A Minors Obsession

Being right and wrong about 2017 in the minors

The 2017 minor league season is officially over for all of the Cincinnati farm teams. The Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos took home a Co-Championship in the Southern League after Hurricane Irma led to the cancellation of the finals. The Dayton Dragons lost in the second round of the Midwest League playoffs. The other teams failed to make the playoffs. With all of that said, I thought that with the season now being complete that we could look back at the things I was right, and wrong about, prior to the season beginning.

Where I was right

In spring training the one guy that really stood out to me as showing massive signs of improvement was Jose Siri. While he didn’t immediately carry that into the season – he struggled early on in 2017, he eventually got things going and once he did, he never let up.  He would hit .293/.341/.530 for Dayton this year. He had 24 home runs, 24 doubles and 11 triples. He would also steal 46 bases. The plate discipline is still needing improvement as he walked 33 times with 130 strikeouts – though I feel confident that those rates would have been a bit better had he not had a 39-game hitting streak in which he was expanding the zone at times trying to extend the streak.

Another guy that really stood out to me in the spring was Mariel Bautista, who was in his first year in the United States. He had performed well the previous year in the Dominican Summer League, but he transitioned quite well to the Arizona Rookie League. As a 19-year-old he hit .320/.353/.395 with nine doubles, a triple and he stole 16 bases in 17 attempts. He also split time in left field and center.

Where I was wrong

Looking back at my pre-season prospect rankings a few things jump out. First, Luis Castillo – I’m sorry. The concerns relayed from other sources that questioned whether or not you could remain a starting pitcher carried over to my ranking and, well, whoops. Taking an inconsistent change up and turning it into one of the better ones in all of baseball was enormous in his development during the 2017 season.

Chris Okey entered the year as my 12th ranked prospect in the organization. I was confident that the power was going to play, but had some concerns about just how much he would hit. As a catcher, though, the power can usually make up for a low average. However, Chris Okey in 2017 was about the exact opposite of Chris Okey in 2016. The power absolutely disappeared, but his defense took big steps forward.

Aristides Aquino was ranked 7th entering the year and he really struggled for Pensacola in Double-A. He hit just .216/.282/.397 after being the organizations hitter of the year for his 2016 season. The power still showed up, hitting 20 doubles, six triples and 17 home runs – but the hitting for average disappeared and his strikeout rate was up significantly.  In 2016 he struck out just 19.8% of the time, while that rate jumped up to 28.8% in 2017. The aggressive approach and pitch recognition issues that he had shown in the past showed up and the more advanced pitchers in Double-A were able to take advantage of that.

5 thoughts on “Being right and wrong about 2017 in the minors

  1. I know your new end of season top-25 prospects list is going to take a big shake up this year. Graduation, injuries, good performances, bad performances, and with more info on the 2017 draft picks all will make their marks.
    The 40-man roster will see some shake up too as several prospects will have to be added to avoid making them eligible for the Rule V draft. There might be some front office wrangling going on when it comes down to making the 39th and 40th roster spots this year.
    I also can see some prospects getting traded this winter in a package or two. That could also shake things up too. The Reds have very good depth to deal from. For some, it will be time to determine which ones are keepers, and which ones are tradable assets.
    Things I got right were that LHP Scott Moss and 1B Gavin LaValley were set for big seasons. Before the draft, I knew if the Reds selected Hunter Greene second, there would be drama involved. Greene didn’t disappoint as he literally took his signing down to the last minute before the deadline. And then didn’t play. He pitched 4.1 innings to the tune of a 12.46 ERA. Hopefully in 2018 with Greene, there will be less drama and more pitching. He may have had the worst debut season than any of the top-11 picks in the draft.
    Graduation takes out Castillo, Romano, Winker, and Ervin.
    Injuries take out Travieso, and T. Stephenson will drop some because of another injury. Might as well get it out of the way and start calling him Mesoraco Jr.
    Some good performances will help add the likes of Jose Lopez, Scott Moss and Miles Gordon.
    Several bad or mediocre performances will take a toll on the top-25. Many will stay in the top-25 but will drop with mediocre 2017 seasons.
    I would have the top-4 easily as Senzel, Mahle, Trammell, and Greene. Santillan might be in at #5. After that it will be a crap shoot. It will be interesting to see how your top-25 list ends up after the season.

  2. Any thoughts on what happened to Aquino? A year ago at this time he was on the path to being the Reds right-fielder in 2018.
    Do you sense Siri is better positioned to climb the ladder or is AA going to take him down as well?

    • Senzel didn’t miss a beat upon his promotion o AA and even hit a little better.
      Shed Long crashed into the wall the first month at AA, seemed to right his ship, got hurt and missed most of August. He hit a little better after coming off of the DL.
      Gavin LaValley hit fairly well at AA after his promotion, but the power went missing. So he has more work to do at AA. LaValley is not a LH hitter so the AA ball park shouldn’t have been an issue.
      Aquino is a bit of a mystery.
      Siri will have to go to Daytona before he goes to AA Pensacola. Daytona has the FSL parks, who are supposed to be more pitcher friendly. Siri will have his challenges. Friedl had a tough time adjusting after he went from Dayton to Daytona. Daytona will be a good barometer for Siri as he gets in with more players his age. Siri’s speed and power combo is a nice package and should play well in the FSL. He could have a record number of triples next year. He just needs to get his BB rate and K rate in line.

  3. So do you drop Aquino from the 40-man? My guess is he would not make it through waivers as a few teams could easily stash him in the minors next year. I guess it’s a good thing to have tough choices on who to protect on our 40-man roster.

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