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

AA 4.82 74.2 94 7 23 70

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.

AA 258 13 2 6 22 29 56 .232 .341 .391

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

A 102 2 1 1 10 9 31 .196 .267 .272

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

A+ 3.29 76.2 82 4 30 57

Scouting Reports


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.

Tyler Stephenson Spray Chart

Tyler Stephenson Spray Chart

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:

14.0 27 13 12 7 8.36
62.2 55 15 18 50 2.15

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.


26 Responses

  1. wes

    Man i thought phil ervin was having a much better season than that :/

    Seems like a down season all together so far for reds farm. Bit of a bummer.

    • Gaffer

      Yeah, totally agree. Reed may be the one guy who looked to be really improved (but he has been terrible in the majors). Garret has been solid. Winker and Stephenson, meh. When your last 4 top first round picks (excluding 2016) barely crack the top 10, that’s pretty bad. When no player from the Chapman trade cracks top 15, that stinks.

  2. Logan Boyle

    The fact that Keury Mella ranks 15th and it’s at least somewhat fair (I’d personally have him 11-12) speaks volumes about the Reds’ farm

  3. Clammy

    I’m interested to see if / when Yorman comes back and if he is productive. If he struggles on a return, is there enough talent on this team to bump him off the MLB roster? How many teams would try to claim him after the last two years of injury / inactivity and with no roster flexibility moving forward?

    • Madd

      Some team would claim him in a heart beat and give him a trial run. There is too much unknown/upside for someone not to take a flyer.

  4. JB

    Whatever the rehab time limit is would get added to september 1 and you’d have a chance for Yorman to get pt this year and hopefully make the squad next year as Tyler Holt. So, if the rehab time limit is 30 days, maybe Yorman comes back Aug 1st? Not that far off at this point.

  5. JB

    If Ervin can play CF until he’s 27 or so he could be a platoon option, or outright primary option there for the Reds by 2018 if Billy falters or gets traded. He’s on a slower track, but I wouldn’t discount the value of a player that can hit .725 and play CF with 20 sb, even if it doesn’t happen until 2018. In my mind, Ervin is just one tweak in his game from being a top 5 guy in the system. We’ll see if it happens. Honestly, I have him over Yorman just because I know what I’ve got with Ervin. Solid plate approach. Speed/power combo. All 3 OF spots covered. Seems like he could grow into a little more as well. Meanwhile, with Yorman, his plate discipline is suspect, his defense was shaky in ST, and he hasn’t been healthy enough. Both will get a shot at 4th OF at the least, but my money would be on Ervin long term.

    • MK

      That tweak is a huge tweak, the ability to consistently get base hits. There would be a lot of top 5 guys if they could tweak that one.

      • JB

        We will see, I’m holding out that him holding steady with his plate discipline will eventually lead to a hot streak. I predict a strong finish.

    • Colt Holt

      .725…he would dethrone Mike Trout in perpetual MVP before stepping into the batters box if he could hit .725…no walks, power, or defense needed to be the best player in baseball.

  6. JB

    With regards to Romano, I don’t like guys that get hit around that much. Just not a big fan. I’ve heard some things on this site from people who’ve seen the AA squad and their defense isn’t the greatest – perhaps he’s suffered there some.

    In the end, I would reorder this list:


    • Philer Up

      That’s exactly is the problem for Sal , his defense!! Sal could be pitching a gem and it’s two outs and grounder hit to the shortstop and he fields it cleanly and makes a bad throw to first , now it’s a 4 out inning. Next batter hits a shot to 3rd , error, two man on . That’s what’s been happening to Sal. Sal is a Stud , he works hard and gets stronger as the game goes on.

      • Geo

        Bad defense is not enough to account for what it takes to 1-9.

      • Doug Gray

        Using won-loss record isn’t telling of much, either.

      • The Adam

        If that was the case those runs would be unearned. He’s toward the bottom of the stat list when it comes to ERA. Are batters just seeing him better this year?

  7. RobL

    Doug, I gotta admit that you surprised me with Romano’s write up and overall drop in stock. His K rate is very good and his walk rate is good. The only thing holding him back is hits, which are the result of a .370 babip. Now, he is a guy who produces ground balls and those type of pitchers tend to have a higher babip. But .370 means he has been either unlucky or his defense is just not that good. His homerun rate, while not good, isn’t bad. He is getting knocked for being unlucky and having a poor strand rate. If this was happening on the MLB team, you would be defending this guy as being a legit starting pitcher (a la Lamb). Yet you ding him for a high ERA. On the other hand, when people say Rookie Davis had been doing so well earlier in the year, you are quick to point out that the only thing he had going for him was that shiny ERA.

    I for one, think Romano’s stock is up. A pitcher needs to miss bats, not walk people, and keep the ball in the park. Unlike Travieso, Romano has done that.

    • Doug Gray

      With Romano, who I actually like in the long term still, I guess it’s coming to this: He’s always had very high BABIP’s. Also, in the scouting report there’s some other stuff going on there.

      His stock isn’t down much, but I do think it is down slightly. I’m not dinging him for the high ERA – but the strand rate and BABIP have constantly underperformed. At some point though you’d like to see those improve, and they haven’t.

      • Gaffer

        Romano and Travieso are just not different enough to matter (other than 200 players in draft position). Doug likes them, so I hope he sees something that others are missing. These guys will play in the majors but I am afraid it may not be all that pretty.

    • RobL

      Yeah, he has always underperformed his FIP. And while his babip is at a career high, his strand rate is right on the money. I guess for me, my question for him was always would he strike out enough guys to at least be a good bullpen guy, and at the AA level he is doing that. So for me his stock is up. You have always been high on Romano, so maybe your down is meeting my up:)

      In a way Romano and Ervin could be similar. Romano may always have a high babip. Ervin seems that he will always have a low babip. They both seem to be outliers.

      • Ryan

        For the amount of “stuff” Romano has, I’ve always thought it was weird he gives up so many hits.

        Maybe the control is there but he’s lacking command and slightly missing his spots? I also wonder if he’s showing the ball too early. He’s an imposing guy on the mound and he’s always brought heat. Normally your worried about walks with that type of guy.

  8. MK

    Guess after today and comparing the limited major league numbers of the two I have to put Robert Stephenson back ahead of Reed.

    • Gaffer

      What is Reed doing that is so different from the minors? He is kind of the opposite of Stephenson (high hits/low walks vs. low hits/high walks).

      • Doug Gray

        Not hitting his spots in the zone. His fastball isn’t good enough that he can miss in the middle of the zone. So far, big leaguers are teeing off on his fastball.

  9. Mike

    There’s no way yorman is a higher rated prospect than Tyler Stephonson

    • Doug Gray

      Completely understand the argument for that. But, here’s my reasoning:

      For me, Yorman Rodriguez is a safe big leaguer. He’s a 4th outfielder, if healthy, right now. The lone question is will he hit for enough average to be a starter. His upside is that of a .280/.340/.475 hitter who can handle center field, though be an iffy overall defender there. So, he’s got plenty of upside, and the downside is that of a solid bench player. That’s valuable, if not with some small amount of risk involved.

      Tyler Stephenson is the riskiest of all prospect types – a young catcher. He’s got work to do in every facet of the game still. His upside is quite high, probably even higher than that of Rodriguez – he could be a catcher with a bat that hits for average and power, with a good arm behind the dish. Tons of value could be had. But he’s also very, very far from that upside, and the risk is also very large with where he’s at now.

      I’d imagine that six or seven years ago, I’d have Tyler Stephenson ranked a tad higher than I do today (maybe Rodriguez as well).