Midseason Prospect Update: Reds

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues on June 26 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2015 draft are also not eligible.


The best thing that may have happened to the Reds this year is they have suffered enough injuries to eliminate delusions of grandeur.

Reds owner Bob Castellini has focused this team on the now for several years. To his credit, he's spent money to extend Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce to keep the nucleus of this team together.

But the win-now approach has also carried a cost, and that bill is coming due. Votto still has almost $200 million left on his contract, as the per-year salary grows from $14 million this year to $20 million next year, $22 million the year after and $25 million a year from 2018-2023.

That doesn't leave much room for re-upping Johnny Cueto or Mike Leake, both of whom will be free agents at the end of the season, or Aroldis Chapman (free agent after 2016). So if the Reds were still on the fringes of the playoff race, they'd be tempted to make one last push.

Instead, the Reds are closer to last-place Milwaukee than third-place Chicago and with Bailey, Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart all finished for the season with injuries, there's little incentive to make one final push.

Instead Cincinnati has some of the most valuable trade chips on the July trade market. Cueto is a front-of-the-rotation starter who can improve any team's playoff rotation. Leake has proven to be a very reliable back-end starter, and Bruce may also be available.

That's vital for a Reds' club that has seen its depth diminish in recent years. A few trades could do wonders for a farm system that has a number of arms but not a lot of potential regular position players.

MIDSEASON TOP 10

1. Robert Stephenson, rhp

There have been plenty of hiccups in Stephenson's development, but he now is starting to be able to diagnose his issues. When he rushes his delivery, he can have a horrible inning, but with a slightly dialed back fastball (92-94 mph), he's locating both his heater and his curveball better and has earned a promotion to Triple-A. Even with a bit less velocity, Stephenson has managed to improve his strikeout rate, which is a robust 9.97 for his career. He's close to being ready if (or when) Cueto and/or Leake gets traded.

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