With the minor league regular season now concluded, I thought it would be fitting to take a look back at this season and highlight a stand-out player from each level of the Reds’ minor league system. As I mentioned in my updated Reds top 50 rankings, there was no shortage of players to choose from with real potential to move quickly up the ladder. This year saw several players in my top 50 promoted to the next level. We’ll start at the top, with the AAA Louisville Bats and work our way down.
D.J. Peterson (1B) – after spending much of his early minors career in the Mariners system (2013 to 2017), then a very brief stint with the White Sox’ AAA team, Peterson came to the Reds this year and has been fairly productive for the Louisville Bats, hitting .277/.322/.462 with 16 home runs and 2 stolen bases. However, he’ll need to keep working on his plate discipline as strikeouts have held him back from even better production; his strikeouts per nine innings has held in the low to mid 20s across most of his minor league career, with a rather pedestrian OBP of .322.
Shed Long – ranked #6 in my mid-season top 50 Reds prospects, Shed Long continues to earn his keep high on my list, building on an already-strong season that boasts 12 home runs, 19 stolen bases, and a decent walk rate of 11% to go along with a slash line of .261/.354/.411. Even though the power and speed combination he’s flashed this year have only manifested themselves in one prior season (2016 at single A), he has consistently maintained a strong batting average and ability to get on base across his minor league career.
— Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) August 31, 2018
Taylor Trammell – this one was tough; I was tempted to pick Ibandel Isabel, who’s mashed 35 home runs and noticeably improved his overall hitting by raising his average to .258. But, Trammell gets on base at a far better clip (.357 OBP to Isabel’s .333, and a much better walk rate (12.6% to Isabel’s 8.6%). Trammell also has 25 stolen bags under his belt this season, and has shown consistent speed in previous seasons as well, with 41 last year and 24 in 2016. While I enjoy home runs as a fan, I give more weight to getting on base and taking walks from a fantasy baseball perspective, since those kinds of players tend to stick around longer.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 19, 2018
Jeter Downs – right below Shed Long in my top 10 Reds prospects; Downs has doubled his stolen bases (37) since my mid-season prospect rankings post back on July 27th. He’s slashing .257/.351/.402 with 13 home runs. I’d like to see him be more patient at the plate and cut down on the strikeouts (103 K’s so far this season) but he’s put together a pretty decent season to build on.
Josiah Gray – the college shortstop turned pitcher has put up a nice season for himself. In 52.1 innings, he’s accomplished a 10.15 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 0.17 HR/9, and a sterling 2.58 ERA and 3.07 FIP. I’ve seen several videos of him pitching both at college and with the Greenville Reds and I found his mechanics to be easy, smooth, and repeatable. I have high expectations for him if he can continue building on how he’s pitched so far.
Mariel Bautista – this kid knows how to put the ball in play! Bautista has put up solid average and OBP each season since first coming on the scene in 2015. This year, in 224 plate appearances, he’s slashing .325/.375/.537 with 14 stolen bases and 6 home runs. Like Josiah Gray, I expect to see Bautista move up the ladder sooner rather than later.
Rudie Verougstraete is the Cincinnati Reds correspondent at Prospects1500. He lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Shelly who is the Washington Nationals correspondent. He has been an avid baseball fan since 2015, participates in multiple fantasy baseball leagues, and attends Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA affiliate) and Washington Nationals games whenever he can! His favorite baseball function is First Pitch Arizona, a fantasy baseball conference hosted by Baseball HQ every year just outside Phoenix.