In the Natti things just ain’t been the same. The chili has been more disgusting than usual, Hi-Tek’s beats just don’t slam like they used to, and Jerry Springer is no longer mayor. Outside of those three things I don’t know much about Cincinnati. What I do know about however is their Red’s freshly re-stocked farm system. After an excellent 2016 draft and international period the Reds boast a wide array of pitching prospects, and a handful of hitting prospects of note for owners in dynasty leagues. Of course the most sought after being this year’s number two overall pick Nick Senzel. Not only did the Reds net the best college bat in the draft, they also picked a high upside athlete in Taylor Trammell, and arguably the best catcher in the draft in Chris Okey. The international period saw the Reds make major splashes in the Cuban market adding top pitching prospect Vladimir Gutierrez. As well as a saavy signing in “through the cracks’ talent TJ Friedl. While the big league club struggles, the system shows glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel for the Reds, though it’s still year’s away. It’s the Cincinnati Reds Prospects from A-Z…
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Nick Senzel, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A/RK
Considered by many to be the most advanced college bat in the 2016 draft. Senzel hit the ground running in his pro debut slashing .305/.398/.514, and showing above average power and speed from the hot corner. His path to the majors is wide open, and the general consensus is he’ll move quickly. Offers similar value to Andrew Benintendi as a 6 category contributor in OBP leagues. Meaning his strengths are going to be his batting average and on base percentage with above average power and steal numbers. The safest route to go at 1.1 in first year player drafts this offseason. I wonder where you’ve heard that before?
Cody Reed, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Well the pesky lefty missed the first iteration of this list but he did in fact sneak under his limits (47.2). His first go round in the Reds rotation was tough (7.38 ERA, 2.27 HR/9, 1.80 WHIP) but he was a touch unlucky too (.362 BABIP, 58.7% LOB, 27.9% HR/FB). Despite the bad luck and poor results there were some encouraging signs too, a solid 8.12 K/9 and a groundball rate of 51.9%. Reed mixes a mid 90’s heater, with a plus slider, and an average change. My guess is he figures into the rotation with one of Dan Straily, Homer Bailey, or Anthony DeSclafani finding their way out of town. Despite his good stuff and imposing mound presence, Reed struggles to throw strikes with consistency. His delivery lacks deception to right handed batters giving them a nice long look at the incoming pitch, and at times he’s paid the price for this (duh!). Long term I think with a few tweaks he can learn to overcome this. As for his outlook for this upcoming season, I view him as a nice late round flier in deeper redrafts, and a must own in dynasty leagues. 2017 will be better, Uncle Ralph promises.
Jesse Winker, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA
I get the feeling that I’ve seen Winker discussed in detail somewhere recently. Maybe it was here or here, but I can’t quite remember. Oh yeah we talked about him on the Prospect Podcast last week (actually we spoke about all these guys), and Winker was further discussed by Grey yesterday. So yeah, he hit 5 total homers this year, 2 of which came during a rehab assignment in rookie ball, so the power was down. So what I say! With that said, he dealt with a wrist injury during the first half, and while the balls didn’t fly out of the ballpark in the second half, he did put up a solid .438 slugging percentage. He’s also had previous homer totals of 16, 15, and 13 in his three seasons prior. Then factor in the lefty-power friendly home confines of Great America Ballpark which await, and you have the setup for a return to form. Enough about the power, or lack there of, because Winker is a contact and on base machine. Over 2,000+ minor league plate appearances Winker’s put up a .296 average, and a .398 on base percentage. So the hit tool is an easy 60, his plate discipline and strike zone awareness are almost unmatched in MiLB. Don’t be shocked if Winker ends up a NL Rookie of the year candidate. Hey, they ain’t all Corey Seager.
Amir Garrett, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
A former college basketball player at St. John’s, Garrett is of course an excellent athlete with great size. I mean you weren’t expecting a 5’8 white guy built like Ken Bone were you? (Focus Ralph) So with a delayed start to his baseball career there’s been a great deal of catching up to do over the last few seasons. After strong showings in the Mid-West, and Florida State leagues the previous two seasons, Garrett took another major step in his development in 2016. Splitting time between AA Pensacola and AAA Louisville, the 6’5 lefty went 7-8 with a 2.55 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and a K/9 of 8.2. His control isn’t great, walking 59 batters in 144.2 innings, but it’s improved throughout his time in the minors. He throws a plus fastball in the mid-90’s, mixing in an above average slider that fluctuates between plus and fringe, and a developing change. By the way, I feel like I write about more developing changes than a Bloomberg reporter in Central America. Yeah, I know, it’s a nuanced joke. Oh yeah, Garrett! I would look to see Garrett strut his stuff in the bigs by June the latest, with a small chance he breaks camp with the Reds. All Cincy rookie arms are dangerous, like going raw dog with a hooker. Maybe you come out unscathed, but more than likely you’re going to need anti-biotics.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Robert Stephenson, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Every year on New Year’s Eve my sister and I toast to each year being the year Pitbull disappears into obscurity. This is the way I feel about Stephenson’s prospect status. I’m sick of writing about him. He’s gone from universally a top 30 prospect to a player who looks destined for major league mediocrity. The stuff isn’t, and never has been, an issue. He mixes a nasty fastball that can touch the upper 90’s (even if he’s lost a little velocity over the past few seasons), with an above average curve, and a plus changeup that he’s refined into his best secondary offering. This all sounds great no? Yeah, until you realize Stephenson has no idea where he’s throwing. Which is why homeboy is rocking a 4.2 Bb/9 over 123 minor league starts. I’ve often said I feel Stephenson could one day be an elite bullpen piece, but the Reds will keep him in the rotation for now. He finds himself in a battle for the 5th spot in the rotation with Tim Adleman, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, and a few others. Whether or not he emerges with the job is anyone’s guess. My feeling is he misses the cut and ends up filling in when the first batch of Reds pitchers retire due to shellshock.
Rookie Davis, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
Rookie Davis just sounds like a ballplayer, like a character from a Matt Christopher book, with haphazardly drawn pencil cover art and all. He’s a giant righty (6’5 245) with good control, that strikes next to no one out. If you like pitchers that don’t get you k’s then Davis is your guy. Then again if you like pitchers like that you’re not winning any leagues anyway. Could he be a good player to own in deeper dynasty leagues with QS.
Aristides Aquino, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
Double-A has had an up and down minor league career to say the least. Actually to say the least would be to say, “he’s okay”, but that doesn’t get the people excited. Where was I? Oh schnitzel!! That’s right!! Aquino’s up and down minor league career. After a breakout 2014 in the Pioneer League, Aquino followed it up with a underwhelming and injury riddled turn in the Midwest league. All but forgotten in prospectdom he entered 2016 to little fanfare in the Florida State League. All he did was show off his toolsy profile, showcasing power and speed. Aquino slashed .273/.327/.519 with 23 homers and 11 steals. He’s never going to lead the league in walks, but he’s improved his approach and raised his walk rate to 6.8% in 2016. He still has raw power to tap into, and it would not surprise me to see him one day be a solid 4th or 5th outfielder on your fantasy team.
Tyler Mahle, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA:2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
A 7th round pick out of high school by the Reds back in 2013, Mahle has had a solid minor league career to this point. He throws a mid-90’s fastball, and mixes it with three average offerings in a change, curve, and slider. He knows how to throw them all for strikes, averaging just 1.8 Bb/9 over 72 minor league starts. He’s not going to challenge for any strikeout titles in the majors, but has averaged a respectable 8.2 K/9. He did have some struggles with the long ball in AA, but prior to that has kept the ball in the park. Has a back of the rotation floor, with mid-rotation ceiling.
Chris Okey, C | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/ RK
The Reds second round pick last year out of Clemson, might be the best catching prospect in the draft. Zack Collins not withstanding. He doesn’t do any one thing really well, but he’s a solid across the board offensive player with 15 or so homers in his bat. I’m never crazy about catching prospects, but you could do worse than Okey. He’s Okey I guess….
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: N/A
A big international signing for the Reds, as many considered Gutierrez the Cuban import, to be the finest arm on the market. He’s had a storied career in Cuba winning rookie of the year honors in Serie Nacional in 2013-2014 as a reliever. Reports say he throws a plus fastball, a plus curveball, and an average change with plus control. A few reports say he’s on par with Yadier Alvarez, the Dodgers pitching prospect.
Alfredo Rodriguez, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: N/A
Glove first speedster signed out of Cuba. He’s got a solid hit tool and plus speed. Could end up a SAGNOF type. He’s ranked highly on a lot of Reds lists, but I’m not so sure that applies in fantasy.
Taylor Trammell, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: RK
A freak athlete that could have played big time D-1 college football, Trammell scorned the pigskin, and went to the Reds at 35th overall in this year’s draft. He slashed .303/.374/.421 over 61 games in Rookie Level Billings connecting for 2 homers and stealing 23 bases. Could turn into a legit power/speed threat. Big upside pick in first year player drafts.
Tyler Stephenson, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/RK
I could probably just re-write the blurb I wrote for Chris Okey, or I could just say he’s a youger version of Chris Okey. So, he’s Chris Okey with upside, to be more than Okey. Yeah I’ve killed that joke. As for last year’s 11th overall pick, he’s an average across the board offensive player that should stick behind the plate.
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