2016’s Biggest Prospect Surprises – So Far (Part II)

We’re quickly approaching the one-third point in the minor league season, so I figured it would be time to take a look at some of the biggest prospect surprises this year, which I did here. Now, let’s take a look at some of the most disappointing performances among MiLB’ers.

Without further ado…


Robert StephensonA longtime member of all top prospect lists, Stephenson has battled some…lackluster control throughout his five-year professional career, but he’s always compensated by missing more than a bat per innings. This season, though, the hard-throwing right-hander is sporting a 50-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65.2 innings with Louisville in the International League.


A.J. ReedThe hulking first baseman was one of the most lethal bats in the minor leagues last season, slugging .340/.432/.612 with 30 doubles, five triples, and 34 dingers in 135 games. This season, his first in Class AAA, the former second round pick out of Kentucky has hit a disappointing 0240/.341/.464 with a lowly 114 wRC+, thanks in large part to the PCL’s offense-inflating environment. What’s more concerning? His inability to handle fellow southpaws this season (albeit in a small sample size): .157/.306/.333.


Ryan McMahonI was incredibly high on the lefty-swinging third baseman entering the season – so much so, in fact, that I ranked him as the 17th overall prospect in the game. And then…he was promoted to Class AA. McMahon got off to a horrible start to the year, hitting .192/.271/.274 in his first 21 games. He got hot for a few games – he batted .385/.529/.538 in seven games in early May – but has struggled ever since (.222/.319/.384).


Eric JagieloYet another bat I was high on entering the year. I thought the Reds did well in acquiring the Notre Dame prospect as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal with the Yankees. But the perennially injured third baseman hasn’t looked all that comfortable at the plate in a refresher course in Class AA, hitting .201/.286/.317 en route to tallying a putrid 74 wRC+.


Franklin Barreto – The pocket-sized shortstop breezed through stints in rookie ball, short season action, and High Class A while barely breaking a sweat as he handled an aggressive promotion schedule. But just like McMahon, Barreto has really struggled in his first taste of Class AA this season, hitting .230/.291/.351.


Tyrone Taylor It’s officially time to get off the Taylor bandwagon, a position that I’ve staunchly defended since his strong showing in the Midwest League three years ago. But the former second round pick hasn’t made the appropriate adjustments over the last couple years and he looks all but lost in a repeat with Biloxi (.211/.291/.265). The tools are there, so maybe a change of scenery would be the next step?

Jomar ReyesThe young third baseman, whom I ranked as the Orioles’ #4 prospect heading into the year, handled his aggressive promotion to Low Class A last season, hitting .278/.334/.440 as a 19-year-old. So the ball club did the pertinent thing and pushed him up to the Carolina League. And he’s looked…underwhelming. Through his first 60 games Reyes is batting a disappointing .235/.285/.341 with just seven doubles, a pair of triples, and four homeruns.


Rafael Devers Yet another youngster I was incredibly high on coming into the year; I ranked him as the Red Sox’s second best prospect and #15 among all minor leaguers. And, of course, he’s fallen flat on his face as he moved up to the Carolina League, though that’s at the ripe old age of 19-year-old. There is a silver lining, however, Devers has picked it up as of late. Over his last 19 games he’s batting .329/.368/.429 with four extra-base hits.


Ruddy GironTalk about a Jekyll-and-Hyde rollercoaster career. Giron batted .168/.205/.222 in the Arizona Summer League two year ago; he followed that up with an impressive .285/.335/.405 showing in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old in 2016, and then he’s struggled in a return to Low Class A (.186/.250/.246) this season.

Matt ImhofThe former collegiate strikeout artist has really struggled finding home plate in his third season. After walking 50 in his first 120 professional innings – 3.75 BB/9 – Imhof has walked nearly the same total in just 46.0 innings in 2016. He’s averaging 8.0 BB/9 in a repeat of High Class A.


Rookie DavisThe good: the former Yankee who was shipped to Cincinnati as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal has an impeccable 2.08 ERA through his first nine starts at Class AA this year. The bad: his 4.23 suggests it’s a mirage. The ugly: he’s struck out just 25 in 47.2 innings of work.


After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.