A Minors Obsession

Minor League All Questions Answered

It’s been quite a while since I have done one of these here at Redleg Nation. While I am certainly well versed on most things minor league related, I’m not opposed at all to answering questions you have about the big league team or the players up there either. With that said, there are a few rules to follow:

  1.  Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up answers (such as: Who was the last guy to steal 25 bags and hit 25 home runs in the system).
  2. Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have my type out a novel.
  3. Each user can ask up to three questions.
  4. Ask your questions before 8PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 8PM on Tuesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

That’s simple enough, right? Let’s get to it. I will be in-and-out of the thread all day answering questions, starting around 10am.

56 thoughts on “Minor League All Questions Answered

  1. Thanks for doing these Doug, as always. My questions:
    1. We know there are three are four or more solid arms for the Reds future, likely as starters – Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Lorenzen at least. Who have we not been hearing as much about that might be a future asset in the bullpen? Somsen was not on my radar and last night was ugly but his AAA numbers looked great. Any more we should look for?
    2. If the next crop of offensive prospects is led by Winker and Peraza, who will contribute after those two? I feel like we were hearing about Waldrop and Mejias-Brean for a long time with no payoff, and now the only name that looks reasonably promising might be Ervin.
    3. Give us one name we’ve barely heard before that’s been a really positive surprise this year at any level.
    Thanks again!

    • 1. Well, I still think it isn’t going to be a surprise if guys that are currently starting in the minors wind up in the bullpen. I’ve heard more than a few scouts tell me that Garrett, Romano, Travieso and Mella all profile well as relievers. I think the first three guys especially have enough to make it as starting pitchers, but at some point it’s unlikely there’s room for everyone in the rotation and some of them will have to make that move. Keep an eye on guys that are currently relievers like Zack Weiss (on the DL – but hopefully he’s healthy and pitching soon) and a guy who is breaking out this year and was just promoted to Triple-A, Wandy Peralta. Control has always been the issue with Peralta, he’s always had the stuff. But this year he’s pounding the strikezone and if he keeps doing that, it probably won’t be too long before he’s in the big leagues.

      2. Yorman Rodriguez, Phillip Ervin, Alex Blandino are the other guys in the upper levels who could be starter caliber players. Eric Jagielo has a chance, but he’s a bit less safe than those guys because of positional and strikeout concerns. Beyond them everyone gets more risky and is further away. Don’t sleep on a guy like Aristides Aquino who is certainly risky, but is showing new skills this season and has plenty of tools to fall back on.

      3. Ariel Hernandez has the best raw stuff in the system. He’s old for where he’s pitching at, and his history is littered with enormous control problems, but of late he’s been pounding the strikezone and if that continues it could be huge.

  2. It looks to me that #1 draft picks Nick Howard and Phillip Ervin are both struggling at Double A.Do you think that we will ever see these guys playing in the majors and when would you project this?Reds have done a very poor job over the last few years in both drafting and developing solid position players. Do you agree?

    • What’s wrong with Phil Ervin? His batting average is low but everything else is going well enough. He’s got a 10% walk rate, an ISO of .243, is 14/15 on stolen bases, and his BABIP is presently lower than his career mark so we might expect a bit of an uptick in that batting average.

      • ^This was intended to question why Lanny Sterin thought Phillip Ervin was struggling.

    • I certainly don’t agree with parts of it. Phillip Ervin is going to be a big leaguer. The question is more about is he going to hit for enough average to be a starter or is he going to be a good 4th outfielder? He’s got everything going for his game, except for the batting average. I think part of that is because he’s a bit too pull happy, which leaves him vulnerable to certain pitches. But he draws walks, makes contact (though his strikeout rate is up this season – but it’s still early), runs well and can play all three outfield spots. That’s a big leaguer. ETA: Late 2017, but don’t be surprised if it were sooner.

      Nick Howard is struggling in Daytona, which is Advanced-A. Given his control problems, and just how bad they are at this point, he’s an absolute long-shot of all long-shots for me. I hate to say this, because he really seems like a good dude, but I’d be surprised if he makes it. Guys who have gone through what he’s gone through, by-and-large don’t ever come back from it (going from good control to absolutely no control whatsoever).

      As far as drafting/developing position guys, I think it’s been more about just not drafting position guys nearly as highly as they’ve drafted pitchers. Chris Buckley is the Reds director of amateur scouting, and he’s been in that role since 2006. Here’s the list of every position player that he’s drafted with a pick inside of the Top 50 picks in the draft: Drew Stubbs (big leaguer), Devin Mesoraco (big leaguer), Todd Frazier (big leaguer), Yonder Alonso (big leaguer), Yasmani Grandal (big leaguer), Jesse Winker (top prospect in baseball), Phillip Ervin, Alex Blandino and Tyler Stephenson. That’s a real strong track record to lean on, but, by-and-large, the Reds simply haven’t taken enough position players of late in the Top 50 to have that raw talent to mold and I think that’s why we have seen a lack of guys develop.

  3. Does Daniel Wright have the chops to enter the discussion dominated by Stephenson, Reed and Garrett as a future member of the staff? Does he figure to start as he has the past couple of weeks… or relieve?
    What is your feeling about Rookie Davis? Excellent results but extremely low strikeout numbers.

    • I wrote a little bit about Daniel Wright this morning at my site: http://redsminorleagues.com/2016/05/17/reds-daniel-wright-making-case-call/

      I think he’s simply too far behind the 8-ball in terms of prospect status to stick in the rotation. His stuff just doesn’t match up with the top end guys, but I think he’s got enough stuff to carve out a career as a reliever if he gets the chance.

      I like Rookie Davis, but I think he’s more likely a reliever for the Reds. He just doesn’t match the stuff of about 6 other starting prospects that are ahead of him in AA/AAA. In another organization he may have a better chance to stick as a starter, but the Reds just have larger numbers than most teams do there.

  4. 1) Do we have the next “Joey Votto” developing in the minors?

    2) How would you handle Cody Reed? Leave him down and let him succeed, or bring him up and develop him against major league talent at the risk of starting his clock?

    3) What minor league team is the most fun to watch?

    • 1. I’ve compared Jesse Winker to Joey Votto, of sorts, calling him Joey Votto-lite. He’s not as good as Votto in any given category at the plate, but he’s probably a notch below in each one. That’s still a heck of a hitter, though.

      2. I’d keep Reed in Triple-A through the middle of June at the very least. Since joining the Reds last July he’s only faced the same team twice. I’d like to see a team that’s seen him before adjust to him, then see how he handles that and adjusts back. For some guys that matters. For some others, it doesn’t. But, since 2016 is going nowhere, I’d let that happen and see before moving him up. If the season mattered for the big league club, that plan would probably be a little bit different. But, it doesn’t.

      3. Pensacola has the most pure talent of the teams in the system. They’ve got some position guys and a boatload of pitchers.

  5. What would a return on Cozart be? As much as I d hate to see him go, we need to move ASAP on him.

    And if we move him, do you see Pereza and Suarez and fixtures on that side of the diamond or do you see one moving to 2nd when Phillips is eventually gone?

    • 1. I still don’t think it would be a strong return. He’s hitting well right now, but we’re talking about a guy who has two walks in 30 games and he’s rocking a .330 BABIP. When that BABIP comes down, and it’s almost a guarantee to do so (career .278 BABIP), his OBP is going to tumble in an enormous way because it’s entirely tied to his ability to get hits. Teams know this. I wouldn’t give up a ton for that. He’s certainly got value, because the guy can play a legit shortstop, but I don’t think teams are going to be sold much on the offensive things he’s doing right now.

      2. I think Peraza is the guy right now, but that could change in the future depending on exactly how that goes.

  6. 1) Does comparing Nick Senzel’s 2016 stats for Tennessee (.339/.441/.578, 8 HR, 20 2B, 23 SB, 35 BB vs 18 K in 192 AB) to Alex Bregman’s 2015 stats at LSU (.323/.412/.535, 9 HR, 22 2B, 38 SB, 36 BB vs 22 K in 260 AB) make you feel better about Senzel’s projectability with the way Bregman is tearing up AA in his first full season?

    2) Will the Reds be smart enough to send Peraza back down even though he’s hitting in his first couple of starts to miss that super 2 period?

    3) Have the Reds ever had this many underachieving hitters in the minors at one time? It seems like everyone outside of Winker and Peraza have had terrible starts.

    • 1. Not really. I’ve been sold on Senzel since spending five minutes watching him swing a bat in early April. While it’s certainly nice to see a guy with lesser stats in the SEC crushing Double-A, players are able to succeed for different reasons. I don’t know enough about Bregman or Senzel for that matter, to simply say much about why one guys success could mean another guy will have it because he put up better numbers in the same college conference.

      2. I think so. I’d be shocked if I didn’t see Peraza in Louisville tomorrow while I’m down there. I think he’s there simply because the team has a DH against Cleveland.

      3. I’m sure they have. I’ve had conversations about the Reds and how they used guys this spring, particularly in big league camp, who just sat on the bench well into late March. That meant they weren’t playing in the minors that day and probably got way fewer at-bats than other teams guys did. Is that one of the reasons we see so many guys getting out to slow starts?

  7. 1) Who is your current choice for the #2 pick next month?
    2) Jagielo has really started off slow offensively. Any reason for optimism in a rebound there? How has he been doing defensively at 3B?
    3) From what we have seen so far this year, who on your current prospect list do you see making the biggest jump up? Biggest fall down?

    • 1. My current top 5 draft board: Nick Senzel, Kyle Lewis, Delvin Perez, AJ Puk, Corey Ray. I certainly prefer some over others, but if the Reds took any of those five guys, it would be a good pick in my mind. All have their own set of questions, but all have a lot of good stuff as well.

      2. The first two weeks of the season he had five walks and 20 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances. Since then he’s had 13 walks and 18 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances. He’s sporting a .232 BABIP right now, and I can’t imagine that’s going to continue. Neither will the fact that he’s got an Isolated Power (SLG-AVG) of just .107, which is Billy Hamilton territory. He’s been seeing the ball better of late, as his strikeout and walk rates note. The hits will be coming soon enough, I’d imagine.

      3. It’s probably too early to say. No one has really shown a dramatically different skillset to the point that I’m buying in. Guys who have shown something early on though that if it continues, could move them up: Amir Garrett (probably won’t move up too much on the Reds list – he’s already at #4 – but on national list could jump up a decent bit), Sal Romano and Aristides Aquino. But, as I said, it’s early. Let’s see where things sit in late June when I start changing my lists (after the draft). Biggest fall? No one at this point.

  8. Who are the 7 best relievers in the Reds system? MLB roster included. Basically, if you had to try and build a bullpen to win right now, what would it look like?

    • That’s a loaded question because I could toss Stephenson and Reed in the bullpen right now, even though I’d never actually do that. It also ignores that the best reliever the Reds have in the minors is on the DL and can’t pitch (Weiss). Also ignores that Lorenzen or Finnegan could fit in there when everyone is healthy.

      But, assuming that we are literally talking right this second for the bullpen, including anyone not in the big league rotation: Jumbo Diaz, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano and Wandy Peralta. I’d just go with guys who all throw heat. Amir Garrett is the softest thrower on that list and as a starter he’s sitting comfortably at 91-95 as a lefty. And, if you notice, none of those guys are in the big leagues right now. Of course, four of them are starters, so that’s not going to be happening any time soon, either. I’d put Dan Straily into the bullpen when someone comes back healthy for the rotation, though we might just see the Reds do that with Moscot or Lamb, which I don’t really have an issue with either.

  9. Doug, thanks for doing this.
    Only because most of my “A” list questions have been already been asked….

    What’s your best guess, does Donald Lutz have an MLB future either with the Reds or any other org.

    Given the way the Reds turn over 40 man spots on pitchers, what’s your guess as to why when there is an opportunity to use the DH, they never bring up a 4A guy who is playing everyday and seems to be on a run to drop him into the line up as DH versus the 25th man who has been sitting around collecting rust?

    • 1. It’s possible. He’s got enough athleticism that he could be a late bloomer, which would not be surprising given his relative lack of baseball experience compared to just about everyone his age (didn’t even start playing until he was 15). With that said, he’s back in Double-A with the Reds and that probably doesn’t bode well for his future with this organization.

      2. Because this organization seems to have a penchant for letting guys like Ivan De Jesus and Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Holt play over prospects when they call them up, and I guess they would just rather “reward” the bench player with some playing time.

  10. OK Guys, I absolutely overslept this morning (apparently I forgot to set my alarm) and am still getting caught up on some other things. I should be back to start answering questions by 11:45 at the latest. Sorry for sucking.

  11. Chad Rogers’ stats (in only 17 innings) show a different picture from earlier years. Do you think it is sustainable? And if so will he get lost in any bets game?

    • Rogers the reliever is a better looking guy than Rogers the starter. The first year he played the Reds used him in the bullpen and he was pretty dominant. Then he transitioned to the rotation and saw his strikeout rate dip, which isn’t surprising as that’s usually how it works. He’s started every year since until this year. His strikeout rate hasn’t come back yet, but he has found a tad extra velocity as a reliever that he showed early in his career before starting caused him to pace himself more. Good breaking ball and enough velocity that if he can throw strikes, he’s got a chance as a reliever. But, he very well could get lost in a numbers game, too. There are just so many options. With that said, he’s one of the options and it would be weird to see him continue to have success in Triple-A and not at least get a look-see in the 2016 season. But he’s going to have to keep performing in Louisville if he wants to get that chance.

  12. 1. Has Amir Garrett now pitched his way into having a legit chance to be in the Reds rotation starting the 2017 season?
    2. If you had an extra $100 to bet, who would you place your money on being the Reds pick at #2 in the upcoming draft?
    Bonus Q: During Reds TV telecasts, the TV crew always waits until the 8th inning to recognize a birthday or wedding anniversary of some old Reds fan or couple that are usually in their late 80’s or 90’s. Why do they wait so long, don’t they know that most people that age have retired for the evening by the time they make the announcement? They miss out on their recognition. That’s no way to treat old, long time fans.

    • 1. To start the 2017 season, no. To join the rotation at some point in 2017? Sure, but I don’t think that’s changed since the season started. Assuming everyone is healthy for 2017, where does Garrett fall into things with Bailey, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Reed, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Moscot, Lamb? He’s got to stick in the big leagues in 2018 because he will be out of options (unless he’s in the big leagues for all of 2017 – which I can’t imagine will happen), so the Reds will do all that they can to get him time in 2017 (and I’d imagine a cup of coffee in September at the latest this year unless there are extenuating circumstances).

      2. If I had to bet, and I wouldn’t because it’s still so wide open, I’d say Delvin Perez. But it wouldn’t be any sort of shock at all if it were Lewis, Puk, Senzel or Ray either.

      3. I haven’t got the slightest idea.

  13. Who are some names to look out for with the Reds competitive balance and 2nd round picks?

    • This is sort of a cop out, but it’s all that I can offer. I have just started doing all of the research and write ups on the guys the Reds are likely considering for the #34 and #43 overall picks in the draft. I published the first look, focusing on the infielders in that group, over the weekend. You can see that here: http://redsminorleagues.com/2016/05/15/reds-mlb-draft-preview-infielders/

      I’ve been archiving all of my draft coverage here: http://redsminorleagues.com/tag/2016-draft-monday-update/
      Don’t be confused by the archive tag that says Monday – it was just the original tag I used, so I started tagging all draft stuff with it to keep it easier, but there are usually 3-5 draft related articles a week.

      Between now and the draft I will pump out more content focusing on the guys for those latter two picks, but right now I’ve really only look at the infielders.

    • Drew Mendoza is a first round talent who might fall because of a strong commitment to Florida State. It may cost us $1-$1.5 mil over slot, but he’s a guy I could see us taking there.

  14. 1) Daniel Wright last night (CG 3 hitter): Blip on the radar, or legit starting stuff?

    2) Does Tyler Stephenson profile as a catcher in the long run, and will he be ready when Barnhart hits free agency in a few years?

    3) Do you figure Bruce has to be traded before Winker gets the call up? (Can’t see any reason to bench Duvall at this point, nor do I see reason to bench Hamilton)

    • 1. Blip on the radar in terms of starting material. I think in some places he’d have a chance as a BOR starter, but here he’s going to be looked at more in a relief role.

      2. Long term he’s a catcher, but it’s going to take 4-5 years to get there. It’s tough to peg when catchers will be ready, or if they ever will. It’s easily the toughest position in baseball to figure out and so many guys drop by the wayside along the road to the Majors at the position.

      3. I think something is going to have to happen, but benching Duvall isn’t something I see as a non-situation. He’s got 6 walks and 34 strikeouts this season. The power is legit, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests pitchers know how to get him out if they can execute. He’s going to have to adjust to that soon enough and if he doesn’t, the average is going to dry up and when that does, that walk rate isn’t going to be high enough to get him on-base often enough to keep starting him every day if you’ve got a Winker type as an option.

  15. 1) At Lousville, Jumbo Diaz is doing well since being sent down, and Jermaine Curtis is dominating. At this point, are they just older guys dominating younger guys, or are they legit playing well?
    2) Both Louisville and Pensacola have team WHIPs basically rights at 1.200. Must be nice, right?
    3) Steve Selsky?

    • 1. Diaz is getting it done, period. Each of the last two years he’s been a batting tee for fly balls in the Majors early in the season, then gone to Triple-A and watched that stop happening. He came back last season in June and dominated out of the Reds bullpen the rest of the way, because he was never as bad as his numbers suggested, but 25% of the fly balls he gave up early on went out of the ballpark. The same thing happened this year. I expect him to come back and be a good reliever. Curtis is maybe a fringe-utility type of guy.

      2. Pitching is nice at those levels.

      3. Not sure how he fits in. He doesn’t have enough pop for the corners and he can’t play center field.

  16. Gavin LaValley, what’s your thoughts on him? When they drafted he seemed like a guy with huge power, but based on his stats he makes Billy Hamilton look good. Also, this is one of my favorite redlegnation posts. Appreciate the work you put into this.

    • I saw him play last Saturday. He looked heavier than last year, and his defense at 1B wasn’t all that great. The swing looked good and he hit the ball hard, but not in the air.

    • LaValley dropped a bunch of weight from the point he signed through the end of last season. He got down to something like 205 at one point, with some questioning if he dropped too much weight.

      He’s better defensively than the draft reports suggested, but he’s also got less power. That’s probably due to the weight drop, on both accounts. He looks like he’s added some back, though not to the point that it’s a problem this season. One of the things that I believe is holding his power back is that he’s very content to hit the ball the other way and up the middle. Not many guys can do that and put up big power numbers. With that said, even his pull power numbers last year weren’t good. I think it’s in there still, for 15-20 home runs in the future, but it’s going to take him pulling the ball more and getting the most from his power.

      • Thanks Doug and Duke appreciate your input. With regards to him hitting to the opposite field, could that be considered a developmental focus for him from the organization? is that much of an issue with rest of his team?

  17. Doug, The ?? about T.Stephenson gave me the inspiration for my third question which I passed on above. What’s Mesoraco’s future from your point of view after missing two consecutive years and with the shoulder injury sounding like close to worst case?

    • I wish I had a good answer for this one, but I really don’t. I’m not a doctor, and I can’t even pretend to play one on the internet. With that said, I will say that shoulder injuries scare the crap out of me, even with position players. They tend to really sap power and some guys never see it return. That’s a concern.

  18. Doug, appreciate your time on these.

    1) Higher chance of sticking in rotation in future, Garrett or Travieso?

    2) more impactful player in future, blandino or Ervin?

    3) are u confident in the Reds rebuild plan? See them making playoffs by 2018 like they plan?

    • 1. I still think it’s Travieso, but Garrett is showing things this season that he hasn’t in the past and if he continues doing so it may very well change the answer.

      2. Ervin.

      3. I’m more confident than most are. I think 2018 is the year in which they have a realistic chance at the playoffs, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if 2017 saw them win 80 something games and at least be considered for a wild card spot. They need plenty to go right for that to happen, but I think adding in the youth of Winker, Peraza, Reed, Stephenson and getting back a lot of the current DL’d rotation can and will make a huge difference.

  19. How the heck did the Reds miss so badly on Nick Howard? Will he be the one to end the streak of 1st round successes (please don’t cop out and say Blandino was a first rounder that year too)?

  20. 1. Who are the early candidates to be promoted to AA?
    2. Peraza has had a tough time stealing bases both in Spring training and during the season. What’s the problem?
    3. Is there a player in the minors who is lighting it up defensively?

    • 1. Keury Mella and Jimmy Herget are the only guys I’d realistically think of moving up at this point from the Daytona squad.

      2. He hasn’t really had a tough time stealing this season. The numbers are deceiving. He’s been picked off three times in Triple-A this year, but instead of diving back to the bag, he’s just taken off for 2nd. Those went down as caught stealing, but it’s not like he got thrown out at second in your typical fashion. With that said, he hasn’t been running nearly as much as I expected him to be running.

      3. Calten Daal has had a few outstanding plays that I’ve had a chance to see this year. Same for Carlos Triunfel. Beau Amaral in center in Pensacola has as well.

  21. 1) How is Tejay Atone looking?
    2) When you look at the stats of a pitcher you don’t know that well, what stats do you first look at to give you an idea for how good he is?
    3) When you look at the stats of a hitter you don’t know, what stats do you first look at to give you an idea for how good he is?

    Thanks!

    • 1. I haven’t seen him pitch this season, well, since spring training and he really struggled in the outing I saw. But I like that he’s kept his walk rate low but brought his strikeout rate up as well.

      2. Strikeouts. Then walks. Of course, they don’t always tell the story, but those are the first two things I look at.

      3. Strikeouts. Walks. Home Runs. Steals. The first two will give me a decent idea of what kind of plate approach and pitch recognition that a guy has. Home runs at least tell me the current power for a guy – though how old a guy is changes what I’m expecting/hoping to see here. Steals can at least give an inkling into the speed, but not always.

  22. Any update on YRod’s return, and what do you think his playing time would look like once hes back?

    • He’s out in Arizona playing in games against the guy in extended spring training. He tripled in a game a few days ago from what I was told. I’d imagine he’s probably getting close to starting an actual rehab assignment with a team in the minor leagues.

  23. Great questions by the readers, and enlightening responses by Doug. thank you!

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