Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 15

Seth Mejias-Brean entered the Cincinnati organization off a successful collegiate career at Arizona and his bat didn’t slow down after turning pro. Now he’s ready to prove himself against higher level minor league competition and put his name in the mix for a prominent role with the Reds in the not-so-distant future.

As this countdown enters the second half the first Reds prospect to hit it is third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean. This projection is probably a bit more bullish for him that what can be found elsewhere. He lasted until the eighth round where Cincinnati drafted him in 2012 and some feel that his performance afterward should not have been a surprise because he came out of a top-notch program at Arizona where he capped off his career by helping the Wildcats win a College World Series championship. However, there’s something to be said for getting it done on the field which is what Mejias-Brean has continued to do.

The first thing that pops out when examining this prospect is his overall athletic ability. He can elevate his 6’2”/216# body high enough to throw down a 360 slam dunk on the hardwood and packs an arm that can fling a football 60 yards on the gridiron. However, his chosen profession is baseball and his ability to put a charge into the ball has provided some entertaining batting practice sessions. When he arrived in the organization out of college his body was already mature, so there may be some limit on the upside for growth as he starts next season around the time of his 24th birthday. Then again, he may not need it because he’s built to compete now.

Mejias-Brean debuted professionally after the draft in 2012 at Billings where his start did not appear to be challenged by Pioneer League pitching. Halfway through the short season he was sitting on an average close to .400 before “cooling down” to finish with a line of .313 AVG/.389 OB/.536 SLG/8 HR. He didn’t slow down the next year at Dayton where he finished with another .300 average over a full season. The California League couldn’t keep him below .300 at Bakersfield last year where his on-base percentage was only a few ticks below .400. Finally his bat slowed down against older competition after a promotion to Pensacola for the second half of the season.

Still, his AA debut wasn’t all that bad and even though is average dipped to .235 he still showed advance plate discipline by reaching safely in one third of his plate appearances. That gives good reason to believe he can return to the .300 level when he returns to AA to start the upcoming season. In addition to knowing the way to first, Mejias-Brean also makes good contact and projects as a double-digit home run threat at the major league level.

In the field he’s an example of why it’s too early for concern if a prospect shows rough defense right after their minor league debut. He came out of college with the reputation for good defense and it was a bit surprising to see him commit 17 errors in the short season at Billings. Last year he was charged for only 17 errors in almost triple the number of games played. In between he moved across the diamond to spend most of his time at first base at Dayton in 2013 which was probably done not because of concerns with his leather at the hot corner but more for making room for younger 3rd base prospect with a second round pick investment.

The question with Mejias-Brean is if his advancement has moved him to a level of competition that has caught up with the polished skill set that he brought out of college. He should answer that question pretty quickly in the upcoming season and a strong start should trigger a promotion to Louisville in the second half.

Payroll constraints have reduced depth in Cincinnati organization and there’s not a lot of competition for a corner infield utility job with the Reds. That does not mean Mejias-Brean won’t have regular MLB duty down the road He’s athletic enough to play in the outfield and new left fielder Marlon Byrd is 37 years old with only one year left on his contract and an option for 2016 that will vest contingent upon his number of plate appearances. Jesse Winker is a higher-rated prospect and is probably penciled into that spot right now, but Mejias-Brean is ready to compete against the big boys and continued success could force his name into future consideration.

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