The Reds are off to a 2-0 start and some recent farm hands are working hard to prove themselves at the major league level. Rookie LF Scott Schebler was the hero for the Reds in the game last night with a game winning double in the bottom of the ninth. Today, rookie SP Robert Stephenson bids to make an impact as he makes his first big league start against the Phillies.
Today is Minor League opening day for the Reds full season farm teams and the rosters for all of the teams are out. Let’s take a quick peek to see where some of the Reds top prospects will be starting out at this season.
AAA Louisville Bats
If Robert Stephenson is sent down to Louisville after today’s start as expected. The Bat’s roster will contain four of the Red’s very best prospects.
At the plate Jesse Winker will lead the way. All eyes will be on Winker to see if he can continue to hit at the AAA level. With a strong first half he will put himself into position to take over RF should Jay Bruce be dealt or LF if the Duvall/Schebler platoon falters. Jose Peraza is the next big talent on the team with a full season of AAA experience under his belt already. He will most likely man SS at Louisville with hopes that a spot on the Reds at either SS, 2B, or CF opens up for him soon.
After Stephenson’s spot start for the Reds, he and Cody Reed will provide a powerful 1-2 punch at the top of the Bat’s rotation. Once May arrives and the 5 SP on the Red’s DL return to action, they will be joined there by three of Finnegan, Lorenzen, Lamb, and Moscot to form a very good rotation. Zack Weiss should soon join the back end of the Bat’s bullpen once he has returned to action.
AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos
About a third of Pensacola’s roster will contain players listed in most Red’s top 30 prospects lists.
The two best hitting prospects will be Alex Blandino and Phil Ervin. Blandino is not yet on the Pensacola roster, but is expected to join them once he recovers from a hamstring issue. He will most likely man 2B and hope to continue hitting well at the AAA level. This would put him on track to replace Brandon Phillips in 2018. Ervin will probably be in CF for the Blue Wahoos and will hope to show he can become more consistent at the plate. Recently acquired Eric Jagielo hit very well for a half season in AA last season before injuring a knee. He will be working on showing he can adequately field 3B and his stay here will be short if he continues to hit well.
The Blue Wahoos starting rotation will be lights out featuring four players found in most Red’s top 15 prospect lists. Amir Garrett, Nick Travieso, Rookie Davis, and Sal Romano will provide lots of wins for the Pensacola club this season. Advancement for these guys could be rough as the AAA rotation will be stacked full of prospects as well. Their opportunity may come by means of some of these top AAA and AA pitching prospects being converted to relievers to help fortify the Red’s bullpen.
High A Daytona Tortugas
The Tortuga’s will hope to return to the Florida State League playoffs this year again powered by six players on most Red’s top 30 prospect lists.
At the plate, SS Blake Trahan will return to show that his struggles in short promotion to Daytona at the end of last year are behind him. Another highly thought of prospect, OF Aristides Aquino, will be promoted to Daytona to start this season after struggling big time at low A Dayton last year in the first half of the season before being injured. In a bit of a surprise, 3B Taylor Sparks will return to Daytona to start the season. One wonders how long he may stay here though since 3B Tanner Rahier, who missed last season due to legal problems, was removed from the Restricted list on Monday.
The Tortuga’s starting rotation should again be the strength of the team. The rotation will surprisingly be led by Keury Mella who will return after doing very well while spending the entire year last season in A+. He’ll be joined there by Tyler Mahle, Wyatt Strahan, Tejay Antone, and Seth Varner who all had excellent years last year in Dayton.
Low A Dayton Dragons
The Dragons will begin to start the season with only one of the Reds top prospects, but have several others that hope to move into consideration for that list by seasons end.
The Dragon’s top prospect at seasons start is C Tyler Stephenson. He will make his full season debut after a strong showing at Rookie level Billings last year. One to watch this season will be 1B James Vasquez. Vasquez was a bit old for the AZL Rookie team last year but did as he was expected and had a great year there at the plate. Also keep an eye on 2B Shedric Long to see if he can repeat what he did at the plate in a half season at Dayton last year.
Just like the rest of the Red’s farm clubs, the starting rotation is expected to be very good at Dayton. The Reds will be promoting five pitchers from Rookie League who all had very good years last year. The staff will be comprised of Tanner Rainey, Ty Boyles, Jose Lopez, Jacob Constante, and Franderlyn Romero.