To view the entire Top 25 list you can click here (once completed).

Today begins the 2015 Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect list. Things are a little bit different this year. I usually begin at the back of the list and work forward, but it seems that a majority preferred to see it go the other direction so we are going to try that out this year. Subscribers will get to see the top tool for each player as well as a new thing for this season where I will list the upside role for the player. All ages are listed as of June 30 of this past season and is the official “age” of a player during the season. Each day this week will have five players listed to complete the Top 25 and on Friday afternoon there will be a free chat (or All Questions Answered) post to address any remaining questions everyone has about the rankings or players.

*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2015 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitches or more than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*

1. Robert Stephenson | RHP

2014 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 1st round, 2011 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 21

For the second straight season Robert Stephenson finds himself atop the list. His 2014 season was not as good as the previous one but his top of the line stuff remains. He struggled with his control during the year that held him back at times despite an overpowering fastball and curveball combination.

W L IP H HR BB K ERA WHIP
7 10 136.2 114 18 74 140 4.74 1.38

2. Jesse Winker | OF

2014 Teams: Bakersfield Blaze,Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight 210 | Age: 20

The outfielder is arguably the best pure bat to come through the system since the crop that included Jay Bruce and Joey Votto in 2008. He combines outstanding plate discipline with good power and has been called perhaps the best hitter in the minor leagues by some national prospect writers. Winker would hit .317/.426/.580 in the first half with Bakersfield before moving up to Pensacola where an injury slowed him down and eventually led to his season coming to an end three weeks into the second half. He’s currently in the Arizona Fall League and among the league leaders in nearly all offensive categories.

PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
341 20 0 15 57 5 54 68 .287 .399 .518

3. Michael Lorenzen | RHP

2014 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 22

Coming into the 2014 season it was a big unknown as to whether Lorenzen could make the transition to starting pitcher. After the season there isn’t much doubt as he jumped up to Double-A without any past starting experience and posted a 3.13 ERA in 24 starts while showing big time stuff, solid control and big groundball rates. Arguably the most improved player from the year before simply given the task that he had to take on.

W L IP H HR BB K ERA WHIP
4 6 120.2 112 9 44 84 3.13 1.29

traviesoheadshot4. Nick Travieso | RHP

2014 Teams: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st Round, 2012 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 215 | Age: 20

The 2014 season was one where Travieso took the raw stuff that he flashed in 2013 and began to show it more and more consistently. With more consistency and an uptick in velocity the right hander really established himself as he posted a 3.03 ERA in 142.2 innings for Dayton while controlling the strikezone well throughout the season.

W L IP H HR BB K ERA WHIP
14 5 142.2 123 10 44 114 3.03 1.17

5. Yorman Rodriguez | OF

2014 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: Free Agent, 2008 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 21

Rodriguez has had some ups and downs throughout his career but put together arguably his best season as a professional in 2014. He started out hot but hit the DL with an obique strain for two weeks. He slumped for three weeks in a big way after returning but got things going again and outside of that slump he hit .286/.358/.423 with a career high walk rate. Rodriguez showed improvements in the field as well while still flashing the raw tools that most in the system can’t come close to matching.

Player PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
Pensacola 502 20 5 9 40 12 47 117 .262 .331 .389
Cincinnati 29 0 0 0 2 0 1 12 .222 .276 .222

Top Tools and Upside Grade

Upside Grade Explanation

Grade Explanation
80 MVP Caliber/Cy Young Caliber
70 All-Star caliber/#2 starter
60 Above-average starting position player/ #3 starters/Elite closers
50 Average Starting Position Player/#4-5 Starter/Elite set up men and good closers
40 Quality bench player/swingman starter/good middle reliever
30 Fringe big-leaguer who is often moved between AAA and MLB
20 Career minor leaguer

It must be noted that this is for their pure upside and how far they are from reaching that is not factored in. This grade is simply in a world where their pure raw talents all come to fruition. It’s a perfect world grade for what a guy could become not a grade based on what they are necessarily likely to become.

1. Robert Stephenson | RHP

Grade: 80

If everything goes right for Stephenson he has the ability to compete for Cy Young awards with lots of innings, big strikeout numbers and good walk rates to keep his ERA low.

Top tool: Fastball

Stephenson has a fastball that has topped out at 100 MPH, showing elite level velocity at the top end of his range and plus velocity with where he sits with his fastball.

2. Jesse Winker | OF

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Grade: 70

In a perfect world scenario Jesse Winker is a .300/.400/.500 hitter with solid defense in left field that is a perennial all-star caliber player.

Top tool: Hitting

His ability to use the entire field with authority combined with his control of the strikezone should allow Winker to hit for a high average.

3. Michael Lorenzen | RHP

Grade: 70

If everything goes right the former college outfielder will become an innings eating groundball machine with good control and plenty of strikeouts.

Top tool: Fastball

While he doesn’t have triple digit velocity he can reach into the mid-to-upper 90’s on occasion, but it’s the movement that makes his fastball stand out even more than his velocity.

4. Nick Travieso | RHP

Grade: 70

Travieso could turn into a #2 starter with plenty of strikeouts, a low walk total and eat plenty of innings.

Top tool: Fastball

Despite what you may have read at some other national publications Nick Travieso has plus velocity. He hit 98 MPH in August and was sitting in the mid 90’s in the last several months of the season.

5. Yorman Rodriguez | OF

Grade: 70

Rodriguez has a full set of tools that in a perfect world keeps him in center field where he is an above-average hitter at the position with 20+ home runs.

Top tool: Arm

While Rodriguez has more than a few above-average tools his plus arm stands out a little more than the rest of them.

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