Cincinnati Reds to Send Seven Prospects to Arizona Fall League


As the minor league season is wrapping up and the playoffs are about to begin, teams have announced the players that they’re sending to play in the Arizona Fall League in October. The Cincinnati Reds are sending seven players to play for the Peoria Javelinas, including four right-handed pitchers and three position players. Last year, Jesse Winker, Kyle Waldrop and Raisel Iglesias were among the Reds prospects to shine in Arizona and the club is hoping some of these players star this year:

Nick Travieso (RHP): The 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft has spent the season at High-A Daytona, building on his breakout season with Low-A Daytona a year ago. Travieso boasts a 2.89 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 87.1 innings (18 starts), while striking out 7.4 and walking 3.1 per nine innings. He’ll be heading to the AFL to get some extra innings, as he missed nearly two months after suffering a hairline fracture in his right wrist after being hit by a line drive in June. There’s little reason to think that Travieso won’t start next season in Double-A Pensacola as the 21-year-old continues to inch his way toward the big leagues.

Zack Weiss (RHP): A dark horse to grab a spot in the Reds’ bullpen next year, Weiss has had a dominant year on the mound in 2015. Weiss, a sixth-round pick out of UCLA in 2013, started the season as the closer in Daytona, but was quickly promoted after giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out 22 in 11.2 innings. In Pensacola, Weiss has broken the team record for saves and has continued to strike out hitters at a high rate (11.7 K/9) to go along with his 2.55 ERA. He’s able to get all hitters out, but has been particularly dominant against left-handers, holding them to a .148 batting average.

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Stephen Johnson (RHP): It’s clear that Johnson has a lot of talent — his fastball has been clocked at 100 mph — but he still needs to work on his control, likely why the Reds are sending him to play in Arizona. He’s pitched four innings out of the bullpen in Double-A since coming over from the Giants in the Marlon Byrd trade and has yet to allow a run. Overall, Johnson has a 3.19 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, both career bests. As most hard-throwers are, Johnson is a high-strikeout pitcher, punching out 10.6 batters per nine innings in his minor league career. If he can bring down his walks (4.8 BB/9 in his career), the Reds could have a solid bullpen piece in the future.

Layne Somsen (RHP): The former 22nd-round pick has put it all together in 2015, putting up a 2.88 ERA between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville. Somsen, 26, is primarily a reliever, but has also started four games this season. He has a healthy strikeout rate of 8.8 K/9, but has seen his BB/9 rate go up by a full walk this year. Like Johnson, Somsen needs to fix those control troubles (4.2 BB/9), which is something he can work on in the AFL.

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Chad Wallach (C): After hitting .322/.431/.457 in the Marlins organization last season, it’s been more of a struggle for Wallach in his first full year at the High-A level. Wallach is still getting his share of extra-base hits (26 doubles, one triple, three homers), but his .247/.328/.350 slash line leaves something to be desired. The 23-year-old has also seen his walks decrease from a rate of 15.2 percent in 2014 to 9.3 percent, while his strikeouts have jumped up to 18.6 percent from 11.3 percent. His 2014 season at the plate still leaves plenty to be excited about, however, so the Reds will get an extended look at him in October.

Alex Blandino (SS): The 29th pick in the 2014 draft is quickly making his way through the Reds farm system and their top prospect lists. In only his second professional season, Blandino has already made his way to Double-A. His overall numbers have taken a hit as he continues to adjust to a new level of pitching, but his .275/.361/.419 line is still nothing to sneeze at. Blandino has also hit 23 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs, while driving in 49. He’s ranked as the Reds’ seventh-best prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and could climb the list even further with a strong AFL performance.

Phillip Ervin (OF): Ervin has had a bumpy start to his pro career since the Reds took him with their first-round pick in 2013, but he has a high ceiling. Regarded as a potential five-tool player, Ervin recently worked his way to Double-A and is hitting .240/.347/.380 with 20 doubles, 14 home runs and 68 runs batted in on the year. The batting average isn’t quite there for Ervin, but as you can see, the on-base percentage is, thanks to a 14.6 BB%. Perhaps his best tool is his speed, as he’s swiped 33 bases this year. Ervin has experience at all three outfield spots, but has primarily played left field in 2015.

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