Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (17) | 2013 (15) | 2012 (7) | 2011 (6) | 2010 (17)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [76-86] NL Central
AAA: [68-75] International League – Louisville
AA: [60-80] Southern League – Pensacola
A+: [78-62] California League – Bakersfield (2015: Daytona)
A: [68-70] Midwest League – Dayton
The Reds had a disappointing 2014 season thanks in part to the loss of Joey Votto and a power outage from right fielder Jay Bruce. Billy Hamilton had an up and down year but still managed to swipe 56 bags in his rookie campaign. His six homers were a pleasant surprise, but fantasy owners would probably trade them in for a better batting average and more stolen bases. The Reds’ farm has a clear 1/1A at the top, but one of the most intriguing players on this list is Raisel Iglesias. Cincinnati signed the Cuban pitcher to a seven-year deal and he could make an impact with the big league club as soon as this summer. Ben Lively, who would have made this list, was traded to the Phillies for Marlon Byrd this offseason.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Jesse Winker, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2016
Winker is a great prospect in fantasy leagues because he’s a good hitter who can also hit for power. There’s no one flashy tool here, but he’s a good bet for around 20 homers in the majors with a high batting average. He earned a promotion to Double-A as a 20-year-old, but his season was cut short by a wrist injury he suffered in a car accident. Winker returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, where he led all qualified hitters in batting average and OPS. He also checks the “low-risk” box according to most evaluators, which gives us fantasy owners a warm fuzzy feeling. Winker should return to Double-A to start 2015 and could be the Reds’ starting left-fielder in 2016.
2. Robert Stephenson, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2015
Dropping Stephenson to second on this list is for two reasons. One, he struggled in 2014 which is no secret. Two, it’s me trying to be deliberate about my preference for hitting prospects over pitching prospects. In other words, while I think this is really a 1/1A with Winker and him, I’m giving the top spot to the hitter this time around. With Stephenson it’s really about harnessing the awesome stuff and developing the feel for his pitches to reach his #2 starter ceiling. This is a guy with a plus plus fastball and a plus plus curveball. He remains one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. Common sense tells us that more experience should help him gain the polish, so now might be the perfect time to grab him off his current owner in dynasty leagues.
3. Alex Blandino, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Blandino was selected 29th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft. He doesn’t have much speed, but the 22-year-old could hit 15-18 homers with a good average and on-base percentage. That’ll do just fine in fantasy, especially if he stays at either short or second base as he progresses. Nick Howard was taken ten picks higher in the actual draft, but from a fantasy perspective Blandino is the better bet. Even though this was his first taste of pro ball and his downside is that of a utility infielder, there is enough upside to warrant placing him in the top five. At 22 he could move quickly, which also boosts his fantasy value.
4. Aristides Aquino, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Aquino is possibly the most exciting player on this list, but we have to curb our enthusiasm a bit thanks to an extended ETA and the fact that he hasn’t reached full-season ball yet. The 20-year-old led the rookie level Pioneer League in extra-base hits and runs batted in last season. He has plus raw power, an aggressive approach, and enough speed to swipe double-digit bases. He’ll start 2015 in Dayton, and his stock could really soar with another big year. He has all the tools to be an All-Star right fielder down the line, but it’s a long line and the pitchers he faces will only get better.
5. Yorman Rodriguez, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2015
Rodriguez got an 11-game taste of the majors in 2014 as a 21-year-old, but spent the rest of the season in Double-A. This is where he separates himself from fellow outfielder Phil Ervin in my eyes. The two are only a month apart in age. While Rodriguez’s stats don’t look all that much better at first glance, he was playing up an entire level of the minors and dealt with an oblique injury to boot. Rodriguez offers a nice package of plus power and speed, which could translate into a 20-20 threat in the majors – even if it’s accompanied by a weaker batting average. Rodriguez will likely start the year in AAA and could see some more MLB plate appearances later this summer.
6. Raisel Iglesias, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2015
We don’t know much about Iglesias yet, but the Reds signed the Cuban pitcher to a seven-year contract last summer. Most of his work has come as a reliever up to this point, but he could very well end up in the Reds’ rotation thanks to his arsenal. He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus slider, plus curve, and average changeup. Remember the dust-up about whether Chapman would switch to the rotation? It’s kind of a similar case here. Iglesias will probably start 2015 in the Reds bullpen, but if they are serious about him as a starter that switch could come as soon as 2016. He’s a good one to keep on the radar.
7. Michael Lorenzen, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Lorenzen’s ceiling is a #3 starter if he makes it in the rotation. He’s another converted reliever and so there is always the risk he heads back to that role. The 23-year-old has a plus heater, but his other pitches are graded as average, which limits his strikeout potential and in turn his fantasy value. There’s no question he’s the best arm in this system after Stephenson and Iglesias stuffwise, but he’s not an arm I would target outside of deeper dynasty formats. The Reds have turned a college reliever into a starter before in Tony Cingrani, but that’s still a work in progress.
8. Phil Ervin, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Ervin has average or better tools across the board according to scouting reports but struggled in 2014 after a wrist injury ended his 2013 season. The good news is that he’s a solid power/speed combination in the outfield and stole 30 bags to go along with his 34 doubles and seven homers – so it’s too soon to give up on him. It’s also possible that the injury was partially to blame and he’ll bounce back. The bad news is that you don’t want to see somebody who supposedly has a plus hit tool put up a .237 average in Single A as a 21-year-old. This could just be a matter of his raw hitting abilities needing to show up in games, and some improvements in 2015 could vault him right back into the top five.
9. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2015
DeSclafani ranked 5th in a weaker Marlins top ten. From that writeup: “DeSclafani may never be more than a mid-rotation starter. Working in his favor is the fact that he has already logged 33 innings with the Marlins, striking out 26 batters but also allowing 23 earned runs. The 24-year-old is apparently working on a curveball in the AFL and will bring it with him next spring as he hopes to get another look in the rotation.” DeSclafani should get a look as the fifth starter for the Reds this spring and could serve as a streamer option this season, but his fantasy value does take a hit with the change in ballparks.
10. Nick Howard, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
This year’s first round draft pick for the Reds at 19th overall, Howard worked as a reliever in college. Cincinnati is going to convert him back into a starter at least for the time being. Howard has a plus fastball with an average slider, and he showed good control in his first pro season. Even if Howard does have success in a rotation, he’s still probably a #4 at best. That has some value in deeper dynasty leagues, but in most formats it’s not worth jumping on the bandwagon yet.