Midseason Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List Doug Gray June 15, 2015 33 Comments We are roughly half way through the 2015 Minor League season, with the first half coming to an end later this week. The Billings Mustangs and Arizona League Reds will begin their respective seasons later this week as well. It seemed like a perfect time to update the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List. To be eligible for the list, a player must be eligible for the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award (fewer than 130 big league at-bats, 50 innings pitched in the big leagues or 45 days on the big league non-September roster). For the purposes of this list, I’m including anyone drafted as eligible, even if they haven’t signed yet. Scouting notes available for subscribers at the bottom of the article. All stats are BEFORE games on Sunday. 1. Robert Stephenson | RHP | Pensacola Blue Wahoos He’s been inconsistent this season, struggling at times and dominating at times, but he’s certainly taken a step forward this season and has shown things he didn’t really show last year. Previous Rank: 1 IP ERA H HR BB K 61.1 3.67 40 4 33 71 2. Jesse Winker | OF | Pensacola Blue Wahoos Winker has struggled to hit for power this season, but he’s still one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues when projecting forward and the power will come back around. We’re already seeing it here in June and his plate discipline remains outstanding. Previous Rank: 2 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 229 9 2 3 29 33 .250 .354 .362 3. Nick Travieso | RHP | Daytona Tortugas He’s picked up where he left off last season. He’s raised his strikeout rate every year of his career and his walk rate is down for the third straight year. He’s been on a strong run over the last seven starts, posting a 2.65 ERA in 34.0 innings with just seven walks and 34 strikeouts. Previous Rank: 4 IP ERA H HR BB K 62.2 3.02 66 3 17 55 4. Yorman Rodriguez | OF | Louisville Bats After a slow start, Rodriguez has really started turning it around and still shows off tantalizing tools. Just 22-years-old, he’s more than holding his own at the Triple-A level. Previous Rank: 5 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 229 12 3 5 13 56 .273 .314 .426 5. Sal Romano | RHP | Daytona Tortugas The big right hander has allowed just one home run in 57.2 innings pitched this season in Daytona. He’s had some ups and downs, but he’s done nothing to hurt his prospect stock and may have improved it. Previous Rank: 6 IP ERA H HR BB K 57.2 3.59 60 1 19 47 6. Amir Garrett | LHP | Daytona Tortugas The third Daytona starter to crack the list and the first left hander, Garrett has more strikeouts than innings pitched this season and has flashed dominance, including a 12 strikeout game without a walk over seven innings to end May. Previous Rank: 7 IP ERA H HR BB K 59.0 3.20 54 1 24 66 7. Raisel Iglesias | RHP | Cincinnati Reds Iglesias has spent time in the Majors and the Minors this season with mixed results. He’s flashed the ability to be very good, but he’s also had stamina problems at times as well. Previous Rank: 10 Level IP ERA H HR BB K AAA 21.1 3.80 21 3 7 11 MLB 24.2 5.11 27 1 9 25 8. Tyler Stephenson | C | Billings Mustangs The Cincinnati Reds 1st round pick is signed, sealed and will be delivered to Billings to suit up for the Mustangs later this week. He’s got a lot of tools to work with, but he’s yet to face a professional pitch. Previous Rank: Unranked 9. Phillip Ervin | OF | Daytona Tortugas Ervin got out to a very strong start as he dominated in the month of April. He’s slowed since, but he’s showing more consistent use of his tools that got him drafted in the 1st round of 2013 and much better plate discipline than last year. His stock is certainly up. Previous Rank: 12 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 269 12 0 9 29 43 .259 .343 .427 10. Alex Blandino | SS | Daytona Tortugas The 2014 1st rounder (29th pick), much like Ervin, got off to a strong start, but has slowed down a little bit since. Still, he’s showing more skills at the plate this season than last year. His plate discipline has been strong all year, but his power hasn’t showed up since April. Previous Rank: 15 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 259 10 2 4 27 37 .299 .380 .415 11. Jon Moscot | RHP | Cincinnati Reds Moscot became the Reds 1st pick from the 2012 to make it to the Majors. He was strong in Louisville to start the year and now has two big league starts. Moscot was able to top out at 96 MPH in his big league debut. Previous Rank: 16 Level IP ERA H HR BB K AAA 54.1 3.15 50 5 19 34 MLB 11.0 4.91 10 2 5 5 12. Aristides Aquino | OF | Dayton Dragons The toolsy outfielder got out to a real rough start in Dayton, but he played just 16 games before injuring his arm and he hasn’t returned. While he struggled early on, you could still see the tools that led to him being among the top prospects in the Pioneer League the year before. Previous Rank: 13 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 59 2 0 1 3 18 .226 .288 .321 13. Kyle Waldrop | OF | Pensacola Blue Wahoos After a huge season in 2014, Waldrop has taken a step backwards in 2015. He’s still hold his own, but his OPS is down over .100 points. The power is still there, but his plate discipline has taken a step backwards overall, but it’s come around of late. Previous Rank: 14 14. Jonathon Crawford | RHP | Hasn’t played in 2015 After being acquired in the offseason the Alfredo Simon trade, Crawford came to spring training with the big league club and never got a chance to pitch in a game, going down with shoulder tendonitis. He still hasn’t made an appearance, but has thrown in extended spring training. Previous Rank: 17 15. Mark Armstrong | RHP | Dayton Dragons One of the biggest jumps comes from Armstrong, who is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury, but is expected to return in a few weeks. He’s posted a 2.86 ERA over 11 starts for Dayton and has shown good control and stuff. Previous Rank: 37 IP ERA H HR BB K 56.2 2.86 58 1 14 42 16. Tyler Mahle | RHP | Dayton Dragons Mahle is another guy who has jumped up the list in a big way. His stuff has taken a step forward and he’s shown outstanding control, walking just 11 batters with 70 strikeouts in 74.0 innings. Previous Rank: 38 IP ERA H HR BB K 74.0 3.16 73 6 11 70 17. Junior Arias | OF | Daytona Tortugas Arias missed most of 2014 after a leg injury in April and he’s back in Advanced-A where he’s again flashing big tools, but still struggling with his plate discipline. Previous Rank: 20 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 152 7 1 4 6 38 .269 .303 .414 18. Tejay Antone | RHP | Dayton Dragons A third Dayton Dragons starter jumps up the list and is the first guy from outside of the Top 40 to jump into the Top 25. Antone has yet to allow a home run in 68.2 innings and has a 2.75 ERA. Previous Rank: NR IP ERA H HR BB K 68.2 2.75 75 0 12 52 19. Nick Howard | RHP | Daytona Tortugas The Reds 2014 1st rounder has had a lot of struggles and has been temporarily moved to the bullpen to try and overcome his struggles with control. He’s walked 33 batters with 24 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. The stuff is still there, but he’s been a mess this season. Previous Rank: 9 IP ERA H HR BB K 30.2 6.46 31 0 33 24 20. Gavin LaValley | 3B | Dayton Dragons It was looking like LaValley was overmatched for the first half of the first half, but he’s really turned things around lately and is showing the hitting ability we saw in 2014. Previous Rank: 24 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 237 14 1 1 21 63 .267 .342 .357 21. Wyatt Strahan | RHP | Dayton Dragons Another Dragons starter that made the list. His walk rate could be improved, but outside of that he’s been strong across the board. He’s posted a 2.90 ERA over 62.0 innings. Previous Rank: 28 IP ERA H HR BB K 62.0 2.90 63 2 28 52 22. Luis Gonzalez | SS | Dayton Dragons Injuries probably opened up a spot in Dayton to begin the season and Gonzalez initially struggled, but he’s hit much better since May rolled around. Plate discipline is still an issue for him. Defensively, he’s been inconsisten. Previous Rank: NR PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 256 6 3 2 6 45 .272 .294 .347 23. Sebastian Elizalde | OF | Daytona Tortugas The second year in the United States has gone well for Elizalde in the Florida State League. He leads the league in RBI and has 27 extra-base hits for Daytona. Previous Rank: 26 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 263 19 3 5 17 55 .268 .319 .435 24. Seth Mejias-Brean | 3B | Pensacola Blue Wahoos Mejias-Brean just came off of the disabled list, and he may not play in the field for a few weeks because of a shoulder injury. At the plate he shows strong plate discipline and he shows good power potential, but he’s struggled to find it consistently in games. Defensively he still shows strong skills at third base. Previous Rank: 19 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 193 6 2 1 28 35 .259 .373 .340 25. Carlton Daal | SS/2B | Daytona Tortugas Daal has been playing second base in favor of Alex Blandino, but he’s got a future at shortstop defensively. He’s struggled to hit for some power in the Florida State League and his plate discipline could be improved. Previous Rank: 21 PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG 201 1 0 0 9 35 .254 .291 .260 Players that graduated: Right Handed Pitcher Michael Lorenzen and Catcher Tucker Barnhart. Scouting Notes [private_subscriber] Rank Player Previous Age 1 Robert Stephenson (RHP) 1 22 Scouting Notes He’s been working on several things this season, including mixing up his fastball velocity which has ranged from 91-99 MPH this year. At times he’s looked better than I’ve ever seen before. Rank Player Previous Age 2 Jesse Winker (OF) 2 21 Scouting Notes His power, or lack of it, has been due to a high groundball rate. In June he’s nearly cut the rate of grounders in half and his power has improved. It’s only been two weeks, but it’s a step in the right direction. Rank Player Previous Age 3 Nick Travieso (RHP) 4 21 Scouting Notes An improved change up and usage of the change up has helped him attack batters with another weapon he wasn’t consistently able to in 2014. His velocity is where it was last season. Rank Player Previous Age 4 Yorman Rodriguez (OF) 5 22 Scouting Notes The plate discipline needs to be improved, but he understands the zone better than his low walk rate suggests. His pulling of the ball more should help improve his power output moving forward. Rank Player Previous Age 5 Sal Romano (RHP) 6 21 Scouting Notes While he’s battled some consistency, he’s held his own. The big jump for Romano came in a recent start where he was sitting in the mid-to-upper 90’s. It was just one start, but he’d never done that before. Rank Player Previous Age 6 Amir Garrett (LHP) 7 23 Scouting Notes Much like Romano, Garrett has watched his velocity step forward. He’s sitting a MPH or two higher than last year and topped out at 98 MPH this season. He will need to lower his walk rate. Rank Player Previous Age 7 Raisel Iglesias (RHP) 10 25 Scouting Notes Stuff isn’t the question for Igleisas, though we haven’t seen the velocity that he showed in spring training out of the bullpen when he has been starting. Questions about his stamina remain. Can he just not handle it or is he still building up after missing time after leaving Cuba? Rank Player Previous Age 8 Tyler Stephenson (C) NR 18 Scouting Notes Power. That’s the word that describes the tools Stephenson brings. He’s got big power potential at the plate. He’s got a powerful arm behind the plate. Rank Player Previous Age 9 Phillip Ervin (OF) 12 22 Scouting Notes The wrist seems healthy as he’s hit for a good amount of power. All of the tools that made him a 1st round pick are showing up more consistently these days. Rank Player Previous Age 10 Alex Blandino (SS) 15 22 Scouting Notes He’d rank a few spots higher if he could stick at shortstop, but no one outside of the Reds organization seems to think that is going to happen. If he can handle second base he keeps a lot of value, but if he has to slide to third some of that value disappears. Improvements in plate discipline after some struggles in Dayton are good to see. Rank Player Previous Age 11 Jon Moscot (RHP) 16 23 Scouting Notes While he’s not flashy, Moscot just continues to get things done by mixing four pitches and throwing strikes. Topping out at 96 MPH in his debut showed something new, and while it’s not something to expect often, knowing it’s there if needed doesn’t hurt. Rank Player Previous Age 12 Aristides Aquino (OF) 13 21 Scouting Notes Nothing has really changed for Aquino given that he hasn’t played much due to injury. In the brief time he was playing, the tools were apparent, but so was the fact that he’s still raw in pitch recognition. Rank Player Previous Age 13 Kyle Waldrop (OF) 14 23 Scouting Notes The power will play at the big league level, and he should be able to handle right handed pitching. The struggles against lefties may limit him to a platoon player though. Rank Player Previous Age 14 Jonathon Crawford (RHP) 17 23 Scouting Notes He’s been injured all year, but reports from Arizona on his rehab sound like the same guy he was last season. There’s a chance to start, though I’m not completely sold, but as a reliever he could be a back-end bullpen guy. Rank Player Previous Age 15 Mark Armstrong (RHP) 37 20 Scouting Notes He sits in the low 90’s and has a nice looking curveball. He can throw strikes and may have some additional velocity in the future. Rank Player Previous Age 16 Tyler Mahle (RHP) 38 20 Scouting Notes He averages about 90 MPH, but can reach back for 94 if he really needs it. The curveball can be inconsistent, but it’s a good one when it’s on. Rank Player Previous Age 17 Junior Arias (OF) 20 23 Scouting Notes Plus-plus speed and average power from a true center fielder is a package every team would love to have. Arias brings that to the table, but his plate discipline may hold him back offensively and make him a 4th outfielder in the long run. Rank Player Previous Age 18 Tejay Antone (RHP) NR 21 Scouting Notes A big increase in groundballs, a lowered walk rate and more strikeouts has turned Antone into a strong starting prospect. He’s been up to 95 MPH and shows three other offerings he can throw for strikes. Rank Player Previous Age 19 Nick Howard (RHP) 9 22 Scouting Notes The biggest fall on the list comes from the 1st rounder from last year. Howard’s battles with control are both mechanical and mental at this point. The stuff is there, but his battle with his arm slot and how he responds when he loses it aren’t good signs. Rank Player Previous Age 20 Gavin LaValley (3B) 24 20 Scouting Notes LaValley has slimmed down over the last year since being drafted and has even dropped some more weight during the season. His power is down and it could be a result of the weight loss, but he’s showing adjustments and turning things around. Finding the power again will be key offensively. He’s also shown improvements in the field during 2015. Rank Player Previous Age 21 Wyatt Strahan (RHP) 28 22 Scouting Notes The stuff isn’t in question, but whether he can throw enough strikes to remain a starter is. His fastball command needs plenty of work. Rank Player Previous Age 22 Luis Gonzalez (SS) NR 20 Scouting Notes Defensivley he stands out with his range and his arm, both show plus when it’s needed. The bat will flash skills, but he needs to work on controlling the strikezone better. Rank Player Previous Age 23 Sebastian Elizalde (OF) 26 23 Scouting Notes Elizalde isn’t flashy in any one area, but he’s solid across the board. He may be a bit of a tweener in terms of a possible starter or a 4th outfielder, but the floor seems high. Rank Player Previous Age 24 Seth Mejias-Brean (3B) 19 24 Scouting Notes Mejias-Brean has the raw tools to be a future starting third baseman, but he’s going to need to start getting more out of his power if that’s going to happen. Rank Player Previous Age 25 Carlton Daal (SS) 21 21 Scouting Notes He’s got the defense to stick at shortstop long term, even if he’s playing second base right now. There’s more power in his bat than he’s shown thus far, but he’s going to have to start showing it to be more than just a good glove. [/private_subscriber] Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditPocket 33 Responses AWA85 June 15, 2015 Very solid list, not too much I disagree on. Curious why you go with Ramon over Garrett when the numbers tend to favor Garrett? Track record give you a little more of a lean or just projection? As disappointing of a season as it has been for the big league club, Winker, Rodriguez and Ervin give us a little hope for the future OF. Hopefully one or two can make a strong push this second half. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 There’s no real difference in the two guys in terms of prospect value to be honest, but I’ve got to put them in some order. For me, it’s the offspeed stuff. I think Romano’s is just slightly more advanced right now and that’s why he’s got a smaller number in front of his name, but really, there’s no difference in the prospect value between the two guys in my mind… just have to put them in order because well, it’s a list. For me, 1-2 are a separate group. Then 3-7 are a group. Then 8-10 in another group. Ryan June 15, 2015 Ramano is a groundball pitcher, where as Garrett is not? Both have electric arms and i can’t wait to see them in the show. Reds4ever June 15, 2015 Garrett has surpassed Romano in my opinion his numbers are clearly better last year and even this year. It can’t be the off speed stuff Garrett gets a lot of strikeouts so his off speed has to be pretty dominant. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Don’t use numbers to scout stuff. It doesn’t work that way. Ryan June 15, 2015 Barrett Astin is having a very good year. He’s a former 3rd rounder and is a big time groundball guy. I have him in the top 20. Blandino is in my top 5. I believe in his power and he should stay somewhere in the infield, maybe just not at short. Could see him in top 100 list if he finishes strong. I like the list for the most part and appreciate you putting it together. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 I had Astin in contention for that 20-25 range, and will be perfectly honest, it may just be my complete lack of ever seeing him in person that kept him out because I’m just more familiar with the other guys – being able to put the eye test into the rankings in my head, which I’m not able to do with him. Krozley June 15, 2015 SMB’s OBP is .373, not .273. With a little more power, I think he could approach the top 10. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Fixed! Thanks for the correction. Norwood Nate June 15, 2015 Good list Doug. Two quick questions: Why no Taylor Sparks? For a guy pushed up a level higher than he should be, the ISO is real good in a league that suppresses power. A 107 wRC+ according to Fangraphs. Obviously the walks need to come way up and the K’s way down. But again, he went from rookie league to A+. Secondly, what was the rationale for putting Blandino after Ervin. I realize they’re close. But Blandino has put up better numbers than Ervin other than power, and he’s putting up really good power for a MIF regardless. Just wondering what stood out to you, especially since they’re at the same level and Blandino is a draft class behind. Thanks Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Sparks is out because he’s got a ton of work to do in the field and his plate discipline has been atrocious. He’s 22, so while he did jump from rookie to advanced-A, he’s not exactly a teenager either. For me, it’s the defense. I’m comfortable saying Ervin is actually a center fielder, while I’m not entirely sure Blandino is a second baseman. He probably is, but I don’t know for sure. Ervin’s also got better tools IMO. They are close though. If someone had them flipped in their rankings, I wouldn’t say anything about it – very similar prospect values for me. kell June 15, 2015 So u don’t think he can stick at second base or did u mean shortstop? If it is second base where does he go? Doug Gray June 15, 2015 I’m not sure he can stick at second base. I mean, he’s got the tools to, but sometimes when you put guys on that side of the bag they just can’t make it work. So until I see if, I’m going to remain a little uncertain about it. Norwood Nate June 15, 2015 I see your point about Sparks having a lot to work on. For some reason I had it in my mind he was a little younger. And considering his defense, I can see why others are ahead of him. I would agree Ervin has better tools and defensive certainty. They’re close in my mind, with Rodriguez probably just ahead in the top 10. Thanks for sharing your reasonings. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Yeah – if Sparks were a little more polished, he’d be fighting for a Top 10 spot. He’s good some loud tools, but he’s just incredibly raw at this point. MK June 15, 2015 Tanner Rahier had more to do getting Sparks to Daytona than Sparks. MK June 15, 2015 Winker is batting ninth today in the Pensacola line-up. Is a message being sent? AWA85 June 15, 2015 Was just coming to mention the same thing on Winker. Wonder if they are trying to get him to relax or what is going on. weigarp June 15, 2015 That whole line up looked like it had been picked out of a hat. But, they won! HavaKlu June 15, 2015 Junior Arias should be in the top 25—-I’d wager that he has more “tools’ than Yorman Rodriguez. And , I know he’s in A ball and Yorman’s in AAA and he’s 7 months older than Yorman but it looks like he has more speed and power than Yorman. I’m sorry—-I should say top 15. Certainly as high as Crawford whom we’ve never seen. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Speed is where Arias has the edge on Rodriguez – though Rodriguez is a plus runner. Arias is just one of those plus-plus guys. That’s the only place Arias has an edge, toolswise, on Rodriguez. And Rodriguez is more advanced today, younger and has a little more upside with better hitting tools. If Arias had a little better plate discipline, or had shown it at any point in his career, he’d be higher. But he hasn’t. I have seen Crawford in person. Twice. He wasn’t a Red at the time, but I’ve seen him twice. There’s plenty to like, but some question marks as well. Billy June 15, 2015 A suggestion for you, Doug. In the future, can you include the age and level of the player in their stat line? I think it is easy for many of us to look at Yorman and think, “He’s been around forever. He’s not worth being a number 4 prospect.” When you see where the other 22 year-olds are though, it helps the ranking make sense. The Duke June 15, 2015 Did Santillan not make the list, or did you not include him since he hasn’t signed yet? He’s a long long way away, but has huge upside. Doug Gray June 15, 2015 He didn’t make the list. With the concerns about his control, I want to see what he can do in Arizona and get some reports on him. He could be a guy that’s pushing the Top 10 in October, but right now, I just wasn’t comfortable with him making it. He was eligible for my list, just chose to not include him in the Top 25 just yet. RedsKoolAidDrinker June 15, 2015 More concern than Nick Howard’s control? Brad Konerman June 15, 2015 Good list. One guy I am excited to see play in Billings is SS Blake Trahan. I can see him on this list by the off-season. The Duke June 16, 2015 Some of the pundits viewed him as a fringe first rounder. Let’s hope they were right. kell June 15, 2015 The list looks pretty good considering all that can happen with these young men. Say Howard figures out his problems he could fly back up. I was also glad u realized we are looking at half a season so you can’t overreact,good or bad,too much. Guys appear seemingly out of nowhere (Diaz,Perez) then disappear and of course the opposite happens. dale June 15, 2015 With both Moscot and Cingrani heading to the DL who do the Reds call up? Doug Gray June 15, 2015 Well, Villarreal came up for Cingrani, and honestly, I think he stays for a little bit at this point. I’m placing my bet on Josh Smith coming up for Moscot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought up someone for the bench or even bullpen until the rotation spot comes back around. Michael June 16, 2015 Good list Doug. Who just missed the list, and who do you think has the best chance to move up into the 10 or so of it? RDriesen June 16, 2015 That list shows how badly we need to trade for some top position prospects (who can get on base). Tom June 17, 2015 Glad to see Elizalde crack the top 25. It’s a shame his 17.9% BB% from Dayton last year didn’t hold through his promotion to A+. Can you touch on Dayton CF Brian O’Grady. Curious as to if he was close to making the top 25 and seeing that he’s played both corner OF spots as well as 1B, can he stick at CF? With a 16% BB%, 18 SB in 22 attempts, and .263/.387/.423/.810 line he might be able to do for the Reds leadoff spot what Hamilton can’t. These numbers match what he did last season at Billings. He’s 23, so it’s be nice to see him promoted to Daytona soon to see how he fares there.