Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pair of Reds minor leaguers earn spot on Futures Game roster


Reds fans and baseball enthusiasts everywhere will get a glimpse at the stars of tomorrow when the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place on July 13. This is when minor league baseball's top talent will be on display at Target Field in Minneapolis ahead of the 2014 All-Star Game.

Representing the Reds will be arguably the organization's top hitter as well as its top pitcher: OF Jesse Winker and RHP Robert Stephenson. Both players have been named to the United States roster for the game while no Reds minor league player was chosen to the World side. But it should be noted that each MLB club must have at least one representative and no more than one.

Stephenson, the team's first round pick (27th overall) in the 2011 draft, is currently ranked by MLB.com as the top prospect in Cincinnati's farm system. Through 15 appearances for Double-A Pensacola this year, the right-hander is 3-5 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. As you can see, the numbers aren't great, but the potential for greatness is certainly there. The 21-year-old posseses a fastball in the mid to upper-90s with a quality breaking ball and a developing changeup. Many believe Stephenson will be a front-line starting pitcher for the Reds in the not-so-distant future.

Meanwhile, Winker is considered to be the most prolific hitter in a system that otherwise lacks quality bats. Selected 49th overall in the 2012 draft, the left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder is currently hitting .308/.424/.552 with 13 home runs, 50 RBI, 48 runs scored and 15 doubles. At just 20-years-old, the Florida native has already shown the ability to hit for both average and power in the professional ranks, and his .424 on-base percentage suggests he boasts tremendous plate discipline as well. Winker was recently promoted to Double-A Pensacola after beginning the season with Single-A Bakersfield.

Photo Credit: The Bats Signal

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