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High expectations follow players drafted second overall, like Senzel, but even by those standards he has overachieved in his brief pro career. After a good start at low Class A Dayton in 2016, he jumped to high Class A Daytona in 2017 and earned a midseason promotion to Double-A Pensacola. Senzel performed better in the Southern League than he had in the Florida State League, particularly in terms of power production. He hit .340/.413/.560 with 10 home runs for the Blue Wahoos in 235 plate appearances. He finished the season on the disabled list with a bout of vertigo, but he reportedly began to feel better after returning home and resting. Scouts see plenty to like about Senzel from a tools standpoint, but those who have seen him time and again like the intangibles just as much. He runs hard, grinds out at-bats, takes extra bases, plays smart in the field and leads his team. He's not only the best player on the field but plays the hardest. That mentality is coupled with a good approach at the plate and a short, compact swing with good balance and bat speed, leading to high exit velocity off the bat. Opponents say they rarely see him get fooled, and he constantly barrels balls. While many questioned his power coming out of college, he has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Among his 10 Double-A homers were multiple shots to center field and the opposite field. Though not a prototypical burner, he still shows above-average speed to go with good instincts on the bases. Defensively, Senzel has shown the potential to be a plus defender at third with a strong, accurate arm that he has shown he can use on the run. He played shortstop and second base in addition to third base in college, but he has proven to be a quick study at third, working on his footwork with Pensacola bench coach Dick Schofield. With the emergence of Eugenio Suarez at third base in Cincinnati, the Reds don't feel rushed to promote Senzel to the big leagues. Still, they expect to have to make tough decisions in 2018, when Senzel will likely reach the big leagues. Both he and Suarez have shown defensive ability at third, but barring a trade, one of them could move to either second or a corner outfield spot. Senzel's versatily gives the Reds multiple options. Senzel will likely start 2018 at Triple-A Louisville, but he shouldn't be there too long.
The Reds were ecstatic when Greene “fell” to them as the second pick in the draft and paid him a $7.23 million bonus that is a record for the current draft format. The prep righthander was not only touted as the best player in the draft, but he also offered pro potential as both a power-hitting shortstop and a pitcher. Some scouts said he had the strongest and easiest arm they had ever seen in a shortstop. The Reds drafted Greene as a pitcher and let him DH at Rookie-level Billings as he built up his arm, but his days of playing shortstop are behind him. Greene said he's a full-time pitcher going forward. Greene pitches at 98-100 mph and touches 102 with a top-of-the-scale fastball. What's most notable is how easy he gets to triple-digit velocity. His slider flashes plus and his changeup has been more consistently plus, but he still is inconsistent with both of them–they were a little sharper in the summer before his senior year than they were in the leadup to the draft. He commands his fastball well, even when nearing the century mark, although scouts looking for nits to pick note that hitters seem to see the ball well coming out of Greene's hand, which helps explain why he gave up a .400 average against in Billings in his brief debut. At the plate he's shown raw power, but scouts worried about his hit tool. A steady glove at shortstop, he also has an obvious top-of-the-scale arm. The Reds will ease Greene into his first full year of pro ball, likely starting out at low Class A Dayton on tight pitch counts.
A record-breaking high school running back in Georgia who was his classification's player of the year, Trammell's multi-sport background kept him from playing baseball year-round. After drafting him 35th overall in 2016, the Reds signed Trammell for a well above-slot $3.2 million to woo him from his college football commitment at Georgia Tech–he was a top student with a 4.0 grade-point average. At low Class A Dayton in 2017, he ranked among the Midwest League top 10 in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. A gifted athlete, Trammell showed improved plate discipline, even if that's the area of his game that needs the most work. He has a feel to hit that should help him be an above-average to plus hitter. His bat has untapped power that should come as his body fills out. There are evaluators who believe he'll carry 20 more pounds on his athletic frame when he fully matures. If he fills out as expected he could blossom into a 20-25 home run hitter. Trammell's plus-plus speed helps cover poor jumps in the field. He projects as an average defender in center field, but his below-average arm could limit him to left field, especially if he slows down as expected as he gains size and strength. His speed also helps him on the bases where he has shown good instincts. There's an expectation that Trammell will trade some of that speed for increased power over the next five years. Trammell turned 20 after the season and should start 2018 at high Class A Daytona. He has the potential to develop into a first-division corner outfielder, particularly if his power continues to grow.
The younger brother of the Angels' Greg Mahle, Tyler became the second member of his family to reach the big leagues with a late-August callup in 2017. In previous years, Mahle had struggled to get settled in after a promotion, but in 2017 he performed right away at Triple-A Louisville and the big leagues. In April, he threw a perfect game for Double-A Pensacola. It was his second no-hitter in two seasons. Mahle has a skinny build and lacks the frontline stuff of some of the Reds' other pitching prospects, but his plus command and control allows him to succeed. He has an ability to mess with hitters' timing in a way few young pitchers can. While command will always be Mahle's calling card, he's hardly a soft-tosser. He sits in the low 90s but runs his fastball up to the mid 90s, and the final pitch of his April perfect game read 99 mph. Mahle likes to toy with hitters timing by intentionally varying the speed of his fastball, making it harder to time him. His slider and changeup are both potentially average offerings, with his slider flashing above-average. His below-average curveball is simply a get-over pitch. Mahle finished the season in Cincinnati by making four starts, and he will enter spring training with a chance to join the Opening Day rotaton. Ultimately, he profiles as a No. 4 starter.
Winker was the best hitter in every lineup he appeared until he played with Joey Votto. He has hit at every level, including at Triple-A Louisville, where he started for the second straight season in 2017. The Reds called him up three separate times, and he performed in the big leagues just as he had in the minors. Scouts don't question Winker's ability to hit, but as a corner outfielder, his power potential has long been questioned by scouts. He can put on a batting practice show and won the Midwest League all-star game home run derby several years ago, but his game power was lacking until he reached the big leagues. Winker hit seven home runs in 121 at-bats--or as many as he hit in the minors in 2016-17 combined. Winker has had a series of wrist injuries that did play a part in his limited power production–he broke his wrist diving for a ball in 2015 and the injury also affected him in 2016. Opinions on his fielding ability range from below-average to average in either corner outfield spot. Few players benefit from Great American Ball Park and its small outfield dimensions as much as Winker. It helps boost his potentially average power and aid his defense. General manager Dick Williams has already said Winker has nothing left to prove at Triple-A. At the very least, he will be a member of a big-league outfield rotation in 2018.
Even as a prep pitcher in Texas, Santillan looked like he would fit in with the Reds' recent infatuation with physical pitchers such as Sal Romano, Rookie Davis and Nick Travieso. In high school, he had a big fastball to go with a big body. Though he struggled in his first go-round in the Midwest League, he comported himself much better in 2017, ranking third in opponent average (.222), fourth in strikeouts (128) and fifth in ERA (3.38). Santillan has long had a near-top-of-the-scale fastball, but he refined his 88-91 mph changeup to be a potentially plus offering in 2017. His 90-91 mph slider is a work in progress that flashes plus with good tilt and depth, though he has shown little consistency with any of his pitches. His delivery has little deception, but he throws 96-98 mph with movement. He's not consistent with his delivery yet, which is why his velocity will vary pretty dramatically as he'll follow up a 92 mph fastball with a 100 mph one, and it's not always intentional. He pitches from the stretch at all times, which simplifies what he has to work on. His delivery is very uptempo and energetic and he's a fast worker. His ability to start depends on developing even fringe-average control. Right now Santillan's control and stuff varies widely, but at his best, he can dominate. With his talent, Santillan could move quickly if he can improve the consistency of his delivery and control. He will begin 2018 at high Class A Daytona, but he could continue climbing and reach Double-A Pensacola.
Siri's second go-round at low Class A Dayton went much better than his first. He hit just .145 in 27 games there in 2016 before being demoted to Rookie-level Billings, where he finished 2015. At Dayton in 2017, Siri not only led the Midwest League with 46 stolen bases and finished second in homers with 24. He also set a league record with a 39-game hitting streak. Siri's tools can make any scout drool–he is an 80 runner with plus raw power, arm strength and range in center field–but there is still a genuine concern about his hitting approach and makeup. Siri swings and misses frequently but impacts the ball when he connects. The Reds left him in low Class A all year despite his age (he's the same age as Senzel) because they wanted him to have success to build on. His agressiveness at the plate will be tested as he climbs the minor league ladder. Regardless, Siri has genuine power-speed potential and is a true center fielder, which makes him a high-risk, but high-reward prospect. If it all comes together, Siri is an excellent defender who could hit 25 home runs or more while stealing bases and hitting for modest average. Siri turns 23 during the 2018 season, which he should begin at high Class A Daytona. Ideally, he'll play well enough to move up to Double-A Pensacola or higher during the season to speed up his development.
Drafted as a catcher in the 12th round in 2013, Long moved to second base in 2015 to take advantage of his bat. He started slowly at high Class A Daytona in 2017 before catching fire and earning a starting nod in the Florida State League all-star game. He hit 13 homers in 62 games before being moving up to Double-A Pensacola, where a wrist injury sidelined him for three weeks in the final month of the season. Long's 5-foot-8 stature belies his power. He has a quick, strong wrists that produce thunder in his bat. He has a solid approach, even if he's not looking to walk. and has shown the ability to hit for average thanks in part to his short stroke. Defensively, Long has improved at second base to become a fringe-average, though his bat will always be his calling card. While not a burner, Long has the savvy to steal bases. Long's background behind the plate is a plus that can add flexibility as an emergency catcher, and that skill could be a tiebreaker as the Reds fill out their bench. Long will get another chance at Double-A in 2018 after struggling there in 2017. Though the Reds have plenty of options at second base, Long could work his way into the big league picture soon as he had more offensive potential than any of the Reds other second base candidates.
The Reds have been as aggressive as any team in terms of signing Cuban players. It started with Aroldis Chapman and continued with Raisel Iglesias and now includes Guerrero and shortstops Alfredo Rodriguez and Jose Israel Garcia. The Reds have a lot of confidence in their ability to both scout players coming out of Cuba and their ability to help Cuban players acclimate to playing in the States. Gutierrez, signed with the Reds for $4.75 million in August 2016. Shaking off the rust of a long layoff, he pitched for high Class A Daytona in 2017 and performed well before tiring near the end of the season and sitting out August. Like Iglesias, Gutierrez worked as a reliever in Cuba, and because he's less athletic than Iglesias, he could be destined for the bullpen eventually. He has flashed a plus fastball, a changeup and a pair of breaking balls, including a slider that is generally better than his curve. Gutierrez has gone back and forth over the years over which breaking ball he emphasizes. His curveball was better when he was in Cuba, then he shelved it for the slider which has been more consistent recently. At some point he may need to choose one because on some nights the two end up blending together. His fastball ranges from 90-97 mph depending on the night. Gutierrez attended instructional league and participated in drills but did not compete in games. Gutierrez should start 2018 at Double-A Pensacola, where the Reds hope he can pitch a full season. He was in big league camp in 2017, often paired in throwing groups with Iglesias, and he could do the same again in 2018.
Stephenson's second full season ended the same as his first on the disabled list at low Class A Dayton. In 2016, he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss time and then a right wrist injury that required surgery. Stephenson's 2017 season ended prematurely with a thumb injury suffered while sliding into second base. He returned in time for instructional league, giving the Reds a sense of optimism going forward. While Stephenson struggled in his first full year, he showed a better eye at the plate in his return to Dayton. His plus power potential is real, even if he hasn't put up eye-popping home run totals so far. His large frame oozes power potential that could only be bolstered once he reaches Great American Ball Park. The development timetable for catchers takes longer, and Stephenson's injuries have slowed him even more. He shows plus arm strength but his throwing mechanics need work, which help explain why he threw out just 21 percent of basestealers in 2017. As a long-limbed catcher, Stephenson has to work to maintain the flexibility to be an adequate receiver and there are scouts who worry that he'll simply be too big and too inflexible to handle it long-term. The most important thing Stephenson has to show is that he can stay on the field as he advances to high Class A Daytona in 2018.
Jeter Downs' mother was so impressed with the way a young Yankees shortstop played that she named her second son after Derek Jeter. Nearly 20 years later, he was drafted by one of the teams that passed on the future Hall of Famer in the 1993 draft. Downs' father played professionally in Colombia, and his older brother, Jerry, is a first baseman in the Red Sox organization. A Miami commitment, Downs passed on playing for the Hurricanes when the Reds took him 33rd overall. His potentially plus bat is his best tool, with gap-to-gap power. Downs started in rookie ball at Billings and showed a good approach with quality at-bats. He put up a .370 on-base percentage with the Mustangs, with 27 walks to 32 strikeouts in 50 games. He has good motions and hands at shortstop, with enough arm to stick there. Some evaluators wonder if Downs will be better suited at second base long-term, but the Reds will give him every chance to show that he can be an every-day shortstop. He'll likely start 2018 at low-Class A Dayton.
The Reds spent more than $30 million in the international signing period, including penalties, with Garcia representing the final splash, signing for a nearly $5 million bonus. The Reds followed him for years with the Cuban junior national team, where he played second base. The Reds believed that he could play shortstop, and that's where he'll start with them. He has the athleticism to move back to second, or even center field. The Reds liked not Garcia's athleticism and his energy and enthusiasm, as well as his smooth movements in the field, with the arm, range and feet to play shortstop. At the plate, he has shown an advanced approach for his age, using all fields. A righthanded hitter, he has a long swing, but does a good job of hitting balls on the outer third to the opposite field. He showed plus speed in his workouts before signing, increased from what he had shown in international competition. Working in the Reds' Dominican instructional league, he has started to fill out his large, projectable frame. Garcia will turn 20 as the 2018 season begins, so he'll move quicker than the typical first-year player and his feel for the game gives him a chance to handle more aggressive assignments.
The Reds started their Cuban spending spree in the 2016-17 international signing period by inking the slick-fielding Rodriguez to a $7 million signing bonus. A former rookie of the year in Cuba's Serie Nacional, he was also voted the league's best defensive shortstop, and that glove has done nothing to disappoint in his time in the U.S. Rodriguez spent all of the 2017 season at High-Class A Daytona, where he showed off his defensive prowess. The bat, though, has always been the question, and it will continue to be one. While Rodriguez has big league quality defense right now, the Reds have continued to be the biggest believer in his bat, something that so far has not played out statistically. In his first year in the U.S., he hit .253/.294/.294. Rodriguez will never have much power, but can add strength. In the first half, he hit an encouraging .272/.316/.315, but tired over the second half in his first full season. Most of all, he needs to improve his on-base skills to be a big league player. Rodriguez doesn't have to be a plus hitter to be a big leaguer, but even with his defense he has to provide some sort of offensive value, which means he needs to add strength and a little more plate discipline. He's similar to fellow Cuban shortstops Adeiny Hechavarria and Jose Iglesias, both of whom did show some offensive improvement after slow starts in the minors.
Aquino won the Reds' minor league player of the year award in 2016, and followed that with a flop in his first season in Double-A. After an impressive .273/.327/.519 showing in High A Daytona in 2016, he hit just .216/.282/.397 for the Blue Wahoos, but still managed 17 home runs. With 20 doubles and six triples, nearly half of his 99 hits went for extra bases. When Aquino does make contact, he's adept at using the entire field, and can drive the ball to any part of the park. Aquino has all the tools you could hope for–he's tall and powerfully built. He has both strength in his bat and in his arm. He's an excellent defender in right field, with good speed and a great arm. The hit tool is the biggest question. Against the advanced pitchers in Double-A, he struggled laying off pitches, especially breaking balls out of the zone. Until he develops some ability to take a late-strike breaking ball out of the zone, pitchers have zero reason to work in the zone. But challenge him with a fastball and he'll live up to his “Punisher” nickname. Aquino will likely repeat Double-A in 2018. His power is real, but he doesn't really fit as a backup outfielder, so he needs to show he can hit enough to play everyday.
Projected as a first-rounder headed into his senior season of high school, Heatherly fell to the second day of the draft, where the Reds pounced on him with the 77th overall pick. Cincinnati actually considered taking him in the second round, but passed in favor of Wake Forest center fielder Stuart Fairchild. The Reds still paid him second-round money, giving him a $1 million bonus to sign and forgo his commitment to Alabama. Once in the system, Heatherly pitched well in the Arizona League before earning a late-season callup to rookie league Billings, where he struggled in three appearances. The lefty sits in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball. His filled-out body belies his age; he's big and throws with a good downward plane. Despite his age, he has good pitchability and the presence on the mound of a more experienced player. He's working on his changeup and curveball, both of which have the makings of being above-average pitches, but neither is close to being consistently above-average yet. While the raw talent is there, Heatherly still needs time to develop in pro ball to get to his projection as a back-of-the-rotation starter with a chance for more. He will head to spring training competing to earn a spot in low Class A Dayton.
The Reds took Fairchild with the 38th overall pick, and see him as a true center fielder who could be in the big leagues within three years. The biggest part of that is his defense and speed. He covers plenty of ground in the field and has good instincts, making up for an average arm. Although he struggled in the Cape Cod League before his junior year, he had a solid debut with the wood bat in rookie ball, hitting .302/.393/.412 in Billings. Fairchild has a short, compact swing and a short stride, playing to his speed. He has shown the ability to let balls get in deep, and has a late trigger with a line-drive approach and good bat speed. His power developed in his junior year for the Demon Deacons, hitting five home runs in each of his first two seasons before hitting 17 as a junior. It's not a sure bet that power will translate to wood bats as Wake Forest's Gene Hooks Field is considered a great park for power. In Billings, he showed the power in batting practice, but it didn't necessarily translate into game situations. Scouts see him as having 10-15 home run power, but not the plus power his college stats might indicate. Fairchild will likely begin the season at low Class A Dayton, but there's a good chance he won't end the year there.
Friedl had one of the most engaging stories in 2016, when the Reds gave him $735,000, the highest-ever bonus for a non-drafted free agent. He was a redshirt sophomore at Nevada, and several area scouts didn't know that he was draft eligible while other scouts who did know he was draft eligible were worried about his somewhat slight frame. So he went unselected despite hitting .401 for the Wolf Pack. After he had a strong summer with USA Baseball's collegiate national team where he hit .290/.362/.452, the Reds won a bidding war for his services. Friedel's unique story may have brought him more notoriety than his actual skills. After hitting .284/.378/.472 at Low-A Dayton, he struggled to a .257/.313/.346 slash line in High-A Daytona, where he'll likely start 2018. Friedl has solid all-around tools, but no true plus skill. He's a good defender with a good enough arm to play all three spots. He makes contact at the plate and is a good bunter. He actually has a little more power than his slight frame would suggest, but neither his hit tool or power projects as better than fringe-average. Friedl projects as a fourth outfielder that would have to make serious strides at the plate to become an everyday regular. Still, he brings value off the bench, particularly with his defense and speed.
Cincinnati hasn't produced anyone with this much funk since Parliament Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. A starter out of South Florida, the Reds have had Herget in the bullpen from Day 1 and he's generally dominated, posting a lot of strikeouts while hitters rarely square him up. Herget comes at batters from several different angles, with elbows and knees flying and a mid-90s fastball, power sinker and a tight, sweeping slider. His mix of velocity, command and deception makes him death on righthanded hitters. He throws with no fear of using any pitch in any count. Herget does a good job of changing velocities and arm angles and he tries to mess with hitters timing as well, but his fringy changeup needs to improve to get lefties out. Against lefthanders, he tends to throw more from a three-quarters arm slot than a true sidearm. Herget had 25 saves between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville, holding hitters to a .226 batting average against. Herget was the only reliever on the U.S. roster for the Futures Game, throwing a scoreless inning in Miami. He should debut in the majors in 2018 and has a good shot at the Opening Day roster.
The Reds' first-rounder in 2013, Ervin made his major league debut in 2017, earning a pair of callups during the season. He played well in his brief big league time, including three home runs in his 64 plate appearances. A toolsy player, Ervin projects as an extra outfielder, but with more seasoning in the minors, has a shot to be more, although it's hard to see his path to being a first-division regular unless he revamps his approach and lays off more pitches off the outer half of the strike zone. He's struggled to hit for average in the minors, he has gotten on base at a decent clip because he will take a walk. There are holes in his swing and he can be beaten on the outside corner. He has a pull approach and his home run power is largely limited to left field, but with a tardy bat, he will wear out the opposite field for singles and doubles. He runs well in the field and on the bases, swiping 23 bags in 99 games in Triple-A. He has an above-average arm. While he is unlikely to be a star, Ervin's skillset projects to a be a bench outfielder capable of playing all three spots, which he did in the big leagues, with the ability to steal a base as a pinch-runner with above-average speed.
There's never been much doubt that Rainey would end up in the bullpen, and in 2017 he pitched exclusively as a reliever for the first time. He's big and throws hard--really hard. The Reds had him clocked as high as 102 mph in 2017. He spent time between high Class A and Double-A, striking out 104 batters in just 62 innings. Rainey's below-average command and his control still must improve, but if it does, he's got a shot to be a big league closer thanks to his top-of-the-scale fastball. Rainey already has the look of a big league closer, with intimidating size, Jonathan Broxton-size thighs and a light-em-up fastball. He can throw that fastball up in the zone, above the hitting plane and hitters can't get comfortable because every now and then, one gets away from him. His slider, like his fastball, is hard as it will touch 90 mph. It can be an above-average pitch if he commands it more, but even when he buries it, the power of it makes it hard for hitters to adjust to it. He has thrown a changeup in the past, but hasn't developed it. Now that he's working in the bullpen he has less in-game opportunities to work on it and less need to as well. If Rainey throws strikes, he could find himself in the big leagues in 2018. His delivery has a little effort, but there's not an glaring red flags, so there's hope he'll clean it up.
An offensive lineman in high school with a chance to play college football, LaValley has always had projected power, but only in 2017 did that carry over to games. LaValley had as many home runs in the first half of the season (15) as he did in his first two years of full-season ball combined. At the time of his promotion to Double-A, he led the Florida State League with those 15 home runs, not including a pair of homers he hit in the FSL All-Star Game en route to being named the game's MVP. Those homers dried up, though, in Double-A, where he hit just three in 67 games. LaValley struggled against more advanced pitching, and needs to improve his ability to recognize the breaking ball. He has played some third base in the past, but projects as a first baseman. He's a better athlete than many would suspect upon first glance, but it may not be enough to allow him to play in the outfield. LaValley played alongside Nick Senzel at High-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola this season, limiting his time at third base to just four innings in one game.
Mella was thought to be the main piece in the Reds' deadline deal that sent righthander Mike Leake to the Giants in 2015. That deal also netted outfielder Adam Duvall who has proven to be the headliner in return, as he was an all-star in 2016. Mella made his big league debut in 2017, pitching in two games for the Reds following the end of his season at Double-A Pensacola. Mella has been inconsistent, looking great for some periods and terrible in others. In 2016, he was called up from high Class A to Triple-A to make an emergency start for the Bats, and allowed one run on three hits in seven innings to end the season. Primarily a starter in the minors, Mella projects as a reliever in the big leagues. Scouts have projected him to relieve for years, but starting has allowed him to develop his pitches. Out of the bullpen, Mella's fastball ramped up to 95-97 mph, and he has an above-average changeup which comes in about 10 mph slower than his fastball with similar arm speed and deception. His power slider is a developing pitch which needs more depth. The Reds will likely give him every opportunity to continue to start, but few scouts think he will end up there. He projects as a setup man.
A two-way star in high school that was a viable prospect as a pitcher, Longhi played in just seven games for the Reds' Double-A team before he blew out his left elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery. He was off to a promising start with the team, going 6-for-19 with a home run and seven RBIs in those seven games. Cincinnati acquired him from Boston in exchange for $2.75 million in international bonus pool space. A righthanded hitter, Longhi was touted as one of the best pure hitters in Boston's system. He was a 30th-round pick by the Red Sox in 2013 and was signed to play at Louisiana State before getting $440,000 from Boston. Longhi has a flat bat plane that allows him to use the entire field. He hit just two home runs in all of 2016, and bounced back with six in 62 games at Double-A Portland before being traded to the Reds. A lefthanded thrower, he's limited to first base and corner outfield spots. Despite the surgery, he's expected to be ready for spring training. Longhi needs to develop more power to profile at power-oriented positions and his swing as of yet hasn't really allowed him to tap into his strength as he's geared to hit line drives more than lofting the ball.
Of the 10 rookies to start for the Reds in 2017, only Tyler Mahle was younger than Stephens, who made four starts and three relief appearances in the big leagues. He went five innings and picked up the win against the Cubs in his debut before heading back down to Triple-A Louisville. Stephens was as notable in high school as a quarterback and a third baseman as he was for pitching. And he would have been a two-way player for Alabama had he not signed with the Reds. Another of the Reds' big righthanders, Stephens has a four-pitch mix with his above-average fastball sitting around the 90-92 mph area, but was able to dial it up to 97 in the big leagues. He has good spin on his average curveball, while his slider is more of a show-me below-average pitch. The changeup is average. Stephens may lack a true plus pitch, but his feel for pitching and ability to mix a wide assortment of pitches gives him survival skills. He'll likely start 2018 in Triple-A and get a chance at the big league level throughout the season. His ceiling is probably a back-end-of-the-rotation starter, but he could also be useful out of the bullpen or as a swing man.
The Reds took Lopez in the sixth round of the 2014 draft despite the fact that he missed his entire junior year at Seton Hall after having Tommy John surgery. Lopez reached high Class A Daytona in 2016 and started at that level again in 2017. The Reds promoted him after nine starts with Daytona. He was even better in Pensacola. Lopez worked six or more innings in 10 consecutive Double-A starts despite being limited to less than 100 pitches per start. Lopez pitches in the low 90s, but can get up to 95 mph. He has an above-average slider that he can throw for strikes, while his below-average changeup is still a work in progress. Pensacola pitching coach Danny Darwin raves about Lopez's competitiveness and pitchability. Because of the stockpile of arms in Triple-A, Lopez will probably start 2018 in Double-A again, but should move up sometime in the season and could even find himself in the big leagues before the end of the year.
Gordon was a hockey player in 2015. Just two years later, the Canadian outfielder was a fourth-round pick, helping validate his decision to focus on the summer sport. Gordon was back at rookie league Billings in 2017, repeating the level after his 2016 stint there was cut to 22 games because of a shoulder injury. Still just 19, Gordon was the Mustangs' best player at the plate, hitting .319/.389/.538 with 28 of his 74 hits going for extra bases, including eight home runs. With Stuart Fairchild in center, Gordon mostly played right, though he has the speed and ability to play at least an average center field. He is starting to develop some power as he has grown into his projectable frame. He's strong, but can get stronger. Scouts project him as having average power potential. There are questions if his swing will translate at higher levels and if he can continue to hit for average, but he does have a relatively short stroke and above-average bat speed. Gordon is ready to head to low Class A Dayton and his first taste of full-season ball.
A first-rounder in 2014, Blandino put up arguably his best season as a pro, hitting better once he moved up to Triple-A Louisville, where he put up a .270/.390/.444 slash line in 63 games after hitting .259/.374/.462 at Double-A. With Louisville, he had 32 walks to just 37 strikeouts. It was a very good bounce-back season after an injury-plagued 2016 when hamstring injuries ruined his season. There's not a loud tool in Blandino's bag, although he has shown the ability to put up good at-bats, a valuable quality to be sure, but nothing that jumps off a page. He started his career with the Reds at shortstop, but he's below-average there and has largely stopped playing there. He's average at second or third base with good hands and an above-average arm. Blandino has the ability to put up double-digit homers in a full season, but is hardly a slugger. He plays with a coolness that's off-putting to some observers.Blandino is an average runner at best and was caught stealing more than he was successful in 2017. Blandino projects as a potential utility infielder who could end up as a second-division regular.
There was nothing in Naughton's statistics at Virginia Tech that indicated he would be drafted. Despite a 2-6 record and 6.24 ERA for the Hokies, the Reds liked what they saw. Naughton throws his fastball in the 92-94 mph range with an easy delivery. At Billings, he went 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 14 appearances, including 12 starts. He throws a slider, curveball and changeup in addition to a plus fastball. He'll throw his slider from a three-quarters arm angle and then drop a true curveball. He has a good changeup that he throws in the low 80s. The Boston native throws all four pitches for strikes and competes well. Naughton has a strange pitching motion with some funk, but is able to repeat it, adding some deception to the delivery. He'll start for now as his feel for pitching gives him survival skills.
Moss was limited to one year at Florida after Tommy John surgery, and he was limited to mid-week starting duties and relief on the weekends. The Reds thought Moss was similar to Anthony DeSclafani, another pitcher who was buried on the Gators' depth chart before becoming a big leaguer. Moss' average fastball sits in the 88-93 mph range and also has a potentially average slider and changeup. He has a bit of a herky-jerky motion and wraps his wrist, but is able to repeat the delivery and some of that funkiness adds deception to stuff that can only be described as average. He has plus command and control, which helped him against young hitters in the Midwest League. Moss could be a back-of-the-rotation starter or a matchup guy in the big leagues.
Hanson was already a little behind because he came from a cold weather state in Minnesota, but then he had Tommy John surgery in 2017, costing him another year of development. Still, he has a big arm to go with a spindly, 6-foot-5 frame that can add plenty of bulk as he matures. Hanson had signed to play baseball at Kentucky, but a $925,000 bonus changed his mind and convinced him to try to go up Interstate 71 to Cincinnati. Before surgery, the righthander struggled to keep his mechanics in sync. He would often overthrow and spike his curveball. That curveball nonetheless flashes as a plus pitch when he stays in sync, he just has to show he can do that much more consistently. His fastball sat at 91-95 mph before his injury. If it returns, he has a chance to develop two plus pitches. Still 19, Hanson will likely start 2018 at Rookie-level Billings, and the Reds will keep it slow with him. He's a lottery ticket that if he hits, could move up quickly.
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