Fangraphs wasn’t able to stick to rating each organizations prospects in the offseason. And they’re still working their way through the various organizations – but today they finally got around to the Cincinnati Reds top 36 prospects. The system overview isn’t great from Eric Longenhagen, who wrote this:

This system looks rough in large part due to a combination of graduations (Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino) and trades (Taylor Trammell, Josiah Gray) made with an eye toward competing for a playoff spot in a strong division.

The international program seems inclined to re-engage with a significant portion of the market it had previously avoided. The Reds also seem more inclined than other clubs to draft older high schoolers, and an unusually high number of their slugging corner bats have among the most reckless approaches in all of baseball. The current pillars of the org’s scouting and player development haven’t been in place for very long and 2020 is a key year for understanding the org’s new tendencies as they reveal them. It was hard not to write this list with the org’s new pitching development processes in mind, as Pitching Coordinator Kyle Boddy’s body of research and thinking is basically available online.

There were a few surprises to me among the rankings, but let’s start at the top, where there’s not really much of a surprise in the top five. Tyler Stephenson, Hunter Greene, Jose Garcia, Nick Lodolo, and Jonathan India make up the guys at the top.

When it comes to a few of the surprise rankings, perhaps it’s just that I want to see a little more from him before ranking him higher – but Lyon Richardson being the #6 prospect was indeed a surprise to me. He’s got the draft spot working for him, but he’s a right-handed starter who throws 89-93 MPH with solid, but unspectacular secondary stuff. And it’s not as if he dominated in the stats, either – he posted a 4.15 ERA in the Midwest League last season, where the league average ERA was 3.75. That’s not to say there’s nothing to like – he pounds the strikezone and has a solid array of pitches, and he’s thrown harder as an amateur – but right now that’s a tough sell for the profile at #6.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was Tejay Antone at #12. Now, if you wanted to talk about where he would rank today, the #12 spot doesn’t seem too much of a surprise. In the offseason he didn’t make my own Top 25 based on the 2019 season. He was close, but not quite there. But when he came out in spring training sitting in the upper 90’s with his fastball, things changed. He went from a guy with a fringy starter profile with a solid middle relief profile to a guy with a potential good starter profile and perhaps a back end of the bullpen profile. The surprising part here, though, is that the write up doesn’t mention the enormous uptick in velocity this spring at all and notes that he’s maybe a back of the rotation or middle relief guy.

There’s write ups on plenty of guys at the link, and there’s good information on a lot of the guys in there. So be sure that you go check it out. I’ll contend that the system is still a little bit better than what it’s being given credit for – though it’s still certainly a bottom-half of the league farm system right now that’s absolutely taken a hit in the last year.

17 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    From the Fangraphs article, this comment on Jose Garcia got my attention:

    “If Garcia’s tools were installed in a 21-year-old college shortstop, he’d be very famous.”

    • Doug Gray

      And he’d probably be paid about the same as what he got to sign a few years ago (though the Reds paid a lot more than what Garcia got), but he’d only get $100,000 of it this year…. But that’s another story for another day.

      Garcia and Antone are the two prospects that did some stuff in spring training that turned a lot of heads. Garcia, in my mind, wasn’t really doing a lot that I hadn’t already seen. Sure, the home runs were awesome to see, but I have always thought he was going to get to that raw power. Plenty of scouts I talked to over the years thought it was there, too (though some weren’t quite as high on it as others but everyone seemed to think it was at least average power).

      Antone, though – just came out and did stuff that he’s never really done before. Heck, listening to him, he didn’t even know he was going to be there until he started really throwing in the spring and then it was like, “oh wow, I guess what I was doing in the offseason really worked”. I’m still surprised that the uptick in velocity wasn’t mentioned in his write up – it’s a very big deal with regards to the kind of prospect that he is.

  2. Chi Reds Fan

    Perhaps this has been covered in another thread here but given the expected “cancellation” of minor league baseball this year. What are these prospects not on the MLB roster going to do? Is the anticipation that they will play in Arizona in intra-squad games to at least remain active and get some development? Or what ? thx

    • Doug Gray

      The expectation is that they stay home and do what they can to stay in shape.

      • Doug Gray

        I mean, I’m with you, but they aren’t bringing 200 guys to Arizona and putting them up in hotels and paying them their salary. Toss in that they’d also have to go through all of the same protocols needed to play MLB games and it’s just a logistical nightmare that they aren’t going to undertake.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    My man Tejay Antone is getting some live from a national writer. I’ve been a fan of his since before his TJ surgery. But what he did in spring training was a bit unexpected. I hope he kept that edge sharpened during the covid 19 shutdown. It will be interesting to see if he makes the expanded roster. He’ll certainly be on that taxi squad or whatever they will call it.

    Post edited. Don’t try and push the envelope with that stuff. You know exactly what you were doing and I really am not going to tell you again. Play by the rules or you don’t get to play anymore.

    • ChiRedsFan

      My assumption is all these comments on this little sub thread will get deleted soon enough, which is a good thing. But Mr. Gray has with great success kept this site as apolitical as feasible. When you start throwing out obviously political dog whistles that is bad, when you start questioning someone’s manhood you are at that point clearly being obnoxious which is of course why it is best to keep the politics out. I would add in case you get a chance to read this, that obnoxiousness is rarely if ever persuasive.

  4. Chi Reds Fan

    Referencing the comments on no minor leagues. I get they might not want to bring back 200 guys but maybe 50 or so, enough for a couple of squads for essentially instructional leagues (maybe even just one per MLB team). They (and the other MLB teams) have much invested in the Hunter Greenes, Tyler Callihans, Rece Hinds etc. To let them just dangle for a year without formal instruction and development seems short sighted. Again I get this is extraordinary time but still. thx.

  5. Stock

    I love Richardson at 6 and Siani at 7. I had them at 5 and 7. Yes I have Richardson in front of India. The reason for this:

    I loved the picks of Gray and Richardson in the 2018 draft. Both just turned pitchers so their improvement could be dramatic. Look what happened to Gray last year. Richardson was much better than stats. He kept the ball I the yard. He did not walk many. He struck out plenty and he has a lot to learn yet. I was really looking forward to watching his progress this year.

    I thought 3 players shined in ST and not just the two Doug mentioned. Alf Rod had a .900 OPS in spring training. He was actually showing power. I was shocked he did not make the Fangraphs top 36 prospects.

    • Harry

      To be fair, Alfredo Rodriguez is 25 years old and he hasn’t hit outside of a couple of weeks in spring training. I don’t think it’s that shocking.

    • amdg

      Richardson really improved his production throughout the season.

      His first 10 games
      5.19 ERA
      11.6 hits per 9 IP

      His final 16 games (beginning June 1)
      3.49 ERA
      9.0 hits per 9 IP

      For a kid who was about 3 years younger than the league average, and the youngest starting pitcher for the Dragons (19) that’s pretty nice improvement.

      Kind of like the young hitter Siani, who really struggled in April & May, but was much better after that.

  6. Norwood Nate

    #6 may be a tad high for Richardson, but I’m also a little higher on him than what he’s shown on rankings lists. And honestly after the top 5 there’s a lot of question marks with the next tier of prospects. I have him solidly in my top 10 as it is.

    It stuck out to me that Cerda was ranked as high as he was. I seem to recall he struck out a ton (without going back to look it up). I also though Vlad, and probably Hendrix were rated too low. I get that Vlad had a rough year last year, but AAA experienced an offensive explosion as a whole and he seemed to put some stuff together as the year progressed. He’s got tools to work with, hoping he puts it together.

    • Doug Gray

      Gutierrez is interesting. In a sense I wonder if he can’t/won’t follow the Robert Stephenson path of becoming a good reliever who just doesn’t have the fastball for some reason, but good secondaries and becomes a guy who throws more offspeed stuff than fastball – but because it’s good offspeed stuff it works.

      • Norwood Nate

        Good point about the potential of “working backwards” with his offspeed offerings and following the Stephenson path.

  7. amdg

    How many more years until production trumps draft spot, and India falls off the list?