Baseball America’s Bill Mitchell released both the Arizona Rookie League and Pioneer League Top 20 prospect lists this morning. The Cincinnati Reds were shut out of the Arizona Rookie League Top 20. They performed better in the Pioneer League where they had three prospects make the Top 20.
Let’s start with the Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects list. The Billings Mustangs had three representatives on the list with one surprise making the list and one surprise missing from the list. Jeter Downs, the Reds compensation 1st round pick in 2017 was the highest rated Mustang. He came in at #10 on the list. The shortstop hit .267/.370/.424 on the year with three doubles, three triples and six home runs.
Three spots down the list was Reds 2nd rounder Stuart Fairchild. He spent most of his season playing center for Billings, starting 43 of his 51 games in the field at the position. He hit .304/.393/.412 in 234 plate appearances with five doubles, four triples and three home runs. The former Wake Forest outfielder also stole 12 bases in 16 attempts.
It was the third player that made the list for the Reds that was a surprise. Packy Naughton, the 9th round pick in the 2017 draft, came in at #15 on the list. After struggling to keep runs off of the board in college (his ERA was over 6.00 in his last two seasons), the lefty performed quite well in Billings. Over 14 starts he posted a 3.15 ERA in 60.0 innings. That came along with 20 walks and 63 strikeouts.
The player that I expected to make the list that didn’t, was Miles Gordon. I’ve been hearing good things about him all year and he certainly performed. In 263 plate appearances for Billings he hit .319/.389/.530 with 15 doubles, five triples and eight home runs. He split his time in right and in center, but that was out of the need to get multiple guys playing time in center and not because he can’t handle center.
I wasn’t sure if Andy Sugilio would sneak onto the back end of the list, but he didn’t. Still, the 20-year-old hit .345/.390/.472 with 20 steals, 13 doubles, four triples and three home runs for Billings. He saw action at all three outfield spots, but like Gordon, can handle center field.
While I will assume that most of you will know before I type this, it’s worth typing: Hunter Greene did not pitch enough to be eligible to qualify for the list.
The Arizona Rookie League
In the Arizona Rookie League the Reds were shut out of the list. It’s a deeper league than the Pioneer League. The AZL has 15 teams, while the Pioneer League only has eight. That makes it tougher to crack the Top 20 list on it’s own, but as JJ Cooper noted, the league was incredibly deep this year in terms of prospects, too.
This year the AZL was as loaded as I can remember. https://t.co/LH6CBnH8db
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) October 5, 2017
With that said, the Reds certainly had some notable prospects who performed in Goodyear. Mariel Bautista, a 19-year-old center fielder hit .320/.353/.395 on the year with 16 steals in 17 attempts. Shortstop Miguel Hernandez came up from the Dominican Summer League midseason to join the Reds. The 18-year-old shortstop hit .314/.338/.407 in 145 plate appearances. Reniel Ozuna, less talked about than the other two (though if you want to point fingers at me for this, feel free), also performed well. The 18-year-old outfielder hit .288/.351/.398 in 131 plate appearances. He also stole eight bases in 10 attempts while splitting time between center and right field.