End of May Reds minor league mailbag Doug Gray May 25, 2018 12 Comments Early this week I reached out to readers who support the site through Patreon (hey, if this isn’t you, why not check it out and see what a few bucks a month can do to help keep the site going?) to ask for questions to answer. That’s one of the fun perks you can get for keeping the site going. Let’s jump into the questions. If you are one of the wonderful people that are able to spare a few bucks a month to help support my work, thank you. I pour a lot into my work and greatly appreciate that not only are you willing to show up and read/watch/listen to what I produce, but that you are willing to support it financially. It seems many prospects suffer when the Reds have them skip a level in their system. Like Trahan who skipped Dayton, Jose Garcia skipped Rookie Ball, Gutierrez who along with Alf-Rod skipped Rookie and Dayton. Seems to be many are in a frenzy to push high profile prospects but has there been any real success among Reds prospects that have been pushed ahead this way? Zack Cozart went directly to Dayton out of the draft, skipping over rookie ball. Nick Senzel got a small, small taste of Billings before jumping to Dayton. Mike Leake skipped pretty much everything outside of the Arizona Fall League. Tony Cingrani jumped from Billings to Bakersfield (Advanced-A). The Reds are actually one of the teams that tend to take it slower, particularly with the college guys, than other organizations. They send more guys to Low-A in their first full year than most teams do. I think that generally it’s wise to have guys hit each of the full-season leagues. But, that doesn’t always apply to everyone. There’s something to learn at each level, but some guys are either capable of making adjustments very quickly and the skipping of a level doesn’t hit them in the statline, and some guys are just advanced enough that they can make that jump. Of the CF currently in the system, do you see any of them pushing Hamilton out of a job any time in 2019? If the Reds play somewhere close to .500 for the rest of the season, is Riggleman the manager next season? What do you think of the progress of Mahle and Romano as MLB starters this season? Is either one’s ceiling higher than a #4 starter? If a center fielder is going to be in the Majors at some point in 2019 it’s going to have to be one of either Jose Siri or Taylor Trammell. And for either of them, I think it’s going to be at some point in the second half unless they just go absolutely crazy in Double-A in the second half this year and also wind up reaching Triple-A this season (unlikely, but not impossible). I would guess that there’s a Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson getting together kind of odds situation that Jim Riggleman is the Reds manager next season. (For those that don’t get the reference, that’s one in a million) Both guys have a higher ceiling than a #4 starter. Mahle’s got the control aspect going for him this season, but he’s struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark, and that’s really hurt him. He’s been a big time fly ball pitcher, and the fly balls are leaving the yard at a high rate, too. It’s been a bad combination. Romano’s struggled with control this season, and that’s been his biggest issue. His walk rate and strikeout rate have both taken a step backwards in 2018 versus the 2017 season. The upside remains there, but right now he’s got to improve. If they aren’t going to trade Scooter now, while is value is at an all time high, why not try him in left field? I wouldn’t be certain that they aren’t going to trade him. But, and this is just me purely speculating, with three corner outfielders already, adding a 4th is probably something the team isn’t actively looking at. Whether that’s the prudent move or not, well that’s a different discussion. Scooter Gennett hasn’t been a good defender at second base. But the guy can rake. He has very, very limited experience in the outfield, so he could be a poor defender out there, too. If the team doesn’t plan on extending him beyond his current contract (which is up after 2019), then I would say to just keep him at second until you can/do trade him. As bad as the Reds are the Bats may be worse! That alone tells me help is a long way from Cincinnati. Tell us why we should bother watching this ugly baseball. I guess give us hope. The Reds are actually competitive these days. Those first three weeks of the season were about as painful as it gets. But since then, they’ve been fine. They are right around .500 for the 4-5 weeks. There are still some concerns on the roster, for sure. But they aren’t playing bad right now. And there’s plenty of reasons to keep watching. Joey Votto’s likely the best hitter you’re ever going to see put on the Cincinnati Reds jersey. Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez are raking. Luis Castillo looks like the Luis Castillo everyone expected, again, after a rough first few weeks of the season. For as hard as I am on Billy Hamilton’s offense – every game he’s out there in the field you have a decent chance of seeing something incredible. Luis Gonzalez has been a pleasant surprise at Pensacola and it’s been great to see Calton Daal back on the field as well. Are either legit prospects to play SS in the majors? Outside of having an outlier career year, do you see an OF on the Red’s roster consistently generating 3.0 WAR/year or better in the future? Pursue or pass on Blake Swihart if the Red Sox were to make him available? Both guys have been through some injuries that kind of left their status up in the air. Gonzalez broke his ankle/lower leg to end the 2016 season. And last year he just didn’t look the same. This season he looks better, both at the plate and in the field (granted, I’ve been very limited in seeing him this season). Daal just hit the disabled list yesterday, unfortunately, with a shoulder issue. I can’t comment on his ability to play shortstop these days because I simply haven’t seen him do it in two years. Back then, he could absolutely do it. But, given his shoulder surgery and injuries, I simply don’t know how the arm is at this point because I haven’t seen him throw in games since 2016. Right now I would have both guys outside of the Top 25 prospects in the organization. But, there have been plenty of things to like about each guy in the past, too. Right now, when looking at Gonzalez, he’s a low-walk, high-contact rate hitter. Those types tend to make me nervous in terms of how they would eventually transition to the Major Leagues. If Jesse Winker eventually winds up in left field, and he becomes the hitter that his upside suggests he could, then he’s that kind of guy. I don’t believe that he’s as bad defensively as the numbers suggest, particularly in left field. And I also believe he’s a better hitter than he has been to this point in the season. He’s going to have to find the power to hit at least 15 home runs to reach that mark we’re talking about, though. If the cost of acquisition on Blake Swihart is very low, sure, I’d take a chance. But the last time he showed anything at all with the bat was in 2014 when he was in Double-A. What’s Cory Thompson’s stuff like? Is Shed Long’s ceiling Scooter Gennett? Anything stand out to you about the Daytona group when you got to check them out on milb.tv? Thompson has been incredibly impressive this year in the stat sheet. He’s got a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 innings with just 3 walks and he’s struck out 21 batters. When he was drafted, teams were split on whether he was a shortstop or a pitcher. The Reds preferred him as a shortstop at the time, but after several years they decided to try and give pitching a go. So far, so good. When it comes to stuff, he’s a fastball, change up, curveball guy. The fastball works in the low-90’s. He’ll usually top out around 93. His curveball will work in the 78-81 MPH range. It’s his best pitch, and one I’d grade out as consistently above-average, and it’ll flash itself even better than that. The change up doesn’t show up as often as the other two. In terms of overall value, I think Shed Long could have that kind of ceiling, but I think if that were to happen, the production would be distributed a little bit differently. Long has some power, but I’m not sure he’s got that 25-30 home run power that Gennett has shown over the course of a full season. But, there’s more upside on the bases than Gennett, he’ll probably walk more, and the defense is probably better, too. When it comes to the Daytona series in Bradenton that was on MiLB.tv, nothing really jumped out as a surprise. For the most part, I saw a lot of these guys at the end of March. There were some impressive things, though. And from the guys you would expect. Stephenson hit a pretty long home run in the series that just exploded off of the bat. Jose Siri does things that you just don’t see lots of guys do. There’s things he’s absolutely got to work on at the plate, but he’s got stuff he can do at the plate that you just can’t teach to guys. How he can barrel up pitches on the outer third of the plate and the power he’s got the other way is very, very impressive. Do you think Greene will get demoted to rookie ball? Would you send him down? No, I don’t. And I don’t think that I would at this point. He had a stretch of a few games where he actually struggled. Now, this question was submitted before his outing last night in Dayton where he allowed a run in 4.1 innings pitched. From April 23rd through May 3rd, over three starts, he really struggled. He walked 9 batters in 4.1 innings over that span. Outside of that stretch, in his other 5 starts he’s walked 3 batters with 25 strikeouts in 17.0 innings. His hiccups along the way have been magnified because he’s been on limited pitch counts, which have meant fewer innings – so the runs that come across hit the ERA. As I said above in a different question: There are things to learn at each level. I believe that this is the level that’s going to allow him to learn the most right now. So I would keep him there, assuming he doesn’t start struggling with his control for a longer period of time. Who’s your top 5 for draft? Or 6….are you concerned about the lack of info coming out Senzel? Despite the draft being in less than two weeks, I haven’t formulated a draft board yet. Here’s what I do know: Casey Mize would be a clear number 1 for me, IF he can pass the medical exam. That’s the big question with him right now. He’s been on the mound all year, and he’s pitched incredibly well, but it sounds like the Tigers have some real questions about how healthy his arm is despite all of that. After him I think there’s a drop off. All of the top position guys leave me with questions. I was speaking with someone yesterday about guys in the draft, and I just can’t help but be hesitant with Nick Madrigal. Jonathan India’s bat is intriguing, but I’ve been saying it for years: When 1st round types aren’t walking more than they strikeout, and usually by quite a bit, it’s concerning. India currently has 45 and 45. That’s a pretty high strikeout rate for a guy that’s supposed to be an elite college hitter. Alec Bohm passes the “looks like a hitter” test. But, if he’s got to slide over to first base, which some think he will, that dings his value quite a bit. Joey Bart has 42 walks and 51 strikeouts this season. That’s vastly improved from past seasons for him. But, I just get hesitant on elite college bats that aren’t walking more than they are striking out as juniors. When it comes to Nick Senzel – I think the information that’s coming out has been fine. I’m not exactly sure what people want in terms of information that’s not out there. Interested in what the Reds will do as far midseason promotions, A to AA, and AA to AAA. Who is demonstrating day to day that they belong in better competition? The Reds have generally been a team that’s going to promote at the All-Star break for the minor league seasons. That is usually the 3rd week of June-ish. Here are my guesses based on how things look today: Dayton to Daytona: Michael Beltre, Cory Thompson, John Ghyzel. Maybe Stuart Fairchild. Daytona to Pensacola: TJ Friedl, Taylor Trammell, Jose Siri, Mitch Nay. Maybe Tony Santillan, Joel Kuhnel, Kevin Canelon. Pensacola to Louisville: Shed Long, Keury Mella. Can a MLB Team Trade a Draft choice to another for an established MLB Player ? Yes, but it’s a very limited set of picks. 99% of draft spots can’t be traded. The only ones that are eligible to be traded are the competitive balance picks that come after the 1st and 2nd rounds. 12 Responses Nolan Ryan May 25, 2018 It would be foolhardy (something this FO is already known for) to trade Scooter now – unless they received a boatload of talent in return. Simply cross Seattle off the list of potential suitors as they do not have it. And when a team has 4 sub par OF (none of them can hit – Duval, Billy, Schebler and Winker), a smart team would definitely be open to adding a plus OF at any time (wouldn’t hurt). Never too much hitting. MK May 25, 2018 Are you confusing Gennett with a reincarnated Joe Morgan? Gennet probably has similar value as Jay Bruce. I would prefer to see a Long/Herrera platoon after July31. wes May 25, 2018 Doug-E-Fresh with the dumb and dumber reference kevinz May 25, 2018 Hmm Good Points on the India thing Doug i been all in on him. Reminded me of Senzel with a less Hit Tool you have me rethinking that. Steve May 25, 2018 I agree, we have an abundance of 2b’s in the system, Gennett’s value isn’t going to get higher, and he isn’t a long term piece for this team. Move him, get young talent and at least start playing Blandino every day. Brad May 25, 2018 1) The Reds bullpen has been incredibly impressive after weeding through a few early additions. Do you see Reds dealing from a strength and moving Iglesias and/or Hughes/Hernandez? All 3 have produced. Obviously, Iglesias would bring back the most. I believe the 2018 Draft and return for Iglesias are critical to Reds rebuild. 2) What have you heard on Jacob Heatherly? I was high on him for the draft and heard great things in Arizona. Hope to see him in Dayton this season. 3) Any word on young OF: Olivo, Bautista, Yon? SS Miguel Hernandez? RedsFaninPitt May 25, 2018 I have been racking my brain on what might make a good trade partner for the Reds for Gennett and Iglesias, and I keep coming back to the team from the other side of the state. Would you think that Iglesias and Gennett trade for Mejias, Beiber, Chang and Greg Allen would be reasonable. Probably too much to ask, but I have wondered if substituting McKenzie for Beiber could be possible. The Indians desperately need to shore up their pen and need a 2nd baseman since Kipnis is so bad this year. Dbfromnva May 25, 2018 Questions about all the top college players other than Mize. Give me the top HS player on their board. Reds have good depth in system. Go for upside even if they a higher risk level. SteveLV May 25, 2018 Doug – I agree with promoting Friedl, Trammell, and Siri to Pensacola. Does that mean they cut 2 or 3 outfielders in Pensacola or Louisville to make room? Who goes? bellhead May 26, 2018 Doug, Thanks for the great article.. Tony Santillan looks to have made major strides in his control this year, what do you think his ceiling is now? #2 starter or higher? Also any recent scouting notes to add. Doug Gray May 26, 2018 His ceiling hasn’t changed. He’s got an ace upside. He’s had that for a long time. He’s got three potentially plus pitches. bellhead May 26, 2018 Finally putting it altogether? His BB has dropped to 2.2 per 9 which seems to indicate this.