Top 10 Prospects (2017): Cincinnati Reds: An Unimpressive System, Despite The Rebuild

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For a team that is clearly rebuilding, the Reds’ system is not as impressive as you would hope. While there are some intriguing prospects near the top of the system, their trades of Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier (among others) have not stocked their minor league rosters with high-level prospects.  Who do they have that should intrigue us?  Who could soon make an impact?  Let’s take a look:


1) Nick Senzel – Third Baseman
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018

He may have been the second overall selection, but currently Senzel is the best prospect of the class.  Seeing a lot of time at Single-A (210 AB) he hit .329 with 7 HR and 15 SB, showing even more power potential by adding 23 doubles and 3 triples (.567 SLG).  The stolen base total is deceiving, as he’s not likely going to be a big-time contributor (though he should be able to chip in 10+ per season), and he also saw his numbers buoyed by a bit of luck (.392 BABIP).  Those two things should not take away from the performance, especially as he showed a strong command of the strike zone:

  • Strikeouts – 19.7%
  • Walks – 12.9%

He’s 21-years old (he’ll turn 22 in June) having been drafted out of college and should move quickly through the system.  It’s not out of the question that he gets a taste of the Majors in 2017, though a 2018 arrival is far more likely.


2) Amir Garrett – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

A popular breakout candidate heading into 2016, Garrett split time between Double and Triple-A showing strong numbers at both stops:

  • Double-A (77.0 IP) – 1.75 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.12 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 1.04 GO/AO
  • Triple-A (67.2 IP) – 3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.18 K/9, 4.12 BB/9, 1.22 GO/AO

Obviously the drop in strikeouts and rise in walks will be something to monitor closely, especially the control as he owns a minor league career 3.7 BB/9.  At 6’5” he is on the taller side, so it’s not a complete surprise that it’s taking him a little bit longer to discover that aspect of the game.  It should come in time and with his stuff/athleticism the upside of a top-of-the-rotation arm is real.


3) Luis Castillo – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

Acquired as part of a three-player package in exchange for Dan Straily, the converted reliever brings strikeout potential despite not yet showing it (7.0 K/9 over 131.2 IP between High-A and Double-A in ’16).  He throws hard and as he learns how to harness his stuff as a starter it’s easy to envision a strikeout per inning (or more).  The biggest question has always been his control, but that has been trending in the right direction:

  • 2014 (Single-A) – 3.8
  • 2015 (Single-A/High-A) – 2.8
  • 2016 (High-A/Double-A) – 1.7

He was even better prior to his 3 starts at Double-A (1.4 BB/9 over 117.2 IP at High-A), and when you couple that with a 1.20 GO/AO for his career it’s easy to envision strong numbers.  He’s not the biggest name in the system, but he’s close to arriving and should make an impact.


4) Robert Stephenson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

We all know the name, but the stock is falling as he continues to struggle with his control.  Forget about what he did in eight starts for the Reds in ’16 (6.08 ERA), look at the walk rates in the minors over the past three seasons:

  • 2014 – 4.9
  • 2015 – 4.7
  • 2016 – 4.7

He’ll turn 24-years old before the start of the season and it’s becoming a now or never situation, or with the influx of pitching talent in the system Stephenson is going to find himself pitching out of the bullpen.  The risks grow even greater when you notice his lack of groundball stuff (0.93 GO/AO for his minor league career, 0.87 over 192.1 IP at Triple-A) and therefore he could give up a lot of home runs in Cincinnati.  The upside is there, but he’s starting to lose his luster.


5) Taylor Trammell – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

High risk, high reward is the best way to describe Trammell (the 35th overall selection in the 2016 draft).  He showed off his upside in Rookie Ball (228 AB) as he hit .303 with 2 HR (as well as 9 doubles and 6 triples) and 24 SB.  He’s still raw, though, as he struck out 57 times (22.4%).  He was playing as an 18-year old and split his focus in high school between baseball and football, so there is time for him to work things out.  The speed clearly plays, and if he can learn to manage the strike zone he could prove to be an elite prospect as he grows into more power (he is already listed at 6’2” and 195 lbs.).


The Rest:

6) Aristides Aquino – Outfielder (Grade – B)
7) Tyler Mahle – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
8) Alfredo Rodriguez – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
9) Tyler Stephenson – Catcher (Grade – B-)
10) Jesse Winker – Outfielder (Grade – C+)

Sources – Fangraphs,,

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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