The offseason has been unusually busy for the Cincinnati Reds, as they acquired pitchers Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, and Sonny Gray in addition to Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, in a bid to compete sooner rather than later, much to the delight of Reds fans who’ve had to endure some brutal seasons for quite some time. But even after shipping out Shed Long, Tanner Rainey, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs in these trades, the system is still stacked with talent that will make the Reds fun to watch for years to come. Given that, I thought it would be neat to make some predictions about various Reds prospects for the upcoming season. Like my 2019 Cincinnati Reds Top 50 prospects rankings, these predictions are “unscientific” if you will, and are just for fun, and based solely on a combination of past performance (i.e. stats I reference from Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, etc.), video I’ve seen, and just a general gut feeling. The stat lines you see below are what I think each prospect will accomplish this season, followed by some notes (i.e. will they get promoted to the next level, injury status, etc.)
1. Nick Senzel (.278/.341/.446), 12 HR, 10 SB – Senzel may start the season at AAA but it shouldn’t be long before he gets called up, most likely starting in center field for the Reds, as has been rumored for some time.
2. Taylor Trammell (.281/.374/.425), 7 HR, 28 SB – starts the year at AA but I can easily see him ending the year at AAA; as with most prospects who reach the upper levels of the system, I’d expect to see a brief, slight dip in his numbers when he encounters better pitching, but he’s immensely talented and I think it won’t take long for him to adjust and continue building on the success he’s already achieved.
3. Hunter Greene (10.68 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9, 3.35 xFIP – from everything I’ve been reading, his rehab is progressing well and he is on track to start the season after a short delay, likely at A+ Daytona Tortugas. The Reds like to take their time with their prospects, and given that Greene is coming back from injury they will likely carefully manage his innings this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greene struggled a bit as eases back into pitching, so my predicted stat line takes some regression into account.
4. Jonathan India (.258/.346/.443), 12 HR, 10 SB – struggled a bit after being promoted to Single-A Dayton, hitting just .229/.339/.396. I see him bouncing back this season, perhaps not to the level of what he was doing in college, but I see him continuing to take steps forward, and in particular I think his power (i.e. doubles/triples, home runs) will increase.
5. Ibandel Isabel (.265/.337/.565), 37 HR, 3 SB – led the minor leagues in home runs in 2018; despite a strikeout rate that rivals his power, he still achieved a very respectable 153 wRC+ and a .402 wOBA. As I researched him to decide where to place him in my top 50 Reds prospects list, I noticed that he’s been trying some different hitting mechanics, so I think he is trying to cut down on the K’s. If he can put a dent in the strikeouts this season, I see no reason why he can’t move up to AA. The power certainly is for real, and another 30 to 40 home run season seems likely.
6. Mike Siani (.280/.346/.384), 3 HR, 15 SB – Siani isn’t quite on the same level as Trammell and Greene and Senzel but he has a bright future in the organization and in my view is the future center fielder for the Reds. Scouts have raved about his defense and from video I’ve seen, I can confirm he does posses a cannon of an arm, with excellent accuracy and runs good routes tracking down fly balls. Add to that plus speed and good contact. Last year’s stats didn’t see him stealing much but I think he’ll start to put that speed to use this year.
7. Tony Santillan (8.34 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 3.35 ERA, 3.54 xFIP – Santillan continues to impress, having greatly cut his walk rate this year from 5.03 in 2015 to 2.31 in 2018 while maintaining an average K/9 of 9.32 over the past four seasons. His only blemish was a slight home run issue this year, but as I stated in my profile of him in a previous post, I like his mechanics and his pitches generally and I see him continuing to build on an already solid foundation. He’s only 21 so I don’t think the Reds will rush him. He’ll likely be back in AA this year but my hunch is he has a good chance of reaching AAA in 2020 at the latest.
8. Jose Siri (.246/.322/.456), 13 HR, 25 SB – Siri is one of those guys that’s immensely frustrating because his upside is incredible (lots of stolen bases and a moderate amount of home runs), but we have to keep waiting and waiting and waiting for it to really materialize, and that’s because of an extreme lack of plate discipline. 2018 was his worst year offensively, hitting a paltry .229/.300/.474 in 283 plate appearances. There were some reports that he wasn’t very “teachable” this year. I still believe in him. If he comes into 2019 with a better attitude and takes to heart what his coaches are telling him, makes some adjustments, he’ll quickly realize his potential and be on his way to the next level.
9. Mariel Bautista (.290/.378/.440), 5 HR, 18 SB – when I was putting together my Top 50 Reds prospects list, I was flabbergasted as to why Bautista hasn’t moved up yet from Rookie ball in four years, despite putting up numbers that match or even exceed those of guys ahead of him on my list. Granted, his BABIP is a bit inflated but even if you subtract some of that from the equation, it’s still clear the guy can hit and put the ball in play. I project him to be a solid contact and speed offensive threat. My expectation is that he finally gets the promotion he deserves, hopefully to at least Advanced-A.
10. Michael Beltre (.284/.406/.368), 5 HR, 12 SB – Beltre can hit, and get on base via walks at a pretty impressive rate (17.5% BB in 2018, and nothing below 10% in each of his previous seasons). No power, but there are a modest number of stolen bases, but he’ll need to show more of that to keep from being overshadowed by more toolsy players ahead of him. Beltre has been stuck in the lower minors for some time now because of the one-dimensional aspect of his game, so this year will be crucial to show he deserves to be moved up.