redsminorleagues.com http://redsminorleagues.com Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:56:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 If Cuba opens up, what does it mean for the Reds? http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/18/cuba-opens-mean-reds/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/18/cuba-opens-mean-reds/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:56:02 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11710 Cuban baseball players may be available to Major League Baseball soon. What does that mean for the Cincinnati Reds?

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One of the big news items from yesterday, not just in baseball, was that the United States is easing up the embargo on Cuba. Baseball America’s Ben Badler has an article up looking at what some of it all means for Major League Baseball. The actual trade embargo, the thing that would be required to be removed for players to be allowed to come to America/Canada without leaving Cuba and establishing residency somewhere else, would need to be approved by Congress. That is something that is going to take some time.

What we do know about the situation though is that both Major League Baseball and individual teams have already seemingly prepared for the day in which this could happen. Did they know something or was it just hopeful thinking? Either way, it doesn’t really matter.

There are a whole lot of issues that come along with acquiring Cuban talent even if the trade embargo were to be lifted. Cuba has a professional league that they would not want to see raided. Cuba is already allowing some of their players to play professionally in Japan as long as they return to Cuba to play in their professional league when the season begins. That isn’t going to work in America as the two seasons have times when they overlap, including the playoffs.

There are several options out there that seem to be thought of as frontrunning ideas for how Major League Baseball and Cuba would handle the acquisition of talent. The first would be to have a posting system like what is done in Japan or in Korea for their professional players. While the two systems are different, the concept is the same. You pay a fee to the team to negotiate with the player. It’s also worth noting that unlike times in the past, the posting fee is now limited to $20M in Japan and I’d imagine that Major League Baseball, if this were the system to go to, would push hard for something like that in Cuba as well.

The other thought would be that it could be set up like the Mexican League currently is. The Mexican League is technically a part of minor league baseball, but it’s completely independent from the Major Leagues. The teams down there operate on their own and they can and do sell their players for teams. What differentiates them from Japan or Korea is that these guys are all typically still teenagers and the player doesn’t have much say in their contract. The Mexican team sells the player and they keep 75% of the deal while the player gets the other 25%.

So, what does all of that mean for the Cincinnati Reds? Well, it’s tough to say. They haven’t been shy in handing out decent chunks of change to Cuban players, landing two of the top pitchers to leave the island in the last five years with Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias. They also seem to have been on the outside looking in on guys who were going to sign $50M+ deals and I’d be surprised if that changed no matter what happens, especially if it meant paying another $10-20M on top of that simply to negotiate with the player.

There has been an idea I’ve seen floated around that the signings of Chapman and Iglesias that the Reds would have an inside track on guys. Don’t buy it for a second. Even if the players are getting to choose where they go, they almost always follow the money. If the Reds are offering the most, they will come. If not, they really aren’t likely to be wearing a Reds uniform. What does seem to work in the Reds favor is that they have been active in scouting Cuban players, so they are familiar with many of the national team players and have done their work as far as they can (they aren’t going to Cuba to see the non-national team players right now, but no one else is either).

Despite there being quite a bit of talent coming out of Cuba over the last few seasons, there is a limited number of star level players still there. Everyone knows who Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman are. How many have heard of Miguel Gonzalez? The country has plenty of big league talent on it, but there is still a finite number of impact guys available compared to role player types who may fill out a team just fine but may stay in Cuba to play in their league.

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Cincinnati Reds Retrospective: 1990-1994 Drafts http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/18/cincinnati-reds-retrospective-1990-1994-drafts/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/18/cincinnati-reds-retrospective-1990-1994-drafts/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11708 Taking a look back at the Cincinnati Reds drafts from 1990-1994 to see how they shaped the future of the franchise.

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After nearly a month off this series returns as we look back at the drafts from 1990-1994 for the Cincinnati Reds. The series looks back to see how drafts helped shape the Cincinnati Reds of the past and built toward the future. You can see the entire series here.

The 1990 Draft

The Reds kicked off a new decade with a quality first pick as they selected catcher Dan Wilson seventh overall. He would make his debut with the Reds in 1992, playing in 12 games at the end of the season. He then played in 36 games with the team in 1993 before being traded to Seattle for Brett Boone. Wilson would go on to a 14-year career and put up 13.0 WAR in the big leagues. In the second round they would take Keith Gordon who would get a cup of coffee in July of 1994, going 1-6 over three games in his only big league season. Much like Gordon, the Reds 6th round pick Steve Gibralter would get two cups of coffee between 1995 and 1996, going 1-6 in his career and posting a -0.2 WAR. The 8th round pick was a hometown pick as the team selected RHP Larry Luebbers out of college (born in Cincinnati, graduated from St. Henry HS in Erlanger). He would make 14 starts for the Reds in 1994 but then didn’t resurface in the Major Leagues until 1999. He would pitch for the Reds once again in 2000 and spend two seasons beyond that in the minors before retiring with a -0.2 WAR for his career. The team selected John Roper in the 12th round and the pitcher would spend parts of three seasons in the big leagues from 1993-1995. He would retire following the 1996 season before resurfacing in Indy ball in 1999. He put up 0.1WAR in his 35 games. The one that got away: In the 16th round the team selected Shane Halter but he chose to move on from Junior College to Texas and was selected the next year by the Royals. He would go on to an 8-year big league career with 6.4 career WAR, easily the second best and other than Wilson, the only true future big league from the draft. Total WAR for signed players: 12.6

The 1991 Draft

Much like the 1990 draft the team was successful with their first pick as they picked Pokey Reese 20th overall. Reese would make his debut with the Reds in 1997 and stay with the team through 2001 before being traded away. He would spend three more sseasons in the big leagues as he racked up 3138 plate appearances in his career with 144 steals and 6.3 WAR. It wasn’t until the 8th round that the team found another big leaguer when they selected John Courtright and his career lasted all of one game and one inning. It wasn’t until the 14th round that they found the third big leaguer as they took Cincinnati native Brian Koelling out of Bowling Green State. His career didn’t last much longer than that of Courtright, appearing in seven games and going 1-15.  Finally in the 21st round they found a second player who stuck around the big leagues for more than a week as they picked up Kevin Jarvis. Of course how he stuck around so long is a bit shocking given that he never posted an ERA under 5.40 in a single season from 1994-2000 before finally getting into the sub-5.00 ERA range at age 31. He spent 12 years in the big leagues and posted a career 6.03 ERA in 780.2 innings as he posted -3.9 WAR. Total WAR for signed players: 2.0

The 1992 Draft

This draft is often remembered by Reds fans as the year they didn’t select Derek Jeter. Instead the team selected Chad Mottola. He would see parts of five big league seasons but never had 100 plate appearances in a given year as he went on to post -0.9 WAR in his career. The Reds picked up Eric Owens in the 4th round and he would go on to spend three seasons with the Reds and six more around the Majors before retiring with 2577 plate appearances but a -0.3 career WAR. In the 6th round the team selected Curt Lyons. The right handed pitcher made three career big league appearances as he racked up 0.2 WAR. Their 15th round pick was born in Cincinnati but went to high school and college in Texas. Tim Belk would go 3-15 in the 1996 season over seven games. It was his only big league time. In the 23rd round the Reds headed to Tarleton State University to select Chad Fox. The right handed pitcher never played for the Reds but carved out a 10 year big league career before retiring at age 39 after the 2009 season as he accumulated 2.9 career WAR. The 28th round netted a future Major Leaguer who only made one appearances as Ricky Pickett pitched one game for the Diamondbacks, allowing six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Total WAR for signed players: 1.5

The 1993 Draft

The Reds first pick of the 1993 draft was in the supplemental 1st round and they used it to select outfielder Pat Watkins. He would see parts of three seasons in the big leagues from 1997-1999 as he registered 214 plate appearances in his career, registering -0.6 WAR. While the first pick didn’t fair so well the second round pick turned out to be a slam dunk as picked up Scott Sullivan out of Auburn. He didn’t reach the big leagues for good until he was 26-years-old but he performed quite well once he made it, carving out a 10-year career where he had a 6.7 WAR over his career, mostly with the Reds. Moving to the 5th round the team selected catcher Paul Bako out of college. He was traded before ever playing for the Reds and wound up spending 12 season in the big leagues as a back up catcher for the most part. He would eventually play for the Reds, appearing in 99 games during the 2008 season. Despite a 12-year career in the Majors he provided -1.2 WAR for his career.  In the 10th round the Reds stayed at home as they selected St. Xavier grad and Miami University infielder Chris Sexton. He would spend two seasons in the Majors, one with the Reds and one with the Rockies. In limited action he posted -0.5 WAR. The 13th round brought another short lived Major Leaguer when the team selected James Lofton. He would get 28 plate appearances for the 2001 Red Sox but never appear in the Majors again. Total WAR for signed players: 4.0

The 1994 Draft

The 1994 draft started out with the selection of one of my favorite national baseball analysts from the major media companies CJ Nitkowsi. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite as good as a Major League pitcher as he is at analyzing the game. He pitched for the Reds in 1995 before being traded to Detroit for David Wells. He would go on to pitcher another 11 years in the Majors and then two more in Japan, one in Korea and a few more in the minors. Despite all of that time he posted a career WAR of -0.8. In the third round the Reds selected a Reds legacy player when they took Aaron Boone out of USC. He would go on to a career that spanned 12 seasons, not including one he missed out on in 2004 after tearing his ACL before the season. Boone racked up 4333 plate appearances and one of the most memorable home runs in playoffs history while with the Yankees. while accumulating 13.5 WAR over his career. The 9th round saw the team select Eddie Priest who would pitch in two big league games in 1998 and never see the big leagues again. John Riedling was picked up by the Reds in the 22nd round. The right hander was quite good for the Reds in limited action from 2000-2002 before he began to struggle for the final three years of his career where his career ERA jumped from 2.54 up to 4.41 due to his struggles in the final three years. He pitched in just 302.0 innings with a career WAR of 0.2. Total WAR for signed players: 12.6

Overall

The first half of the 1990’s was not a good time for the scouting and developing department. In five drafts the team drafted just five players worth more than 0.3 WAR, though all were worth at least 2.9 WAR in their careers. Unfortunately they also drafted 15 players who would go on to provide negative career WAR. All of that led to a five year span of drafts being worth a total of just 32.7 WAR, which is less than two individual drafts all on their own from the 1985-1989 range and far behind the 170.2 WAR that group provided in the Majors over their careers. Aaron Boone has to go down as the best selection as he led everyone in WAR and was a 3rd round pick. Only 1st rounder Dan Wilson provided at least half as much WAR over his career as Boone did.

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2014 Season Review: RHP Alejandro Chacin http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/17/2014-season-review-rhp-alejandro-chacin-2/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/17/2014-season-review-rhp-alejandro-chacin-2/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:00:34 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11705 Looking back at the 2014 season for Cincinnati Reds RHP Alejandro Chacin as he pitched for the Dayton Dragons.

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This guest post was written by Mark Miller.

Alejandro Chacin ended the 2013 season as the Dayton Dragons closer. As the Midwest League All Star  he earned seven of his seasons nine saves after August 5th, earning the Dragon’s August Pitcher of the Month Award.

The 20-year-old Chacin was again assigned to Dayton in 2014 and despite his 2013 success started the season in middle and set-up relief.  April and Opening Day started with a blown save when an error allowed two unearned runs to score, tying the game in an eventual loss. In his second appearance he did gain his first save which would be his last save opportunity until May. He would make eight appearances in April, would be credited with three victories and have a 0.00 ERA to go with 18 strikeouts and just five walks.

May would see Chacin pitch in nine games and he would give up his first earned runs on May 1st with two runs in 0.2 innings versus Lansing. His next two appearances would gain his two saves of the month. He would have a blown save on May 15th against Lansing, allowing an earned run in 0.2 innings pitched. His May would end with a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings with 12 strikeouts and just three walks.

Scott Brattvet would lose the closer’s role in June and the remainder of June would be closer by committee. Chacin would make eight appearances and would see his ERA balloon to 3.00 as appearances on June 1st and 24th saw him allow eight earned runs in 3.2 innings. He allowed 10 of his seasons total of 52 hits in those two games. He would pick up another win and two additional losses in what would be his worst month in two Dragons’ seasons.

Despite the rough June he would assume the closers role in July. He would appear in 12 games in July and pitch 15.1 innings, allow no runs to go with 24 strikeouts and just six base-on-balls. He would have nine saves in 10 opportunities.

August would show much of the same dominance with six saves in seven opportunities. He would make 10 appearances on the month, only allowing runs (three on the 19th against South Bend) in one appearance as the Dragons pushed for the playoffs down the stretch but came up one game short.

Overview

Alejandro Chacin is a righthander with a ¾ to sidearm delivery whose fastball sits at 89-92 MPH with tremendous vertical movement . He also has an effective moving slider as well. His 11.6 K/9IP was outstanding and 3.9 BB/9IP still a little high but showed a 0.7 BB/9IP improvement over 2013. Another positive sign is his strength coming down the stretch being the Dragons August Pitcher of the Month two years in a row. He ended 2014 second on the all-time career appearance (92) and saves (29) lists for the Dragons.  He was selected the Reds 2014 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year.

2014 Season Stats

W L ERA SV IP H HR BB K WHIP
4 4 2.34 20 65.1 52 2 28 84 1.22

To view more 2014 Season Review articles, click here.

Mark Miller, aka MK, is a lifelong baseball fan who spent 22 years as a high school baseball coach. He is currently Vice-President of the Dragon Friends Booster Club as well as President and inductee of the Springfield/Clark County(OH) Baseball Hall of Fame. Is a contributor to the SABR Bio-Project Committee.

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What is the value of a prospect? http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/17/value-prospect/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/17/value-prospect/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11701 A new study shows that the value for Major League Baseball prospects continues to grow.

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Yesterday I came across a post on Fangraphs that began to look at what the current value is for prospects. The article grabs the information from the original source over at The Point of Pittsburgh.

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time you have probably seen my annual posts in January or February (or this last year, in April due to health complications by one of the sources) where I show the value of each farm system in baseball. If you haven’t, you should probably go check it out. Essentially, using historical prospect rankings a group of people sourced together what prospects were generally expected to be worth between Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect rankings and John Sickels prospect grades. Over time the writers have changed at Baseball America and John Sickels has changed how he views prospects, and of course, as I’ve been saying for a while now, how prospects are used in the minor leagues certainly changes how their future is going to play out (particularly from a pitching standpoint when it comes to health). The study was using data from 1990-1999 when it was originally released back in 2008, so it was dated somewhat, but it had to be given that it tries to figure out how valuable the players will be over their first six seasons (how long the team controls them before free agency). The new study only looked at the Baseball America Top 100 list, but it used data from 1994-2005. Below I will show what the old values were compared to the new values and talk about a few changes. All values are in “surplus value” that uses what they were paid versus what someone of the same value (in WAR) would have been paid on the free agent market.

Description Old Value New Value Change
Top 10 hitting prospects $32.50 $48.40 $15.90
Top 11-25 hitters $22.30 $38.30 $16.00
Top 26-50 hitters $20.80 $20.30 -$0.50
Top 51-75 hitters $12.60 $14.50 $1.90
Top 76-100 hitters $11.10 $11.60 $0.50
Top 10 pitching prospects $13.50 $40.40 $26.90
Top 11-25 pitchers $14.20 $24.50 $10.30
Top 26-50 pitchers $14.20 $18.70 $4.50
Top 51-75 pitchers $10.80 $9.40 -$1.40
Top 76-100 pitchers $8.70 $9.60 $0.90

There is something to note before beginning to talk about this. When the original study was done the value of a “win” in free agency was $5M. That number is about $6.5M today, so there has been some inflation. That alone changes some of the math, increasing the old values by 30% on pure inflation.

The Hitters

While the value of hitters in the Top 25 has increased nicely, going from $55.8M between the two top groups to $86.7M, that’s just a 55% increase. A majority of that is simply from inflation, though it does seem that over time identifying guys to rank as highly improved. The group of hitters from 26-100 though didn’t keep up with inflation at all and guys ranked between 26-50 actually are now less valuable than they were prior. Cream of the crop hitters in all of baseball gained value, but the very good but not elite guys didn’t. They lost a little bit of value.

The Pitchers

Here is where we start to see some of the difference. A top 10 caliber pitcher saw his value jump from a mere $13.5M to $40.4M, an increase of 199% as they nearly tripled in value. If you go to the original article you will also see that they are also the only group who did not have a single player from the group that literally provided no value at all. Pitchers ranked in the 11-25 group also saw a big jump in value, going from $14.2M to $24.5M, a 73% increase. The guys ranked 26-50 stayed even with inflation, but the guys from 50-100 didn’t. Still, pitching prospects particularly the truly elite ones, made huge strides in the new sample size.

What does it mean

Well, if you still believed that pitching prospects were as risky as hitters, you lost a lot of that argument. Top 100 hitters are still worth more as a whole, but the pitching caught up rather fast by pushing forward just five years in the dataset and that really ignores a lot of teams truly changing how they handled pitching prospects in that 2000-2005 time frame where we really started to see changes being made.  Nearly everyone eligible for this study is 30-years-old or older at this point. To put it in perspective Homer Bailey barely makes the cut for this list and Johnny Cueto doesn’t since he didn’t show up on a Top 100 list until later in his career.

What it also means is that in the future when I do these farm system value rankings, teams that are heavy on pitching prospects will fair better than they used to. Much better. It always made sense that they should be more valuable, but I stuck to the numbers as much as possible to try and keep it as historically accurate as possible with as little number changing as possible (I did change it so that pitchers ranked between 1-50 were all worth the same since it didn’t make sense that guys ranked 11-50 were more valuable to a farm system than guys ranked 1-10 even though they historically had been. That was the only change made though.). I’d imagine that the values are even more today than this study shows, but we just can’t back it up in data.

My belief is that it is night-and-day different in terms of how teams evaluate and even how analyst evaluate prospects today compared to even 10 years ago. The amount of data we have access to is so much of a difference maker. Today we can sit at home and watch these guys play from the comfort of our living rooms, or on our phones. Teams have more and better access to all kinds of information, video and there are more opportunities to see them on a national scale (particularly the high schoolers) thanks to more national events taking place. The statistical analysis boom across the industry has also really helped weed out some guys who at one point would have ranked much higher because they “looked the part” but their weaknesses have been shown to not translate well to the Majors even if they had good numbers on the surface in the minors (mainly strikeout-to-walk ratio for both pitchers and hitters) as well as being able to better normalize numbers from the minor leagues with better park factors being used. I’m just scratching the surface on things that make things easier today in evaluating prospects compared to 10, much less 20 years ago, but it’s why I believe that in 10 years when we can hopefully look back at this kind of study again, we will see another explosion in the numbers.

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Scouting Cincinnati Reds OF Narciso Crook http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/16/scouting-cincinnati-reds-narciso-crook/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/16/scouting-cincinnati-reds-narciso-crook/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:52:15 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11699 Taking a look at Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Narciso Crook and what scouting reports say about the 19-year-old.

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The Cincinnati Reds have some interesting prospects throughout the system, but one of the more interesting players is Narciso Crook. He was just 18-years-old during the 2014 season and had played at a Junior College the season before and was drafted by the Reds in the 2013 draft.

At a young age he more than held his own in the Arizona Rookie League where he hit .255/.313/.423 over the course of 166 plate appearances (the average triple-slash line for hitters under the age of 19 in the Arizona Rookie League in 2014 was .237/.319/.331). His numbers were good on the offensive side of things. He played all three outfield spots for the Reds, but 36 of 38 games came in the corners with only two being in center field.

So, what do the scouting reports say about him?

Scouting Report

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Neftali Soto re-signs and other notes http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/16/neftali-soto-re-signs-notes/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/16/neftali-soto-re-signs-notes/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:51:41 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11697 The Cincinnati Reds have re-signed infielder Neftali Soto.

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So, apparently I forgot to schedule a post for this morning. It will be pushed to tomorrow.

Baseball Prospectus has up an article this week that I thought would be an interesting share on how important a balanced lineup is in terms of having lefty-righty-lefty. It’s a discussion I’ve seen all over the place, especially with the two Reds best hitters long being Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, but they were always split up. The conclusion of the article:

Lineup balance is nice, but it’s much less important than just acquiring talented players.

That is always what rang true with me. Early in a game if you have back-to-back hitters from the left side facing a righty, you theoretically get the platoon advantage 2-3 times. After that you may lose the advantage against a LOOGY, but that situation may never arise for various reasons discussed in the article. It’s an interesting baseball theory discussion though.

I missed this when it happened apparently, though it still isn’t being reported on Reds.com’s transactions page, but Baseball America is reporting that Neftali Soto has re-signed with the Reds. That is a good signing as it adds some depth in Louisville, where I’d imagine he spends plenty of time playing first and third base, splitting time at each position with Josh Satin.

Michael Morse has signed with the Marlins, leaving one less option for the Reds to go after. Not that I think Morse would have been the most ideal fit, but he would have been better than a scrap heap reclamation project as well. That really leaves one “name” option left for left field on the free agent market with Nori Aoki. There are other options out there, but Aoki seems to be the safe bet that is left. Trades also remain an option.

If you would like to get your quick Fall/Winter Ball update I wrote about Felix Perez continuing his hot hitting in Venezuela as well as an update on how everyone was performing at Redleg Nation earlier today.

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2014 Season Review: RHP Ben Lively http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/15/2014-season-review-rhp-ben-lively/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/15/2014-season-review-rhp-ben-lively/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:58:12 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11655 Taking a look back at the outstanding 2014 season for Cincinnati Reds prospect Ben Lively as he split his season between Bakersfield and Pensacola.

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After being drafted in the 4th round in 2013, Ben Lively thoroughly annihilated his competition over 12 starts in the Pioneer League and a one-start cameo in Dayton. When the organization started Lively at High-A Bakersfield, in the extremely hitter-friendly California League, the Reds’ brass probably didn’t expect him to improve upon his sensational 2013 campaign. Despite the immense challenge, the lanky 22-year old made a seamless transition, as he continued his dominant work on the mound in 2014.

Lively made his first start on April 6th against the Modesto Nuts, and he earned the elusive first win of his professional career. He allowed one run on one hit (a home run) over six innings, while striking out seven without issuing a walk. Unfortunately for the California League, Lively was just getting warmed up. The home run surrendered in his first start would be the only run Lively would allow in April. He finished the month with a perfect 5-0 record, a miniscule 0.31 ERA and a 0.48 WHIP over 29.0 innings. His peripherals were outstanding to say the least, as he punched out an amazing 40.8% of batters faced, while walking only 1%.

Although his scoreless streak would end during his final inning of his first start in May, Lively’s torrid pace did not slow down much. Over his first four starts in May, he went 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA and a 25/6 K/BB ratio in 26.2 innings. During his final two starts in May, the right-hander experienced some control problems for the first time in 2014, as he walked six batters in 11.1 innings. Despite the confirmation, that Lively is indeed human, he finished the month with superb numbers again, going 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA, and a 39/12 K/BB ratio over 38.0 innings.

Lively was banged around in his only two starts for the Blaze in June, as he posted a 6.75 ERA, in large part due to serving up 4 bombs in 12 innings. Despite the ugly ERA, Lively posted a strong 16/3 K/BB ratio and won both starts. His spectacular first half earned him the start in the California League vs. Carolina League All-Star Game, where he fanned two over two hitless innings. This would be his last start at the High-A level, as Lively was promoted to AA to pitch in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., on June 18th. After being promoted, he would make two more starts in the month of June, with strong results. Lively posted a solid 2.89 ERA and struck out an impressive 13 batters over 9.1 innings, but unfortunately the control problems popped up again, as he walked eight batters and hit another one during the two starts.

As the calendar turned to July, the control problems persisted for Lively, but he continued to post strong overall numbers on the mound. He struggled over his first four starts of the month, going 0-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 21.1 innings. Despite striking out an impressive 27 over this period, he walked an alarming 17 batters, including a career-high seven vs. the Mobile BayBears on July 21st, which greatly contributed to the three losses. Lively finished the month strong, as he compiled 2.70 ERA with an 11/4 K/BB ratio over his final two starts.

The final month of the season may have seen the young righty hit “the wall” of his first full professional season. Lively threw 28.0 innings with a pedestrian 4.50 ERA over five starts. Although his control improved from July (2.25 BB/9), he posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career (8.0 K/9). Despite the relatively average month on the mound, Lively did mash his first professional home run in Jacksonville on August 19th, which is a special moment for any pitcher.

Overview:

Lively entered the 2014 season with high expectations after an outstanding debut season with Billings and Dayton. His first full season can be classified as nothing but a tremendous success, as he made a mockery of the California League for 2.5 months and finished the year very solidly in AA. Lively even had a video-game like 30.1 scoreless innings streak, early in the season, which saw him punch out 44 batters and walk only two. His incredible work on the mound earned him the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award as the Reds Minor League Player of the Year.

Season Stats

 

Team W L ERA SV IP H HR BB K WHIP K/BB
Total 13 7 3.04 0 151.0 117 13 52 171 1.12 3.29
Bakersfield 10 1 2.28 0 79.0 57 6 16 95 0.92 5.94
Pensacola 3 6 3.88 0 72.0 60 7 36 76 1.33 2.11

To view more 2014 Season Review articles, click here.

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Where do the Reds new prospects fit into the rankings? http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/15/reds-new-prospects-fit-rankings/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/15/reds-new-prospects-fit-rankings/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11688 Where does Jonathon Crawford and the other newly acquired prospects rank among the Reds Top 25 prospects?

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The Cincinnati Reds made some moves last week. It would be a surprise if somehow you missed it. Three of the four players acquired are still eligible for prospect lists. That of course begs the question: Where do the new guys fit in? Let’s look at the original list that came out at the end of October for the Top 25.

1. Robert Stephenson 9. Raisel Iglesias 17.Seth Mejias-Brean
2. Jesse Winker 10. Ben Lively 18. Junior Arias
3. Michael Lorenzen 11. Phillip Ervin 19. Carlton Daal
4. Nick Travieso 12. Aristides Aquino 20. Jose Ortiz
5. Yorman Rodriguez 13. Kyle Waldrop 21. Taylor Sparks
6. Sal Romano 14. Alex Blandino 22. Gavin LaValley
7. Amir Garrett 15. Jon Moscot 23. Daniel Wright
8. Nick Howard 16. Tucker Barnhart 24. Ismael Guillon
25. Sebastian Elizalde

This list has been altered since it was released. Previous #20 prospect Rey Navarro elected to leave via free agency and signed a big league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, so everyone that was behind him moved up a spot. That brings outfielder Sebastian Elizalde into the Top 25. Well, it did until the trades went down. Let’s look at each player and where they now rank among the Reds prospects.

Anthony DeSclafani

The right hander has 33.0 big league innings in 2014. Some of them went very well. Some of them didn’t go as well. Overall he posted a 6.27 ERA. That ERA is ugly, but his peripherals were strong with just five walks and 26 strikeouts. His WHIP was 1.36. In the minor leagues he posted a 3.78 ERA in 102.1 between AA and AAA (the PCL – extremely hitter friendly league). He had 31 walks and 97 strikeouts at those two levels. He looks like his upside is that of a #3 starter. He has strong control, above-average fastball velocity, an above-average slider and a solid change up. He’s big league ready in some sort of role. While his upside isn’t as high as some guys he is going to jump ahead of in the rankings, he’s got solid upside and he is ready to pitch in the big leagues today. He is the new #8 prospect in the system.

Jonathon Crawford

The 1st round pick of the Tigers in 2013 put up a strong ERA in the Midwest League in 2014 as he was near the the top of the league with a 2.85 ERA over 123.0 innings pitched. Despite the shiny ERA he had 50 walks and just 85 strikeouts. That is not good. In April and May he had 14 walks and 44 strikeouts, but in both June and July he had more walks than strikeouts. August was better but he walked 13 batters with 22 strikeouts. There were real struggles in there and it’s likely why despite his 1st round status, age and shiny ERA, he spent the entire season in the Midwest League. With all of that said, there is a lot to like with Crawford. When he is at his best he’s throwing a fastball in the 90-94 MPH range with an above-average slider. There’s also a change up that he throws, but it’s a well below-average offering. He’s got the upside for a #2/3 starter, but he has a ton of work to do in order to see that ceiling as realistic. Right now he looks like a far safer bet to be a quality reliever. He is the new #17 prospect in the system.

Chad Wallach

Also acquired in the Miami trade the catcher hit very well in his first full season after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft. Between Greensboro in the South Atlantic League and Jupiter in the Florida State League the right handed hitter posted a .322/.431/.457 line with 62 walks and 46 strikeouts in 408 plate appearances. He doesn’t have much power potential to tap into despite being a bigger guy, but double digit homers isn’t out of the question. Defensively is where he has the most work to do. Wallach caught a little bit in high school, but he was primarily an infielder in high school and he played the infield at Cal-State Fullerton his freshman season as well. As a sophomore he moved to catcher where he split time before taking over fully as a junior. He’s still relatively new to the position with just a few years behind the plate in his life. It still shows as he needs to round out his skills in nearly all assets on the defensive side of the ball. He’s shown the tools to stick at the position long term, but he isn’t likely to be an average defender back there. His bat is certainly much more intriguing at the position than it would be at other spots on the field. He is the new #24 prospect in the system.

The New Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects List

1 Robert Stephenson 9 Nick Howard 17 Jonathon Crawford
2 Jesse Winker 10 Raisel Iglesias 18 Tucker Barnhart
3 Michael Lorenzen 11 Ben Lively 19 Seth Mejias-Brean
4 Nick Travieso 12 Phillip Ervin 20 Junior Arias
5 Yorman Rodriguez 13 Aristides Aquino 21 Carlton Daal
6 Sal Romano 14 Kyle Waldrop 22 Jose Ortiz
7 Amir Garrett 15 Alex Blandino 23 Taylor Sparks
8 Anthony DeSclafani 16 Jon Moscot 24 Chad Wallach
25 Gavin LaValley

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Drew Hayes dominating in the Dominican Winter League http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/13/drew-hayes-dominating-dominican-winter-league/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/13/drew-hayes-dominating-dominican-winter-league/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 17:47:56 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11677 Cincinnati Reds RHP Drew Hayes is dominating out of the bullpen in the Dominican Winter League.

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Cincinnati Reds right handed pitcher Drew Hayes is pitching in the Dominican Republic this offseason and he has been dominating during Winter League play. After his third straight season in Double-A Pensacola where he posted a 4.04 ERA in 71.1 innings he headed south to join Estrellas de Oriente.

He made his first appearance on November 11th and allowed a solo home run in 0.2 innings. He wouldn’t appear in another game for nearly two weeks before throwing a perfect inning with a strikeout on November 24th. Hayes has made four more appearances since then and has thrown 6.2 innings in that span with no runs allowed and just three hits and a walk. He has also struck out 12 batters in that time frame.

Overall his numbers have been incredible. Here is his line through six appearances so far:

W L ERA IP H HR BB K AVG
1 0 0.96 9.1 5 1 1 13 .152

Stuff has never been a problem for Hayes. He has 315 strikeouts in 280 minor league innings over his career since being drafted in 2010. Where he has struggled has been with the walks where he has 153, leading to a 12.7% walk rate.

It’s absolutely a small sample size of just 9.1 innings so far in the Dominican Winter League, but it is also something that is carrying over from the end of 2014 where he had just one walk and 22 strikeouts in August and September, facing 74 batters. He’s faced 34 batters in Winter League play, meaning he has walked just two of the last 108 batters he has faced. That’s a walk rate of 1.9%. Has he figured something out? It would certainly seem so. Between the two samples, while both are small, combined they are large enough and the difference is so drastic that something has to have changed. If Hayes has indeed found better control he very well could have tossed his name into the ring for some big league bullpen time in the 2015 season.

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Where do the Cincinnati Reds go from here? http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/12/cincinnati-reds-go/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2014/12/12/cincinnati-reds-go/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 17:00:40 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=11669 The Cincinnati Reds made some waves with two big trades at the Winter Meetings on Thursday. Where do they go from here?

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Yesterday was full of action by the Cincinnati Reds. They ended the Winter Meetings with a bang. Or two in this case. The team traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon for two players each. Coming back in the trades were two right handed pitchers, a shortstop and a catcher. Right handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and shortstop Eugenio Suarez should both be ready to step onto the Reds 2015 team and help.

So, what do the Reds do moving forward for the 2015 season? Let’s take a look at how the roster currently appears to be shaking out.

The Rotation

Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake are locks for the 1-2-3 spots in the rotation. To me, losing Mat Latos is much tougher to deal with than losing Alfredo Simon. While Simon stacked up wins and had a shiny ERA, his peripheral stats were poor and didn’t project well moving forward. Relying on him to come anywhere close to repeating his 2014 season seems like a poor bet. So, who do the Reds go to for the final two spots in the rotation? It’s tough to say at this point in time but they certainly have options.

Anthony DeSclafani, just acquired yesterday, will look to take over one spot. He will be in competition with Tony Cingrani, Raisel Iglesias, David Holmberg, Daniel Corcino and Dylan Axelrod. The first three names are probably a step or three ahead of the latter three heading into things, but the team has plenty of options. One concern here is that none of those guys have thrown a ton of innings at the big league level. There will likely be a step down in the expected innings from the two guys that step in here versus what they would have been expecting from Latos and Simon.

Overall it would still appear that the starting pitching is going to be an above-average unit. Maybe a step backwards because of the loss of Latos, but it should still be a rather productive group, particularly if the first three guys can stay healthy.

The Position Players

There have been rumors of the Reds listening on offers for Jay Bruce, but I’ve been of the belief that he’s stuck as a Red given his 2014 season and his contract. The Reds wouldn’t just give him away and teams aren’t going to give up enough value to acquire him based on what you should expect from him in 2015. Write these guys names down in marker:

Spot Player Position
1 Billy Hamilton CF
2 - -
3 Joey Votto 1B
4 Todd Frazier 3B
5 Jay Bruce RF
6 Devin Mesoraco C
7 Brandon Phillips 2B
8 - -
9 Pitcher P

That leaves openings at shortstop and left field. You were probably already aware of that unless you’ve been living under a rock. Zack Cozart has already been named by Walt Jocketty as the shortstop on Opening Day. With that said, it would be surprising if Eugenio Suarez didn’t see a decent amount of time at the position in 2015 as well. He outhit Cozart in the big leagues last year with the Tigers as a 22-year-old over 200 plate appearances and is reportedly a good defender. He may even be Cozart’s replacement at some point if he can’t rebound from his dreadful 2014 campaign.

Left field still needs to be addressed. Right now the team simply doesn’t have an option that saw any real time in the big leagues during 2014. If the Reds don’t make a move it would seem that the options would come from Skip Schumaker, Donald Lutz, Yorman Rodriguez, Kristopher Negron, Kyle Waldrop and Brennan Boesch. If any of those players are the Reds every day left fielder in the first half (sans injury to someone in 2015 I will be very surprised. The team will still be looking to bring someone in to take any question away from who will be playing left field. Whether that comes in free agency or whether it comes via another trade is uncertain.

Heading into 2015 the offense almost has to be better than what the team saw in 2014. A healthy Joey Votto and Jay Bruce will go a long, long way to turning around one of the worst offenses in baseball. It will be nearly impossible for the shortstop position to be as bad offensively as it was last year with the addition of Suarez. Billy Hamilton should be able to improve upon his rookie year. The spread of how productive the 2015 Reds offense, even without knowing who plays left field is still very wide. It could be below-average, even if it’s better than the 2014 team. But if Votto and Bruce return to form or even close to it and Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are close to what they were last year the team could be an above-average offense.

The Bench

We’ve already talked about what Eugenio Suarez can do at shortstop, but he can also fill in at third base and likely could fill in at second base if he is going to be coming off of the bench rather than taking over a larger role at shortstop. Skip Schumaker is locked in it would seem. Brayan Pena is locked in. Kristopher Negron seems to have a leg up as a super utility guy who can play just about anywhere and provide speed off of the bench. If the Reds could get a quality bat to put on the bench it would go a long way to making me feel more comfortable with the make up of the bench. Suarez is the only one of the group named that I feel completely comfortable thinking could post an OBP north of .300.

The Bullpen

Aroldis Chapman is going to be the closer for the Reds. Jumbo Diaz would seem to be a lock. Sam LeCure would seem to be a lock. After that there are a whole lot of question marks, but there are also a whole lot of options. The six guys mentioned above as the main competition for the last two starter spots will also be looked at as reliever options if they don’t wind up in the rotation. Between Cingrani, DeSclafani and Iglesias, at least one of those guys will be on the outside of the rotation looking in and I’d be shocked if the loser of that battle went to the minor leagues instead of joining the bullpen. Any of the three would be an asset to the bullpen, so that makes up four spots. Then we have guys like Manny Parra, Sean Marshall, JJ Hoover and a whole group of prospects to choose from to fill out things. The Reds bullpen isn’t what it once was but there’s still a chance it could be a good squad. Like the offense there is a wide range of possible outcomes here.

Overall

The 2015 Cincinnati Reds have a chance to compete despite trading away 40% of their projected starting rotation in an hour and a half on Thursday. They also have a chance to be a below-average team again in the 2015 season. Those who are already throwing dirt on the 2015 season are missing the boat. The Reds season depends on the same things it depended on if you asked this question a week ago. Health. If the Reds star players are healthy and perform as expected (Cueto, Bailey, Chapman, Bruce, Votto, Frazier and Mesoraco) then the team has a chance to make a run at something. Losing Mat Latos from there does take things down a notch, but I also believe that the team picked up something moving away from Alfredo Simon as a starter to counter-balance that out a little bit. A quality bench bat and even a solid hitting left fielder would go a long way to making things a bit more comfortable heading into the 2015 season. Look for the Reds to make some smaller moves to help fill in the gaps. Don’t expect the team to move any other big parts on the team, though a trade from the farm to bring in an impact player would not be surprising.

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