Stock Up, Stock Down for Cincinnati Reds' Top 10 Prospects for Week 21
Now that the Cincinnati Reds have quickly dug themselves a hole in the standings as September roster expansions draw closer, many fans have turned their attention to the team's minor leaguers.
The team will have some decisions to make when it comes to calling up players. Fans want to know if pitchers like Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen will be promoted in September. A lot will go into those decisions, including how the players have performed not only this year but recently as well.
Any minor leaguer who would like to be considered for a promotion needs be at his best as the minor-league season wraps up. That fans and the organization will be looking closely at the prospects' numbers.
Keep reading to see how Cincinnati's top prospects performed this past week.
Rankings are via the official website of the Cincinnati Reds.
No. 10: LHP David Holmberg
Last week's stats (MLB): 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 6 R, 5 H (1 HR), 2 K/4 BB, 2 HBP
MLB: 2 GS, 0-1, 5.1 IP, 12 H (4 HR), 11 R, 3 K/10 BB, 2 HBP
Triple-A: 17 GS, 1-6, 4.64 ERA, 87.1 IP, 113 H (3 HR), 50 K/32 H
David Holmberg has been given two starts in the majors this season, and it would be tough to find many positives from either start.
In his latest start, the southpaw couldn't shake off an overturned review in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves. He ended up allowing five runs in the inning and was forced to hit the showers early.
The numbers in the majors this season aren't pretty for Holmberg. He failed to make it out of the third inning in either of his starts and has allowed 11 runs, including four home runs, in just 5.1 innings pitched in the two starts.
Holmberg doesn't have overpowering stuff, so he needs pinpoint accuracy in order to be successful. That hasn't happened so far, but the 23-year-old still has time to develop.
Although he hasn't impressed in his two starts this season, Holmberg will likely be recalled in September. He's on the 40-man roster and has been called up twice this season, so it would be silly not to bring him up to add depth.
No. 9: LHP Ismael Guillon
Last week's stats (High-A): N/A
High-A: 11 G/10 GS, 1-5, 6.23 ERA, 56.1 IP, 63 H (12 HR), 43 K/27 BB, 4 HBP
Low-A: 13 G/12 GS, 4-1, 3.17 ERA, 65.1 IP, 41 H (3 HR), 69/27, 1 HBP
Ismael Guillon's stock rose this year after he was able to shut down hitters in Single-A Dayton, but now that he is in Single-A Bakersfield, he has to once again make adjustments.
Right now, Guillon is currently on the seven-day disabled list. In his last outing, he allowed six runs in five innings back on Aug. 17. Before that start, he had gone five straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs in any of them.
The 22-year-old has rebounded from a tough 2013 season. He made adjustments from last season to this year and earned a promotion. Once he gets back on the mound, Guillon needs to show that he can give his team a chance to win in every game.
No. 8: RHP Nick Travieso
Last week's stats (Single-A): 1 GS, 1-0, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 6 K/1 BB
Low-A: 24 GS, 1 CG, 12-5, 130.2 IP, 119 H (10 HR), 104 K/43 BB, 8 HBP
Nick Travieso is doing his best to end the season on a high note.
The right-hander's last start looks good on paper, but considering how well he has pitched lately, it was considered an off night. He had allowed only three earned runs in 34 innings over his previous six starts.
Travieso is 12-5 with a 3.24 ERA with the Dayton Dragons this season. The Reds' 2012 first-round pick is showing why the team drafted him so high. If he continues to pitch at such a high level, he will quickly work his way through the system.
No. 7: SS Alex Blandino
Last week's stats (Single-A): 4-for-27, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 13 K
Low-A: 25 G, .276/.351/.408, 1 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 1 SB (2 CS)
Rookie: 29, .309/.412/.527, 4 HR, 10 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI, 6 SB (3 CS)
Alex Blandino is doing his best to show that he can handle himself at the plate, and so far, he has done a good job of doing so.
Cincinnati took Blandino in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft. After hitting well in Billings, the shortstop has had no problem adjusting to Single-A pitching.
The 21-year-old has cooled off a bit at the plate lately, mainly because he has struggled to put the bat on the ball. In a recent three-game stretch, he struck out 10 times in 16 at-bats. He had struck out only 14 times from July 29 to Aug. 19.
Every player has some rough stretches. The good news is that despite the strikeouts, he has still been able to come up with hits here and there.
Stock: Slightly Down
No. 6: RHP Ben Lively
Last week's stats (Double-A): 1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 6 K/1 BB
Double-A: 11 GS, 3-6, 3.76 ERA, 67 IP, 54 H (5 HR), 72 K/34 BB
High-A: 13 GS, 10-1, 2.28 ERA, 79 IP, 57 H (6 HR), 95 K/16 BB
No player in the Reds' system has seen his stock rise more this year than Ben Lively. Although he hasn't been quite as good as he was in Single-A Bakersfield this year, he has put up some very good numbers in Double-A since being promoted.
Lively's last two starts are tough to judge. The lines look good, but compared to his previous starts in Double-A, they were not his best. The eight hits he allowed in each start were the most he had given up at either Single-A or Double-A this season, and he had not allowed more than two runs in four of his five previous starts.
That's how high of a standard Lively has set for himself.
The right-hander has dominated hitters in Single-A and Double-A this season. If he continues to pitch this way as the minor-league season comes to an end, he will have made a great case for a September promotion.
Although he may be deserving, it is unlikely that Lively will be promoted when rosters expand. He is not currently on the 40-man roster, and there's no point in speeding up his arbitration clock.
No. 5: RHP Nick Howard
Last week's stats (Single-A): 1 GS, 0-0, 5 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 3 K/1 BB
Low-A: 9 G/3 GS, 1-1, 4.56 ERA, 23.2 IP, 21 H (3 HR), 15 K/8 BB
Nick Howard was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2014 draft, and he is wasting no time in making a good impression.
Outside of one bad outing, the 21-year-old has been fantastic on the mound in Single-A. He has allowed 12 runs in nine outings, but considering six of those runs came in one start, he has been very good for the most part.
The organization eased him into professional baseball by using him in relief early on. His last three outings have been starts, and he has allowed more than two runs in a start only once.
Howard has a strong fastball and a good slider, but he is still learning how to pitch professionally. The early signs are good. It will be up to him to build on his early success and show he can make any adjustments necessary.
No. 4: RHP Michael Lorenzen
Last week's stats (Double-A): 1 GS, 0-0, 3 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R (2 ER), 3 K/3 BB
Double-A: 23 GS, 4-6, 3.09 ERA, 116.2 IP, 107 H (8 HR), 81 K/41 BB, 6 HBP
Michael Lorenzen has been so good this season that he has pitched his way into the conversation of a possible September call-up.
His last start wasn't terrible, but it wasn't as good as we have come to expect out of him. He went only three innings, thanks to a long first inning. He allowed only one batter to reach base against him over his final two innings of the game.
Lorenzen has allowed 10 earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 11 innings. He's been throwing around 70 pitches per start lately, so the only negative on him right now is that he needs to be a bit more pitch efficient.
Will Lorenzen be called up in September? It's a tough call, but the answer is likely no. He's not on the 40-man roster and is only in his second professional season.
If he is able to finish the season strong, Lorenzen will give the Reds something to think about come September.
No. 3: OF Phil Ervin
Last week's stats (Single-A): 6-for-16, 4 2B, 4 RBI
Low-A: 124 G, .237/.306/.370, 5 HR, 33 2B, 7 3B, 62 RBI, 29 SB (3 CS)
Phil Ervin had a strong first year as a professional, but that success hasn't carried over to this season.
The Reds' 2013 first-round pick hit .326 in Billings last year and .349 in 12 games in Dayton. This season, it has been a completely different story. He is hitting only .237 in 123 games in 2014.
There is some good news, however. Ervin has come on strong as of late. He recorded six hits, including four extra-base hits, in a three-game stretch last week. He struck out only once during that span, so when he puts the bat on the ball, good things tend to happen.
Considering it's only his second professional season, it's not totally surprising to see him struggle at the plate. It will be important for Ervin to come back next season and show he made adjustments over the winter.
Stock: Slightly Up
No. 2: OF Jesse Winker
Last week's stats (Double-A): N/A
Double-A: 21 G, .208/.326/.351, 2 HR, 5 2B, 0 3B, 8 RBI, 22 K/14 BB
High-A: 53 G, .317/.426/.580, 13 HR, 15 2B, 0 3B, 49 RBI, 5 SB (1 CS)
Jesse Winker has a bright future ahead of him, but the second half of the 2014 season has been wasted for him.
The 21-year-old has not played in a game since July 17 because of a wrist injury. The injury was expected to keep him out two to four weeks, and considering the Pensacola Blue Wahoos' season ends on Sept. 1, the injury may have ended his season.
Winker hit .317 in 53 games at Single-A this season but hit only .208 in 21 games after being promoted to Double-A. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see if he could overcome a slow start at a new level this year.
No. 1: RHP Robert Stephenson
*Last week's stats (Double-A): 2 GS, 0-1, 9 IP, 11 H (4 HR), 12 R (11 ER), 10 K/5 BB, 2 HBP
*Double-A: 26 G/25 GS, 6-9, 4.93 ERA, 129.2 IP, 111 H (18 HR), 131 K/71 BB
(*Note: At the time of publication, Robert Stephenson's latest game was still in progress. He had been removed from the game after five innings and could be charged with the loss, but not the win. All other stats from the start are included.)
Robert Stephenson hasn't had the season that everyone expected out of him, and it may cost him a September promotion.
The 21-year-old got off to a good start this season but has struggled in recent outings. Two starts ago, when he gave up eight runs in just four innings, was his worst of the season. He has allowed at least four runs in six of his past seven starts and has gone more than five innings only once during that stretch.
Stephenson's recent struggles can be explained by his control problems. He has walked at least two batters in seven consecutive starts and 10 of his last 11. He has walked 22 batters in his last 31.1 innings, which forces him to pitch with runners on base frequently.
Stephenson isn't on the Reds' 40-man roster and given his struggles this season, it seems unlikely that the team would call him up for the final month of the season. It may be good to let him get his feet wet in the majors this season, but it won't be an easy call for Cincinnati to make.