Stock Up, Stock Down for Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects for Week 12
The Cincinnati Reds' top 10 prospects received a little bit of a shakeup since my last version of this recurring article. The MLB draft brought along newcomer Alex Blandino, while some other players either worked their way into the top 10 or found new homes on the list.
Much like previous installations, we'll go through each of the club's top 10 prospects, analyze their past week of play and issue a stock-up or stock-down grade based on their performance.
As previously mentioned, the top 10 looks a little different than previous versions of this piece. So, if you want to refresh yourself on who the team's top-10 prospects are, and why they rank where they do, feel free to visit my post-draft top-10 piece published back on Jun. 11.
We'll kick things off with the only left-handed pitching prospect to crack the top 10, Ismael Guillon.
10. Ismael Guillon, LHP, High-A
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 2.2 IP, 23.65 ERA, 2.26 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 6.8 BB/9, 1.00 K/BB
Ismael Guillon is one of a handful of players who received midseason promotions since the last time I published this piece. The 22-year-old made the jump to High-A Bakersfield after impressing at Single-A Dayton.
Guillon was stellar in his time at Dayton, but he has struggled mightily since being bumped up to High-A ball. In two starts, Guillon has surrendered a 19.89 ERA with a WHIP of 2.69 and averages of 5.7 K/9, 8.6 BB/9, 0.67 K/BB and a whopping 15.7 H/9.
This week, Guillon logged just one start, but it was one of his worst of the year. The Venezuela native lasted just 2.2 innings and allowed seven earned runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out two.
Guillon is now pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly leagues in the minors. He'll need to vary his pitches and hit his spots if he's going to avoid getting hit around like he did this week.
2014 Stats: 15 G, 14 GS, 4-2 W-L, 71.2 IP, 4.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 2.21 K/BB
9. Alex Blandino, 3B, Rookie League
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, .304/.407/.348, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 5 R, 4:2 K/BB, 2 SB
The No. 29 pick in this year's draft, Alex Blandino, signed with the Reds and immediately joined the club's rookie affiliate in the Pioneer League where he struggled to get out of the gate.
Six of Blandino's eight games played this season came during Week 12. Over that time, the 21-year-old logged 27 plate appearances with a .304/.407/.348 slash line, two RBI, five runs scored, two stolen bases and a 4:2 K/BB ratio.
Blandino is one of the best pure hitters in his draft class, and he's gone a long way toward displaying his raw abilities at the plate early on in his professional career. Depending on how he performs over the next week or two, the Stanford University product could force the Reds to promote him to Single-A Dayton sooner, rather than later.
2014 Stats: 8 G, .267/.361/.300, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R, 5:2 K/BB, 2 SB
8. Ben Lively, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 0-0 W-L, 11.2 IP, 1.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 2.00 K/BB
Ben Lively's outstanding showing at High-A Bakersfield was enough to convince the Reds' front office that he was in need of a promotion. The 22-year-old joined the club's Double-A affiliate in Pensacola early last week and abruptly turned in one of the more disappointing outings of his 2014 campaign.
The UCF product allowed three earned runs on three hits and five walks, while striking out eight over just 3.2 innings pitched.
Though he struggled in his initial start following the call-up, Lively came up with a solid performance during Week 12. He worked through 11.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs, on nine hits and six walks, while striking out 12.
Aside from his final three starts, Lively was dominant in High-A. If he's able to come close to replicating his production at that level, the young righty could find himself on the fast track toward a big league debut in 2015.
2014 Stats: 16 GS, 10-2 W-L, 94.1 IP, 2.39 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 4.26 K/BB
7. Nick Travieso, RHP, Single-A
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 1-1 W-L, 10.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.25 K/BB
One of the better, more upside-packed power arms in the Reds' system, Nick Travieso, is having a nice season down in Single-A. The 20-year-old boasts a solid 3.46 ERA to go along with a 1.13 WHIP and season averages of 7.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 4.19 K/BB and 8.4 H/9.
Travieso is starting to come into his own this year, and with his fastball velocity back up in the low- to mid-90s range, we could see him break out over the remainder of the 2014 season.
This week, Travieso logged two starts, one good, the other, not so much. Between the two, the Florida prep product logged 10 total innings, allowing a 4.50 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP, while averaging 11.7 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
Travieso's first start of the week was a major disappointment, but he bounced back nicely in start two, allowing zero earned runs over six innings, while striking out five.
2014 Stats: 15 GS, 7-4 W-L, 80.2 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 4.19 K/BB
6. Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, .111/.333/.278, 1 HR, 0 3B, 0 2B, 1 RBI, 2 R, 3:6 K/BB, 0 SB
After flashing an improved eye at the plate, and plus-raw power in 2013, Yorman Rodriguez has been solidly disappointing here in 2014.
Over 65 games played, the 21-year-old outfielder is the not-so-proud owner of a .241/.296/.345 slash line, with 13 extra-base-hits (five home runs), 23 RBI, 28 runs scored, five stolen bases and a 66:20 K/BB ratio. Rodriguez has seen his walk rate and strikeout rate improve over the 2013 season, however, so there's hope for those looking to tag his 2014 campaign with a "bad luck" sticker.
This week, Rodriguez managed just a .111/.333/.278 slash line, but he did post his fifth home run of the season, while walking at an impressive 24 percent clip.
Rodriguez's improved plate discipline was his saving grace this week, but he just isn't making consistent enough contact and has seen his stock drop significantly since the start of the year.
2014 Stats: 65 G, .241/.296/.345, 5 HR, 5 2B, 3 3B, 23 RBI, 28 R, 66:20 K/BB, 5 SB
5. Carlos Contreras, RHP, MLB
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 1.0 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 9.0 BB/9, 1.00 K/BB
Carlos Contreras has been surprisingly good to start the 2014 season. The 23-year-old battled through injuries and posted a 2.70 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 20 innings pitched at Double-A Louisville.
Contreras' performance was enough to earn him a promotion to the big league bullpen, where he's made just two appearances. One of said two appearances came during the week in question.
In his lone appearance for the week, Contreras logged a single inning of work, allowing one run on a hit and a walk, while striking out one.
Contreras wasn't sharp in his only outing of the week, but he wasn't awful either. It might not have been a great week, Contreras has done a decent job to this point of working to earn himself a spot in the Reds' bullpen for the rest of the year.
2014 Stats: 11 GS, 2-1 W-L, 22.0 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 2.42 K/BB
4. Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 5.00 K/BB
Michael Lorenzen was a reliever throughout his college career and served in the same capacity last season. However, the 22-year-old was handed a spot in the Double-A rotation and has been simply fantastic in his first season as a starter.
Over 16 starts—88 innings pitched—Lorenzen owns a sparkling stat line, including a 2.45 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and season averages of 6.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 2.25 K/BB and 8.0 H/9.
This week, Lorenzen turned in another solid start and went six innings, while allowing two runs—both unearned—on six hits and one walk, while striking out five. Lorenzen has solidified himself as a bona fide starting option this season and is staking his claim to a possible spot within top-100 prospect rankings for the 2015 season.
2014 Stats: 16 GS, 4-4 W-L, 88.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 2.25 K/BB
3. Jesse Winker, OF, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, .258/.303/.516, 2 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 6:2 K/BB, 0 SB
Another Reds player to earn a midseason call-up to a higher level of play, Jesse Winker joined the Double-A roster, making his debut with the team on June 19.
The 20-year-old is young for his age, and it's shown in the consistency with which he's able to make solid contact. Winker has struggled to get going in Pensacola, despite walk and strikeout ratios similar to the ones he posted at High-A Bakersfield.
This week, Winker seemed to figure things out, at least to some extent anyway. The Florida prep product mustered up a .258/.303/.516 batting line, with two home runs, two doubles, three RBI, three runs scored and a 6:2 K/BB ratio.
In the week prior, Winker was solidly disappointing, but he made a solid effort to right the ship here in Week 12.
2014 Stats: 67 G, .295/.408/.535, 15 HR, 0 3B, 17 2B, 54 RBI, 53 R, 59:51 K/BB, 5 SB
2. Phillip Ervin, OF, Single-A
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, .125/.250/.167, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R, 6:3 K/BB, 0 SB
Perhaps the second most disappointing prospect of the lot, Phillip Ervin has not had the season many expected following his impressive debut in 2013.
This year, the 21-year-old has been stuck at Single-A Dayton—the same level he ended the 2013 campaign at—and has put up some rather unsettling numbers. Through 79 games—341 plate appearances—Ervin carries a paltry .225/.299/.358 slash line with 28 extra-base hits (three home runs), 36 RBI, 39 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.
Ervin has been outstanding defensively, and on the basepaths, however, and has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage to go along with seven outfield assists and 19 stolen bases to evidence that.
This week, Ervin struggled again, slashing .125/.250/.167, with one double, two RBI, three runs scored and a 6:3 K/BB ratio over 28 plate appearances. Despite his high-floor and medium-high ceiling, Ervin is in the process of being passed on the proverbial depth chart by Winker.
2014 Stats: 79 G, .225./299/.358, 3 HR, 6 3B, 19 2B, 36 RBI, 39 R, 19 SB, 70:29 K/BB
1. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 0-1 W-L, 10.0 IP, 6.30 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 1.17 K/BB
This was supposed to be the year in which Robert Stephenson took his biggest step forward and solidified himself as a legitimate front-end starting pitching prospect. If Stephenson were to have a solid year between Double-A Pensacola—and possibly with Triple-A Louisville at some point later in the season—he would join the Reds' starting rotation as soon as Opening Day 2015.
The 21-year-old has been somewhat disappointing, however, posting a 4.24 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP over 17 appearances. Stephenson has struggled with his command at times and has shown that he's not quite ready to join a rotation. At least not at any point in 2014, anyway.
This week, Stephenson struggled again, allowing a 6.30 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP over 10 innings pitched. Stephenson walked a whopping six batters over said 10 innings and managed just a 1.17 K/BB ratio in that time.
Stephenson has the potential to be one of the best starters in his prospect class. In order to reach that sky-high potential, he'll need to sharpen his command, limit his walks and allow himself to work deeper into ballgames, by increasing his pitch efficiency.
2014 Stats: 17 G, 16 GS, 3-6 W-L, 87.0 IP, 4.24 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.93 K/BB
All stats are current through play on July 3, 2014 and come courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.