The month of April is nearly over, which means the first month of the baseball season is almost over. Today I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a few players that are out to a good start in the minor leagues.
The guy out to the best start in the organization may be Tanner Rainey. The relief pitcher was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft. Things didn’t get out to a good start for Rainey in the first two years after the draft. In Billings he posted a solid, but unspectacular ERA of 4.27 in 59.0 innings. He moved up to Dayton the next year and posted a 6.03 ERA in 20 starts. He walked 62 batters in 91.0 innings with 93 strikeouts. On August 8th the Reds decided to change things up and put Rainey in the bullpen for the Dragons. he pitched in nine games the rest of the season, throwing 12.1 innings. Things could not have gone much better as he allowed just three runs with four walks and 20 strikeouts. He’s kept things going this year in the bullpen for Daytona. He’s given up two hits, and hit one batter in 10.0 innings. He hasn’t walked a single batter. The right hander has 20 strikeouts (he’s faced 34 batters). He’s allowed one run (0.90 ERA).
Rainey’s teammate in Daytona, Gavin LaValley is returning to the Tortugas in 2017. In 19 games he’s hitting .284/.316/.541 with four doubles and five home runs. His OPS of .857 is 177 points higher than the Florida State League average. His five home runs are second best in the league. You’d like to see a few more walks added in, but the power he is showing off early on is just another step forward for the corner infielder.
Juan Perez has played in 15 games for the Louisville Bats. He’s repeating the level as a 25-year-old, but he’s out to a great start. He’s hitting .328/.418/.586 on the season with three doubles and four home runs. Two of those home runs came in the same game and one of those were an inside-the-park home run to dead center. He’s also added in five stolen bases. What could get real interesting is if Perez keeps hitting and Arismendy Alcantara doesn’t, if the Reds would make the move to put him into that role with the big league club. Perez can play around the infield and he’s got some experience in the outfield as well.
Another one I’d mention is Tyler Stephenson. Night and day difference between last year and this year. He looks healthy, his bat speed is very good, and he looks more comfortable behind the plate (both offensively and defensively). Leave him in Dayton all year and continue to grow, he’s still just 20 years old.
Thanks for these updates Doug, especially on some of the guys further down in the organization. Winker updates aren’t hard to come by, but Rainey type updates are much scarcer. This is encouraging.