Cincinnati Reds 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

As with all other MLB teams, 2020 was a strange year for the Reds, with no minor leagues and an abbreviated regular season followed by a much different-looking postseason than what we’re used to. It was a tough adjustment for everyone, but perhaps none more so than for minor league players who lost a season of development, aside from maybe those who managed to get in some playing time at the alternate site.

On the other hand, a bright spot was seeing Jose Garcia get called up, as well as appearances by Tejay Antone and Tyler Stephenson, both of whom exceeded my expectations for their first time in the majors. Reds fans have much to look forward to in coming seasons, with Hunter Greene looking good so far in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, as well as the development of promising draft picks in Rece Hinds and Austin Hendrick. While it was surprising to see the Reds deal closer Raisel Iglesias for such a light return in Noe Ramirez, the Reds have nice flexibility at that position between Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, and Antone, a luxury most teams don’t have.


The only other notable transaction was their trade of minor league prospect Jose Acosta (2B, R) to the Rangers for right fielder Scott Heineman. Acosta was one of a very few guys in the lower levels of their system that piqued my interest, as he had gotten off to quite a hot start, hitting .403/.503/.611 with 24 stolen bases and a 16.3% walk rate in 184 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League (2019), and then slashed .370/.396/.478 in the Arizona Rookie League.

There were a few international signings that the team announced on January 15th. The biggest name was Dominican OF Ariel Almonte ($1.85M signing bonus), and they also inked Brayan Rijo and Venezuelan Luis Reyes. They’re not getting slotted into the Top 50 at this time but could be included in the midseason update depending on 2021 progress.

While the Reds’ system isn’t particularly deep, there are enough interesting prospects with upside to contribute to keep the Reds in a competitive position for years to come.

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 a 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

There are no Reds prospects in Tier 1 this year

Tier 2

1. Tyler Stephenson, C
Age: 24
Highest level: MLB
While his defense and game-calling are still a work in progress, his bat is major league-ready. We’ve already seen flashes of power here and there, and his raw power potential should increasingly translate into in-game power alongside his already solid ability to make consistent contact. It seems highly likely he will be the Reds backup catcher next year, with the real possibility of becoming a starting catcher beyond that with continued work on his defense.

2. Nick Lodolo, LHP
Age: 22
Highest level: A
While Lodolo is still early in his minor league career (only 17 innings so far in rookie ball and then Single A), I loved what I saw from him in watching several starts on MiLB.TV last year. Yes, the command/control is a work in progress and raw at tines, but when his stuff was clicking, it was electric. With continued coaching, especially with the Driveline development the Reds have going on, there’s no reason to doubt that Lodolo can’t reach at least a solid number 3 starter.

3. Jose Garcia, SS
Age: 22
Highest level: MLB
Garcia made quite the jump last season, from advanced A straight to the majors. As one might expect, he struggled mightily in his first taste of the big show. Based on my limited observations of him, he seems an aggressive hitter; I don’t expect a high walk rate from him, which will limit his OBP some. But given the high praise of his swing mechanics I’ve seen in scouting reports, I still believe in modest in-game power and above-average (but perhaps not elite) ability to make contact.

4. Tejay Antone, RHP
Age: 27
Highest level: MLB
Two years ago, Antone was not a guy I ever expected to put this high in my rankings. But he revamped his pitch mix and managed to get his velocity up, and here we are: he’s now one of the Reds’ most valuable pitchers, equally capable of spot-starting or in relief. I expect the Reds will continue to take advantage of that flexibility and we should see him continue to be used in either roll as situations dictate.

5. Hunter Greene, RHP
Age: 21
Highest level: A
Though the news has thus far been positive about his rehab from Tommy John surgery, I remain somewhat concerned about his over-reliance on that hot fastball. I bumped him down a little because I would like to see him develop some better breaking or offspeed pitches and become a more complete pitcher.

6. Rece Hinds, 3B
Age: 20
Highest level: Rookie
Hinds had previously been labeled a high risk profile because of severe swing-and-miss tendencies and an over-aggressive approach at the plate, but more recent reports from the alternate site last season indicate that Hinds managed to greatly cut down on the strikeouts, reign in his approach some, while continuing to build on that monster power he has always had. I’m quite excited to see him in action hopefully next year!

7. Lyon Richardson, RHP
Age: 20
Highest level played: A
When he first entered the Reds’ system, Richardson struggled to go much more than 4 innings and there were real concerns about whether he could be a starter, despite showing three above-average pitches. He began to allay those concerns in 2019, going 112 innings while cutting down his walks and home runs, and increasing his strikeout rate. I’m a fan of Richardson just on the pure nasty stuff. It’s still a small sample size so for now I would say his realistic ceiling is as a back of the rotation starter, but I could see the Reds using him in relief.


(video from Dayton Dragons and Minor League Baseball)

Tier 3

8. Tony Santillan, RHP
Age: 23
Highest level: AA
Santillan took a step backwards in 2019 after stringing together several decent seasons; reports are he suffered an injury, and that combined with the abrupt change in pitching development in the Reds organization may have thrown him for a loop. He has some pretty nice late movement and good downward plane on his pitches; I expect him to get back on track in 2021. I still view him as a mid to back of the rotation starter.


(video from Chattanooga Lookouts and Minor League Baseball)

9. Tyler Callihan, 3B
Age: 20
Highest level: Rookie
The Reds’ third round pick in the 2019 June amateur draft, Callihan’s bat is unquestioned; likely a power hitter but capable of overall good contact. The question really is where does he fit in defensively? He’s listed as a third baseman and has gotten time there, but scouting reports think he fits better at first or DH.

10. Austin Hendrick, OF
Age: 19
Highest level: High School
Others have Hendrick ranked much higher, but I’m concerned about the swing-and-miss in his bat; one scouting report believes his hit tool will top out at average. Raw power is unquestioned and much of that should translate into game power. Considered a high risk prospect.

11. Riley O’Brien, RHP
Age: 25
Highest level: AA
Acquired from the Rays, O’Brien flashes nice strikeout stuff while (thus far) limiting home runs and earned runs; his only bugaboo to this point has been a high walk rate, but he should benefit from the Reds’ improved pitching development.

12. Jonathan India, 3B
Age: 24
Highest level: AA
I was once much higher on India; but having seen him struggle in the Arizona Fall League and not generate anywhere near the power he showed coming out of college, my expectations are tempered. Don’t misunderstand, he’s certainly starting infielder material and will still be productive (decent contact, good walk rates), just don’t expect elite level production like his college years.

13. Michael Siani, OF
Age: 21
Highest level: A
Siani’s calling card is gold glove-caliber defense and absolute wheels on the base paths (stole 45 bases in 2019!). This should be more than enough to secure every day playing time, even if his bat doesn’t completely come around. But there is still plenty of time for improvement to his hitting. Just keep in mind he’ll likely be a slap-hitter rather than generating any power.

14. Allan Cerda, OF
Age: 21
Highest level: Rookie
Cerda has a very good feel for lofting the ball and hitting for power, and has enough plate discipline to walk at a decent rate, but there are also holes in his swing that leads him to strike out a bunch. The power seems consistent enough to warrant his placement here.

15. Joel Kuhnel, RHP
Age: 25
Highest level: MLB
Sort of a late bloomer, Kuhnel went from fringe-average early in his minor league career, but then managed to boost his velocity and improved his slider in 2018, and while he struggled some in his MLB debut, I think has enough to be a useful reliever in the Reds bullpen.

Tier 4

16. Miguel Medrano, RHP
Age: 23
Highest level: Rookie
Consensus is he is just a few tweaks away from being a legit back of the rotation starter or, at worst, a long man in the bullpen. Command and control are both above average, throws a solid changeup for strikes, but curveball and fastball still need refining. A prime candidate to move up in my rankings with continued coaching and development.

17. Christian Roa, RHP
Age: 21
Highest level: College
Roa possesses several average to above average pitches (his curve, changeup, and slider) that get swing-and-miss, but his fastball is still inconsistent; enough there with further coaching that he has the potential for back of the rotation.

18. Mac Wainwright, OF
Age: 17
Highest level: High school
The Reds’ fourth round pick in 2020, Wainwright is a big, physical, yet athletic prospect with a strong arm that would play up well in right field, and shows good pop from the bat with inherent power thanks to his strong frame; unfortunately some injuries have limited his time on the showcase circuit, so there’s likely still more to find out about him.

19. TJ Friedl, OF
Age: 24
Highest level: AA
Fourth outfielder type; walks a little, some speed on the base paths, little power; decent overall contact. Could see him in a possible bench role at some point for the Reds

20. Jose Salvador, LHP
Age: 21
Highest level: Rookie
Tantalizing strikeout stuff with decent command/control so far but some of his repertoire needs refining. Possible back of the rotation starter with further coaching and development.

21. Jackson Miller, C
Age: 19
Highest level: High school
According to scouting reports, Miller has above-average athleticism for the position and shows signs of being a average to potentially above average catcher from a defensive standpoint. Reports on his hitting seemed fairly positive; work in progress as you’d expect, potential for a modest amount of power but generally a line drive approach.

22. Quin Cotton, OF
Age: 22
Highest level: Rookie
Average tools, plus speed, above average zone recognition but struggles to handle breaking pitches; swing path is not conducive to in-game power; enough there to make a fine 4th outfielder at the major league level.

23. Reiver Sanmartin, LHP
Age: 24
Highest level: AA
Relative lack of strikeouts for a reliever has kept him in the minors for a while; heavy ground ball rates, so far has been effective at limiting hard contact. Could see the Reds eventually using him in match-up situations in a bullpen that is a bit thin beyond their setup and closer guys.

24. Ryan Hendrix, RHP
Age: 26
Highest level: AA
Roster Resource on Fangraphs lists Hendrix as maybe being a part of the Red’s bullpen next year; I can see why they’d consider it: Hendrix has consistently put up impressive strikeout numbers across his minor league tenure (35-45% at times). But the other side of that coin is an ugly walk rate to mirror the K’s (bordering on the mid teens). I don’t think he’s someone who would stick in the bullpen but rather be an “up and down” guy to fill a hole in an emergency.

25. Bryce Bonnin, RHP
Age: 22
Highest level: College
Hard thrower, touched 97 in fall instructs; scouts feel strongly he’s reliever material and I agree, given that so far he’s a two-pitch pitcher and what he currently throws will play up more in the bullpen than starting.

26. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
Age: 25
Highest level: AAA
Gutierrez has frustrated me for a while; he’ll show flashes of good stuff (like a sexy loopy curveball that drops through a trap door), but his fastball is flat as a board and gets torched; scouting reports have noted issues with his mechanics. His most likely ceiling is as a reliever, barring a miraculous turn-around by the Reds’ Driveline pitching development.

27. Mariel Bautista, OF
Age: 23
Highest level: A
Above-average speed, good defender, has always put up good slash lines across his minor league career but the Reds must see something they don’t like, to keep him in rookie ball for so long. My guess is the lack of power; seems to not be able to squeak out more than singles; slap hitter approach.

28. Ivan Johnson, SS
Age: 22
Highest level: Rookie
Quick hands and explosive speed out of the box are promising assets (stole 11 bases in 2019), but scouting reports indicate he lacks feel for hitting; still very raw but also still very early in development.

29. Graham Ashcraft, RHP
Age: 22
Highest level: Rookie
High spin rates on his pitches is promising, but two hip surgeries in college makes me nervous, and lack of vertical break on his pitches translates to much development still needed.

30. Francis Peguero, RHP
Age: 23
Highest level: Rookie
Good velocity, sitting at around 96; fastball is plus but secondary stuff is lacking; still, managed impressive strikeout rates at times. A relief roll looks likely where that velocity can play up.

31. Junior Tamares, OF
Age: 19
Highest level: Rookie
Above average speed, stole 13 bases in 2019; scouting reports indicate that there is something there with the bat, with continued coaching/adjustments and reps; always a good sign for someone his age who just entered the lower levels of the system.

Tier 5

32. Yan Contreras, SS
Age: 19
Highest level: Rookie
Most obvious assets are above-average raw power that seems likely to translate into decent in-game power, and solid defense; overall contact is still very much a work in progress; tends to sell out for power.

33. Eduardo Salazar, RHP
Age: 22
Highest level: A
Solid velocity, sitting 94-96 and touching 99, but secondary stuff is lacking, and command/control is iffy at the moment.

34. Connor Bennett, RHP
Age: 23
Highest level: A+
Like Ryan Hendrix, high strikeout stuff but major command/control issues, as evidenced by BB% averaging in the teens; has been in the lower levels of the Reds system since 2015, if that tells you anything.

35. Jared Solomon, RHP
Age: 23
Highest level: A+
Likely reliever profile, with command/control issues but flashing decent strikeout stuff at times, but not enough to warrant a major league call-up anytime soon.

36. Luis Mey, RHP
Age: 19
Highest level: Rookie
Mey is a very hard thrower, sitting at 95-97 and touching 99 but his secondary pitches are extremely raw and command/control is still very much a work in progress; most likely role is in relief at this point.

37. Eric Yang, C
Age: 22
Highest level: Rookie
Nothing really jumps off the page from a hitting standpoint, aside from modest power, but thus far shows enough acumen defensively that with further development could fit into a backup catcher role.

38. Noah Davis, RHP
Age: 24
Highest level: Rookie
Injuries are a major concern as he’s already had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and was shut down for an upper back issue early in 2020; on the plus side he shows two above average breaking balls (curve and slider) and a promising fastball. Unfortunately his development is running behind with all the time he’s missed due to injury. Likely ceiling seems to be as a reliever or spot starter.

39. Joe Boyle, RHP
Age: 21
Highest level: College
The Reds’ 2020 fifth round pick, Boyle throws extremely hard, sitting at 98-100 and touching 102 but as you might imagine, the command/control leaves something to be desired. Obvious fit for a relief role; high risk prospect.

40. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Age: 26
Highest level: MLB (7.1 innings)
Reliever profile most likely, possibly spot starter; has an unusually deep pitch mix that’s fairly developed but doesn’t throw particularly hard.

41. Wendell Marrero, OF
Age: 20
Highest level: Rookie
The ingredients for an average hit tool and above-average power are there: good upper body strength, quick hands/wrists and plus bat speed. However, does tend to get out in front of breaking balls with his aggressive plate approach.

42. Jacob Heatherly, LHP
Age: 22
Highest level: A
Another likely reliever where his sometimes nasty stuff can play up; inconsistency has unfortunately been his hallmark; extremely variable from start to start.

43. Alfredo Rodriguez, SS
Age: 26
Highest level: AAA
Rodriguez has always been a superb defender, but the bat has lagged. Started improving his hard contact rate towards the end of the 2019 season and started walking more, but still chased and whiffed a lot. Sneaky speed and good instincts on the base paths for maybe 10-15 stolen bases.

44. Debby Santana, 3B
Age: 20
Highest level: Rookie
Tons of raw power, but hasn’t yet translated to in-game power due to issues with his swing; a correction to his mechanics would unlock 30-40 home run potential. High risk prospect.

45. Michel Triana, 1B
Age: 21
Highest level: participated in Reds’ instructional league
Triana has not been able to get in much playing time in the states due to visa issues and the shutdown resulting from the pandemic, but one look at him and it’s obvious he is a power-bat first baseman. Unfortunately due to the aforementioned circumstances, that’s about all we know at the moment.

46. Braylin Minier, SS
Age: 18
Highest level: 2019 international signee
Minier was invited to the Reds’ Fall Developmental Camp in Goodyear, AZ. Small sample size to go off of but a scouting report was positive about his hitting mechanics, profiles as an average hitter eventually; noted that he tends to sell out for power, could use more loft in his swing.

47. Danny Lantigua, OF
Age: 22
Highest level: A
Above-average bat speed and quick hands combine with a strong upper body to give him a ton of raw power, but his tendency to take huge swings and swing at bad pitches really hinders that potential at the moment. Will need to make major changes to his approach and develop a better eye for different pitches.

48. James Marinan, RHP
Age: 22
Highest level: A
Most likely a “back and forth” pitcher used in an emergency to fill a temporary hole in the starting rotation; throws a decent slider and sinking fastball apparently but command/control just isn’t there right now.

49. Fidel Castro, OF
Age: 22
Highest level: Rookie
I was once higher on Castro but he just never developed the modest in-game power upside that I thought was going to be there. Certainly not too late but I just haven’t read or seen anything that suggests he will be more than perhaps a bench bat/4th outfielder. Like many at this end of my rankings, blocked by players with more upside.

50. Miguel Hernandez, SS
Age: 21
Highest level: A
A superb defender, scouts thought the bat would come around as he filled out with age but neither of those has happened; makes average contact but little to no power. Highly likely to be a glove-first infielder and a prime candidate to be a late-innings pinch runner.




About Rudie Verougstraete 30 Articles
Rudie Verougstraete is the Cincinnati Reds correspondent at Prospects1500. He lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Shelly who is the Washington Nationals correspondent. He has been an avid baseball fan since 2015, participates in multiple fantasy baseball leagues, and attends Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA affiliate) and Washington Nationals games whenever he can! His favorite baseball function is First Pitch Arizona, a fantasy baseball conference hosted by Baseball HQ every year just outside Phoenix.

2 Comments

    • That was an oversight on my part, just sort of fell through the cracks. I’ll likely add him back for the mid-season update

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