Reds Top 25 Prospect list: All Questions Answered Doug Gray November 4, 2017 3 Comments All week we counted down (or up in this case) the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects. If you haven’t checked that out, it’s the first place to start. Each day I tried to answer as many of the questions as possible, but I’m sure there are still some out there, especially now that the entire list is out there. So, let’s take some time today and get some of those answered. Let’s try to keep the questions related to the prospect list, or why guys didn’t make the list instead of general organizational/baseball questions. As always, I will take the questions from the comments section, delete them, and then add them into the post once I’ve answered them. There are a few rules, as always: Ask questions by 7pm ET or they may not get answered. Each user gets up to three questions. I’m not going to specifically rank the next X number of guys. I will talk about the next guy at each position if you are curious about that. Get to it. 1. Who would be the next top reliever on the list? Rainey? Hendrix? 2. Next top catcher 3. Next top 1B prospect Ariel Hernandez was the next reliever on my list. I had Chris Okey as the next catcher on the list. Down year, but he’s now shown, granted in two different years, real pop and real defensive skills. He’s got to put them together in the same season, but he’s at least shown them both at this point. Tough one to answer – as I didn’t have another first baseman on my “consideration list”. With that said, I’d probably go with Bruce Yari. Needs to cut down on the strikeouts, but he showed real pop in Dayton this year. 1) Who was the one player you expected to make the list or be ranked higher than ended up dropping? 2) What non top-25 prospect has best shot at catapulting up this list on next 12 months? My vote: Jacob Heatherly as a Pitcher and Cristian Olivo as a position player. 3) What top 25 prospects are most expendable if Reds were to trade them? Guy I thought would rank higher when I started the list: Herget. That mid-teens range of the list was a tad deeper than I initially expected it to be once I started putting it together. Unranked guy I expected to be ranked: Jackson Stephens (he was #26, as he was originally #25 before realizing I miscounted Jesse Winker’s total number of days on the active roster). Beyond him, Alfredo Rodriguez – who I think is a big leaguer. That glove is unreal. When I started, I figured he was in that 20-25 range. He fell just outside. Was the top shortstop remaining. Those could be good choices. I’d add in guys like Mariel Bautista and Reniel Ozuna. The Reds are deep in outfielders. So they could get away with moving someone from that group and not feel like they took an enormous his. Same for with starting pitching. Obviously if you’re going to trade someone like a Mahle or Trammell from either of those groups, it’s going to have to be in a very different kind of deal than trading a Jose Lopez or Miles Gordon – but those are the groups where the team has some depth to work from in trades. 1. How the heck did Deck pass through waivers while a guy like Wallach got picked up? 2. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Wallach, but out of the 4 guys released yesterday, isn’t Deck the one who still has any real chance of sticking on a MLB roster…….like Ever?? Age. Position scarcity. Pitchers, there are lots of them, and he’s going to be 29-years-old next year with a handful of big league innings under his belt. Catchers – there aren’t many of them. I think that McGuire and Vincej have the best shots. Slightly surprised that Scott Moss didn’t make the list. This isn’t exactly a question, but I’ll address why he didn’t. I really like the breaking ball, but I want to see more velocity from the fastball. I don’t believe that where it sits today is going to be enough to work as a starter in the big leagues. The Reds do think he’ll gain more velocity with experience. That wouldn’t be surprising given his almost entire lack of pitching in college because of injury – but, until he can show that kind of increased velocity over 100+ innings, I’m going to be hesitant to rank him based on what may come with the future increase. The 6-10 prospects are some of my favorites in our system. Which one of those do you think will end up with the best career.. do u see anyone not named Senzel on the verge of just putting it all together and making a leap like Castillo did last year? do any of our dsl guys that haven’t come stateside yet stick out to you? I rank the guys in order of who I think will have the best career, so, the list is that answer. And no, I don’t think anyone outside of Senzel can come out in 2018 and be an All-Star caliber player right away. Winker may be able to put up All-Star caliber offensive numbers (I would not be surprised if he came out and hit .290/.370/.450 for example). DSL guys are always tough to peg because you’re talking about 16-18 year-olds. Cristian Olivo is the one guy I’ve seen in person, though, and he sticks out like a sore thumb among other 18-year-olds from a physicality standpoint. He also hit quite well in the second half of the DSL season. Debby Santana is another guy who hit well in the DSL, and he did so at age 16. Also heard some good reports on him. Where do you see reds line up vs other big league systems? Who would you peg as breakout pitcher and hitter this coming season? Not sure how long you have had your blog going but- How high did Blandino/Ervin make it at any time? I’m not sure if you’re asking how the Reds 1-8 stacks up against other teams, or how the Reds farm system stacks up against other teams…. so I’ll just go with both. Their lineup is mediocre at best as it stands right now. They’ve got huge issues offensively at shortstop and in center. They’ve got one above-average bat in Suarez and one elite one in Votto. Winker has things to prove before penciling him in as above-average, though he showed very well in his debut. Not sure what to make of Gennett, exactly. He’s never been anything close to this guy before. Is he average like he’s been in the past, or above-average like this past year? Somewhere in the middle? Regardless, the overall offense is mediocre right now and must improve. As for the farm system, graduations hurt. Having two Top 25 caliber guys in Senzel and Greene helps. Still, I think you’re looking at a system that’s probably ranked in that 10-14 range. There’s depth, but beyond the Top 4 there’s a drop off to a group of potential over potential and production that tends to carry the top end systems. I wouldn’t peg anyone just yet in sure terms. But the leading candidates I’d go with from the pitchers would be Santillan or Gutierrez, who both flashed periods of dominance and have the stuff to back it up. Hitters…. no clue off of the top of my head. Check out the Prospect Rankings link in the navigation bar. Rankings go back to 2007. Both have been top 10 guys at some point. If Stuart Turner was eligible, would you have him ranked above or below Okey? (Who you said above would be the next catcher on your list). You’ve been higher on some guys in the past than the national ranking guys (like Romano and Y-Rod in recent memory). Is there a guy this year you feel you’re higher on in the current rankings that the national guys are overlooking? Which player drafted after Round #3 in 2017 has the best chance of showing up on a future prospect list? There’s some interesting names with Case, Naughton, Sceroler, Kolozsvary, Keller etc. Honestly, I don’t know. He played so infrequently that it was tough, almost impossible, to get a good read on what he can actually do. Maybe Tyler Stephenson. But at this point, it’s tough to say who because the national places haven’t really come out and said “we think this guy is here” just yet. Case or Naughton would be my guess. Naughton is rather interesting because he didn’t exactly have any sort of success in college, but dominated in the Pioneer League and had good reports to go along with it. 1. What’s your take on Jesse Winkers defense? From what I understand he did not play well at all on defense last year. Is this going to be a concern going forward or can he be someone who plays at least league average defense? 2. Am I crazy to be high on Alex Blandino? He seems like the type of player to have a high obp, play good defense and have enough power that will really play up at gabp. Is a future slash line of 270/370 with 20+ hr out of the question? He’s still rather inexperienced in right field, where the Reds played him most of the time in the big leagues. For the most part, he’s been a left fielder in the minors. He’s never going to be more than a fringy fielder. He’s just not fast enough, and his arm is more left than right field. I think 20 homers and a .370 OBP are both out of the question in normal baseball seasons. With the weird baseball that happened in 2017, who knows. But with a normal baseball that we’ve seen in most years, he’s not a 20 homer guy. It’s rare that guys carry a .100 difference between AVG/OBP, so saying that type of guy is going to exist before they do it…. not something I’m comfortable doing. 1. Would you say there is a bias on national prospect lists where large market teams have very similar prospects to smaller market teams yet their prospects are rated much higher? 2. Where do you see Nick Senzel starting next season? And at what position? 3. Where do you see Jose Siri starting and ending next season? I don’t think so. What I do think is something though, is bias for a team that say, has developed shortstops, or pitchers, and giving the prospects from that organization at that spot a boost in value at times because of it. Braves pitchers in the 90’s saw a whole lot of that. Louisville and third base, but I would be surprised if he didn’t also see time at second. Daytona and then Pensacola. How soon he gets to Pensacola will be up to his performance. 1) What do you think the future has in store for Nick Travieso, providing he comes back healthy? Is he ultimately a bullpen guy? 2) What, specifically, are the dings in Friedl’s game that has him being consistently underrated? 3) Does Mark Armstrong have any sort of future in this organization? He seems unable to stay off of the D.L. If he can stay healthy, will his ‘stuff’ play? If he’s back to full strength, he’s got the stuff to start. Now, he’ll be down the depth chart simply because the missed time allowed so many other guys to pass him up and get to AAA/MLB, so he may not get that chance and wind up in the bullpen because of it. But when he’s been at his best, he’s got starter stuff. Well, first off, you’ve got it in your mind that he’s underrated based on what you think he is. I don’t know exactly what you think that is, so it makes it tough to answer. But, outside of his speed, which is very good, but not great, nothing stands out on his resume. That’s what’s working against him. Armstrong retired, so, I’d guess that no, he doesn’t have a future in the organization. One long winded question… Assuming Senzel and Castillo develop accordingly, amd Votto can maintain a high level of play for two years, that gives the Reds roughly 3 elite players in 2-3 years. The Astros had arguably 7 elite players, and still had to play 7 games to win the World Series. There’s a chance the Reds could have a few more develop a la Garcia, maybe Stephenson, throw in Suarez and even Reed perhaps…but those are much bigger ifs. My question is, why aren’t the Reds still tearing down the team to continue the rebuild for circa 2021 in your estimation? Do you honestly believe this team and it’s core can compete for a championship in the next 2 years … if it can, who will be the additional 3 to 4 elite prospects to develop in that time if you had to guess. And one short(er) one: Do you believe the Reds professional, advanced scouting department is good enough to win a championship? It seems like the amateur scouting and player development is second to none, but is it fair to question things on the advanced side? Watching the games, it hardly seems like the Reds are picking up on certain habits of a pitcher, knowing the tendencies of certain players, etc. Of course that’s a bit unfair as players need to play to that scouting report, but, on the flip side, when the big money franchises come into town, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs etc. it seems like they’re one step ahead. The Reds, and almost everyone else, can’t only build internally. They are going to have to add from the outside. Whether that’s from trades, or free agency, they need to bring in help from outside of the organization. That 2009-2013 group got help from outside: Choo in the short term. Hernandez that first year at catcher was an above-average hitter. Rolen in 2010. Latos. There’s almost no way this team is truly competitive based on only internal options. Hardly any team can do that. I just don’t think they believe that they have been at the point where it makes sense to go make that move to bring in outside talent yet. Maybe that’s this offseason. Maybe it’s next year. But I fully expect them to realize they need to, soon, and that they will. There’s not much left to tear down. You’ve got no big chips left to cash in unless you think there’s no way you can compete until 2020. I think money is a far bigger issue working against teams like the Reds than anything else. Scouting wise, I think they stack up with just about anyone. Analytics, it’s tougher to know. I think there are probably limits based on the tech we’ve got now – but, I think there’s stuff in analytics that aren’t based around what happens on the field that could give some team an enormous advantage – medical stuff (best way to recovery, best ways to keep guys healthy – particularly pitchers). In the end though, regardless of what baseball tries to tell you, or what others try to point out with so-and-so made the playoffs, the teams that are constantly in the thick of things are the ones with money. Money allows you to make mistakes. Money allows you to easier overcome injuries. The Reds are never going to be the team that can trade for a Justin Verlander and take on that kind of money. It’s just not reality. If you don’t have money, you can’t make mistakes. If you don’t have money, you need the guys you are really paying to stay healthy. The Dodgers playoff roster had a group of guys left off of it that made as much as the 2017 Brewers team did. 1. Who would be your 26-30? 2. Favorite prospects on your List? 3. Who on your list do you think is underrated on other lists, like mlb.com or baseball america? In other words, high on your list but low on others? Someone didn’t read the rules. I don’t know how to answer this. I’ve had good interactions with most of the guys on the list. I’ve never met a few of them. Jose Siri may be the most fun to watch. He can do everything. He plays with so much passion, which can be both good and bad at times (you can tell when he gets frustrated and may let it get to him at times). No clue. Their lists aren’t out yet. The Baseball America list will be out next week, but only the Top 10. We’ll have to wait until February to know their Top 30. Names like Crawford, Jagielo, Sparks, Travieso and Howard comes to mind as once highly thought of prospects who haven’t met expectations. Who has the best chance of putting it all together and rebounding like Blandino did this year? After making the opening day roster in 2017, where does Rookie Davis start this year? Why are there no side armers any more in MLB? Guys like Kent Tekulve, Dan Quisinberry and even Scott Sulivan had great careers and hardly any arm problems. Are there any side armers in the system currently? All but Sparks has had a serious injury get in their way from that list. Crawford’s been back from his injury for a while now and the results haven’t been good. Same for Jagielo. Too soon to know on Howard or Travieso, so I guess one of those two. The disabled list. He won’t be recovered from his hip surgery in time to start the year. Most guys with that action get hurt. Very few of them that don’t get hurt are ever effective enough. We just remember the rare few that were good enough to break through. I don’t think there are any true side arm guys in the system. There are a few low arm angle guys though. You mentioned above that Senzel will probably start 2018 in Louisville. Who else do you see being promoted to the Bats at the start 2018? Guererro? Trahan? LaValley? Van Meter? To start 2018? Tough to say. Guerrero should be a free agent, so he may not even be with the organization. Trahan *should* be back in Pensacola. He had a sub .600 OPS last season. Tough to argue that should get you bumped up unless you’re a pitcher. With that said, if the team doesn’t go externally for a Triple-A caliber shortstop, they may not have another choice. Can’t see LaValley being promoted to start the year. VanMeter, yes. With Vincej gone, do the Reds target a as in the Rule 5 draft? Thairo Estrada (Yankees) seems intriguing. It depends on who is available. I’d expect it to be more likely they just hit up the minor league free agent market for a Triple-A shortstop than try to find one to stash on the big league roster all year as a “just in case”. Estrada looks interesting, but we have no clue if he’ll be eligible or not. Teams still have 2-and-a-half weeks to add players to the roster for protection. 1) Should we know by this time next year whether or not Hunter Greene was fool’s gold? 2) Where would Peraza rank on your list if he were eligible this year? Very few of us have been impressed so far. Would he have even made the Top 25?? 3) When should we expect Joey Votto to begin his descent? (and, with a guy like him, how rapid and total will his fall from grace be). Do you think this is the year we draft the best 1B prospect available at #5 and begin to groom him to takeover?? We already know that he wasn’t. That doesn’t mean he will work out, but there’s nothing at all suggesting that he was not worth the pick he was taken with. Yes, he would have easily made the Top 25. Mostly because he would have been in Triple-A and he would have been producing. I hate to go against Joey Votto, but eventually it’s going to happen. I imagine that he probably starts his slow decline this year. Historically guys start the decline around 30-31, so I’d expect he doesn’t keep just beating father time. I expect him to be a slow decline, though, unless an injury does something (like it took everything away from Pujols). But no, I don’t think you will see them take a first baseman in the draft early. 1. Which players in the top ten do you expect to graduate in 2018? 2. Based on graduations, a slightly lower draft slot next year, int’l signing limits, and potential trades do you think this is the best top 25 we will see for several years? 3. How much higher do you think the system would rank if Castillo and Romano maintained eligibility? Senzel, Mahle, Winker. Yes. I think they’ll lose Senzel and won’t replace him with a Top 10 in all of baseball caliber prospect – which in terms of a farm ranking, is enormously valuable. Significantly. Castillo should, if still eligible, be a Top 10 caliber prospect. I’d rank him ahead of Senzel. Kolozsvary and Clementina both produced well offensively with the Mustangs. Are they really similar or does one stand out? Packy Naughton got rave reviews from the coaches in BA top 20 by league review. Any chance he will be in Dayton next year. Is there a solid chance he enters the top 15 next year? Jacob Heatherly didn’t get the time or the reviews Packy did but seems like he will be a good prospect. Any chance he will be in Dayton next year. Is there a solid chance he enters the top 15 next year? Very different types. Clementina’s got much further to go, defensively. Significantly more upside offensively. I’d be very surprised if he’s not in Dayton next year. I guess there’s a chance he could get pushed to Daytona. Not sure how solid of a chance he enters the top 15 though. Way too many variables. I’d put Heatherly ahead of Naughton right now for sure. He’s old for a high school pick, so there’s a chance he’s in Dayton, but I’d be a bit surprised if he is. I’d expect Greeneville or Billings. Same as with Naughton – just too many variables to know if he could jump into the Top 15. 1 – what kept Friedl off the top 25 list? 2 – will the Reds start next year the same way they did this year with some of their top starting pitching prospects in the MLB bullpen? 3 – is next year the year Olivo comes to the states? There were 25 better prospects in my mind. He just looks more like an extra outfielder, and with that profile, he’d have to be producing in Triple-A to make the Top 25. I sure hope not. At least not if the plan for those guys is to use them as a starter at some point in the future. I believe so, yes. 3 Responses Joey November 4, 2017 Does Jose Siri’s bad BB/K rate concern you? Is it usual for guys to not walk much and strike out a ton at that level? Would you platoon a left handed guy like Jarrod Dyson with Phil Ervin in CF this year over Billy? The Giants this year had Gorkys Hernandez and Denard Span in CF. Their combined DRS this year was -31. Billy was a 9. That is 40 run difference. It makes me scared when people suggest a mediocre defensive player for CF. What is the worst idea you have heard for a CF? George November 9, 2017 I just found your sure site this evening, and I really enjoyed the write up on the top 25. Not being a Reds fan, but a MLB fan in general, I’ve been really excited to see guys like Trammell, Long and Siri progress. This was all very informative and insightful. My only pause, is when I read your comments about the Reds finances and saying something to the effect of “they will never have the money to do XXX”…. That is just simply not true. The truth is that every single franchise in MLB is capable of being able to afford XXX… Some choose not to invest in player development, analytics, internationally etc… But the reason for not spending in those areas is because of a cognitive decision made by the ownership of how much they are going to put back into their own pockets v put into the product. No one knows the true net profitability of these teams, and if we did, we’d be sick. Teams like Boston,NYY do what they do, because of the ownership willingness to be a little less greedy. Years ago, in the period when the Pirates were approaching 20 consecutive losing seasons, Forbes magazine reported that in terms of net profitability, they were near the top of the league. The fact is that overall revenue has increased, something like 600% to 9B over the last 20 years. Duringt the same time, player salary as a % of revenue, is trending in the opposite direction. It reached it’s peak at about 54% in the late 90s, and in 2015 was closer to 46%… When revenue is increasing at double digit growth, year over year, while the largest expense, player salary as a % is heading in the opposite direction at nearly the same rate… That’s a hell of a combination for every ownership group in MLB. I love the game, and I love to read the incredible information that writer’s bring to the fans … But I really can’t tolerate when they are carrying the water for the owners with the message that they are tapped out financially. Come on… Don’t allow them to get away with selling those falsehoods to your audience. Doug Gray November 9, 2017 George, thanks for stopping in….. But you are pretty offbase with the financial part of this all. And, yes, we do generally have a good idea of the net profit of the teams because we’ve seen leaked documents with their finances (well, some teams). I’ve also got a pretty good idea on the Cincinnati Reds finances, specifically, based on conversations with people whose job it is to know these kinds of things. The Dodgers TV deal brings in more money, per year, than everything the Reds bring in. Before they sell one ticket, one parking pass, one hat – one anything, they are already bringing in more money than the Reds do. If you think that somehow, the Reds and the Dodgers can both play on an even playing field with the way money is currently being distributed in baseball, you’re simply wrong. Maybe the Reds and Pirates are profiting in a similar manner to other teams, but that doesn’t mean that they can actually spend with them. If both teams profit $15M, but the Dodgers are spending $300M to run their franchise, and the Reds are spending $140M to run theirs, it’s very clear that one team will never have the money to do XXX when compared to the other. Now, if you want to talk about if I believe these owners should be willing to eat personal money up front to improve the product and reap it back when they sell the team down the road, that’s a very different story. And, just for the record, the players are only getting 39% of baseball revenues today, compared to where it topped out at 51%. But, far more money is being spent off of the field than ever before, too (though I absolutely think the players are crazy to only be taking 39%).