It’s that time of year again, to take a look at the top 50 Reds prospects and see whether they still belong where I ranked them back in January. As I tracked these prospects, it amazed me at times how drastically I changed my mind about some of them, in both positive and negative directions. Sometimes you get so excited about a prospect who is absolutely raking, then you look further back and see no previous track record of such performance, or you notice the the major league club isn’t calling up said player, and it makes you a bit more skeptical. On the other side of the coin you have players who initially flew under the radar for their first few seasons in the lower levels of the minors, only incrementally improving. And because the improvement was gradual it didn’t jump off the page, until you check back in on them one day and nearly fall out of your chair because they’ve figured something out.
A quick note before we dive into the updated rankings, and this is probably obvious but I want to make sure no one is caught off-guard. Nick Senzel is either already no longer prospect eligible or close to it, so that’s why I don’t include him in this list.
Ok, on to the good stuff!
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
1. Jonathan India (22, 3B, A+) – .252/.346/.413; 8 HR, 4 SB – India continues to show steady progress and those who have seen him live still like what they’re seeing from his at-bats. I don’t think he gets rushed through the system so patience will be required.
2. Hunter Greene (19, RHP, A) – 2018 stats: 68.1 IP, 3.29 FIP, 11.72 K/9, 3.03 BB/9 (Greene underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2019 season) – like all pitchers who have gone under the knife, it’s entirely possible that Greene may not be the same pitcher at all that he was the last season or two but I’d like to see how he does before bumping him down the list (fingers crossed that I won’t have to).
3. Taylor Trammell (21, OF, AA) – .239/.363/.324; 4 HR, 14 SB – Trammell is struggling this year with a strikeout rate that’s risen to 24% but he’s still walking at a good clip and the speed is still there; I’m giving him a mulligan and chalking it up to normal struggles minor leaguers go through after moving up a level.
4. Josh VanMeter (24, INF/OF, MLB) – .220/.347/.268; 1 SB – this stat line reflects only 49 plate
appearances at the major league level; much to my vexation, the Reds called him up and only used him off the bench, despite the fact that VanMeter was absolutely crushing it at AAA (and still is, now that he’s back at Louisville). In the past 10 days (as of 6/30/19) he’s hitting .415/.442/.634 with 6 doubles, a home run and 2 stolen bases. He has 14 homers and 8 stolen bases on the season. I was way too low on him in my last top 50. I think once the Reds clear their outfield logjam, we’ll see him return to the majors, possibly taking over Puig’s spot once his contract is up at the end of this year.
5. Aristides Aquino (25, OF, AAA) – .316/.368/.647; 17 HR, 3 SB – as I noted before, Aquino reliably hits for power and has always done so, but this year has greatly improved his average and OBP as well. Whether it’s for real or not is hard to say; I can’t tell from the limited video I’ve seen of him whether he made some sort of adjustment to his hitting mechanics. But the fact that he’s doing this against AAA level pitching is nevertheless impressive and in my view he’s worth taking a shot on.
6. Michael Siani (19, OF, A) – .228/.320/.328; 5 HR, 22 SB – drafted right out of high school, scouts rave about his defense; his routes to balls are highly efficient and his arm is extremely strong and accurate. His other calling card is speed, as he leads all of the top Reds prospects in swiped bags. The big question mark right now is whether he can reliably hit. He did last year, with a line of .288/.351/.368 in rookie ball. He’s struggling mightily this year at low-A but he’s also just 19 and it’s still very early, not much of a sample size to go off of. But because of his stolen base potential and his excellent defense giving him an advantage in playing time, I’m including him here inside my top 10.
7. Packy Naughton (23, LHP, AA) – 3.93 FIP, 3.72 ERA, 13.8 K%, 6.6 BB% – my gut feeling is Naughton’s future is as a mid-innings reliever, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this age of increased reliance on bullpens and the use of openers. Given the numbers he’s put up WITH a .300 BABIP my feeling is he could be an effective reliever/opener, particularly against lefties.
8. Tony Santillan (22, RHP, AA) – 4.24 FIP, 4.85 ERA, 20.3 K%, 10.3 BB% – in my pre-season top 50 rankings I noted that Santillan’s walk rate had been steadily decreasing over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, that progress made an abrupt U-turn this season as he’s been struggling with his command/control. Still, even the best prospects struggle at times and I still like his upside that I’ve seen flashes of. Not ready to make a change with him just yet.
9. Tyler Stephenson (22, C, AA) – .278/.356/.406, 4 HR – Stephenson is here in my rankings because he’s actually not terrible hitting-wise for a catcher, which is rare. In fact he’s been doing quite well, having hit decently going back and from reports I’ve seen, his defense has been improving.
10. Jose Siri (23, OF, AAA) – .258/.315/.367; 5 HR, 18 SB (this is his stat line from AA, as he *just* recently got promoted to AAA and only has five plate appearances there so far). – Siri continues to be a high risk, high reward type player. He brings above average defense and speed on the base paths with spurts of power, but also a tendency to swing freely and strike out. There’s also the problem of his temper and immaturity, which cost him a suspension for a confrontation with an umpire. Still, the improvement in his average and a slight improvement in his walk rate is promising.
11. Scott Moss (24, LHP, AA) – 3.85 FIP, 3.50 ERA, 28.4 K%, 15.5% BB – Moss is struggling with his command this year upon his promotion to AA (typically the toughest transition in the minor leagues) as evidenced by his career-high walk rate but there’s enough strikeout stuff there to maybe be a back of the rotation piece.
12. Nick Lodolo (21, LHP, Rk) – (2019 NCAA stats) 2.18 ERA, 0.95 WHIP – the Reds’ 1st round draft pick has the potential to be interesting. He doesn’t throw hard, but he has a wicked changeup (ranges from 74 mph to 81) with great separation between it and his fastball that sits 90 to 92, plus decent break. His strikeouts have been increasing since his freshman year at TCU, most recently 11.18 K/9. It seems there’s some decent upside.
13. Ryan Hendrix (24, RHP, AA) – 2.40 FIP, 0 ERA, 34 K%, 11.4 BB% – the strikeout stuff is there, no doubt about it, and his low FIP is equally desirable. But oh my word, the walks! IF he can get his command issues under control (a big “if” as his walk issues go back to his debut in 2016) then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to talk about closer potential, or setup man at the very least. But until he can show some progress with that, middle innings relief seems the most likely destination for him.
14. Alejo Lopez (23, 2B/3B, A+) – .283/.354/.342; 1 HR, 5 SB – modest number of stolen bases the past few seasons, not a lot of power, but he can just flat-out hit reliably. Yes, he is a little old to be at high A but he spent a few seasons at rookie ball, most likely because he was a J2 signing. I’m interested to see if he steals some more bases or adds some power.
15. Mitch Nay (25, 3B, AA) – .309/.369/.562; 10 HR, 1 SB – Nay fits right in among the Reds’ abundance of players who can hit well enough, just without the sparkle of home runs or stolen bases, though Nay managed 10 taters so far this season. Realistically, his ceiling is as a utility/bench bat.
16. T.J. Friedl (23, OF, AA) – .229/.341/.381; 5 HR, 12 SB – struggling a little bit this season but has hit reasonably well in prior seasons and posesses some speed for a fair number of stolen bases (19 last year).
17. Ibandel Isabel (24, 1B, AA) – .243/.304/.536; 19 HR – Isabel basically mashes home runs or strikes out. I had previously bumped him up a little on account of some improvement in his average last season but that didn’t last, and his strikeout rate regressed to an unsightly 40.9%. At best, a bench bat who would most likely be brought in to face lefty pitchers as he hits loogies much better than righties.
18. Brian O’Grady (27, 1B/OF, AAA) – .295/.369/.585; 20 HR, 12 SB – I had a hard time deciding where to put O’Grady; he really only started turning it on last year; prior, there wasn’t much to look at. I’m walking a line here between the fact that he’s old for a minor leaguer with little prior accomplishments, and the fact that he is absolutely raking right now.
19. Fidel Castro (20, OF, Rk) – .256/.286/.333
20. Lyon Richardson (19, RHP, A) – 4.00 FIP, 4.71 ERA, 20.8 K%, 6.6 BB%
21. Mariel Bautista (21, OF, A) – .254/.321/.365; 5 HR, 11 SB
22. Michael Beltre (24, OF, AA) – .219/.321/.281, 1 HR, 2 SB
23. Jimmy Herget (25, RHP, AAA) – 4.99 FIP, 3.58 ERA, 26.5 K%, 14.5 BB%
24. Narciso Crook (23, OF, AAA) – .319/.380/.519; 3 HR, 2 SB
25. Nick Longhi (23, 1B/OF, AAA) – .298/.364/.498, 10 HR
26. Andy Sugilio (22, OF, A+) – .311/.347/.370, 1 HR, 15 SB
27. Stuart Fairchild (23, OF, AA) – .429/.529/.786; 1 HR, 1 SB (recently promoted to AA, 17 plate appearances)
28. Vladimir Guitierrez (23, RHP, AAA) – 5.95 FIP, 7.04 ERA, 16.9 K%, 6.8 BB%
29. Jose Garcia (21, SS, A+) – .249/.311/.410; 5 HR, 6 SB
30. Gavin LaValley (B/3B, AA) – .253/.356/.401, 5 HR, 1 SB
31. Bruce Yari (24, 1B, A+) – .209/.307/.326, 5 HR, 2 SB
32. Hendrik Clementina (22, C, A+) – .232/.275/.411, 9 HR
33. Lorenzo Cedrola (21, OF, A+) – .256/.303/.364; 1 HR, 12 SB
34. Randy Ventura (21, OF, A+) – .226/.342/.247; 3 SB
35. Blake Trahan (25, 2B/SS, AAA) – .221/.277/.258; 2 SB
36. Jonathan Willems (20, 2B/3B, R) – .214/.244/.325; 2 HR, 3 SB
37. Alfredo Rodriguez (25, SS, AA) – .301/.345/.354; 11 SB
38. Brantley Bell (24, 2B/3B, AA) – .255/.319/.372; 5 HR, 8 SB
39. James Marinan (20, RHP, A) – 4.89 FIP, 5.35 ERA, 13.8 K%, 8.1 BB%
40. Shard Munroe (23, OF, A+) – (recently promoted to A+ so using his stats from A ball, as it’s a larger sample size); .197/.333/.338; 3 HR, 4 SB
41. Bren Spillane (22, 1B/OF, A) – .181/.284/.297; 4 HR, 5 SB
42. Chris Okey (24, C, AAA) – .121/.121/.152
43. Wyatt Strahan (26, RHP, AA) – 3.69 FIP, 5.13 ERA, 22.6 K%, 11.6 BB%
44. Drew Mount (23, OF, A+) – .244/.287/.345; 1 HR, 13 SB
45. Yonathan Mendoza (25, 3B/SS, A+) – .241/.300/.277; 1 HR, 1 SB
46. Dylan Harris (24, 2B, A+) – .214/.241/.250
47. Rece Hinds (18, SS, Rk) – just started at rookie ball, not enough of a sample size yet
48. Rylan Thomas (22, 1B, Rk) – (only played 1 game so far in 2019; using 2018 stats) .257/.400/.492; 10 HR
49. Miguel Hernandez (20, SS, A) – .236/.277/.307; 2 HR, 4 SB
50. Pabel Manzerano (23, C/1B, A) – .273/.294/.433; 8 HR, 1 SB
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.
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