Last week I completed the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects List over at my site. If you missed out on that, go check it out.

While the regular season and playoffs are over for Major League Baseball there is still baseball going on. There are six fall or winter leagues that are full of minor and Major League players going on right now. The Australian and Puerto Rican Leagues began last week, but the other four leagues have been going for quite a bit longer. Let’s check in on how the Reds guys are playing in each league.

Arizona Fall League

The Reds are most represented in the Arizona Fall League where they have nine players. Jesse Winker is leading the way among the position players as he is hitting an incredible .345/.439/.600 with 16 RBI, 10 walks and 15 strikeouts. Kyle Waldrop is hitting .306 with 11 RBI, but he has yet to draw a walk in 62 at bats and his power hasn’t showed up in the league. Juan Perez is only able to play twice a week (the rosters are set up for this for several players), but he’s off to a good start, hitting .278/.350/.500 in the five games he has played. Seth Mejias-Brean is struggling to have hits fall in, hitting .213/.327/.298 with eight walks and 10 strikeouts.

The Reds have sent two big names to Arizona along with a few relievers. 2014 1st round pick Nick Howard is continuing his season while working on his transition back to a starting pitcher. He’s struggled thus far, posting a 6.57 ERA in 12.1 innings with seven walks and seven strikeouts. The team also has decided to keep Raisel Iglesias in Arizona after their original plan was to bring him out and pitch in two games before sending him to Puerto Rico to pitch in their winter leagues. Iglesias has pitched in four games, all as a reliever and has yet to allow a run or a hit. He’s struck out three and walked two. Left hander Ryan Dennick has posted a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings with a save, a walk and six strikeouts. Righty Ben Klimesh has a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings with a save, but he has struggled to throw strikes lately with seven walks (five in the last two games) to go with 10 strikeouts. Carlos Gonzalez has a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 innings with seven walks and seven strikeouts.

Dominican Winter League

To this point there are only two position players who have gotten into games and they have a combined 10 at bats. Junior Arias is 1-7 and has been used almost exclusively as a pinch runner. Juan Silverio is 0-3.

The pitching side of things has Dylan Axelrod has gotten a lot more time than others. Axelrod has a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings, a 2-0 record to go with four walks and nine strikeouts. Fabio Castillo had thrown 4.1 innings with a 4.15 ERA. Jumbo Diaz had appeared in one game, throwing a shutout inning with a walk and a strikeout.

Mexican Winter League

The Reds only have three players in the league, but all three are playing every day for their teams. Donald Lutz is having a strong season so far, hitting .317/.378/.573 with nine doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI. Sebastian Elizalde is off to nearly as good of a start. The outfielder is hitting .310/.372/.563 with six doubles, four home runs and seven RBI. Marquez Smith has struggled to find the hits, but when he does find them he has made them count. The infielder has hit .233/.321/.452 with seven extra-base hits and nine walks.

Puerto Rican Winter League

The league is barely underway as it just got started on Halloween. Rey Navarro is the lone position player to get much time so far. The infielder has hit .286/.286/.357 in 14 at bats with 3 RBI. Four other players have made an appearance in the league but have marginal playing time. You can see their stats at the bottom of this post.

Venezuelan Winter League

Felix Perez is the position player from the Reds who has been an every day player down in Venezuela. The outfielder has hit .324/.347/.535 with six doubles and three home runs in 71 at bats. Both Hernan Iribarren and Ross Perez have gotten into more than a few games but both are struggling, hitting under .200. Alejandro Chacin pitched in the first game of the year and threw a perfect inning, but he hasn’t pitched in a game since.

Australian Winter League

The league is technically underway as games have begun, but they haven’t begun for all of the teams yet and the rosters for the teams that haven’t begun playing aren’t set, at least online. No Reds player has played yet and to this point, only one is even listed on a roster. 16-year-old Jake Turnbull is on the Perth Heat, though with his age, I wouldn’t expect him to get more than a handful of at bats throughout the season.

All Winter League Stats

hitterswinter01

pitcherswinter01

37 Responses

  1. droomac

    Thanks for the update, Doug. Is there any word on the kind of stuff Iglesias is showing in Arizona. I know it is a small sample size and the appearances have been in relief, but how is his velocity? . . . What about his secondary stuff? . . .

    • Doug Gray

      I haven’t been able to see him yet and despite four appearances, he has yet to pitch in the home stadium that has Pitch F/X installed, so we don’t have any of that information to look at either. With that said, I’ve gotten reports that he has hit 97 MPH, though he’s more in the 92-95 range. Above-average breaking ball.

      • droomac

        Thanks. He may be a key member of the staff as soon as ’15. Let’s hope the investment is proven wise.

      • lwblogger2

        That’s a better FB than initial scouting reports were on him when first coming out of Cuba. I had seen consistently 91-93 and could touch higher from time-to-time with the fastball. Plus breaking ball. Changeup with plus potential.

      • lwblogger2

        If he can regularly hit 93-95, then maybe he can be more of a back-end reliever if starting doesn’t work out. I’d still like to see him start though.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah, if he can’t work as a starter he seems to have plenty of stuff to be an 8th inning guy, perhaps a 9th inning guy. The team should look at him as a starter first though.

      • dusty trail

        He was throwing nasty hooks in the military appreciation game last night . Great breaking pitches and changeup were on display

  2. HELLSBELLS

    Took a look at your top 10. As usual you do a great job. Although I agree on nearly every player ranking, my questions: is Iglesius so low because of the unknown and has his AFL changed this? I also still go on record as being very disapointed in Nick Howard. How do he start the AFL Fall Stars game! By your ranking I huess you are not overly pleased with him too?

    • HELLSBELLS

      Also, what is your thoughts on the Reds’ epidemic of relievers becoming starters (except Chapman). I doubt all will become starters but is it helpful for their development either way?

      • Doug Gray

        I’ve got Iglesias so low because I just don’t know if he can start. His stuff isn’t so good that he should be ahead of guys I know can throw 120+ innings and also have very good stuff, even if he is closer because of his age. Nick Howard is kind of in the same boat as Iglesias. I can’t rank him ahead of the other starters who have very good stuff and have shown they can throw 120 innings while maintaining that stuff. It’s not that I’m down on him at all, it’s that I’m higher on the other big stuff guys.

        A guy should remain a starter until he shows that he can’t. The Reds didn’t stick to that plan with Chapman. Hopefully they do with Iglesias, Howard and Lorenzen, all of whom are on that “reliever to starter” transition path. Generally speaking, it will give guys more time to work on their stuff as they will throw more pitches. The one thing that could be an issue if they use relievers as starters with the plan to use them as relievers in the long run is that they don’t get used to that being used every day or every other day situation until later on.

      • bigjuxberg

        Doug, from what you know and have seen, were the Reds to trade starting pitching this offseason, does the team still project to have a strong rotation moving forward?

      • Doug Gray

        Tough to say because who knows how healthy Latos/Bailey/Cingrani will be. Trading Cueto would weaken things quite a bit since he’s better than the rest of the group. Who would fill in also plays a factor. Do the Reds just go with one of the big arms or do they try and go with an older, veteran type of free agent? Are you just asking for 2015 or for 2016-2020?

    • HELLSBELLS

      He would be my #1 as well but he only has one elite tool -hitting- which limits his ceiling.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Can’t be any worse defensively in LF than Ludwick, and that one elite tool is exactly the one the Reds are desperate for.

      • lwblogger2

        He is most certainly worse than Ludwick defensively from what I’ve seen of him. He needs work out there.

      • lwblogger2

        Guy really, really can hit though.

  3. Art Wayne Austin

    Elite hitting is what is needed in left field. Frank Robinson jumped from the low minors directly to the Reds, batting 2nd with the Reds. All he did was hit 38 homers his rookie season.

    • Reaganspad

      If I remember right, Austin Kearns was ahead of Sir Albert at AA level. Albert made the big jump successfully without AAA

    • Doug Gray

      When Frank Robinson played it was a very different game. No specialist relievers, nothing resembling advanced scouting reports we get today. It’s a much harder game today to jump right into. Top it off with the fact that we are talking about one of the greatest hitters ever and well, it’s just not fair to anyone to say “well, Frank Robinson did it, so Player XYZ can”.

      • Thegaffer

        Agree, but do you think Winker would hit reasonably well right now in the majors?

      • Doug Gray

        I think he would do better than any outfielder on the roster not named Bruce.

  4. Michael J Hampton

    Doug, I’m curious as to how the various winter leagues compare. I think I read somewhere that the AFL is about like AA ball. Where do the other leagues compare? Thanks.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s a tough thing. I’d say the Caribbean Leagues are AA/AAA level right now, but that can really vary. Some guys playing there are A-ball caliber guys and some guys are big leaguers. The talent level is all over the place and it really does just depend on who is playing that given day. The Australian League is more like Low-A ball. While some guys out there are higher up the chain than that, a lot of the guys aren’t.

      Once the Caribbean Leagues playoffs begin we start to see more and more Major Leaguers show up and that really boosts the talent levels for all of them.

  5. Daytonian

    Elizalde is the hidden “gem” in the system, that is a gem in the making as far as hitting goes.

  6. jessecuster44

    Doug, your work is excellent. Thank you for your insight! The Winker comment vs. other Reds OFs warms my heart.

    • Thegaffer

      Its kind of a backhanded compliment as all reds outfielders, including Bruce, were pretty awful this year.

      • Doug Gray

        Not exactly. Well, the Reds outfielders were awful offensively in 2014, but my comment was more along the lines that Winker can hit and would hold his own in the big leagues in 2015, not so much that the Reds outfielders can’t hit outside of Bruce (who I believe will return to form and be an .800+ OPS bat).

  7. WVRedlegs

    It is nice to see Winker has fully recovered frm his wrist injury. Also nice to see Donald Lutz still hitting. I can see next season as Lutz’s breakout season. He seems poised for it.

  8. Shchi Cossack

    Nice to see the Big Lutz producing at the plate again with consistent playing time, but that just brings more teeth gnashing and grinding from the way he has been handled over the past 2 seasons.

    Jesse Winker made it back into the lineup yesterday after 4 days off to nurse a ‘cramp’. His return was impressive (2-4 w/ 2B yesterday and 1-3 w/ 2-BB today). Winker is again leading the AFL in OPS. After going 1-3 w/ 2-BB today, Winker’s OPS actually declined. He’s simply mashing the AFL pitching.

    • Michael J Hampton

      Donald got off to a slow start, only batted .227 through his first 10 games, but is currently hitting .309/.369/.574 (.943 OPS) after 23 games with 5 HR 10 2B and 16 RBI. He wound up batting .307/.366/.587 in October (18 games) and is batting .316/.381/.526 so far in November through 5 games. Donald’s splits are interesting against LH pitching he is batting .333/.412/.733 in 30 AB and .297/.348/.500 against RH in 64 AB. I think I saw some similar splits like that before on him in a lower league. Maybe he will be able to hit LH pitching a little bit if he is not platooned. After striking out a bunch (around 25%) to start the season, he now has his strike out rate for the winter league season under 17%. He’s a big guy power hitter, he is going to strike out some. His walk rate is only around 6% though and could use improvement.

      As can be seen, he needs consistent playing time to get his stroke down. He started off slow in winter ball and then has started to come on. Donald has proven that when given playing time he can put up some decent numbers. Usually a .800+ OPS. For whatever reason the Reds have proven that he does not figure in their plans (they do not really have a plan, but he doesn’t figure in it anyway). I think it is old school mentality, he wasn’t a highly touted draft pick. Price seemed determined to not giving him any playing time. Lutz has never started 2 games in a row in the majors. Price preferred playing the “gritty” veterans with proven low offensive numbers and all of them lived down to those numbers. I have to believe that if Price has played Lutz consistently he would have at least matched Schumaker’s numbers, and more than likely surpassed them. Then at least we would have had an idea of what Lutz could bring to the club. The final straw was when Price gave all that playing time to Bourgeois in September while Lutz again set on the bench. I think Price was afraid to play Lutz regularly in case he did start to hit and show just what poor judgement Price has.

      Lutz best hope is the Reds trade or release him and somebody else signs him and gives him a fair chance. The Reds have already proved they are not going to.

      • greenmtred

        You make a lot of unsupported suppositions about Price’s thought process. It’s true that Lutz got little playing time, and no extended playing time, at the mlb level. But it’s also true that Price and the staff have the opportunity to see him extensively in other situations–batting practice, review of minor league performance, and so on. We don’t have that luxury. And considering how quick we all are to castigate bench players who don’t produce when they get in games, it seems curious that we give Lutz so much benefit of the doubt, inasmuch as he looked largely helpless in his limited playing time.

      • Michael J Hampton

        You’re entitled to your opinion for whatever it’s worth and I’m entitled to mine. The fact is,however, the players Price chose to play were “aged” veterans, the same kind Dusty would have favored. They had a significant ML history during which they had set the bar low and they did not exceed the bar as would be expected. While it is true that injuries decimated the Reds and realistically the Reds were going to have little chance of making the post season, the complete collapse of the Reds after the All-Star break with basically the same roster as before is very troubling and I am afraid the problem may begin at the top. Again, my opinion, please don’t lose any sleep over it. If Price and the Reds front office did not think Lutz was capable of producing at the ML level then they shouldn’t have brought him up with almost no AAA and very little AA experience. Sitting him on the bench for days at a time and then expecting him to produce shows very poor judgement. They should have left Lutz alone to develop at AAA and should have brought up Bourgeois, another one of those “gritty” veterans that so many people salivate over. Again, just my opinion.

    • Shchi Cossack

      No one knows why WJ promoted the Big Lutz to the 25-man roster last season or the prior season. No one knows why Dusty and Bryan refused to play the Big Lutz last season or the prior season. No one knows what the Reds organizational evaluation is for the Big Lutz. All supposition aside, what we do know is that the Big Lutz was severely behind the developmental curve when he started playing professional baseball and when the Big Lutz has had consistent playing time, he has mashed the ball at every level he has played.

      Another thing we do know is that the Reds dumped Santiago, Soto, Ludwick, Hannahan & Elmore from the 40-man roster and kept the Big Lutz on the 40-man roster. All I know is that the Old Cossack is WAY confused about how the Reds have handled the Big Lutz.

  9. Shchi Cossack

    This is becoming almost absurdly silly…

    Jesse Winker:

    .359 AVG => 1st in the AFL by .003 over Eddie Rosario @ .356
    .463 OBP => 1st in the AFL by .020 over Deven Marrero @ .443
    .594 SLG => 1st in the AFL by .026 over Greg Bird @ .568
    1.056 OPS => 1st in the AFL (there’s a surprise) by .088 over Peter O’Brien

    At 21 years old, Jesse Winker has been a man among boys in his hitting development during the AFL season. Winker also has a total of 0 errors playing LF during the AFL season. Winker’s performance compares to other position prospects playing in the AFL: Byron Buxton, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Josh Bell and Raul Mondesi.

    I really hope the Reds do not cave to another Billy Hamilton experiment and promote Winker to the 25-man roster before he has a chance to prove himself at AAA, but I don’t see how the Reds can avoid a AAA promotionfor Winker to start the 2015 season.

    .

    • WVRedlegs

      I’ve been watching the progress of Winker in the AFL. It is just astoundingly good. Like you say, no reason to rush him. But his AFL season probably has now changed the Reds trade/free agent plans this winter for LF to go for a one year rental.
      As for Lutz, if he has a good spring training, I think he might make the 25-man roster coming out of ST. Thus, creating a spot at Louisville for Winker.
      The cream is rising to the top, and some of it is almost at the top now.