It’s no secret that stolen bases are a rarity now across major league baseball (only seven players had more than 30 swiped bags in 2018), which means players who have a history of stolen bags are a hot commodity in many fantasy baseball leagues. Billy Hamilton may have moved on from the Reds, but there is someone in the lower levels of the Reds system who shows great promise for filling his shoes in that regard, and that is outfielder (who also dabbled in pitching in his prep days) Mike Siani (20, A), drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 June amateur draft.
To be honest, Siani will most likely always be a glove-first player; according to two scouting reports I looked at, his swing has some mechanical issues that limit his ability to loft the ball, in addition to his body type lacking the strength for consistent power, and instead tends to hit a lot of balls into the ground. However, scouts have raved about his outfield defense, noting efficient routes to fly balls and a very strong arm that can get the ball back to the catcher quickly. Fangraphs has him ranked 11th in their organizational rankings, with a 50/55 rating for fielding and a 60/60 rating for his throws. Being glove-first doesn’t sound great from a fantasy standpoint but while it’s not ideal, the solid defense does safeguard his playing time.
But even with a so-so bat (though at least one scouting report believes the hit tool will improve), there’s more to Siani that I think makes him a good fantasy value, and that’s stolen bases. Despite a poor batting line this year (.253/.338/.337), Siani is tearing up the base paths with 32 swiped bags so far this season at Class A Dayton, putting him at 16th in the entire minor league system in that category. Fangraphs puts his estimated time of arrival to the big leagues at 2022 and I’d agree with that time frame. I expect he’ll be promoted to A+ early next year if not before then; as I mentioned earlier, he’ll most likely be better known for his glove and speed but I still think his hitting is better than the numbers that he’s putting up currently. The Reds have some guys that can probably do an adequate job in center field between now and when Siani would be ready to be called up (Jose Siri has above-average defense as well, in addition to some speed on the bases, but Siani may supplant him if Siri can’t get his strikeouts down). But without a doubt Mike Siani is the Reds center fielder of the future, picking up where Billy Hamilton left off, but with more of a bat to contribute.