Top 10 Prospects (2016): Cincinnati Reds: The Fallout From A Questionable Rebuilding Process…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Cincinnati Reds are clearly going through a rebuilding process, though you can question the way they are going about it.  It seems like they are targeting players who could arrive in the Majors in the near future, as opposed to getting the highest upside impact prospects.  Will it pay off?  It remains to be seen, but keep in mind that many of the players they’ve acquired don’t appear on this list.  Who does?  Let’s take a look:

1) Robert Stephenson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+ (he has A- stuff)
ETA – 2016

No one is going to question the pure stuff, as Stephenson’s arm is electric and he already has three potentially above average pitches. Splitting time between Double & Triple-A last season he posted a 9.4 K/9 (9.8 over his minor league career), but his control has gone off the rails over the past two seasons:

  • 2014 – 4.9 BB/9
  • 2015 – 4.7 BB/9

Couple that with potential home run issues (0.80 GO/AO in ’15, 28 HR over 231.1 IP at Double-A) and there is reason to believe he will ultimately fall short of reaching his ceiling.  He has the highest upside of any Cincinnati prospect, but there is still development to be done.

2) Jose Peraza – Second Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived

Had the Reds been able to jettison Brandon Phillips, Peraza would’ve seamlessly stepped in as the starting second baseman. Now there’s question as to what role he’ll fill, but he has little left to prove in the minors after hitting .293 with 33 SB at Triple-A last season. You can argue that he needs to do a better job of drawing walks, but he also consistently makes contact (K% // BB%) which he showed for two different Triple-A teams:

  • Braves – 8.2% // 3.5%
  • Dodgers – 10.6% // 2.1%

There isn’t going to be power, but he stole 60+ bases in back-to-back seasons (2013 & 2014) and could profile as an ideal #2 hitter behind Billy Hamilton.

3) Amir Garrett – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2017

Garrett has finally given up basketball and with his focus on baseball is starting to show what is possible. It makes sense that the Reds have been conservative with him over the past two seasons, letting him spend each year at a single level:

  • 2014 (Single-A) – 3.65 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.57 K/9, 3.44 BB/9
  • 2015 (High-A) – 2.44 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.53 K/9, 3.53 BB/9

Obviously we’ll need to monitor the control, as it could take a step backwards as he moves up against more advance hitters, but given his relative lack of experience we’d also expect him to continue maturing. There’s a good chance that he takes a significant step forward in his development in 2016.

4) John Lamb – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

I may stand alone in my belief in Lamb, especially after the numbers in the Majors were less than stellar a year ago (5.80 ERA, 1.55 WHIP). That said there was bad luck at play (.376 BABIP) and he showed strikeouts (10.51 K/9) and enough control (3.44 BB/9) to be able to get the job done after thriving for two different Triple-A teams (2.67 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9). We’ll have to watch for potential home run issues, but the one-time top prospect finally appeared to return to value.

5) Jesse Winker – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2016

Winker spent all of 2015 at Double-A, hitting .282 with 13 HR, 55 RBI, 69 R and 8 SB over 526 PA. While he’s always shown that he can draw a walk, Winker’s improvement in his strikeout rate was highly impressive:

  • Strikeout Rate – 15.8%
  • Walk Rate – 14.1%

You can argue that there’s no true carrying skill, as there isn’t significant power or speed. Could it come together for a consistent 10/10 performer with the ability to hit .280+? That’s hardly going to bowl anyone over and while there is power potential we need to see it start to develop at the upper levels to truly believe.

The Rest:

6) Keury Mella – Right-Handed Pitcher
7) Tyler Stephenson – Catcher
8) Cody Reed – Left-Handed Pitcher
9) Rookie Davis – Right-Handed Pitcher
10) Scott Schebler – Outfielder

Sources –,, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs

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Grading System (still in development):
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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