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 as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible.

SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 100

On the surface, the Reds’ first half of the season has been rather disastrous.

C Devin Mesoraco
1B Joey Votto
2B Jose Peraza
3B Nick Senzel
SS Zack Cozart
LF Adam Duvall
CF Billy Hamilton
RF Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Homer Bailey
No. 2 Starter Cody Reed
No. 3 Starter Robert Stephenson
No. 4 Starter Brandon Finnegan
No. 5 Starter Amir Garrett
Closer Raisel Iglesias

Cincinnati is battling with Atlanta and Minnesota for the worst record in baseball. The Reds have placed more than an entire rotation on the disabled list. Already 12 pitchers have started games for the Reds. Only two of them (Robert Stephenson and Raisel Iglesias) have posted league average or better ERAs. Amazingly the bullpen has been even worse.

It’s led to the club firing pitching coach Mark Riggins and to a seemingly never-ending shuffle of young pitcher after young pitcher joining the rotation.

But the reality is that the Reds were never going to be competitive this season. And within those parameters, the first half has been successful. Shortstop Zack Cozart, returning from a knee injury, and right fielder Jay Bruce have both managed to rebuild their trade value with strong first halves. Outfielder Adam Duvall, a pickup last summer in the Mike Leake trade, ranks among National League home run leaders.

Cincinnati’s return to respectability will take quite a while. But after spending massively in the draft and with a second July sell-off to add to the 2015 haul that brought back Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, John Lamb and Duvall, Cincinnati is making progress. It’s just slow progress.


1. Amir Garrett, lhp

Garrett has come a long way in the three seasons since he gave up basketball for good. His 90-95 mph fastball and his above-average if inconsistent slider and improving changeup gives him now a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. His athleticism has allowed him to make progress and improve his ability to repeat his mechanics. He has a very safe fallback option of being a lefty reliever who could pitch in high-leverage situations.

2. Robert Stephenson, rhp

Stephenson’s development is taking a long time, just like it did for Homer Bailey. Despite his success in two big league starts Stephenson’s not a finished product. He’s still got work to do with his control and command—his walk rate skyrocketed once he reached Double-A and has never gotten better largely because more advanced hitters lay off his curveball and changeup when they are out of the zone. He’s still working to throw both of them for more strikes.

3. Jesse Winker, of

Another year, another wrist injury. Winker’s season has been interrupted by a wrist injury that isn’t identical to last year’s issue but may be related. Winker puts together professional at-bats and draws walks, but scouts worry he won’t hit for enough power to be an everyday left fielder.

4. Tyler Mahle, rhp

Mahle impressed last year with his understanding of how to set up hitters and use his fastball/breaking ball/changeup in creative ways. That’s been true again this year as Mahle has thrown a no-hitter. He’s also shown increased velocity as his 91-93 mph fastball has touched 96-97 this year when he reaches back.

5. Tyler Stephenson, c

Stephenson’s season has been somewhat disastrous. He’s battled a number of injuries including, most notably, a concussion. Stephenson hasn’t hit and has work to do defensively where he hasn’t always been a clean receiver this year. The tools are there, but the health and the skills aren’t yet. Devin Mesoraco had a fairly similar start to his career, though.

6. Antonio Santillan, rhp

Santillan has a monster fastball that is plus-plus. That was to be expected as he showed that pre-draft. But no one expected he would be throwing as many strikes as he has this summer in the early going with Rookie-level Billings.

7. Aristides Aquino, of

Aquino may end up being an outfielder that tops out in Triple-A. But in an organization that is light on position prospects who project as potential starters, Aquino’s very impressive power and arm give him a chance to be a prototypical right fielder if his hit tool comes close to catching up to his power. He’s high-risk, high-reward and a long ways from Cincinnati for a player in high Class A.

8. Sal Romano, rhp

He starts now but it’s hard to find a scout who doesn’t see Romano ending up as a massive reliever in the Jonathan Broxton mold. Romano sits in the mid-90s as a starter but as a reliever, he could touch 100. The Reds would like to see him try to miss less bats but break more of them with his depleted uranium sinker.

9. Nick Travieso, rhp

Travieso has had his roughest year as a pro. But he still has a future either as a back-end starter or a power reliever. He sits around 92 mph but can touch 95 and he has the durable frame to eat innings. If he eventually moves to the pen he could focus on his fastball and average slider. His below-average changeup still needs work.

10. Jimmy Herget, rhp

Herget is a reliever who could move very quickly. There aren’t many righthanders who will throw a 97 mph fastball and then drop their arm angle on the next pitch to mess with the hitter. He can back-foot his slider to lefthanded hitters to keep them off balance and he throws all his offerings for strikes. Herget has control to go with plus stuff.


Brandon Dixon doesn’t really have a good defensive position, but he can hit enough to find some sort of big league role as a backup corner outfielder/second baseman/third baseman whose bat makes it worth living with his well below-average glove . . . Righthander Ariel Hernandez is a minor league Rule 5 pickup who is still way too wild but he has one of the best fastball/curveball combos in the minors. As crazy as it may sound, scouts give both plus-plus grades and you can find scouts who will throw 80s on them.


Alex Blandino has to hit to have value as an everyday regular. If he hits as expected, his solid defense at second or third base becomes an asset. But this year Blandino has been shockingly ineffective at the plate. When Blandino is right he collects hits in bunches. This year he had eight multi-hit games in 60 appearances . . . Third baseman Eric Jagielo hasn’t shown the tools of a future big league starter this year. The hope for the Reds is that like Jay Bruce, his knee injury may have “healed” but he’s not really back to full speed . . . Righthander Rookie Davis has battled a groin injury, so there is an excuse, but his velocity is down and he’s gotten too cutter happy.


Catcher Tyler Stephenson has missed time with a concussion and a wrist injury. The injuries and the difficulties getting his timing back when he returns to the lineup offer some solace to a .196/.267/.272 first half . . . Outfielder Yorman Rodriguez has missed the entire season and remains on the 60-day disabled list with a hamstring injury. He’s out of options so when he returns the Reds have to add him to the active roster or designate him for assignment after a 30-day rehabilitation stint in the minors . . . Righthander Zack Weiss has been sidelined all season with an elbow injury that has not required surgery . . . Righthander Jonathan Crawford (shoulder) has just returned to action for the first time in nearly two years. He was 90-92 mph in his first starts so the stuff is showing signs of coming back.


Middle infielder Jose Peraza hasn’t exhausted his rookie eligibility yet, but he likely will soon. He’s bouncing around the infield and outfield for Cincinnati while stealing bases at an excellent clip. If the Reds ever trade Zack Cozart, he has shown enough at shortstop to get a shot at the job. . . Lefthander Cody Reed struggled in two of his first three big league starts, but he has the stuff to quickly become one of the best pitchers in the Reds’ rotation . . . Lefthander John Lamb has proven a steady member of the Cincinnati rotation.

COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks)
The Reds’ first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round)

1. Nick Senzel, 2b, Tennessee. Arguably the most polished college bat in the draft class coming out of Tennessee, Senzel immediately becomes the Reds’ long-term answer at third base.

1s. Taylor Trammell, of, Mount Paran Christian School, Kennesaw, Ga. Trammell is a center fielder with excellent speed with the bat speed and strike-zone discipline to be a potentially impact hitter as well.

2. Chris Okey, c, Clemson. Okey has a long track record of performing on big stages both at Clemson and with USA Baseball. He’s more well-rounded than exceptional, but he has a solid chance to be a big leaguer.

3. Nick Hanson, rhp, Prior Lake HS, Savage, MinnHanson is a developing arm who blossomed as a senior as his velocity jumped to the low-90s, touching higher. His control needs to improve.

4. Scott Moss, lhp, Florida. Moss has barely pitched the last two years at Florida as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, but he was very good late with a power fastball and slider.

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