DAYTON, OH -Baseball America, the trade publication for Minor League Baseball, has announced its annual list of top-10 prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. All 10 players on this year's list have played for the Dayton Dragons. Six of the 10 players played for the Dragons in 2013.
Right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson, rated as the #2 prospect going into the 2013 season, has been elevated to #1 after a great year. Stephenson spent most of 2013 with the Dragons before a promotion to Bakersfield in July followed by a late-season jump to Double-A Pensacola. Featuring a fastball that reached 100 mph to go along with an outstanding curve and change-up, Stephenson made 14 starts with the Dragons, going 5-3 with a 2.57 earned run average. He struck out 96 batters and walked only 20 in 77 innings with the Dragons and limited opposing hitters to a combined average of just .200. After a slow start, Stephenson jumped into high gear beginning May 8 and allowed a total of four earned runs over his next eight starts. From May 8 until he was promoted after his start on July 13, Stephenson was 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA.
Stephenson's best start with the Dragons, and one of the most dominant in franchise history, came on May 30 at Fifth Third Field against South Bend. Stephenson was perfect that night until a two-out, infield single in the sixth inning ended a string of 17 straight batters retired including eight on strikeouts. The infield single was the only hit he allowed that night. The game was one of four straight starts in which Stephenson did not allow an earned run.
Stephenson was also selected by Baseball America as the pitcher with the "Best Fastball" and pitcher with the "Best Curveball" in the Reds organization.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton, rated as the # 1 Reds prospect by Baseball America last year, is listed at #2 on today's ranking. Hamilton spent the 2013 season with Triple-A Louisville, batting .256 with six home runs and 75 stolen bases. He was called up to the Reds in September and captured national attention as an unstoppable base stealing threat. Used mostly as a pinch runner, he stole 13 bases in his first 11 big league games before being thrown out in his 14th and final attempt. In 19 at-bats with the Reds, he hit .368. Hamilton spent the 2011 season with the Dragons and set an all-time Reds organizational record by stealing 103 bases, then broke the record in 2012 with 155, the highest total in professional baseball history.
Outfielder Phillip Ervin, the Reds first round draft pick in 2013, was rated as the #3 prospect in the Reds organization. Ervin played at Billings initially after signed with the Reds and then was promoted to Dayton on July 30, where he appeared in 12 games, batting .349. For the year, Ervin played in 46 games between Dayton and Billings, batting .331 with nine home runs and 35 runs batted in.
Jesse Winker, the Dragons popular left fielder and all-star game starter in 2013, is the #4 prospect on the list. He led the Dragons in home runs this past season with 16 while batting .281 with 76 RBI. He won the Home Run Derby at the Midwest League All-Star Game at Fifth Third Field on June 18.
Yorman Rodriguez, who played for the Dragons in 2011 and 2012, is listed as the #5 prospect. Rodriguez split the 2013 season between Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, batting a combined .259 with 13 homers and 66 RBI.
Michael Lorenzen, a right-handed pitcher who was the Reds supplemental first round draft pick in 2013, was picked as the #6 prospect. Lorenzen made nine relief appearances in Dayton in 2013 without allowing a run.
Also in the top-10 were right-handed pitcher Carlos Contreras (2012 Dragons) at #7; right-handed pitcher Nick Travieso, (2013 Dragons) at #8; right-handed pitcher Ben Lively (2013 Dragons) at #9; and catcher Tucker Barnhart (2011 Dragons) at #10.
Here is the complete list from Baseball America:
1) Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
2) Billy Hamilton, center fielder
3) Phillip Ervin, outfielder
4) Jesse Winker, outfielder
5) Yorman Rodriguez, outfielder
6) Michael Lorenzen, right-handed pitcher
7) Carlos Contreras, right-handed pitcher
8) Nick Travieso, right-handed pitcher
9) Ben Lively, right-handed pitcher
10) Tucker Barnhart, catcher
Reds # 1 Prospects by season from Baseball America since 2000 (listed with the upcoming season):
* indicates player played for Dragons
2014: *Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
2013: *Billy Hamilton, shortstop/center fielder
2012: *Devin Mescoraco, catcher
2011: Aroldis Chapman, left-handed pitcher
2010: *Todd Frazier, third baseman/outfielder
2009: Yonder Alonso, first baseman
2008: *Jay Bruce, outfielder
2007: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2006: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2005: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2004: Ryan Wagner, right-handed pitcher
2003: *Chris Gruler, right-handed pitcher
2002: *Austin Kearns, outfielder
2001: *Austin Kearns, outfielder
2000: Gookie Dawkins, shortstop
Complete information on the list is available at baseballamerica.com
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.