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Stock Up, Stock Down for the Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects for Week 17

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for the Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects for Week 17

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Cincinnati Reds prospects are a tricky group to assess.

    The team is loaded with right-handed power pitchers and a few outfielders with high ceilings. The group is an up-and-down bunch, who, for the most part, is very streaky.

    Some of the top-tier prospects have disappointed this season—e.g. Phillip Ervin—while other mid/lower-level prospects—Ben Lively, for example—have shot up the prospect boards and made a name for themselves as potential future big league options.

    This week was much of the same for the Reds' top 10, with some of the lower-ranked players shining, while some of the top-tier prospects continued to struggle.

    The closing weeks of the season are some of the most pivotal for young players, so let's take a look at how they performed in Week 17

    All stats are current through play on Aug. 6, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

10. Ismael Guillon, LHP, High-A

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 0-1 W-L, 10.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 2.50 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    Since receiving a promotion to High-A, Ismael Guillon has struggled mightily. After dominating at Single-A Dayton, the 22-year-old owns an 6.11 ERA and an 1.60 WHIP over nine starts with the Bakersfield club.

    Recently, however, Guillon has been much better, logging a 3.78 ERA and an 1.44 WHIP over the last two weeks.

    This week, the young left-hander was outstanding, posting a 1.69 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP over 10.2 innings pitched. In addition to his sparkling ERA and WHIP, Guillon's per-nine averages were on point, racking up 8.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9, while allowing 12.7 H/9—not so good.

    Guillon seems to have worked through some of the early growing pains associated with his call-up to Bakersfield, so look for his performance to continue to improve throughout the remainder of the season.

     

    2014 Stats: 21 GS, 4-6 W-L, 111.0 IP, 4.38 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 2.17 K/BB

    Stock: Up

9. Alex Blandino, 3B, Rookie League

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    Last Week's Stats: 7 G, .296/.424/.444, 0 HR, 0 3B, 4 2B, 0 RBI, 7 R, 8:6 K/BB, 1 SB

     

    Analysis

    Since being selected 29th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, Alex Blandino has been on a sustained hot streak. The 21-year-old has hit, and hit, and hit some more, posting a .301/.405/.514 batting line with 20 extra-base hits (five are home runs), 17 RBI, 28 runs scored and an 29:22 K/BB ratio.  

    Unsurprisingly, the young infielder continued his hot hitting, posting a .296/.424/.444 slash line with four doubles, seven runs scored and a solid 8:6 K/BB ratio. Blandino has displayed some impressive bat-on-ball skills, as well as great plate discipline—he's striking out and walking at 16.8 percent and 12.7 percent rates, respectively.

    Blandino has held his own in the field this season, despite his working primarily as a shortstop—popular thought has him as a future shortstop or second baseman. Blandino will likely wind up at second or third base, but in the event that he's able to stick at short, his value will skyrocket.

     

    2014 Stats: 38 G, .301/.405/.514, 5 HR, 1 3B, 14 2B, 17 RBI, 28 R, 29:22 K/BB, 7 SB

    Stock: Up

8. Ben Lively, RHP, Double-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 1-1 W-L, 13.1 IP, 4.73 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 4.5 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    Between two levels of play—High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, Ben Lively has had quite the season. Lively dominated High-A ball, and over a combined 22 starts he boasts a 2.93 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and season averages of 10.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 3.24 K/BB and 6.4 H/9. 

    Since his promotion to Double-A, however, Lively has struggled, allowing 5.4 BB/9. Lively's command has always been fringy, and against more experienced hitters, it's starting to show in his walk rate—14.4 percent walk rate at Double-A.

    Lively showed more of the same last week, struggling in both of his starts. The 22-year-old logged 13.1 innings pitched, while allowing a 4.73 ERA on eight hits—two being home runs—and two walks, while striking out nine.

    Lively has struggled mightily at Double-A. His performance the rest of the way could decide the path the Reds choose to take next season in determining whether or not the UCF product is fast tracked toward the big league level.

     

    2014 Stats: 22 GS, 11-7 W-L, 129.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 3.24 K/BB

    Stock: Down

7. Nick Travieso, RHP, Single-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.00 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    All things considered, Nick Travieso has had a great season.

    Over 21 starts—114 innings pitched—the 20-year-old has allowed a 3.39 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. In addition, Travieso has managed some impressive season averages, including 7.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 2.73 K/BB and 8.5 H/9. 

    Travieso has shown enough for a promotion to High-A Bakersfield, but he may have to wait until next season.

    In any event, the Florida prep product turned in another solid week, allowing just one earned run over six innings pitched, while striking out two and walking two. Travieso struggled a little with his command this week but was quite solid, otherwise.

     

    2014 Stats: 21 GS, 10-5 W-L, 114.0 IP, 3.39 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 2.73 K/BB

    Stock: Up

6. Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Double-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 5 G, .364/.391/.591, 0 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 0 RBI, 5 R, 6:1 K/BB, 0 SB

     

    Analysis

    Let's be honest here, Yorman Rodriguez has been solidly disappointing this season. Through 95 games, Rodriguez has managed a .252/.305/.352 batting line, with just 21 extra-base hits—five are home runs—28 RBI, 43 runs scored and seven stolen bases.

    Rodriguez has flashed about two of his five potentially above-average tools this season—his arm and defense—logging a whopping nine outfield assists.

    The important thing to remember with Rodriguez is that, although he's been a professional for six seasons, the Venezuelan outfielder is just 21 years old—the same age as most 2014 college draftees.

    Rodriguez has shown signs of life the last few weeks, and the trend continued this week. Over five games played, Rodriguez collected eight hits, en-route to a .364/.391/.591 slash line, with three doubles, a triple, five runs scored and a 6:1 K/BB ratio.

    It wasn't his best week to date, but after a prolonged slump dating back to the beginning of the season, Rodriguez is finally starting to show the tools that once had him ranked very highly within the Reds system.

     

    2014 Stats: 96 G, 255/.307/.353, 5 HR, 5 3B, 11 2B, 28 RBI, 43 R, 94:28 K/BB, 7 SB

    Stock: Up

5. Carlos Contreras, RHP, MLB

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    Last Week's Stats: 1 G, 0-0 W-L, 3.0 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 3.00 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    Carlos Contreras has had a great season so far. The 23-year-old was impressive at Double-A Pensacola, allowing a 2.70 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over nine appearances with the club.

    After a short, injury-ridden stint at Pensacola, Contreras was called up to Cincinnati, where he's been on point over 10 appearances. In said 10 appearances, the young righty has managed a 3.95 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, while averaging 8.6 K/9, 1.86 K/BB and 6.6 H/9.

    Contreras' command has been spotty at the big league level and it shows in his walk percentage, which sits at a paltry 12.1 percent.

    This week was a disappointing one for Contreras. In his lone appearance the young right-hander logged three innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits, one being a home run.

    Contreras is a talented young pitcher, and as a reliever, he has the potential to succeed in high-leverage situations. He'll look to bounce back with a strong week, next time out.

     

    2014 Stats: 19, 2-1 W-L, 33.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, 2.22 K/BB

    Stock: Down

4. Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Double-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 0-0 W-L, 9.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.25 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    Michael Lorenzen is one of the best stories in the Reds system. Not for any sentimental reasons, or because of personal struggles, but simply because he's shown an incredible ability to adapt on the fly.

    Drafted out of Cal-State Fullerton as a two-way player in 2013, Lorenzen was immediately shifted into a full-time relief role. After succeeding in said role, this year, Lorenzen was given a full-time spot in the starting rotation for the first time in his collegiate or professional career.

    Impressively, Lorenzen hasn't missed a beat. Over 20 starts, the 22-year-old boasts some impressive numbers including a 2.56 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and averages of 6.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 2.18 K/BB.

    This week, Lorenzen continued to pitch well, logging nine innings over two starts, while allowing just one earned run. The California native allowed just 10 batters to reach base over that stretch and averaged 5.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.

    Lorenzen's command will still need some polish before he becomes a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation threat, but he's gone a long way toward actualizing that potential in 2014.

     

    2014 Stats: 20 GS, 4-5 W-L, 105.2 IP, 2.56 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 2.18 K/BB

    Stock: Up

3. Jesse Winker, OF, Double-A

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    Last Week's Stats: N/A

     

    Analysis

    Jesse Winker has been on the shelf for the last three weeks with an injured tendon in his wrist. According to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, the 20-year-old will likely miss two to four weeks of action, but a second report from the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans states that Winker could miss the rest of the 2014 season.

    Either way, Winker has shown a mature demeanor and work ethic during his time on the disabled list. According to the same Rosecrans report, Winker has been taking the bus to games with his teammates and soaking up as much of the game as he possibly can.

    It's possible Winker could return for the last week or two of the regular season, but given his high-profile status, the more likely route is for the Reds to shut him down for the year. If that's the case, it will go down as an impressive breakout campaign for the Florida native.

     

    2014 Stats: 74 G, .287/.399/.518, 15 HR, 0 3B, 20 2B, 57 RBI, 57 R, 68:54 K/BB, 5 SB

    Stock: Even

2. Phillip Ervin, OF, Single-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 7 G, .148/.167/.222, 0 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 1 R, 9:1 K/BB, 2 SB

     

    Analysis

    After impressing in his 2013 debut, Phillip Ervin turned in arguably the most disappointing start of any Cincinnati Reds prospect.

    By the end of June, Ervin had his triple slash up to .229/.302/.372, a near-identical mark to the one he currently sports. Since then, Ervin has done little to improve his stock, posting a batting line of .231/.295/.372 over 33 games.

    Ervin has been somewhat unlucky this season and sports a .271 BAbip as evidence of that—Ervin posted a gaudy, and flukey .372 mark last season. In addition to a BAbip roughly 20 points below its expected value, Ervin has walked and struck out at tolerable rates, posting strikeout and walk percentages of 19.1 and 8.7 percent, respectively.

    This week, Ervin turned in another poor performance with the bat, managing just a .148/.167/.222 slash line. Despite his solidly poor slash line, Ervin was able to muster up two doubles, five RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases over the week.

     

    2014 Stats: 109 G, .228/.299/.368, 5 HR, 7 3B, 27 2B, 54 RBI, 53 R, 90:41 K/BB, 25 SB

    Stock: Down

1. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Double-A

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    Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, X-X W-L, 10.2 IP, 5.91 ERA, 12.71 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 7.6 BB/9, 1.44 K/BB

     

    Analysis

    Robert Stephenson hasn't had the year you'd expect from a player pegged by Baseball America as the No. 19 overall prospect in baseball. The 21-year-old righty has displayed spotty command at time, and it's worked its way into his stat line, as he's amassed a solidly below-average walk rate of 12.6 percent.

    Stephenson's command, and the resulting tendency to put excess runners on base has resulted in a 4.29 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP through 113.1 innings of work.

    All of this is to say that Stephenson is young, and still needs some polish. The California prep product still has an outside shot at making the Opening Day rotation for 2015, but any hopes of him breaking in as a reliever or spot starter in 2014 have surely been dashed.

    Stephenson is in the midst of a three-start slump, including two made during the week in question. Through said starts, Stephenson allowed a 5.91 ERA and a 12.71 WHIP (yes, you read that right) while walking nine and striking out 13.

    Stephenson has issued far too many free passes this season, but a late-season resurgence could nab him a roster spot as the Reds look to catch lightning in a bottle and make the playoffs for a third straight season.

     

    2014 Stats: 21 GS, 5-8 W-L, 113.1 IP, 4.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 1.84 K/BB

    Stock: Down

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