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The 2017 Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: Described by Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports as “an insightful and often contrarian viewpoint to prospect rankings,” The 2017 Prospect Digest Handbook is now on sale! Check it out here! 

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1. Nick Senzel, 3B                                          
Born: 06/29/95 Age: 22 Bats: R Top CALs: Lewis Brinson, Anthony Hatch, Brian Goodwin, Adam Milligan, Heath Quinn
Height: 6-1 Weight: 205 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2016 21 A 249 23 3 7 0.329 0.415 0.567 0.238 12.90% 19.70% 184

Background: Fun Fact: Cincinnati has owned the #2 pick in the draft two times – one in 1983 when they took prep shortstop Kurt Stillwell and then last season when they grabbed Senzel, the stud University of Tennessee slugger.  The 6-foot-1, 205-pound third baseman turned in one of the more memorable collegiate careers in recent memory: he batted .315/.419/.420 with 12 doubles, a pair of triples, one homerun, and 14 stolen bases as a true freshman. He then followed that up with an even better showing during his sophomore campaign, slugging .325/.399/.495 with 12 more doubles, five triples, four homeruns, and seven stolen bases. The production was good enough to earn him a trip to the Cape Cod League that summer as well.

And he dominated.

In 40 games with the Brewster Whitecaps, Senzel slugged .364/.418/.558 with 16 doubles, one triple, and four homeruns, the eighth best mark in the league. He also earned the nod as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Needless to say, Senzel looked poised for big things in 2016. And he answered the bell – loudly.

In 57 games with the Volunteers he set career highs in nearly every single offensive category: batting average (.325), on-base percentage (.456), slugging percentage (.595), doubles (25), homeruns (eight), and stolen bases (25).

After Cincinnati grabbed the talented hot corner, they sent him for a brief tour through the Pioneer League before pushing him up to the Midwest League where, of course, he shined – brightly.

In 58 games with the Dayton Dragons, Senzel bashed to the tune of .329/.415/.567 with 23 doubles, three triples, seven homeruns, and 15 stolen bases. His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by a mind-staggering 84%.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote about the hot-hitting third baseman before last year’s draft:

“Easily one of the top collegiate bats available in this year’s class, Senzel is offering some of the best plate discipline in the country: he’s walked 32 times and whiffed on just 17 occurrences. And his production this season puts him into some rare company. 

Between 2011 and 2015, only one other player – 2015 second round pick Donnie Dewees – has met the following criteria: 200 at bats, 30 walks, fewer than 20 strikeouts, .330 batting average, .430 OBP, .575 SLG, 20 stolen bases and eight or more homeruns. And Senzel has faced far superior competition in the SEC as compared to Dewees, who starred in the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

Think of Senzel as a similar player to that of Houston’s Colin Moran, with a slightly better upside.”

So, a couple things:

  • Senzel was one of the first players I analyzed last season and, subsequently, I completely underrated his overall upside. He’s going to be significantly better than Colin Moran. Hell, he’s going to be what Colin Moran was supposed to be: a power-hitting, middle of the lineup thumper.
  • Despite appearing in only 58 games with the Dragons last season, Senzel cracked the Top 30 in doubles in the Midwest League.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018

 

 

2. Jesse Winker, LF/RF                            
Born: 08/17/93 Age: 23 Bats: L Top CALs: Logan Morrison, Mike Carp, L.J. Hoes, Nick Weglarz, Billy Butler
Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 275 16 3 5 0.338 0.443 0.500 0.162 14.50% 18.20% 146
2013 19 A 486 18 5 16 0.281 0.379 0.463 0.182 13.00% 15.40% 138
2014 20 A+ 249 15 0 13 0.317 0.426 0.580 0.263 16.10% 18.50% 160
2015 21 AA 526 24 2 13 0.282 0.390 0.433 0.151 14.10% 15.80% 137
2016 22 AAA 448 22 0 3 0.303 0.397 0.384 0.082 13.20% 13.20% 128

Background: On the outset it looks like Winker’s 2016 season raised all kinds of red flags – the kind that shoot up into the sky, well above the clouds. Winker, one of the most saber-friendly hitters in the minor leagues over career as a high OBP budding power-hitter, cobbled together an alarmingly power-deficient .303/.397/.384 triple-slash line with just 22 doubles and a slap-hitter-esque three homeruns across 448 trips to the plate with Louisville in the International League. And while his overall production topped the league average mark by 28% – the eleventh best showing in the league – his Isolated Power was a paltry .082. To kind of put that into perspective a bit, that .082 ISO was the fifth lowest in the league.

So, for a career .296/.398/.455 minor league hitter, should we be concerned?

Projection: Hell no. And here’s why:

  • Winker got off to a pretty Winker-like start last season, hitting an impressive .321/.423/.432 with a trio of doubles and two of his three homeruns over his first 22 games.
  • Then he went in the crapper for a month – hitting an ice-cold .231/.349/.264 – before heating back up at the start of June.
  • After 10 hot-hitting games in June Winker hit the DL. The cause: a wrist injury that, according to his manager, wouldn’t even allow him to hold a bat.
  • Winker would make it back to Louisville in the middle of July and he hit .320/.415/.403 the rest of the way.

Winker’s always been one of my favorite prospects. Here’s what I wrote way back in 2014 when I first started writing about minor leaguers:

“A budding analytic superstar, Winker not only showed a well-rounded offensive approach, but one that’s mature beyond his years. Incredible plate discipline, developing power, and, perhaps the best news, the lefty-swinging Winker has handled southpaws well throughout his professional career, hitting .293/.393/.420 off of them. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him develop into .300/.400/.500 hitter down the line, capable of 25+ homerun pop.” 

I’m still standing by that.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

3. Tyler Mahle, RHP                          
Born: 09/29/94 Age: 22 Bats: R Top CALs: Brent Honeywell, Jake Thompson, Zach Lee, Kyle Smith, Eric Hurley
Height: 6-4 Weight: 200 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 18 R 34.3 1 3 2.36 2.96 7.86 2.10 20.80% 5.60% 0.00 55.00%
2014 19 R 76.7 5 4 3.87 3.69 8.33 1.76 21.90% 4.60% 0.59 60.00%
2015 20 A 152.0 13 8 2.43 2.93 7.99 1.48 21.80% 4.00% 0.41 74.20%
2016 21 A+ 79.1 8 3 2.50 3.15 8.62 1.93 24.70% 5.50% 0.68 78.20%
2016 21 AA 71.1 6 3 4.92 4.78 8.20 2.52 21.00% 6.50% 1.51 67.70%

Background: Overshadowed by a lot of the system’s other flashy names – Senzel, Winker, Garrett, Reed, and Stephenson – Mahle, nonetheless, is proving that he deserves as much, if not more attention. The former seventh round pick – who signed for roughly $300,000 in 2013 – was simply dominant as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League two years ago: 152.0 IP, 141 K, 37 BB, a 2.43 ERA, and a 2.93 FIP. Fast forward a year and he continued to mow down everything – and everyone – standing in his way. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander made 13 starts with Daytona in the Florida State League, posting an impressive 19.2% strikeout-to-walk percentage en route to tallying a 3.15 FIP. Cincinnati promoted the fire-balling right-hander up to the Southern League in late June for another 14 starts: 71.1 IP, 65 K, 20 BB, and a 4.78 FIP. Overall, he finished the year with 150.2 innings, 141 punch-outs, 37 walks, and an aggregate 3.64 ERA.

 

Projection: Here’s what I wrote in last year’s book:

“All of that glorious production and he still can’t hardly get a mention in the national media. For his part, the big right-hander has always – always­ – shown a strong propensity to limit free passes while missing a solid amount of bats in his three-year career. He’s averaged 8.1 K/9 and just 1.6 BB/9 in 263.0 innings of work. Throw in a groundball rate right around 50% and you have the makings of a big league starter.”

A year later the national media’s starting to take notice – finally. Mahle’s one of the most underrated arms in the minors. He combines size and projectability, control, and strikeout potential. He could quietly become a fringy #2-type arm.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

4. Amir Garrett, LHP                          
Born: 05/03/92 Age: 25 Bats: L Top CALs: William Cuevas, Jimmy Barthmaier, Brock Huntzinger, Barret Browning, Taylor Jungmann
Height: 6-5 Weight: 210 Throws: L
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 21 A 34.0 1 3 6.88 5.57 3.97 4.24 9.70% 10.30% 1.06 61.10%
2014 22 A 133.3 7 8 3.65 3.87 8.57 3.44 22.60% 9.10% 0.74 67.70%
2015 23 A+ 140.1 9 7 2.44 2.90 8.53 3.53 23.10% 9.60% 0.26 73.90%
2016 24 AA 77.0 5 3 1.75 2.50 9.12 3.27 25.10% 9.00% 0.00 75.60%
2016 24 AAA 67.2 2 5 3.46 4.14 7.18 4.12 19.70% 11.30% 0.80 69.80%

Background: Two years ago I listed the big 6-foot-5 southpaw as one of my Top 25 Breakout Prospects for 2015. What followed? A whole helluva lot of pure, filthy, jaw-dropping dominance. Garrett, who once moonlighted as a Division I basketball player at St. John’s during the offseason, made quick work the Florida State League two years ago when he paced the league in strikeout percentage (23.1%). And he was even better when the club promoted him up to the Eastern League last season. In 13 games with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 12 of which were starts, Garrett posted a 78-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio while sporting an impeccable 1.75 ERA and 2.50 FIP. Cincinnati bumped him up to the International League in June for another 12 games, 11 coming as a starter (67.2 IP, 54 K, and 31 BB). Overall, Garrett finished the year with a career best 144.2 innings, 132 strikeouts, 59 walks, and a 2.55 ERA.

Projection: Garrett’s production in Class AAA was brought down by back-to-back clunkers. Otherwise, he posted a 2.60 ERA with a 48-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio 62.1 innings. Two seasons ago I caught his Futures Game appearance and Garrett’s fastball exploded out of his hand and he was running it up to the mid-90s with relative ease. He’s still relatively inexperienced thanks to his former basketball career, but he has the makings of a #3-type arm in the coming years.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

5. Cody Reed, LHP                             
Born: 04/15/93 Age: 24 Bats: L Top CALs: Andrew Heaney, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Gibson, Josh Lindblom, David Huff
Height: 6-5 Weight: 225 Throws: L
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 R 29.7 0 1 6.07 5.13 7.58 6.98 17.20% 15.90% 0.00 58.60%
2014 21 A 84.0 3 9 5.46 4.37 6.21 3.86 15.00% 9.30% 0.54 56.90%
2015 22 A+ 67.1 5 5 2.14 2.75 8.69 2.41 23.40% 6.50% 0.40 80.70%
2015 22 AA 28.2 2 2 3.45 4.27 5.97 2.51 15.80% 6.70% 0.94 61.70%
2015 22 AA 49.2 6 2 2.17 2.24 10.87 2.90 29.90% 8.00% 0.18 77.30%
2016 23 AAA 73.0 6 4 3.08 3.40 8.01 2.47 21.60% 6.60% 0.74 77.10%

Background: The Reds dealt away free-agent-to-be Johnny Cueto to Kansas City two years ago, a move that fetched three intriguing left arms: former TCU stud Brandon Finnegan, once-upon-a-time top prospect John Lamb, and Reed, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-hander who would form one helluva front court with fellow southpaw Amir Garrett. As I noted in last year’s book, Reed’s 2015 season really turned around following his trade to Cincinnati: he averaged nearly 11 strikeouts and fewer than three walks per nine innings in eight starts. And he was able to carry that dominant momentum forward into 2016 – despite being bumped up to the International League.

Reed got off to one helluva start with the Louisville Bats, posting an impressive 63-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first 64.2 innings of work. That production was enough to convince the club that he was ready for the big leagues. And despite a piss-poor 7.36 ERA and an equally depressing 6.06 FIP, Reed’s peripherals – 43 K, 19 BB in 47.2 IP – all suggest better times are ahead.

Projection: Fun Fact: Reed became the 50th pitcher since 1901 to begin his career with a 0-7 record. It’s not really something you want to be known for, though. Anyway, Reed possesses the size, arsenal – his fastball averaged just under 93 mph during his big league debut – and record of accomplishment that suggests he’ll slide nicely into the middle of the Reds’ rotation for years to come. Cincinnati fans have to be salivating over a potential rotation featuring three hard-throwing southpaws: Finnegan, Reed, and Garrett.  He’s going to be one of the major bounce back players in 2017.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

6. T.J. Friedl, CF                                 
Born: 08/14/95 Age: 21 Bats: L Top CALs: Anthony Concepcion, Jesus Valdez, David Kandilas, Anthony Jimenez, Stephen Chapman
Height: 5-10 Weight: 170 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2016 20 R 137 11 2 3 0.347 0.423 0.545 0.198 9.50% 18.20% 145

Background: One of the most interesting and downright bizarre draft stories I’ve even stumbled across. And, truthfully, try to follow along because there’s a whole lot of twists and turns with this one. After hardly sniffing the field as a true freshman two years ago, Friedl exploded onto the scene with Nevada last season, bashing .401/.494/.563 with nine doubles, nine triples, three homeruns, and 13 stolen bases. And he went from overlooked freshman to becoming one of the stars on Team USA where he would hit .290 with a .536 slugging percentage. But here’s where it gets kooky. In a rare instance, thanks to Friedl exhausting three years of academic eligibility, he was a draft-eligible sophomore – something that no one seemed to really know, even Friedl himself.

No teams ended up calling his name on draft – obviously – but after his wildly successful showing with Team USA, which came on the heels of his wildly successful sophomore season, Friedl started to garner a whole lot of attention from scouts and organizations.

So much, in fact, that according to an ESPN article, he had to have an advisor – Sosnick, Cobbe, & Karon – step in and field calls and gauge interest. The Reds would eventually sign the speedy center fielder for a little more than $700,000 – a bonus given out to early third round picks.

After the deal became official, the then-20-year-old Friedl appeared in 29 games with Billings in the Pioneer League where he, of course, didn’t stop hitting (.347/.423/.545).

Projection: Talk about a whirlwind summer. Clearly there’s a lot going on here – namely Nevada’s hitter-friendly field. But Friedl offered up a surprising well-rounded toolkit: impressive plate discipline, potential double-digit homerun power, and above-average speed. And while his success is limited to just 2016, his work with Team USA helps ease a lot of concerns. Friedl has the makings to be the steal of the 2016 draft – clearly.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018/2019

 

 

7. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP              
Born: 09/18/95 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: N/A

 

Height: 6-1 Weight: 172 Throws: R

Background: The Reds have turned heads a couple times with some flashy amateur free agent signings in 2016. The club inked the 20-year-old Cuban-born right-hander to a $4.75 million bonus, though once the 100% tax is levied that fee doubles in price.

Projection: Unlike a lot of the Cuban players signed last season, there’s actually a little bit of data available on Gutierrez. He appeared in 27 games with Pinar del Rio in the Cuban National Series four years ago when he was just 17-years-old. He would throw 67.0 innings and post a 44-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His production, unsurprisingly, jumped quite a bit the next season with the team: 51.1 IP, 49 K, and 19 BB.

But here’s the thing about the Cuban National Series: it’s very difficult to generate impressive strikeout totals. In fact, Gutierrez finished third in the league that year with 8.6 K/9. That, by the way, was better than Dodgers’ import Yaisel Sierra, who was five years older than Gutierrez. Don’t be shocked to see Gutierrez rack up some impressive K-totals when he transitions to stateside ball next year.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Risk: N/A

MLB ETA: N/A

 

 

8. Jose Lopez, RHP              
Born: 09/01/93 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Jose Guzman, Aaron Blair, Mike Wagner, Josh Taylor, Charles Brewer
Height: 6-1 Weight: 185 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 21 R 57.0 3 2 3.16 3.92 10.58 3.00 28.00% 8.00% 0.63 75.30%
2016 22 A 113.1 6 9 3.97 2.64 8.97 2.54 23.10% 6.50% 0.16 61.30%
2016 22 A+ 34.2 0 3 4.41 3.37 8.83 2.60 24.30% 7.10% 0.78 50.30%

Background: If you ever want to know how far exactly we’ve come in terms of surgical procedures on athletes, look no further than the Reds’ gamble on the former fire-balling right-hander out of Seton Hall. Lopez, who worked mainly out of the Pirates’ bullpen with the occasional spot start over his first two collegiate seasons, didn’t throw a pitch in what was supposed to be his junior season. The reason: Tommy John surgery, of course. But that didn’t stop the organization from grabbing the 6-foot-1, 185-pound hurler in the sixth round, 18th overall, three years ago. Lopez, who wouldn’t make his professional debut until nearly a full year after his selection, appeared in 15 games with Billings in 2015, throwing 57.0 innings with an impressive 67-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Last season the club eased the reins a bit and pushed him up to the Midwest League. And after a couple clunkers at the beginning of the year, he rattled off 74.1 innings with a 2.66 ERA, 76 strikeouts, and just 20 walks. He got briefly bumped up to the Florida State League for one dominant start before getting pushed back down to Low Class A.

Lopez made another five starts with Dayton before getting called back up to the FSL for his final five starts.

Overall, he finished with 148.0 innings, 174 punch outs, and just 42 walks to go along with a 4.07 ERA.

Projection: The potentially explosive right-hander tired down the stretch last season, posting a 6.91 ERA over his final 41.2 innings of work. It’s not surprising, really, once you consider that he threw fewer than 75 innings in each of his three previous season. Otherwise, between April 24th through July 11th, Lopez tossed 91.1 innings, fanned 95, walked 25, and posted a sparkling 2.36 ERA. During the stretch opponents batted a lowly .236/.287/.333 against him. He’s poised to become the breakout prospect in 2017. There’s going to be a lot of people talking about him before long. You’ve been warned. There’s at least mid-rotation potential bubbling up in his right arm.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018/2019

 

 

9. Robert Stephenson, RHP                         
Born: 02/24/93 Age: 24 Bats: R Top CALs: Andy Oliver, Mike Foltynewicz, Tyler Clippard, Dan Cortes, Brad Peacock
Height: 6-2 Weight: 200 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 19 R 30.7 1 0 2.05 3.75 10.86 2.35 30.10% 6.50% 0.59 70.90%
2012 19 A 34.3 2 4 4.19 4.41 9.17 3.93 23.30% 10.00% 1.05 60.80%
2013 20 A 77.0 5 3 2.57 2.59 11.22 2.34 31.30% 6.50% 0.58 68.10%
2014 21 AA 136.7 7 10 4.74 4.58 9.22 4.87 23.30% 12.30% 1.19 66.80%
2015 22 AA 78.1 4 7 3.68 4.16 10.23 4.94 27.40% 13.20% 0.92 72.10%
2015 22 AAA 55.2 4 4 4.04 3.35 8.25 4.37 21.10% 11.20% 0.32 71.20%
2016 23 AAA 136.2 8 9 4.41 4.65 7.90 4.68 20.30% 12.00% 1.12 70.80%

Background: I’ve been swooning over the big right-hander’s potential for as long as I’ve been cooing about Jesse Winker at this point. And just like his counterpart, Stephenson’s production took a noticeable downturn in his showing with the Louisville Bats last season. After averaging at least 9.2 K/9 in each of previous four minor league seasons, the former first round pick, 27th overall, fanned 120 hitters in 136.2 innings of work – or 7.9 K/9. He also got roughed up during his eight-game stint the Reds as well, posting a mediocre 31-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 37.0 total innings.

Projection: Stephenson certainly showed flashes of dominance at various points last season. He fanned 11 and walked three in six innings against the Durham Bulls. Or the six-inning start against the Red Wings where he punched out eight and walked three. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his nine-strikeout, one-walk performance against the Mets in early September as well.

But the problem for Stephenson is quite simple: he can’t locate the ball, consistently, against more advanced hitters.

Of his 32 total starts between Louisville and Cincinnati, he walked three or more hitters 18 times. On the other end of the spectrum, he walked one or fewer batters just five times.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound hurler shows a classic power pitcher’s arsenal – mid-90s fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup – but it’s all going to come down to his ability – or inability – to stop puking up so many free passes.

And here’s the scary part: Between his time in Class AA and Class AAA, he’s thrown 423.2 innings and has walked 228. That’s an average 4.84 free passes every nine innings.

The Reds will likely continue to stick by the idea that he’s a front-of-the-rotation caliber arm – which, he is, when he gets the ball over the plate – but he’s now entering his age-24 season with no signs of turning it around.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: High

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

10. Shedric Long, 2B               
Born: 08/22/95 Age: 21 Bats: L Top CALs: Claudio Bautista, Corey Seager, Dilson Herrera, Eddie Rosario, Xander Bogaerts
Height: 5-8 Weight: 180 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2015 19 A 173 7 2 6 0.283 0.363 0.474 0.191 10.40% 17.90% 144
2016 20 A 389 24 1 11 0.281 0.371 0.457 0.176 11.30% 21.90% 146
2016 20 A+ 159 6 4 4 0.322 0.371 0.503 0.182 6.30% 22.00% 153

Background: Typically clubs handle young pitchers with kid gloves, bringing them slowly up to speed in the low levels of the minors, not prep hitters. But that’s exactly what the Reds have done with Long, a 12th round pick out of Jacksonville High School in 2013. After his brief tours in the both rookie leagues, the front office changed his position from catcher to second base and bumped him up to the Midwest League two years ago. In another abbreviated season Long hit .283/.363/.474 with seven doubles, a pair of triples, six homeruns, and a pair of stolen bases in just 173 trips to the plate. His overall production that year, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 44%. And just for fun, here are those numbers pro-rated over a full 162-game season: 27 doubles, seven triples, 23 homeruns, and eight stolen bases. OK. Fine. It’s one small sample size, a mere 173 plate appearances across 42 games. Except that he did it again – across a full season.

Long, still only 20-years-old, found himself back in the Midwest League for the second season and slugged an impressive .281/.371/.457 with 24 doubles, one triple, 11 homeruns, and 16 stolen bases. His overall production topped the league average mark by a whopping 46%. In just 94 games.

Cincy bounced the budding stud up to the Florida State League in late July for another 38 contests. He would slug .322/.371/.503 with a 153 wRC+.

Overall he finished the year with a combined .293/.371/.471 with 30 doubles, five triples, 15 homeruns, and 21 stolen bases in 25 attempts.

Projection: Just to kind of put Long’s production into proper context, consider the following: among all minor league hitters with at least 500 trips to the plate Long’s overall production last season, 148 wRC+, ranked as the 15th best.

So can he repeat it – again?

Let’s break it down:

  • First the easy check point: Was he too old for the level of competition? Nope. He was about a year younger than the average Midwest League ballplayer.
  • So what about his BABIPs? Long’s a speedy prospect, so he’s prone to post higher batting averages on balls in play. But even his mark in Low Class A, .346, is repeatable. However, his .393 BABIP in High Class A is completely and utterly unsustainable.
  • Does the lefty-swinging second baseman show any platoon splits? No issues to speak of.

Basically, we’re looking at probably the most underrated prospect in all of baseball. Remember the name. And CAL certainly remains a big, big fan as well…

Finally, according to Clay Davenport’s Defensive Runs Saved, Long was a +5 defender at the keystone last season.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018/2019

 

 

Author’s note: A special hat tip the following websites for the use of the their statistics – fangraphs, baseballreference, baseballprospectus, statcorner, and ClayDavenport.com



About

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.


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