It’s that time of year again. It’s prospect ranking season and every day this week we are going to unveil five more spots on the list as we work our way through the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List for the 2018 season. You can see the entire list here (once it’s completed at the end of the week). If you were supporting the site on Patreon you would have gotten the entire Top 25 list last week and had early access to this, and all other scouting related articles that show up on the site. Click that orange banner above to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive.
Just as a reminder, these write ups will not feature full scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start in a week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason.
*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2017 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitches or less than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*
21. Phillip Ervin | OF | Age: 24
2017 Teams: Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 1st round, 2013 Draft | Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 207 lbs
Phillip Ervin got out to a nice start in 2017, but he fell apart in May. During the 22 games played he posted a .431 OPS. For the remainder of the minor league season he played well. From mid-August until the end of the year, Ervin was with the Major League club. After a quick start, going 5-8 with a double and two home runs, he quickly found himself on the bench for a week without playing. His playing time was limited moving forward. Between the Minors and Majors he would steal 27 bases. It was the first time since 2013 that he hasn’t stolen at least 30 in a season. Ervin hit better in the Majors than he had in the Minors during the season, though that mostly was a result of more power output than anything else.
Biggest Strength: Baserunning. Ervin is deceptively fast. He doesn’t look like he’s running nearly as fast as he actually is. He’s stolen 127 bases since 2014 while being caught just 32 times.
Biggest Weakness: Hitting for average. After hitting .331 in the year he was drafted, Ervin has struggled to hit for an average of .256 at any minor league level since.
22. Gavin LaValley | 1B | Age: 22
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 4th round, 2014 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 235 lbs
The 2017 season was a tale of two halves for Gavin LaValley. The first baseman began the year in Daytona and he showed off big time power in the pitcher friendly league. In 61 games he hit .288 with 14 doubles and 15 home runs. That earned him a promotion to Double-A. More advanced pitchers were able to hold his power in check as he hit .251 in the second half with 16 doubles and just three home runs. He finished with 30 doubles and 18 home runs, a strong showing of power, but it mostly came in the first half.
Biggest Strength: Power. There’s above-average power in his bat. It’s worth noting that all of his home runs in 2017 were to the pull side.
Biggest Weakness: Defense. He’s a first baseman, and while he’s not a bad one, being limited to first base does hurt the overall value.
23. Nick Longhi | 1B/OF | Age: 21
2017 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: Trade (2017 – Boston) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 205 lbs
When the year began Nick Longhi wasn’t in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He would spend the first half of the year in Double-A Portland with the Red Sox. On July 2nd he was traded to the Reds for international signing money and assigned to Pensacola. He hit well with the Blue Wahoos for the week he was active. Unfortunately he suffered an arm injury that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery. The 21-year-old hit .266/.314/.410 between his two stops during the season in 69 games. While a majority of his time has come at first base, he’s athletic enough to handle the corner outfield spots.
Biggest Strength: Hitting. While he only hit .266 during 2017, scouts generally believe he will be able to hit for a quality average in the future.
Biggest Weakness: In-game power is something lacking in his game right now. In 354 minor league games he’s only hit 17 home runs. There’s reason to think there’s more in there, but he’s got to tap into it.
24. Jesus Reyes | RHP | Age: 24
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: Free Agent, 2014 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 180 lbs
Jesus Reyes was solid in the first half in Daytona. With the Tortugas he started 15 games and posted a 3.78 ERA in 85.2 innings. That came with 27 walks and 67 strikeouts. In the second half he moved up to Double-A and performed just as well, if not better. He made 10 starts and lowered his ERA while upping his strikeout rate. He also improved his already elite ground ball rate with his promotion, to an insane 69%.
Biggest Strength: His fastball. He throws a moving 2-seamer that generates elite ground ball rate. He also has a 4-seamer that can reach 98 MPH.
Biggest Weakness: The change up lags behind his other two offerings and may lead to him transitioning into the bullpen in the future.
25. Zack Weiss | RHP | Age: 25
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 6th round, 2013 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 210 lbs
After missing all of 2016, Zack Weiss underwent ulnar nerve transportation surgery in the offseason and missed some of the 1st half of 2017, too. In June he got back on the mound after rehabbing in Arizona. He dominated in Daytona for 10 games, striking out 19 with 2 walks and a 2.08 ERA. The Reds sent him to Double-A Pensacola to finish out the year. With the Blue Wahoos he threw 28.0 innings with a 2.89 ERA. That came with 11 walks and 37 strikeouts. His stuff looked similar to what it was pre-injury. The velocity was down a tick or two at the top end.
Biggest Strength: The whole arsenal. Weiss throws four quality pitches as a reliever, setting him apart from a majority of relief options.
Biggest Weakness: He’s not quite back to his peak velocity on the fastball.