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)*
16. Jose Lopez | RHP | Age: 23
2017 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 6th round, 2014 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 185 lbs
The season began in Daytona for Jose Lopez, but he didn’t stick around long. Lopez made just nine starts before earning a promotion to Double-A. Despite a move up in competition and a more hitter friendly league, the right hander performed better. Over 96.1 innings with Pensacola, Lopez posted a 2.43 ERA with 35 walks and 95 strikeouts. That was a little better than his 2.84 ERA with the Tortugas where he had 14 walks and 48 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. In most years that’s probably a lock for organizational pitcher of the year, but probably not quite enough in 2017 due to the absurdity that was Tyler Mahle’s season.
Biggest Strength: The overall arsenal of pitches. He shows four average or better offerings, though none of them jump off the page at you.
Biggest Weakness: There’s not a true put-away offering in his arsenal.
17. Alex Blandino | 2B | Age: 24
2017 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Louisville Bats | Acquired: 1st round, 2014 Draft | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs
Coming back to Pensacola for a third time wasn’t the ideal plan for Alex Blandino. Things didn’t get out to a smooth start, either. In April he would hit just .182 and posted a .594 OPS. Everything changed when the calendar flipped to May. Over the next 44 games he hit .289/.382/.549 in Double-A, earning him a promotion to Louisville. With the Bats, over 63 games, he kept hitting well. He would post a .270/.390/.444 line in 237 plate appearances with 32 walks and 37 strikeouts to finish out the season in Triple-A. 2017 was big for Blandino, rebounding after a 2016 season that was mired in injury and struggles at the plate.
Biggest Strength: His plate discipline was the best of his career in 2017. He walked nearly as often as he struck out at the highest level in the minor leagues.
Biggest Weakness: While his arm is a strength, it’s sort of wasted at second base, which is the only position he projects as a possible starter.
18. Aristides Aquino | OF | Age: 23
2017 Team: Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: Free Agent, 2011 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 220 lbs
After being named the organization hitter of the year in 2016 it was a down year for Aristides Aquino. The jump to Double-A didn’t go well as the outfielder hit just .216/.282/.397 for Pensacola. The power still showed up, as he hit 20 doubles, six triples and 17 home runs. But, more advanced pitchers were able to exploit his pitch recognition. In 2017 he struck out 29% of the time he stepped to the plate. After having an incredible 28 outfield assists in 2016 with Daytona that number dropped to nine in 2017.
Biggest Strength: His raw power, and even in-game power is his biggest strength. He’s got the potential for 30 home runs in the future and he’s already capable of hitting 20+ today.
Biggest Weakness: Pitch recognition has long been the biggest weakness for Aristides Aquino. He made strides in 2016, but he’ll have to make them again if he’s going to get the most out of his bat in the future.
19. Jimmy Herget | RHP | Age: 23
2017 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Louisville Bats | Acquired: 6th round, 2015 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 170 lbs
Jimmy Herget split his season between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017. In the first half he spent time closing out games for Pensacola. With the Blue Wahoos he posted a 2.73 ERA in 29.2 innings with 44 strikeouts and 12 walks. During the second half he earned a promotion to Louisville. He picked up nine saves for the Bats. In 28 games he posted a 3.06 ERA in 32.1 innings with 28 strikeouts and just nine walks. Physically he doesn’t look like he will overpower you, but he can reach 97 MPH and put you away with a wipeout slider.
Biggest Strength: The slider can come from different arm angles and just get hitters all kinds of tied up.
Biggest Weakness: It’s tough to find one here. His strikeout rate declined in Triple-A (35% to 21%). If you have to nitpick something, it’s probably the need to improve the strikeout rate against more advanced hitters.
20. Miguel Hernandez | SS | Age: 18
2017 Teams: DSL Rojos, AZL Reds | Acquired: Free Agent, 2015 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 170 lbs
In the summer of 2015 the Reds handed out two of the biggest signing bonuses they’d given out in a number of years. Miguel Hernandez landed one of those, along with outfielder Cristian Olivo. He would begin the year with the Dominican Summer League Rojos, hitting .285/.337/.397 and earning a promotion. The Reds brought him stateside in July and assigned the teenager to the AZL Reds. There, in 32 games he hit .314/.338/.407. Between the two stops he hit .299/.338/.402 with 14 doubles, five triples and two home runs.
Biggest Strength: Defense. He’s got a chance to be a very strong defender at a key defensive position.
Biggest Weakness: He’s so young, so there’s a lot he still needs to work on. He only walked four times in 145 plate appearances once he joined the AZL Reds. That could be worth keeping an eye on moving forward.