It’s been six weeks since we last had one of these here at Redleg Nation and with the Futures Game coming up on Sunday (are any of you guys/gals going to be attending?), it seemed like a great time to bring this one back.

If you have some questions, I will be around all day to provide you with the answers (hopefully).

Whether you are interested in a players performance (or lack of performance), their future, the 2015 international signing period (where the Reds have spent a good chunk of money early on, which you can read about here), how something works in the farm system or something else, this is the day to be sure to get your question answered.

There are some rules, but they are pretty easy:

  • Each user gets three questions.
  • Ask questions before 9pm and they will be answered.
  • Avoid questions that will require more than a paragraph to answer… I’m long winded as it is.
  • Avoid questions that will require me to look up an answer (such as: How many guys have stolen 50+ bases in the Reds system in the last 20 years).
  • Avoid questions about which players to target in trades – but if you have targets you’d like my opinion on, I can give those.

Other than that, give it a go. I will check in throughout the day and answer questions. Just because this is a minor league article doesn’t mean I won’t answer questions about the big league team, so if you have those, I’m open for them as well.

63 Responses

  1. Hoosier Red

    In my opinion, the Reds system is one of the best in terms of developing young pitchers. But it seems as though they have lost their penchant for developing young hitters. Why is this? poor talent/evaluation ? What needs to change?

    • Doug Gray

      The Mat Latos trade leaves a dent in the perception. There were two big league hitters in that trade that we tend to forget about the Reds developing.

      The system developed most of the position players on the team. Since 2011 they’ve brought up Frazier, Mesoraco and Hamilton. There are two all-stars in there. They’ve also traded away another All-Star hitter and Alonso.In five and a half seasons that’s three All-stars and two more starting caliber hitters. That’s not bad at all.

      • gaffer

        The “throw in” reliever in that trade is an All-Star closer this year.

      • Hoosier Red

        Thanks for the reply. It is always interesting to hear others perspectives on the Reds player development process. You give it a more positive spin than I do. What I see is a team that never seems to have a position player ready to come up to the bigs and produce at the plate. Obvious exceptions Frazier, Mes, but I won’t give you Hamilton. I love him as a player but not as a hitter (yet). Alonso has shown he can hit for average and newly selected all-star grandal has shown some pop, but in these two cases the Reds developed hitters that they had no room for defensively. It just seems to me that the Reds decline in recent years has directly correlated with lack of O coming from farm. thanks Doug for your great insight and articles.

      • Doug Gray

        I understand and agree on Hamilton’s bat not exactly being ready. But I also had to mention him because he is on the big league roster.

        Let’s go back to the 2008 draft. Since then they’ve drafted these guys in the first round: Alonso, Leake, Grandal, Stephenson, Travieso, Ervin and Howard. Two of the three hitters drafted were traded. The third is just 22-years-old right now. They also grabbed Jesse Winker and Alex Blandino in the supplemental first rounds in that time, but they are also just 21 and 22-years-old. Generally speaking, the first round is where you are going to get your talent from. The Reds have drafted fairly well in this department, they’ve just traded off the hitters they’ve drafted that are actual big league age at this point too. You draft the best players available, regardless of their position, hope they work out and if you’ve got to make trades, you make trades. That’s exactly what the Reds did and it’s worked out for them. It just also leaves a big gap in there in what seems like a lack of development because the guys that should have come up, didn’t, because they went to another organization.

      • tct

        Plus, over the last 7 years the Reds have produced more solid, homegrown position players than they have pitchers. Since 2008, you have Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Mes, Cozart, Alonso, Stubbs, Hamilton, Hesiey, Hannigan, and Grandal and Gregorius were both in AAA when they traded them. The pitchers have basically just been Cueto, Bailey, Wood and Cingrani. You could add Leake, but he was basically ready out of college and you were talking about developing pitchers. You have to give the scouting department credit for identifying Chapman, but how much they developed him is debatable.

        Now the Reds system is definitely more pitching heavy at the moment. But that is a pretty recent development. From 2010-2012 it was the complete.opposite.

  2. PARED84

    Who do you think has “STAR in MLB potential” besides the often mentioned RS &JW.Can you give us 2or3 that might make the grade ?

    • Doug Gray

      Yorman Rodriguez has that kind of potential, same for guys like Garrett, Travieso, Romano, the other Stephenson (Tyler)

  3. lwblogger2

    No questions that I can think of at the moment but I will be in section 419 for the Futures Game.

  4. Redbuffs

    Doug, do you think the “Stephenson is coming” hype is just that or do you think he will be give a look on the MLB team this season?

    • Doug Gray

      I’d be flat out shocked if he doesn’t pitch for the Reds this year. He’s got to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, so I’d be shocked if they didn’t just add him early for at least a September call up. But with trades of Cueto and Leake likely coming, it’ll probably happen sooner IMO.

  5. Beroader

    Is there worry that Jesse Winker may not develop the power most expected of him? He only has 4 HRs up to this point in the season.

    • The Stache

      I’m no Doug, but I wouldn’t be worried about Winker’s power too much. He plays at a stadium that is known to sap left handed power and his Home vs Away splits for the season show this. His ISO is .095 at home and .135 away, while being .117 overall. Neither of these two number scream “power hitter”, but when the league average ISO (based on a rough calculation by team averages and SLG) is ~115, it shows that he is better than league average, especially away.

      If you look at the past two months, his ISO is .155 for June and .211 in July (granted small sample-size), so at least he is on an upward trend.

    • Doug Gray

      Absolutely not. First, he’s just 21-years-old. Second, he plays in a ballpark that crushes power to right field, which is his pull side. And while Winker uses the entire field, every play has more pull power than opposite field power. The power will come back, but the Reds farm system isn’t exactly built for left handed hitters in terms of ballparks these days. Daytona, Pensacola and Louisville all suppress power to right field.

  6. WVRedlegs

    How much confidence do you have in Reds GM Walt Jocketty to reap some top quality prospects from the impending trades of Cueto, Leake and Byrd? What do you expect in return vs. what you really hope for in return?

    • Doug Gray

      I think that Walt Jocketty leaves plenty to be desired when it comes to his free agent moves, but I think he’s been pretty good when it comes to making trades.

      With the current market though, and teams not seemingly willing to give up elite level prospects, I think that plenty of Reds fans will be underwhelmed by the return for Cueto. But, as I wrote recently, it’s still far better to trade Cueto and get a good return than to take the draft pick. http://redsminorleagues.com/2015/06/30/why-trading-cincinnati-reds-johnny-cueto-makes-sense-even-if-the-return-isnt-great/

      • Tom Gray

        Something for Cueto is better than nothing for Cueto (or Leake). Neither will re-sign with the Reds.

        The return on trading 3 Months Til Free Agency players has always been iffy.

      • Doug Gray

        The trade return used to be larger, in theory at least. Teams were far more willing to give up young prospects than they are now. And for good reason: teams figured out how stupid it was to trade elite talent, even if they aren’t elite players yet, that you control for 6+ years, for a few months of a guy. I’m surprised it took them this long to really figure that out.

      • Tom Gray

        Reds used to do it the other way.

        MiLB prospects for George Foster in 1971.

        MiLB prospect for Fred Norman in 1973.

        MiLB prospects and decent MLB young players for Tom Seaver in 1977.

      • CP

        Hey gramps, I think baseball has changed a little bit in the past 45 years.

      • Tom Gray

        Not so much. The Reds traded for veterans and gave up MiLB prospects in 1990’s. Ditto for Scott Rolen in 2010 and Jonathan Broxton a couple years ago.

      • Doug Gray

        The prospect for vet market has changed drastically in just the last 3 years. Teams are still willing to give up prospects, but they aren’t giving up Top 20 in all of baseball prospects like they used to.

  7. David Eberly

    Headed to the Future’s game; who should I be looking at, either because they are the next big thing or because (hopefully) they could be targets for the Reds at the trade deadline?

    • Doug Gray

      Team USA: P Lucas Giolotto,P Mark Appel, C Kyle Schwarber (local kid to boot), INF JP Crawford,INF Trea Turner, OF Aaron Judge

      World Team: INF Max Kepler

      I’m sure some guys from the world roster are missing, but I’m just drawing a blank right now.

  8. tct

    Should we consider Sebastian Elizalde a legit prospect? The Reds plucked him out of the Mexican League but he destroyed the Midwest League and is putting up a really solid line in the Florida State League. Does he have the tools to be a major league player?

    You’re gonna need your crystal ball for this one.In ten years from now, which draft will look better? 2007 (Frazier, Mes, Cozart) or 2011 ( Stephenson, Garett, Romano, Cingrani)?

    When teams hire minor league managers how much of an emphasis do you think they put on winning games? Do you think that should be important, or is it all about player developmenf?

    • Doug Gray

      Elizalde is a prospect, but he’s not an elite prospect either. I’ve got him in that 25-30 range. He’s got enough skills to possibly be a big leaguer one day, but I’m not too sure his upside is as an everyday player either.

      2007. Hitters don’t get injured and lose everything. A shoulder injury can ruin a career for a pitcher. I’ll take the safe play.

      It depends on the team, but generally, they don’t put much emphasis on winning games. Sure, they want to win and they make in-game decisions trying to win (for the most part – guys have to throw their innings and you probably aren’t replacing a stud prospect at the plate to get a slightly more favorable match up in the 7th inning like you may see in the Majors), but the emphasis is on getting the players to the next level. You will hear different people say different things about how important winning at the minor league level is and how it develops players into winners, but I don’t buy it. If you’ve got good talent you are going to win. This isn’t football or basketball – you don’t need teamwork to win. Nearly every play is an individual battle of pitcher versus hitter or fielder versus batted ball. Baseball doesn’t need someone to pass them the ball, or make a good block to open the hole for the running back. Baseball, while a team sport, is very much isolated on individual players. If you get players that are talented enough to win more of those match ups than the other guys, you’re going to win.

  9. John

    Are you seeing anything positive from Nick Howard lately?
    Any word on injured pitchers Langfield and Crawford?
    What kind of velocity are you seeing form Mark Armstrong and does he still have any room to grow in that respect?

    • Doug Gray

      Howard has pitched well in his last two outings. Hopefully he can build upon that, because he certainly needs something to go right for him. It’s been a real struggle this season, to the point where people are thinking it’s absolutely and completely in his head when it comes to throwing strikes. Finding some confidence would go a long way to helping that and the last two trips out have been positive.

      Crawford is rehabbing right now with the Arizona League Reds. He’s made two appearances so far, but still seems a bit away from joining a full season team. Langfield hasn’t pitched yet and I’m not sure he’s going to pitch this season.

      Armstrong, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to think he’s going to pitch again this season. He just went back on the disabled list with a sore elbow, which is the second time he’s been on the DL this year. He was on the Dragons pregame show yesterday and said he hopes to avoid TJ surgery and that he hopes he’s back to pitching for instructional league. Before he was injured he had picked up some velocity from last season, but with the elbow concerns it’s tough to really say where he’s going to be moving forward.

  10. CRig

    There was some talk in the rumor mill about a OF from the Dodgers’ organization, Scott Schebler. I know this guy (he’s also a graduate of my high school) and am wondering 1) if you think he’s got a legit shot at winding up in the Reds organization and 2) if you think he’d add value to our system/team.

    Seems to me he’s wasting away in the deep OF at LA, so there’s a good shot he’s moved before long.

    Thanks for the Q&A!

    • Doug Gray

      I’d never say someone in another organization has a legit shot of winding up in any other organization. The odds just don’t favor it. He’d certainly add value though, as he’s a solid prospect. The power sounds legit, and he plays a good corner outfield. Not sure how much he’s going to hit, but the power and defense will play. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s moved this year in a deadline deal – as you say, there’s no where for him to play in LA and he’s got skills to play for someone else, even if it’s as a 4th outfielder type of guy.

  11. Nick Carrington

    1. What is Phillip Ervin’s stock like right now? Decent season, but I was hoping as a college guy, he would progress more quickly.

    2. I know you like both guys, but I’m forcing you to pick which one has a better Reds career: Garrett or Romano?

    3. What do you think of Yorman’s season thus far? I’m still worried about his plate discipline.

    • Doug Gray

      Ervin’s season is better than you’re giving it credit for. He’s leading the FSL in home runs despite spending some time on the DL. He’s 7th in the league in OPS. The FSL simply crushes hitting. The league OPS is currently sitting at .652. Ervin is at .771. His stock is certainly up from where it was last year, but probably not where it was the year he was drafted and crushed the ball in that first pro season. Things are looking up though.

      2. Coin flip, and if someone says the other guy, I don’t really take issue. But I’m going with Romano, barely. I’ll take the huge GB rates and better control over a little bit of more raw stuff and worse control. (I know the walk rates for the two are similar – and maybe it’s changed, but from what I’ve seen Romano had better control).

      3. Solid, but unspectacular. I think in the long run, the plate discipline will be ok. He understands the zone and he can read spin. I think he just gets too aggressive at times and with time, that will probably go away. When you watch him every day, or close to it, you can see all of the parts to make a very good hitter. They just don’t always show up at the same time. You get that with young players more often than you get the young guys that have it all figured out.

      • Nick Carrington

        Thanks for the perspective on Ervin. Makes me feel better about him. One more question about him if you would allow it: can Ervin stick in center?

        I know that was a big question when he was drafted, so I’m curious as to your thoughts now that he has been playing professional ball for a couple years.

      • Doug Gray

        Right now, I think Ervin can stick in center, but he’s probably a below-average defender at the position at the big league level. He’s not terrible out there, but his range isn’t going to wow anyone either. He’s made big strides defensively since he was drafted when it comes to reading the ball and improving his routes.

  12. vegastypo

    Hey, Doug, love these Q and As. …. Before Frazier finally got his shot in 2011-12, wasn’t he a guy who had been somewhat forgotten in the organization? Is there anyone else whose prospect status might be dimming, but might actually produce if given a chance?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think Frazier was necessarily forgotten about. He entered the 2010 season as a Top 100 prospect in baseball. His 2010/2011 seasons with Louisville weren’t quite as good. He showed good power, but he didn’t hit for much average at the level and that did diminish his stock, but he was still a Top 10 guy within the system.

      Going back to the previous question asked here, I think that Phillip Ervin could fit that bill. One a highly touted, Top 100 guy, who saw his stock take a hit, but still has the skills.

  13. vegastypo

    One other question: Chad Wallach’s numbers don’t look good for Daytona. (.228 average, .629 OPS, … Any thoughts about his future and the Reds’ plans for him? The stats I saw had him playing first base in 31 games and catching in 23 games.

    • Doug Gray

      I haven’t heard too much on Wallach this year, but what I have heard is that his bat flashes the right things, but just not often enough at this point. Defensively it’s the same thing. The tools are there, but they just aren’t there consistently. He’s a bit of a project at this point, but he’s got the right parts to make everything work one day if he develops.

  14. citizen54

    I think at this point we can pencil in Bob Steve as a #1 and Disco, Lorenzen, Iglesias as #3-5. Is there anyone is the system right now you think could be eventually be a #2?

    • Hotto4Votto

      IMO, I think Lorenzen can be a #2.

      • BMBLUE

        Uhhh… Homer Bailey?

        Also, why is everyone saying Iglesias cant be a top tier starter? He is young and has great raw stuff from my eyes….IMO.

        Stephenson, Iglesias and Bailey as a top three with Lorenzen/Disco/Other as a 4/5? Competing rotation in my eyes.

      • citizen54

        I don’t think Lorenzen has the amount of plus pitches necessary to be a #2. Most scouts say his ceiling is as a #3. Currently, his peripherals aren’t very good, although he might be one of those pitchers who consistently outperforms his peripherals ala Cueto. One thing is for certain, he needs to improve his K/BB%.

        I think Iglesias has a higher ceiling than Lorenzen but there are some durability issues. I was thinking more along the lines of 2018 and beyond.

    • Doug Gray

      I think that you could pick from the group of Travieso/Romano/Garrett and if things go right for any one of them, they could be in that range. Obviously, plenty of work to do for any of them to reach that point, some more than others, but they’ve all got the upside IMO to be that kind of guy.

  15. WVRedlegs

    The Pirates top hitting prospect a year ago was the toolsy OF Gregory Polanco. Polanco has had a miserable time adjusting to ML pitching as evidenced by a ’14 slash of .235/.307/.343 and in ’15 .231/.300.329 since his promotion from AAA.
    Do you think Jesse Winker has the ability to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Polanco, whenever Winker gets a callup?

    • Doug Gray

      I can’t speak directly about what’s gone wrong with Polanco other than: Where the heck did the power go? I’m sure there’s something there that explains it, but I don’t watch them play but a few times a year and I never watched him in the minors, so it’s tougher to speak directly about him.

      With that said, I think Winker has everything you want to see in a guy who should generally avoid slumps. Great plate approach, uses the entire field so it’s tougher to shift on him (though, like every hitter that can use the entire field, they tend to pull ground balls, but can use the entire field when the ball is in the air) and he’s got power that will play – despite how his first two months went this season.

  16. L.A. Red

    Doug –

    1) What assets is it going to take to get the D-backs to trade us Lucas Giolito, rhp (7)?

    • L.A. Red

      Sorry…what assets is it going to take to get the Washington Nationals to trade us Lucas Giolito (who was picked number 16 overall when we picked Travieso at 14 in the same year)?

      • L.A. Red

        A guy can dream right? But I read your article and Turner looks like a really good prospect too. I just want to get back an elite talent because that’s what Cueto is!

      • Doug Gray

        Cueto certainly is an elite talent, LA Red. The problem is, he’s an elite talent for two months. You aren’t likely to get elite back for that.

      • Playtowin

        Thanks for doing this. Do you see Blandino as an everyday infielder for the Reds? If yes, where? Was there a player drafted after him you would have liked the Reds to draft instead?

      • Doug Gray

        Playtowin,
        I think Blandino could be a second baseman in the future. I don’t think there’s much of a chance he sticks at shortstop, even if the Reds want to tell you that he can. He could play third defensively, but I’m not sure his bat has enough power to play at third, so there’s a lot riding on him being able to stick at second.

  17. seat101

    I enjoy this feature so much!

    I was going to ask about Chad Wallach but someone beat me to it.

  18. ohiojimw

    how quickly do you see stephenson the catcher coming through the system?

    Have you crossed paths in your travels with anyone who has had the hip impingement surgery and returned to catch on a regular basis to the level they performed at previously?

    • Doug Gray

      I think Stephenson is going to take at least 4 years to get to the big leagues. Catchers don’t tend to move too quickly. Far too many things they need to learn/work on over the years to push them based solely on their bat like most other positions are pushed on.

      And no, I haven’t. But I’ve never really asked either. What I do know is that the doctors think Mesoraco will be fine moving forward, so I’m not worried about it until there’s actual reason to worry about it.

      • Tom Gray

        Bench took 3 years. I think Stephenson will take at least 5 years in MiLB before getting to the Reds.

  19. Brady

    I know you have answered this question before, but I can’t recall your answer:
    Which prospect are you highest on, regardless of level/production at this point?

    And a second question if you don’t mind:
    I know the organization doesn’t see him as a “toolsy” guy, but shouldn’t Selsky get an opportunity at the big league level at some point? Unfortunate injury aside, he has hit at every level after an adjustment period.

    • Brady

      I should add.. thank you for answering these questions. Very insightful.

    • Doug Gray

      Generally speaking, my prospect list reflects how I feel about guys. A guy like Narciso Crook passes the eye test from a tools standpoint, but his game simply isn’t there yet and the production reflects that. But you see flashes of a guy that could become something.

      With Selsky – I don’t know that he’s going to get his chance. He simply doesn’t fill a specific role on a big league bench. Defensively he’s a corner guy who isn’t a strong defender. He’s not bad, but he’s not good either. When you aren’t a strong defender at the corner spot, you aren’t used as a pinch runner either. So now you had better hit for power or make a ton of contact. Selsky doesn’t hit for power. Selsky doesn’t have good contact rates. Basically, you’re hoping that he can come to the Major Leagues and carry a .380 BABIP as a pinch hitter so he can have a good average off of the bench. That’s a risky play.

  20. DX

    Doug, has Cingrani developed enough off speed pitches to be an MLB starter? If you signed Chapman based on a closer’s salary, would you convert him to a starter giving you two possible strong LHPs. It would create enormous depth throughout the system for starting pitching. Third, did they bring YRod up to sit him?