It’s that time of year again where we look at the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects. Each day this week we will unveil five more spots on the list as we work our way through the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List for the 2019 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 and kicking.
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 50-75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason.
*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2019 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 | 2B/3B/OF | Age: 23
2018 Team: Louisville Bats | Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 205 lbs
The last year has been a wild ride for Nick Senzel. His 2017 season ended due to complications with vertigo in the final few weeks. After treatment he hit the offseason to work on playing both second base and shortstop to prepare for 2018. The shortstop experiment didn’t seem to stick once the regular season began. The second base move, however, did. With the Triple-A Louisville Bats he hit .310/.378/.509, but another bout with vertigo cost him a few weeks, and his season was cut short with a finger injury.
He participated in instructional league as an outfielder, spending time in both left and center field. The Reds are looking at every possible option for him to try and find a way to get him into the lineup at the Major League level. Unfortunately, another injury kept him out of the Arizona Fall League. Senzel needed bone spurs removed from his elbow. He is expected to be ready in time for spring training.
Biggest Strength: It’s tough to pick just one thing because Nick Senzel is strong across the board. The fact that he doesn’t really have a weakness may very well be the strength. He’s incredibly well rounded – above-average across the board.
Biggest Weakness: The last 15 months have really been tough for Nick Senzel from a health standpoint. While there doesn’t seem to be a big concern about the vertigo from Senzel or the Reds, between that, the elbow, and the finger injury – if there’s something at all to point to, it would be the health. This hasn’t been a long-term thing for Senzel, but that stretch was very tough.
2. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 19
2018 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st Round, 2017 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 215 lbs
Hunter Greene was the top prospect in the 2017 draft, though he went second overall. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior. His fastball routinely hit 100 MPH and frequently hit higher than that. With all of that said, the first month of his 2018 season in Dayton went as poorly as one could imagine. He made five starts and lasted just 9.2 total innings. Greene allowed 21 hits, 10 walks, and hit a batter in that span, posting a 13.97 ERA. The youngest starting pitcher in the league at just 18-years-old, the Reds gave him a time through the rotation off following that 5th start. From that point forward he dominated the Midwest League. From May 12th through July 26th he posted a 2.91 ERA with 13 walks, 71 strikeouts and a WHIP just under 1.00 over 58.2 innings.
Unfortunately for Hunter Greene, that start on July 26th would be his final start of the year. He began to feel something in his elbow and was ultimately shut down in early August after an MRI revealed a tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament. The current plan is to attempt to rehab the elbow in the offseason and avoid Tommy John surgery. With or without the surgery, Greene’s upside is as high as you can dream. The timeline, however, could be pushed back if he does need the surgery. Update: Hunter Greene said that he is 100% 16 hours after this article was published.
Biggest Strength: Hunter Greene may be the hardest throwing starting pitcher we’ve seen. In the Futures Game he threw the 19 fastest pitches in the game, averaging 101.3 MPH on his fastball in the outing. He topped out at 103.1 MPH in the game.
Biggest Weakness: The health issue aside, the change up is a clear third offering. That speaks more to what his fastball and slider are, than the change up, though.
3. Taylor Trammell | OF | Age: 21
2018 Team: Daytona Tortugas | Acquired: 1st Round, 2016 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 195 lbs
The 2018 season got out to a nice start for Taylor Trammell. He was hitting .308/.418/.491 at the end of May with 29 walks and 37 strikeouts for the Daytona Tortugas. Things slowed down quite a bit from there, though. Over the final 65 games of the season, beginning in June, he hit .256/.346/.349 in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. In that span, like April and May, he walked 29 times. But he struck out 68 times in that stretch. One area where his game did improve in that time was on the base paths, where he went 20-of-25 in stolen base attempts after going 5-of-10 in the first two months.
The highlight of the year for Taylor Trammell probably came in the Futures Game. The outfielder took home Most Valuable Player honors with a 438 foot home run, and a 414 foot triple that he thought was a home run off of the bat. He was battling through injuries during the season, but remained on the field. It likely held back some production throughout the season.
Biggest Strength: The whole offensive package that Taylor Trammell brings is probably his biggest strength. He projects to hit for average and power, and he should also bring good value on the bases.
Biggest Weakness: The weakness that’s followed Taylor Trammell since his high school days is his arm strength. While it’s improved since then, it’s the only below-average tool he has in the belt.
4. Tony Santillan | RHP | Age: 21
2018 Team: Daytona Tortugas, Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 2nd Round, 2015 Draft | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 240 lbs
The 2018 season was a big time breakout for Tony Santillan. A guy who always flashed elite stuff, he had struggled to be consistent in the past. That was not a problem in 2018. Beginning with Daytona, the righty posted a 2.70 ERA for the Tortugas in 15 starts in the first half. His strikeout rate was down, but his walk rate was borderline elite after being well below-average prior to 2018. He was promoted to Double-A Pensacola for the second half and barely skipped a beat. In a more hitter friendly league his ERA jumped up to 3.61 over his 11 starts with the Blue Wahoos. His walk rate remained the same, but he also saw his strikeout rate jump back up to previous levels.
Early in the year, Tony Santillan wasn’t pressing the gas with his fastball. As the season got further along he began to throw harder and the strikesouts began to come more frequently. It was the big improvements in control during the 2018 season, though, that took Santillan from very intriguing arm to one of the better pitching prospects in baseball.
Biggest Strength: Tony Santillan’s fastball can sit in the 94-96 MPH range and touched 100 at times.
Biggest Weakness: It used to be control and consistency from game to game with control. Now it’s probably his change up, which can be a very good pitch at times, but does have some consistency issues at times, too.
5. Jonathan India | 3B | Age: 21
2018 Team: Greeneville, Billings, Dayton | Acquired: 1st Round, 2018 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 200 lbs
Jonathan India began the year playing baseball at the University of Florida. After a big junior year he was drafted 5th overall by the Cincinnati Reds. He got out to a strong start with Greeneville, hitting .261/.452/.543 with more walks than strikeouts in the two-and-a-half weeks he was in town. The long season that began in February at Florida began to catch up with him down the stretch, though. He hit just .231/.344/.385 between Billings and Dayton in the final 30 games of the year.
During the season the Reds used Jonathan India at third base for the most part, but also played him at shortstop in nine games during the season. There’s some belief that he could play second base, too – though he doesn’t have the experience there as a pro.
Biggest Strength: Power. You can watch the video above and see a home run that he hit on a pitch just out of the strikezone 410 feet. He’s a strong guy who can punish pitches in different areas of the zone.
Biggest Weakness: He’s a well rounded player without an obvious weakness. His hit tool may be the one that is slightly behind the others, but that speaks more to the other tools, as hit hit tool projects to be average in the future.
The only debate here is spots 2 and 3. Greene without a doubt has the higher ceiling but thought because of the injury this summer Trammell may have passed him in your eyes. I am still pretty high on Siri.
I have Siri at 5. I also have Greene and Trammell flipped. Greene and Trammell are so close though it is splitting hairs.
Good start. The next four days the dialogue on here will be even better as opinions will vary much more than today.
Same reason u flip 2 and 3 is same reason you flip 1 and 3. Senzels injury report actually looks worse than Greene’s imo. Trammell would be my number one if he didn’t struggle a bit at end of season.
Doug- how does Senzel compare to bregman at this stage of his career?
I think Bregman has/had a little bit more power. Pretty similar profiles, though.
Looks good th top 5 is always th easiest n less debated.. Im alil higher than most on Jeter Downs he’s in my top 5. I kno the strikeouts n errors are up but he showed a good feel at the plate the fielding will come which may b a lot better at 2nd over full yr and he tapped into way more power than I thought he would at this stage. Him and Santillan look like primed to take that next step .hopefully they’ll be huge steals for us lord knows this rebuild needs somthn serious to happen. Get us a couple Acuna Soto like leaps next yr b amazing ..but stuff like that don’t happen but once in blue moon
I like Downs and Garcia playing together. They could make a lasting impact in Cincinnati in 2 to 3 years.
Where Hunter Greene is concerned, I hope someone is teaching him that he will never be able to build a career out of throwing 101 all the time. He’ll be on the DL too often. A pitch mix with various speeds is what anyone will succeed with. A 94 mph fb is all you need if you can mix pitches. Throw 103 sometimes, great! It’s not sustainable though. The Futures game appearance was nice, but it’s not how you pitch. Everyone’s wowed by the speed, but it’s not sustainable because humans can’t withstand that arm action. All this considered, I waver at putting him #2. Health and practicality are not on his side at the moment. Hopefully both can prevail.
Yes, the Futures game appearance probably did more harm than good.
Hunter Greene definitely knows how to pitch. He’s far from just a guy who throws a hard fastball. Yes, his fastball is always thrown hard. But that doesn’t mean he can’t pitch.
I have always been pleased with the performance of Greene. Since Doug sees them in person he can see more but I look at stats and the three I look at most closely are K/9, BB/9 and K/BB. Greene is very young for A ball so I break his season into two pieces. The first 9 games and the second 9 games to see the growth.
K/9 = 12.3
BB/9 = 4.7
K/BB = 2.6
K/9 = 11.4
BB/9 = 1.9
K/BB = 6.0
This is at age 18 mind you. That is tremendous growth. Now lets compare his age 18 season to other Reds prospects who were in Dayton at age 19 or 20
Santillan age 19 – 11.3/7.1/1.6
Santillan age 20 – 9.0/3.9/2.3
Homer age 19 – 10.9/5.4/2.0
Stephenson age 19 – 9.2/3.9/2.3
Stephenson age 20 – 11.2/2.3/4.9
His 6.0 beats them all easily
Lets look at other High draft picks
Tyler Glasnow 13.3/4.9/2.7
Jameson Taillon age 21 – 9.4/2.1/4.4
Even college pitchers age 22
David Price – 9.61/1.82/5.28
Strasburg – 11.05/2.45/4.5
And one pitcher who comes closest to matching Greene’s second half of last year:
Jose Fernandez – 11.3/2.1/5.4
Maybe this explains why Doug thinks so much of Greene. Never looked at it before but any comp to Jose Fernandez is a huge compliment. The research from this post may just make me move Greene up one spot on my rankings.
That is some good company. Let’s hope he can dial back the heat and still pitch just as well. That way he’ll have a shot at a 20 year career instead of a 4 year career.
Until India shows production at A+, I’d slot him in the 5-10 range. Not sure why Tyler Stephenson isn’t top 5—-premium defensive position where it looks like he’ll stick, good plate discipline, big body to tap into more power. That has the makings of an all-star catcher. Even the injury history is a moot point if Senzel/Greene get a pass.
I think Stephenson will be the first man you read about tomorrow. I like him too. You make very valid points on why he should be #5.
The reason I have Siri at 5 and India at 6 is exactly what you pointed out Sultan. In their age 21 seasons, Siri was much more impressive than India. Siri also has a higher ceiling IMO. These two reasons make up the reasoning behind having Siri at 5. That said Siri could fall out of my top 10 this year and India will not. India’s floor is much higher.
But an excellent observation Sultan
I just cannot fathom why Hunter Greene is at #2 with the injury filled season he had. He just hasn’t pitched much in 2 seasons to deserve such a lofty ranking. He should be no higher than #4, and should probably be around #5. When they take the kiddie gloves off of him and he starts to actually pitch more than 3 or 4 innings in an outing, then he can earn a lofty spot. Santillan has earned a spot that should be higher than Greene.
Hopefully it is Greene and India that are traded this winter for a top of the rotation arm. Greene is vastly overrated and India can’t hit well without an aluminum bat in his hands. Going to be some changes between this new top-25 and the pre-season top-25 as a few will be traded this winter. And they might pick up 1 or 2 new prospects through trades of Hamilton, Scooter and possibly Schebler this winter too.
You can’t fathom how a guy who throws 100 MPH with a plus slider and a potentially plus change up, who is one of the most athletic guys on the field no matter where he is playing, who was downright dominant for a long stretch of time this season is ranked #2 because he *might* need a surgery that 90% of guys come back from just fine?
The #1 – #5 segment has to be your easiest to compile. Pretty much a consensus. The other segments had to be hard to come up with. Several players falling down the chart while several are rising up.
Hunter Greene is the new Robert Stephenson.
Came back just fine? Tell that to Homer Bailey. Tell that to Kris Medlen, Brady Aiken, Rick Ankiel, Bronson Arroyo, Rocco Baldelli, Brandon Beachy, Rod Beck, Bill Bray, Carter Capps, Chris Carpenter, Alex Cobb, Todd Coffey, Yu Darvish, Scott Erickson, John Franco, Eric Gagne, Tim Hudson, Daniel Hudson, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Shelby Miller, Jon Moscot, Joe Nathan, Denny Neagle, Jose Rijo, Scott Williamson, Kerry Wood and Joel Zumaya; just to name a few.
There are some who have come back from TJS very well like Jacob deGrom, Walker Buehler, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, Charlie Morton, Steven Strasburg, Jose Fernandez, and Jameson Taillon, to name some.
It is a much longer list of those who had the surgery and didn’t regain their former form, than the list of ones who have come back and pitched at a successful level.
For a season that begins in April and ends in September, please define what “who was downright dominant for a long stretch of time this season” means? Is 6 starts really a “long stretch” for you?
The #5 pick in the 2017 draft, Kyle Wright, has already made it to the Majors for the Braves. The pitching starved Reds will be very lucky to have Greene pitch for them by 2022, 2023 if he has to have TJS.
And 90% of TJS players have not come back “just fine”. Just making it back to a ML mound doesn’t mean “just fine” to most. I would put it more like 25% come back and pitch as well as they did prior to surgery.
You made many of the same lame arguments about Robert Stephenson, just as recently as this past spring, as being a top prospect with top stuff. Not comments about anything TJS, but just his pitching and stuff in general. How is that working out for you?? You were about as wrong as any human can get on Stephenson. I am not taking the bait on Hunter Greene. Eventually, he has to show something more on the field than pitching 3 innings each time out.
The amount of inaccurate things in this reply is incredible. I’m not going to bother responding to them all. Have a good day, Jay. Thanks for reading.
You forgot to mention he did this at 18. Very few are pitching full season ball at 18
Well, given the reply, it wouldn’t have mattered if I mentioned it or not because Homer Bailey and Robert Stephenson.
I will say what Doug is to polite to say. Get rid of players with 2 TJ surgeries. The second one is the killer. Medlin, Beachy and others have had multiple TJ.
Then get rid of borderline ML player or players who never made it. Delete Aiken, Coffey, Zumaya and others.
Then get rid of pitchers who were just old. Delete Erickson, Arroyo and others.
Then delete players who were just as good after TJ surgery. Chris Carpenter finished 2nd in the Cy Young award and Rod Beck had a 1.72 ERA. Also delete Kerry Wood, Matsuzaka, Cobb and Darvish among others.
Ankiel sucked before surgery, Rocco Baldelli is an OF. Shelby Miller sucked before surgery and just got back. Delete them from your list.
When all is said and done you have Jose Rijo. He was so injury prone you don’t really know if his career ended because of TJ or a whole host of other problem.
In short Doug is right. Your list is garbage.
It certainly looks like Doug’s appreciation of Greene goes close to what every single important publication (baseball America, mlb pipeline, fangraphs, among others) think of the kid. A top pitching prospect, not just the Reds.
I have Jeter Downs much lower because his IFFB % this year was 32.6%. Hard to succeed when 30% of your PA end in a K or IFFB (35% of his AB).
Until that changes dramatically I can not put him ahead of others, especially since it doesn’t sound like he will stick at SS.
What order would you rank the top 5 as far as who you’d most likely trade? Taking into account who you want to keep in organization to benefit the team but also who is going to get the most in return to again benefit the team? Because hopefully 1 or more of these guys aren’t with the Reds next year and we have 1 or 2 quality MLB ready arm in return.
First, let me start by pointing out that my rankings are – at least as of the time of the release, the order in which I believe guys are the most valuable (not specifically to the Reds organization – but in terms of their long term professional career if they weren’t blocked).
With that said, depth changes who you would/wouldn’t trade from an organizational standpoint. Anyone is movable in the right deal. Now, are the chances great that the right deal shows up? Maybe not. But the Angels would trade Mike Trout in the right deal – it’s just not likely someone makes that deal plausible.
When looking at this list, I’d trade India first. He plays the same spots that Nick Senzel plays, and well, that means he’s blocked by one of the best prospects alive, who also happens to be blocked at the Major League level. From an organizational standpoint, he just seems easier to move in a deal because the other options there are pretty deep. After that, as much as I like Taylor Trammell, I think he’s the next guy. He’s either a center fielder or a left fielder. In left field you’ve got good options for the Majors, including the guy there now in Jesse Winker. In center you have some uncertainty – but between options of free agency/Jose Siri/Nick Senzel/TJ Friedl/Stuart Fairchild/Mariel Bautista/Mike Siani, there are real, actual options.
Toss up the other three. I wouldn’t be looking to trade any of them. Santillan can pitch in the Majors in the second half of next year, and everyone knows the Reds need pitching. Greene’s just got that ultimate upside you can’t find. Senzel is Major League ready with All-Star upside.
Doug, as always I just wanted to thank you for how much effort you put into all these rankings. Your detailed process really shines through. All that aside, do you see India possibly getting some reps in the outfield in the near future to maximize his athletic abilities, or do you think they will just have him stick with the infield for his first full season next year?
Infield for the near future. Adjust later if needed.
Do you think India has a legit shot at playing some SS or are those reports just wishful thinking?
I’ll have more on that next Friday with the full report on India.
Good start to the list, the usual suspects I figured we’d see here. It’s the order I’d rank them in as well. Honestly I would think that T. Stephenson is the only other prospect that would even challenge for top 5.