Midseason Report Card

Injuries have caused a lot of turnover on the Reds roster and trade deadline deals will likely make some more next month. The Reds system appears ready to replenish the pitching staff, but there aren't a lot of MLB-ready bats to get the call this expansion season.

It’s within a week of the mathematical midseason in the minor leagues and with the all-star games looming, it’s time to take a look at the progress of top Cincinnati prospects in their system. Some will benefit from midseason promotions and get an opportunity to show how they can perform against higher level competition. Injuries have already necessitated some turnover for the Reds and their sub-.500 record thus far has many expecting an all-out rebuilding effort triggered by midseason deals. They appear to have plenty of young pitchers ready to answer the call but many of the top hitting prospects are further away from MLB readiness.

1. Robert Stephenson, RHP/Pensacola/3-6/3.86 ERA. Cincinnati has a lot of high expectations for this big right-hander and there might have been some angst when he returned to the same level this season only to start out struggling. However, a look at stats after his first four starts suggests he’s back on track. In the last eight appearances he’s got a splendid 2.25 ERA over 48 innings that have been filled with 54 strikeouts. His walk rate has still been high, but that’s been negated by opposing hitters managing only a paltry .161 average. He’s still only 22 years old and mastering the AA level. Stock up.

2. Jesse Winker, OF/Pensacola/.251 AVG/.351 OB/.357 SLG. It was about one year ago when the top Cincinnati hitting prospect suffered a freak injury from a vehicular accident while traveling to the Futures Game. After stinging the ball in the Arizona Fall League he’s returned to Pensacola and shown marked improvement at the plate. He’s always had a reputation for plate discipline beyond his years which shows in his AVG/OB differential. He has only three homers and the power numbers are disappointing, but he’s still only 21 years old which is younger than all of the pitchers he’s faced this season with exception of one game. Stock up.

3. Jonathon Crawford, RHP/No action in 2015. The Alfredo Simon trade return was kept out of action in spring training by an injury and he has yet to appear on any of the affiliate’s roster. Reports are that he has been throwing in spring training. Stock Down.

4. Raisel Iglesias, RHP/Reds DL/1-1/5.11 ERA. The Cuban defector had his debut sidetracked by a quad injury which hopefully won’t sideline him like Johnny Cueto two years ago. He was a bit of a wild card because all of his previous experience was in the Cuban League but he’s shown flashes on the mound against MLB hitters, including an eight-inning/two-hit effort against the Braves. Stock up.

5. Nick Travieso, RHP/Daytona/3-5/2.98 ERA. The 2012 first-rounder improved consistency last year when he returned to Dayton and he’s sustained it against high-A competition. He’s showing good command with a K/BB ratio of 55/17 across 55 innings. Stock up.

6. Michael Lorenzen, RHP/Reds/2-2/3.70 ERA. After a few sharp starts at Louisville he’s quickly become a solid member of the Reds rotation. It’s a bit mind-boggling to think that only three years ago he threw only a handful of innings closing while spending the majority of his collegiate action as an outfielder. Stock way up.

7. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP/Reds/5-4/3.36 ERA. The Mat Latos trade-return is proving to be a reliable MLB starting pitcher. Stock up.

8. David Holmberg, LHP/Louisville/3-4/4.46 ERA. The 23 year-old has overcome a rough start in the International League to keep a mid-two ernie over his last nine outings. That’s a good thing because injuries will likely pull him back up for some more MLB action. No change.

9. Chad Wallach, C/Daytona/.226 AVG/.300 OB/.322 SLG. He’ll lose competition for top catching prospect in the system when Barnhart exhausts his rookie status. However, half his action this season has been at first base and he’s been unable to sustain his success at the plate against high-A pitching. Stock down.

10. Nick Howard, RHP/Daytona/3-2/6.25. After five starts he was moved into the bullpen where a couple of bad outings have inflated his ERA. Last year’s top pick was probably fast-tracked through the lower levels too quickly. No change.

11. Phil Ervin/OF/Daytona/.260 AVG/.348 OB/.428 SLG. Cincinnati’s 2013 first-rounder is showing that his disappointing season at Dayton last year can probably be blamed more on a wrist surgery. Stock up.

12. Daniel Corcino, RHP/Dodgers. Command issues have halted his advance at the higher levels. He was DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster and claimed off waivers. Stock out.

13. Yorman Rodriguez, OF/Louisville/.266 AVG/.308 OB/.421 SLG. It’s been a long journey for this high profile free agent signee who is now in his seventh minor league season. The 22 year-old is holding his own at the AAA level against older competition. No change.
< br> 14. Tucker Barnhart, C/Reds/.207 AVG/.266 OB/.362 SLG. Still performs well behind the plate (no surprise). Unfortunately still struggles in the batter’s box. Taking the I-71 shuttle back and forth between Cincinnati and Louisville has compromised his opportunity to develop, but he’s 25 years old now and needs to show he has the on-base skills that projected him as a long-time backup catcher at the MLB level. Stock down.

15. Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B/Pensacola/.259 AVG/.373 OB/.340 OB. Mejias-Brean is still showing good plate discipline in his second season at the AA level, but his power stroke has almost disappeared. He could be an example of a player from a solid collegiate program that arrives with polished skills, breezes through the lower minor league levels, and stubs his toe in the higher ones. Stock down.

16. Carlton Daal, ss/Daytona/.265 AVG/.305 OB/.275. Is it mathematically possible to have a .265 average and a slugging percentage below .300? He only has two hits that weren’t singles and he didn’t have many of them during a sub-.200 April. Since May 3 however he’s hit over .300 and he’s still only 21 years old. His glove has been slow to develop which has moved him to second base for the time being. Stock down.

17. Alex Blandino, ss/Dayton/.290 AVG/.370 OB/.404 SLG. Look for this guy to make a big leap upward in future Cincinnati prospects lists. He’s putting himself in a position to challenge Winker as the top hitting prospect in the system and thus far his glove has allowed him stick at shortstop. Stock up.

18. Kyle Waldrop, of/Pensacola/.283 AVG/.320 OB/.439 SLG. After winning the award for the top minor league hitter in the system last year Waldrop has continued to hit against AA pitching. The left-hander needs to improve against same-side pitching, but he’s still looking to crack the AAA level at the age of 23. He’s also on the 40-man and could put himself in a position for an expansion call. No change.

19. Juan Duran, OF, no action in 2015. Duran was one of the first cuts in spring training and has been on the DL since. That’s no way to improve contact skills a year after he struck out 134 times in 364 plate appearances. Stock Down.

20. Sebastian Elizalde, OF/Daytona/.264 AVG/.314 OB/.421 SLG. The Mexican League veteran is experiencing a modest decrease in his stat line compared to his half season in the Midwest League last season. He’s played both corner outfield positions, but not well enough to prevent half of his action from being a DH. Stock down.

21. Sal Romano, RHP/Daytona/3-1/3.65 ERA. The big right-hander continues to improve while being promoted against older competition. He might make a case for a second half promotion, but since he’s still only 21 years old Cincinnati will probably be content to let him finish the season in the Florida State League. Stock up.

22. Juan Silva, OF/Pensacola/.187 AVG/.295 OB/.297 SLG. Competition at the AA level has reduced his playing time and a sub-.200 average doesn’t do a lot to get it back. Now he’s out to prove his .300 season last year was not a creation of the hitter-friendly California League. Stock down.

23. Argenis Aldozoro, OF-1B/no action in 2015. Aldozoro was old for the Pioneer League last year, but his .325 average alone should have been enough to get his first full season. However, a shoulder injury in winter ball prevented that from happening. Stock down.

24. Aristotle Aquino, OF/Dayton/.226 AVG/.288 OB/.321 SLG. This is an off-the-radar prospect that crashed this list after a solid season at Billings last year gave reason for a lot of excitement. A broken wrist has limited his play to 16 games thus far in 2015. No Change. 25. Amir Garrett, LHP/Dayton/2-5/3.18 ERA. Garrett had a nice season in the Midwest League last year and has improved his numbers thus far in 2015. He’s struck out more than one per inning and the 23 year-old appears ready for a second half promotion. He’s now making a claim for the top southpaw prospect in the system. Stock up.

26. Sean Buckley, 1B/.241 AVG/.330 OB/.332 SLG. Injuries have hampered Buckley’s progress and he’s now limited to part-time duty at AA. He impressed last season at Bakersfield, but has not had a chance to sustain it which is unfortunate because there isn’t much demand for a 25 year-old AA backup. Stock down.

27. Ryan Wright, 2B/Pensacola/.245 AVG/.320 OB/.320 OB. Wright has improved numbers in his second tour in the Southern League, but not enough to get him back on track for another promotion. He’s now at an age (25) where he should at least be scratching on the door for some MLB action, but there are now doubts he’ll see AAA. Stock down.

28. Steve Selsky, OF/Louisville/.315 AVG/.385 OB/.385 SLG. This late-round draft choice hasn’t gotten much attention as he has risen up through the system. That hasn’t stopped him from hitting, though his power has slipped since leaving single A. Still, he’s 25 years old, putting up superb stats in AAA, and playing in an organization that is thin on bench depth. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but one would think this would eventually get him some consideration for an MLB debut. Stock up.

29. Zach Vincej, SS/Pensacola/.231 AVG/.351 OB/.324 SLG. Vincej has become attached to Juan Perez as they’ve risen through the system and they are splitting time at short for the Blue Wahoos. It will probably remain that way until one can separate himself from the other offensively. Stock down.

30. Jon Moscot, RHP/Cincinnati-Louisville/(AAA) 7-1/3.15 ERA. Moscot’s solid start in the International League put him into a position to take advantage of injuries to the Reds rotation and make a surprise MLB debut. After a quality start in his second outing it looked like he was going to stay with the Reds for a while, but a shoulder separation during a rundown in his third start put him on the DL. Fortunately it was not his pitching shoulder and Cincinnati should feel good about running him back out to the mound in a Reds uniform when he’s ready. Stock up.


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