Cincinnati Reds Midseason Top 10 Prospects
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Widely expected to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season in 2018, the Reds seem to be meeting expectations after starting the season 3-15 and firing manager Bryan Price. Since installing former bench coach Jim Riggleman as the interim manager the Reds have played much better baseball, going 36-36 over their next 72 games.
Led by the play of all-stars Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, the Reds’ offense entered the All-Star break ranking third in the National League in runs scored. The pitching staff, however, has had a much tougher season, ranking 26th in the majors with a 4.69 ERA.
Even with their improvement under Riggleman, the Reds sit in last place in the NL Central and are firmly sellers at the trade deadline. Iglesias and fellow relievers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez are all rumored to be moved, and the Reds have avenues to strengthen a farm system that ranked No. 10 entering the season.
The Reds need arms in particular to complement a system loaded with talented bats, and will be a team to watch at the deadline.
1. Nick Senzel, 2B/3B
Triple-A Louisville (disabled list)
Senzel has hit everywhere he’s been since the Reds drafted him and was on the verge of reaching the majors just two years after being the No. 2 overall selection. But then, the injury bug hit. He suffered his second case of vertigo and missed most of May, and on June 26 he had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger, ending his season after just 44 games. He performed when healthy, batting .310/.378/.509 while showing plus or better hit, power, arm and run tools, and he showed well at second base. Senzel will compete for a major league roster spot upon his return next year, and remains a cornerstone of the Reds future.
2. Taylor Trammell, OF
high Class A Daytona
An uber-athletic but raw outfielder the Reds drafted 35th overall in 2016, Trammell has taken a major step forward in 2018. Trammell hit .297/.392/.431 with seven home runs and 19 stolen bases through 81 games in the offense-stifling Florida State League, all while playing above-average defense in centerfield, and he was named MVP of the Futures Game after going 2-for-2 with a triple and a home run. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefthanded hitter has shown an improved approach at the plate in his second full season of pro ball, improving his walk rate and lowering his strikeout while establishing himself as one of the top prospects in the game.
3. Hunter Greene, RHP
low Class A Dayton
Commonly referred to as having the most pure talent of any prospect in the Reds’ system, Greene was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft thanks in large part to a lightning-quick right arm that regularly produces 100 mph fastballs, and he’s kept that velocity in pro ball. While the results were shaky at the beginning of his first full season, Greene has pitched better as of late, posting a 3.02 ERA over his last 11 starts. Overall, he has struck out 80 hitters through 63.1 innings, showcasing his 80-grade fastball, potentially plus slider and feel for a third-pitch changeup.
4. Jonathan India, SS/3B
The Reds made India the No. 5 overall pick in June after he won Southeastern Conference Player of the Year at Florida. He signed just north of $5.2 million. India shares a lot of similarities with Senzel as an SEC third baseman with an advanced hit tool and above-average power potential. There is some belief, however, that India might be able to play shortstop, as he did in high school and a little bit at Florida and in the Cape Cod League. He’s primarily played third base since reporting to Greenville, and that’s where he profiles long-term.
5. Tony Santillan, RHP
Santillan is a 6-foot-3, 240-pound power righthander who throws everything hard. With a 94-98 mph fastball and a slider and changeup that sit in the upper 80s, Santillan’s biggest issue may be a lack of velocity separation between his fastball and offspeed pitches. Still, the 21-year-old has dropped his walk rate to a career-low 6.1 percent in 2018 and performed well enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Pensacola on July 5. Having his strikeout rate tick back up his career norm of 25 percent, plus continued refinement of his offspeed pitches, is what Santillan needs to continue his trek toward Cincinnati.
6. Tyler Stephenson, C
high Class A Daytona
Both of Stephenson’s 2016 and 2017 seasons ended on the disabled list, with injuries varying from a concussion to a sprained left wrist and sprained right thumb. So far, Stephenson has stayed healthy in 2018 and hit .272/.354/.423 through 66 games. Stephenson’s best tools are his above-average arm and power potential, and now that he is staying on the field he is gaining the experience necessary to develop into an everyday major league catcher.
7. Jeter Downs, 2B/SS/3B
low Class A Dayton
Jeter has impressed in his first full season of pro ball, batting 265/.347/.429 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases through 83 games. After playing exclusively shortstop last season, Downs has spent the majority of his 2018 season at second base. A future move to third base isn’t out of the question, either. Regardless, Downs is proving his bat could profile anywhere, as the above-average runner is showing above-average power and an advanced approach at the plate.
8. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
Gutierrez has pitched much better over the last month after struggling in his first taste of Double-A. With a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and regularly touches 97 mph, Gutierrez has allowed a total of six earned runs in his last seven starts, spanning 43 innings. His curveball is showing above average and he flashes feel for a changeup with above-average command.
Continued refinement of his offspeed is in store for Gutierrez to help him reach his mid-rotation potential.
9. Shed Long, 2B
A catcher when the Reds drafted him, the 5-foot-8 Long has since transitioned into an offense-first second baseman. Despite his small stature, Long does a good job of getting leverage on his swing, resulting in 40 home runs and counting since the beginning of the 2016 season. His numbers have ticked down some in Double-A, but his main focus is maintaining average defense at second base, which will be key to him profiling as a big leaguer.
10. Jose Siri, OF
Siri did not make his 2018 debut until mid-May because of a thumb injury suffered in spring training, but was still promoted to Double-A on June 21. Siri has struggled in Double- A with his raw hitting approach and natural overaggressiveness, but his 80-grade speed, above-average center field defense and plus arm strength give him survivable tools to get onto a big league bench.
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- OF T.J. Friedl just continues to hit. The 22-year-old received a mid-season promotion to Double-A Pensacola and has hit .289 with a .400 on-base percentage through 88 games this year. He still shows 70-grade speed with a smooth left-handed swing and is increasingly profiling as a big leaguer.
- After making a brief, four-inning cameo out of Cincinnati’s bullpen last September, power righthander Keury Mella started his 2018 campaign in Double-A Pensacola but has since been promoted to Triple-A Louisville. Across the two levels, Mella is 8-3, 2.90 with 91 strikeouts and an opponent average of .222 in 90 innings. If Mella can continue his good form in Triple-A, it would be no surprise to see the 24-year-old to receive his first MLB start in September, if not sooner.
- C Chris Okey continues to struggle at the plate. After battling through hand and wrist injuries and hitting .185/.265/.249 in 93 games at high Class A Daytona in 2017, the Clemson product is hitting just .177/.239/.266 with a 31 percent strikeout rate at Double-A Pensacola.
- 1B Gavin LaValley has struggled in his second stint at Double-A Pensacola, hitting .202 with a .611 OPS and striking out in more than 27 percent of his at-bats.
- OF Aristedes Aquino continues to struggle with his plate discipline and is batting .243 with a .296 on-base percentage in a repeat season at Double-A.
- SS Alfredo Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list on April 16 with a broken hamate bone and hasn’t completely recovered from the injury. He briefly returned to high Class A Daytona in early June, but played just five games and has been out June 14.
- RHP Rookie Davis had offseason hip surgery and returned to the mound for the first time on July 6 in a rehab assignment in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
- RHP Tyler Mahle has cemented himself as a member of the Reds starting rotation long-term and had the second-best ERA among Reds starters at the All-Star break.
- OF Jesse Winker has split time with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler in the corners in Cincinnati and put together a solid rookie campaign. He hit .293/.404/.424 with six home runs and more walks (48) than strikeouts (44) through the All-Star break.
- RHP Dylan Floro blossomed into one the Reds’ most effective relievers with a 2.72 ERA and they were able to flip him for prospects in a trade with the Dodgers on July 4.