Winker (34) and Stephenson (35) lead way as Cincy system booms
By Mark Sheldon
CINCINNATI -- A positive sign in the burgeoning effort by the Reds to improve their farm system and rebuild at the Major League level came on Friday. It was revealed that the Reds have five players listed in MLBPipeline.com's 2016 preseason Top 100 prospects.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Rankings are done twice a year -- once in the preseason and again at midseason.
Winker, 22, overcame a slow first half last season and batted .282/.390/.433 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs in 123 games for Double-A Pensacola. A first-round compensation pick (49th overall) in the 2012 Draft, the lefty hitter was named the Reds' Minor League Hitter of the Year for 2015.
With an opening in left field, Winker will be at Spring Training to compete for the spot. However, it's more likely that he's given more time to develop at Triple-A before getting his first big league promotion.
Stephenson, who turns 23 on Feb. 24, is expected to contend for one of the open rotation spots this spring. In 25 starts combined for Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville, he was 8-11 with a 3.83 ERA and led the entire organization with 140 strikeouts.
The Reds' first-round selection (27th overall) in the 2011 Draft, Stephenson missed a couple of weeks with a strained right forearm. When he does get called up, it will be his Major League debut.
Reed, who turns 23 on April 15, was one of three left-handed pitchers acquired in the trade that sent ace Johnny Cueto to the Royals in July. At the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels last season, he was 13-9 with a 2.41 ERA over a combined 26 games.
Following the trade, Reed posted a 2.14 ERA in eight starts, and his 60 strikeouts for Double-A Pensacola were the most in Minor League Baseball over that stretch. He ended the regular season with 14 scoreless innings and 17 strikeouts over two starts.
Garrett, 23, was a 22nd-round pick by the Reds in the 2011 Draft, but fell to the later rounds because he was also a college basketball player for St. John's at the time. Since he gave up basketball to focus full-time on baseball two years ago, his progress has been rapid.
In 2015, Garrett was named to the Sirius-XM All-Star Futures Game and was also the Reds' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. At Class A Advanced Daytona, he was 9-7 with a 2.44 ERA in 26 starts with 133 strikeouts.
Peraza, who turns 22 on April 30, was acquired from the Dodgers in the three-team trade that sent third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Last season at Triple-A, he batted .293/.316/.378 with four homers, 42 RBIs and 33 steals. He also played in seven big league games for the Dodgers.
Considered to also have a strong glove, Peraza may have to wait his turn with Cincinnati. Efforts to trade incumbent second baseman Brandon Phillips were not successful, and Phillips has two years remaining on his contract. Peraza may get looks at shortstop or center field, but might need time in Louisville to get regular at-bats.