2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Cincinnati Reds

Joe Robbins

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Cincinnati Reds.

The prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2014. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore

Chicago

Houston

Atlanta

Chicago

Arizona
(1/9)

Boston

Cleveland

Los Angeles

Miami

Cincinnati
(Today)

Colorado
(1/13)

New York

Detroit

Oakland

New York

Milwaukee
(12/30)

Los Angeles
(1/16)

Tampa Bay

Kansas City

Seattle

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh
(1/2)

San Diego
(1/20)

Toronto

Minnesota

Texas

Washington

St. Louis
(1/6)

San Francisco
(1/23)

Organizational Overview
By Matt Mattingly(@mattmattingly81)

The Cincinnati Reds made history in 2013 as the first team in MLB history to finish in 3rd place in their division and still make the playoffs. After their 2nd consecutive trip to the post-season, the Reds were quickly bounced in their wild card playoff match-up with the Pittsburg Pirates. The Reds ended the season on a six game losing streak, including their wildcard game defeat. The quick exit from the playoffs and late season fade has management evaluating their current position in the National League Central. The organization is aware of the uphill battle ahead of them over the next few years as they share the division with the up-and-coming Pittsburg Pirates and the ever-dominant St. Louis Cardinals.

With such high hopes in 2013 dashed by a quick exit from the playoffs, the blame needed to go somewhere. Dusty Baker was fired after leading the Reds on one of their best stretches since the days of the Big Red Machine. General Manager Walt Jocketty said the late season fade and playoff ousting was a major factor that led to the decision. Baker was quickly replaced by Bryan Price, the team's pitching coach since 2010 who has helped develop many of the young pitchers at the big league level. Recent managerial hires like John Farrell in Boston and Bud Black in San Diego have helped to pave the way for pitching coaches like Price to become more popular picks as managers in the big leagues today.

After reaching the 90-win plateau again in 2013, the Reds will have to go for their 3rd straight playoff run in 2014 without Shin-Soo Choo to spark the offense, who recently signed a 7-year contract with the Texas Rangers. One of the club's top prospects, Billy Hamilton, could step in and fill the void in centerfield this year. The Reds also lost Ryan Hanigan at catcher, but feel Devin Mesoraco is ready for a larger role. Former Detroit Tiger Brayan Pena was also signed to help out with the catching duties. The rest of the starting lineup from last year will be back, and any batting order that features Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce should produce plenty of offense again in 2014.

The Reds could also lose a key member of the clubhouse and starting rotation in Bronson Arroyo to free agency. Arroyo is the only pitcher in baseball to make at least 32 starts each year from 2005-2013. The Reds currently have five starting pitchers on the roster they are confident in, which will most likely lead to Arroyo signing elsewhere. But with a rotation that features Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani to go with a stellar bullpen in 2014, the Reds will be poised to compete once again in the National League Central.

2013 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time prior to September 1st of this year.

Derrick Robinson (at bats), Donald Lutz (service time), Tony Cingrani (innings), J.J. Hoover (innings)

Major League Opportunities in 2014
By Matt Mattingly(@mattmattingly81)

There isn't a lot of room for prospects to break-in with the big league club in 2014, unless injuries strike the organization. Most of the 2013 starting lineup will be returning to Cincinnati in 2014. The departure of Choo leaves the Reds with a sizeable hole to fill in centerfield. Many are clamoring for Billy Hamilton to take over in CF and steal a million bases in 2014. The speedy prospect has not been very impressive in winter ball this off-season, and expectations should be tempered for 2014. Management is still considering other options as they search for an experienced center fielder via trade and free agency. If the club does not make another outfield acquisition before the start of the season, expect Hamilton to be given a chance to keep the everyday job.

Ryan Hanigan was traded to the Rays earlier this month, which should allow Devin Mesoraco the opportunity to become the everyday starter behind the plate, and more at bats for fantasy owners. The infield remains set with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, and Todd Frazier back together for another season, despite trade rumors to the contrary. Jay Bruce will man right field, while Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey continue to make up the left field platoon.

The rotation is deep as well, with all five slots already locked in for 2014. Both Cueto and Cingrani have had to deal with recent injuries, so there is always the chance an opening could present itself sometime during the season. The team also has all six of their top relievers back for another season of setting up closer Aroldis Chapman.

Overall, there aren't going to be many opportunities for prospects to make their way to Cincinnati this season until injuries start to take their course. With centerfield the one main opening at the moment, it will be interesting to see which direction the organization goes to fill this key position. With the free-agent market dwindling, there is a very good chance the team will give Billy Hamilton an extended look in spring training. After Hamilton, Robert Stephenson and the rest of the organization's top prospects are still going to need some time to develop before they get the call to the big leagues. The Reds line-up in 2014 should look very similar to what we saw in 2013.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
By Jason Hunt(@jasonsbaseball)

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors prior to September 1st.

#1 Robert Stephenson (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

7

0

3.00

1.11

136

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

114.1

0.79

1.22

7.5%

29.2%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A, A+, AA

Easily the top pitching prospect in the Reds' system, Robert Stephenson was taken with the 27th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, and signed for a bonus of $2 million dollars. Despite having 16 pitchers taken ahead of him that year, he has emerged as one of the top prospects from that extremely deep draft class. He did not pitch in his draft year, and was held back in extended spring training in 2012 before pitching in both the Pioneer League and finishing with the Reds' Low-A team in Dayton. The numbers were solid, and the reports on him led to a spot on many top 100 lists.

To say that 2013 was a breakout season for Stephenson would be a drastic understatement. He returned to Low-A at the onset of the season, throwing 77 innings across 14 starts despite missing nearly a month due to a hamstring injury. He was promoted to High-A in mid-July, but was there long enough to make just four starts before moving up to AA Pensacola to finish his season.

The scouting reports on Stephenson point to a potential top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, most likely a #2 rather than a true ace. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, with reports of the pitch touching nearly triple digits in some starts. He gets good downward plane on the pitch, although reports are mixed on the level of movement he gets at times. It projects as a potential 80-grade pitch, with excellent command. His key secondary offering is a curveball which has sharp 12-6 break to it, and has the potential to be a plus offering down the line as well. He also throws a changeup, which started out the season considered a work in progress and has shown solid improvement through the year. The change projects to give Stephenson a third average-or-better offering to go along with command of all offerings. His delivery is very fluid, and appears very repeatable. He is also very athletic, and receives solid marks on his makeup as well.

Stephenson has the potential to be a top 20 fantasy starting pitcher down the line, although there is still some work to do for him. The Reds did well to minimize his exposure to the Cal League and Bakersfield specifically, and look for him to return to AA to start the year. It's not inconceivable that he gets a call up by the end of the 2014 season, but it's more likely we see him debut in 2015.

20130216_jla_ar5_161.0
Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

#2 Billy Hamilton (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.260

84

6

42

88

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

569

0.312

0.348

7.0%

18.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

23

S/R

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Remaining)

AAA, MLB

We've been hearing about the potential of Billy Hamilton to be a game-changing fantasy player for a few seasons now, and we got a glimpse of why that could be so important. Drafted by the Reds back in 2009, Hamilton came into the professional ranks as a very raw baseball player with blistering speed. The Reds moved him slowly at first, sending him to short-season leagues for his first two seasons, but even after the 2010 season it was clear there was the potential to be a category winner, as he stole 48 bases in just 69 games that year. He spent the full year in 2011 with the Reds' Low-A affiliate in Dayton, stealing 103 bases in 135 games. As ridiculous as that number is, it was only a sign of things to come.

Hamilton moved to High-A Bakersfield to start the 2012 season, hitting .323 with an eye-popping 104 stolen bases in just 82 games before a promotion to AA to finish the year. He slowed that pace somewhat at AA, stealing 51 in 50 games and finishing with a minor league record 155 stolen bases. To this point Hamilton had been on the infield, primarily at shortstop.

For the 2013 season, the Reds moved Hamilton to AAA, and also gave him a new defensive assignment: center field. The numbers at AAA look relatively worse than previous years, hitting .256 with 75 stolen bases in 123 games. He was a September call up for the Reds, appearing in 13 games and stealing 13 bases in his primary role as a pinch-runner.

To say that the history of the minor leagues is littered with speed-only prospects that never made it due to other drawbacks is probably an understatement, but Hamilton doesn't necessarily fall with that group. Hamilton's claim to fame is easily his plus-plus speed. More than a few prospect writers have said that Hamilton's speed is probably closer to a 90 on the 20-80 scale, and we saw in September that the speed is so good that it's almost impossible to throw him out, even for some of the best defensive catchers in the league. He is a legitimate threat to steal 100 bases a year, and can upset the game (and especially pitchers) with that speed.

The questions about Hamilton start with the hit tool, and whether he has enough power to keep pitchers honest with him. He'll get more hits than nearly anyone if he is putting the ball on the ground, but if teams know that he can't put some power behind the ball they will adjust accordingly. Over time, he has improved his approach at the plate, and specifically his ability to draw a walk. This skill will also be key to his value, as his OBP may have more of an impact on his fantasy value than his batting average even if you don't play that category.

His defense in center field is considered to be at least average, which should give him a good shot to take over the starting job in the majors now that Shin-Soo Choo has signed with the Rangers. He is one of the few players where he could help fantasy owners even if he doesn't hit at all. It's entirely possible that a slash line of .200/.250/.250 would still produce 50+ stolen bases over a full season, although I would be concerned that the team would have him in a reserve role if he consistently hit that low.

Even with the questions regarding his ability to hit at the major league level, I would still be targeting him in a lot of leagues, as he can single-handedly win you stolen bases if he plays for the full year. Be careful in drafts though, as you don't want to draft him such that he needs to hit .280 with 100 steals to return value.

20120601_kdl_av1_052.0
Photo Credit: Melina Vastola - US Presswire

#3 Phillip Ervin (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.331

34

9

35

14

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

200

0.425

0.564

12.5%

17.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk, A

While at Samford University, Phillip Ervin hit at least 10 home runs, stole at least 16 bases, and hit at least .327 in each of his last two seasons, and came into the 2013 draft viewed as a potential high first round pick in part due to an MVP season in the Cape Cod League in 2012. However, an ankle injury early on in the college season tempered expectations some, and the Reds were able to get him with the #27 overall pick. The Reds' top pick in the 2013 draft, Ervin signed for exactly the slot recommendation, a bonus of just over $1.8 million.

He was sent to Billings to start as a professional, hitting eight home runs and stealing 14 bases while hitting .326 in just 34 games. That performance got him up to full season Low-A for the last 12 games of the season, where he hit another home run and stole two more bases with a .349/.451/.465 slash line.

Ervin's best tool is the hit one, projecting to be above-average or possibly even better due to good bat speed and a solid approach. The fact that he had nearly as many walks as strikeouts at both stops bodes well for his performance down the line, and his potentially above-average power should help keep pitchers honest as he moves up toward the majors.

There are questions surrounding his defense, specifically whether he will be able to stay in center field as he develops, or if he will be forced to move to a corner outfield spot. His arm is considered strong enough to allow him to go to right field, but a move to a corner obviously puts more pressure on his bat to produce the difference in value. He is considered to have above-average speed that should translate into solid if not spectacular stolen base totals, although there are concerns about whether his injury history will affect that potential.

Long term, Ervin has the potential to provide double digit home runs and stolen bases with a high batting average, and potentially be a top 30 outfielder at his peak. He seems likely to head to HIgh-A to start the 2014 season, and could be a quick mover in a system that could be in need of an outfielder after the 2015 season.

20130621_kkt_bk2_065.0
Photo Credit: David Kohl - USA Today Sports

#4 Jesse Winker (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.281

73

16

76

6

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

486

0.379

0.463

13.0%

15.4%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

L/L

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A

A supplemental first round pick in 2012, Winker was sent to Billings that season, where he hit .338/.443/.500 with five home runs and a stolen base in 62 games played. Given a full season assignment this year, Winker was a Midwest League All-Star while hitting for solid average and power totals.

The key to Winker's future value lies with his bat. He projects as an above-average hitter with the potential to provide fantasy owners with batting averages of .280 or higher due to a short, compact swing and solid approach at the plate. He has already shown some of his power potential, hitting 16 home runs this year, and projects to potentially hit 20+ home runs a season at his peak. His value on the offensive side takes a hit from this point, as he is considered a below-average runner and unlikely to provide stolen bases other than a token few per season. Defensively, Winker profiles as a corner outfielder in the best of scenarios, as his arm will limit him to left field and his speed could force him out of the outfield entirely down the line. If that happens, the pressure on his bat to provide value will be very high.

Winker is one of the safer bets to continue moving toward the majors, as his approach should help him post solid numbers at each level. The key will be to watch reports on his defense, as his profile will play nicely as a starting outfielder in most leagues, but if he can't cut it there could be in line for a move to first base. He's even more interesting if you play in OBP leagues, and will likely head to the California League to start the 2014 campaign.

20130621_kkt_bk2_065.0
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

#5 Yorman Rodriguez (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.259

71

13

66

10

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

567

0.324

0.427

8.3%

27.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Remaining)

A+, AA

If you're feeling like you've been hearing Yorman Rodriguez's name for a long time on prospect lists, you'd be correct. Signed on his 16th birthday back in 2008 to a huge $2.5 million bonus, Rodriguez has been appearing on top 10 lists ever since. He was moved stateside quickly, spending his first two seasons at short season ball at ages 16 and 17. He made his full season debut at Low-A in 2011, and has moved through High-A to AA over the past three seasons.

Rodriguez remains the dream at this point, showing flashes of above-average tools but an inability to get more out of them. His raw power is considered to be plus or possibly even better, but it is substantially limited by issues with his approach. He posted the highest walk rate of his career this year (8%), which bodes well for improvement to that approach, but I personally want to see it sustained to truly believe it is a permanent improvement. His above-average speed helps him in the outfield, and should give him the potential to provide double-digit steals in the future. The speed also helps on defense, where Rodriguez has shown the possibility of being above-average in right field.

The Reds had to protect Rodriguez from the Rule 5 draft after the 2012 season, but I don't know if that drastically changes his timetable. This was the first season where he played more than 88 games, and will likely return to AA to start the season. He remains an interesting prospect for fantasy, but I wouldn't draft and hold him except in very deep leagues (where it's very possible he's already owned). He could be a double-digit home run and steals hitter if it all comes together.

#6 Michael Lorenzen (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

1

4

3.00

1.57

19

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

21

0.86

1.44

13.7%

20.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk, A, A+, AA

A two-way player while at Cal State Fullterton, Lorenzen was a center fielder as well as the closer for his last two seasons there. The Reds drafted him in the supplemental first round of this year's draft, opting to start him on the path towards becoming a starting pitcher. To ease him into that though, the team used him almost exclusively in relief this year, as he made 22 appearances across four levels, finishing at AA Pensacola.

The scouting report on Lorenzen the pitcher is extremely raw. His fastball was sitting in the high-90s in relief this year, but it is anticipated that it will drop off slightly in a starting role. Regardless, it is expected to be a plus offering or better. He also features an above-average breaking ball, a slider which is considered a strikeout pitch now. The Reds want to try him out as a starter, and he will need to work on his changeup for that to become a legitimate possibility. The delivery looks relatively easy, although he appeared to struggle with repeating his release point, which you would expect given his relative inexperience.

He's an extremely athletic player, and was a legitimate draft prospect as an outfielder also. His arm is an easy 80 grade tool, and he is considered an above-average defender out in center field. If he were to return to the outfield, he would likely profile as a more-valuable-in-real-life prospect than for fantasy purposes, as his hit tool and power would likely be below average. There's no indication that the Reds would consider doing this rather than sending him to the bullpen if starting doesn't work, but it gives him an interesting fall back option.

I would guess that he will start his season at High-A, although I might be tempted personally to send him to Low-A to work on things rather than head out to Bakersfield. He has potential as a starting pitcher, although if that changeup doesn't come around, a late-inning relief role could work as well. There are a number of possibilities with Lorenzen, and it will be interesting to see how he does next year.

20130218_kkt_ar5_158.0
Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

#7 Carlos Contreras (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

8

0

3.47

1.27

122

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

132.1

0.75

1.08

11.1%

21.8%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

22

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Remaining)

A+, AA

Contreras signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2008, and did not debut stateside until 2010 with 10 appearances in the Arizona Rookie League. Another season was spent at the Reds' short-season affiliate in Billings before a full season assignment with Dayton in 2012. He pitched in relief in 2012 for both Dayton and Bakersfield, and was added to the 40 man roster following the season. The team moved Contreras back into the rotation at the start of 2013, with excellent results. He split the year between High-A and AA, striking out 122 and allowing just 106 hits in 132 innings.

Contreras has come up as a fastball-changeup pitcher, both of which are considered above-average to plus. He also mixes in a curveball which shows excellent break and has become a pitch he can rely on this year. The major concern surrounding Contreras remains his control, as he has always posted high walk totals and has shown a tendency to lose the strike zone at times. That command will be the key determining factor on whether Contreras can stick in the rotation or be moved back to the bullpen.

Contreras made just 8 starts at AA this year, so it seems likely that he will return to Pensacola to start the season. If he can reduce his walks somewhat, he could be an interesting starter, probably a #4 on most teams, providing solid but not spectacular strikeout totals and ratios. If he is forced back to the bullpen, he could potentially fill a late inning role instead. It wouldn't surprise me if Contreras made his debut at some point in 2014.

#8 Nick Travieso (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

7

0

4.66

1.35

61

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

81.2

0.78

0.78

7.8%

17.5%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A

Taken by the Reds with the 14th overall pick in 2012, Travieso signed for a $2 million dollar bonus, and threw 21 innings in the Arizona Rookie League in his professional debut. The team sent him to full season Low-A for the 2013 season, although he did not debut until early June. Once there, he pitched decently, but had a lot of ups-and-downs from start to start.

Travieso features a fastball which reports had in the high 90's before the draft, but appeared to have lost some velocity during the 2013 season. Baseball America attributed that in part to his transition to the professional game, so it will be interesting to see if that velocity returns in 2014. His main offspeed offering is a slider which has the potential to be a strikeout pitch, but also was down some this year. Reports on his changeup point to a pitch which remains a work in progress that will need to improve to keep him in the rotation long-term.

The key at this point for Travieso is what his stuff looks like in the 2014 season. If he returns to a form similar to his pre-draft status, he has a mid-rotation ceiling and should probably be higher on this list. If not, he likely ends up either in the bullpen or towards the back of the rotation, both of which would make him substantially less valuable for fantasy owners. I personally think that the team sends him back to Low-A to start the season, but could move him up to High-A by midseason if he has been pitching well, as the environs of the southern half of the California League could potentially be detrimental to his development initially.

20120601_kdl_su8_117.0
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

#9 Ben Lively (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

0

0

0.88

0.88

56

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

41

0

1.09

8.0%

34.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk, A

Taken in the 4th round by the Reds in this year's draft, Lively went out and dominated in his professional debut to the tune of 49 strikeouts and just 21 hits allowed in 37 innings pitched at Billings. Sent to full season Dayton for his last start of the year, he struck out 7 and walked one over four innings as well.

The scouting reports on Lively point to a pitcher who is, for lack of a better word, a bit boring. He sits in the low-90s with his fastball, touching 94 at times. He also features a curveball, slider and changeup, all of which have potential to be average offerings down the line but still need work at this point. He has shown the ability to command the pitches to this point, albeit with the usual small sample size caveats. His delivery has a little bit of effort to it, but he gets good deception from it, which helps his stuff play past expectations.

Long-term, Lively appears as of now to have the potential to be a back-end of the rotation starting pitcher, with solid if not spectacular numbers. The stuff by itself doesn't lend to the notion that he can be a mid-rotation type, although with the deception he has we could see seasons in that range. He seems likely to be sent to High-A to start the 2014 season, and could be moved out of there quickly if he pitches well at the start.

#10 Jeremy Kivel (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

0

0

3.94

1.45

56

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

50.2

0.72

1.32

9.9%

24.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk

The Reds drafted Kivel in the 10th round of the 2012 draft, but may have found an undervalued player that late. He was expected to go in the first few rounds of the draft that year, but tore his ACL and missed a substantial part of his senior year. The Reds gave him an overslot bonus of $500K to get him into the organization. He did not pitch in 2012, instead debuting in the Arizona Rookie League this year with solid results in a hitters' league.

Kivel features a mid-90s fastball, along with a changeup and a breaking ball (some reports have it as a slider, others as a curveball). There are questions about whether he will continue to develop as a starting pitcher, as both of the secondary offerings are considered well behind the fastball on the development curve. If he can't, he could potentially be a high-leverage relief pitcher, but would still need to see further improvement on his breaking ball to achieve that.

The numbers from this season point to a potentially interesting pitcher down the line, but at this point he is likely a lottery ticket that has some potential to be an interesting starting pitcher. He could end up pitching in Dayton this year, with a timeframe of 2016 to debut in the major leagues. If he pitches well, he's likely to move into the upper half of this list come 2014.

Other Interesting Prospects
By Jason Hunt (@jasonsbaseball)

David Holmberg - Acquired from the Diamondbacks as part of the three-team Ryan Hanigan trade, Holmberg profiles as a back of the rotation type starting pitcher who is more of an innings eater than a high fantasy performer. He made his MLB debut this year, but is more likely ticketed for AAA as depth for the 2014 season.

Neftali Soto - A corner infield prospect, Soto made his (brief) major league debut this year after a solid second season at Louisville. Soto has hit 30 homeruns in a season previously in the minors, but has been in the 14-16 range each of the past two years. Soto can play third base enough to be a spot starter there, but is better suited for first base. It's hard to rank him in the top 10, as his approach leads to concerns that his plus power won't be able to be used in-game. I could see him being a potential backup infielder and right-handed power bat off the bench for the Reds in 2014, although that role isn't likely to help fantasy owners a ton.

Drew Cisco - A prospect that had Tommy John surgery out of high school, Cisco made his full season debut this year with solid but not spectacular results. He was considered a polished prospect for a high school draftee before the surgery, and it appears that he has been able to maintain some of that polish in his return. He's an interesting name to watch, as he'll be over a full season removed from the surgery in 2014 and could potentially get moved quickly in order to make up for lost time.

Daniel Corcino - A name on a number of top 10 lists last year, Corcino's performance this year would have to be classified as very poor, and extremely concerning for his long-term development. With 90 strikeouts and 73 walks in 129 AAA innings, he'll likely return there in 2014 with the hopes of returning to form.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects.
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Andrew Ball is an intern for the Tampa Bay Rays, and was a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score and Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Matt Mattingly is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter

Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Fangraphs
Reds Minor Leagues
Red Reporter
Vimeo
Youtube

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