On Thursday evening the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels completed their trade from earlier in the week that saw the Reds send $900,000 and Raisel Iglesias to the Angels in return for Noé Ramirez and a player to be named later. That player would end up being infielder Leonardo Rivas.
Where Leonardo Rivas ranks
Whenever trades are made that involve minor league players it’s always referenced that the player is the number whatever prospect that’s coming over in the deal. Ultimately that doesn’t mean much as the variance in what one team believes can be very wide ranging. A perfect example is another deal that happened involving the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. According to MLB Pipeline the Reds had five players left unprotected in their Top 30 prospects list who were eligible for the Rule 5 draft. None of them were selected. Unranked prospect Mac Sceroler, though, was selected 5th overall by the Orioles.
With all of that said, the three largest publications that rate organizational prospects are Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Fangraphs. The ranking for Leonardo Rivas among those three within the Angels farm system is a bit varied, but all in a similar range.
Baseball America had Rivas as the #30 prospect in the organization entering the year. MLB Pipeline had Rivas as the #25 prospect in the Angels organization. Fangraphs was the high water mark among the group, rating him as the #20 prospect in the organization.
As for where he would rank among the Cincinnati Reds prospects…. that one is going to have to wait a little bit longer. I’d like to be able to speak to more people and get a better feel about his game before ranking him among guys that I have far more information on right now.
Prior to the 2018 season Leonardo Rivas was rated as the Angels #11 prospect. Following the 2017 season he was also rated as the 9th best prospect in the 2017 season. The highest rated Reds prospects that year in the same league were Jeter Downs (#10 – now with the Red Sox), Stuart Fairchild (#13 – now with the Diamondbacks), and Packy Naughton (#15 – now with the Angels).
Leonardo Rivas over the years
After signing in the summer of 2014, the Angels had Leonardo Rivas play in the Dominican Summer League for the 2015 season and he was solid there at the plate – hitting .258/.401/.376 with 21 steals (but was also caught 12 times) to go along with 37 walks and 53 strikeouts. The next year he was back in the DSL to begin his season and in his first 20 games he went off, hitting .410/.544/.492 with more walks than strikeouts and was promoted to the US to join the Angels rookie team at their spring training complex. Things slowed down upon the promotion for then 18-year-old, but he held his own in 26 games as he hit .253/.364/.341 with as many walks as strikeouts.
In 2017 the Angels sent the then 19-year-old to Orem in the Pioneer League in June when their season began and he performed well, hitting .299/.462/.445 with 39 walks and 22 strikeouts before being promoted to Low-A Burlington in the Midwest League after 35 games. After the promotion he played in 26 games and hit .267/.412/.322 with 20 walks and 22 strikeouts. The plate discipline remained, but he struggled to show any power. In 2018 he returned to Burlington and things didn’t go well as he struggled to a .233/.355/.326 line that included 84 walks and 138 strikeouts.
In 2019 he began the year in the California League with Inland Empire at the Advanced-A level. In his first 34 games of the year he hit .246/.333/.435 with 18 walks and 43 strikeouts before going on the injured list. He missed nearly two months before a rehab stint at the Angels complex with their Arizona Rookie League team. He returned to Inland Empire in late July, but the results weren’t great as he struggled at the plate, hitting just .226/.324/.327 with 21 walks and 47 strikeouts in 39 games played. Overall on the season he would hit just .236/.328/.377 with Inland Empire in 73 games.
What are the strengths?
Leonardo Rivas has good speed. Depending on exactly who you ask or where you look you’ll get the feedback that he’s either an above-average or plus runner. With that said, he hasn’t been able to take full advantage of that speed on the basepaths in the last two seasons as he’s stolen 21 bases in 33 attempts.
As a career .252/.380/.362 hitter you may not see much strength in the bat. And that would be partially correct. But as a switch hitter he has shown enormous splits over the last two seasons. As a right-handed hitter in 2018 and 2019 he’s hit .340/.417/.519 with a strikeout rate of just 16% to go along with a walk rate of 11%. From the right side of the plate he’s certainly got strengths and he’s shown them.
Defensively he’s got plenty of versatility and can cover you around the infield, and that even includes the ability to handle shortstop, though that’s more as a potential back up than as an every day option without some improvement.
What are the weaknesses?
Remember those splits at the plate we just talked about? Well, this is where the left-handed hitting side of things show up. Between the 2018 and 2019 seasons he hit just .190/.319/.279 from the left side with a 28.8% strikeout rate and a 15.4% walk rate.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being a utility player, but that’s what Leonardo Rivas profile looks like. Again, this isn’t really a weakness as much as it is more just noting that the majority of scouts don’t project him to be an every day player.
Where can the improvements come from?
I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a lot of room for improvement from the left side of the plate where he’s struggled to both make contact and do any damage when he has made contact over his last two seasons. With the speed that he does have he could likely improve his success rate with stolen bases.