CP January 12, 2018 Love the creativity and the thought that the Reds should be opportunistic for sure. But I would rather spend that 30 mil towards and extension for Suarez. Granted it will take more than 30 mil, but still think it’s better invested there. The other negative side effect of getting Lucroy would be the loss of Mesoraco having any ability to regain any value whatsoever. There is a small chance, but a chance that he performs decently this year. His time will be split for sure, but could do well enough to warrant a trade deadline deal and get the Reds a small piece or two. Billy January 12, 2018 Semi-random thought about the possibility of collusion suppressing the free agent market this season… Position players who tend to stick around long enough to get a free agent contract generally do so because they can hit (since hitting ages better than speed/defense). For instances, I’m speculating, but I imagine that the DH position is manned by a free agent more frequently than other positions, relatively speaking. Often times, power is a substantial part of these hitters’ game. Power peaks later, and you don’t get to free agency if you haven’t already filled out. At the same time, the juiced baseball (plus whatever other factors are at play) has really leveled the field, helping guys with modest power the most. Why pay a free agent to hit for you when a younger, cheaper version can now provide 90% of the productivity (with some upside to boot) at 10% of the price? Presumably, owners see this. They recognize that the juiced baseball levels out performance across the league. They recognize that it still puts butts in seats. But perhaps this off-season they’re also recognizing that there’s a financial incentive to continue using a juiced baseball because it reduces the productivity difference between the free agent and the cheap labor. If I had to guess, I expect to see the juiced ball trend continue this coming year. If the commissioner does follow through and tighten up quality control tolerances, I’d expect that tolerance to be set somewhere closer to the end of the spectrum that leads to more offense. It’s just good business, and the owners (and their commissioner) know this. AlexB January 12, 2018 Fangraphs’ prospect rankings for the Reds released today. Can’t say I agree with all of them (Mella at 13, ahead of Jose Lopez seems a bit off), but there’s good info in the list. Longenhagen is pretty positive about the system saying there’s 8 potential top 100 type guys plus all of the recent graduates like Castillo, Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, and Romano MK January 12, 2018 With all the starting pitching depth and guys coming back from injuries and others with innings limits maybe it is time to think of a six-man rotation. stock January 12, 2018 According to Fangraphs, I think this year’s class is better than the 2008 class. 60 Senzel 55 Greene, Trammell 50 Mahle, Siri, Winker, Garcia and Long All potentially top 100 per Fangraphs. Now are four players 50 – 100 better than #1. Maybe not for the Yankees or Red Sox. But for the Reds without a doubt. First being #1 is not a sure thing to be a stud. Look at 2000 – 2010. Occasionally there is a stud but all too often better to have quantity of quality rather than put all your eggs in one basket. Go back 10 years from 2010 (give them time to develop) 2010 Jason Heyward 2009 Matt Wieters 2008 Jay Bruce 2007 Daisuke Matsuzaki/Alex Gordon if you don’t think Daisuke belongs 2006 Delmon Young 2005 Joe Mauer 2004 Joe Mauer 2003 Mark Teixiera 2002 Josh Beckett 2001 Josh Hamilton 2000 Rick Ankiel Billy January 12, 2018 I respectfully, but strongly, disagree. Jay Bruce was the #1 prospect in baseball. That’s what? Probably a 70 grade? Bailey was about where Senzel is, so that’s a 60 Grade. Cueto and Votto would likely have been 55 grades. From just the NL Central, there were 32 players with 50 grades. That’s roughly the top 200 players. Yes, it includes 8 Reds. We know Stubbs was in the back of the top 100, so he’s a fifth Red from the 2008 class. The rest of that Top 10 included Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, Juan Francisco, Josh Roenicke, and Matt Maloney – all well regarded prospects at the time. John Sickels top 20 list had Frazier as #5, Maloney as #6, Mesoraco as #7, and Stubbs as #8. That’s before you even get to any of the lesser prospects at the time who would go on to experience some success (or at least a cup of coffee) in the majors, including Neftali Soto (9 on Sickels list), Jared Burton (12), Travis Wood (15), Roenicke (16), Chris Valaika (18), and Adam Rosales (19). That didn’t include Sam LeCure, Carlos Fisher, Justin Turner, and who knows who else. Players that are below a 50 grade are either in the upper minors with a low ceiling or less than 50/50 shot of ever playing in the majors. The 2008 class had a LOT of success. They were much better as a class at the time of the ranking. They also had a number of players that were lower on the list that dramatically outperformed their projections. Could this class do something similar? Yes, it is possible. Is it likely? I don’t believe so. It’s a good class, but we’ve seen better. Stock January 12, 2018 You are giving players 6-9 far too much credit. 9. Neftali was taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, hit 2 HR in Billings and made the top 10. Jacob Heatherly was taken in the third round and did not make the top 25. 8. Meso was taken in the first round of the 2007 draft. Taken because he was signable. He hit 1 HR with a .219 BA in 2007. 7. Travis Wood pitched in the pitcher friendly FSL. His ERA was 4.86. His K/BB ratio was 2. Really impressive. 6. Todd Frazier was a sandwich pick ala Jeter Downs. Downs is prospect 11. Frazier was prospect 6. My guess is Wood and Soto do not make this years top 25. Meso might not have made it simply because he was a 1st round pick. Doug has a RP at #10. That alone speaks to the depth of this class. Again it is what you consider equal to Bruce. I think Trammell, Santillian, Downs and Long of 2018 YE will be more valuable than the 2017 YE version of Bruce. I have no doubt that the 6+ 2018 YE Reds will be better than the 6+ prospects at 2007 YE. Doug Gray January 12, 2018 Soto performed better than Heatherly, and had more upside, too. Soto, absolutely would have made this current Top 25. But, end of the day, having those top four guys in 2008 was more valuable. Not only were they all potentially Top 25 prospects depending on which national ranking place you preferred, all were also on the verge of the big leagues. Depth helps on the margins when it comes to farm system rankings. It’s the Top 5-10 guys that matter because they are the difference makers. I really like the current crop of guys, but that top 4 from 2008 just isn’t being matched right now, and I’m not sure it’s close. Stock January 12, 2018 Normally I agree you don’t find much outside the top 10. Your 2007 YE class has 4 studs at the top but no one outside the top 8 made more than a splash in the majors as a Red. Justin Turner is a stud now but it did the Reds no good. That tells you what a shallow class it was. The 2008 class had one player outside your top 10 make an impact (Cozart). Every class since then has had at least 2 players make an impact or that are currently in your top 10. The Reds had 4 studs in 2007-2008 and 4 guys in the 5-8 slots that became decent players but it was just a barren farm system after that. It has been 5 years since a 3rd round pick made your top 25 the year he was drafted. That is because the farm is much deeper now than in 2007. Heatherly was over slot. He was paid 2nd round money and did well in AZ. Your rankings are far deeper than looking at a couple of starts in Montana because you had Greene in the top 2. You had Meso and his .219 BA in the top 8. We will see a year from now. This is normally where one says I hope I am wrong. But I don’t. In fact I would like to think you hope I am right. Doug Gray January 12, 2018 It’s tough to compare year-to-year, because things change. But that pre-2008 farm system ranked 3rd in the Baseball America rankings. This year the Reds aren’t going to be nearly that high. Is it because a bunch of teams are hoarding prospects? Maybe so. But I’m just not sure the depth makes up for the sureness at the top. That system had two top 10 caliber dudes, and two more top 25 caliber dudes. While it didn’t quite work out, that system was basically saying “we’ve got four perennial all-star caliber prospects, including an MVP type of dude (which, they did, but it wasn’t he one that they thought it was)”. And they were all on the precipice of the Majors. The current system just doesn’t match that at all near the top. For me, and most others, they prefer the top to make the difference because that’s generally where the stars come from. It’s great to be able to fill out the bench and bullpen because you’ve got depth, but the difference makers just matter far more. stock January 12, 2018 I agree with everything you say Doug. I do think top 5 have a lot more in the top 100 than they did in 2007 so top 5 now may be tougher than top 3 in 2007. Votto and Cueto may have been in the top 25 in some projections but Trammel was top 25 in one this year too. In Baseball America Cueto and Votto were 34 and 44. More importantly while I think this year’s group is close to the 2007 class because of the depth, it is really hard to determine which class is better because they are so different. What I am saying is that next year’s class will be better than the 2007 class. Maybe the glasses I am wearing are just not realistic. Time will tell. However, I think Siri, Trammell, Gutierrez, Jeter, Long and after reading today’s Fangraphs article even Garcia will have good season’s. It would not surprise me if all 6 joined Greene and our first pick in the draft in the top 100. Who knows, maybe Stephenson, Sugilio, Santillian, Lopez or Gordon will join them. :) Time will tell.