It’s that time again. We’re going to check on the Cincinnati Reds‘ top prospect every single week from now until the season’s over or until Johnny Cueto‘s traded, whatever comes first. Actually, we’ll still be doing this if the Reds trade Cueto; it will just feel like the season’s over if that happens before October.
The top 10 Reds prospect list is of course provided by Baseball America and features many players whose stock you’re already witnessing move up or down. Nevertheless, we’ll visit all 10 and provide a weekly update on the future of this Reds organization, a future which commands even more attention now with the likely departure of Johnny Cueto and possibly the beginning of a reloading period.
10. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
The Louisville Bats are just seven games into the season, so treat the following sample size with the reverence it deserves. He’s slashing just .217/.308/.391 in 23 at-bats. He’s recorded five hits, including a double and a home run.
Unfortunately, he’s struck out eight times, and in seven games, you’d like to see fewer strikeouts than games played. Considering that and his slashing line, the young man’s stock isn’t so high at the moment. But he had a mediocre year last season as well. In 119 games in Double-A, Rodriguez slashed .262/.331/.389. In 2013, he finished the season ranked as the Reds’ No. 5 prospect. He was unranked last year and sits at the bottom of the top 10.
9. Aristides Aquino, OF
Aristides Aquino has only seven games played as well, so again, sample size. He’s slashing .192/.185/.231 and has struck out a whopping 10 times. It’s been a rough start for the young slugger, but there’s reason to believe he’ll rebound.
Last year, Aquino saw the most at-bats he’d ever had in a single season. He slashed .292/.342/.577, had 83 hits in 71 games played, hit 16 home runs and drove in 64 RBI. He only struck out 66 times, fewer than one a game. In fairness, it was only the Pioneer League, but also in fairness, the kid is only 20.
8. Nick Travieso, RHP
By now, most are familiar with the Reds’ first-round 14th overall draft pick from 2012 Nick Travieso. The Reds have big plans for him, and as of now, he’s inspiring plenty of confidence and hope for the future.
To revisit, last year Travieso went 14-5 for the Dayton Dragons with a 3.03 ERA and an impressive 1.17 WHIP. He recorded 114 strikeouts compared to just 44 walks. And after two games in now the High-A Florida State League, he’s picked up right where he left off.
Travieso‘s 1-1 with an ERA of 2.19 and 10 strikeouts. His WHIP is currently a filthy 0.81.
7. Amir Garrett, LHP
This marks the first time that the Reds’ 22nd-round pick from 2011 makes their top-10 prospects list. In now his third career minor league season, Garrett is 9-14 with an ERA of 4.09. While that line doesn’t pop, he did have an impressive season last year.
Garrett went 7-8 with a 3.65 era in 27 starts for the Dayton Dragons. He recorded 127 strikeouts and just 51 walks. He has yet to pitch in a game this season, but the kid has moxie. According to Brian Linder of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, he’s a superb athlete who actually played two years for St. John’s and averaged 6.4 points a game.
The first game he pitched in this season for the High-A Daytona Tortugas was suspended and will resume May 1. But according to Chris Boyle of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the rain delay was the “only thing that could cool off Amir Garrett and his 95 mph fastball.” He struck out five batters in less than three innings before the delay.
6. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
Anthony DeSclafani has been a pleasant early surprise. In two MLB starts, he’s 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. In 13 innings, he’s allowed only seven hits. More impressively, he’s struck out 11 batters and walked just three.
The Reds absolutely need this young man to have a big year. So far, he’s performed better than the pitcher he was traded for, which means little in April, but if DeSclafani can either replicate or do better than Mat Latos, the Reds are going to be a serious problem for hitters four out of every five days when Homer Bailey returns.
5. Nick Howard, RHP
Another first-round draft pick, Nick Howard is picking up where he left off as well. He posted a 2-1 record with a 3.74 ERA in 11 games—five of them were starts—as he’s finally made the transition from bullpen to starting pitcher.
He’s only pitched one game for the High-A Daytona Tortugas, but it was a good one. He went five innings, allowed no runs and struck out three batters en route to his first win of the season. Between Howard and Travieso, the future of the Reds starting rotation is currently trending up.
4. Michael Lorenzen, RHP
Michael Lorenzen is off to a great start. In his first start for the Triple-A Louisville Bats, he went seven innings, allowed no runs, struck out three and only allowed three hits. This is very important considering the Reds’ bullpen woes.
He’s currently one of two options Cincinnati has to fix the bullpen right now. I get the Reds are grooming him to be a starter. But as this list is demonstrating, there are many promising talents they’re grooming to start. Furthermore, would Lorenzen be the first to go from MLB bullpen to starting pitcher? Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn ring a bell?
This kid needed to get called up yesterday. And if not him, someone else still to be called up from this list.
3. Jesse Winker, OF
The fan-favorite slugger is off to a very slow start in Double-A. He’s currently slashing .154/.214/.231 with only two hits in 13 at-bats. Sample-size alert—consider the following: Double-A is still the highest he’s played in professional baseball. Last year, in 77 games, Winker slashed .208/.326/.351.
Even that’s not really a serious sample size—it was only 21 games. But he’s yet to perform on the Double-A level. It would literally take one afternoon to change his entire slashing line for this season, so make of it what you will. His stock’s not moving up though.
2. Raisel Iglesias, RHP
Raisel Iglesias hasn’t pitched since we saw him pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals, when he allowed three runs in five innings and ended up with a no-decision. He’s since been relegated to Triple-A, where he’s expected to continue his education as a starter.
Again, that’s not necessary right now while the major league club is surrendering vital division games in the eighth inning. Lorenzen or Iglesias could be more serviceable in that role instead of Kevin Gregg, who clearly needs to figure out how to make batters miss meatballs.
I don’t think the place to do that is in the eighth inning for a team that could be selling by the All-Star break. Either Iglesias or Lorenzen can help this team right now.
1. Robert Stephenson, RHP
We end this list with, of course, the unrivaled and undisputed No. 1 Reds prospect, Robert Stephenson. It’s been a rough stretch for “The Future.” He finished 7-10 with a 4.74 ERA and a WHIP of 1.38 in Double-A last season.
He’s still in Double-A, and he lost his first decision by allowing three runs in 5.2 innings. So he’s 0-1 with an ERA of 4.76. He enters now his third year in Double-A, so he needs to have a good season this year.
Stats courtesy of BaseballAmerica.com unless noted otherwise and are current as of April 16.
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