To view the entire Top 25 list you can click here

The final day is here and the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 list is now complete. If you missed earlier portions of the list you can click on the link above and check it out in full.

Subscribers will get to see the top tool for each player as well as a new thing for this season where I will list the upside role for the player. All ages are listed as of June 30 of this past season and is the official “age” of a player during the season. Later today I will have a chat and will address any and all questions you have on the list or players that made it or those who didn’t.

*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2015 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitches or more than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*

21. Jose Ortiz | C

2014 Teams: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 17th round, 2012 draft | Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 205 | Age: 20

After a strong year in Billings in 2013, Ortiz spent the first half of the 2014 season in extended spring training. He came to Dayton in late June and didn’t get consistent playing time as he caught two times through the rotation. The first time he had three starts in a row was in the middle of August and with sporadic playing time he struggled to find a groove at the plate, hitting .198/.250/.336 in 39 games played. Defensively he was solid as he tossed out 25% of opposing base runners and was a solid defender. He would flash the tools that he showed off more often in 2013, but they just weren’t as consistent.

141 7 1 3 14 0 8 39 .198 .250 .336

22. Taylor Sparks | 3B

2014 Teams: Billings Mustangs | Acquired: 2nd round, 2014 draft | Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 21

Sparks got his professional career off to a strong start as he hit .289/.421/.577 with 10 steals in July. He struck out 29% of the time in July, which is more than you’d like to see but it came with big power and a strong 15% walk rate. Things changed once August rolled around as his strikeout rate jumped up to 41% and his walk rate dropped to 11% as he hit just .178/.277/.406 over the final five weeks of the season. Sparks shows all of the tools you want to see from a player, but he is still a bit raw in some aspects of the game and must cut down on his strikeout total.

240 7 7 10 30 14 31 84 .232 .350 .490

23. Gavin LaValley | 3B

2014 Teams: AZL Reds, Billings Mustangs | Acquired: 4th Round, 2014 draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 235 | Age: 19

The professional debut for Gavin LaValley was a big success as he hit .286/.374/.439 for the AZL Reds before getting a final week call up to the Billings Mustangs. LaValley flashed big time power on the offensive side of things with a good walk rate. Defensively he really struggled in his first year as he posted an .856 fielding percentage at third base.

241 10 2 6 32 3 26 54 .276 .361 .429

24. Daniel Wright | RHP

2014 Teams: Dayton Dragons, Bakersfield Blaze | Acquired: 10th round, 2013 draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 205 lbs. | Age 23

Daniel Wright made his first two appearances of the year out of the Dayton bullpen before moving into the rotation two weeks into the season. He never looked back as the rest of his appearances on the season came as a starter as he moved on to Bakersfield in late May to finish out his season. The right hander posted a 3.54 ERA in 152.2 innings with just 22 walks and 141 strikeouts between the two stops.

14 7 152.1 141 20 22 141 3.54 1.07

guillonheadshot25. Ismael Guillon | LHP

2014 Teams: Dayton Dragons, Bakersfield Blaze | Acquired: Free Agent, 2008 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 22

The season was strong in the first half as the left hander posted a 3.17 ERA in Dayton over 65.1 innings with more strikeouts than innings. He struggled once he arrived in Bakersfield though as he posted a 6.79 ERA with the Blaze as his walk rate went up, strikeout rate dropped off and his home run rate exploded from three in Dayton to 13 in fewer innings in Bakersfield. The stuff still flashed itself and his change up is among the best pitches in the system, but he battled consistency in the second half of the season.

4 7 123.2 109 16 55 114 4.88 1.33

Top Tools and Upside Grade

Upside Grade Explanation

Grade Explanation
80 MVP Caliber/Cy Young Caliber
70 All-Star caliber/#2 starter
60 Above-average starting position player/ #3 starters/Elite closers
50 Average Starting Position Player/#4-5 Starter/Elite set up men and good closers
40 Quality bench player/swingman starter/good middle reliever
30 Fringe big-leaguer who is often moved between AAA and MLB
20 Career minor leaguer

It must be noted that this is for their pure upside and how far they are from reaching that is not factored in. This grade is simply in a world where their pure raw talents all come to fruition. It’s a perfect world grade for what a guy could become not a grade based on what they are necessarily likely to become.

21. Jose Ortiz | C

Grade: 60

If everything goes right for Ortiz he’s an above-average defender behind the plate with 25 home run power.

Top tool: Power

Ortiz has good power and the ball can jump off of his bat. 25 home runs isn’t out of the question.


22. Taylor Sparks | 3B

Grade: 70

In a perfect world Sparks figures out how to cut down on his strikeouts, hits .275 with 25 home runs, 20 steals and is an above-average defensive player.

Top tool: Defense

While he has some work to do on the defensive side of the ball his range and athleticism both project for him to be an above-average to plus defender at third base.

23. Gavin LaValley | 3B

Grade: 60

If things go right for LaValley he will provide plenty of power while being solid in the average department and providing a good on-base percentage. Defensively he likely ends up at first base where he could be an average defender.

Top tool: Power

LaValley has above-average power potential and could hit 25-30 home runs if it fully develops.

24. Daniel Wright | RHP

Grade: 50

There isn’t a lot of projection for Wright to develop into, but in a perfect world scenario he turns into a good 4th starter who pounds the strikezone with all of his pitches.

Top tool: Curveball

Wright’s curveball became very consistent in 2014 and is one reason his first full season was so successful as he relied on the above-average pitch to put hitters away.

25. Ismael Guillon | LHP

Grade: 65

In a perfect world Guillon is able to overcome his control problems and keep the home runs in check while continuing to miss plenty of bats and turn into a quality #3 starting pitcher.

Top tool: Change Up

Some will say that Guillon has the best change up in minor league baseball. It’s a plus-plus offering that he uses very well.


17 Responses

  1. MK

    Guess I am not as high on Ortiz. It is true he did not get consistent playing time so it was difficult to get into a grove offensively but I think there are some red flags that go up immediately. The 205 lbs you have him listed for him might be about 20 light and that might be building. He is slow a foot. Not real important for a catcher to be fast but they need to be competitive for big league play. Not sure he is. Finally were his Billings numbers inflated by Billings?

    • Doug Gray

      I’m sure his numbers were inflated some in Billings, but he was also a teenager while there. I buy into the power and defense.

  2. Billy

    Doug, any chance you want to share who just missed on the top 25? Maybe your top player remaining at each position?

    • Doug Gray

      Top infielder remaining: Rahier
      Top outfielder remaining: Elizalde
      Top pitcher remaining: Strahan

  3. Krozley

    Was Holmberg eligible for the list? I would think he would be among the top 25. In my opinion Ortiz is a surprise for his inclusion and Elizalde a surprise for his omission.

    • Doug Gray

      Holmberg was eligible. I’ve always thought of him as more of a reliever than a starter though, so he wasn’t making the top 25.

  4. DaveCT

    I like the inclusion of Wright. It gives recognition to pitch ability, AKA, plus command. Also agree on Sparks and LaValley given their plus tools. I can go with Guillen, too, as his first half was impressive . Agree with MK, though, on Ortiz. I don’t rate his power over the all round tools of Elizalde, not to mention his success in full season ball vs. short season ball. Doesn’t add up for me.

    Not Doug, but guessing #’s 26-27 might see Strahan, Rahier, Vargas, Elizalde, Hudson, or ??

    • Doug Gray

      Two of those guys make up #26 and #27.

      With Ortiz, like I said, I buy into the defense and the power. I think it’s going to play. Catchers are such a rarity that when guys show some offensive tools at the position they stick out.

  5. DaveCT

    Question. What caused the omission of Elizalde? Is it safe to guess there are some in the organization not so high on him ?

    • Doug Gray

      I actually didn’t ask about him within the organization as I prepared as I saw him quite a bit this season and felt comfortable with my opinion on him. When I went into the ranking process I thought I would have him in the late teens. But when I started comparing him to other guys I just had slight preferences towards others. I see him as a corner outfielder. That means he has to rake to be a top 15 guy right now. Look at what Kyle Waldrop did this season, at the same age (they area week apart in age) and he came in at #13 on the list.

  6. Jer.B

    Is Corcinco completely off the prospect radar at this point? Or is he left off the list due to him likely being a reliever going forward? Same with langfield?

    Good list btw

    • Doug Gray

      Corcino isn’t completely off of the radar, but he’s outside the Top 25. He is in my Top 40. I just need to see him throw strikes again. Finding more consistent stuff wouldn’t hurt either. His scouting report in the Prospect Guide will certainly be interesting given some of the things I saw and heard from others this year.

      With Langfield, it’s the strikes and the reliever thing. Most scouts see him as a reliever and I tend to agree. There’s a small chance he can start, but the control needs improvement. I love the stuff though.

  7. Doug Gray

    Ok, if we could take any further questions today over to the chat article, I’d appreciate it. If you want to respond to something already in the comments here, we can continue that conversation in here, but if you have a new question, please take it over to the chat.

  8. David

    What bad reports could you have gotten to omit Mahle from the top 25?

    I get he was a little up and down at Billings, but if the hitting numbers are taken with a grain of salt, shouldn’t the pitching numbers be boosted?

    Plus, when he was good, he was very good.

    I would have him close to my top 10, and I think he could have a good season at Dayton next year.

    • Doug Gray

      I will answer this one over in the chat. You were clearly typing it when I posted my further questions part above as we posted the comments within a minute of each other.

  9. Norwood Nate

    Nice finish to the list, mine is similar. I have 21. Daal 22. Strahan 23. Sparks 24. LaValley 25. Wright

    In this same range I have Navarro, Vargas, and Mahle.