A Minors Obsession

The hitters seem to be heating up on the farm

For a while now the Cincinnati Reds farm system has leaned heavily towards pitching over hitting. That is still the case, but the organization has made some nice additions in the 2016 draft that may help turn things around a little bit.

Entering the season the Reds top position prospects included guys like Jesse Winker and Tyler Stephenson. Neither had the best first half and both hit the disabled list that led to them missing a chunk of time.

The two of them began rehab assignments with the Arizona League Reds at the same time during the first week of July. Whatever was in the water out in Arizona seemed to work wonders for both players.

Since July 6th, Jesse Winker has gone 12-29 with three doubles, two home runs, five walks and four strikeouts between the AZL Reds and the Louisville Bats. That’s good for a .414/.500/.724 line since returning to the field from a wrist injury.

Tyler Stephenson, the Reds 1st round selection from the 2015 draft, began his rehab at the same point in time as Winker. The catcher has racked up 13 hits in 38 at-bats to go along with two doubles, two home runs and four walks. That’s been good for a .342/.395/.553 line as he’s also returned from a wrist injury.

The 2016 draft resulted in the first three picks by the Reds going the position player route. Things have gone well of late for all three players. Nick Senzel went 2nd overall in the draft and after a slow start in Billings he’s caught fire with a promotion to Dayton. Last night he went 4-5 with a triple, home run, stolen base and he drove in four runs. In 15 games with the Dragons he’s hit .322/.420/.508 with eight walks and eight steals to go along with 11 strikeouts.

Taylor Trammell was taken by the Reds with their 1st round competitive balance pick. The 18-year-old has hit well all season for the Billings Mustangs. After last night, where he went 1-2 with a double and was also hit by a pitch, the outfielder has a .318/.388/.375 line. He’s also racked up 10 stolen bases.

Over his first 12 professional games 2nd round pick Chris Okey hit just .146/.160/.188 between Billings and Dayton. He had one walk and nine strikeouts. The results, well, they weren’t good. In fact, they were downright ugly. Of course, it’s a small sample size and he had sat out between the end of his college season and the time he began playing again. Things have really turned around for him over the last two weeks. The catcher from Clemson has been on fire in Dayton, going 11-34 with two doubles, three home runs and five walks. That’s led to a triple-slash line of .324/.410/.647.

8 thoughts on “The hitters seem to be heating up on the farm

  1. Nice to see Okey turning around his performance at the plate, especially with a reasonable explanation for his slow start. In fact, with the disturbing news regarding Mesoraco’s additional surgery on his other hip, the recent performances by Wallach (age 24), Okey (age 21) and Stephenson (age 19) take on additional significance.

  2. Of all the new or relatively new Hitters the reds have drafted or acquired I’m most impressed by Trammell. Doug you’ve consistently said on this site and yours that Billings is filled with talent and for an 18 year old fresh out of high school to bat .318 with .388 OBP is very impressive. Escpecially when he was considered somewhat raw and unpolished. Given his age his arrow can only point further up as he gets better at pitch recognition. Plus his frame suggests he could really fill out and add significant power to his game, which lol…isn’t saying much because he’s hitting for power like my 3 year old daughter listens to me…which is to say “almost never”.

  3. I saw Winker last night in Columbus for the first time. This guy is the real deal. On base four times, 3-3 with two singles and a double. Extremely patient and selective at the plate. I’m looking forward to his call-up with the big club. Another high OBP player to pair with Votto is one of the many things the Reds need in their lineup.

  4. 5 prospective hitters for the whole minor league system is not very good- especially when 3 of them were just taken and are in the low minors. I hope they all work out. But after 55 years of watching the Reds minor league system I cannot tell you how many times I got excited about hitters tearing up one league or another only to never see them make it to the majors. At this point, it looks like Winker will be a good- but not great- major leaguer. We don’t know about Tyler Stephenson. We hope Senzel is everything he has been built up to be. The other two will take a few years to see what they will do. And outside of those five players, the Reds farm system basically has nothing in the way of legitimate prospects. But… everyone wants to trade Jay Bruce. Okay!

    • I would bet that the majority of MLB minor league systems don’t have more than 5 prospective hitters. Perspective my friend is your best friend 🙂

      Do you not consider any of the Reds Minor league SP’s as legitimate prospects?

      Secondly, the Reds have developed and drafted quite a few hitters over the last 40 years…Lets see, Larkin, ED, Reggie Sanders, Paul O’Neil, Bruce, Votto, Aaron Boone, Frazier, Mesoraco, Adam Dunn…I’m sure I am forgetting some.

      • Most of the past 55 years, the Reds have had a lot more than 5 hitting prospects in their farm system at one time. I would hope that any good farm system would because most prospects do not make the majors. It will be interesting to see how many of these 5 players make the majors also. Beyond that, we will see how many of them become solid starters or stars.

        Secondly, I was talking about hitters- not pitchers. Wasn’t that obvious from the article and my response to it?

        Third, those hitters over the last 40 years you referenced are mostly gone or already traded by the Reds. Bruce and Votto remain and the drumbeat is for the Reds to trade Bruce as soon as possible. I am not going to rejoice over the great hitters of the past when the farm system has a dearth of them now.

        I have watched the Reds for 55 years and this is the worst team with the least hopeful farm system (outside a few hitters and some pitchers) that I can remember. That is my perspective. But if you think that perspective is your friend, go for it. I personally think it will be many moons before the Reds field a winner again. I now know why the Cardinals fired Walt Jocketty. My brother is a Cardinals fan and he doesn’t care for the Walt at all.

  5. Saw the Wahoos from the first row in Jacksonville on Monday night. Didn’t see anything in AA as far as hitting to get truly excited about although it was good to see Ervin close up for the first time. Nick Travieso started for the Reds and for a former first round pick I’m surprised his velocity was only 89 most of the night, touching 90 just a couple of times, and doesn’t really have effective other pitches, he was getting touched up pretty good, didn’t make it through 5 innings, The first couple of relievers out of the pen looked better with low 90’s and better out pitches.

    • Gonzo, I live in Destin, FL and get to see the Wahoos play in Pensacola. I usually sit right behind the scouts. There is nothing at AA to get excited about. Many of the posters on this board are listening to the hype about these prospects rather than seeing them live. That difference makes a lot of difference. I don’t care what the Reds front office says (their job is to sell the future at the moment), there just is not much at AA to get excited about. I don’t see much at AAA either, outside a few pitchers.

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