Ranking Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2013

Ranking Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

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    Cincinnati Reds fans are getting a glimpse of one of the team's top prospects, but most of the team's top prospects are still a few years away from making an impact with the team.

    A few recent draft picks have shot up the team's prospect rankings. The team has a lot of talented arms in the system, so fans should be excited as the pitchers work their way through the system.

    Billy Hamilton has grabbed all of the headlines for the past few seasons, and the speedster has already shown his value in just a few appearances.

    Here are how the Reds' top prospects stack up at the end of the 2013 minor league season.

    *All stats are courtesy of Reds.com

No. 10: Sal Romano, RHP

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    Level: Single-A (Dayton)

    2013 stats: 25 GS, 7-11, 4.86 ERA, 120.1 IP, 134 H, 10 HR, 89 K/57 BB

    ETA: 2016

    Sal Romano is just one of the many talented arms in the system.

    He has a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and throws an above-average curveball. He will have plenty of time to develop into a very good pitcher.

    Romano hasn't posted spectacular numbers in two years as a professional, but the 19-year-old has shown plenty of promise. He has a special arm at such a young age, and the right-hander is still a few years away from making it to the big leagues.

No. 9: Sean Buckley, 3B/LF

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    Level: Single-A (Bakersfield)

    2013 stats: 1-for-19, 2 RBI, 9 K/1 BB

    ETA: 2016

    Sean Buckley didn't play after the first week of April, so it's tough to come up with a time that he may get to the majors.

    The 23-year-old hasn't settled on a position yet. He's played third and first in the minors, but it looks like he will be focusing on left field now.

    Buckley's speed and arm will make a nice transition to left field. His arm would help limit runners on the bases, so moving to the outfield is a logical fit. If he can show that he can play his position and stay healthy, he could work his way quickly through the minors.

    He fits the corner outfield profile. The right-handed hitter's above-average power would be a good fit at Great American Ball Park. 

    Like many of the current Reds, plate discipline is an area that he needs to improve. As his stats indicate, Buckley strikes out a lot. That could hold him back from getting to the majors quickly, but his power could make up for his inconsistent contact.

No. 8: Ryan Wright, 2B

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    Level: Single-A (Bakersfield)

    2013 stats: 100 G, .265/.311/.384, 8 HR, 23 2B, 1 3B, 52 RBI, 66 K/26 BB, 5 SB

    ETA: 2015

    Ryan Wright's biggest strength has been his ability to hit for average. He can hit the ball to any part of the park, which is something that the Reds will be looking for. Wright doesn't have great power by any means, but the team is looking for someone who can put the ball in play.

    He isn't a fast runner by any means, but he can run the bases. Given some of the Reds' recent baserunning blunders, a smart runner is what the team needs. It's one thing to have speed but another to know how to use it. The infielder won't run into many outs on the bases, which helps keep rallies going.

    Although he currently plays second base, Wright may end up as a utility man. His defense continues to improve, and his work ethic will allow him to develop into a solid all-around player.

    Wright has plenty of potential. His ability to put the ball in play will get him to the majors in the next few seasons, and it will be up to him to play wherever the team needs him.

No. 7: Daniel Corcino, RHP

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    Level: Triple-A (Louisville)

    2013 stats: 28 G/23 GS, 7-14, 5.86 ERA, 129 IP, 141 H, 17 HR, 90 K/73 BB

    ETA: 2014

    No prospect in the organization fell down the list more this year than Daniel Corcino. A rough first season in Louisville has fans worried that he won't pan out.

    Give the kid some time to develop. The 23-year-old has been compared to Johnny Cueto for years, so that's not a bad start to a career.

    Corcino has a good fastball and changeup, which can succeed in the majors. If he is able to master the slider, he could be very tough to hit.

    One of his issues this season was command. The right-hander got better with his control later in the season, but he still walked at least three batters in five of his last 10 games.

    Although he struggled to go at least five innings early in the season, he was able to put it together and go at least that deep into a game in five of his last seven starts.

    It was a rough first season in Triple-A for Corcino, but he has time to adjust and develop better command. If he is able to work on controlling all of his pitches, he could turn out to be a very good starting pitcher.

    Cincinnati has time to be patient with Corcino. It has plenty of arms working their way through the system, so the right-hander adds depth right now. After this season, the team learned having depth shouldn't be overlooked.  

No. 6: Michael Lorenzen, RHP

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    Level: Double-A (Dayton)

    2013 stats: 

    AZL: 1 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K/0 BB

    Single-A (Dayton): 9 G, 1-0, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 8.1 IP, 7 H, 7 K/2 BB

    Single-A (Bakersfield): 5 G, 0-1, 2 SV, 6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 HR, 6 K/5 BB

    Double-A (Pensacola): 7 G, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 HR, 5 K/6 BB

    ETA: 2016

    Michael Lorenzen is an interesting prospect. He is a dual-threat player who is turning into a pitcher. The 21-year-old had great ability to play center, but the Reds are putting him on the mound.

    The right-hander has a great fastball that will make him a great reliever. His arm looks like it will translate very well in the bullpen, and the transition to a reliever could speed up his journey through the minors. His fastball is complemented by a hard curveball that should continue to improve.

    Lorenzen was a compensatory pick June's draft, so the Reds are trying to see how quickly he can adjust to pitching as a professional.

    Cincinnati is going to let him show if he can hit along the way, but he is going to be used mainly as a reliever.

    He was tested in several different levels this year, and he did well in his first year in the organization. The team will be able to work with him in the offseason and get him doing what it wants. As long he continues to work on his breaking ball, his fastball will be good enough to get him to the majors as a reliever in only a few seasons.

No. 5: Jesse Winker, LF

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    Level: Single-A (Dayton)

    2013 stats: 112 G, .281/.379/.463, 16 HR, 18 2B, 5 3B, 76 RBI, 75 K/63 BB, 6 SB

    ETA: 2015

    Outside of Billy Hamilton, no position player in the organization had a more impressive season in the minor leagues than Jesse Winker.

    Jesse Winker was expected to be a good pure hitter. He turned out to hit for a high average and add some power to his bat. 

    He showed that he can be a five-tool player, and his bat will allow him to quickly move up through the system. He struck out only 17.9 percent of the time this season, which is a good sign for a young hitter. He drew nearly as many walks as strikeouts, so his plate discipline will work to his advantage.

    The left fielder has good speed and a good arm, so there aren't any concerns for him in the field. If everything works out the way the Reds hope, Winker will join Jay Bruce and Hamilton in the outfield in a couple of seasons. Not a bad group of players to have.

    Jeremy Warnemuende of MLB.com wrote that Winker isn't afraid to ask veteran players for advice. That's a promising sign for a youngster.

    Winker was signed out of high school, and he has adjusted very well to professional pitching. His hitting is there, and the 20-year-old has shown that he can be a five-tool player.

No. 4: Phil Ervin, Outfield

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    Level: Single-A (Dayton)

    2013 stats: 

    Rookie (Billings): 34 G, .326/.416/.597, 8 HR, 9 2B, 1 3B, 29 RBI, 24 K/17 BB, 12 SB

    Single-A (Dayton): 12 G, .349/.451/.465, 1 HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 10 K/8 BB, 2 SB

    ETA: 2016

    Phil Ervin is a stud in the outfield. It's not clear which outfield position he will play, but he has the tools to play anywhere. He's got very good speed, which will help him in the field and on the bases.

    Ervin was once a pitcher, but he turned into an outfielder in college. That should say it all as his arm will be tough to run on as well.

    As the numbers show, he can swing the bat. Ervin can hit for a high average and add a little bit of pop on occasion. He's a small player, so the power is a bit of a surprise.

    The 21-year-old isn't great at any specific thing, but he is very good at just about everything.

    Cincinnati used a first-round pick on the outfielder this year. If he can continue to hit for a high average, he will have no problem sticking in the big leagues. Great American Ball Park will let him hit home runs, so the average will be the important stat to look for with Ervin right now. 

No. 3 Nick Travieso, RHP

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    Level: Single-A (Dayton)

    2013 stats: 17 GS, 7-4, 4.63 ERA, 81.2 IP, 83 H, 7 HR, 61 K/27 BB

    ETA: 2016

    Cincinnati's first-round pick in 2012 is a hard-thrower, but right now he has to work on his secondary pitches.

    Nick Travieso has a blazing fastball. He can touch up to 99 mph, and he consistently hits the mid-90s. His strong arm allows him to blow hitters away, so he will be very dangerous if he works on his other pitches.

    The 19-year-old has a deceptive changeup and a filthy slider. His slider doesn't rely on location because it is used to get swing-and-misses. Once he gains better control of all of his pitches, he's going to be tough to hit.

    Travieso has a talented arm and could turn into a good starting pitcher. He could make a transition to a reliever at some point in order to get to the big leagues quicker, and his arm would allow him to be an effective pitcher out of the bullpen. Relievers these days need to throw hard, and a breaking ball would keep hitters from guessing fastball.

    No matter how he gets to the big leagues, his future is most likely as a starter.

No. 2: Robert Stephenson, RHP

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    Level: Double-A (Pensacola)

    2013 stats: 

    Single-A (Dayton): 14 GS, 5-3, 2.57 ERA, 77 IP, 56 H, 5 HR, 96 K/20 BB

    Single-A (Bakersfield): 4 GS, 2-2, 3.05 ERA, 20.2 IP, 19 H, 3 HR, 22 K/2 BB

    Double-A (Pensacola): 4 GS, 0-2, 4.86 ERA, 16.2 IP, 17 H, 2 HR, 18 K/13 BB

    ETA: 2015

    The most promising arm in the system is Robert Stephenson, who is projected as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

    Stephenson's best pitch is his fastball. He can touch 100 mph and routinely sits in the 94-95 mph range. The pitch is about as good as it gets, and it has helped him move through the system with ease. 

    The 20-year-old has a good changeup that will confuse hitters by coming out of the same arm slot as his fastball. He also throws a curveball that could turn into a very good pitch to complement his fastball.

    Stephenson struck out more than a batter per inning at every level this year.

    If the Reds can lock up Mat Latos and/or Homer Bailey, this rotation could be very dangerous in the future with Tony Cingrani and Stephenson right behind the ace(s).

    The right-hander made several stops throughout the minor leagues this year, and he has an outside chance of making his major league debut next season if he continues to progress the way he has. 

No. 1: Billy Hamilton, CF

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    Level: MLB (Cincinnati)

    2013 stats: 

    Triple-A (Louisville): 123 G, .256/.308/.343, 6 HR, 18 2B, 4 3B, 41 RBI, 102 K/38 BB, 75 SB/15 CS

    MLB (Cincinnati): 6 G, 0-for-2, 4 R, 5 SB

    ETA: 2013

    Billy Hamilton has arrived in Cincinnati, and he has made his impact felt in just a few games. He came off the bench to steal a base in each of his first four games—including off Yadier Molina on the first pitch he was in the game—and five of his six appearances.

    The speedster has been used to get key runs to win games, which is what all Cincinnati fans have been hoping for. Major league teams know what he is going to do, and they still haven't been able to stop him.

    Hamilton has only been to the plate in one game and was unable to get a hit in either at-bat. He didn't have any troubles in the field, so that's a positive.

    In Louisville this season, the 23-year-old stole 75 bases in 90 attempts. He's been successful on 84 percent of his attempts this season, which is the highest of his career. It's also the first time that he's played at the top two levels, so his great success rate is incredible.

    Hamilton got off to a horrible start in Triple-A. He hit .208/.278/.307 in April, but he improved throughout the year. The outfielder hit .283/.324/.367 after the All-Star break. 

    It's unclear if Hamilton did enough to start in center on Opening Day next season, but he will most likely be on the postseason roster, especially if the Reds are in the one-game playoff, to be used as a runner in key spots. Imagine Hamilton coming off the bench on the road to score an important run and gain momentum. That's a dangerous player.