The week concludes with the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List by looking at the top five players on the list. We’ve been counting down since Monday and the final part of the list is here.

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Just as a reminder, these write ups will not feature full scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start next week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 50-75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason. For the entire list you can click here (each day it will be updated as the next piece comes out).

*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2020 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. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 20

2019 Team: Did not play | Acquired: 1st round, 2017 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 215 lbs

The 2018 season was one that had a whole lot going on for Hunter Greene. The then 18-year-old got out to a BABIP influenced tough start to the season. Through his first seven starts opponents had a .560 BABIP against him, leading to an ERA of 10.06. From there the BABIP normalized and in his next 11 starts he dominated the Midwest League, posting a 2.63 ERA in 51.1 innings with just 13 walks and 63 strikeouts. He looked like everything that was expected of the #2 overall draft pick in that stretch. But then came the injury.

Hunter Greene suffered a tear in his UCL. He opted to undergo treatment and rehab rather than Tommy John surgery. In late October of 2018 he said he was 100% and was feeling great. In late March he was pitching a simulated game during spring training (you can watch some video here) – but the next time he took the mound he injured his elbow once again. This time he opted to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2019 season. Given that his surgery didn’t occur until April of the year, he’ll likely miss at least the first half of 2020, too.

Biggest Strength: This all comes with the caveat of “when he was healthy”, but his fastball sits 96-99 MPH and touches 103 MPH.

Biggest Weakness: At this point in time it’s simply that he’s not yet fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. While most guys do make it all of the way back, that isn’t the case for everyone.

2. Nick Lodolo | LHP | Age: 21

2019 Team: Billings/Dayton | Acquired: 1st round, 2019 | Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 202 lbs

The 41st overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nick Lodolo chose to head to TCU instead of sign with the Pirates. After two solid sesaons, the left-handed starter broke out as a junior – posting a 2.36 ERA in 16 starts. He threw 103.0 innings with 25 walks and 131 strikeouts. That led to him being the first pitcher selected in the 2019 draft, going 7th overall to Cincinnati.

The Reds initially sent Lodolo to pitch for the Billings Mustangs. He made six starts, but was limited in his work load, throwing just 11.1 innings. He didn’t walk a batter and he struck out 21 of the 46 hitters that he faced. That led to his promotion to Low-A Dayton. With the Dragons he made two more starts – also limited in his workload – and threw 7.0 innings without a walk and with nine more strikeouts. Cincinnati then shut him down after having pitched a long season between college and his first taste of professional baseball. He finished with no walks, one homer allowed, and 30 strikeouts in his limited 18.1 innings to go with a 2.45 ERA.

Biggest Strength: His curveball is a plus pitch at times and projects to be one in the future.

Biggest Weakness: His change up is a clear third pitch that needs some work, but shows promise at times.

2019 Season Stats

3. Tyler Stephenson | C | Age: 23

2019 Team: Chattanooga | Acquired: 1st round, 2015 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 225 lbs | B/T: R/R

In 2018 Tyler Stephenson put together his first full season that was injury free in his career. And he put up an above-average season in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, posting a 112 OPS+ (.730 OPS) with 32 extra-base hits in 109 games played.

This past season the Reds sent the catcher to join the new Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga. With the Lookouts things took a step forward at the plate. In 89 games played he hit .285/.372/.410 – good for an OPS+ of 130. The then 22-year-old catcher posted a career best 16.5% strikeout rate, while also keeping his walk rate at 10%. Following the season he headed out to the Arizona Fall League where he crushed the ball, hitting .353/.421/.549 in 57 plate appearances during his time in the league.

Biggest Strength: Power. While it hasn’t fully translated to games yet, he’s got plenty of raw power to tap into and at the catcher position it could really stand out.

Biggest Weakness: Not that it matters given that he’s a catcher, but he’s not a fast runner.

2019 Season Stats

4. Jose Garcia | SS | Age: 21

2019 Team: Daytona | Acquired: International FA, 2017 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 175 lbs | B/T: R/R

When the Cincinnati Reds signed Jose Garcia in June of 2017 it capped off their big international signing period that saw them spend roughly $30M in the last “free for all” international period. He didn’t play that year, instead making his debut in 2018 with the Dayton Dragons. Overall the season didn’t go as planned as he struggled at the plate. The then 20-year-old hit .245/.290/.344 overall, but saw his OPS improve every month throughout the year.

It was the 2019 season that saw Jose Garcia break out. The Reds sent the Cuban-born shortstop to Daytona to play up the middle for the Tortugas. All he did there was post a 130 OPS+ thanks to a .280/.343/.436 line in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Despite missing most of April before his season began, Garcia led the league with 37 doubles. His walk rate improved from 2018, though was still lower than you’d like to see. The strikeout rate also improved, as did the power output.

Biggest Strength: His arm is a plus tool. It’s a short arm action with tons of arm strength.

Biggest Weakness: While it’s not essential, it would be big if he could draw more walks moving forward. His 5.5% walk rate in 2019 was quite a bit lower than is ideal – even for a shortstop where the bat isn’t expected to play quite as much.

2019 Season Stats

5. Tony Santillan | RHP | Age: 22

2019 Team: Chattanooga | Acquired: 2nd round, 2015 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 240 lbs

The 2018 season was a breakout for Tony Santillan. He began the year in Daytona, and he led the Tortugas rotation in the first half before earning a promotion to Double-A Pensacola for the second half. Between the two stops he posted a 3.08 ERA in 149.0 innings with 38 walks and 134 strikeouts.

In 2019 it wasn’t quite the smooth sailing that 2018 was. The Reds sent Tony Santillan back to Double-A, but this time with their new affiliate in Chattanooga. The numbers weren’t nearly as good this time through the Southern League. The 22-year-old psoted a 4.84 ERA in 102.1 innings with 54 walks and 92 strikeouts. He dealt with several small injuries during the season that sent him to the injured list a few times. His season ended at the very end of July after hitting the injured list. None of the injuries were considered serious, but they likely did come into play with his season and performance.

Biggest Strength: When he’s at his best, his fastball is a plus offering that works 95-98.

Biggest Weakness: In 2018 his control took a big step forward, but in 2019 it fell back to where it had been previously and nearly doubled his walk rate from 2018. To reach his ceiling his walk rate and control must improve from where it’s been for the better part of his career and get closer to where it was in 2018.

2019 Season Stats

You can read all of the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect write ups here.

To recap the entire list, here we go:

Rank Player Rank Player
1 Hunter Greene 14 Vladimir Gutierrez
2 Nick Lodolo 15 Noah Davis
3 Tyler Stephenson 16 Ryan Hendrix
4 Jose Garcia 17 Lyon Richardson
5 Tony Santillan 18 Mariel Bautista
6 Jonathan India 19 Braylin Minier
7 Stuart Fairchild 20 Jameson Hannah
8 Jose Siri 21 Michel Triana
9 Rece Hinds 22 Miguel Medrano
10 Tyler Callihan 23 Brian O’Grady
11 TJ Friedl 24 Packy Naughton
12 Michael Siani 25 Ivan Johnson
13 Joel Kuhnel

 

33 Responses

  1. RED LIGHT

    Man, what an uninspiring top 25. 2 guys OPSing in the 700s and a guy with a near 5 ERA in the top 5. Safe to say production isn’t a strength.
    Speaking of strength, power is Stephensons strength and he hit 6 homers…..lol.
    For a team who has been so bad this is inexcusable. If you combine the talent on the farm and in bigs, it’s easy to see this team won’t be competing with any staying power for quite a while.

    • Rhayex

      God, I absolutely hate comments like this. It shows a complete lack of understanding of baseball, scouting, and development.

      A guy can have a poor year in the minors and still be a top prospect because he’s improving and has all the tools needed to succeed.

      Past results are not the only indicator of future success.

      • Rhayex

        With that said, definitely a weaker class than last year, which was expected with graduations and trades.

    • Michael Smith

      I hate it when we have prospects who are 30% better than league average, a prospect who has all the stuff and took a slight step back after a injury riddled year.

    • Stock

      Everything Red Light said here is correct. If Santillan is one of our top 5 prospects the Reds are in trouble. I like our top 3 a lot but if the rest of Doug’s top 10 are really the Reds best prospects this system sucks. I would be very interested to see where (or if) players such as Jose Salvador, Lyon Richardson and Hendrix Clementina land as Red prospects. I consider all three better than Santillan

      While I agree with Rhayex that you can have a good season but a 5.00 ERA in the minors this is not the case here. Santillan had a K% under 20% in the minors this year. 75% of qualified SP in the majors last year had a K% > 20% and many of those who did not are just major league filler for teams in rebuild mode or had hefty contracts teams are stuck with(Brad Keller, Ivan Nova, Marco Gonzalez, Rick Porcello,…). Santillan was just bad this year. And based upon what I have heard he was really lucky last year so I think his control is a huge problem and will limit him.

  2. Tom

    Santillian has always felt like another in the line of Reds RHP that don’t really exhibit efficiency in games and labor through 5 innings. Mahle, Travieso, Romano, etc. Hoping Boddy can do a lot for him so his nice fastball can carry him to the Reds rotation. When he gets there I suppose his ceiling may be a #3, but expect a 4/5 profile on a contender. In all, I would probably pick India over Santillian if I was starting a team because the floor is much higher.

    • DaveCT

      He and Romano are the last of the pitchers (that I can see) that are the large body types we had a stable full of at one time. I would have liked to have seen a leg press competition with that group of Stephens, Travieso, Rookie Davis, etc. Seems the trend came and went. But I agree, Santillan will likely have to take a quantum leap forward, again, with his command and control. I do think his arm is still plenty to dream on, even if you get five or so years of a #4/5 guy, as his stuff is so good. Just his first crack at AA, right? He wouldn’t be the first to struggle making that jump.

      • Tom

        True, I’m looking forward to seeing a healthy 2020 from him. 2019 certainly looks like his floor.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    Doug, what would you say the floor is for Lodolo if we assume his changeup never comes around—-the reliever version of Andrew Miller perhaps? The ceiling if it does—a poor man’s Chris Sale?

    • Doug Gray

      Andrew Miller floor is an incredibly high upside. When that guy was at his best he was arguably the best reliever in baseball. So no, that’s not the floor for Lodolo.

      Very good reliever, assuming no injury or course, would probably be the floor.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    I like that top 4 a lot. They all appear to be 10 year major leaguers.

    If you were betting, who would have the most career WAR?

    • Tom

      If Greene stays patient with his recovery and with his career path, he’ll end up with 35 WAR over 10 years.
      If Lodolo stays course I think 18 WAR over 8 years
      Stephenson if the defense is real, 15 WAR over 10 years
      Garcia, if the power continues, 25 WAR over 12 years

      Just guessing

  5. Gaffer

    At the least this top 5 is actually real MLB players. If these were number 2, 5, 8, 11, and 13 then I would have some hope for this team. Even Taylor Trammell would have been an uninspiring top prospect, but giving him away so that your top prospect is a guy who has pitches a few decent innings in 3 years of pro ball? I would have gone with Lodolo as number 1 but that would also be sad for a guy we just drafted. Stephenson has at least performed at AA, who else?

  6. James K

    Just a reminder of how hard it is to predict baseball success, especially for the younger players: After Pete Rose’s first year in the low minors, age 19, with a .277 batting average and one home run, would anyone other than Rose himself even have considered him for a top 25 prospects list?

    • Doug Gray

      Here’s how hard it is: Three #1 overall draft picks have failed to reach the Major Leagues before they retired. Those were supposed to be the best players in the draft.

      Danny Goodwin was the #1 overall pick TWICE (1971 and then again in 1975). He has a career -1.7 WAR. Matt Bush went #1 overall as a shortstop. He only reached the Majors a decade later after time in prison and a switch to pitcher. 20 #1 overall picks (only counting Goodwin once here) have failed to produce 10 career WAR. Of that group Tim Beckham, Dansby Swanson, and Matt Bush are still active.

      Only two #1 overall picks are Hall of Famers (Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones). Alex Rodriguez should be when he’s eligible, but we’ll see if it happens. You can argue for Joe Mauer, too.

  7. AirborneJayJay

    Hunter Greene has the top spot by default.
    Not one player in the Reds system had a year in 2019 where they could have surpassed a player who didn’t take the field in 2019 and has played sparingly since being drafted 2 1/2 years ago. NOT ONE PLAYER.
    Lodolo had a good run, although it was a very short one after being drafted.
    The step forward by Stephenson and Garcia though are noteworthy, but are overshadowed by the stench of mediocrity that permeates all through this top-25 list. And there should be no excuse for this mess with the Reds drafting in the top-7 of the draft in the last 4 drafts. They drafted 2nd (2016), 2nd (2017), 5th (2018) and 7th (2019) in every round of those respective drafts and this is what we have to show for all the losing and tanking the Reds front office did?
    This farm system has to be ranked in the bottom 5 of all of MLB.
    What a travesty after all that losing.
    Good job on the list. No wonder you had a tough time hashing it out, with the amount of the muck of mediocrity you had to slosh through to come up with this list.

  8. RED LIGHT

    Hey Doug, where would you have had Trammell, Downs, Gray, and Moss if they were in the system?

    • Hanawi

      Not Doug but all top 10 for me. Gray would be 1. Trammell and Downs would be top 5.

      • Stock

        I agree with Hanawi. Gray is #1.

        1. Gray
        2. Lodolo
        3. Trammell
        4. Stephenson
        5. Greene
        6. Downs

      • Alex Reds

        1 Hunter Greenee
        2 Josiah Gray
        3 Nick Lodolo
        4 Tyler Stephenson
        5 Taylor Trammell
        6 Jose Garcia
        7 Jose Siri
        8 Jonathan India
        9 Jeter Downs

        This would be a strong farm system… (if we had #’s 2, 5 and 9 back)

        There’s a drop off after the top 5 players I list above. We only have three of those 5 players left due to the trades.

    • Doug Gray

      No clue on Downs or Gray. Didn’t watch them or talk to anyone about them all year. Trammell would have been #5, probably.

  9. Stock

    Three guys inside my top 20 that did not make Doug’s top 25:

    6. Jose Salvador – Three Reds pitcher (21 and younger if pitching in rookie ball) had a K%-BB% greater than 20%.
    Nick Lodolo – 40.5%
    Miguel Medrano – 21.5%
    Jose Salvador – 20.9%

    Salvador has a big arm and it seems he has control. Santillan never had a K% – BB% > 20%. Stephenson did once. Hunter Greene has done it twice. Romano, never, Garrett, never, Lorenzen, never. These are former top 5 prospects and Salvador is exceeding them with the one stat that is available that you would have to consider the most important stat to look at. Swinging K% is not available for minor leaguers and that would probably be 2nd most important.

    8. Hendrix Clementina – It seems like he made great progress the 2nd half. Overall his hitting stats are similar to India but India has a better eye, which is important. That said Clementina’s 2nd half BB% jumped to 8% (respectable) and his K% dipped to 23% (also respectable).

    11. Debby Santana – Must have been playing through an injury this year because even though he was one of the better and younger hitters in AZ he did not play much. But if he were a US citizen he would have been graduating from High School in May 2019 and the numbers he put up last August in Arizona (329/380/589/969) with a 6.5% BB rate scream 1st round pick to me.

    • Hanawi

      Was surprised that Salvador didn’t make it. Santana needs a position. His fielding is so bad that it overshadows the hitting in my opinion.

      • Stock

        He played SS in DSL so think he should be able to handle 1B as a fall back. But agree that his defense at 3B stinks thus far.

  10. Simon Cowell

    Hunter Greene coming off of TJ should have to earn that #1 spot. Even if 90% fully recover at his age doesn’t mean he will ever have the same arm again.

  11. SteveLV

    Since 15, Reds drafts seem pretty solid to me:

    2015 – Stephenson, Santillan, Herget
    2016 – Senzel, Trammell, Hendrix, Kuhnel
    2017 – Greene, Downs, Fairchild, Naughton
    2018 – India, Richardson, Gray, Siani, Davis
    2019 – Lodolo, Hinds, Calihan, Johnson

    Problems seem to be trades have done more to drain, rather than replenish or enhance, the system, not being active enough in the international markets, and not landing a real impact prospect like Soto, Alvarez, Jimenez, Robert.
    I get Greene being the #1 prospect as he seems like the only prospect who can be that guy. Realize the floor is unknown right now – although I don’t understand the total despair on TJ in some comments – but the sky’s still the ceiling.

    • Pete

      Your bar is very low. This looks like a disaster to me, not one major league player over five draft cycles!

      • Jefferson Green

        Senzel is one. Herget made his debut in 2019, as well. Other top picks from 2015-16 were high schoolers who are expected to take 4+ years to reach MLB.

    • DaveCT

      Part of the equation here is not just the draft but the FA signings, such as Jose Garcia, TJ Freidl, VGuerrero, AlfRod, etc. I’d say the influx of talent is a solid good to very good. Not great due to thinning of the ranks via trade, as above. Systems almost always drop after graduations and deals.

  12. DocRed

    Great list Doug. Thanks. Was Eric Yang close to making the list? I though he had a really nice rookie year, which wasn’t much of a drop-off from his last college year as well.
    TIA

    • Doug Gray

      He’s a guy I liked, but wasn’t comfortable with in the Top 25 yet.