Stock Up, Stock Down for Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects for Week 18
The Cincinnati Reds farm continues to be as versatile and unpredictable as the Reds themselves. Their top 10 prospects are a mixed bag of sorts at the moment. Some continue to thrive following a promotion to the next level while some are still suffering growing pains.
The arms of the Reds' future have struggled of late, especially the No.1 prospect, but there are a few bats in the farm who are performing on a decent level. Ultimately, it wasn't a great week for the Reds' Top 10 prospects.
Time to take the weekly assessment of each prospect's stock.
All stats courtesy of BaseballAmerica.com unless otherwise noted.
10. Ismael Guillon, LHP, High-A
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 10 H, 1BB, 2 SO, L (0-5)
Analysis: Ismael Guillon made just one start last week. It wasn't a great performance, though he somehow managed to mitigate any real damage. Guillon pitched 4.2 innings and allowed just one earned run, a fine feat.
But he also surrendered a whopping 10 hits, and in just 4.2 innings pitched, five total runs ultimately crossed the plate, although four were unearned.
His strikeouts were low, but he did only manage to walk one batter. Still, 10 hits means he was very hittable, and even though he apparently didn't get much help from those behind him, he didn't put his team in a very good position.
Guillon is still searching for the first High-A victory. Maybe Week 19 will be better for this young lefty.
2014 High-A Stats: 9 GS, 45.2 IP, (0-5), 6.11 ERA, 21 BB, 33 SO
9. Alex Blandino, 3B, Single-A
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, 22 ABs, 7 H, 5 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR
Analysis: The Reds' 29th overall pick of the 2014 draft is on fire right now. As of August 11, Alex Blandino is riding a six-game hitting streak. Since his call-up to Single-A near the end of July, Bandino has seemingly not missed a beat.
For the Dayton Dragons, the young third baseman is hitting .298/.407/.468. He's homered once so far and has driven in five RBI. He didn't homer last week, though he did hit two doubles, bringing his overall total to five doubles a matter of weeks after being promoted.
The Reds have high expectations for this young man. In just a short amount of time, he's become a considerable facet of the Dayton Dragons offense. The reason this particular prospect is so notable is because although he is listed on the depth chart as a third baseman, he's played 38 games at shortstop.
Might the Reds be grooming him to eventually take over at the major league level and provide offense at a position that hasn't provided it in a very long time?
2014 Single-A Stats: 13 G, .298/.407/.468
8. Ben Lively, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 1 G, 6 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO, L
Ben Lively tossed just one start last week, and it wasn't a very good one. Lively went six innings and surrendered five earned runs, the bulk of which came off of the two home runs he surrendered. Lively walked just one hitter that game and only struck out three.
So far, the move to Double-A has not been too kind to Lively. He's now 1-6 on the season for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, although he's still boasting a respectable 3.96 ERA. Plus, in 50 innings pitched, Lively has 54 strikeouts—a promising feat.
Lively's record is bad, but he's not experiencing anything that major league pitchers, especially the ones in his own organization, haven't already seen. Per Baseball-reference.com, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the worst offensive team in their league, averaging just 4.03 runs per game.
Perhaps it's better that Lively learns to pitch with virtually no run support?
2014 Double-A Stats: 9 GS, 50 IP, 1-6, 3.96 ERA
7. Nick Travieso, RHP, Single-A
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 11 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 HR, 6 BB, 6 SO
Analysis: Nick Travieso continues his promising 2014 campaign. This young right-hander hasn't dropped a decision since mid-July, and his performance has a lot to do with that. Last week alone, Travieso made two starts. He went a combined 11 innings and only surrendered one earned run each outing.
While he didn't manage to record any decision last week, his ERA after two starts in August rests at 1.64. The Reds 14th overall pick of 2012 is looking promising. He has 10 wins since joining the Dayton Dragons and has a SO/9 of 7.1.
2014 Single-A Stats: 22 GS, 119 IP, 10-5, 3.33 ERA, 37 BB, 94 SO
6. Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, 24 ABs, 7 H, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
Analysis: Yorman Rodriguez is continuing to play at just a decent level. He's played this entire season at Double-A for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and has average numbers to show for it. But he did turn in a decent week last week, recording seven hits in six games.
He only managed to drive in a run, but he smacked three doubles in six games. The Reds would probably like to see his strikeouts decrease a bit. Seven strikeouts to just two walks isn't the kind of plate discipline you want, but his offensive ability is enough to make up for that.
On the year, he has 99 strikeouts compared to just 30 walks. But in 100 games played this year, he also has 96 hits. The home run he hit last week brings his total to five for the season.
2014 Double-A Stats: 100 G, .253/.308/.353, 96 H, 13 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR
5. Carlos Contreras, RHP, MLB
Last Week's Stats: 1 G, 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Analysis: Carlos Contreras has had a short, rough stretch of games. It might not entirely be his fault, though that matters little. It's become quite difficult to get time if you're a member of the Reds' bullpen. Because of its remarkable starting pitching, there just isn't a lot of work to be allocated among the arms in the bullpen.
That means guys low on the totem pole, like Contreras, must make the best of the short amount of time they get. At the moment, Contreras isn't doing that.
In the one game the Reds dropped to the Cleveland Indians last week, Contreras made his one and only appearance. In three innings pitched, Contreras surrendered four hits, which resulted in two earned runs. One of those hits was a home run.
Contreras threw 40 pitches that game, the most he had thrown since July 8. Still, Contreras has allowed at least an earned run in two consecutive appearances. And as a member of a bullpen who gets minimal usage, that momentarily hurts the stock of this prized prospect.
The Reds might consider getting this prospect back to Triple-A, where he can get the time he needs.
2014 MLB Stats: 10 G, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 7 BB, 13 SO, 3.95 ERA
4. Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 2 GS, 7 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 2 HR, 4 BB, 2 SO
Analysis: Michael Lorenzen made two starts last week, neither of which were that great. On August 4, the young right-hander went four innings and only allowed three hits, resulting in one earned run off a home run. He threw 72 pitches that game, 40 for strikes.
But in his next start, he was lit up. Lorenzen only pitched three innings. He faced just 16 batters and surrendered six earned runs, including another home run.
Another bothersome note about his performances was the fact that he walked more batters than he struck out. With just two strikeouts in seven innings, compared to four walks, Lorenzen didn't seem to have his best stuff.
Still, his numbers on the year are still indicative of a very talented pitcher. In 21 starts, he still boasts a 2.98 ERA. His 4-5 record might also reflect that he plays for the lowest-scoring team in the league.
2014 Double-A Stats: 21 GS, 108.2 IP, 4-5, 2.98 ERA, 74 SO, 36 BB
3. Jesse Winker, OF, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: N/A
Analysis: Jesse Winker remains on the disabled list with a wrist injury. Per the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans, Winker sustained a partially torn tendon in his right wrist in a car accident back in July. He initially tried playing through it, including his appearance in the Futures Game, where he went 1-for-2.
Even though there's nothing new to report on the young outfielder, it's still worth noting that he had been struggling somewhat after being promoted to Double-A. Upon hitting the disabled list, Winker was batting .208. He did however maintain a respectable OBP (.326).
Still, that was only after 21 games of work. Per the Rosecrans article, Winker has decided to go on every road trip with his team despite his injury, a good note regarding his commitment to the organization.
2014 Double-A Stats: 21 G, .208/.326/.351, 16 H, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI
2. Phillip Ervin, OF, Single-A
Last Week's Stats: 27 ABs, 6 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI
Analysis: Despite finishing the week on a strong note against Bowling Green, Phillip Ervin is struggling mightily at Single-A. He had an OK week last week, recording six hits in 27 at-bats. But his numbers were largely aided by ending the week on a two-game hit streak, during which he recorded two hits in both as well as two RBI.
The month of August has been brutal for this prized prospect so far. On the month, Ervin is hitting just .216. More troubling is that he's recorded just two walks in the face of 11 strikeouts. In 10 games in August, this slugger has stranded 24 baserunners. His OBP for the month is only .262.
Ervin isn't adapting well in Dayton. He's hitting just .232 since his promotion before the season. The Reds have to be at least somewhat concerned. He performed well last year when he was promoted, but that was only a sample size of just 12 games. In 12 games in 2013, Ervin's slash line was an impressive .349/.451/.465.
In 113 games in Single-A, his slash line is .232/.303/.368.
2014 Single-A Stats: 113 G, .232/.303/.386, 99 H, 29 2B, 7 3B, 5 HR, 58 RBI
1. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Double-A
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 2.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 2 SO
Analysis: The Reds' No.1 prospect pitched just one game last week, and it was a terrible one by all accounts. The young right-hander lasted only 2.1 innings. He saw 17 batters and surrendered five earned runs on nine hits. He only recorded two strikeouts.
Robert Stephenson is having a rough stretch dating back well into July. In his last four starts, Stephenson has surrendered at least four runs. While he's only made two starts in August, his August line to this date is pretty atrocious. He's made two starts this month for a total of 8.1 innings pitched.
From those 8.1 innings, he's sporting an ERA of 9.72. While that's a really small sample size, this follows a July where Stephenson posted a 4.26 ERA. Stephenson hasn't been fooling a lot of hitters of late. He's at least throwing strikes; his strike percentage for August is 60.69. However, at the moment, the strikes are being battered.
2014 Double-A Stats: 22 GS, 115.2 IP, 5-8, 4.59 ERA, 116 SO, 64 BB
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