It’s been quite a while since I have done one of these here at Redleg Nation. While I am certainly well versed on most things minor league related, I’m not opposed at all to answering questions you have about the big league team or the players up there either. With that said, there are a few rules to follow:

  1.  Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up answers (such as: Who was the last guy to steal 25 bags and hit 25 home runs in the system).
  2. Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have my type out a novel.
  3. Each user can ask up to three questions.
  4. Ask your questions before 8PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 8PM on Tuesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

That’s simple enough, right? Let’s get to it. I will be in-and-out of the thread all day answering questions, starting around 10am.

65 Responses

  1. First timer

    Doug, long time follower, first time questioner. Do you see the Reds trading any of the abundant of young arms to upgrade other positions? If so who?

    • Doug Gray

      I could see them possibly tossing someone into a trade along with Cozart or Bruce to try and get something elite back. Who? That’s an impossible one to answer because I don’t think there’s anyone truly untouchable right now in the system from a pitching standpoint. I doubt they trade an arm in the minors by itself to try and upgrade a position.

  2. big5ed


    1. Is it time for Aristides Aquino to be promoted to AA? His walk rate is low, but he’s killing FSL pitching.

    2. What do we know about Antonio Santillan, besides that he’s a big 19-year-old from Texas? He’s fanned 27 in 13.1 innings at Billings.

    3. Is Blake Trahan (3rd round 2015) a legit SS prospect? He was worse than awful to start the year at Daytona, but has hit over .300 the last two months and shows some plate discipline and speed.

    • Doug Gray

      1. Because of that low walk rate, I’d hold him back. The walk rate has improved this year, and that’s good to see. But I’d keep him there and let him continue to see success. Push him up if he’s still hitting at the start of August, get his feet wet in Double-A and let him come back in 2017.

      2. Huge arm, two plus pitches and that he’s flat out dominating the guys out there. He’s made big strides with his control.

      3. I haven’t seen him in person yet other than one game in spring training – so from my personal view, it’s tough to say if he’s able to stick at shortstop. Reports have been mixed on whether or not he can. I like the plate discipline, but I’m not sold that there is enough bat there to be an every day guy, particularly if he can’t play short.

  3. John

    For the second straight year, it seems that Jesse Winker has started slow in terms of power. Is that the case or is Jesse really just a hit batting average/OBS type of hitter?

    • Doug Gray

      Just one of those things. He’s never going to be Jay Bruce in terms of power, but he’s also not a guy without power. It’s going to come around – we’ve seen it in the past.

  4. Tyler

    Doug, think we will target another teams catching prospects when we listen for Bruce, Phillips, Cozart etc… We are very thin there..Okey and Stevenson will not be up anytime soon. Just curious on your thoughts…maybe like a Max Pentecost from KC

    • Doug Gray

      Not too sure about it, really. I think that the Reds are fine with Barnhart being the guy for now if Mesoraco isn’t healthy. You can grab a backup rather cheap in free agency if they aren’t comfortable with Ramon Cabrera in that role, or want the role to be a different type (Cabrera is a contact hitter type – maybe they want to add a power guy there).

    • Doug Gray

      Low 3/4, sidearm type of guy. Good stuff, plenty of movement. Rail thin. Deceptive. Could be a good middle reliever.

  5. Ben

    What’s Tyler Mahle’s ceiling? Is he approaching the top tier of our pitching prospects? Could he be a future No. 2 starter? Starting to get excited about this guy. Also, Aristides Aquino, but someone already asked about him.

    • Doug Gray

      I just moved him up to #9 in my Midseason Top 25 update released today –

      He’s getting into that top tier, but I still have him in that second group behind the top three guys.

      As for what he could be, I guess it depends on exactly how you define a #2 starter. In terms of scouts speak, no. But, they seem to think that a #2 starter is still one of the best 30 starters in baseball – and well, mathematically that doesn’t make any sense given that there are 30 teams in baseball and even in a perfectly set up distribution of talent, there would be 30 #1’s, 30 #2’s and so on.

      Mahle seems more like a good middle of the rotation ceiling guy. Mike Leake type – different stuff, but similar type of production (maybe more strikeouts, but probably more home runs allowed too since Leake was a groundball pitcher and Mahle isn’t).

  6. Sandman

    Is there ever a situation where a team’s lowest level minor league team will have a player called up (to next level) without another player being demoted to take his place? If so, where does that lowest level MiLB team get the player to replace the one called up? Sorry so long, I tried to shorten the question as much as possible. Hope you can answer it. Please & thank you.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, the lowest teams in the US are the AZL squad and Billings squad, and they both have larger rosters to work with (35 players). So, it certainly can happen and the team isn’t exactly playing short. Still, what you will see on most rosters is that a guy is on the DL who isn’t exactly hurt, and when a roster spot opens up, they will be activated so the roster remains full.

  7. ohiojimw

    Where in the world is Carmen Sa…err…, Yorman Rodriguez? Has his body always been so seemingly fragile? He’s effectively been out nearly a year with a series of seemingly non-serious injuries, what’s the chance he ever makes it at MLB with the Reds now?

    • Doug Gray

      He’s not always been so fragile, but he hasn’t been the baron of health either. It’s been a rough go of it for him over the last year. His injury last season cost him a chance at left field in the big leagues. This year it’s cost him tons of developmental time.

      He’s out of options, so I’m not sure his chances have changed much. Price seemed to want the job to go to Duvall all spring, and as we saw with Schebler – he didn’t get a ton of playing time, and I doubt Rodriguez would have either. Not being there isn’t helping, as he would at least be getting some action and showing what he can do. But the lack of playing time he’d be getting versus maybe coming back moving forward with a potential trade of Jay Bruce could actually be beneficial to his sticking around as there may be more at-bats to be had. You know, if he’s actually healthy enough to play.

      • ohiojimw

        sort of a 3B if you can get to it….. Do you think they take the easy way out and option Holt if and when YRod is ready to play at MLB?

      • Doug Gray

        They probably should. Holt, for as much as the announcers like to praise him, has a .579 OPS right now. They seem to get caught up on the fact that he can bunt and run fast, which aren’t bad things – but you’ve got to actually hit, too.

  8. Scott E. Disney

    What is our weakest position or player type in the minors in terms of depth? In other words, what type player should the Reds look for in possible trade if not just best available?

    • Doug Gray

      The same as just about everyone else: Shortstop. It’s not to say that the Reds are without them. Jose Peraza is up now and there’s a chance he’s a shortstop. Calten Daal in Double-A is certainly a defensive shortstop, but will the bat play? Blake Trahan may be a shortstop. There are possibly answers, but they’ve all got questions. It’s just such a hard position to fill. With that said, teams don’t give shortstops away, either.

  9. ragekage83

    Is it realistic to hope that the Reds surprise us in the international market and sign a guy not previously linked to (Maitan, Lazzarito etc..)? Is there precedence for something like that, or are most of the signings foregone conclusions?

    • Doug Gray

      I’ve actually been working on an article on this for the last 36 hours for my site, and it should be up later today at some point. It does happen every so often, but usually you have heard of a team being linked to the player even if they weren’t considered the favorite to sign them. We aren’t hearing that with the Reds at all. Generally speaking though – we probably know exactly where 90% of the Top 25 guys will sign already. Some of these deals have been in place for a year+.

  10. Nick

    1) Senzel seems to be off to a slow pro start, but he is still walking more than he strikes out so it doesn’t seem too discouraging. Instance of just some bad luck? Has he been hitting the ball hard right at people?
    2) LaValley seems to be hitting the ball with more authority this year (slugging way up in the FSL compared to last year in Dayton). What his ultimate power/prospect outlook? Ultimately a 1st basement defensively?
    3) Do you see them moving Mella to relief at some point in the near future? Seems to be hitting a dead end in A ball.

    Thanks Doug!

    • Doug Gray

      1. Haven’t been able to watch the Billings guys, so I’m not sure if he’s hitting it right at people or not – but he’s got 25 at-bats, and has more walks than strikeouts…. there’s no concern at all.

      2. LaValley’s probably got 20 HR pop. There’s a chance he’s a passable third baseman, but first is more likely.

      3. In the near future? Probably not. At some point? Probably.

  11. Patrick Jeter

    After being very decent in the BB department at every stop, Nick Travieso is walking 5.05 per 9 so far this year. Any ideas where his command has gone? He’s also striking out more guys than even, which is an interesting note. Thanks!

    • Patrick Jeter

      Question #2: If you had to predict, when does Tony Santillan see his first promotion?

      • Doug Gray

        Not sure how I managed to skip over this the first time through….

        Not really sure what’s going on with Travieso. I talked about him a bit today as he dropped in my midseason prospect rankings from #3 to #10 and it’s all about the control and where it’s gone. He dealt with a groin issue earlier this year, and perhaps it’s something to do with that – I’ve seen it happen before with pitchers coming back from groin or hamstring injuries where they just struggle with the control for a while afterwards. Either way, it’s not a good sign. Hopefully he can build upon his last two starts (two walks in 6 innings in each) and keep that going. The history of throwing strikes is there – but it was there for Robert Stephenson for a while too, and he’s struggled to find it for three years now.

        With Santillan, it’s an interesting thing to wonder about. Obviously he’s crushing hitters souls in the Pioneer League right now. He’s also working on a pitch count of 85, which may not be enough to push him up to full season ball where the roster sizes are more limited and that kind of thing could eat through your bullpen. I’m not in the place to say if he’s ready for 95 pitches every five days, but if he’s not, I wouldn’t promote him.

  12. Shchi Cossack

    Doug, I keep hearing that the strike zone in the minor leagues is much more liberal and forgiving for pitchers. Is this actually true and is so why? Such a situation seems very counter-productive, like trying to evaluate hitters from their performance in the PCL or CAL leagues.

    • Doug Gray

      The strikezone probably is a tad more liberal, but it’s impossible to verify for us. The teams, however, can tell. The trackman system is now installed in most minor league parks (all of the Reds home parks have it), so the teams are getting the actual data. The reason is probably simple though: Umpires have to work their way up just like the players do, so, generally speaking, the best ones are in the big leagues.

      • Eric The Red

        The best ones are in the big leagues? That’s a terrifying thought. Watching Reds games this year I’m struck by how bad–and seemingly one-sided–the strike zone calls have been. Even with Tucker catching, a guy who is supposed to be a decent framer, we’re getting a lot of strikes called balls.

  13. Joe

    Its kind of been mentioned here before, but where do you see a lot of the top pitchers winding up? It seems safe to say that the future starting rotation would be Homer, Disco, Stephenson, Reed, and one of several options. Obviously this leaves some guys in the bullpen, but what do you see them doing with guys like Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Jon Moscot, Rookie Davis, Keury Mella, etc. Who would you say is most likely to take that 5th spot in the rotation? Any of these guys more tradable than others so that we can get a few hitters?

    • Doug Gray

      I’d hold off on tossing Stephenson in there for the long haul just yet. He’s got to get the strikezone under control or it’s not going to work as a starter.

      Rookie Davis has a strikeout rate so low it would make Bronson Arroyo blush right now. Depending on who you ask, Mella, Romano and Garrett are all going to be relievers and Moscot is a swing-man. You may get different answers from different people, but generally, that’s the majority of the opinions.

      Teams aren’t really trading hitters these days, at least young ones. So, don’t get your hopes up.

      • ohiojimw

        Right now Stephenson looks to me like the flip side of the coin of what can go wrong when a guy who is ready gets held back merely for business (service time) reasons. I can’t say for sure because I’m neither a sports psychologist or MLB talent evaluator. However he certainly looks like a guy who has lost his edge over time and is playing down to his competition.

  14. Jack

    Doug I don’t follow the minors to much so if Peraza ends up the shortstop is Suarez the best thing for 2nd? The guys hsve mentioned Blandino. Do you see him coming up and making it soon or somebody else?

    • Doug Gray

      Assuming things stay how they are right now, I’d slide Suarez to second and see how it goes. Blandino is hitting around .200 right now in Double-A with a high strikeout rate, so I’m not nearly ready to count on him for anything until he starts showing signs of life at the plate again.

      Of course, we’ve got a year-and-a-half left to figure out second base since Brandon Phillips isn’t going anywhere.

  15. Rick

    I saw that you’re working on your mid season prospect list update. Do the main stream publications also do mid season updates or do those all come out after the season is over? I’m curious to know where Senzel and Trammell rank among the current top 100. Any guesses?

    • Doug Gray

      Baseball America will have one out for sure, at least a Top 100 overall list. I’d guess Senzel is in the 25-35 range with Trammell probably on the outside of the Top 100.

  16. redsfan4040

    1) Carlos Gonzalez has had a pretty good year so far out of Pensacola’s pen. If I’m right, I think he’s eligible for the rule 5 draft this year. Do you think the Reds add him to the 40 to protect him, or take the chance that he’s not ML ready and gets returned by whatever team that may take him?
    2) Do Santillan, Senzel, Okey and Trammel stay in Rookie ball all season? Or do you think that they’ll get a look in low-A (Dayton could use any kind of help it could get)
    3) Late round draft pick the Reds made who you think might be a steal and turn into a starting caliber player?

    • Doug Gray

      1. It’s probably a toss up at this point. What do any trades bring back and what do they do to the 40-man? How does he perform moving forward? I can see him being protected, he’s got a good arm. But I can also see him being unprotected because there just isn’t room.

      2. I’d say there’s very little chance that Senzel and Okey both play in Billings all year. In fact, if they aren’t both in Dayton by August I’d be flat out shocked. Trammell is likely going to be in Billings all year no matter how well he performs. He’s 18 – they aren’t going to push him yet. This year is more about getting into pro ball for him and just acclimating him to the life away from home and things like that. Santillan is a tougher guess. I talked about him above in my reply to Patrick Jeter, so go check out that one.

      3. There probably isn’t one. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if a few guys beyond round ten wound up being solid relievers.

  17. WVRedlegs

    July 2nd is coming up Saturday.
    1. Have you heard any indications that the Reds may back away from signing Cuban SS Alfredo Rodriguez and go a different direction?
    2. I have forgotten, but how much money do the Reds have allotted to them in this upcoming international signing period?
    3. I know in the past you have said Pensacola has the best view of all the minor league stadiums you have visited. Put your Guy Fieri hat on please, can you tell us which stadium and town has the best food?

    • Doug Gray

      1. Absolutely not. I actually wrote about this at my site this afternoon.

      2. Just over $5M – but they are going to spend more than that, though a large majority of it (my guess is probably 90%) is going to go to Rodriguez. The Reds aren’t linked to another player that’s looking to sign for more than $200,000. They are literally placing all of their eggs into the Rodriguez basket. They had better be right.

      3. I don’t eat much stadium food – try to eat something that will sit well during the games because I’m not exactly able to run to the restroom if I’m in the photo well (some places you have to go through the field of play to enter/exit – others through the dugout, but you don’t go there except between innings). Pensacola’s got a great brick oven pizza place that I go to every year – The Tuscan Oven. LOVE it. I’ve never eaten in Dayton or Louisville outside of the ballpark – and even then it’s just whatever’s provided. In Daytona there was a good burger place that I can’t remember the name of that everyone told me to check out – it was outstanding.

  18. L.A. Red

    Whats the deal with our 4th round draft Pick Scott Moss? Is he going to sign? How much money does he want? Your site says we have a little over 200k left? but don’t we have overage money? Seems like a lot of questions but I just don’t quite understand the hold up and how this all works. Thanks,

    • Doug Gray

      He’s only been eligible to sign for a week – he was in the college world series, and couldn’t sign until his team was eliminated. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t sign, and the “remaining money” left doesn’t include his slot value, since he hasn’t yet signed a deal. I’d expect him to sign for the slot value of his picked spot. I wouldn’t worry about him not signing unless it’s July 10th and he’s still not in the organization.

      • ohiojimw

        The Gators website showed him as just a soph this year (presumably via a red shirt situation). Could it be he is going to roll the dice and return next year to go for the top of the draft?

      • Doug Gray

        It’s certainly possible – but I’m sure the Reds talked with him before they drafted him to see what he wanted to sign. They wouldn’t have taken him if they weren’t confident they could make it happen. Not that early in the draft.

  19. Jon

    1. The Reds have obviously acquired some good prospects via trades and draft recently (Reed, Mella, Senzel, Trammel) but some of the their past high draft choices have struggled in their development (Blandino, Howard, even RobSteve ). How would you judge the Reds overall system’s progress over the past 12-18 months?

    2. Jay Bruce has been stellar this year and has has certainly improved his trade value. With teams so reluctant to give up young hitters, do you still see the Reds trying to target a team with good hitting prospects? (ex: Zimmerman or Frazier from CLE, Verdugo from LAD, ect.) or just find the best deal possible?

    • Doug Gray

      1. Overall I think they’ve improved the system. Some guys haven’t developed as you’d hoped. Some have developed more than expected. But just as importantly, a bunch have followed along the development hoped for and that’s got plenty of value.

      2. You’d imagine they start by targeting, but at some point if that’s not working, you just start looking at the best deal on the table.

    • Patrick Jeter

      “Minor League All Demands Met” thread. Haha! 🙂

      • Doug Gray

        Talking about Ervin though: Has all the tools. Needs to figure out how to turn the hit-tool into the hit-skill. It’s the only skill that he’s really missing out on. He can run the bases well, he can field enough and throw, he’s got the power, he’s got a decent enough grasp on the strikezone. He’s a 4th outfielder at worst – if he can hit .250, he’s a quality starter. If he hits more, then we’re talking.

  20. vegastypo

    As always, thanks for doing this, Doug.

    Were you surprised that the Reds didn’t stick with J.C. Ramirez a little longer? In a season when the Reds are supposed to be looking toward the future, I wonder how much ‘future’ there is with guys like Ohlendorf and Jumbo.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think I’d count on him any more as a part of the future than the other two guys you mentioned. Of course, I’d have kept him around over Alfredo Simon – who I would have cut long before he started saying his arm was sore, and then I wouldn’t have had to try and pass Ramirez through waivers.

      I think Ramirez could perform well out in the AL West. Home runs were his biggest issue and there are three pretty big ballparks in that division. That should help his numbers.

  21. Scott E. Disney

    We hear a lot about the Winkers and the Stephensons, but who is most likely to produce well in the majors and is currently AA or below? What makes him the best and when may we expect to see them in Cincinnati?

    • Doug Gray

      I just started updating my Top 25 prospects list this week, so it’s the best place to start when looking for that answer –

      Obviously, Nick Senzel is at the top of that list for me among those below Triple-A. He’s the only guy in the Top 6 that’s below Triple-A for me. He’s probably ready to start 2018, but I’d venture to guess we don’t see him until June of 2018. He’s got an advanced bat with no real weaknesses in his game.

  22. BrianW

    1. Your site shows the Reds are about $200,000 under cap for draft signings. Is it correct they can also spend a certain percentage more than that if they pay an overage tax and not have to give up draft picks next year?

    2. Of the remaining late round draft picks, which ones do you want to see them sign the most?

    3. Whats a reasonable return for Jay Bruce assuming most of 2016 is paid by the Reds?

    • Doug Gray

      1. Yes, you can spend up to 5% over and only have to pay a 75% tax on that overage to MLB before giving up any draft picks. Also worth noting that what they’ve got left is just extra money, and doesn’t count the current slot money for Scott Moss, the 4th rounder who hasn’t signed yet.

      2. Mitchell Traver.

      3. A top 50 prospect, plus another good prospect.

  23. Douglas Neff

    i like podcast and it is great to listen to washing dishes. I wish it was daily.

    I like the Steve Mancuso article in Redleg Nation and his 13 points of attack and there is a lot of common sense to it. The first is a trade of Jay Bruce to the Indians for Zimmer. Yes or no

    He plants Phillips butt on the bench if he refuses a trade to play Peraza. Do the Reds have it in them to do that?

    The next key is signing Cozart to a 3 year $23m extension. Would you do it?

    • Doug Gray

      1. I’d pass. He’s a 24-year-old in AA with a strikeout rate of 29% and he’s hitting .244. To me, Bruce is worth more than that.

      2. No, they don’t. For crying out loud they are still batting that guy 3rd in their lineup despite the fact that he can’t hit.

      3. No, I wouldn’t.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Zimmer is 23. Batting average? Seriously? His OBP is .371 because his walk rate is 14%+ decent power (12 HR), speed (27 SB), can play CF, plus arm.

        I hope you’re right that Bruce is worth more than Zimmer.

      • Doug Gray

        You’re right on Zimmer being 23. I swear I was at B-Ref and it had him at 24 earlier, but he is indeed 23.

        And yes, batting average. Here’s why it matters in the minors – the list of guys that are hitting .250 and less in the minors and can still actually hit enough to play in the Majors every day, well, that list is pretty much non-existent. Generally speaking, it tells you about a guys ability to actually hit. A guy who hits .300 may never be able to hit .240 in the big leagues, but a guy that hits .240 in the minors….. well, that tells you a whole lot about the likelihood they can hit big league pitching.

        His walk rate is high, but his strikeout rate is also incredibly high. Which again, leads to the problem of he’s probably not going to hit big league pitching.

        He’s got some speed and if he can play center he’s got a chance. The Reds should be doing better than the current version of Bradley Zimmer though. And if they can’t, they should just keep Jay Bruce around.