Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 20

After his contract was purchased from the Mexican League last year Sebastian Elizalde began putting up monster numbers at Dayton that led to a trip to Bakersfield for the second half. Now he’s in a position to show he can continue displaying advanced plate discipline at higher levels and force his way up the outfield depth chart in the Cincinnati organization.

As this countdown enters the final 20 the first spot goes to newcomer Sebastian Elizalde. His case was a bit unique when he entered the Cincinnati system one year ago. Signing a Latino free agent is not unusual, but Elizalde was already in his 20’s before debuting. The Reds probably started him out too low at Dayton because he was a four year veteran of the Mexican Leagues where he hit .300 against older competition and it should not have been a surprise when he slashed a line of .311 AVG/.439 OB/.503 SLG/7 HR over the first half of the season with the Dragons.

One thing for certain was that he didn’t have anything left to prove at that level so he moved to Bakersfield for the second half and acquitted himself well: .272 AVG/.330 OB/.461 SLG/9 HR. Perhaps initial placement was a bit puzzling and his recovery from Tommy John surgery might have influenced the decision to be conservative. His age was more appropriate for the California League, but his prior experience was in a league where the average age is higher than the MLB level.

Now at the age of 23 he’ll soon show how well prepared he’ll be for AA. Opposing pitchers will be facing a 6’0”/175# left-hander with an advanced plate discipline. However, he did show signs of slowing down after his promotion because his walk rate was reduced by more than half. Overall he drew free passes in over 12% of his plate appearances and his strikeout total was around 50% than his walks. Oddly enough when walks decreased against his strikeouts followed the same trend which shows that though he became more of a free-swinger, his contact not only didn’t suffer, but improved.

Though he had some pop last year his stature projects him as more of a top-lineup hitter with good speed. He swiped 19 bases, but needs to develop his technique to improve his success rate which was only slightly higher than 50%. He bounced around defensively with action in all three outfield positions and first base with most his action in left. This could be a problem if his power declines; right now he profiles more around a low-double digit home run hitter. He’s also played a handful of Mexican League games in centerfield where he did not show the range expected of the position.

Don’t be surprised if Elizalde continues to be a tough out in the Southern League. Providing outfield help for the Reds in the upcoming season is probably a stretch, but a move to AAA is definitely within the realm. Whenever he arrives it’s a safe bet that he won’t be intimidated by older players. The Reds have not been afraid to go off the beaten path for foreign talent and with Elizalde it appears they have a bright prospect ready to crack the upper levels of their organization just one year after his acquisition.

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