MLB Prospect Review: Ben Lively, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

A quick look at the minor league strikeout leaderboard shows Reds' pitching prospect Ben Lively at the #2 spot with 86 so far this year at High-A. Is his prospect stock on the rise, and is he a player to target in dynasty formats?

Throughout the minor league season, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will look at a number of prospects for your fantasy and dynasty teams. Some will be prospects that you'll see this year in the majors, while others are interesting targets in longer term formats. Up today is a prospect who is sitting at #2 in strikeouts amongst all minor leaguers, Ben Lively of the Cincinnati Reds

The Basics

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 190 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: No 
Protect After: 2016 Season
DOB: 3/5/1992 (Age 22 Season)

His History

Lively was drafted out of high school by the Cleveland Indians, but did not sign after being a 26th round draft pick. He attended the University of Central Florida, where he was in the rotation for three years. He finished up with an excellent junior campaign, throwing 106 innings, striking out 101, walking 28 and allowing 88 hits to go with a 2.04 ERA.

The Reds drafted Lively in the 4th round of the 2013 draft, and he signed quickly to a bonus of $350K. The organization sent him to their Pioneer League affiliate, and was kept on limits throughout his professional debut. He made 12 starts at Missoula, throwing a total of 37 innings with 49 strikeouts and just 21 hits allowed. He went up to full-season Low-A for his last start of the year, a 7 strikeout, four inning outing. We ranked Lively as the #9 fantasy  prospect in the Reds' organization after the season.

Lively was moved up to High-A Bakersfield this year, and has been lights out so far. In 74 innings pitched (12 starts), Lively has 86 strikeouts, 13 walks, and just 50 hits allowed in the high offense environs of the California League.

The Scouting Report

I wrote up Lively as a part of our Reds' top 10 in the offseason, and had this to say then:

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.

Lively profiles right now as a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher, with a floor that appears a lot more likely to be at least a back-end starting pitcher.

When Could He Arrive in the Majors?

Lively seems pretty likely to get a promotion in the next month or so, but he may be waiting for another prospect to be promoted to AAA for that to happen. The rotation in Pensacola is loaded right now, and until someone moves up to AAA Louisville, Lively could be blocked. I would anticipate that Lively could see the majors either at the end of the 2015 season or at the start of 2016.

What Can He Do for Your Fantasy Team?

I can see Lively having seasons where he fits in as a #4/#5 fantasy starting pitcher, providing an ERA around 3.75, a WHIP around 1.15-1.20, and a solid amount of strikeouts.

Conclusions

Obviously we want to see Lively continue this type of performance against better hitters in AA before completely buying in, but he's an interesting name to file away in deeper formats. It looks more likely to me that he ends up as a starting pitcher long-term, but it is possible that he ends up in the back end of the bullpen as well. I'll be very interested to see how the performance continues to translate, and specifically to what level his deception continues to work. The results so far have been excellent, but with the reports not quite matching that performance yet, don't go crazy trying to acquire or draft Lively. He's a prospect who is likely to have a ton of helium, but the profile has not really changed since the offseason.

Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Central Florida Baseball
MILB.com
MLB.com
Red Reporter
The Baseball Cube

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