In his new gig at The Athletic, Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects in Major League Baseball list. In other lists we’ve seen this offseason there has been anywhere from 2-4 Cincinnati Reds prospects on the national top 100 lists. For Law, he split that number and had three Reds prospects on his Top 100.

Topping the list for Cincinnati is 2017 1st round pick (and #2 overall pick) Hunter Greene. Despite missing the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April of last year, the athleticism, upside, and turn around performance after a tough start in 2018 over the first few weeks has the right-handed starter at #30 on the list. The #30 ranking is not only the highest for Hunter Greene this offseason, besting his #53 ranking on the MLB Pipeline list, it’s also the highest rating for any Reds prospect this offseason. Nick Lodolo had the previous high ranking, coming in at #48 on the MLB Pipeline list.

Speaking of Lodolo, the Reds 2019 1st round draft pick (and #7 overall pick) is the next Cincinnati prospect on the list for Law. He doesn’t have the upside of Hunter Greene, being described to Law by some scouts as “boring good” according to his write up. But where Lodolo shines is quality stuff across the board with outstanding strike-throwing ability. The left-handed starter struck out 30 batters in his limited professional action last summer between Billings and Dayton, all while succeeding in not walking any of the 74 hitters that he faced. Among the five national lists worth paying attention to (Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, The Athletic), the lefty was the only Reds prospect to make all of the lists.

Rounding out the list among the Reds prospects is shortstop Jose Garcia. After struggling in his pro debut in 2018 he broke out a bit with Advanced-A Daytona in 2019. While playing shortstop nearly every day once he joined the Tortugas in late April he went on to hit .280 and lead the Florida State League in doubles with 37 of them. His bat went from severely underperforming the year before to posting a 131 OPS+ in 2019. For Garcia it was the second Top 100 list that he landed on this offseason – he was also rated as the 82nd overall prospect in baseball at Fangraphs by Eric Longenhagen.

Here’s the breakdown of the ranking for each of the Reds prospects that have made one of the big national lists this offseason.

Player MLB_P BA BP FG The Ath.
Hunter Greene 53 76 77 30
Jose Garcia 82 93
Nick Lodolo 48 77 59 92 78
Tyler Stephenson 73

It’s an interesting showing for Cincinnati’s farm system, which was rated as the 28th best (or 3rd worst depending on how you want to look at things) in Major League Baseball by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. As has been noted before, there are four Reds prospects that have made Top 100 lists from reputable sources this offseason, and a fifth – Jonathan India – was among the next five prospects on the Baseball America list. That’s a tough sell to me to say there are 27 teams with better farm systems than that.

The Reds system isn’t quite what it was. 13 months ago the system also had Nick Senzel, Josiah Gray, Shed Long, Jeter Downs, and Taylor Trammell in it. Cincinnati landed some talent in return for the trades of some of those players, and Senzel graduated to the Major Leagues. Had they held onto all of those players, the farm system would look very strong right now – probably top five in the game. But they’d also be without Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer. There’s been a drop off, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s among the worst farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, either. There’s legitimate talent in the organization in the minors.

28 Responses

  1. TJ

    Absolutely crushing to see the 3 additional names on the list we should have had but for the inept trades orchestrated by our bumbling front office. I really don’t understand how no one was fired for those moves. Reading that our top prospect from last year suffered because of minor’s staff tried to change his swing is another puzzling move and the sort that ought to see you unemployed.

    • Doug Gray

      Tyler Stephenson took a big step forward in 2019 at the plate. Jonathan India and Stuart Fairchild both saw dramatic shifts in their walk and strikeout rates once they got to Double-A last year. Alfredo Rodriguez finally showed something at the plate. Mitch Nay absolutely went off in Double-A.

      Taylor Trammell hit .256/.346/.349 from June 2018-the end of 2018. In 2019 before he was traded he hit .236/.349/.336. After he was traded he hit .229/.316/.381. Make of that what you will, but he was struggling long before the swing change Law mentions, and after he went to a new org he didn’t exactly hit any better, either.

      Trammell is and was an important prospect. But I’d argue that the hitting coach seemed to do a pretty good job last year, even if it didn’t work out specifically for one player.

      • Optimist

        I’ve always been intrigued by the older guys they have in the minors – used to be washed up ace/#2 starting pitchers, but now they’ve shifted to former high draft picks let go by prior clubs. Namely – Nay, but also the rhyming Tyler Jay. Do these guys simply age-off of prospect lists, or if Nay has a big half-season, will he reappear?

        For the <1% chance, any possibility they let Blandino perfect the knuckler at AAA?

    • Stock

      Losing Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray was a very poor trade. However, sending Long away improved out team as I have no doubt Long will never be as valuable as Sonny Gray.

      • Doug Gray

        The trade turned out poorly, but the thought process behind it – I’ll argue all day that it wasn’t. And as long as that’s the case, I’m not going to dwell on it at all.

      • RojoBenjy

        “Losing Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray was a very poor trade.”

        I’m the first to say that the way it turned out stunk more than Clint Hurdle. However—had Alex Wood been neck-and-neck with Sonny Gray’s performance all year, and had Puig went off in April and May like everyone said/thought/hoped that he would (or even heated up with the weather to the same degree), and had Big Bob just handed Kemp a ticket back to his hometown right after the trade happened and not let him see the diamond—no one would say that it stinks that much.

        Besides, those prospects are a torn labrum or shredded ACL away from joining Wyatt Strahan in retirement.

        We just don’t know. And now, like Doug, that’s all I have to say about that.

      • Stock

        My position on the trade was simple. If the Reds are all in I can accept this trade. But if they were trying to be competitive any trade for prospects is a bad trade. If the Reds trade Trammell for Realmuto the Dodger trade is a good trade. But they didn’t. They stopped short of trying to win. Being competitive is great and may sell tickets. But it did nothing positive for the Reds long term and did nothing for the Reds short term.

        Plus, giving the Dodgers the salary cap cover helped them a great deal. but we gave them two quality prospects in addition.

      • Doug Gray

        The Dodgers trade failed because unforeseen things happened. If the Reds don’t start out 1-8, Puig performs as he should have been expected, and Alex Wood remains sort-of healthy, the Reds make a lot more money in 2019 and that could have carried forward. It was a solid plan. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad. But it didn’t work out.

        But I also don’t agree that the Reds stopped short of trying to win. They may not have gone all in to try and win in 2019, but they certainly tried to win in 2019. But a lot of things worked against them.

      • RojoBenjy

        Stock-

        I could go along with that reasoning. As a matter of fact i’m now bitterly remembering that it was more of a “don’t lose 95 games” type of off-season that year.

        It’s spilt milk now. And sour.

      • Alex

        Alex wood was the best player involved in the trade and he wasn’t healhty at all. If Alex wood was healthy and had a solid season like most expected out of him then he could have been traded at the deadline to replenish the farm some. That’s the biggest reason the trade looked bad.

      • Oldtimer

        Puig (career) OPS+ 122.
        Farmer 74.
        Kemp 121.
        Wood (career) ERA+ 114.

        Bailey (career) ERA+ 90.
        Downs (MiLB) OPS 0.817
        Gray (MiLB) WHIP 0.960

        Use these analytics as you wish.

    • Champ Summers

      You have Trevor Bauer for a year and a half and Kyle Farmer to show for those 3 players

      • Greenfield Red

        What surprises me is all the continued hindsight on last year’s trades by veteran posters whom I usually agree with that leave out the single biggest positive from those trades at the time they were made: The Reds got rid of Homer Bailey.

        The need to get him, his attitude, and the albatross of his contract was one of the most discussed topics around here for a couple of years. Now we’re going to shred the front office for those trades but forget one of its biggest benefits because it doesn’t fit the narrative? You guys are better than this.

      • RojoBenjy

        Has anyone ever tried to determine if, as things ended up, would it have turned out better or worse had the Reds just released Homer and ate the money?

        If we had some facts to look at instead of just our feelings, perhaps the perspective would be corrected.

        I’ll admit I don’t know where to start to evaluate the question.

    • DHud

      Reds are ready to compete now and widely regarded as NL Central favorites. The current rotation was built through these trades with the addition of Bauer and Gray. Without those additions, the reds rotation is nowhere near competitive

      • Oldtimer

        WIDELY regarded? No.

        Some do. Others don’t. Reds projected 80-85 W average.

  2. TJ

    I don’t argue with those numbers, but I’m guessing he had to “relearn” his old swing from before the trade. Probably caused an adjustment period. Would be interesting to see how he progressed after the trade. You have better access to data then I do, but I did see Trammell hit .310/.356/.442 in 42 post season ABs with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs at seasons end which is encouraging.

    That still doesn’t change the fact that we traded 3 top 100 guys for loud mouth pitcher that looks marginal.

    • Doug Gray

      They traded one guy for Bauer, who is the player I’m assuming you’re referencing as a loud mouth that looks marginal.

      But I’ll also argue that you are dramatically undervaluing innings thrown when assessing Bauer. His ERA’s over the last four seasons have been above-average in three of the four years, and elite in the fourth. And he’s done that while throwing a lot of innings. That’s pretty valuable.

      Now, obviously he’s going to have to pitch a whole heck of a lot better than his 6.39 ERA with the Reds in 10 starts. But if he’s basically the 110 ERA+ kind of guy he’s been and throws 200 innings – that’s far better than marginal.

      • Champ Summers

        I’d argue they traded them all for Bauer and Farmer 1/2 season of Puig and lost season from Wood. Puig was flipped in the Bauer deal with Moss. If he stays next year because of what the Reds are doing plus Boddy and DJ than it might be a win. History will tell.

      • Doug Gray

        History forgets the context of the deal when it happened, and that’s incredibly important to the story.

    • Oldtimer

      Different circumstances but Reds trading Frank Robinson in 1965 is worst trade ever in team history. Pappas, Baldschun, and Simpson were acquired. Baldschun was a former Reds MiLB player who was done in 1966 after five good seasons with Phillies.

      Pappas had two decent years as SP for Reds but was traded for Clay Carroll, Woody Woodward, and Tony Cloninger. All 3 of them played starting roles on early BRM teams. Carroll is arguably among the best Reds RP ever.

      Simpson was traded for starting LF Alex Johnson (two good seasons as Red) who was then traded for Jim McGlothlin and Pedro Borbon. Both were key players in BRM teams (McGlothlin in early 1970s, Borbon throughout 1970s). Borbon is arguably among the best Reds RP ever.

      Reds traded Robinson for pitching. It was a terrible trade but eventually the Reds got good pitching in return. Trades cannot be fully judged in the year after they are made.

  3. RojoBenjy

    It’s mildly irritating to read the national pundits that decide they can degrade the Reds due to a few perceived losses to their farm system, without ever researching who’s been left there, that may have only been slightly overshadowed by the ones that left.

    That’s why I don’t read national pundits—especially the ones that wear bow ties. Bow ties belong in Academia, unless the wearer also sports a straw hat like in a barbershop quartet.

    • pw

      Bow ties in academia?! On what planet? I’ve seen bolo ties during Apollo because many of the geologists worked in the Southwest. Bow ties, never.

  4. Rob

    Wood, Puig, and Kemp were known 1 year guys at the time of the trade. All coming off fairly strong seasons. So in essence, this was a 1year deal to get us to respectability. it didn’t work out for all the reasons noted but it was a 2019 play and not 2020 from the start. And not a bad play from what we realistically expected.

    I am watching the 2020 version of Alex Wood. The Dodgers signed him for nothing. I can’t believe the risk reward here wouldn’t have been worth the petty $ here.

    • Doug Gray

      It was a 2019 play with 2020 on the mind. One, if you win, you sell more tickets, make a little more money, and can thus spend more money in 2020. But you also could use the players (at least the thought was to use Puig and Wood) as trade options at the deadline if they were performing (which was expected), but you weren’t truly contending – and thus also helping in 2020 (or perhaps further into the future depending on what the return was). Or, the third option that you were contending, kept them, they performed, and you could make them a qualifying offer. It wasn’t just for 2019 if things went normal. But they didn’t.

    • RojoBenjy

      Reds likely regard Wood’s back as a time bomb. Dodgers have disposable income. Reds can use every cent and did—put it to good use this offseason with Castellanos, Akiyama, Moose.

      Wade Miley more secure investment to complete his share of innings.

  5. CP

    Glad to see Garcia included on another list. If the likes of Garcia, Stephenson, Lodolo & Greene become the future, SS, C & SP’s then I could care less what these prospect lists acknowledge. They are fun to dream on, but these guys becoming what we hope these lists elude to are what really matters, and that is where I think there is real promise here for the Reds.

    From what I can tell, Stephenson and Lodolo could be producing at the major league level as soon as late this year, and Garcia and Greene perhaps at some point the next. Time will tell, but I will join you in trying to be optimistic Doug!

  6. TJ

    I honestly wasn’t in the back seat driving mode. The trade seemed odd and off market then, and seems absolutely terrible now. We got rid of an over paid pitcher with one year left who actually outperformed everyone we got back (including Bauer). Cheap long dated assets for a team like the Reds are too valuable to trade willy nilly for some “back-slapping” we won 8 more games. If you are rebuilding, commit to it. When you look at our farm system before the trade, we had Green heading to surgery, Senzel couldn’t stay healthy, Trammel trending poorly, and India going sideways to backward. Jeter and Gray were known to be trending positively and they play premium positions (unlike India who is blocked seven ways to Sunday). I manage assets for a living. We sell assets that have topped out and assets they look to be trending the wrong way. We don’t sell assets on the rise. Someone should be fired for this mess.