Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 2015.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the ’15 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2016 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Anthony DeSclafani, RHP: The 2015 season saw some impressive pitching prospects make their debut — such as Noah Syndergaard, Lance McCullers and Carlos Rodon — but it was the Reds prospect that led the pack in innings pitched at 184.2 and WAR at 3.2. A college reliever, DeSclafani has taken well to starting and has a chance to be a solid, innings-eating, mid-rotation starter for the Reds.
The Riser: Amir Garrett, LHP: Originally allowed to play college basketball when not pitching, Garrett is now focused on baseball full time and it’s shown. The lefty has a firm fastball in the low 90s and his secondary stuff is starting to show a lot of improvement. He has an excellent pitcher’s frame and could continue to add velocity with the increased focus on his craft. After striking out 133 batters in 140.1 innings in 2015, he should move up to Double-A in 2016 and could even see time in The Show. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
The Tumbler: Nick Howard, RHP: The Reds have had some bad luck with prep hurlers taken in the first round of the draft in recent years. Nick Travieso (2012) has been underwhelming to date and even Robert Stephenson (2011) took a small step back last year. Howard (2014) had a downright ugly year with a 6.63 ERA and a demotion to the bullpen. Most troubling, he walked 50 batters in 38 innings. The Reds won’t abandon hope of him becoming a mid-rotation starter but there is a lot of work to do to just help him find the plate again.
The ’15 Draft Pick: Tyler Stephenson, C: Prep catchers selected in the first round of the draft don’t have a huge success rate but the Reds know a thing or two about developing them (see Devin Mesoraco). This young catcher is a huge guy at 6-4, 225 pounds but he moves well behind the plate and should have no issues sticking there. His power has yet to develop and he went deep just once in his pro debut but he could hit 15-20 home runs in his prime. The biggest concern is over his ability to make consistent contact against better pitching as he moves up the ladder through the system.
The Lottery Ticket: Aristides Aquino, OF: The Reds don’t take a lot of risk with the international market and don’t have a ton of success with toolsy, raw teenagers so it’s difficult to find a true lottery ticket in this organization. Aquino is a very athletic player but he was selected back in 2011 and hasn’t had a whole lot of success in pro ball. He has good speed, but hasn’t learned to steal bases and he has some power potential but his aggressive nature keeps him from tapping into it consistently. After posting a .281 on-base percentage as a 21-year-old prospect in Low-A ball, he may return to that level in 2016.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.