It’s that time of year again. It’s prospect ranking season and every day this week we are going to unveil five more spots on the list as we work our way through the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List for the 2018 season. You can see the entire list here (once it’s completed at the end of the week). If you were supporting the site on Patreon you would have gotten the entire Top 25 list last week and had early access to this, and all other scouting related articles that show up on the site. Click that orange banner above to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive.
Just as a reminder, these write ups will not feature full scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start in a week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason.
*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2017 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitches or less than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*
1. Nick Senzel | 3B | Age: 22
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 205 lbs
When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Nick Senzel in 2016 they grabbed the best hitter in the entire draft. After beating up on Midwest League pitching in 2016, Senzel continued to do more of the same in the Florida State League and Southern League in 2017. Between the two stops he hit .321/.391/.514, and got better as the season progressed. He would also steal 14 bases on the year.
Biggest Strength: Hitting. While Nick Senzel does everything well, it’s his hitting ability that may be his biggest strength. He can use the entire field, and do so with power. His understanding of the strikezone let’s him get the most out of the bat.
Biggest Weakness: There’s no real weakness in his game, but if you had to pick the one that is the weakest you may choose his baserunning. After going 9-for-11 on steal attempts in Daytona, Double-A pitchers and catchers posed a tougher challenge as he went 5-for-9.
2. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 17
2017 Team: Billings Mustangs | Acquired: 1st round, 2017 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 197 lbs
For the second year in a row, the Cincinnati Reds held the #2 pick in the draft and landed the top player on their board. Hunter Greene was the consensus top player in the draft, and signing bonus concerns allowed him to slip a spot to the Reds, who couldn’t have been more thrilled. His signing came down to the last minute, and he barely pitched at all during the season, throwing just 4.1 innings over three games. While he dabbled for two weeks as the designated hitter, his future is on the mound where his triple-digit fastball plays well with his offspeed offerings that lag behind a little bit from the fastball.
Biggest Strength: There are more than a few things that scouts love when it comes to Hunter Greene, but his 99-101 MPH fastball is at the pinnacle of the charts. It’s 80-grade velocity and in instructional league he was throwing at that velocity with outstanding movement.
Biggest Weakness: It would have to be the change up. While it shows potential to be a quality pitch, and even flashes itself as such at times today, it’s inconsistent and lags behind the fastball and slider.
3. Tyler Mahle | RHP | Age: 22
2017 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 7th round, 2013 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 210
It seems that every year Tyler Mahle finds a way to get better and in 2017 that was no different. Despite taking a step up in competition, the 22-year-old right hander dominated in both Double-A and Triple-A. His ERA between the two stops was a laughable 2.06 in 144.1 innings where he had just 30 walks and 138 total strikeouts. He also saw four starts in the Major Leagues at the end of the year where he threw 20.0 innings with a 2.70 ERA. The righty did what he’s always done – pound the strikezone with multiple pitches, relying on outstanding control of his fastball to get ahead of, and put hitters away.
Biggest Strength: The fastball. While Tyler Mahle’s velocity doesn’t jump out at you, he can vary the pitch anywhere from 91-97 MPH. It shows good movement at the lower end of that range. He can generally locate the pitch where he wants to, as well.
Biggest Weakness: A true big league put away pitch. His slider is the best of the bunch, and it will flash itself as an above-average offering every so often. Still, a large majority of the time his secondary offerings all are average pitches. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it could limit his ceiling to more of a middle of the rotation type in the long run.
4. Taylor Trammell | OF | Age: 19
2017 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 195 lbs
After a slow start in April, Taylor Trammell quickly put the struggles behind him and put together a strong season for the Dayton Dragons. In 129 games in the Midwest League he would hit .281/.368/.450 with 47 extra-base hits. He would also steal 41 bases in 53 attempts (77%) and draw 71 walks. Offensively he showed a little bit of everything. Defensively he spent most of his time in left field, but showed in limited action that he has plenty of range today to cover center as well.
Biggest Strength: Right now it is probably his speed. He’s a 75-80 runner at his best on the scouting scale. He’s able to use that speed both on the bases and in the field. He may lose a little bit of that in the future if and when he fills out his frame a little bit, but currently that’s the strongest area of his game and he uses it well.
Biggest Weakness: There’s a lot of things that Taylor Trammell does well. The one area of weakness he has is his arm strength. Most of the time he will show a well below-average arm, though every so often he would show a fringy arm. Some scouts have noted that it will keep him out of center field. While it certainly won’t help in deep center or the gaps, I believe it’s good enough for the position – it’s just going to be a weakness.
5. Jesse Winker | OF | Age: 23
2017 Teams: Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 1st round, 2012 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 215 lbs
For Jesse Winker, much of his Triple-A season in 2017 was like his 2016 season – hit for a good average, walk nearly as often as he struck out, and struggle to hit the ball over the fence. The difference was in 2017 he reached the Major Leagues. And once he did, he started hitting the ball over the fence. In 47 games played with the Reds, Winker hit seven home runs. He only hit five in 191 games for the Bats in Louisville. In the Majors he continued a strong plate approach, walking 15 times with 24 strikeouts in 137 plate appearances.
Biggest Strength: His plate approach. Jesse Winker understands the strikezone and has advanced pitch recognition skills. Those things allow him to hit for a high average and get on base with a high frequency.
Biggest Weakness: Defense. While he’s certainly improved in this area over the years, it remains the weakest part of his game. He fits better in left than in right field.
A mistake was made
It’s been brought to my attention that an error was made. In determining eligibility, specifically for Jesse Winker, I mistakenly counted the final five days of August as active in the Major Leagues. Instead, he was on the disabled list. Those five days on the disabled list keep him qualified for the list, while had they been active, would have given him too much service time to remain eligible for the list. This post will be updated with the addition of Jesse Winker shortly.