All week long I’m going to unveil the Cincinnati Reds midseason update of the Top 25 prospects. Every day will have five new additions to the list as we work through things until Friday’s completion. You can see the entire list here (once completed).
11. Yorman Rodriguez | OF | Previous: #6
It’s been nearly a full year since Yorman Rodriguez last played in a professional baseball game in the United States. He played last on July 21st of 2015. After a slow start in 2015, hitting .212/.252/.386 in the first six weeks he turned things around, hitting .313/.349/.460 the rest of the way before he was injured. He spent limited time playing in the Venezuelan Winter League – playing in just five games. Rodriguez came back healthy for spring training, but was injured at the end of the spring and hasn’t played since, suffering several other injuries while rehabbing in Arizona. He’s still got a mostly well-rounded game, but the lost playing and developmental time over the last year has dropped his stock. Stock: Down
12. Sal Romano | RHP | Previous: #10
It’s been an interesting year for Sal Romano. He’s got the second best walk rate of his career and he’s got the best strikeout rate of his career. Both of those rates are strong, but he’s struggled at times as well, evidenced by 94 hits allowed in 74.2 innings and a 4.82 ERA this season with Double-A Pensacola. He’s still got strong stuff and big groundball rates working for him to go along with the strong peripherals, but the results haven’t always matched up with those things. Stock: Slightly down
13. Phillip Ervin | OF | Previous: #8
The season has been on a down swing for Phillip Ervin in 2016. His OPS has dropped each month of the season thus far. He’s shown good plate discipline, drawing 29 walks and striking out just 56 times in 258 plate appearances. He’s stolen 22 bases in 25 attempts and has 21 extra-base hits, showing off a good speed and power combination. Where he’s struggled is in the average department, where he’s hitting just .232 this season. The rest of his game is strong, but he’s struggled to hit for much of an average for three seasons in a row now. Stock: Down slightly.
14. Tyler Stephenson | C | Previous: #11
It’s been a tough go of things for Tyler Stephenson in 2016. The 1st round pick from the previous season has missed a majority of the season with a concussion (several weeks) and then a wrist injury (over a month). He is still on the disabled list, having only played in 25 games. He had gotten out to a slow start before the concussion put him on the shelf. When he returned he hit much better, but it lasted only two weeks before he injured his wrist on the 26th of May and he hasn’t played since. Overall, he’s hitting just .196, but he’s an incredibly young catcher who shows all of the tools that got him drafted in the 1st round a year ago. Stock: Slightly down
15. Keury Mella | RHP | Previous: #12
Before the season began it was expected that Keury Mella would jump to Double-A after spending the entire 2015 season in Advanced-A with the Giants and Reds. That didn’t happen and he’s spent the entire first half in Daytona. He’s had some success, posting a 3.29 ERA in 76.2 innings. There have also been some struggles as he’s watched his strikeout rate plummet to 6.7 batters per 9 innings, which is easily the worst of his career. The first inning has been a big issue for him this season, often settling in after that. Stock: Down
11. Yorman Rodriguez | The biggest weakness right now for Yorman Rodriguez is simply staying on the field. The lost time he’s suffered through may have cost him prime opportunities in the big leagues. Plate discipline has always been a bigger issue with him, though it’s certainly improved over the years. He’s a 4th outfielder at worst right now, assuming he’s healthy. Defense, speed, a little bit of pop and a strong arm will play just fine. It’s just a matter of whether he will hit for enough average to be an every day guy.
12. Sal Romano | The biggest weakness for Sal Romano has simply been that he’s too hittable at times. Despite the fact that he’s missing plenty of bats, when guys do make contact, they tend to find hits. His velocity is down some this year, though it’s more so because he’s gone with more 2-seamers than 4-seamers this season than he did in 2015. At just 22-years-old, he’s still one of the younger pitchers in the league.
13. Phillip Ervin | Hitting for average has been the biggest weakness for Phillip Ervin. After hitting .331 in his first season he hasn’t topped .241 in the three since. The underlying skills are there – he makes contact, runs well and hits for power – but his pull tendencies and swing path lead to plenty of fly balls that are holding back his ability to carry a higher average. His profile right now is of a 4th outfielder who can do enough of everything to be a quality bench player – but he’s going to have to hit for more average if he’s going to be a starter.
14. Tyler Stephenson | For the most part, the entire 2016 season has been a struggle for Tyler Stephenson. He’s struggled to hit for average or power, his strikeout rate has jumped way up and he’s struggled defensively. The sample size for all of those things is obviously quite small and he was starting to do all of those things better before suffering a wrist injury. The tools are still there, though. He’s athletic behind the plate and will flash the skills behind the dish every-so-often, but he is still a bit raw as a defender. Most 19-year-old catchers are. At the plate he’s got the approach that’s more in line with a guy looking for singles than a guy looking to hit for power. Nearly all of the balls he’s put in the air this season have gone to center or right field. If he’s going to start showing more power, he’s going to have to start pulling the ball more frequently.
15. Keury Mella | The biggest struggle for Keury Mella has been getting things started. Here’s a look at his season splits of the 1st inning versus the remainder of the game:
Once he’s gotten past the 1st inning, he’s been very good. The strikeouts are still down, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio is strong. He’s just been unable to throw a clean 1st inning (well, he’s thrown two out of 14 this year, but allowed at least two runners in the other 12). The stuff is still there, with a moving fastball in the mid 90’s that will occasionally touch higher and a good breaking ball. He’s still got the feeling of a future high leverage reliever. His mechanics don’t bode well for holding up for 175+ innings and his third pitch still needs plenty of development.