When it comes to the national publications and top prospect list, the mid-January through mid-February timeframe is when just about everyone releases their lists. The ZiPS Top 100 list is a little bit different than your typical prospect list, though. ZiPS is a forecasting system that uses a lot of data within it. The less data there is, the tougher it’s going to be when it comes trying to know how to project forward such a player. Guys with little to no minor league experience may not have anywhere near the same kind of outcome on this sort of list that they would on the more traditional “talk to the scouts and see what they have to say” kind of lists. With all of that said, the Cincinnati Reds wound up with two prospects on the list, both near the end.

Catcher Tyler Stephenson has the highest rating among all of the Reds prospects on the ZiPS list, coming in at #97 overall. The former 2015 1st round pick by Cincinnati is coming off of a season in which he hit .285/.372/.410 in the regular season for Double-A Chattanooga – good for a 131 OPS+ with the Lookouts. He followed that up by heading out to the Arizona Fall League where he played in 14 games, including the Fall Stars Game, hitting ,353./.421/.549 with eight extra-base hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts. In November the Reds added Stephenson to the 40-man roster.

Infielder Jonathan India came in at #100 on the list. The 2019 season was one of ups-and-downs for the 2018 1st round selection of the Reds. He began his season in Daytona, playing with the Advanced-A Tortugas. In the extremely pitcher friendly league he hit .256/.346/.410 with 28 extra-base hits in 87 games. On the surface that line doesn’t seem impressive, but it was good for a 125 OPS+ given the league’s pitcher friendliness. India moved up to Double-A Chattanooga in the second half and played 34 games with the Lookouts. While there he hit .270/.414/.378 – good for a 138 OPS+. The power dropped off, but his walk rate increased by 50% and his strikeout rate dropped off from 23% to 18%.

For Jonathan India, though, he played most of the season while dealing with smaller injuries – nothing that was enough to put him on the injured list, but he wasn’t exactly playing at 100%, either. He went out to the Arizona Fall League after the season and struggled for a few weeks before a wrist injury shut his fall season down. India is one of six infielders in big league camp with the Reds on a non-roster invite.

19 Responses

    • Billy

      To be fair, ZIPS is necessarily going to be data-driven, and their statistics is what got those guys noticed. I just wouldn’t get too carried away with this.

      • asinghoff99

        I think it’s fairly obvious. Stats aside since Downs did his damage in a hitter friendly league and Garcia did his in a pitcher’s league, the biggest reason would be that Downs advanced to AA at age 20 while Garcia advanced to A+ at age 21. Youthful upside is the only reason for the difference.

  1. Norwood Nate

    So between all the lists the Reds have 5 guys who made a top 100 list at some point. The farm system is down from where it’s been, there’s no arguing that, but it’s also not devoid of real talent at the top, and plenty of upside guys after that. I feel like I read around here that the Reds has the 27th worst system, but that doesn’t seem to jive with the rankings throughout the different ranking services.

    • Oldtimer

      There are 30 MLB teams. The “average” number of prospects on Top 100 list would be about 3. If Reds had 5, that would be above average. Having just 2 is a bit below average.

      • Billy

        He’s just saying that across all the various lists, the Reds have had 5 guys who have made at least one of the top 100 lists. That’s good. The issues are that none of the Reds prospects are really in the top 10, 20, or even 50, and after you get to #6 on the Reds list, the talent drops off considerably.

      • Norwood Nate

        Right, as Billy said the Reds have 5 guys that some list considers top 100 talent. That doesn’t indicate a system devoid of top talent. To me, having that many guys considered top 100 type prospects doesn’t match with being the #27 ranked system. I personally think it’s more likely mid-pack when it comes to talent level. College basketball has composite rankings to help clear up differences in rankings between the different lists (Scout/Rival/ESPN/etc). It would be nice if baseball had such a composite ranking.

      • Oldtimer

        I think 4 is a better number for Reds MiLB players. Lodolo, Greene, Stephenson and India are Top 100 MiLB players. First two Top 50, other two Top 100.

  2. Big Ed

    As a general rule, I think it is hopeless to try to rank prospects throughout MiLB. I can see a Braves specialist ranking Braves prospects, and Doug ranking the Reds prospects, but Top 100 seems a bit silly to me. Nobody can actually watch these guys perform enough to have an informed opinion. Stats have their purpose, but they can’t take into consideration things like minor injuries, or a guy working on a mechanical change in his swing or delivery, or improvement in conditioning, all of which give context to the stats.

    Here, we they rank Jonathan India ahead of the year-younger Jose Garcia, when Garcia outperformed India in Daytona offensively, defensively and on the basepaths. Granted, India was promoted for 34 AA games and did fine, but he is also a year older. I am not even knocking India, but I don’t get the lack of love for Garcia.

    It is similar to football prospect rankings. A guard from El Paso will be the “#17 guard” in the country, on a list where #16 is a guy from Camden, NJ. It is impossible for somebody to have more than a thinly-supported opinion on these things.

    • Oldtimer

      An example from more than 50 years ago. In mid 1960s Julius (Dr J) Erving was NR (Not Ranked) as HS recruit. Not HS A-A. Not All-State. Not even All-NYC.

      Only All-Conference twice. Two scholarship offers. St Johns (as a favor to his HS coach) and UMass. He chose the latter.

      The rest is history. One of the Top 10 basketball players EVER.

      • Optimist

        Some quibbles – Dr. J is not 10 ever. Certainly top 10 fame, but really a top-100 player.

        Meanwhile, the uncovered talent example, as much as Doug deservedly condemns him personally, of course, is #14. Honestly, a better HS football player than baseball, and has West beaten Elder since he played?

      • MK

        Hey Oldtimer,

        A couple weeks ago we had a conversation about minor league reporting dates. Here is some information I received today you might be interested in.
        Reporting Dates:
        Instructional League* February 14
        Pitchers and Catchers March 2
        Position Players March 10
        First Minor League ST Games March 18
        Last Minor League ST Games April 3

        *Typically guys who have recovered from injuries, guys making position changes, or guys they just want to get some additional work (typically top prospects). These are guys who get into early major ST games.

      • Oldtimer

        Dr J is SURELY among the Top 10 basketball players ever. LOL if anyone doesn’t know that.

        Top 100? LOL.

      • Oldtimer

        (Clipped from NBA Legends)

        Julius Erving began his professional career in the American Basketball Association with the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets. Widely regarded as the greatest player of his time, he is often considered to have been the main catalyst for the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound small forward also played for 11 years with the Philadelphia 76ers, leading them to the NBA crown in 1983.

        In his five ABA seasons, Erving won three scoring titles, three Most Valuable Player awards and two championships. During his 11-year NBA career, Erving was an All-Star each season, the MVP in 1981 and a five-time member of the All-NBA First Team. He scored 30,026 points in his combined ABA and NBA career; only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan had scored more points in the history of professional basketball (at the time this article was written).