Top 26 Prospects: Cincinnati Reds

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. The KATOH (stats-only) statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Reds Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Nick Senzel 22 AA 3B 2018 60
2 Hunter Greene 18 R RHP 2021 55
3 Taylor Trammell 20 A OF 2021 55
4 Tyler Mahle 23 MLB RHP 2018 50
5 Jose Siri 22 A CF 2020 50
6 Jesse Winker 24 MLB OF 2018 50
7 Jose Israel Garcia 19 R SS 2021 50
8 Shedric Long 22 AA 2B 2019 50
9 Jeter Downs 19 R SS 2021 45
10 Tony Santillan 20 A RHP 2020 45
11 Tyler Stephenson 21 A C 2020 45
12 Vlad Gutierrez 22 A+ RHP 2019 45
13 Keury Mella 24 MLB RHP 2018 45
14 Alex Blandino 25 AAA 2B 2018 45
15 T.J. Friedl 22 A+ CF 2019 45
16 Tanner Rainey 25 AA RHP 2018 45
17 Stuart Fairchild 21 R OF 2020 40
18 Jimmy Herget 24 AAA RHP 2018 40
19 Aristides Aquino 23 AA OF 2019 40
20 Jose Lopez 24 R RHP 2018 40
21 Ariel Hernandez 25 MLB RHP 2017 40
22 Alfredo Rodriguez 23 R SS 2019 40
23 Jacob Heatherly 19 R LHP 2021 40
24 Miguel Hernandez 18 R SS 2023 40
25 Phil Ervin 25 MLB OF 2017 40
26 Chris Okey 23 A+ C 2019 40

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Tennessee
Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/70 55/55 40/55 55/55 45/55 55/55

Senzel had a spectacular season, slashing .321/.391/.514 between High-A and Double-A in his first full pro season. He’s one of the toughest outs in the minors, combining a patient, discerning, offensive approach with a simple swing, superlative hand-eye coordination, and bat control. Senzel doesn’t have monster raw power, nor does he seek to take max-effort swings by utilizing a big stride or leg kick. Instead, his power comes from precise, high-quality contact. He’s going to be a doubles machine with home runs coming opportunistically rather than as a core aspect of his approach, but he’ll still hit for power.

Senzel wasn’t a good defender as an underclassman at Tennessee. He entered his junior year as an athletic, but somewhat positionless, bat-first prospect who some scouts wanted to see move to second base in pro ball. He’s made significant defensive progress and some pro scouts think he could be a plus defender at peak at third base. Senzel has taken offseason reps at both outfield corners and at second base. He hasn’t been evaluated at any of those spots yet, but if he’s viable at any or all of them, it could accelerate his timetable to the majors, with Eugenio Suarez currently ensconced at third base. Senzel is a potential star, an elite hitter with above-average defense and, perhaps by accident, increasingly coveted defensive versatility.

KATOH: 6.5 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Notre Dame HS (CA)
Age 17 Height 6’4 Weight 197 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
70/80 50/55 40/45 40/60 40/60

Greene was the 2017 draft’s most-hyped prospect, his talent so prodigious that it bled over to both sides of the ball. Greene would have been a mid- to late-first-round selection as an infielder but was a vastly superior prospect on the mound, where he has apex size, athleticism, and arm strength.

Greene sat 93-98 for much of his junior high-school season and during the subsequent summer showcases. His velocity ticked up the following year, when he began sitting comfortably in the upper 90s and was cresting 100 mph. The Reds drafted him second overall and gave him a $7.2 million bonus, the highest ever in the draft’s current format.

Greene’s experience in affiliated ball last summer was limited. He made one start and played DH for a week, then picked some some innings at instructional league in the fall, where his fastball was 98-100 and touching 102. Teams picking atop the draft had questions about the quality of Greene’s secondary stuff. He utilizes both a curveball and slider and there isn’t a consensus about which is better. Neither is even consistently average right now. As you can probably imagine, Greene didn’t have much use for a changeup in high school and that, too, needs considerable refinement.

That said, Greene possesses many of the traits that allow scouts to project on his entire profile. He’s a well-built, elite-level athlete, equal parts power and coordination. He has remarkable body control and command of the baseball at this velocity and at his age. There’s a good chance Greene and the Reds can improve the quality of, and find consistency with, one of his two breaking balls, and that his athleticism and fluidity allow one to dream on everything else. Additionally, teams are optimistic about Greene’s poise and think he’s capable of handling the spotlight, if even a bit thirsty for it. Much of his profile remains out of focus, but Greene is working with some top-of-the-scale ingredients. He has top-of-the-rotation potential.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mt. Paran (GA)
Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 50/55 30/50 70/70 30/45 30/30

Two-sport prospects are typically erratic performers with messy, evolving mechanics and approaches that require lots of time and attention before they’re up to speed. At least offensively, this is not the case with Taylor Trammell, who has quickly taken to a relatively conservative style of hitting that has still yielded promising on-paper production.

Trammell hit .281/.368/.450 with 24 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, and 41 stolen bases (77% success rate) as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League. He didn’t turn 20 until after the season had ended. Trammell’s approach to hitting is quiet and reserved, which helps hide his half-baked feel for contact. His physical gifts enable good power without having to sell out for it mechanically. This, combined with precocious ball/strike recognition, make Trammell a potent offensive threat and potential top-of-the-order hitter. He takes an extra step or two to reach top speed, but Trammell is a plus-plus runner underway and plus from home to first. His baserunning instincts and speed have enabled him to amass early-career base-stealing totals that are as robust as they are efficient.

This kind of speed typically allows for optimistic defensive projection in center field, but Trammell hasn’t played much there as a pro due to the presence of Jose Siri (who is as tooled-up as Trammell but has better feel for center) and now projects in left field, where he is currently below average. His speed could make him a plus defensive corner outfielder, but Trammell doesn’t have great feel for the position right now and also has a 30 arm. There will be pressure on him to hit a ton, especially if his defensive doesn’t improve, but early-career indications are that Trammell is going to do that and make great use of his speed on offense. He’s a potential All-Star.

KATOH: 5.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

50 FV Prospects

4. Tyler Mahle, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2013 from Westminster HS (CA)
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/55 50/55 45/50 55/60

After 24 hyper-efficient starts at Double and Triple-A, Mahle finally got a four-start cup of coffee in Cincinnati at the end of the season. His ability to locate was not on display in the big leagues, but it’s what got Mahle there. He has above-average fastball command despite a somewhat noisy delivery; it should tighten another half-grade as Mahle hits his peak.

His stuff is middling, spearheaded by a slightly above-average fastball/slider combination out of which Mahle squeezes every ounce of juice due to his ability to locate. He adds and subtracts from his fastball, exhibiting velocities anywhere from 88 to 95, touching 96 regularly, and maxing out at 98. His slider and changeup show similarly wide-ranging velocity bands, and while Mahle’s change doesn’t have terrific movement, his ability to manipulate pitch speed without noticeable arm deceleration helps make it a viable third offering. His stuff isn’t overwhelming, but his command should allow him to survive as an average big-league starter.

KATOH: 4.5 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

5. Jose Siri, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic
Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 40/55 60/60 50/55 60/60

Siri’s breakout in 2017 wasn’t the product of a notable physical development: he’d already entered the season with an ample collection of tools. What it forced evaluators to consider, however, is the possibility that Siri’s talents are so exceptional that he’s likely to hit in spite of a wholly unrestrained approach at the plate. Siri swings at almost everything he sees, but his plus bat speed, elite hand-eye coordination, and bat control allow him to make high-quality contact in any part of the strike zone. Siri is a threat to do extra-base damage on any pitch, to any part of the ballpark, and he creates steep upward angle on the barrel when he swings.

Upper-level pitching has a better chance of taking advantage of Siri’s overaggressiveness (he owns a 5% career walk rate). He hasn’t yet taken that test, so some still consider Siri’s approach a red flag despite good on-paper results over the last two consecutive years. He’s also a plus runner with a plus arm and has a chance to be a plus-plus defensive center fielder as he matures, so the bat has some breathing room if Siri’s approach proves problematic. His profile is similar to that of Phillies OF Nick Williams, who had similar approach issues in the minors but, it seems, so much talent that it doesn’t matter. Siri could be an All-Star center fielder, but his prospecthood carries with it some amount of risk because of his approach.

KATOH: 3.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Olympia HS (FL)
Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 215 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 40/40 30/40 30/30 40/40 45/45

Winker is a plodding, below-average athlete limited to the outfield corners (where he’s not particularly good). He’s also failed to exhibit much game power in the minors aside from a 2014 season spent in the hitter-friendly Cal and Arizona Fall Leagues. While there was some possibility that Winker’s actual power was masked by the multiple wrist injuries he suffered between 2014 and 2016, his hands were healthy last year and yet he struggled to drive the baseball anyway, hitting just two homers at Triple-A Louisville in 85 games.

But Winker has such terrific natural feel for contact that he’s still quite likely to be a good, everyday big leaguer. He has a smooth, low-effort, all-fields swing and terrific hand-eye coordination and bat control that have led him to a career .295 average with a 13.4% walk and 15.8% strikeout rate over five pro seasons. It’s a stable, if perhaps unspectacular, overall offensive profile headlined by a future 70 bat.

Winker’s 47-game big-league stint — during which he amassed 121 at-bats, or nine shy of losing his eligibility for this list — was largely successful. He hit .298/.375/.529 with seven homers — that is, as many as he hit in the minors in 2016 and 2017 combined. Some of the increased pop could be coming from a jumpier MLB baseball, but while xStats (which attempt to predict a hitter’s output based on his now-available and quick-to-stabilize batted-ball profile) thinks Winker’s numbers were inflated a bit, it is still enthused about his performance, projecting a .270/.336/.450 line for 2018. That’s above average in both outfield corners.

KATOH: 4.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

7. Jose Israel Garcia, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba
Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/50 20/45 60/60 40/50 70/70

Opinions about Garcia seem to vary depending upon when he was seen. Scouts who saw him on Cuba’s 18-U national team with Luis Robert considered him a good, bat-first second-base prospect with below-average defensive hands. Evaluators who saw him later, during workouts in Mexico, think he’s a plus runner with a plus-plus arm who has a good chance to stay at shortstop and do some damage with the bat. Most think that will come via high rates of contact and lots of gap doubles; others think he could grow into average game power.

Garcia got $5 million from the Reds in June, almost at the end of the 2016-2017 international signing period. At the time, some saw that as a result of the deal’s timing, one last chance to outbid Houston and San Diego for Cuban talent on a semi-open market. But it sounds like this kid is just really talented. Garcia’s defensive projection here is reflective of the more recent reports I’ve gathered.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2013 from Jacksonville HS (AL)
Age 21 Height 5’8 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 40/50 55/55 40/45 50/50

After a strong first half at High-A Daytona — .312/.380/.543 with 13 home runs — Long had trouble getting off the ground at Double-A Pensacola, where pitchers were more able to take advantage of his aggressive approach. He didn’t have time for his uncharacteristically low .271 BABIP to stabilize nor to make adjustments, as his summer in Pensacola was interrupted by a hand injury, his second in as many years. His struggles aren’t of great concern, though some scouts think Long needs to be more selective at the upper levels and identify pitches he can really drive to tap into his sizeable raw power.

Long takes big, bombastic hacks that produce all-fields power, and he has enough bat control to get to it provided he refines his selectivity. A converted catcher, Long remains raw at second base, where his above-average straight-line speed enables him to have considerable lateral range, but his footwork and hands aren’t great. He’s more explosive than he is flexible and graceful, capping his defensive projection just shy of average. Long’s bat profiles at second base pretty comfortably, and he projects as an average everyday big leaguer with a chance to be a tick better than that if his approach improves with age.

KATOH: 1.2 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Pace HS (FL)
Age 18 Height 5’11 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/50 45/40 40/50 55/55

There were disparate opinions regarding Downs on the amateur scouting side prior to the 2017 draft. Most scouts liked his bat but were split on his power projection (mostly due to Downs’ smallish frame) and future defensive home, as Downs was just a 45 runner in high school. As pro scouts saw Downs this summer and fall, opinions became more consistent. He has enough arm for the left side of the infield when he can step into his throws, while his footwork and actions are good and should enable him to stay there despite the benefit only of middling range. He has an even chance to stay at short and could be plus at second should he move.

Downs is not likely to grow into big raw power but should hit for some purely as a result of his quality of contact. If he does that and stays at short, he could be a star; even at second, that’s a good everyday player.

KATOH: 1.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Seguin HS (TX)
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 240 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
70/70 55/60 40/45 40/45

Scouts saw developmental progress from Santillan in 2017, including glimpses of competent fastball control and a more well-rounded coffer of pitches. His mustang fastball rides in at 94-96 mph and will touch 99. Santillan works with good pace and is at his best when he’s attacking hitters with his fastball, even if his in-zone command is often messy when he does it. His fastball is nasty enough that he’ll likely have significant margin for error if he misses with it in the hitting zone, but he still needs to develop a full grade of fastball control to profile as a starter.

The slider, Santillan’s best secondary offering, has variable shape, but he snaps off some vertically breaking, Lidge-ish sliders, too. It’s firm, 84-89 mph, and regularly plus. Santillan also has an improving changeup that could be above average at peak and a seldom used curveball. If his changeup continues to develop, he has No. 2 starter stuff, though his inefficient strike-throwing would likely keep him from reaching that ceiling in a rotation and might eventually relegate him to the bullpen.

KATOH: 1.8 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Kennesaw Mtn HS (GA)
Age 20 Height 6’4 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 30/50 30/30 30/45 70/70

Stephenson’s 2017 season came to an abrupt end in July when he injured a ligament in his thumb and was shut down. It was the second consecutive year in which Stephenson had missed time with injury. In 2016, it was a concussion and wrist injury that scattered his reps and eventually ended his season. In 2017, Stephenson at least began doing some damage at the plate, slashing .278/.374/.414 in 80 games. He has retained the plus raw power projection that made him such an interesting amateur prospect but still needs considerable offensive polish.

Stephenson is a little stiff and upright in the box and doesn’t time his leg kick well, which undercuts his ability to hit for power in games. But Stephenson is developing in other areas. He’s shown signs of a two-strike approach and has improved his receiving. It’s below average but good enough that scouts think he’ll be an average receiver with more time. He has plus-plus pure arm strength, but his pop times play down because 6-foot-4 catchers aren’t exactly up and out of their crouch in a flash, and that needs to improve.

There’s some risk that Stephenson doesn’t end up hitting. The offensive bar at catcher is pretty low, though, and if he ever figures it out he’s going to launch right over it. Stephenson could go right to High-A next year in an effort to avoid having him start in Dayton for a third straight year. If that occurs, his lack of reps against pro pitching due to injury could impact his performance early on and require adjustment. As with all high-school catching prospects, patience is required and high bust rates are rampant.

KATOH: 1.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/55 40/45 50/55

Gutierrez entered 2017 with several unknown variables floating about his profile. He had pitched in relief while in Cuba, raising questions about his ability to throw a season’s worth of innings and about how his changeup, command, and pitchability had developed in the absence of amateur innings. Scouts also had mixed opinions about what were — before he eventually signed with the Reds for $4.75 million — constantly changing mechanics in Gutierrez’s many stateside workouts. All scouts knew was that Gutierrez threw hard, touching 96 while sitting 90-94 with life, and that he had a nasty curveball and lively, athletic body.

The Reds handled him with care after he signed, keeping him out of game situations during the 2016 instructional league so he could focus on strength and conditioning and be better able to weather the 2017 storm of 100-plus innings. This was understandable given what the Reds went through with Raisel Iglesias, but it meant scouts learned little else about Gutierrez in the fall as they saw him do nothing but throw bullpen sessions.

Cincinnati continued to bring Gutierrez along slowly in 2017, shutting him down late in the season as his stuff waned. He had a middling statistical season but showed scouts that he has the strike-throwing ability to start and that he has some feel for creating movement on his changeup and a willingness to throw it to right-handed hitters. Scouts note some arm deceleration on the changeup, which will need to be addressed so he can avoid tipping it at release. They’d like to see him maintain his stuff throughout an entire year, as well.

Overall, though, Gutierrez answered more questions than he left lingering in 2017. He’s just 6 feet tall and has a drop-and-drive delivery, so his fastball lacks angle, but it has tail. His curveball is routinely plus and can be thrown for strikes. There’s still a chance he ends up in the bullpen, but he’s a more stable starting pitching prospect than he was last year, with a chance to be a mid-rotation starter if his stamina and changeup continue to improve.

KATOH: 1.0 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

13. Keury Mella, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 23 Height 6’2 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 55/55 45/50 40/45

Mella threw more strikes in 2017, reducing his walk rate from 9.5% to 7.5%, but scouts continue to drop below-average grades on his command, citing a propensity for missing within the strike zone, where hitters can punish mistakes. Though his delivery is loose and fluid, Mella is a fringey athlete whose lower-half use varies from pitch to pitch, hurting his ability to locate with precision. Most scouts prefer him in relief, while others think his stuff provides him with enough margin for error to pitch at the back of a rotation.

Mella has premium arm strength, sitting 94-97 and touching 98 with his fastball. He has an above-average, two-plane breaking ball that he frequently locates in the zone for strikes. His mid-80s changeup is fringey but shows flashes of bat-missing promise. Mella’s infrequent use of his changeup dismays scouts who see his fastball velocity and arm speed and think it could be his best pitch at maturity. Others think that, at age 24, the cement on Mella’s changeup is pretty dry. Cincinnati has time to continue developing him as a starter deep into his mid-20s due to the big club’s rebuild, so he’ll have every chance to max out as a No. 4 starter.

KATOH: 0.9 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Stanford
Age 24 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 40/45 40/40 40/40 50/50

It seems Blandino finally found footwork that worked for him in the batter’s box in 2017, and it not only improved his ability to make contact after an uncharacteristically strikeout-heavy 2016, but it also enabled him to tap into a bit more power than his modest frame had previously afforded him. After entering pro ball with the conservative footwork typical of Stanford hitters, Blandino tried various new stances, strides, and toe taps before settling on a simple leg kick last year. He tallied 49 extra-base hits between Double and Triple-A in 2017, nearly twice his 2016 output.

Blandino is a below-average athlete and defender at both second and third, but his suddenly complete offensive profile (which includes good ball/strike recognition) gives him a good chance to play a sizable big-league role as either a low-end regular or bat-first utility option.

KATOH: 1.9 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

15. T.J. Friedl, CF
Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 45/50 30/40 70/70 50/60 45/45

Friedl had a strong first half at Dayton (.284/.378/.472) and then sputtered over the final few months in the Florida State League. He saw nearly equal time at all three outfield spots throughout the year, but he has the speed to project in center field, where he should be average. Friedl has above-average bat speed and generates good power on contact, but his swing is a tad long and some scouts are worried about what that might do to his offensive profile in the upper levels. If it doesn’t matter, Friedl could hit enough to be considered a viable everyday center fielder. If it does, his floor is still that of a relatively valuable fourth outfielder. It feels like that’s the role for which he’s being groomed.

KATOH: 1.0 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

16. Tanner Rainey, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from West Alabama
Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 235 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
60/70 55/60 40/40 40/40

After two wild years in minor-league rotations, Rainey was moved to the bullpen, where his plus-plus fastball and plus curveball give his well-below-average control plenty of room to breath. He struck out over 40% of hitters he faced in 2017, blowing his 95-99 mph fastball past them and burying his power curveball in the dirt when he found himself ahead in the count. He needs to develop another half-grade of control just to be a viable big-league bullpen arm. In light of Rainey’s age, there’s some doubt of his ability to do that. But his delivery isn’t especially violent or noisy, and most are optimistic about his command’s viability. He could be a high-leverage arm.

KATOH: 1.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wake Forest
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 30/40 55/55 50/55 60/60

Fairchild’s bat is lightning quick and his compact build is surprisingly strong. That said, he’s very upright in the box and has some swing-and-miss issues despite the quickness of his hands. He’s an above-average runner and potential 55 defender in center field with a plus arm. There’s some fourth-outfielder risk here if Fairchild’s power (he slugged just .330 on the Cape last summer) was a product of Wake Forest’s hitting environment.

KATOH: 0.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

18. Jimmy Herget, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 from South Florida
Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
55/55 55/60 45/50 50/55

The slider-heavy Herget struck out 72 hitters over 62 innings split between Double- and Triple-A. His funky, low slot helps his mid- to upper-70s slider play up against right-handed hitters. He sits 92-93 with the fastball and has a viable, tertiary changeup to use against lefties. He might have pronounced platoon issues due to his arm slot, limiting his role, but Herget otherwise has some late-inning ingredients.

KATOH: 1.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republlic
Age 23 Height 6’4 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/55 45/40 45/50 60/60

How much of Aquino’s raw power will translate to games? This is the question scouts seek to answer not only about him but all thumping, corner-only prospects with contact issues. Aquino failed in his first try at Double-A, slashing a paltry .216/.282/.397 in 2017. His issues with contact stem primarily from an indiscriminate approach. Aquino isn’t patient, nor is he especially good at recognizing offspeed stuff. This, combined with a general stiffness and lack of athleticism, leads to many feckless swings and, most significantly, hinders Aquino’s ability to reach base.

Three-true-outcome hitters are fine, but Aquino’s offensive profile lacks the walking/on-base ability that would make his low rates of contact acceptable. Big-league corner outfielders with high strikeout and low walk rates are rare, though the Reds employ two of them in Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. He has other skills — a plus arm and average straight-line speed that make him a defensive asset in right field — but unless he becomes more patient, it’s going to be difficult for him to profile as an everyday player. If he does develop a better approach, the ceiling here is quite significant, as Aquino has the bat control to tap into all of that power if he’d only swing at strikes. For now, he projects as a platoon bat.

KATOH: 1.5 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

20. Jose Lopez, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Seton Hall
Age 24 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 50/50 50/50 40/50 50/55

Though he had mostly been throwing in the upper 80s as an underclassman, Lopez’s fastball was peaking up in the 95-97 range as he entered the fall before his junior year at Seton Hall. Then his elbow started barking at him. After an unsuccessful attempt to rehab without surgery, Lopez underwent Tommy John and missed his entire junior year. He was a buy-low selection in the 2014 draft’s sixth round.

After posting a 4.07 ERA as an A-ball elder statesman in 2016, Lopez had a breakout 2017. Between High-A and Double-A he struck out 143 hitters in 147 innings with a 2.57 ERA. Though his peak velocity hasn’t returned, he averages about 92 mph on a fastball that touches 95 and features enough life that it’s capable of missing bats up in the zone. His violent, somewhat concerning delivery makes him deceptive, and Lopez is able to throw strikes with all four of his pitches despite all this mechanical noise.

He relies heavily on two breaking balls — a two-plane slider and 12-6 curveball — which are both average. Scouts don’t unanimously prefer one or the other (reports on the slider actually vary pretty heavily) but agree Lopez knows how to use them, pitching backward with each, able to back-door the curveball and bury it for swings and misses. He lacks changeup feel, but it flashes average. Lopez was added to the 40-man this offseason and could make his big-league debut in 2018. He projects as a back-end starter.

KATOH: 1.5 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2008 from Dominican Republic
Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 230 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
70/70 70/70 45/45 30/30

Hernandez wields elite raw stuff but has no idea where it’s going, and his low arm slot undercuts his effectiveness against left-handed hitters. He sits 96-99 with the fastball and hurls in a power, mid-80s curveball with a spin rate up near 3000 rpm. Intersections of such velocity and spin are almost unheard of, and Hernandez made several big-league hitters look foolish with his breaking ball in his 24 major-league innings. It’s a plus-plus offering, as is his heater.

Hernandez’s command, however, is what kept him in A-ball until he was 25. Despite his stuff’s quality, Hernandez has little margin for error against left-handed hitters, who see the ball well out of his hand. Lefties posted a .404 OBP against him in 2017. Barring a sudden dramatic improvement in Hernandez’s ability to locate, he’ll likely be relegated to low-leverage innings.

KATOH: 0.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba
Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 40/40 20/30 50/50 50/50 55/55

A .253/.294/.294 line at High-A was more than enough to cement concerns that international scouts had about Rodriguez’s bat coming out of Cuba. He has the physicality to hit, but takes ugly, unbalanced swings and frequently knocks the ball into the ground. He failed to make any adjustments during the 2017 season.

Rodriguez is an agile defensive shortstop with middling range and arm strength. His above-average hands, quick actions, and athleticism allow him to play an average defensive shortstop. Barring significant changes at the plate, Rodriguez profiles as a glove-first utility man. He hasn’t played anywhere but shortstop in pro ball, so look for him to start seeing time elsewhere in 2018.

KATOH: 0.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Cullman HS (AL)
Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 208 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/45 50/55 50/55 40/55

In the fall, Heatherly sat 90-92 with above-average command, as well as command of his average curveball and changeup. He lacks any physical projection and, except for what little he might add to his breaking ball and changeup with pro reps and instruction, the cement is largely dry on his stuff. Realistically, Heatherly projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter, but his ceiling will be dictated by the level of command he’s able to develop. He’s advanced in that regard and could move quickly. Heatherly, who turned 19 in May, signed for $1 million as a third-round pick.

KATOH: 0.2 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela
Age 18 Height 6’0 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 20/40 20/30 55/60 40/55 60/60

Hernandez came up from the DSL in mid-summer and looked terrific at shorstop in the AZL. He has above-average range, hands, actions, and a plus arm. He lacks the physicality to do damage in the batter’s box but has some feel for the barrel and average bat speed. He likely won’t develop into an impact bat, but could end up making lots of contact and playing an above-average defensive shortstop.

25. Phil Ervin, OF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Samford
Age 24 Height 5’10 Weight 207 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 55/55 30/45 60/60 40/50 60/60

Ervin made his big-league debut in 2017 and slugged .448 in 64 plate appearances. It was the first time he hit for that kind of power in games since his first pro summer, when he was a physically mature former college hitter in the Pioneer League. Though he does have above-average raw pop and some natural loft in his swing, Ervin hasn’t gotten to it in games as a pro because the quality of his contact is poor. He just doesn’t have great feel to hit and doesn’t square many balls up.

He’s a plus runner with the pure speed for center field, but his routes, especially on balls behind him, aren’t great in any of the outfield positions. As Ervin was a small-school college prospect, there was always hope he’d polish up his technical skills and actualize his physical talent. Now 25, though, he looks more like a bench outfielder.

KATOH: 3.0 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

26. Chris Okey, C
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Clemson
Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 30/45 40/40 45/50 50/50

Lauded for his makeup, Okey was Team USA mainstay throughout much his amateur career. Pre-draft in 2016, Okey’s physical tools were considered well rounded if mediocre, with most scouts giving him a good chance both to catch and do a little something with the bat. Realistically, he projected as a backup who had an outside chance to play everyday if his hit tool developed.

Okey had a bad first full pro season, as his poor breaking-ball recognition was exposed in a somewhat aggressive assignment to High-A. He struck out in 29% of his plate appearances and hit .185/.266/.250. When his physical tools are intact, Okey has average pull-side power, an average arm, is a passable receiver with a good ground game, and is twitchier than the average catcher. His bat is more volatile than was anticipated, but he still has a good chance to be a backup catcher.

KATOH: 0.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

*****

Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Rookie Davis, RHP, 1.5 KATOH – It was a frustrating, injury-riddled year for Davis, who began the season in Cincinnati’s rotation and ended it with questions about his 2018 availability. Davis was struck on the forearm in his second big-league start and missed two weeks in April. After a few more lackluster starts, he was demoted to Triple-A, where was promptly DL’d for the second time with tightness in his upper back. He missed a month and struggled at Double- and Triple-A upon his return. After the season, Davis had hip surgery to remove a bone spur and repair a labrum. He is not expected back in time for spring training.

When healthy — if you can say Davis was truly healthy at all in 2017 — his fastball sat in the low 90s, mostly 91-93, with spin rates in the 1900-2100 range. He mixed in a mid-80s cutter/slider, a curveball in the 78-81 range with more vertical movement, and a low-80s changeup. All are of fringe to average quality. On last year’s Reds list, I noted that scouts thought Davis’ arm speed had gone backward relative to his breakout 2015 campaign, and those concerns were echoed again this season, as his arm looked heavy and slow. Independent of health, Davis projects as an efficient, strike-throwing fifth starter. His injury situation and concerns of mechanical regression make him a riskier bet than most big-league-ready arms.

Jesus Reyes, RHP, 0.7 KATOH – Born in the DR, Reyes went undrafted as a 21-year-old freshman at Advanced Software Academy in New York in 2014 before Cincinnati signed him that August. He was, and remains, behind from a developmental standpoint, which is why he began 2017 in A-ball at age 24. He’s a four-seam, two-seam, slider righty who will run his fastball up to 98, but the carrying pitch here is the two-seamer, which helped Reyes generate a 68% ground-ball rate last year. His slider ranges from 83-89 and can get cuttery. It’s barely average and only because of its velocity.

Reyes’s command is below average and, given his age and long, difficult-to-repeat arm action, it doesn’t have much projection. He’s a relief prospect without a bat-missing secondary, but that two-seamer might be so freakish that he finds a way to make it work in middle relief anyway. He was added to the 40-man this offseason.

Ryan Hendrix, RHP, 0.8 KATOH – Hendrix was up to 98 as a sophomore at Texas A&M but has been mostly 92-95 in pro ball with a plus curveball that is much more effective down beneath the zone than it is in it. He has 30 command and a violent delivery that limits its projection to middle relief.

Zack Weiss, RHP – Weiss’s May 31, 2017 appearance was his first since the 2015 Arizona Fall League. In the interim, he dealt with elbow issues that culminated in ulnar nerve transposition after unsuccessful rehab tries. He was good in his summer return, striking out 31% of the hitters he faced. He was sitting in the low 90s with a plus curveball and looked enough like a middle-relief candidate to be added to the Reds’ 40-man.

Wyatt Strahan, RHP, 0.3 KATOH – Strahan had Tommy John in 2016, returned to an affiliated mound early in June of 2017, and made 14 relatively successful starts at High-A Daytona before picking up fall innings in instructional league. Strahan has thrown lots of strikes as a pro, enough that he’s a viable starting-pitching prospect who has been old relative to level and not missed many bats. Pitching out of the bullpen in the fall, Strahan was 93-96 with an above-average breaking ball. He could move quickly if given a look in relief.

Randy Ventura, OF, 0.1 KATOH – Acquired from Atlanta for future considerations during the 2017 season, Ventura is an eccentric little speedster with a stocky, maxed-out frame and plus-plus wheels. He is an extremely aggressive, at times careless, but always entertaining swinger and baserunner. Scouts praise his hustle but don’t think Ventura has good situational awareness. He has a flat bat path that produces mostly opposite-field contact on the ground, and Ventura’s speed has enabled this sort of batted-ball profile so far, as he has produced a .299/.365/.357 career line. He has the speed for center field and an above-average arm but still takes indecisive routes to fly balls. He’s a toolsy, but unpolished, bench outifeld prospect.

Andy Sugilio, OF, 0.4 KATOH – Sugilio is an 80 runner with some bat control, and he’s willing to do what is necessary to get the bat on the ball, even if that means compromising the quality of the contact he makes. A switch-hitter, Sugilio’s slappy left-handed swing causes him to drive the ball into the ground very often. As an 80 runner playing against Rookie-level defenses, however, this has worked just fine. A 3.9-second time from home to first is an 80-grade time for a left-handed hitter. I have reports on Sugilio reaching base in 3.7 seconds.

Sugilio can golf out balls down and in as a left-handed hitter, and his more traditional right-handed swing has more power potential, but he lacks great feel for that swing right now. Most scouts think Sugilio’s strong 2017 statistical performance was driven by the favorable hitting environment of the Pioneer League and by his elite speed. His frame looks projectable on paper, but he’s slightly built and already age 21, so it’s not a lock that Sugilio has more strength coming that might improve the quality of his offense. He’s interesting because of his speed and sudden ability to avoid striking out, but many are skeptical about what he’s truly capable of.

Scott Moss, LHP, 1.2 KATOH – Moss was a fourth-rounder in 2016. He barely pitched in college at Florida, missing his first two years recovering from Tommy John and only throwing 23 innings as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He was pressed into duty during the 2016 SEC tournament, pitched well, and instantly buoyed his draft stock. In 2017 at Low-A, Moss struck out 156 hitters in 135 innings. He sits 88-91 with a tight, but short, slider, and changeup. Both project to average. Moss profiles as a No. 5/6 starter .

Nick Hanson, RHP – A big-bodied arm-strength lottery ticket selected in the third round of the 2016 draft, Hanson needed Tommy John early in 2017. He’s a massive 6-foot-6 with a fastball that was up to 96 during his first fall instructional league in 2016. His curveball and changeup were both below average.

Gavin LaValley, 1B, 0.8 KATOH – LaValley had a strong first half repeating High-A, hitting as many homers in the first half at Daytona as he had the previous two seasons combined. He struggled to do anything with the bat at Double-A in the second half and has no margin for error as an unathletic, right-handed-hitting first-base prospect, but his stock is up after his hands showed considerably more life in 2017.

Cash Case, INF – Case signed for $1 million in the fourth round. He’s an interesting offensive prospect with strong hands/wrists and a naturally uphill bat path. He’s also an above-average straight-line runner. He doesn’t have a clear defensive home but will get opportunities at second base.

Blake Trahan, SS, 1.0 KATOH – A competent defensive shortstop, Trahan isn’t so good there that it makes up for how little he does with the bat. He has good hand-eye coordination and contact skills but doesn’t generate much power on contact due to below-average bat speed. A high-effort grinder, Trahan may carve out a consistent big-league role based on his style of play and ability to handle shortstop, but he doesn’t project to due so on tools. He hasn’t really played anywhere but shortstop as a pro and might increase high chances of reaching the majors if he can show he’s capable of playing elsewhere.

Josh VanMeter, UTIL, 1.7 KATOH – VanMeter’s sweet swing, defensive versatility, and strong 2016 season had most evaluators buying him as a versatile lefty bench piece. He had a down year in 2017 upon exiting the Cal League and scouts are less enthused. They still see him as a versatile bench bat (VanMeter saw time at second, third, and left in 2017) but now consider that his absolute ceiling rather than a likely outcome.

Sebastian Elizalde, 1B/OF, 0.4 KATOH – Elizalde is a tough out. He’s a career .278 hitter who posted a 12.5% strikeout rate at Triple-A in 2017. He’s limited, defensively, to first base and the outfield corners and doesn’t have the power to play those positions every day. He could be a high-contact asset on a bench but might lack the defensive versatility to merit a permanent roster spot.

Jon Moscot, RHP – Moscot made his big-league debut early in 2016 but needed TJ that July. He did not pitch at an affiliate in 2017. When healthy, he has a fringey four-pitch mix, led by a low-90s fastball and average slider. He’s up-and-down pitching depth when healthy.

Dauri Moreta, RHP – Moreta had two bad outings in July but was dominant late in the year, utilizing a mid-90s fastball and above-average changeup. He had a 26:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his final 15.2 innings at Low-A and profiles in middle relief.

Brennan Bernardino, LHP, 0.1 KATOH – Bernardino is a lefty relief prospect who sits only 90-94, and his long, stiff arm action is tough to repeat, limiting his control. His lower arm slot, however, allows what is a fringey bullpen fastball to play up against left-handed hitters, and Bernardino’s mid-70s curveball is comfortably plus, spinning in with an elite 3,000 rpm. He projects as a lefty specialist.

Wennigton Romero, LHP, 2.7 KATOH – An athletic, undersized lefty with a long, deceptive, overhand arm action, Romero has a fringey fastball, above-average curveball and advanced command for a 19-year-old. He was hittable in the Midwest League in 2017 but has some viable paths to the big leagues, either as a back-end/depth arm or, if his fastball ticks up out of the bullpen, a lefty relief piece.

Chadwick Tromp, C, 0.9 KATOH- He’ll likely never hit enough to be anything more than a glove-first backup, but Tromp is a smooth, quiet receiver with an above-average arm and surprising agility for such a thick-bodied guy. He’s a competent defensive catcher in all facets but struggles enough with the bat that lots of scouts consider him more of a third catcher than a long-term backup.

Nick Travieso, RHP – Travieso had shoulder surgery in June. When healthy, he sits 92-97 and will touch 97 with his fastball, tilt in an above-average slider and show an occasionally average changeup. He’s a below-average athlete with a messy delivery that he doesn’t repeat especially well, and he projected as a reliever before the injury.

Packy Naughton, LHP, 0.7 KATOH – Naughton had a 6.12 career ERA at Virginia Tech but had a great first pro summer, striking out a batter per inning and throwing more strikes than he did in college. Naughton sits 89-92 and will touch 95 with a funky, left-handed delivery. He has a four pitch mix and will show you an average slider, curveball, and changeup. If his uptick in command is real, he could be a back-end starter.

Miles Gordon, OF, 0.5 KATOH – Gordon hit .319/.389/.530 in the Pioneer League at age 19. He has above-average straight-line speed and is a good athlete with good makeup. His current swing lacks fluidity, and scouts are concerned about his bat profiling everyday. He’s more likely a bench outfielder, but one with big-league tools.

Brandon Dixon, UTIL, 1.3 KATOH – Dixon has plus raw power and straight-line speed. He’s spent time at every infield position except shortstop and all three outfield spots throughout the course of his career, but he’s a clunky, below-average defender at each spot. Scouts consider him a DH-only prospect, and Dixon’s lack of barrel control makes him too strikeout-prone to profile there. He turns 26 later this month.

Andrew Jordan, RHP , 1.4 KATOH – Jordan has a below-average fastball, but an average slider, above-average changeup, and promising command. He only turned 20 in August but doesn’t have the frame to project on the body and fastball. Instead, he profiles as an up-and-down starter, though some scouts wonder how much his fastball might tick up out of the bullpen.

Reniel Ozuna, OF – Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Ozuna made his stateside debut in the 2017 AZL. He’s a physical 19-year-old corner-outfield prospect with average bat speed and good feel for generating airborne contact. He doesn’t have huge tools, but the bat is promising and his frame has some room for a little more weight.

Darnell Sweeney, UTIL, 1.5 KATOH – Sweeney has bounced around to various clubs since 2015, when he was sent to Philadelhia as part of the Chase Utley trade. His playing time evaporated with Philly, his body went backward, and he was outrighted off their 40-man. The Dodgers picked him back up, then traded him to the Reds during the 2017 season. Sweeney had a .775 OPS with Triple-A Louisville while playing various up-the-middle positions. He was once an interesting utility prospect. Some consider him to be one again despite the circuitous route he’s taken there.

Nick Longhi, 1B, 0.5 KATOH – Acquired for an international bonus slot early in July, Longhi injured his elbow about a week later and required Tommy John. He has a pretty swing and is a career .281 hitter but lacks the raw power to profile at first base or the corner-outfield spots. He’s worth monitoring because the bat-to-ball skills are in place, but he’ll need to show a significant uptick in power production to really be a prospect. That will need to come from something other than physical development, as Longhi is 22 with a relatively slight, projectionless frame.

Max Wotell, LHP – Wotell was the Mets’ third-rounder in 2015 and sent to the Reds as part of the Jay Bruce trade. He’s a potential lefty reliever by way of a low-90s fastball and potential plus curveball but has dealt with injury, including 2017 labrum surgery.

Alex Powers, RHP, 0.9 KTAOH – A 25-year old, low-slot righty, Powers struck out 85 hitters in 60.2 innings at Double-A in 2017. He has a three-pitch mix headlined by a fastball that comes in with good angle and plays up due to extension. His slurvy breaking ball and fading changeup are both average. Powers had success in multi-inning outings in 2017 and could be a long-relief/mop-up arm.

Connor Bennett, RHP – Bennett sits 90-95 with an above-average slider. He lowered his arm slot in 2017 and had some low-level success at Billings. He could move quickly but might need to find another tick of velo and/or half-grade of slider to avoid stalling out at upper levels.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Scott Moss, LHP, 1.2 KATOH
Longenhagen enumerates the most prominent of Moss’s virtues in the Honorable Mention section above. It’s probably worth adding, however, that the left-hander recorded strikeout and walk rates of 27.3% and 8.4%, respectively, over 135.2 innings in 2017, all in a starting capacity. The resulting differential between those two figures (the K-BB%, in other words) represented the sixth-best mark produced by a qualified pitcher in Low-A last season.

The outcomes for pitching prospects vary wildly. Moss has performed well, though. And even if he lacks premium velocity, his 6-foot-5 frame gives him the benefit of some additional perceived velocity.

System Overview

This is a strong system with eight potential top-100 prospects and several near-term big-league contributors like Amir Garrett and Cody Reed in prospect limbo. It has a good mix of high-upside/high-variance prospects and stable, nearly ready players. Most of the several hard-throwing pitching prospects the Reds have acquired over the last several years (and there have been many) have filtered most of the way through the minors with varied levels of success. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sal Romano look like rotation pieces; Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson remain works in progress; while Jimmy Herget and Keury Mella are on the cusp.

The next wave of talent is mostly composed of hitters and, hopefully, enough of them pan out to create some redundancy so that the Reds can trade excess to round out a pitching staff that still needs help getting there. The club picks fifth in next year’s amateur draft and features a very attractive potential trade asset in Raisel Iglesias.

We hoped you liked reading Top 26 Prospects: Cincinnati Reds by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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rupken
Member
rupken

Curious about what happened to Calten (Carlton) Daal? Defensive wiz with decent hit tool, who didn’t play last year. Hit over .300 in 2016 then nothing in 2017…is he injured?

cubfan131
Member
cubfan131

I believe he had an elbow injury that caused him to miss the year.

sonyacampbell5454
Member
sonyacampbell5454