Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 5

2012 first-rounder Nick Travieso returned to Dayton last year where he had a much more consistent campaign while being recognized as Cincinnati’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Though it was a repeat, he mastered the level at a young age and is looking to index further up the Reds pipeline in 2015.

When Cincinnati selected Nick Travieso with its first-round pick in 2012 he was an intriguing prospect. Some felt it was a bit of a reach, but some late steam right before draft day pumped up his stock and he lasted no longer than the 14th overall name called. He profiled with as much upside as any pitcher in the draft, but was less polished after pitching in the bullpen before his senior season at a powerhouse Florida high school program. There was also the fact that is high school teammate was the son of Reds Latin scouting director Tony Arias, so Cincinnati eyes had seem him plenty; now was his high selection a product of careful scrutiny or over-familiarization.

Right now it appears that Arias and the rest of the Cincinnati scouting team made a hit with the young right-hander. They’ve been bullish on him from the start and even skipped him over the Pioneer League for Dayton in 2013 when he went 7-4/4.63 ERA. Though those end stats weren’t overly impressive, there were things to like when breaking down his season. First of all, he was still a teenager, significantly younger than the competition. In spite of that he managed to allow two runs or fewer in over half of his starts, hinting that the stuff was there and he was just lacking consistency.

Last year they big right-hander was still only 20 years old, so there was no shame in an encore tour in the Midwest League and during his campaign consistency came to town as he posted a 14-5 record with a 3.13 ernie while taking home Cincinnati’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. All of his rates, BB/ 9 inns, K/9, HR/9, H/9 improved and he finished with a WHIP under 1.2 while finishing second on the Dragons in innings pitched. He’s shown mastery over the level and should be ready to debut at high-A Daytona with a promotion to Pensacola in his sights this season.

The first thing that gets attention with Travieso is his mid-90’s heater that he can dial up close to triple digits on occasion. He also mixes in a sharp slider and is working on a changeup. He delivers them out of a powerful 6’0”/215# frame with a quick delivery and strong lower half that he uses to generate torque. There was some talk earlier that he might be destined for a bullpen role down the line, right now his performance on the mound will keep him in the rotation.

He projects as a top rotation pitcher with plus power on the mound. There’s still some more polishing needed on his delivery and third offering. Also, he’s only a few years removed from a conversion out of the bullpen so he’s still learning to pace himself to go deeper into games, averaging less than 5.5 inns/start last year. But overall, the improvement needed compared to his age and time to develop it makes Travieso a very exciting prospect. He’s not cracked any MLB top 100 lists yet, but continued success this season should change that.

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