The 2015 Cincinnati Reds Top 25 prospect list is complete. If you missed it, you can see it all here.

Rather than pay a whole bunch of money to have a “chat” through CoverItLive or another similar application, I am just going to take questions in the comments section. When a question is asked I will remove it from the comments and add it to this post along with an answer. I will begin answering questions around noon and will be answering them throughout the day.  So if you have any questions about the list or the players that did or didn’t make it, leave them in the comments section and they will be answered throughout Friday afternoon and into the evening.

Doug Gray: Let’s jump into the chat. We are getting things started a little earlier than planned. I have to drive to Columbus in the afternoon. Well, someone else is driving, so I will still be answering questions, but I thought I’d move things along since I was sitting at the computer.

David: What bad reports could you have gotten to omit Mahle from the top 25?

I get he was a little up and down at Billings, but if the hitting numbers are taken with a grain of salt, shouldn’t the pitching numbers be boosted?

Plus, when he was good, he was very good.

I would have him close to my top 10, and I think he could have a good season at Dayton next year.

Doug Gray: There weren’t bad reports on Mahle at all. The hitting numbers do need to be adjusted for that league, as do the pitching ones. Mahle had a very good season, no question. He made the Top 40, which means he will get a full page report in the 2015 Prospect Guide (which you can pre-order now). Basically, what I heard and saw was a guy who is a very good control guy but not a huge stuff guy. That means I want to see it in full season ball before I start moving him up into the top 20. The Reds are very deep right now and in normal years I think he has a better argument for inclusion into the top 25. For now, I want to see him in full season ball with his stuff before placing him ahead of some other guys.

RMR: Doug, I was pretty surprised to see Seth Mejias-Brean so low. Plus defense. Great plate discipline. Is it just the lack of elite upside? The struggles in his 200+ PA in AA? I mean, even if he’s just a .260/.330/.380 guy in the majors, with plus defense that’s an above average guy these days. Perhaps there are concerns about his swing translating?

Doug Gray: I still want to see the power come out. Pensacola is incredibly power friendly to left field and he struggled to hit for power. I’ve said for the last two years now that I want to see more power from him before moving him on up. He showed some pop in Bakersfield, but it’s the Cal League. I am a big fan of the defense. I think he’s going to have to find more power to be a starter though and while it’s possible, I am not completely sold he gets there either. That’s why he is a little bit lower down the rankings. I’d also add that I would not call his plate discipline great. It’s certainly good though.

David: Of the players in to 21-25 area, or the ones that just missed the top 25, who has the best chance of being in your top 10 next year?

Doug Gray: Three names jumped out to me. Generally speaking, to crack my top 10 you need to either have a really big upside or you need to be quite polished, have a decent upside, very few warts on your resume and be close to the bigs. From the guys in the 21-30 range there are a few upside guys with Jose Ortiz and Ismael Guillon from full season ball. Both have plenty of work to do, but I could see both of them doing damage as well with the skills they have to work with. Guillon was really good in Dayton in 2014 but struggled in Bakersfield. That happens to plenty of pitchers. With his history of control issues, he has to put together a full season without them, but he’s got the stuff to dominate and if he throws strikes, it could happen. Ortiz, perhaps with more consistent playing time, has a pretty good set of tools to work with. As a catcher, the bat has a low bar to start with, so a good offensive season from him that shows off the tools could vault him back up the list. Gavin LaValley, Taylor Sparks and Tanner Rahier all have shown flashes of some good upsides as well. On the pitching side, Jeremy Kivel has the right kind of arm to get moved up rather quickly if he puts things together. Dark horse: Jose Siri.

terry m: 1. How fast could Langfield move if turned into a reliever and his control improved ?

2. Where does Arias start the season next year ?

3. Does Armstrong rank in the top 40 ?

Doug Gray: If Langfield could throw consistent strikes he probably gets big leaguers out this past season. So if he improves his control he will be a very quick mover. I think Arias will probably go to Daytona. He only had 17 games in Advanced-A this year and he really struggled there in 2012. There is probably an outside chance he starts in Pensacola, but I just don’t think he’s ready for that based on his history. Armstrong is inside of the top 40.

James: I don’t get the hype on Sal Romano. He was not a low round draft pick. Not a stellar season in Billings, he struggled at times throughout last year, and this year was so-so. What am I missing and would he drop if he doesn’t have a breakout season in 2015?

Doug Gray: Well, back when Romano was drafted things worked a bit differently. There wasn’t a spending cap on signing late round guys and Romano signed for 2nd round money. Teams just thought he was going to school and knew it would take a good chunk of money to sign him, so he dropped. The Reds paid him like the talent they thought he was, in the 2nd/3rd round range. Don’t let his draft round fool you. To address your points before getting more into what I see, I will point out that he was 18-years-old while in Billings. Only one other pitcher in the league that year was 18 and got more than two starts. He was the age of a high school senior and pitching against mostly college junior and seniors and held his own. This year he was a lot better than so-so unless the only stat you are looking at is ERA. He had good strikeout numbers, low walk numbers, big groundball rates. He’s got a plus fastball, throws strikes, has good offspeed offerings and is a workhorse type of pitcher. All of that bodes very well for his future. I think that 2014 was his breakout season of sorts. The ERA is the only thing that is “off”, but I don’t pay much attention to ERA unless it’s just otherwordly bad. I try to focus more on the things the pitcher has more control over like their walks and strikeouts when it comes to pitching stats. His numbers in those categories were good (not great, but pretty good). What stands out for me is more on the scouting side. I like what I see quite a bit. He projects quite well.

KyWilson1: Is this the year they finally transition Corcino to the pen, and if they do does he have Herrera type potential there?

Doug Gray: I’m assuming you mean Kelvin Herrera, and I just haven’t seen anything from him in several years that says he has that kind of velocity anymore. I saw him hit 97 in Dayton, but he’s been a lot lower than that the past few seasons. Corcino averaged 90 MPH this season in the big leagues. Herrera throws 100. That’s a huge gap. I do think that Corcino is going to wind up in the bullpen, though maybe not right out of the gate since he did get some starts in the big leagues in 2014 and the team probably wants to have him ready as a spot starter until the 2014 Double-A guys are in Triple-A and a little more ready.

Craig: The Cubs and Cards currently seem to have farm systems that produce more talent than they have room for on the major league level. In your opinion, are the Reds anywhere close to that? Would they be if they decided to trade some pitching (either MLB-level or prospects) for hitting prospects?

Doug Gray: The Reds system is much like the Cubs system-lite, but opposite. The Cubs have next to no pitching prospects but are loaded in hitters. The Reds are loaded in pitching prospects, though not quite as loaded as the Cubs are in hitters, but I think the Reds have better hitters than the Cubs have pitchers. The Cubs have the best system in baseball, and the Reds aren’t on that level. I think the Reds and Cardinals are a lot closer than some nationally want you to believe though. The Reds big league roster is currently constructed in a way that they will need a lot of starting pitching soon unless they find a whole huge chunk of cash in the next year. They could use some parts to secure more talent on the position side of things though. They have the parts to make that happen.

Redleg84: Doug, great insights as always. Who do you think will be added to the 40-man roster in March that is not currently on it?

Doug Gray: I’m on the road now and the highway is bumpy, so please forgive any strange letter placements in words as the bumps aren’t making it the easiest thing to type with (I’m not driving – don’t worry).  I think that the two names we will for sure see added to the 40-man roster between now and December will be Amir Garrett and Kyle Waldrop. Both need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft in December, so they will be added. After that, it’s a big of an unknown. There are quite a few internal options, but I’d be surprised if we saw anyone internally added to the 40-man roster because of how they perform in spring training. There could be a spot or two grabbed by a non-roster invitee who isn’t in the system right now though.

DaveCT: Who wins in a 60 yard race, Ortiz or Brayen Pena?

Doug Gray: Let’s go with the young guy, but neither guy would win much of a race anywhere this side of a nursing home.

Red Lagg: Juan Silva says hello. Has the best hitting approach in the system and has performed very well throughout his career. Voted the best and fastest baserunner in the Cal League this year, so he has a big tool/skill. While we dream on others he will play in the ML because he has a skill set that plays. Undervalued and has better indicators than others on this list. Hit me with his tools aren’t loud and I will tell you his speed, defensive versatility,hitting approach and line drive pop will play . Has been held back by being in the same group as Yorman and Duran. They have been given priority on playing time , so Silva has had to scrap to play–which he has done pretty well. In some other organizations(sabremetrically inclined), he would have been more valued and moved along faster.Not devoid of lh power, either. Just my humble opinion.

Doug Gray: I like Silva. I don’t think I’m going as far as to say he has the best approach in the system, but it is pretty good. He really does get the strikezone. Silva wasn’t the fastest player on his own team, but Junior Arias, who is significantly faster, didn’t play enough to qualify for the list. Silva is an above-average speed guy, but he’s not  a plus or plus-plus speed guy. I’ve thought the organization should have found a way to get Silva more time over the last two years and I feel that I like him more than the organization does a little bit. Silva was one of the next couple of outfielders on the list that just missed out.

Nate: This is only semi-related to the prospect list but I saw your conversation with Joel Luckhaupt on twitter. He seems to be of the opinion that the Reds shouldn’t go all in for ’15. Given the money the Reds have tied up in Phillips, Votto, Bruce and Bailey and the impending free agency all of the pitchers, this seems like the last chance to compete for a World Series for a while no matter what they do. Personally I think keeping the roster the same and going after Ludwick-esque players to fill gaps is definitely the wrong thing to do but I’m torn whether I think they should make a significant move or 2 to really try to compete this year or just start the rebuild now in hopes that it moves up your timeline significantly for competing again. Your thoughts?

Doug Gray: I think you can make moves this year to acquire real parts to help win in 2015 and keep enough around to still compete in the future. I’m with you that I think going after more “Ludwick” types isn’t going to be enough to make enough of a difference. If you are truly going to bring in guys to start, bring in legit parts, not so-so guys who may have a chance to be solid but also have a chance to just be flat out bad. No more 2-year contracts for guys like that. There just isn’t enough reward for it.

Tom:Which pitchers just missed out on your top 25 list other than Mahle?

When will the 2015 Prospect Guide be available?

Doug Gray: Wyatt Strahan and Jeremy Kivel just missed out.  The 2015 Prospect Guide is usually completed the first week of December. The PDF is available a little sooner than the actual book since I have to wait for the printer to take care of that business for me, while I can send the PDF out as soon as it is completed.

Cam: Obviously after his struggles this year, Phillip Ervin slid. How much of that can you attribute to the off-season surgery and how confident are you in a rebound season in 2015?

Doug Gray: I think a decent amount of it can be attributed to it, but not all of it. His plate discipline wasn’t nearly as good as it was last year and that is more about eyes than a physical skill. So that was a big of an issue that jumped out that I wasn’t expecting. I do think that he is a better hitter than he showed and I think that eventually that’s going to show up. I’d expect a rebound in 2015, but it may be hidden some if he stays in the Florida State League for a while given how pitcher friendly the league plays.

Joe: Where do you think Ervin will start next year and where would YOU start Phillip Ervin next year?

Doug Gray: I think he starts in Daytona and that is where I would start him too. I understand if he does start back in Dayton though and I don’t believe it would be a bad decision if he did, it’s just not the one that I would make.


Thanks for stopping by for the chat. It’s been one heck of a week.