Now that the minor league seasons have less than one month left to play this is an update on the progress of Cincinnati prospects since the last one around midseason. Young players often face challenges when rising to higher levels and often a strong finish can salvage a season and allow them to build a case for further advancement the next year. The list below was made before the beginning of the season and does not include players that entered the system from the draft. For example, top choice Phil Ervin is definitely one of the organization's top prospects, but he is absent because he was still at Samford University when the list was comprised.
1. Billy Hamilton. The speedster has improved his AVG/OB to .281/.333 since the start of July. Of course the first thing that comes to attention when examining his stats are stolen bases and though he won't break triple digits for a third consecutive season he's swiped a remarkable 68 of 80 attempts (85%) in 104 games against AAA competition. In the field he's getting positive reviews at his new defensive position while running down 2.7 putouts per game in centerfield. He still needs to improve his contact, but he's making a case for an expansion call-up to the Reds, if nothing else but to have a dangerous pinch-runner available in one of the extra roster spots. Stock Up.
2. Tony Cingrani. The southpaw has been with the Reds most of the season and will graduate from prospect lists next season. During unexpected duty replacing injured Johnny Cueto he's proved that he belongs at the MLB level. He still needs further development of secondary offerings, but he's kept an ERA close to a flat three in spite of that and will likely have spot in the Cincinnati rotation come opening day next April. Stock Up.
3. Daniel Corcino. He's shown that he needs another year at the AAA level which is no shame for a 22 year-old pitcher. His season has been very challenging against International League hitters, but he's doing some good work toward salvaging it and has a sub-three ERA over his last five starts while holding opposing hitters below a .200 average. Command has been an issue all season long, but the low average against him recently has allowed him to maintain the low ERA despite walking twelve in 28 innings over that period. No Change.
4. Robert Stephenson. He proved he'd mastered the low-A level and allowed only four earned runs and racked up a 65/13 K/BB ratio over his last 50 innings there. That earned a promotion to Bakersfield last month where he debuted with two solid starts before getting roughed up in his last one. He's still only 20, so there's no need to fast-track him. He should be expected to return to the California league at the beginning of next season with plans to see AA action before the end of 2014. Stock Up.
5. Nick Travieso. He didn't start pitching competitively until June this season and has gotten better against Midwest League hitters as his season has progressed. Travieso is sitting on an ERA slightly over five on the year after skipping over the Pioneer League. Since he's only nineteen the Reds probably plan to return him to low-A at the beginning of next year for his first full professional season. No Change.
6. Jesse Winker. After a hot start to 2013 his bat cooled down in July. It's picked back up in August and he's hit .361/.452 OB with a couple of homers in his last ten games. It's one week before his twentieth birthday and he's shown he's ready for high-A next year. Stock Up.
7. Henry Rodriguez. His bat has been on fire thus far this month and he's hit .457/.500 OB in his last ten games. That has brought him up to .261/.302 on the season and he appears to be peaking in time for another expansion call-up with the Reds. Stock Up.
8. Ryan Wright. Wright has been steady all season long at Bakersfield and has hit .327/.355 OB since the start of July. It's a bit surprising that he hasn't seen AA action, but that should happen in the not-too-distant future. No Change.
9. Neftali Soto. Soto has been steady all year and is making up for a slow July with a strong August. He's gotten a couple of brief stints with the Reds this season while transitioning back to third base to get out from behind their Votto-block. His .323 AVG/.417 OB over the last nine games should get him another trip up I71 after roster expansion. No Change.
10. Ismael Guillon. He had a good June after struggling mightily the first two months of the season. He's been plagued with command issues all season long and not ready for high-A at the age of 21. Signing a second contract after an arm injury voided his first one has now created complications on how long the Reds retain control over this prospect. The potential is still there but limitations on the time frame to develop it will cause additional consideration for his spot on the 40-man roster. Stock Down.
11. Steve Selsky. Since his demotion from Pensacola Selsky has once again proved his can hit California League pitching, batting .304/.393 OB with 13 homers in 77 games with Bakersfield. At the age of 23 he's one of the older players on the Blaze roster, but in fairness he only got 32 games to prove himself at AA before returning. Perhaps multiple injuries to their outfield prompted the Reds to stock additional veterans in their upper minor league levels. Selsky has earned another shot at the higher level and will probably need to make it stick next year. No Change.
12. Ryan LaMarre. His production in AA this season will be a drop-off from what he did at Pensacola last year, but he's picked up it significantly since July. At the age of 24 he needs a strong finish to make a case for AAA next year. Stock Down.
13. Kyle Lotzkar. His conversion into the bullpen has not been a successful one and he's continued to get hit hard since a demotion back to low-A. He's 24 years old and fell behind in development from an earlier Tommy John surgery. Now his mid-90's fastball and high draft pick investment might be enough to retain his spot on the 40-man roster as the Reds hope that translates into more success on the mound. Stock Down.
14. Donald Lutz. It was a mixed blessing for Lutz when a couple of outfield injuries created an unexpected call-up to the Reds for almost two months this season. Before his spot on the 40-man roster was considered more of a Rule 5 protection and it must have been a thrill for him to be a major leaguer and not doing a bad job at it, hitting .241 as a reserve. However, he did spend a lot of time on their bench this season instead of playing regularly as a minor leaguer. Since returning he's hit .258, but has only homered once in 37 games. No Change.
15. Drew Cisco. After a nice start he rebounded from a rough June with a nice July. He's gotten hit hard in a couple of August outings, but his overall ERA is still under four and he's made a case for advancement to high-A next season. No Change.
16. Chad Rogers. This late-rounder has made it to the AAA level where prior to his last outing Thursday he had a streak of four starts where he allowed only one earned run in 24 innings. He's showing that he belongs at the top minor league level and should be close to the top of the organizational depth chart and get some attention should the Reds need help from the from the farm to fill a rotation spot next year. Stock Up.
17. Sean Buckley. Injury has robbed his entire season and limited him to six early games at Bakersfield. Stock Down.
18. Carlos Contreras. His conversion into the rotation at Bakersfield was a good one and his sub-four ERA there was good enough to earn a spot on the Cali League All Star team. Since then he's continued that success and is around a flat three in four starts since a promotion to Pensacola. Stock Up.
19. Yorman Rodriguez. It appears things are starting to come together for this Venezuelan lottery ticket in who the Reds invested a heavy signing bonus. He's still only twenty years old and has acquitted himself well since a promotion to AA, hitting .270/.335. Cincinnati has not been bashful to promote him to compete against older competition and it would be no surprise to see Rodriguez donning a Louisville uniform in 2014. He's on the 40-man roster and though not likely, it wouldn't be a huge shocker to see him provide outfield depth with the Reds after roster expansion. Stock Up.
20. Seth Mejias-Brean. Mejias-Brean was on fire in July, hitting .392/.475 OB during the month and added the long-ball to his arsenal with six homers boosting his slugging percentage to .676 over that time. He's now close to the .300 AVG level overall on the season and is ready for Bakersfield next season. Stock Up.
21. Amir Garrett. Garrett started strong at Billings this season after finishing up his basketball season at St. John's. That earned him promotion to Dayton where the going hasn't been as smooth against higher level hitters. If the Reds had their preference he'd probably give up the hoops and concentrate on developing his game on the mound. As it is they will be content to polishing off his game as best they can when with his time available. Even though he did not play high school baseball he got a contract by exciting several teams at a tryout camp and he's given indications since that the stuff in that exhibition was legit. Stock Up.
22. Tucker Barnhart. The top Reds catching prospect came into the year with a solid, non-flashy reputation and has since put together a solid, non-flashy season. His average dipped in June, but he's been hitting .323/.424 OB at Pensacola since. That will punch his ticket for trip to Lousiville to start next season. Stock Up.
23. Travis Mattair. Cincinnati kept Mattair at Pensacola after a poor start and he's since hit .317/.384 OB since July. It's not a big surprise that his run production has dropped off from what he did in the California League last year, but he's showing that he belongs in the Southern League. He fell a bit behind when he left baseball to pursue a college basketball career. Now 24 years old he'll more likely return to the Wahoos next year with a chance to earn a promotion to Louisville, which isn't bad for a minor league Rule 5 pickup. No Change.
24. Sal Romano. Romano was hit hard in July, but he did make the Midwest League All Star team as a nineteen year-old. His ERA has climbed up close to five and at his age the Reds might consider a return trip to Dayton to start next season. Even if that happens, they probably will look to promote him to Bakersfield before the end of the year. No Change.
25. Josh Fellhauer. After debuting at AAA to start the season, Fellhauer has once again shown that he knows the way to first base and is currently hitting .270/.361 OB. He's been on a tear recently and has gone 10-19 (.526) since the beginning of this month. His handicap remains the same, he lacks power desired in a corner outfield position and there is a question on his range in center. Unfortunately for him the Billy Hamilton project has taken most of the centerfield action at Louisville this season, but Fellhauer is continuing to move toward a job as a utility outfielder on the MLB level. No Change.
26. Kyle Waldrop. Before the season Waldrop was a candidate to have power numbers jump with a move to the hitter-friendly venues of the California League and he's already increased his home run total from eight last season to nineteen thus far this year. He's improved the frequency at which he's getting on base, hitting .315 since July and shown readiness for a promotion to AA next year. No Change.
27. Gabriel Rosa. It appears that Rosa has put the hip injury behind him that short-circuited his season last year. He's batting slightly over .200 while playing regularly at Billings. He recently turned twenty years old and the Reds knew they were getting a raw product when they drafted him in the second round in 2011. Stock Down.
28. Brodie Greene. Greene's offense has fallen off even more in his second AA season that it did last year compared to the numbers he put up in the California League that got many people excited in 2011. He's now 25 years old and hitting .226 at Pensacola. Stock Down.
29. Juan Duran. Duran's second season at Bakersfield has turned out to be significantly better than his first one. He's shown some of the power that he flashed at Dayton in 2011 as he closes in on his twenty-second birthday. He's dealt with a lot of physical changes from a major jump in height since the Reds signed him with a huge bonus as a teenager and should be ready to give it a go in AA next season. Stock Up.
30. Zach Vincej. In his second professional season he's not torching Midwest League pitching like he did in the Pioneer League last year. He did make their all-star team but an injury at the end of June cooled his jets after hitting .405/.500 OB that month. He's not sustained that since returning, but there's a lean supply of top middle infield prospects in the pipeline above him and the 22 year-old should be ready for a promotion to Bakersfield next year. Stock Up.
This year's draft brought in some party-crashers for next year's list. It didn't take Ervin long to earn a promotion from Billings and he hasn't slowed down at Dayton. Michael Lorenzen has been an effective reliever since arriving and has already made it to Bakersfield. Cory Thompson is still at Arizona but he's making noises like he's going to make a place for himself among top Reds middle infield prospects.
The active Cincinnati roster doesn't expect to have a lot of turnover next season but there should be opportunity for bench players and room can always been found in the bullpen for an effective reliever. That does give the Reds the luxury of giving prospects more development time in the minors before throwing them into the fire at the MLB level. In the meantime they have a generous amount of them that are satisfactorily completing their current levels and ready to index up the pipeline closer to the big leagues in 2014.
Other Organizational News:
The Reds won their third in a row by opening a home series against the Padres with a 7-2 win. Bronson Arroyo ended a streak of lackluster starts by getting the win from throwing seven innings of four-hit baseball and allowing only one run. Todd Frazier, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips had two hits each for the offense including a solo homer by Phillips. Votto also reached with a walk and drove in two including a first inning single following a Frazier double that plated the first run of the game.
Louisville fell behind in the third inning en route to a 4-1 loss at Columbus. Henry Rodriguez had three hits for the Bats while Nevin Ashley added two and collected his team's only RBI. Greg Reynolds took the loss from a quality start, allowing three runs off six hits/three walks while striking out seven in six innings pitched.
Pensacola took an early lead and held on for a 5-2 home win over Jacksonville. Mike Costanzo plated the first run in the first inning by tripling and scoring on a sac fly. Pitcher Tim Crabbe helped his cause the next frame by doubling home two more. Costanzo finished with three hits while Tucker Barnhart stroked two and drove in one. Crabbe got the win for allowing two runs on seven hits/one walk while striking out five in five innings pitched. Loek Van Mil retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.
Bakersfield scored three runs in the seventh inning in their 7-6 win at San Jose. Ryan Wright had two hits and an RBI while Juan Perez added a single and a double to the attack and Juan Duran plated two in the fourth with a homer. Shane Dyer was victimized by errors while pitching four-plus innings and four of the five runs he allowed were unearned. Carlos Gonzalez got the win for allowing one run in two-plus innings and Michael Lorenzen finished with two scoreless frames for the save.
Dayton scored five runs in the fifth inning and held on for a 9-7 loss at Lake County. Phil Ervin and Sammy Diaz led the Dragons with two hits apiece including a solo homer and three RBI by Ervin. Nick Travieso allowed four runs on five hits and a walk over six innings while striking out six which was good enough for the win. Joel Bender entered in the eighth and did not allow a run while finishing the game for the save.
Billings trailed by only one run entering the sixth inning, but allowed a bunch after that in their 10-1 loss to visiting Great Falls. The Mustangs were held to only five hits with Jose Ortiz getting one of them plus a walk and his team's only RBI. Starter Pedro Diaz was lifted in the sixth and took the loss for allowing four runs.
The AZL Reds were idle and the two Dominican League affiliates were rained out.
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