by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While we all know Nick Senzel is the team’s top prospect, though success in the Majors has helped to bring questions as to where his future lies. The decision to draft another infielder with their #1 pick in 2018 just further complicates things, but if he’s healthy and hitting the Reds will find a spot for Senzel. Injuries also plagued him, and with questions about Hunter Greene also loom the health of the Reds’ top prospects may be the biggest story line.
That’s not to say that Cincinnati doesn’t have an intriguing prospect base, with a trio of potentially elite prospects. Recent trades have diminished the system slightly (Jeter Downs and Shed Long have been dealt in separate deals), but it didn’t create a significant void. Let’s take a look:
1) Nick Senzel – Third Baseman
Grade – A
ETA – 2019
Last year was supposed to be the season that he rose to the Majors, but injuries helped to limit him (171 AB) and there are questions as to where he’ll fit in the Majors. The latter is a good problem for the organization, and one that should ultimately sort itself out.
When on the field Senzel continued to show his value with the bat, hitting .310 with 6 HR and 8 SB. He added 12 doubles and 2 triples, showing his power potential, and his 10.2% SwStr% and 25.4% line drive rate at Triple-A helps to show his ability to handle the bat. There’s no questioning his upside and he could profile as a .290 hitter with 30+ HR and the ability to chip in 10+ SB. He needs to prove capable of staying on the field, and once he does he’s going to make an impact.
2) Taylor Trammell – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
The left-handed hitter played the year at High-A, going .277 with 8 HR and 25 SB over 397 AB. He’s not going to be a huge power threat, but there’s room for more growth and he should develop into 12-15 HR annually. That’s a solid number, but it’s not his standout skill…
That’s his speed, as no one has questioned his athleticism. He swiped 25 bases last season, a year after swiping 41 in 491 AB at Single-A. With his ability to get on base (12.6% walk rate) coupled with that power there’s no questioning his upside as a potentially elite leadoff hitter. The key development will be in his ability to make consistent contact, with a 15.8% SwStr%. He’s still just 20-years old so there’s time for him to develop and improve in that regard, and if (and hopefully when) he does he’s going to start garnering a lot more attention.
3) Hunter Greene – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2022
The second overall selection in 2017, Greene made 18 starts at Single-A and posted an underwhelming 4.48 ERA. Further complicating things was that he was shutdown late in the year with a strained ligament in his elbow, a sign that Tommy John surgery could be on the horizon. That would obviously be a setback for the flame thrower and is really the only “headline” worth mentioning. We’ll have to wait and see how things progress, but don’t be surprised if 2019 becomes a lost season.
4) Jonathan India – Third Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2021
The fifth overall selection in 2018, India hit .240 with 6 HR and 6 SB over 150 AB. Adding 9 doubles and 1 triple, that has to get you excited about the power potential and a 15.2% walk rate and 23.3% line drive rate help to show his strong approach at the plate. We’ll have to watch his 12.2% SwStr%, though it was his first taste of professional baseball and the expectation is that he’ll be able to improve in that regard as he settles in and adjusts. The potential is there for him to move quickly and truly develop into a strong prospect. He’s a borderline B+ prospect already.
5) Tony Santillan – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
He split time between High-A (86.2 IP) and Double-A (62.1 IP), showing control (2.30 BB/9) to go along with strikeout potential (11.9% SwStr%). The fact that his SwStr% rose (12.3%), leading to an 8.81 K/9, while maintaining his control (2.31 BB/9) upon his promotion to Double-A only helps to strengthen his case. Maybe he doesn’t develop into a true ace, partly because of the groundball rate (43.3% at Double) potentially leading to home run issues, but he should be a solid starter and could arrive in the near future.
The Next Five:
6) Tyler Stephenson – Catcher (Grade – B)
A first round pick in 2015, Stephenson is finally starting to show signs of living up to the hype/pedigree. Playing the season at High-A he hit .250 with 11 HR over 450 PA, showing a solid approach (9.9% SwStr%), an ability to draw walks (10.0% walk rate) and even more power potential (20 doubles and 1 triple). Don’t sleep on him now as a breakout may be fully coming.
7) Vladimir Gutierrez – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
It’s easy to get discouraged, given a 4.35 ERA, but he showed strikeout potential (12.9% SwStr%) and solid control (2.33 BB/9) at Double-A. We’ll have to watch the long ball, as it’s something he struggled with (1.10 HR/9), he doesn’t own a dominant groundball rate (44.6%) and standing at 6’0” there are going to be concerns. It’s possible he’s ultimately transitioned to the bullpen, but for now look for the Reds to continue to try to develop him as a starter.
8) Mike Siani – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
A fourth round pick in 2018, the 19-year old presented himself well hitting .288 with 2 HR (11 total extra base hits) and 6 SB over 184 AB. He also showed a strong approach (9.0% SwStr%) and hit the ball hard (23.1% line drive rate). He’s going to need some time to develop, but he has the potential to develop and emerge over the next year or two.
9) T.J. Friedl – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
The question facing Friedl is going to be whether or not he can develop a little bit more power, because if he does he has the upside to be a top-of-the-order difference maker. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A he hit .284 with 30 SB over 489 AB, with an ability to make consistent contact (8.4% SwStr%) and willingness to draw a walk (11.6% walk rate). He doesn’t need to be a 20 HR threat, given the speed and approach, but if he can take a step forward into a 10-12 HR hitter he could be an all-around producer.
10) Jose Siri – Outfielder (Grade – C)
Siri is an intriguing prospect who brings power (17 doubles, 11 triples and 13 HR in 372 AB split between High-A and Double-A) and speed (23-for-29 in stolen bases) last season. The question is going to be if he can make enough contact, with a 20.5% SwStr% leading to a 30.1% strikeout rate. If he can’t get that straightened out he’s going to have a trouble realizing his potential.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference.
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: