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Thread: Checking In on Red Prospect Development at Mid-Season (Long & Rambling)

  1. #1
    Member Bourgeois Zee's Avatar
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    Dec 2014

    Checking In on Red Prospect Development at Mid-Season (Long & Rambling)

    In thinking about the system as a whole, there's no doubt that, despite some health issues among top prospects, this season has been an unqualified success. The Reds' system, previously ranked in the mid-20s by most experts, should see a substantial mid-season (or 2022) bump simply because most questions about Red minor leaguers have been answered postively. They've morphed into a system that's fairly deep with interesting players with some high upside players at the top. Too, the emergence of players like Urbaez, Ashcraft, Proctor, and Davis auger well for developmental philosophies. Most interesting, the entire system has developed key players in key positions this season.

    What's Happened at the Major League Level?
    2B Jonathan India and C/ 1B Tyler Stephenson have become regulars who've shown they're likely going to be first-division starters at the least with outside shots at All-Star appearances. Stephenson, in particular, has shown upside that should allow the Reds to jettison a reasonably expensive bat in favor of his cheap production (and a cheaper free agent as his backup). India, meanwhile, has answered most questions positively, showing a baseball acumen, speed, glove, and patience that should see him atop a major league batting order for at least a few years.

    Were that it, the Reds likely would have been happy. However, both Tony Santillan and Vlad Gutierrez have shown competence as back-of-the-rotation guys or relief arms. Interestingly, the two pitchers have identical 109 ERA+ while the two offensive rookies have 109 OPS+. Four rookies who've produced at 10 percent above league average? That's the mark of one of the better farms in baseball.

    What About Next Season?
    The Reds' top prospects have all graduating to the upper minor leagues. Top prospect Hunter Greene is starting in AAA and currently sporting a 2.90 ERA with pinball peripherals. He's also proven healthy which was the big worry coming back from Tommy John surgery. He's going to be a starting arm next season and one of the leading contenders, I suspect, for Rookie of the Year (assuming they don't play games with his service time). SS Jose Barrero (Garcia) was dropped to AA to develop and did just that. He's now in AAA and dominating-- a season-long line of .300/ .382/ .498/ .880 and a HR in the Futures Game should mean Barrero gets time either later this season or starts next year in Cincinnati. He, too, should see some consideration for Rookie of the Year pre-season (assuming his 68 PA in 2020 didn't knock him out of that).

    If that were all for next year, it'd be a lot. But there's some opportunity for depth at AAA as well. Both Max Schrock and Alejo Lopez have hit like gangbusters in AAA and deserve some time. They play the same spots-- 2B/ 3B with decent speed-- so they'll both need to add either positional flexibility or other facets to their game. Either way, both should be either on the major league squad or the I-71 Shuttle between Cincinnati and Louisville. Both will have multiple options left next season.

    In the OF, the situation is a bit less rosy. AAA OF TJ Friedl has been wonderful-- .282/ .380/ .440/ .820 even with a horrid slump at the beginning of the season-- and profiles as a bench bat/ backup OF. He's supposed to be a good defensive CF and has speed and patience, two attributes the parent club could use. Beyond Friedl, however, the cupboard at AAA is bare.

    Relievers are plentiful. The question is whether they'll be good. RJ Alaniz has been good all year... and skipped over each time the Reds needed help. Most years, that's a guy they lean on. Not so now. The continuing dominance of Reiver Sanmartin, the reemergence of Mac Sceroler (on a timeline more conducive to his development), and Dauri Moreta means they can perhaps find depth that's super cheap. Add Riley O'Brien too (as he's almost certain to be squeezed into the pen due to those starters coming after him (and those who've graduated before).

    What's on the Horizon?
    Nick Lodolo has been even better in AA than Greene was, though his lack of innings (36 on the season) may obfuscate those numbers slightly. He's still remarkably stingy with the BB and has kept his K rate very high (13.8). That's a great sign. Lodolo may well also be in the mix for a starting berth next season, but more likely will stay on a 2023 timeline. Graham Ashcraft should also be a 2023 graduate. He's come out of nowhere to, statistically, dominate A+ and be among the AA league leaders currently. One bad start, a 2.33 ERA, and a 1.005 WHIP (not to mention a 3:1 K:BB ratio and a K rate of nearly 12) probably means at least consideration in the top 100 prospects in baseball. He's probably the most pleasant surprise among Red prospects and may challenge for a starting spot in 2023.

    Braxton Roxby probably deserves special mention as a relief arm. I suspect his numbers-- which are ridiculous, btw-- will presage a AA bump soon. If that frisbee slider proves real there, that K rate is too awesome to ignore. , Eddie Demurias, [URL="https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=sanmar000rei"], in short numbers, has also proven interesting enough to give consideration to. He may earn a 40-man slot and a chance to pitch in Cincinnati as early as next season.

    Offensively, the ceilings are far less impressive, but the depth may help. Two catchers and two OF might give at least some help to the parent club in 2023. Mark Kolovszary started out like a house afire and has cooled significantly after spending some time as Team USA's starting catcher. He profiles as a backup catcher with quality defense and perhaps some burgeoning power. Chuckie Robinson, a minor league Rule 5 pick, is a year older but profiles to the same backup spot. He was able to earn some time after Kolovszary was sent to play with the US squad and has earned a time share at the position in AA. He's showing power, patience, and a very solid K:BB ratio.

    OF TJ Hopkins might be the second-most surprising breakout Red prospect this year. Challenged with AA after spending 2019 in the Pioneer League, he's found patience, pop, and a solid batting eye-- enough for a seasonal line of .303/ .373/ .479/ .851. That's 34% above league average. He's slightly older for a prospect, but has at least put his name in there as a possibility with a great season. Lorenzo Cedrola hasn't had quite the same season and isn't quite as powerful as Hopkins, but he does supply speed and a BA. At age 23, he's also a year young and has had more minor league success. Cedrola is supposed to have very good speed, but hasn't shown it much on the bases (4 SB in 8 attempts), and he refuses to take a walk. Still, as a depth piece who might end up a 5th OF, he's not bad.

    Draftees SS Matt McLain, P Andrew Abbott, C Mat Nelson, SS Jose Torres, and others may also get into the picture as early as 2023. All profile to move relatively quickly and are relatively old for professional debuts. Abott, in particular, could move very fast as a relief arm. He has that experience and enough stuff to be interesting.

    Further Away?
    2B/ CF Brian Rey destroyed A+ ball, got a quick call-up to AA, and has since struggled. Still, his overall numbers are .307/ .361/ .497/ .859 as a 23-year-old in AA. He may well put up some very intriguing AA numbers as he gets used to the league the second half of this season and especially at the onset of next year. I like that combination of power and BA, but he refuses to take a BB. That might hurt moving forward. Another 2B has largely taken his spot-- Francisco Urbaez. He took over the starting spot in his first taste of professional baseball as an NDFA and has gone .335/ .424/ .466/ .890. That BA ranks him second among qualified A+ hitters, fwiw, and the OBP ranks fourth. What's more, he's showing pop and patience without K'ing at too high a rate. That 23:33 BB:K ratio in just over 200 PAs is tasty.

    On the pitching mound, Noah Davis has broken through. After a solid debut in the Pioneer League in 2019, the year off saw him develop his pitches. Now, he's tossing BBs to the tune of a 3.23 ERA with nearly 11 K (and unfortunately, 4.3 BB) per game. He's also allowed 40 hits in more than 60 IP. That equals out to a WHIP at 1125. He's old for the level, but may be of interest as either a SP or a RP moving forward. Probably going to move quickly.

    James Proctor deserves to be mentioned similarly. He's another older (23) prospect playing down a level or two and dominating. (As he should.) That 1.43 ERA is shiny (as are the peripherals). Have I mentioned this is his first taste of professional baseball as an NDFA? Lots to like there and one to keep an eye on.

    Speaking of, Nick Howard deserves special mention. After developing the yips, the former 1st rounder has battled back and sports some fine numbers in AA. He probably deserves some time either at AAA or in the major leagues this season just to see what he can bring. He's 28, so time isn't on his side. Still, I'd love to see that particular feel good story turn out alright.

    Beyond that, injuries have hit the Reds pretty hard. Bryce Bonnin has pitched well in limited innings. So has Christian Roa. Both were hurt for much of the season. The rest of this season may see them emerge as top 10 prospects-- or not. Evan Kravetz has six starts and has done really well, but is just now coming back after a month layoff. Others who've struggled with injuries include top 10 prospects 2B Tyler Callihan (who'd been hitting as well as anyone on the team while flashing some interesting speed when he got hurt), Rece Hinds, and Austin Hendrick.

    What Missing?
    Yeah, while there's lots of upside in the pitching department, most of the offensive stars are already playing in Cincinnati or a long, long way away. What's left on the farm are largely high floor depth guys. (Which, again, isn't bad.) After Barrero, McLain is the next bet for SS. One of them has to produce. OF is an issue. Castellanos and Winker are largely about it beyond career second division starters and the occasional healthy week from Senzel. The catching corps could use a guy behind Stephenson (though I like a few of the options they're running out there currently.

    Moving forward, this season's draftees have a real chance to bolster those weak spots. If McLain is for real at SS, that goes a long way to making the spot a strength rather than a question mark. (Ditto Torres as a utility piece who can run into a few while playing great D.) I love the addition of Ibarra at 1B and hope he shows out as a big bopper. That would also move the system into a really interesting spot. Some pitchers are almost sure the develop-- really like Abbott as a relief arm who could be ready as early as next season's OD, for example-- but they don't have to.

    In short, the minor leagues have, thus far, been about as positive as they could be.


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  4. #2
    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Checking In on Red Prospect Development at Mid-Season (Long & Rambling)

    I agree with most everything. One of the reasons I wanted college hitters in the draft was the lack of impact hitters other than Barerra in High A and above. And the overall failure so far of our HS hitters over the last 2 years. (What the heck is the problem with Hendrick? Hitting .176).

    Hinds, Callihan, Hendrick are 20. The college guys we drafted are all essentially 22, so it helps fill that gap, and give the HS guys time to develop.

    I'm significantly higher on Diehl than San Martin or O'Brien. O'Brien has worse ERA than Goodeau !! I love Diehl's Strikeout to walk ratio. (39/5). Maybe his stuff doesn't translate. But I'd sure like to know.

    I assume Drew Mount will turn into a pumpkin. But I'm watching with interest.

    I'm hoping if we have this talk again at end of the season, Roa and Bonin are highlighted. Want to talk about K/BB ratios? Bonin - 14/1 Roa 8/0

    And the latest Latin to spark our imagination? Elly De La Cruz, just promoted to High A. 19 1/2 years old. Dominated in Arizona.
    Bud Selig: "I'm the worst commissioner ever"
    Rob Manfred: "Hold my beer"


  5. #3
    Member Bourgeois Zee's Avatar
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    Dec 2014

    Re: Checking In on Red Prospect Development at Mid-Season (Long & Rambling)

    Quote Originally Posted by JaxRed View Post
    I'm hoping if we have this talk again at end of the season, Roa and Bonin are highlighted. Want to talk about K/BB ratios? Bonin - 14/1 Roa 8/0
    I'd argue the trio of Kravetz, Roa, and Bonnin could all force their way into the Reds' top 10 list by the end of the season.

    All have superior stuff and have put up some gaudy peripherals.

    Offensively, Brian Rey, Victor Ruiz, and Hendrick are my three picks to click. All have power and have held their own despite poor BAs/ slight struggles.

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