The regular season is over for every team in the farm system except for the Billings Mustangs. They have two games remaining this season before the playoffs begin. They’ll join the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Daytona Tortugas as Reds farm teams that made the playoffs. With the season essentially over for everyone, I thought it would be a good time to toss out my picks for an All-Star team among players in the system. This will include players from both full season and short season teams. But, the guys in short season will have to stand out above the guys in full season to make the team.
Catcher: Hendrik Clementina
The 21-year-old catcher hit .268/.327/.497 for the Dayton Dragons in 2018. That came along with 22 doubles, a triple, and 18 home runs in just 96 games played. Behind the plate he threw out 30% of attempted base runners.
First Base: Ibandel Isabel
When you hit 35 home runs in 104 games it’s impressive on it’s own. When you do it in the Florida State League you set records. And that’s what Ibandel Isabel did in 2018, breaking the all-time home run record for the league en-route to hitting .258/.333/.566 on the season for the Daytona Tortugas. To put into perspective how much power that is, it would take the guys ranked 2nd through 6th on the team to put all of their home runs together to outhomer him. By one.
Second Base: Jeter Downs
This was one a bit closer than the other picks. Jeter Downs didn’t lead the organization in OPS at the position, but his overall game got him the slightest of nods. He hit .257/.351/.402 with 23 doubles, 2 triples, and 13 home runs. It was what he did on the bases that got him to take things here, though. He stole 37 bases, leading the organization by a wide margin.
Shortstop: Miguel Hernandez
Most of his season has been with the Greeneville Reds, but once the season ended Miguel Hernandez was promoted to Billings. In 60 games with Greeneville he hit .301/.338/.406 with 16 extra-base hits. He also showed off strong defensive abilities. He’s struggled since moving to Billings, going 2-23, but he’s actually walked more than he’s struck out (3-to-2) since his arrival.
Third Base: Juan Martinez
There are a lot of different ways you could go here. For some reason I’m leaning towards Juan Martinez. Most of his season has been spent with Billings, though he spent two weeks with Greeneville to begin the year. Between his two stops he’s hit .276/.348/.470 with 19 extra-base hits in 55 games played.
Outfielder: Brian O’Grady
As I wrote yesterday in the Reds Minor League mailbag, Brian O’Grady probably saved his career with what he did in 2018. In 2017 he had a sub .700 OPS as a 25-year-old corner player. That’s an area where plenty of guys get released. The Reds held onto O’Grady and he rewarded them. Splitting the year in Double-A and Triple-A he hit .280/.358/.512 in 105 games. And he improved as he moved up, posting a .927 OPS in 42 games with the Bats.
Outfielder: Mariel Bautista
The 20-year-old center fielder has hit .327/.384/.537 for the Billings Mustangs this year. And he’s currently riding a 24-game hit streak, too. It’s been a breakout year for Mariel Bautista in the power department. He’s hit 8 home runs to go with 11 doubles and 4 triples. He’s also stolen 15 bases in 55 games.
Outfielder: Gabriel Guerrero
The final pick among outfielders could go in a lot of different ways. Call me a sucker for the longball, but Gabriel Guerrero hitting 19 of them between Pensacola and Louisville got him the nod in a close race. He hit .293/.328/.474 on the season, adding 24 doubles and 5 triples to go with his 19 home runs. He also threw out 15 baserunners, adding plenty of value with his arm on defense.
Starting Pitcher: Tony Santillan
Splitting time between Daytona and Pensacola, Tony Santillan had a breakout season. He threw 149.0 innings with a 3.08 ERA. And he racked up 134 strikeouts and walked just 38 batters on the season. It was a big improvement in control for a guy who has big time stuff.
Starting Pitcher: Robert Stephenson
While things haven’t gone well for Robert Stephenson in the Major Leagues this season in limited action, he’s performed well in Triple-A. He made 20 starts with a 2.87 ERA in 113.0 innings. He walked 57 batters and had 135 strikeouts to go with 74 hits allowed.
Starting Pitcher: Seth Varner
The left handed pitcher spent most of his season in Pensacola, but made one start for Daytona during the beginning of the year. He made 18 total starts, and had 8 relief appearances. In 125.1 innings he posted a 3.30 ERA with 31 walks and 102 strikeouts.
Relief Pitcher: Ryan Hendrix
23-year-old Ryan Hendrix dominated for the Daytona Tortugas this season. He made 44 appearances and picked up 12 saves. In his 51.0 innings he posted a 1.76 ERA with 26 walks and 79 strikeouts.
Relief Pitcher: Alex Powers
Alex Powers served as the Pensacola closer and he picked up 18 saves on the season. In 39 total appearances he posted a 2.34 ERA in 42.1 innings with 11 walks and he struck out 55 total batters.
I don’t know whether to be encouraged or discouraged here Doug. None of the “future star” prospects made your list except Santillan and maybe Stephenson, though he seems like a longer long shot every year. That’s bad – if the Reds are relying on Senzel and Trammell and Greene and India down the road, shouldn’t they be no brainers on this list? But I know they had injuries and very short seasons. But it’s also good – after the big names there are some solid prospects knocking on the door of opportunity. And of course we all want prospects to actually become stars or at least solid contributors, and that hasn’t happened in 2018 (though to be fair, Winker had a pretty nice season going before his injury departure). I’m still optimistic on Cody Reed, even after a tough game last night, but it will be a big boost for the big club and our fan morale when some of these guys start to shine in Cincinnati.
Thanks as always for all your insights and thoroughness on another year of Reds developmental baseball Doug.
Thanks for the insight, Doug.
Is Clementina for real? He hit a lot of homers early, then a lot fewer per at bat as the year went on.
He is a big guy, from the vitals that I read. Will he stick at Catcher?
I did see Guerrero was promoted to the 40 man, but I doubt he gets any playing time, because…that’s how the Reds roll. Let’s play Billy every day! Because we are in last place.
Clementina’s power is for real. Some scouts believe in the bat more than others. I think he’ll hit plenty if he sticks at catcher. But that’s been the big thing when talking to scouts about him. Some don’t think he can catch long term. And the ones that think he’s got a chance don’t think his body is going to age very well, giving him a shorter life span on catching if he can continue to improve back there.
My bias with Stephenson must mean that he didn’t lead the organization in ERA among starting pitchers. Or finish 3rd in strikeouts behind Vlad Gutierrez (4.35 ERA, 147 innings) and Packy Naughton (4.03 ERA, 154 innings) despite throwing 30 and 40 fewer innings than the guys ahead of him.
Me thinks that your bias AGAINST him is clouding your judgment. There’s only one guy that should even be ahead of him for best starting pitching performance on the farm this season and it’s Tony Santillan. There’s no argument to be made that anyone else came close to outperforming him when looking at what he did in the minor leagues this season in the Reds system. Josiah Gray if you ignore the fact that he only threw 52.1 innings…. but you can’t ignore that aspect of it.
Is it just me, or it is extremely discouraging that at this point in our “rebuild” our farm system still isn’t producing major league ready starting pitchers? I’m not smart enough to know why, but until that changes we won’t be winning. It seems like by now each level should have a couple of quality prospects ready to move up, but I’m not seeing it? And, this is with most of our recent “prospects” (Castillo, Reed, Finnegan, Atlanta ones) being brought in through trades, not development. Of course, the accumulation of the RP’s originally misidentified as SP’s by the previous GM (Lorenzen, Garret, Iglasius, Finnegan, Howard, even Chapman) hasn’t helped…..and injuries, but I think they should be expected. It’s confusing to me why our farm system is ranked highly, but our teams consistently perform poorly.
Because farm system rankings are based around the top 10-15 guys in your system because generally speaking, that’s the only guys that are going to be future big leaguers of merit. The other 285 guys will see some relievers/bench guys, some cup of coffee guys, and 250 guys that won’t see Triple-A. The record of the farm system teams doesn’t reflect that top 10-15. It reflects the 300.
That does make sense, but it doesn’t make me feel better considering the Reds recent ability to turn their top 10-15 guys into successful major league players. Maybe I’m just overreacting to another disappointing season, but my patience/hope is pretty low.
Your right Jim on all counts.