Cincinnati Reds 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Cincinnati Reds Top 50 Prospects for 2018

The Cincinnati Reds organization has taken a big step forward over the past few seasons. Picks like 2012’s Jesse Winker, 2013’s Phil Ervin, 2015’s Tyler Stephenson and Tony Santillan, 2016’s Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell, and 2017’s two-way phenom Hunter Greene are only the highlights among a bevy of talent. Many of these prospects were signed deep into their respective drafts. For example, 2015’s Alejo Lopez was signed in the 27th round, while Connor Bennett came seven rounds later.

There’s actually a fair amount of talent in the rookie and Class-A level. Indeed, it seems like most of this organization’s prospects spent last year at High-A Daytona or lower in the system, and are likely at least three years away. Consistent pitching is the biggest need at the major-league level at the moment, made all the more important by the fact that Great American Ball Park doubles as Cape Canaveral North.

Judging minor league futures can certainly be a hit-and-miss proposition, and anything can happen between riding the buses and forcing some unfortunate intern to tote your luggage. That being said, I took a look at the future of baseball in the Queen City, and that future could be bright.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster

 

Tier 1:

1. Nick Senzel, 3B
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Senzel appears to be everything he’s reported to be. Quick hands in the field and at the plate, Senzel starred at High-A Daytona (.847 OPS in 62 games) and was even better at Class-AA Pensacola (.973 OPS in 57 games), while covering third base with aplomb. He will likely head to Louisville after Spring Training, but could make his ML debut this year if he gets off to a hot start. Senzel makes frequent contact, driving the ball into the gaps and popping the occasional homer, though the extra-base knocks are more a product of a mechanically-sound swing and the ability to turn on the best fastballs than raw power. Senzel has a bright future at the hot corner in the big leagues. Here’s hoping the Reds will hold onto him.

Tier 2:

2. Jose Siri, OF
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Siri posted a great statline in 2017; he seemed to be constantly on base. An extra-base machine, Siri has great speed, along with suddenly-burgeoning power that had manifested in Class-A Dayton. He also swiped 46 bags in 58 attempts. His WRC+ of 140 is legit and is an indicator of things to come. In addition, at 6’2”, 175, Siri’s power may continue to grow as he adds on a little extra weight. A move to High-A Daytona in 2018 is a virtual lock, and he could see time in Pensacola this season as well.

3. Hunter Greene, RHP
Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
One of the best two-way prospects to come out of the draft in recent memory, Greene is legitimate star material at shortstop OR on the mound. As a pitcher, Greene sits in the high-90s with movement, and deals a slider around 83-84 with good horizontal movement. He has a good shot at developing at least an average change-up, but even without it he’s got obvious potential for becoming a high-leverage, late-inning reliever. In the field, Greene is a slick defender whose athleticism has allowed him to perform very well at the position despite his size (6’4”). His weakest tools are speed (fringe average) and contact at the plate. He will need work on making hard contact with pro-level breaking pitches, but should have little trouble adjusting. His size and lack of speed suggest he could end up at third base, where he would be blocked by Senzel as things stand now, but he could defy conventional wisdom and remain at short all the way up the chain. He does move very well and shows natural actions at the position, and of course his plus arm strength makes him a great fit at short. All in all, Greene is a likely star at either shortstop or pitcher. We’ve seen very little of him as a pro (obviously), but he could be pushed to Class-A this year, on the premise that his tool set will allow him to handle the advanced competition as well as the longer season.

4. Jesse Winker, OF
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
A 1st-round pick in 2012, Winker has been on Top 100 ML Prospect lists for the last few years, and for good reason. Having shown little, if any, difficulty in adjusting to pro ball, Winker has hit for high average, drawn plenty of walks, and added in 18-20 or so doubles with double-digit HR production from 2013-2016. When he made it to Louisville, however, his home-run total nearly bottomed out. Wrist injuries robbed him of his power, but he should retain doubles power. Power isn’t his first priority; Winker’s pitch recognition, as well as his ability to adjust to off-speed pitches and work the count, are as strong as any player in the organization. Playing half his games at GABP should boost his homer totals. Winker has a major-league bat right now, but defensively he is probably limited to left field, as he has just enough arm for the position and should be able to cover enough ground to become at least an average fielder. With only 121 AB in the majors, he’s still “prospect-eligible.”

5. Taylor Trammell, OF
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Trammell has taken to pro ball with little difficulty. An outstanding athlete with excellent speed, Trammell showed developing power at Class-A Dayton, though his extra-base totals (24 doubles, 10 triples) were probably a product of his speed as much as they were of his power. While he struck out a ton (123 in 129 games), he also drew a whopping 71 walks and slashed .818 in 491 at-bats. He’s a good fit in left field, especially since arm strength may be his weakest tool. It’s also likely that his speed will decline slightly over the next few seasons, whereas his power will reach at least ML-average levels. He’s a lock to head to High-A Daytona to start 2018, where a full season will likely net him an All-Star appearance and a possible late-season promotion to Pensacola.

6. Tyler Mahle, RHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
Precise command and a strong pitcher’s arsenal are Mahle’s hallmarks. With two no-hitters (one a perfect game) under his belt in the minors, Mahle had little to prove after 2017. Especially encouraging was the fact that he took to Class-AAA Louisville quickly (10 starts, 59 1/3 IP, 51 K, 13 BB, 2.73 ERA), though he has been reasonably consistent from season to season throughout his minor-league experience. With a fastball that sits anywhere from 93-95, Mahle works the zone methodically while mixing in an improving slider and change. He can ramp up his velocity to the high-90s, a pretty big separation from his usual speed. He could be a regular in the rotation for many years to come, barring injury, something which the Reds desperately need.

7. Shedric Long, 2B
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Small at 5’8” but strong, Long grades average across the board, though slightly above-average as hitter. He’s a smart base-runner which allows his fringe-average speed to play up. He is certainly an adept fielder, quick and fundamentally-sound glove-wise. His bat will have to carry him, going forward, but it could ultimately make him one of best bats at 2B in MLB. At his floor he’s likely to be a first-tier option off the bench, making occasional starts in the field, but I expect he will level out higher than that.

Tier 3:

8. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
He’s got a solid Grade 60 fastball, a reasonably-consistent curve, and a decent change, sits low-90s with his heat, but he can touch mid-90s. He has the stuff to become a ML-level starter (probably a 4th at peak). Gutierrez played his 1st pro season in 2017 at High-A Daytona and took to it well (4.46 ERA, 103 IP, 94 K, 19 BB), which I take as a good sign of things to come. There will be the obvious adjustment for him as he advances, but the foundation is there. If starting doesn’t work out at the higher levels, he could definitely become a strong short-relief option.

9. Aristides Aquino, OF
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Aquino has the appearance of the prototypical slugger-type hitter (6’4”, 220), but he’s also got a fantastic arm (Aquino had 28 outfield assists in 2016), and he’s now an above-average runner in the field and on the bases. His size could slow him down in future seasons, but he’s a very good base-runner in spite of that. He’s an easy 65 on the scouting scale in terms of raw power, though he needs to learn to tap into it more in game-time situations. He will need to work on pitch selection and dealing with more-advanced off-speed pitches as he climbs the ladder. If he can become even ML-average in terms of contact percentage, Aquino has plenty of value at the big-league level. He’s a low-risk prospect at this point and could be making his big-league debut in 2019.

10. Tony Santillan, RHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Santillan brings heat in the high-90s, with a slider around 84-85. He has the makings of at least an average change, but he’ll have to improve it if he starts at higher levels in the system. He’s a big kid at 6’3”, 240, and has had to work on his endurance. He did well in Dayton in 2017 (3.38 ERA in 25 appearances, 128 IP, 128 K), but will need to refine his command to be successful beyond A-ball. He’s got a good shot if he can maintain his stamina as he advances, and certainly has the makings of a ML-level starter (perhaps as high as a #3).

11. Jeter Downs, SS
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Named after that guy who played short in New York (he was alright), Jeter grades average or better across the board, but he gets high marks because he hustles on the field and is confident in his ability. He makes solid and frequent contact, and he’s got good enough range and arm to remain at short, but may be valuable in left as well. Downs will leg out extra bases here and there, as his advanced base-running skill makes his slightly-above-avg speed play up. K/BB ratio stands out for me; it’s excellent for his age. His eighteen errors are somewhat forgivable, and one could chalk it up to getting used to the speed of the game as a pro.

12. Tyler Stephenson, C
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Stephenson has a good arm at catcher, and grades average across the board otherwise. He showed good pop with 22 doubles in 80 games at Class-A Dayton, and should maintain average power as he advances. He’s 6’4”, 225, so staying behind the dish might become questionable as he ages. He does move well for his size though. He dealt with a concussion and wrist injuries in 2017, but ought to rebound from those without any difficulty. He looks the part of a regular catcher at the upper levels in the system, but whether or not he hits enough to be a regular in the order remains to be seen.

13. Jose Lopez, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Lopez is not a big guy (6’1”, 185), but there’s some growth remaining there. He already throws four solid-avg pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change) and makes them all work for him, working generally at 91-93 with his fastball. When he’s at his best, he sets up his breaking pitches consistently and effectively, and can still reach back for a little extra heat. Going forward, dropping the slider in favor of his 12-6 curve might be a good idea, as the curve could become a more consistent pitch for him. He handled 17 appearances in Pensacola very well (15 starts), averaging a strikeout per inning and keeping walks at a manageable total (3.3/9 IP). Lopez is another “high-floor” type, and all signs currently point to his becoming a 3rd or 4th starter at the ML level, but with his pitch combo there are any number of roles he could ultimately fill. As a short reliever, he could be dealing high-90s heat, with a curve and change-up mixed in, a valuable profile for any reliever. Watch his progress in 2018. He will likely break camp with Louisville, and adjusting well there could bring him to Cincy this season.

14. Jose Israel Garcia, SS
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: N/A
Not to be confused with Cardinal Jose Adolis Garcia, Jose Israel the super-athletic younger of the international Jose Garcias on prospect boards this year.  Signed out of Cuba back in June, many scouts view him as a plus runner with a plus arm and project him to be an everyday SS in the majors.

15. TJ Friedl, OF
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
Friedl has excellent speed, great reflexes and quickness, and plays efficient defense in any outfield position. He took to CF especially well, and currently projects as gap hitter who tallies a fair amount of extra-base hits borne of speed rather than power. He should continue to draw enough walks as he advances to boost his OPS, but his SLG% isn’t likely to go much higher than league average. Friedl can steal some bags, but will need to work on decision-making and pick his spots. He’s got only 143 pro games under his belt, so it remains to be seen just what he can do over a full season, but he certainly has value as a gap hitter with speed and a solid glove.

16. Alfredo Rodriguez, SS
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
An excellent runner, Rodriguez grades an easy 60 as a runner and fielder, as well as in arm strength. His value is in his glove, but he made frequent contact in High-A Daytona and could develop fringe-average pop as he continues up the chain. After 22 games with the rookie-level Reds in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, Rodriguez was jumped to High-A Daytona in 2017 and adjusted fairly well. He doesn’t strike out much (79 in 483 AB in 2017), but will need to square pitches up with some authority as he progresses. Simply putting the ball in the gaps could significantly boost his OPS (he had only 14 doubles in 118 games for Daytona). He still needs to learn how to use his speed to his best advantage, but it’s likely that base-running instruction will turn him into a 25+ steal player. He handles short with ease, with smooth actions and soft hands. Experience at second or perhaps in the outfield would boost his value considerably, but the raw tools are there for a spray hitter with little to no power who does everything else very well.

17. Stuart Fairchild, OF
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Fairchild is a solid player, all-around, though his arm strength is fringy. Speed is his best tool, and he could be a reliable base thief at the full-season level. Cincinnati’s 2nd round pick out of Wake Forest this past season could develop league-average pop, but likely it will come in the form of doubles and triples. He’s a very consistent and reliable glove in the outfield. At best, could be a table-setter or a #2. It’s VERY early to say, but the tools are there to give him a high floor.

Tier 4:

18. Rookie Davis, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Rookie by name, rookie by nature; Davis sports a three-pitch arsenal, with a fastball sits around 94-95, touching 96, a sharp curve in the low-to-mid 70s, and a change-up that has around 12 MPH of separation from his fastball at its best. He has dealt with injury issues over the past couple of seasons, but if healthy he could be a significant contributor to the Reds’ pen. He also has potential as a starter, if he can handle the workload. Either way, Davis should be a key factor in the Reds’ pen as they continue to build up the team.

19. Tanner Rainey, RHP
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Rainey has a great fastball-curve-slider combo, but command is a definite issue. He’ll rack up the Ks, but he still has to sharpen his location as he climbs the ranks. He struck out a ridiculous 77 in 45 innings at Daytona in 2017. He also made 14 appearances at Double-A Pensacola (17 IP), where he struck out 27 against 11 walks. The K rate definitely makes him interesting. His fastball sits 95-98 with movement. His slider is in the “plus” range movement-wise, but command of it is an ongoing issue for the time being. He’s got potential as a starter, but he’s likely to become a short reliever, and a very good one.

20. Keury Mella, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Mella has a very good fastball, with a slider that shows “plus” at times. He also throws an occasionally-good change-up. His three-pitch makeup could lead him to the rotation, but he has to manage his emotions on the field when things go badly, and he’s worked on this part of his game as well. His WHIP rates have been concerning – 1.328 with Class-AA Pensacola in 2017 over 27 appearances, near his minor-league career average of 1.309. Made his MLB debut this past September, working 4 innings in 2 games.

21. Jacob Heatherly, LHP
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Solidly-built at 6’2”, 208, Heatherly sits low 90s with his fastball and can ramp it up to 94-95 when needed. He works it in all quadrants of the zone and has a reputation for taking away the inside part of the plate. He’ll throw both a curve and slider, but needs to go with one or the other. Add into that a change that’s at least average and could improve, and it’s the sort of mix that could put him in a ML rotation in 4-5 years. Again, another very young player.

22. Nick Longhi, 1B
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
Something of a dark-horse prospect, Longhi hit well enough through nearly 5 seasons in the Red Sox organization. Though he popped 40 doubles for High-A Salem in 2016 while batting .282, he’s a contact-first bat for sure. Experience in the corner OF spots helps his value and he could end up producing average power numbers in the next year or two, but his ability to put the ball in play to all fields with regularity is his game offensively. He certainly has enough arm for left, and won’t hurt you in right field, either.

23. Jimmy Herget, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
A 6th-round pick in 2015 out of the University of South Florida, Herget has had little trouble adjusting to the pro ranks. His is a fastball-slider combo, with velocity comfortably in the mid-90s and an improving slider. After cruising through 24 appearances with Pensacola (2.73 ERA, 44 K in 29 2/3 IP), Herget performed well in Louisville as well (3.06 ERA, 28 K in 32 1/3 IP, 9 saves). A return to Louisville is not out of the question, especially if there’s a logjam of relievers in Cincy when camp breaks, but there is little to keep him in the minors at this point. Expect appearances at GABP as early as June.

24. Ariel Hernandez, RHP
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: MLB
“Only” 25, Hernandez got his first taste of the big leagues last year but has actually been around since 2009 when the Giants signed him as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.  Through 8 seasons (didn’t pitch in 2014), Hernandez owns a 3.75 career MiLB ERA and a 10.1 K/9.  He tossed 24 1/3 innings for the Reds last season, striking out 29 but gave up 14 hits and 14 ER. If he doesn’t break camp with the major league squad, he’s ready to bounce back to the Reds bullpen as RosterResource.com has him 1st on the depth chart for Reds Triple-A relievers.

25. Gavin LaValley, 1B
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
LaValley is a better-than-average defender at first, but his size (6’3” 235) might preclude his gaining experience anywhere else. Senzel isn’t going anywhere at 3B, and LaValley has struggled at the hot corner anyway (41 errors in 180 appearances), so it makes more sense to keep LaValley at 1B. He is starting to become a smarter hitter, and this makes his currently-average power play up, especially if he were to be hitting in GABP. He has worked hard on conditioning and it shows. LaValley will need to increase his value somewhat if he’s going to break into faster company in the majors, but given his draft profile and his large frame, it’s hoped that he can find his power stroke.

26. Alex Blandino, 2B
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
Blandino is a solid, if unspectacular, middle-infielder, whose glove plays up at second. Power is not his game, though he will occasionally take a “power-first” approach at the plate. He’s dependable, defensively, but how much offense he can provide is secondary so versatility is his game.

27. Chris Okey, C
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
Okey shows decent arm strength and mechanics behind the plate, transfers the ball well, and records better-than-average pop times (1.88-1.90). He’s got a quick release on throws to 2nd, with average arm strength. He also runs well for his position. He’ll sometimes try to muscle up the ball at bat, and does strike out a lot. He’s also got great intangibles and takes charge on the field. Going forward, he at least profiles as a backup option behind the plate; possibly a very good one, defensively, regardless of his offensive production.

28. Phil Ervin, OF
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Ervin has decent power to his pull side, but has a history of pulling off the plate with frequency. He has above-average speed and is a good runner. He can also draw his share of walks. Ervin is a good base-stealer, and he led the system in steals in 2016. His lack of bat speed is concerning, and his habit of trying to pull everything hurts his output, but his floor should still make him a dependable 4th outfielder.

29. Scott Moss, LHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Moss has a solid fastball-slider combo, but the change is not a strong offering (as is often the case with young pitchers). Injuries in his recent past were a concern until he made 26 starts for Dayton this past season, pitching 135 2/3 innings with 156 strikeouts. Moss targets his slider well when it’s at its best, and gets plenty of Ks on it. The lack of a third pitch going forward could limit him, but he could easily relieve at the higher levels in the future.

30. Miles Gordon, OF
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
It all seemed to come together in 2017 for this 4th-rounder out of St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. After slash lines of .567 and .741 in 2015 and 2016, respectively, Gordon slashed .919 on the strength of 15 doubles, five triples, and eight homers in 61 games. He runs very well, though he’s not a pure base-stealer. He covers plenty of ground in center and has played reliably there in the pro ranks. He should move on to Dayton this year and will bear watching.

Tier 5:

31. Ryan Hendrix, RHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
Hendrix hasn’t skipped a beat since being drafted in the 5th round in 2016. He has averaged 11.5 K/9 through 97 1/3 innings, split mostly between Dayton and Daytona with a high, but manageable 3.9 walks per nine. He sits high-90s with his fastball, and deals a high-spin-rate curve that has taken some work to learn to command but could be a consistent plus offering.

32. Miguel Hernandez, SS
Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level AZL Reds
Hernandez slashed .299/.338/.402/.740 across two levels of Rookie ball this past season.  In 69 games he only hit 2 HR (with 30 RBI) so the power isn’t there yet, but his speed is, logging 10 SB in 14 attempts.  He is likely blocked at SS in Cincinnati with 4 others ahead of him in the minors at this position (Calten Daal at AAA, then Blake Trahan, Rodriguez and Downs), not including International signee Jose Israel Garcia.

33. Michael Beltre, OF
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
A future speed-power threat, Beltre is pure potential. Players like this often have high floors, and Beltre is no exception. It’s a good bet that he could become an All-Star-caliber player while in the minors, but current game-time power is limited. He draws his share of walks, and kept strikeouts to a reasonable total. He runs very well and covers enough ground to play center, where he should end up as he advances. His glove and speed would play up in left, though, as he doesn’t quite have the arm for right field. Look for him to move quickly up the chain; he’s 22 now, and spent 2017 in Class-A Dayton, so look for him to head to High-A Daytona to start the 2018 season.

34. Blake Trahan, SS
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
An excellent runner, Trahan’s offense is built around contact and speed. There is little, if any, power in his bat, and it’s unlikely he will develop more than fringe-average pop, at best. But that’s not where his value lies. Trahan is a dependable defender at short, and he will likely diversify as he climbs the ladder, with time at second and perhaps even left field. If he can handle time at two positions, at least, he could easily project as a utility glove at the higher levels.

35. Sebastian Elizalde, OF
Age: 26
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
Hamstring injuries have limited his speed (which is still a key part of Elizalde’s game), but at his best he covers more than enough ground in the outfield (where he’s best at the corners) and takes efficient routes to the ball. At the plate, Elizalde makes frequent contact and legs out the extra base from time to time. As it looks now, his eventual peak is as an above-average defensive fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

36. Brandon Dixon, 2B
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
Having fallen just off the prospect radar, Dixon still brings value to the table. Having spent all of 2017 in Class-AAA Louisville, Dixon posted a slash of .783, with 31 doubles and 16 homers, while driving in 64 runs and swiping 18 bags. He spent a lot of time at third, but should be in left field or at first base more often in the future (93 games at third base, 24 errors). Dixon slashed 1.009 vs LHP, vs. .712 vs. righties, but even as a platoon bat he could be valuable off the bench.

37. Andy Sugilio, OF
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
After spending his fourth season in rookie ball, Sugilio had a bit of a breakthrough (.345, 40 RBI, 20 SB, 20 XBH in 62 games). He’s always been tough to strike out, but his slash lines have been mediocre or worse since his pro debut in 2014. Still, with his speed, if he can continue to make frequent contact in full-season Class-A, he could quickly become a more-prominent prospect in the Reds system. He’s made appearances in all three OF spots, but right field looks like a good fit for him. He is still somewhat raw defensively, but he’s got enough arm for right and could become a utility outfielder going forward anyway.

38. Brantley Bell, 2B
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: High-A Daytona
An 11th-round pick in 2015, Bell has shown himself to be an excellent defender at both second and short. In 2017 he managed to make 61 appearances at second without a single error for Class-A Dayton. Bell has struggled to make solid, consistent contact at the Class-A level and has shown very little pop, but he has good speed (29 SB in 2017) and is athletic. On his glove, alone, Bell is worth watching. If he can cut down the strikeouts, he’s at least got a shot at becoming a utility middle-infield option as he advances.

39. Eric Jagielo, 1B
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class-AAA Louisville
After a promising start to his career, showing developing power from his first pro season in 2013 until two years later in Class-AA Trenton, Jagielo’s bat has stalled since then. After a trade to Cincinnati from the New York Yankees, his average plummeted and his OPS dropped more than 220 points (.842 in 2015, .615 in 2016 with Pensacola). He is limited defensively to first base, so he will have to start pounding the ball in order to avoid getting stuck in Louisville.

40. Alejo Lopez, 2B
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Lopez had a bit of a breakthrough of his own in 2017 with rookie-level Billings, where he batted .300 with 10 doubles, six triples, four homers and 33 RBI. Perhaps more interesting was his extremely-low K rate; he went down on strikes only 28 times in 220 at-bats, reflective of his 19 whiffs in 205 AB in 2016. In 31 at-bats in his debut 2015 season, he didn’t strike out once. Yes, it’s rookie ball. I get that. But he’s age-appropriate for each season, thus far, he’s got demonstrable gap power, and enough speed to continue to steal in double-digit totals as he climbs the ladder. He has handled second base adeptly, recording a 4.63 Range Factor/9 over 80 career games, with nine errors. A full season at Dayton will tell us a lot more, of course, but he’ll be on my watch list.

41. Debby Santana, 3B
Age: 17
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Reds (Dominican Summer League)
Santana is a little bit of a mystery. Gauging the potential of a 17-year old kid with no prep time in the States is a tough one. However, the teenage third sacker (and, apparently, Brandon Phillips‘ new favorite player) has above-average game power currently, and at 6’2”, 185, has room for growth. He did make 14 errors in only 31 appearances at third base, but for a 16-year-old kid in his first pro season one can overlook that. He should move to the Pioneer League this coming season, where he will likely adjust well. Another long-term prospect to watch closely.

42. Connor Bennett, RHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Cincinnati’s 34th round pick in 2015, Bennett put things together in 2017 and started missing a lot of bats. In 22 games exclusively out of the bullpen, can you say 14.2 K/9?  That’s after 62 K in 39.1 IP.

43. Jesus Reyes, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Class AA-Pensacola
Reyes started 25 games between High-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola.  137 1/3 IP is a lot of innings at those levels, but Reyes will need to improve on his pedestrian 1.35 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 to move up the ladder to Triple-A.

44. Zack Weiss, RHP
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class AA-Pensacola
After not pitching in 2016 due to an elbow injury, Weiss put up some very good numbers between A+ and AA when he returned to the mound in 2017. Finishing 23 games total for Daytona and Pensacola he had 10 saves to go along with a 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 12.3 K/9. He’s right there on the minor league RP depth chart with Ariel Hernandez.

45. Randy Ventura, OF
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
This switch hitting rightfielder came over to Cincinnati in an August trade from Atlanta. Ventura’s slashline for the season was .290/.339/.342/.681 with only 2 HR and 26 RBI, but he has some success on the basepaths (38 SB in 52 attempts, 121 games).

46. Josh VanMeter, 3B
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: Class-AA Pensacola
VanMeter was San Diego’s 5th round pick in 2013. This coming season is a big campaign for the 22-year-old as he hasn’t shown the ability to feast on Double-A pitching like he was pretty much doing in High-A in 2016. Still, he tallied 167 total bases, good for 22nd overall in the Southern League.

47. Gabriel Guerrero, OF
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: AA
Guerrero, teammates with VanMeter in Pensacola, was 11th in the Southern League in total bases in 2017 (190). The nephew of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and cousin of Vlad Jr., should spend most of 2018, if not all, at Triple-A Louisville.

48. Jesse Adams, LHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Adams is 2016 14th rounder out of Boston College. 6 saves in 7 tries last season to go along with 83 K in 70 IP and a 2.44 ERA and stellar 0.87 WHIP.  Hopefully he starts in High-A this season and possibly gets a promotion to Double-A Pensacola in time for his 25th birthday in August.

49. Aaron Fossas, RHP
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: Class-A Dayton
Coming off TJ surgery, made pro debut in June 2016. Nephew of former MLB southpaw Tony Fossas, Aaron went 6-6 in save opportunities with Dayton in 2017, with a line of 4-1, 2.43 ERA, 66 2/3 IP, 49 K and 1.16 WHIP.

50. Packy Naughton, LHP
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Rookie-Level Billings
Don’t you just love the name Packy Naughton? The Boston, MA native was Cincinnati’s 9th round pick last June out of Virginia Tech. He debuted with 14 games for Billings in the Pioneer League, starting 12, going 3-3, 63 K in 60 IP, with a 3.15 ERA. Look for him to probably begin with Class-A Dayton this season.

About Doc Riddle 5 Articles
Doc Riddle has been writing for sites such as SB Nation's Minor League Ball, Fansided's Kings of Kaufmann, The Crawfish Boxes, and Grading on The Curve, and Baseball Magazine, for the past eight years. He has been a contributing writer and photographer for various newspapers. He has also been a credentialed photographer for the Class-A Lexington Legends since 2015. His primary interest is in those stories not often told, and the lives of athletes away from the ball field. A 20+ year medical background has given him an understanding of the significance of sports-related injuries, as well as how they might affect a player's future performance.

4 Comments

  1. Bold move placing Siri at 2 over Trammell and even Winker for that matter. Are we just chalking this up to being a late bloomer? Because he was 2-4 years older than anyone else in that league. However I still grabbed him late in a draft just in case…

    • I feel like he’s hitting his stride, and could end up looking even better after the 2018 season is finished. He’s got a chance to race up the chain; could end up as one of those kids who goes from High-A to AAA in less than two years, with a shot at a Sept callup. I can see it with him. Siri was age-appropriate for Class-A, and while the Ks were a concern and he’ll need to rein in the aggressiveness at times at the higher levels, I feel like he’s got the tools to handle that adjustment. Some of his game will depend on his being able to handle failure as he advances, but he does seem to be maturing. He’s very high on my watchlist.

    • Who told you this? There is no mention of this in his MiLB.com profile and he’s still listed on the Billings Mustangs roster.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Sunday January 28, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links - FantasyRundown.com
  2. Prospects' Progress: Cincinnati Reds | Prospects1500
  3. Prospects of the Week: April 30 - May 6 | Prospects1500
  4. Scouting Report: Taylor Trammell - Cincinnati Reds
  5. 2018 MLB Draft Link Round-Up | Prospects1500

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