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)*
6. Tyler Stephenson | C | Age: 20
2017 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st round, 2015 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 225 lbs
After struggling with a wrist injury in the 2016 season, Tyler Stephenson returned to Dayton in 2017. Healthy again, he would starting showing the tools that led to him being a 1st round draft pick to years earlier. That is, until he injured his thumb in the middle of July and was shut down for the rest of the year. Originally it was believed he would need surgery, but further evaluation revealed that he just needed rest to allow it to heal. Stephenson played in 80 games and hit .278/.374/.414 with 22 doubles and six home runs. He also had 44 walks and 58 strikeouts, showing strong plate discipline during the year. Behind the plate he only threw out 21% of opposing base runners.
Biggest Strength: The biggest strength for Tyler Stephenson is his bat at the catcher position. While his bat would look fine at other positions, that it comes at the toughest position to find hitters at on the field is a huge asset.
Biggest Weakness: As noted above, Stephenson threw out just 21% of opposing baserunners in 2017. While stolen bases are more on pitchers than catchers, and Stephenson shows above-average pop times more often than not, it’s an area that he will need to continue working on.
7. Tony Santillan | RHP | Age: 20
2017 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 2nd round, 2015 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 240 lbs
In 2016 Tony Santillan pitched well in eight starts for Billings before being promoted to Dayton for the final five weeks of the year. It was a tough transition as he posted a 6.82 ERA in seven starts where he struggled to throw strikes, walking 24 batters in 30.1 innings. The 20-year-old right hander returned to the Dragons rotation in 2017. Things were much better for Santillan, who posted a 3.38 ERA with 56 walks and 128 strikeouts in 128.0 innings. He flashed some of the best stuff in the organization during the season, too.
Biggest Strength: Fastball velocity. While there were times during the season where Tony Santillan threw in the 92-95 range, more often than not he was throwing in the 95-98 MPH range.
Biggest Weakness: Consistency. When Santillan is at his best, he’s unhittable. But, at times he simply struggles to find the strikezone or crispness with some of his pitches. Seven times in 2017 he walked four or more batters. He also had nine starts where he walked zero or one batter.
8. Shed Long | 2B | Age: 21
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 12th round, 2013 Draft | Height: 5′ 8″ | Weight: 180 lbs
The 2017 season got out to about as good of a start as it could for Shed Long in the first half. With the Daytona Tortugas he hit .312/.380/.543 in 62 games. That earned him a promotion to Double-A where he got out to a slow start. That slow start was compounded by a wrist injury that cost him four weeks of playing time. He returned for the final week of the season, and the playoffs – finishing strong. Between the two stop she would hit .281/.358/.477 with 22 doubles, three triples and 16 home runs in 104 games played. He also walked 46 times in 94 strikeouts, showing off a solid plate approach.
Biggest Strength: The pop in his bat really plays well for a second baseman. And he’s got some pop to all fields. He had eight home runs to the opposite field and three more to dead center field.
Biggest Weakness: He’s definitely improved on the defensive side of the baseball, and it’s not a negative, but it may still be the weakest part of his game as the offensive side all looks to be above-average.
9. Jose Siri | OF | Age: 21
2017 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: Free Agent, 2012 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 175 lbs
After struggling mightily in Dayton to begin 2016, Jose Siri was sent back to Billings for the second half. He performed well with the Mustangs and returned to the Dragons for the start of 2017. After looking outstanding during spring training, Siri struggled in April. He began to turn things up a notch in May and never looked back. He set a new league record with a 39-game hitting streak. The outfielder finished the year with a .293/.341/.530 line that came with 24 doubles, 11 triples, 24 home runs and 46 stolen bases. And he did it while playing an outstanding center field.
Biggest Strength: For a player with the best all-around set of tools on the farm, it’s the power that stands out the most for Jose Siri. It’s not that it’s off-the-chart power, though it is quite good, it’s that it comes from a center fielder. Plus power potential from a true center fielder isn’t something you see too often.
Biggest Weakness: Jose Siri took big strides forward in his pitch recognition skills in 2017. He’ll have to continue to do so, though. In particular his struggles with the slider and recognizing it quick enough to lay off of it when it’s out of the zone.
10. Vladimir Gutierrez | RHP | Age: 21
2017 Team: Daytona Tortugas | Acquired: Free Agent, 2016 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs
It had been nearly two years since Vladimir Gutierrez last pitched in a game when he joined the Daytona Tortugas in April. Signed after defecting from Cuba, the Reds first assignment for the 21-year-old was in the Florida State League. Gutierrez had an interesting season. In his first 10 starts he walked nine batters and had 65 strikeouts in 52.2 innings and allowed just three homers. Great rates across the board, but his ERA was 4.44. Over his final nine starts he posted nearly the same ERA, 4.47, but walked ten batters with just 29 strikeouts and allowed seven home runs in 50.1 innings. The strikeouts declined and the homers went up, but the ERA remained unchanged.
Biggest Strength: The entire arsenal. Vladimir Gutierrez has multiple pitches that at their best can be above-average and he is able to use them from different arm angles, giving him even more looks.
Biggest Weakness: Stamina, maybe. He didn’t pitch for nearly two years, and when he was pitching in Cuba, granted it was as a 17 and 18-year-old, he worked a bit of a long reliever. Gutierrez is going to have to answer questions not only about can he physically hold up for 175 innings, but can he do so while also having his stuff remain over that long of a stretch. Most pitchers his age have larger workloads under their belts and less questions about being able to hold up at this point in their careers. Not that it’s necessarily his fault, but it’s certainly the biggest question he needs to answer.