Stock Up, Stock Down for Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects in Week 4
The Cincinnati Reds farm system has already seen its fair share of ups and downs in 2014, with a number of top hitting and pitching prospects off to unexpectedly hot or cold starts over their first 20-or-so games.
Pitching is the system's forte, and that trend continued in Week 4, as the vast majority of the team's top-pitching prospects were solid again. Even so, there are a few hitters to watch, and some inactive players who warrant a look as well.
As was the case in the last installment of this series, the players come from my pre-spring training rankings, and they'll stay that way until the list is updated at midseason.
To kick things off, we have a right-handed pitcher, Nick Travieso, who's looking to shoot up this list come the All-Star break.
All stats are current through play on May 4, 2014, and come courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
10. Nick Travieso, RHP
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-1 W-L, 7.0 IP, 2.56 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 5.00 K/BB, 5.1 H/9
After a disappointing start to his professional career, Nick Travieso has done wonders to right his downward-trending stock in 2014. The 20-year-old, currently pitching at Single-A Dayton, has been outstanding over his five total starts, carrying a 1.55 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.93.
Travieso's command has been impeccable, and it showed in Week 4, as the young righty allowed just one walk, compared to five strikeouts over seven innings pitched—his longest outing of the season.
Travieso took a loss—and really, he was somewhat unlucky—giving up two earned runs while allowing just five batters to reach base.
Ordinarily, Travieso's stock would be down because of the loss, but considering that he allowed just five baserunners and made it through seven innings for the first time this season, his stock stayed even for the week.
2014 Stats: 5 GS, 3-1 W-L, 29.0 IP, 1.55 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 1.2 BB/9, 5.75 K/BB, 7.1 H/9
9. Ben Lively, RHP
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 1-0 W-L, 6.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 1.35 BB/9, 8.00 K/BB, 8.1 H/9
In Week 4, Ben Lively continued his strong start to the 2014 season. In his lone start, Lively allowed just two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out eight.
Despite an outstanding start, Lively actually saw his season stats dip, as he had been riding a five-start scoreless streak. Over those five games, Lively walked just one batter, in comparison to a whopping 33 strikeouts.
Lively has been absolutely outstanding, and although his stock took the slightest of hits this week, he's on track to earn at least one promotion in 2014.
2014 Stats: 6 GS, 6-0 W-L, 35.2 IP, 0.76 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, 12.1 K/9, 0.5 BB/9, 24.00 K/BB, 4.8 H/9
8. David Holmberg, RHP
Last Week's Stats: N/A
David Holmberg was inactive for the week in question.
In retrospect, this was probably a good thing. The 22-year-old had been beaten up in each of his three starts, and he carried a ghastly 14.46 ERA through his first 9.1 innings of work.
Holmberg isn't missing many bats, and when you're walking nearly four batters per-nine innings, that can be a problem. Holmberg has averaged just 2.5 BB/9 throughout his career, but the young lefty has seen that number shoot up this season. That, combined with his low strikeout and high hit totals, has been his undoing.
2014 Stats: 3 GS, 0-3 W-L, 9.1 IP, 14.46 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.25 K/BB, 19.3 H/9
7. Carlos Contreras, RHP
Last Week's Stats: N/A
Carlos Contreras was inactive for the week in question.
He's struggled with his control to this point in 2014, but Contreras remains an attractive prospect. The 23-year-old has averaged a whopping 11.2 K/9 through his first four appearances, but control issues have kept him from making a bigger impact in these rankings.
2014 Stats: 4 G, 3 GS, 1-1 W-L, 13.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 5.9 BB/9, 1.89 K/BB, 6.6 H/9
6. Michael Lorenzen, RHP
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 0-0 W-L, 11.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.00 K/BB, 9.0 H/9
After staking himself out to a hot start in 2014, Michael Lorenzen did a solid job of following up in Week 4.
Over 11 innings pitched, the 22-year-old managed a 2.45 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP while averaging 6.6 K/9 compared to 3.3 BB/9.
Though his week wasn't as impressive as his full-season stats, the young righty has done an impressive job of maintaining his value as a prospect, all while shifting into a new role. Although his stats might indicate that his stock is starting to level off, Lorenzen's stock is actually going up, as he is far more valuable as a possible mid-rotation starter than as a closer.
2014 Stats: 6 GS, 2-1 W-L, 34.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 2.09 K/BB, 7.5 H/9
5. Jesse Winker, of
Last Week's Stats: N/A
Jesse Winker was inactive for the week in question.
The 20-year-old has been impressive in his first showing at High-A Bakersfield, mustering up a .333/.413/.551 slash line with 11 extra-base hits (three home runs) and 20 RBI over 20 games played. Winker has shown impressive plate discipline as well, walking at a 12.0 percent clip here to start the 2014 season.
Whether or not Winker can keep this level of production up when he returns to the field has yet to be seen, but so far, it looks as though he's trying to supplant Yorman Rodriguez, Phillip Ervin and Billy Hamilton on this list as the team's No. 2 prospect.
2014 Stats: 20 G, .333/.413/.551, 3 HR, 0 3B, 8 2B, 20 RBI, 18 R, 1 SB, 15:11 K/BB
4. Yorman Rodriguez, of
Last Week's Stats: N/A
Yorman Rodriguez is currently on the DL with an oblique injury, so the 21-year-old was inactive for the week we're observing.
Prior to that however, the young outfielder was on an absolute tear, and was working on an eight-game hitting streak, during which he carried a slash line of .462/.475/.615. Over said eight games, Rodriguez logged a home run, a double, a triple, three RBI and nine runs scored, all of which represent large chunks of his season totals in those respective categories.
Rodriguez's injury doesn't seem to be of any major concern, so we should see him return this week.
2014 Stats: 19 G, .325/.361/.442, 2 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 6 RBI, 12 R, 3 SB, 19:5 K/BB
3. Phillip Ervin, of
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, .160/.290/.280, 0 HR, 0 3B, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB, 7:5 K/BB
After taking the Single-A Midwest League by storm in 2013, Phillip Ervin has struggled to reattain that level of success in 2014. Through his first 21 games, Ervin has managed a paltry .202/.269/.262 slash line with 13 RBI, nine runs scored and a 23:6 K/BB ratio.
This week, Ervin toned down the strikeouts—albeit slightly—and although his batting average doesn't reflect it, he had a better week. The 21-year-old managed a 7:5 K/BB ratio, three stolen bases and four runs scored over 20 at-bats.
Though it still isn't what we've come to expect given his performance last season and his standing in the organization, Ervin did show some signs of life this week, both in his plate discipline and on the base paths.
Expect his stock to continue to trend up over the next few weeks.
2014 Stats: 28 G, .193/.274/.266, 0 HR, 0 3B, 8 2B, 15 RBI, 13 R, 10 SB, 30:11 K/BB
2. Billy Hamilton, of
Last Week's Stats: 5 G, .417/.462/.667, 1 HR, 0 3B, 0 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB, 0:1 K/BB
Billy Hamilton's didn't get off to the best of starts this year. Through his first 23 games, Hamilton owned a .220/.253/.280 slash line and had just four extra-base hits, five RBI and 10 runs scored.
Hamilton's most recent week went a long way toward remedying his early-season struggles. Over four games played, the 23-year-old logged a .417/.462/.667 slash line and even cracked his first home run of the season in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Hamilton raised his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage by 25, 27 and 51 points, respectively. Hamilton's plate discipline was impressive throughout the week, and it showed in his 0:1 K/BB ratio.
Hamilton did have one setback, coming in the form of two sprained knuckles, the result of a stunning diving catch. The young speedster made a pinch-running appearance late in the team's game on May 4. The possibility remains that he'll rejoin the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
2014 Stats: 28 G, .245/.280/.330, 1 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 13 R, 11 SB, 19:4 K/BB
1. Robert Stephenson, RHP
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-1 W-L, 5.1 IP, 8.47 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 2.00 K/BB, 6.8 H/9
Robert Stephenson struggled through his first five appearances, allowing a 4.43 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP over 22.1 innings pitched.
This week, the 21-year-old failed in his attempt to right the ship and allowed five earned runs over 5.1 innings pitched. He walked just two in his lone outing last week, but allowed four hits—one was a home run—and struck out just four.
Stephenson has struggled in his second stint at Double-A Pensacola. He'll need to bounce back over his next few starts if he's going to get back on track for a possible late-2014 call-up to Cincinnati.
2014 Stats: 6 G, 5 GS, 2-2 W-L, 27.2 IP, 5.20 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 1.94 K/BB, 7.5 H/9