The Cincinnati Reds have had one of the top rotations in all of baseball over the last few years. They are likely losing the veteran of the staff with Bronson Arroyo leaving for free agency. They will have Tony Cingrani stepping forward though to take his spot, leaving them with five spots in the rotation filled with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani. With Bryan Price taking over as manager, Aroldis Chapman may even be in play as a future starter.

The Reds start off things on the right foot with starting pitching depth as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball with Robert Stephenson. Stephenson posted a 2.99 ERA in 114.1 innings between Dayton, Bakersfield and Pensacola with 35 walks and 136 strikeouts. When he is it on the top of his game he looks like a future top of the rotation starting pitcher with a big fastball and devastating breaking ball combination.

Nick Travieso had a bit of an up and down season in 2013. He started off slowly but after a few weeks really picked up the pace and rebounded well to finish with a 4.63 ERA in 81.2 innings to go along with 27 walks and 61 strikeouts. His overall stuff from start to start was inconsistent, but when he was at the top of his game he featured a big fastball to go along with a strong slider.

Jon Moscot has rocketed through the system so far, moving all of the way to Double-A since being drafted in 2012. He posted a 4.30 ERA in 146.2 innings between Bakersfield and Pensacola with 48 walks and 148 strikeouts. An advanced pitcher with four pitches, Moscot has been a quick mover and could be ready for the Majors within another year.

The Reds spent a supplemental first round draft pick on reliever Michael Lorenzen this past year and after spending the season as a reliever he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to transition to a starting pitcher. His fastball and slider combination is among the best in the system, but his control was an issue as a professional in his first season. He will need to improve his change up in order to remain as a starter, but his base of two above-average pitches gives him a very good base to build from. Adding innings to his arm will be another hurdle to overcome, as his 50 innings this year is easily a career high since he began high school.

In the 4th round of the 2013 draft the Reds selected Ben Lively out of Central Florida. He had one of the better debuts in recent memory from a drafted pitcher as he posted a 0.88 ERA in 41 innings pitched between the Billings Mustangs and Dayton Dragons. Lively struck out 56 batters and walked 13 in his debut where his workload was monitored closely after a long season in which he threw 147 innings between college and professional baseball. With four pitches in his repertoire, the biggest question will be how his stuff will hold up as he is stretched out to 6+ inning as a professional.

Daniel Corcino came into the season as a top 100 prospect in all of baseball, but he had lots of struggles throughout the season. He battled consistency from game to game and even from inning to inning. When he is at his best he has three good pitches, but his control issues really held him back in 2013. If he can get the strikezone under control he could get his prospect status back to where it was coming into the season.

Amir Garrett is a boom or bust type of prospect. His season began well with a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings with Billings where he had 10 walks and 17 strikeouts. He struggled with a promotion to Dayton though as he posted a 6.88 ERA in 34 innings with 16 walks and 15 strikeouts. A very raw pitcher with flashes of above-average stuff from the left side, Garrett needs experience on the mound but as a college basketball player limits the experience he will get.

Jeremy Kivel made his debut in the 2013 season with the Arizona League Reds as he posted a 3.91 ERA in 50.2 innings with 23 walks and 56 strikeouts. He began the year slowly but finished strong. The walk rate was a little bit high, but he struck out more than a batter per inning as well. With a plus fastball to work off of, rounding out his secondary stuff will be key moving forward.

Chad Rogers may be the closest starter to the Majors of all of the pitching prospects. While he doesn’t have as big of an upside as many of the guys on the list and likely profiles as a back end starter, he could be the first call up early in the season if there is a need for a starting pitcher. He posted a 3.21 ERA between Pensacola and Louisville with 140 innings at the two stops where he had 45 walks and 103 strikeouts.

Sal Romano had a solid season with the Dayton Dragons in 2013 where he posted a 4.86 ERA in 120.1 innings with 57 walks and 89 strikeouts. He battled with consistency during the season, but when he is on top of his game he shows good stuff that can miss bats and induce plenty of groundballs. He will need to find some consistency and cut down on the walks as he moves forward.

Some other guys worth mentioning in full season ball include Drew Cisco, Jackson Stephens, Tim Crabbe, Josh Smith and Ismael Guillon. Cisco posted a 3.86 ERA with Dayton in 2013 where he showed outstanding control, walking just 16 batters in 130.2 innings. He must continue to exhibit outstanding control as his stuff is mostly average. Jackson Stephens will flash an above-average fastball and solid offspeed stuff. He posted a 4.59 ERA with the Dayton Dragons in 64.2 innings with 18 walks and 55 strikeouts. Tim Crabbe had a rough start to 2012 and was demoted to Bakersfield for the second half. Since then and through 2013 he has posted a 3.12 ERA in 210.2 innings between Bakersfield, Pensacola and Louisville with 58 walks and 169 strikeouts. Josh Smith, much like Chad Rogers, likely profiles as a back end of the rotation pitcher who posted a 3.26 ERA in 160 innings with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos where he had 50 walks and 139 strikeouts. Ismael Guillon, much like Daniel Corcino, really battled control and consistency issues. He shows above-average stuff, but also walked 95 hitters in 121.1 innings with 134 strikeouts and a 4.75 ERA for the Dayton Dragons.

Some of the starters worth mentioning from rookie ball include Jacob Constante, Pedro Diaz, Tyler Mahle, Mark Armstrong and Dan Langfield. Jacob Constante was a big international signing that the Reds kept in the Dominican Summer League where he struck out 55 in 38.2 innings with 1.86 ERA, but he also walked 22 hitters. He has good stuff, but will need to cut down the walks. Pedro Diaz had a season where he struggled with fingernail issues throughout the season that led to struggles to control his stuff in 2013 between Billings and Dayton. His stuff is still good, but his control must improve moving forward. Tyler Mahle was drafted in the 7th round this past season and posted a 2.36 ERA in 34.1 innings with the Arizona League Reds where he had 8 walks and 30 strikeouts. Mark Armstrong went in the 3rd round this past year and while he was limited in his usage, throwing just 3 innings, he shows a solid fastball and above-average breaking ball mix. Dan Langfield didn’t pitch in 2013 after suffering an injury in the spring that caused him to miss the entire year. In 2012, when healthy, he posted a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings with 17 walks and 54 strikeouts while showing good stuff across the board.

Overall Thoughts

With the list headed by the top prospect in the system, as well as one of the top prospects in the game, things start off well. After Stephenson though, there is a big drop off to the next group of guys who all have questions that need to be answered. There are plenty of upside pitchers in both full season and rookie ball providing good depth for high upside guys. There is also a nice mix of more polished types of pitchers in both full and rookie leagues too.

Grade: B