This was supposed to be published on April 1st. I thought it was published. It turns out that I’m an idiot and never published it. It’s a week-and-a-half late to the showroom floor. But, the information stands.

Over the last few years, right before the season began I’ve written about a player or two that I expected to break out or step forward in the upcoming season. Some have been ones that I hit out of the park (Jose Siri, Mariel Bautista), while some others were a bit of a miss – at least in the time frame (last season my pick was Jose Garcia, who just looked outstanding all spring last year). In the past I’ve based much of what I saw in spring training. This year, there’s a little bit less of that.

When it comes to the pitcher that I think is going to take a step forward in 2019 this feels a little bit like I’m cheating, but I’m going all-in on Tony Santillan. Now, he’s certainly not an under-the-radar type of guy. He’s ranked as the Cincinnati Reds 4th best prospect and he’s a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball in several national publications. But there’s a reason to think he’s got more room in the tank to rise up.

Last season saw the right-hander from Texas take a big step forward when it comes to his control. In turn, his ERA took a big step forward, too. While he was able to more than handle the challenge in 11 starts for Double-A Pensacola last season – striking out 61 batters with just 16 walks in 62.1 innings pitched – he added a fourth pitch this spring. With a fastball that typically work in the mid-90’s and up, and a change up and slider that both work between 89-91 MPH, adding a pitch in the low 80’s gives him a fourth look that’s very different from the other pitches. A breaking ball that’s changing the bat speed could really help take Santillan to that next level.

On the position player side of things there were a few guys that were in the debate, but at the end of the day my pick is going to be Hendrik Clementina. He’s already a Top 25 Cincinnati Reds prospect, so he’s not coming out of nowhere. And it’s not like he didn’t hit last season, either – he had a .268/.327/.497 line in Dayton last season with 41 extra-base hits in 96 games. His season was one of a very hot start, and then a struggle down the stretch. In April and May he hit .333/.412/.675. From the start of June through the end of the season he hit just .235/.282/.407.

This spring Hendrik Clementina looks like a different guy. He came to Goodyear significantly lighter and in much better shape. The Florida State League tends to crush power unless you’re Ibandel Isabel, so the surface numbers may not improve for Clemetina in 2019. But I’m a believer in his bat and being in better shape, coupled with maturing – I think he’s going to find a bit more consistency and take a step forward.

Other prospects to watch for in 2019

One guy I had several scouts talk about during the spring was Claudio Finol. He’s still just 18-years-old, and won’t turn 19 until later this month. In 2017 he hit .300 for the DSL Reds. He followed that up by hitting .294 for the Greeneville Reds. It certainly could just be my imagination, but he looks like he’s put on some good weight since last year. Last season he played second, short, and third base in Greeneville. Look for him to do a bit of the same this year with Dayton, but his bat was certainly intriguing to a few people this spring in Arizona.

Andy Sugilio continues to be a guy who shows the tools you want to see. Last year he lost the early part of his season due to a hamstring injury and even when he returned he didn’t look to be 100% for a while. Likely heading to Daytona and the Florida State League, the context needs to be noted, but he’s a guy who I’m going to be keeping an eye on.

Ryan Olson got out to a great start last year in Daytona. Then he got injured and didn’t pitch much after that. He’s got stuff to work with, but he’s struggled to stay on the mound. He’s thrown just 78.1 innings since being drafted in 2016 – and he’s been used as a starter in that time. He’s now going to pitch out of the bullpen.

Ryan Hendrix posted an ERA of 1.76 last season. He’s not going to “surprise” anyone by going out and performing well. He struck out 79 batters last season in 51.0 innings. But it was his second half that was a lot different than his first half. While his ERA was similar in both splits, he walked just 9 batters in 26.1 innings in his final 24 games after walking 17 batters in his first 20 games that spanned 24.2 innings. If that second half strikezone control shows up he could make quick jumps up the ladder.

17 Responses

  1. AirborneJayJay

    Santillan is a good all-in pick. But an easy pick to make. A pick that is more out of left field, I’ll go with 2 of Santillan’s teammates and rotation mates and say Tejay Antone and Scott Moss. Big season coming from Antone as he distances himself from that TJ surgery. Moss takes a big leap forward this season.
    Hitter, I am going with the guy who hit 2 homers last night, Brian O’Grady. He is going to be knocking on the door all season but there is no room for him in Cincinnati. Not at least until the July 31 trade deadline.

    • Wes

      I like moss a lot. Kinda a poor mans mahle w good numbers despite not having elite stuff. And a lefty

  2. The Duke

    Clementina is out to a rough start in Daytona. Maybe Koloszvary should have been the guy we should be watching. Vastly superior defensive catcher and is off to a nice start offensively (granted an extremely small sample size).

    Finol looks promising. On base each of his first 4 games this year, and doesn’t even turn 19 until tomorrow. Kind of like a HS draft pick starting his first full year in Low A age wise. I hope he gets to play when I go tomorrow, but I also want to see Miguel Hernandez at SS, so maybe Finol at 3B or 2B.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    Too bad Josiah Gray was traded to the Dodgers. He is going to be a stud.
    Last night 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 5 K.

    • Hanawi

      I hated that inclusion from the moment of the trade. Reds have so little actual pitching in the low minors. No way should they give away their best prospect there. And frankly, I don’t think they should be trading with the Dodgers much to begin with. They have superior scouting resources and their player development is leaps and bounds better than the Reds. Same with the Yankees. Reds have lost nearly every deal with those teams IMO.

      Starting half a team of Dodger cast-offs every night isn’t going to lead to a title.

      • RobL

        I like Gray as much as the next guy, but Hanawi, how has the Dodgers constantly fleeced the Reds. Cingrani, he pitched all of 22.2 innings last year with a 4.76 ERA. He is on the DL with a shoulder problem currently. We got Clementina for him, and that was despite the fact that Cingrani had been horrible for us for 2 years and had a total breakdown with the Reds staff. He was going to be released after the season.

        Then the Frazier trade. We actually traded the Dodgers the White Sox prospects. We got Peraza who has had a solid season as a shortstop. We have Schebler who has over 35 homers, but I will grant you, we don’t know if he is actually an everyday player. And we got Dixon, who had a cup of coffee with the Reds but is not in the organization this year. The Dodgers got Montas who promptly got hurt and was sent as the third player in a trade with the A’s. He is out to a solid start this season. Trayce Thompson had a few underwhelming seasons as a part-timer with the Dodgers and is no longer with them. None of his seasons were as good as Schebler. And then there was Micah Johnson who never played with the Dodgers and may be out of baseball (or hurt). No fleecing going on here.

        Now, are there other trades that you are talking about, because I don’t see how the Dodgers are taking advantage of the poor little Reds.

    • MK

      Hopefully I will get to see him pitch this summer as he is a member of Great Lake Loons and could pitch against Dragons.

  4. Shawn

    Seems like I’ve read this before. Are you sure it wasn’t published. Maybe on Patreon?

    • Doug Gray

      I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. I put it on Patreon, then planned to wait a few days and publish it on the site. But forgot.

  5. Wes

    Clementine is a catcher right ? Is he projected to stay there ?

    • The Duke

      Looked bad there last year in Dayton when I saw him. He’s supposedly dropped about 25 lbs though, which can only help. Even with the dropped weight he’s listed as a C/1B now.

  6. NLP

    I’m hoping to see what this Yorman Rodriguez kid can do. He really showed a lot of promise as a 17 year old in rookie ball.

      • asinghoff

        Plays for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.

  7. Cguy

    I’ll stick with my off-season step up picks; Santillan, T. Stephenson, Siri, & Siani. Problem is that Siri appears to only step up in winter ball. I still feel that 3 of that 4 will be Top 100 Prospects by year’s end. My dark horse candidate would be Scott Moss. He may not have great stuff to throw; but he’s overcome that by learning how to pitch. I know he’s going about things BUTT backwards, but there’s no law that says you can’t upgrade your stuff after you learn how to pitch, is there?

  8. Simon Cowell

    The Reds will miss Sonny and Doug’s brother Josiah. He does look like a stud at this point. Of course, all pitchers are a TJ away from calling it a day.

  9. Shamrock

    Connor Joe would’ve been perfect for this Reds team:
    He just had his first hit after going 0-13 to start the season.

    Back to the question though. I’m gonna go ahead and pick your guy from last year: Jose Garcia.
    Perhaps by this time in 2021 we’ll have three Jose’s manning the Reds middle infield. Arriba!!