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Cincinnati Reds Top 20 2015 PRE-SEASON prospects in review

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Raisel Iglesias
Raisel Iglesias
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon we complete our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Cincinnati Reds.

This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.

These are the pre-season grades.

This list was originally published February 13, 2015

1) Jesse Winker, OF, Grade A-/B+:
Slow start but caught fire, hitting .278/.385/.430 overall in Double-A including .312/.423/.524 in last 54 games. Do not underestimate this bat.
2) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Grade A-/B+:
3.47 ERA in 23 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, 133/66 K/BB in 124 innings, 89 hits. Continues to run up impressive K/IP and H/IP marks while having sporadic command issues. I still like him.
3) Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Grade B:
Cuban defector has 3.93 ERA, 77/21 K/BB in 73 major league innings, 63 hits. He’s held his own overall and has some outstanding games on the docket, sharp lately and could improve much further.
4) Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Grade B-/B:
Rushed to majors and it showed, 5.46 ERA with 65/53 K/BB in 91 innings, 97 hits. Down in Triple-A now for refresher course. Will try again next year; retains long-term potential.
5) Alex Blandino, INF, Grade B-:
Solid in High-A (.294/.370./438 in 299 at-bats), having adjustment issues in Double-A (.185/.316/.321 in 81 at-bats) though drawing walks at least, shortstop defense better than anticipated. Solid talent.

6) Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Grade B-:
Has held his own in 25 major league starts, 3.84 ERA with 114/50 K/BB in 150 innings, 154 hits. I think he can build and improve on this, at worst an effective inning-eater.
7) Nick Howard, RHP, Grade B-:
Horrendous control problems in High-A, 6.63 ERA with 31/50 K/BB in 38 innings, 50 walks is not a typo. On disabled list since mid-July with shoulder trouble. I haven’t heard what the prognosis is, but Doug Gray probably knows.
8) Amir Garrett, LHP, Grade B-:
Fine season in High-A, 2.41 ERA with 131/54 K/BB in 134 innings, 112 hits. Well-built 6-5 lefty with stuff to hold major league rotation spot as long as command is there. Double-A transition in 2016 will be illuminating.
9) Nick Travieso, RHP, Grade B-:
2.89 ERA with 72/30 K/BB in 87 innings in High-A, missed much of season after getting hit with line drive in June game. Overall a good follow-up to successful 2014 season, ready for Double-A.
10) Aristedes Aquino, OF, Grade B-/C+:
Hitting .248/.286/.400 with six homers, 11 walks, 56 strikeouts in 250 at-bats between 52 games in Low-A and 13 games in the Pioneer League. Scouting reports match the numbers: lots of raw power, but holes in his approach very evident in Midwest League.

11) Kyle Waldrop, OF, Grade B-/C+
: Solid in Double-A (.277/.313/.430), weak in Triple-A (.167/.195/.210), observers from International League report difficulties with over-aggression, which matches the numbers (18/105 BB/K on the season).
12) Jonathan Crawford, RHP, Grade C+/B-:
Just 13 innings between High-A and rookie ball rehab, 5.93 ERA, 14/4 K/BB, 13 hits. On DL, then off, now back on again. Status uncertain due to shoulder issues.
13) Daniel Corcino, RHP, Grade C+:
Designated for assignment in April, claimed on waivers by Dodgers, then designated for assignment again and not claimed. Currently on Dodgers Double-A disabled list, has pitched seven innings this year, none since mid-May.
14) Phil Ervin, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .247/.348/.392 with 14 homers, 32 steals, 60 walks, 88 strikeouts in 429 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Large reduction in strikeout rate this year and doing well on the bases, still looking to fully tap his power. Breakout candidate for 2016.
15) Gavin LaValley, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .266/.342/.359 with four homers, 46 walks, 105 strikeouts in 440 at-bats in Low-A. Hasn’t produced expected power in his 6-3, 235 frame but just 20. Defense at third has been better than expected.

16) Tyler Mahle, RHP, Grade C+:
Excellent season in Low-A, 2.43 ERA with 128/24 K/BB in 141 innings, 134 hits. Midwest League observers very impressed with his command, just 20 years old.
17) Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .236/.346/.351 with six homers, 59 walks, 89 strikeouts in 365 at-bats in Double-A. I thought he was an offensive sleeper but he has not awakened, he does show decent plate discipline and a fine glove at third base, very strong arm and good range and reliability. Could still surprise.
18) Sal Romano, RHP, Grade C+:
Decent in High-A (3.46, 79/33 K/BB in 104, 103 hits) but hit very hard in Double-A (16.50, 6/10 K/BB in 12, 24 hits). Has time to improve at age 21, though many observers think he’ll be a reliever eventually.
19) Chad Wallach, C, Grade C+:
Hitting .251/.332/.353 with three homers, 37 walks, 74 strikeouts in 351 at-bats in High-A, split between catcher and first base. 22% of runners caught but very low passed ball rates and no errors in 43 games. Need to see more power.
20) Wyatt Strahan, RHP, Grade C+:
Good year in Low-A, 2.78 ERA with 117/49 K/BB in 152 innings, 147 hits, however as a college pitcher (third round, USC, 2014) he should be expected to perform well in the Midwest League.
21) Taylor Sparks, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .246/.299/.397 with 12 homers, 13 steals, 28 walks, 154 strikeouts in 431 at-bats in High-A. Has the tools to be a regular but raw for a college product, error-prone at third and held back offensively by over-aggressiveness.

It is hard to spin a 52-74, last-place standing in the National League Central as anything positive, of course, but the Reds do have material to work with as the regroup/rebuild. Eugenio Suarez (not a rookie entering 2015 so not listed here) is just 23 and has been solid; more on him in a separate article soon. Tucker Barnhart will have a long career as a reserve catcher. The best player development news came on the mound where Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani put their claims in for long-term rotation spots. Incumbent prospects Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson are positioned for trials in 2016; Amir Garrett and Alex Blandino may not be far behind.

I remain a relative skeptic about outfielder Yorman Rodriguez but he has made progress reducing his strikeouts and tapping his power in Triple-A. He’s still just 23. Right-hander Layne Somsen is a 26-year-old former 22nd round pick but has pitched well in the high minors (2.88, 56/25 K/BB in 56, 43 hits) and has impressed some International League observers as a bullpen sleeper.

The big Johnny Cueto trade with the Kansas City Royals added lefties Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb, both capable of helping next year, and highly-promising lefty Cody Reed (2.67, 127/40 K/BB in 132 innings between High-A and Double-A) who could be the best of the trio. Shipping Mike Leake to the Giants provided promising right-hander Keury Mella (96 MPH, 106/41 K/BB with 3.23 ERA in 103 innings in High-A) and the power bat of Triple-A vet Adam Duvall.

The 2015 draft added catcher Tyler Stephenson, who projects as above-average both behind the plate and standing at it, though as a prep bat he’ll need time of course. Second round pick Antonio Santillan can hit 97 MPH but will also need development patience as a prep arm. RHP Tanner Rainey and shortstop Blake Trahan will make faster impacts though with less upside.