It’s that time of year again. It’s prospect ranking season and every day this week we are going to unveil five more spots on the list as we work our way through the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List for the 2018 season. You can see the entire list here (once it’s completed at the end of the week). If you were supporting the site on Patreon you would have gotten the entire Top 25 list last week and had early access to this, and all other scouting related articles that show up on the site. Click that orange banner above to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive.

Just as a reminder, these write ups will not feature full scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start in a week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason.

*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2017 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitches or less than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*

1. Nick Senzel | 3B | Age: 22

2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 205 lbs

When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Nick Senzel in 2016 they grabbed the best hitter in the entire draft. After beating up on Midwest League pitching in 2016, Senzel continued to do more of the same in the Florida State League and Southern League in 2017. Between the two stops he hit .321/.391/.514, and got better as the season progressed. He would also steal 14 bases on the year.

Biggest Strength: Hitting. While Nick Senzel does everything well, it’s his hitting ability that may be his biggest strength. He can use the entire field, and do so with power. His understanding of the strikezone let’s him get the most out of the bat.

Biggest Weakness: There’s no real weakness in his game, but if you had to pick the one that is the weakest you may choose his baserunning. After going 9-for-11 on steal attempts in Daytona, Double-A pitchers and catchers posed a tougher challenge as he went 5-for-9.

Team PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
Daytona 272 26 2 4 23 54 .305 .371 .476
Pensacola 235 14 1 10 26 43 .340 .413 .560

2. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 17

2017 Team: Billings Mustangs | Acquired: 1st round, 2017 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 197 lbs

For the second year in a row, the Cincinnati Reds held the #2 pick in the draft and landed the top player on their board. Hunter Greene was the consensus top player in the draft, and signing bonus concerns allowed him to slip a spot to the Reds, who couldn’t have been more thrilled. His signing came down to the last minute, and he barely pitched at all during the season, throwing just 4.1 innings over three games. While he dabbled for two weeks as the designated hitter, his future is on the mound where his triple-digit fastball plays well with his offspeed offerings that lag behind a little bit from the fastball.

Biggest Strength: There are more than a few things that scouts love when it comes to Hunter Greene, but his 99-101 MPH fastball is at the pinnacle of the charts. It’s 80-grade velocity and in instructional league he was throwing at that velocity with outstanding movement.

Biggest Weakness: It would have to be the change up. While it shows potential to be a quality pitch, and even flashes itself as such at times today, it’s inconsistent and lags behind the fastball and slider.

Team ERA IP H HR BB K
Billings 12.46 4.1 8 0 1 6

3. Tyler Mahle | RHP | Age: 22

2017 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 7th round, 2013 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 210

It seems that every year Tyler Mahle finds a way to get better and in 2017 that was no different. Despite taking a step up in competition, the 22-year-old right hander dominated in both Double-A and Triple-A. His ERA between the two stops was a laughable 2.06 in 144.1 innings where he had just 30 walks and 138 total strikeouts. He also saw four starts in the Major Leagues at the end of the year where he threw 20.0 innings with a 2.70 ERA. The righty did what he’s always done – pound the strikezone with multiple pitches, relying on outstanding control of his fastball to get ahead of, and put hitters away.

Biggest Strength: The fastball. While Tyler Mahle’s velocity doesn’t jump out at you, he can vary the pitch anywhere from 91-97 MPH. It shows good movement at the lower end of that range. He can generally locate the pitch where he wants to, as well.

Biggest Weakness: A true big league put away pitch. His slider is the best of the bunch, and it will flash itself as an above-average offering every so often. Still, a large majority of the time his secondary offerings all are average pitches. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it could limit his ceiling to more of a middle of the rotation type in the long run.

Team ERA IP H HR BB K
Pensacola 1.59 85.0 57 5 17 87
Louisville 2.73 59.1 52 4 13 51
Cincinnati 2.70 20.0 19 0 11 14

4. Taylor Trammell | OF | Age: 19

2017 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 195 lbs

After a slow start in April, Taylor Trammell quickly put the struggles behind him and put together a strong season for the Dayton Dragons. In 129 games in the Midwest League he would hit .281/.368/.450 with 47 extra-base hits. He would also steal 41 bases in 53 attempts (77%) and draw 71 walks. Offensively he showed a little bit of everything. Defensively he spent most of his time in left field, but showed in limited action that he has plenty of range today to cover center as well.

Biggest Strength: Right now it is probably his speed. He’s a 75-80 runner at his best on the scouting scale. He’s able to use that speed both on the bases and in the field. He may lose a little bit of that in the future if and when he fills out his frame a little bit, but currently that’s the strongest area of his game and he uses it well.

Biggest Weakness: There’s a lot of things that Taylor Trammell does well. The one area of weakness he has is his arm strength. Most of the time he will show a well below-average arm, though every so often he would show a fringy arm. Some scouts have noted that it will keep him out of center field. While it certainly won’t help in deep center or the gaps, I believe it’s good enough for the position – it’s just going to be a weakness.

Team PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
Dayton 570 24 10 13 71 123 .281 .368 .450

5. Jesse Winker | OF | Age: 23

2017 Teams: Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 1st round, 2012 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 215 lbs

For Jesse Winker, much of his Triple-A season in 2017 was like his 2016 season – hit for a good average, walk nearly as often as he struck out, and struggle to hit the ball over the fence. The difference was in 2017 he reached the Major Leagues. And once he did, he started hitting the ball over the fence. In 47 games played with the Reds, Winker hit seven home runs. He only hit five in 191 games for the Bats in Louisville. In the Majors he continued a strong plate approach, walking 15 times with 24 strikeouts in 137 plate appearances.

Biggest Strength: His plate approach. Jesse Winker understands the strikezone and has advanced pitch recognition skills. Those things allow him to hit for a high average and get on base with a high frequency.

Biggest Weakness: Defense. While he’s certainly improved in this area over the years, it remains the weakest part of his game. He fits better in left than in right field.

Team  PA 2B 3B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
Louisville 347 22 0 2 38 46 .314 .395 .408
Cincinnati 137 7 0 7 15 24 .298 .375 .529

A mistake was made

It’s been brought to my attention that an error was made. In determining eligibility, specifically for Jesse Winker, I mistakenly counted the final five days of August as active in the Major Leagues. Instead, he was on the disabled list. Those five days on the disabled list keep him qualified for the list, while had they been active, would have given him too much service time to remain eligible for the list. This post will be updated with the addition of Jesse Winker shortly.

44 Responses

  1. Kap

    No disrespect to Ty Steve, but after Trammell, it’s kind of a dropoff. Not a huge one though. The top 4 prosepects are solid “A” prospects or possible future impact players , but Stephenson is more of a “B+” or “B” prospect.

    That will change when the Reds draft again however.

    • Doug Gray

      I agree. I think 1-2 is a group of their own. 3-4 another group. Then 5-9 is a group of their own. With that said, I believe Stephenson certainly has what it takes to join that group above him.

  2. The Duke

    I’d put Trammell over Mahle, but my top 4 is the same. I want to see more consistent health from T Steph before I have him that high. My number 5 is Tony Santillan. He still has issues with his consistency, but when he is on, his upside is as high as any pitcher in the system except for Hunter Greene, plus he had a pretty solid year in his own right in his first year in full season ball.

    1. Nick Senzel, 3B
    2. Hunter Greene, RHP
    3. Taylor Trammell, OF
    4. Tyler Mahle, RHP
    5. Tony Santillan, RHP

    • Wes

      That’s my top 5 too in order. Stephenson needs better D and consistent health.

    • Wes

      Er a if Winker is eligible- he’s 4 on my list and move Mahle to 5

      • Doug Gray

        Well son of a gun.

        You made me go back and double check things, and here’s where I messed up. I counted Winker’s August DL time of 5 days as active. That would have given him one more day than allowed. Instead, because I’m an idiot, it leaves him four days short and still eligible. I will address this with some editing for both today, and tomorrow.

      • The Duke

        You’d think they’d go by plate appearances and not at bats

  3. Norwood Nate

    The top four have been pretty solid, in that order, in my mind for a while. I wasn’t sure who you would have at 5. I thought it might be Gutierrez or Santillan but I can understand Stephenson here as well. Looking forward to how the rest of the top ten shakes out. I’m guessing it’ll be the two I mentioned as well as Long, Downs, and Siri.

  4. Cguy

    I’m supposing Winker no longer has rookie status for 2018 based on ML service time (+45days), because he has only 121 ABs (130 needed). I agree with your top 5 prospects except, since it’s now unlikely the Reds will make the QO for Cozart, Luis Robert should be in there about #3 or #4.

    • James K

      Luis Robert? I think you must mean someone else. Luis Robert is not in the Reds’ organization.

      • Mjc

        Yeah, that’s pretty far -fetched about Luis Robert. But what isn’t is Luis Gohara a top prospect we should have landed for Zach Cozart that one burns.

      • Doug Gray

        Reds fans are never going to let that one go because it really fits their narrative. The Reds and Mariners are saying completely opposite things about that deal that didn’t happen. Both sides absolutely have a reason to fabricate their side. We’ll never know what went down, how close it was (the Mariners say really, really close – the Reds say it was never close) or wasn’t.

    • Doug Gray

      The Winker situation has been addressed. I messed up on the final few days of August when he was placed on the DL. Those five days on the DL are what move him from not eligible, to eligible. The list has been updated to reflect that.

  5. Dave

    Doug – could you list the prospects from last year that are no longer qualified?

    • Wes

      The who’s eligible list – that’s always a good discussion

  6. Bill

    Glad to see the Reds bring Buddy Bell back home. Loved watching his as a player.

  7. Patrick

    i guess after this top 5 I am worried about the overall talent in the system. It looks like our going over budget in international signings have not really moved the needle in the system. I am thinking this may only be a 10-12 ranked system and that worries about the Reds future.

    • jbonireland

      Most of the international signings have been very young, I don’t think it is really appropriate to rule any of them out for this reason. Most our still considered teenagers and have nearly developed yet. Even our # 1 pick last year just recently turned eighteen.

    • Jasonp

      Winker, Romano, and Castillo played enough to not be eligible for the list. We have them each for the next 6 years. It shouldn’t worry anyone that the Red’s system won’t be ranked as high without them. They are part of the Red’s future.

    • Doug Gray

      I agree that the system wont “rank” as well, but I’m not worried about the Reds future because of it. When you graduated Luis Castillo, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano all in one year, and still have some younger talent under team control for quite a while, it’s a lot different than having that same farm ranking and not having just graduated those guys (and having a guy like Dilson Herrera who isn’t eligible, but most would count as a part of the rebuild).

  8. Brad

    Would love to be the GM of the reds right now. Every contending team in baseball has to be looking at their bullpen for 2018 and asking if they are up for the juiced ball postseason. Imagine if either the Dodgers or Astros had a guy like Iglesias in addition to their current penalty options. I know Astros balked at acquiring Brad Hand at deadline this year. Would love to know what kind of offer Reds have received and will receive for Iglesias. Value keeps rising.

    • Colorado Red

      Unless someone gives us the farm, I would keep him.
      Rodgers out of Colorado, and 1 more top 10 prospect? I would take that.
      Rockies going to need that closer really bad.

      • Brad

        If Reds can get an All-Star level everyday position player plus a solid secondary piece and a young lottery ticket, I would trade him.

        Nationals: Robles, Kieboom, Jose Sanchez
        Astros: Tucker, Buskauskus, Corbin Martin
        Rockies: Rodgers, Lambert, Ben Bowden
        Dodgers: Buehler, Keibert Ruiz, Morgan Cooper

  9. bered

    Will any of these guys be as good as what we have been watching from the young Astros and Dodgers we have seeing in the playoffs and WS?

    • Doug Gray

      Depends on which guy you’re talking about. Nick Senzel has been compared to Alex Bregman since day 1. But, I don’t think it’s fair to compare ANY prospect to guys like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Cody Bellinger. Do a few of them have that kind of potential? Sure, a very small group does. But saying they will be that isn’t fair to anyone involved.

  10. 44 Reds

    Very interesting time to be the Red’s GM. Definitely a chance for Williams to be a hero with the performance of the team the last few years, and definitely some talent to build on. Hardly a clear path to success, however. The dearth of outfielders and 2nd basement, the Cozart/Peraza decision, the financial flexibility to go after a free agent or two, the potential to extend some young guys (Suarez, Castillo), and the Billy Hamilton conundrum are just some of the difficult decisions facing the GM. These are all questions without obvious solutions and Williams will really have a chance to earn his money. Should be an interesting offseason!

  11. Arnold Ziffle

    You would think that someone who has already shown an ability to hit ML pitching would be ahead of those who haven’t yet. That is a skill set that counts, not projections and a 12.46 ERA. Greene hasn’t even pitched well in Billings and Instruct League, so he shouldn’t even be in the top-5. Maybe around 8th to 10th and then have to earn a higher top-5 ranking by actually doing something on the field to justify such a lofty ranking. Senzel, Trammell, Mahle, and Winker have all earned their ranking by performance. Greene has not. To be honest, no 2017 drafted player should be in the top-10 unless they explode onto the scene like Senzel and Trammell did last year. I haven’t seen that from any of the 2017 draftees in their first seasons. If Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild had had seasons this year like Senzel and Trammell had last year, then they would have earned a top-10 ranking. But they didn’t, so it is hard to justify a top-10 ranking for either if one or the other show up there. (Where they start in 2018).
    1. Senzel (AAA)
    2. Winker (ML)
    3. Mahle (AAA)
    4. Trammell (A+)
    5. Tony the Tiger Santillan (A+)
    6. Siri (A+)
    7. TStephenson (A+)
    8. J Lopez (AAA)
    9. Greene (R)
    10. S. Long (AA)
    11. S. Moss (A+)
    12. LaValley (AA)
    13. Gutierrez (AA)
    14. Aquino (AA)
    15. M Gordon (A-)
    Downs, Fairchild, and the Cuban SS J. Garcia will fall somewhere in the #16-#25 range, but they will have to earn a higher ranking on the field.
    Still nice to see some great talent and depth in the minors even after so many graduations the last 2 years.

    • MK

      Every year there is a argument about tools and projected performance versus tools and actual performance. Arnold I get your point but can see the other side too.

      On another point Brennan Bernadino is the only Reds representative in Saturdays AZFL All Star Game.

    • Doug Gray

      Sorry Arnold, but that’s not the real world. Every team on the planet would trade you more to acquire Hunter Greene than Jesse Winker. Every last one of them.

      • Arnold Ziffle

        I didn’t know prospect value = trade value. I thought prospect value was tied to the organization that player is with. Not what other teams would trade for. Winker has more value to the Reds today than Hunter Greene does simply because Winker is ML ready and Greene is 4-5 years away.
        As Casey Stern says every day on MLB network radio, “prospects are nice, parades are nicer.” Similarly, prospects are nice, but players who can actually go out and perform at the ML level are nicer.

      • Doug Gray

        Prospect value is absolutely not tied to the organization. If the Reds had the best 1st base prospect on the planet he wouldn’t be less of a prospect simply because the Reds have Joey Votto. That’s not really how it works.

      • Datdudejs

        Then you should make that trade ASAP. Hunter Greene has bust written all him. He throws hard, and with no control and that’s it. A lot of guys throw hard. I would trade him before his value tanks

        Please someone tell me what I’m missing with this kid. He’s young, throws 98+ that’s the positive. The negatives are he can’t control it, doesn’t seem to have much stamina, only has 1 pitch and another pitch that flashes but isn’t good yet (let alone a third) and has struggled at the one of the lowest levels of professional baseball, and there is just something weird going on with the fact that avoids pitching for as long as possible

    • reaganspad

      Really surprised that you had Greene in at #9. Seems kind of high for your scale as he did not win the Cy Young or Rookie of the year in 2017…..

  12. Kap

    So what was the point of claiming Johnson only to have him claimed days later by the Giants? Is he going to be this off season’s Richie Shaffer?

    • Doug Gray

      The point was to try and get him into the organization for literally nothing but filling out two pieces of paper. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

      • Kap

        Oh ok. Thought that’s what they were doing. Sneak him through waivers so he’s doesn’t take up a spot on the 40 man roster. Makes sense

    • Cguy

      Louisville hasn’t had a winning season in some time. Every single opportunity that Williams has that may help the Reds but could help the Bats needs to be attempted. Fans grow weary of losing baseball in central Kentucky too.

      • MK

        Come to Dayton. They have had maybe 5 non losing seasons in their 17 years. All that talent has to make it to AAA eventually. Get used to it.

        Don’t think a winning season at any of their minor league teams is a consideration for management. Just like with the big league team they do not have the resources to provide any depth on the rosters.

      • RFM

        A healthy MLB pitching staff so AAA Louisville doesn’t get drained of all its pitching talent would help more than any 2b, more than anyone on the waiver wire. In the past couple of years the need to fill in for injuries has really come at Louisville’s expense.

        The health of Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan and other is a big deal for the Reds, but likely has a ripple effect on the Louisville Bats hopes, too. Maybe the 2018 Bats can keep Mahle, Garrett, Reed, Lopez, Stephens, Davis, and other (relatively) big names for much of the season, rather than turning to roster filler. That would be a big deal for their chances of winning.

  13. Cguy

    Reply to MK. I thought Dayton games were all sell-outs at home. Louisville attendance has diminished each of the last 5 years from 581,114 in 2013 to 467,024 this year. Of course there has been a 3/4 million reduction in attendance at GABP in the last 5 years. You may be right that a winning season in Louisville or Dayton (perhaps even in Cincinnati) isn’t a consideration with Reds management, but I hope not.

    • Doug Gray

      You could have just hit reply to yourself above and it would have shown up under his post. Future reference that one.