The Arizona Fall League ended over the weekend after nearly six weeks of play. The Reds sent seven players to the league and there wound up being a mixed bag of results. Let’s take a look at how each of the players performed.

Alex Blandino – Second Base

The most interesting part about the Arizona Fall League season for Blandino was that he spent his entire time out west playing second base, a position that many see as his future home, but one he hasn’t spent much time playing to this point in his career. He made it into 19 games in total. The former first round pick (2014 – as compensation for losing out on Shin-Soo Choo) struggled at the plate, hitting just .175/.246/.270 in 69 plate appearances. The biggest issue was his high strikeout rate, where he had 19 strikeouts (28%), but he also didn’t show much power. The Good: He got experience at what is likely his future defensive position. The not-so good: He didn’t hit much and seemed to struggle against some more advanced pitching.

Phillip Ervin – Outfield

Taken in the first round the year prior to Blandino, Ervin has an extra year of experience on his side. He hit a little bit better, but the over results weren’t strong. His final line of .209/.299/.313 gave him nearly a 100 point OPS advantage, but a slump down the stretch really crushed his line in the small sample size of just 77 plate appearances. Like Blandino, he didn’t show much power in the league. Unlike Blandino, Ervin showed good plate discipline as he drew seven walks with just 11 strikeouts (14%). He would also steal eight bases in nine attempts. The Good: He showed off good plate discipline against advanced pitching, was very successful on the bases and got more experience in both center and left field. The not-so-good: The power didn’t show up and his average was rather low despite making plenty of contact.

Chad Wallach – Catcher

Wallach was on the “taxi squad”, which in only active two days a week, and thus he only appeared in nine games for Peoria. It was a return to the Arizona Fall League for Wallach, but it didn’t go any better the second time around as he struggled mightily. In 33 plate appearances he posted a .133/.212/.167 line with a walk and seven strikeouts (21%). The Good: He was able to get some extra reps behind the plate. The not-so-good: He didn’t hit at all in limited action.

Stephen Johnson – RHP

A late season pick up in the Marlon Byrd trade, the Reds sent Johnson to the Arizona Fall League after appearing in just a few games with the organization to end the season. The right hander had a lot of success with Peoria, posting a 0.73 ERA in eight appearances. In his 12.1 innings pitched he allowed just one run on four hits and two walks, good for a 0.49 WHIP. He would strike out eight batters as well. The Good: He was strong across the board. His walk rate was low, he had a solid strikeout rate, he didn’t allow runs or base runners. The not-so good: It’s a stretch, but he threw two wild pitches.

Layne Somsen – RHP

Two of the first three outings in Arizona by Somsen resulted in two earned runs each, leaving his ERA after three outings at 9.81. He didn’t allow another earned run the rest of the way. In total he would post a 3.38 ERA over his nine outings, all in relief. He did walk four batters in 10.2 innings, but countered that with 13 strikeouts, including four different multi-strikeout appearances. The Good: He rebounded well after a rough start and he missed a lot of bats. The not-so good: Four walks in 10.2 innings isn’t great. It’s not bad, but if we’ve got to look for something to put here, that would be it.

Nick Travieso – RHP

The lone starting pitcher that the organization sent to Arizona, Nick Travieso performed very well. He would make four starts and one relief appearance (in which he threw 5.0 innings). The righty would post a 2.05 ERA in 22.0 innings for Peoria with just three walks to go with 20 strikeouts. His WHIP was 1.00 and he allowed just one home run in the hitter friendly league. The Good: He showed the ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes, good control and keep runs off of the board against more advanced hitters than he’s faced to this point in his career. The not-so good: If we have to stretch to add something here, he hit two batters and had four wild pitches.

Zack Weiss – RHP

The top relief prospect in the system had some struggles. Sort of. His ERA was high, coming in at 6.00 over the course of 9.0 innings. His peripherals were strong though, as he didn’t allow a home run, walked just one batter and had 11 strikeouts. The Good: He posted an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and didn’t give up a home run. The not-so good: His ERA was high in a very small sample size.

Overall, it was a mixed bag. The three offensive guys all struggles for Peoria, with Phillip Ervin’s .612 OPS being the best of the bunch and by a wide margin. Nick Travieso and Stephen Johnson were both quite dominant on the mound. Layne Somsen was pretty good in his own right and while Zack Weiss had a high ERA, he showed the things you want to see from a pitcher.

In other news

I’ve begun to unveil the season review and scouting reports for the Cincinnati Reds Top Prospect List over at my site. Throughout the offseason there will be one released every day and I’ve already covered Nick Travieso, Phillip Ervin and Alex Blandino. So be sure to go check those out if it’s something you’re interested in.

18 Responses

  1. ManuelT

    Thank you for your work. Very interesting. I would say more good news than bad.

  2. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    It’s disappointing to see the position players having a rough go of things. It least they got the experience of playing with guys a little farther along. The pitching in this farm system is excellent. Is Nick Travieso considered to be a prospective front line pitcher? He had a great season and followed it up with a great showing here. Seems like he’s pretty special.

  3. ohiojimw

    The best news is Travieso’s surge to try and claim (or reclaim) a spot among the elite of org’s strong stable of starting pitcher prospects. This is especially important given that the org may end up having to trade pitching for young position players.

    I wish the org could find someone as good at picking position players as they seem to have picking pitching.

    My semi informed 30K foot view is that the org defaults toward picking “toolsy” guys; and, the current state of that art is more reliable with pitching than with hitting. Maybe some day there will be a measure which accurately captures the eye/ muscle skills and coordination to consistently put a round bat effectively into the path of a round ball.

  4. WVRedlegs

    Travieso’s re-emergence is great to see. It was nice he got some extra innings pitched in the AFL after missing about 8 starts at Daytona after taking a line drive off his wrist. He was probably on course to have a better year than he did in 2014. He should start out the season at AA Pensacola.
    Stephen Johnson pitched well enough to earn a 40 man roster spot. He’ll help out the Reds bullpen someday soon.
    The hitters are sure having a tough time at it. They say that the jump from A+ ball to AA is a huge jump and takes time for most players to re-adjust. The Reds hitters/players just hit a concrete wall when they advance to AA. Winker made the adjustment on his second try, but it took some time. Maybe the Reds need their very best hitting instructors to be a AA to help these guys get over that AA hump.

    • reaganspad

      OK, I had Steve as my new GM, then the Old Cossack, but dang it WVRED if you don’t make sense about having our best hitting instruction at AA. Brilliant.

      It is now a three way tie for my new GM.

      If they are going to have a GM in waiting, that means the position is still open in my mind. Auditions welcome especially when they make this much sense

    • ohiojimw

      If enough latent hitting talent isn’t present, no manner of instruction will suffice to overcome the problem. Apparently a 90+ MPH fastball can be coached up into a serviceable pitcher most the time. However, the Reds don’t seem to be able to consistently pick guys with the skills it takes to make them serviceable MLB hitters. I’m not sure any other teams really have it dialed in either but at the least the Reds seem to be trailing the curve.

  5. Dan

    Typical Reds farm system. All pitching and no hitting. Hopefully we targets bats exclusively this off season but at this point I don’t think that they Reds are capable of trading for offensive players.

    • earmbrister

      When you consider that the pitchers on a 25 man roster occupy 11 spots, your pitching prospects should be approaching 50% of your farm system prospects. Not to mention that the entire pitching staff was turning over in the two seasons following the 2013 season: it’s a good thing that we have some legit pitching in our upper minors.

      The Reds will most likely be persueing more position players in future drafts and trades. I see their farm system glass as half full.

      As for the AFL, it’s a small sample size for a handful of players. The Pirates number two prospect Austin Meadows, OF, Glendale hit .169/.194/.308 and recorded the league’s worst on-base percentage. One or two months does not define a career.

      • Dan

        It is a small sample size but if you look at our minor leagues performance over all of 2015 the AFL is exactly what you would get. All pitching and no hitting. The best hitter in our farm system cant even hit .300 or launch 20 dingers over an entire minor league season.

      • earmbrister

        Fair enough; I’ll give you that. Some portion of the lackluster 2015 minor league hitting performance can perhaps be attributed to unfortunate injuries to some key players, as well as some tough pitching dominated leagues. Perhaps slow adjustments after promotions to higher leagues as well. However, your right: there weren’t any stud hitting performances by the Reds in the minors in 2015.

        I thought YRod was hitting around .300 before getting hurt, not sure. He’s young, but out of options, so we should be seeing plenty of him in the spring. Capable of covering all 3 OF spots; with a decent ST he should be on the 25 man instead of the typical retreads that have manned the bench in recent years. Perhaps a platoon with Duvall? Winker should be fine in time, as scouts love his approach. The Reds could use his OBP and gap power; hopefully he starts 2016 strongly.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      10 years ago Reds fans would have killed for all of this pitching. Those teams were nothing but hitting. How the times have changed.

      • reaganspad

        Traded Josh Hamilton from the outfield “surplus” for Volquez because we needed arms.

        I agree Ryan

  6. George

    Nick Travieso – RHP
    “The not-so good: If we have to stretch to add something here, he hit two batters and had four wild pitches”.
    The Good: He posted an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and didn’t give up a home run.

    I wonder if the his perceived wildness by the hitters part contributed to the 11-1 SO ratio?
    It is hard for young hitters to “dig in” if they don’t know where the next pitch is going to be other than in the strike zone. Just saying

    • reaganspad

      I do not mind the fact that he is pitching inside. Wild pitches are harder to define because they can be subjective (breaking pitch in the dirt that young catcher may not effectively block for instance).

      I am OK if he hits a few guys. get him ready for the Pirates series

      • Doug Gray

        Certainly not worried about the wild pitches. We have to remember, that for the most part, none of these pitchers/catchers have ever really worked with each other before.