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 next 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)*

6. Tyler Stephenson | C | Age: 22

2018 Team: Daytona Tortugas | Acquired: 1st round, 2015 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 225 lbs

The 2016 and 2017 seasons were both cut short due to injuries for Tyler Stephenson. In 2018 that was not the case. Assigned to Daytona to begin the year, he stayed on the field from April through September’s playoffs. His season got out to a great start, as he hit .351/.440/.519 in 21 games during April. That came with as many walks, 11, as strikeouts. But things slowed down from there as his OPS dropped down to the league average for the remaining 88 games on the season in the extremely pitcher friendly Florida State League.

The biggest key for the then 21-year-old was simply remaining healthy and on the field. Getting the reps both behind the plate, and at the plate, were huge. There was some inconsistency at the plate throughout the year, but scouts liked what they saw both at the plate and the improvements he made behind the plate.

Biggest Strength: The power potential for a catcher. He’s got above-average power potential, and for a catcher that’s a rarity.

Biggest Weakness: While he made some improvements defensively in 2018, the defense still lags behind the bat a little bit.

7. Jose Siri | CF | Age: 23

2018 Teams: Daytona, Pensacola | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2012 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 175 lbs

The 2018 campaign didn’t get out to the best start for Jose Siri. In the first game of the spring, taking over in the outfield with the big league club, the center fielder collided with the wall and injured his thumb. He would miss the next two months before returning in May. Once healthy he joined the Daytona Tortugas, but only spent five weeks there after hitting .261/.380/.395.

When he moved up to Double-A Pensacola he didn’t show much of an average, as his strikeout rate ballooned. But, his power really began to show up and he began walking at a rate that he’s never come close to before. Despite hitting just .229, his newly found willingness to walk allowed him to post a .300 on-base percentage. The power played very well, as he slugged .474 despite such a low average. The center fielder also stole 23 bases between his two stops.

Biggest Strength: He’s a plus defender in center fielder, though he’s got above-average to plus tools across the board.

Biggest Weakness: While his approach at the plate has improved, significantly, over the last two seasons, it’s still very much a work-in-progress.

8. Shed Long | 2B | Age: 23

2018 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: 12th Round, 2013 Draft | Height: 5′ 8″ | Weight: 184 lbs

The 2018 season got out to a good start for Shed Long. Heading back to Double-A, the 22-year-old hit .351/.432/.468 in April. He then saw things slow down over the next three months – hitting just .223/.319/.385 in the next 77 games played. He finished out the season strong, though, hitting .294/.385/.441 over the final five weeks of the season.

The ballpark in Pensacola isn’t exactly built for a hitter like Shed Long. It crushes power to his pull side, and it’s deep to the opposite field. As a lefty who has good pop the other way, it probably held back his production at the plate some. During the year he showed solid peripherals across the board, and the power should play better in the future.

Biggest Strength: Power from a second baseman. His power tool grades out as average to slightly above-average, but 20 home run second basemen don’t grow on trees.

Biggest Weakness: His defense has gotten better over the years at second base, but it’s still the weakest part of his game.

9. Jeter Downs | 2B/SS | Age: 20

2018 Teams: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st Round, 2017 Draft | Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 180 lbs

Jeter Downs spent his entire 2018 season with the Dayton Dragons. His season got out to a solid, but unspectacular start. May, however, saw his power take a big spike as he hit eight doubles, a triple, and hit six home runs. It was easily the best month he had during the season as he flashed power potential all month. Things slowed down a little bit moving forward, particularly in the power department. Downs hit .249/.357/.364 in the final 69 games of the season with 11 doubles and six homers.

While the power certainly dropped off after May, the plate discipline improved quite a bit. Downs also continued to show well on the bases, stealing 24 bases in 30 attempts. In total he would steal 37 bases on the season at a success rate of 80%. He would split time between second and shortstop on the defensive side of things, with 73 games at second base and 43 games at shortstop.

Biggest Strength: Hitting. His hit tool rates out as above-average, though it didn’t play out that way in 2018.

Biggest Weakness: Downs has average or slightly better tools across the board. Defense may be the lowest rated among the group, but it’s still an average tool that he’s bringing to the table.

10. Vladimir Gutierrez | RHP | Age: 23

2018 Teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2016 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs

The first two months of the season were a real struggle for Vladimir Gutierrez. He made 11 starts in Double-A Pensacola in that span, posting an ERA of 6.75 in 54.2 innings pitched. The home run really hurt him as he allowed 10 of them in that span. The walk rate – he had just 15 in that span, and the strikeout rate – he had 49, were quite good. Things turned around quickly the rest of the season, though. In his remaining 16 starts and 92.1 innings he posted a 2.92 ERA. That also came with just eight home runs allowed, 23 walks, and he struck out 96 batters.

The adjustments made were big. His home run rate, and his ground ball rate (38%) were much worse in his first 11 starts of the season. He gave up fewer home runs in his final 16 starts than in those first 11, and threw 68% more innings. Gutierrez also really improved his ground ball rate, jumping from 38% to 48%. There was inconsistency during the season, but the strong performance down the stretch was good to see after a slow start.

Biggest Strength: The slider. Vladimir Gutierrez will flash a plus slider at times, and you can see it at it’s best a few times in the video above.

Biggest Weakness: He doesn’t hold runners on well at all. In his two years as a professional runners have stolen 37 bases and been caught just 5 times. If we’re going to speak to his pitching itself, it’s the fastball. It’s a hittable pitch despite average to slightly-above average velocity in todays game.

16 Responses

  1. Norwood Nate

    Agree on the group of 5 here. I believe these five have separated themselves from the next group. The only small quibble I may have is I would have flipped Gutierrez and Downs, but I can see the argument for how they’re ranked here.

    I’m going to guess we see some young upside guys from the recent draft in the next group. This is probably where it’s going to get interesting and have differing opinions.

    Personally I’m going to go with Reyes, Fairchild, Garcia, Bautista, and Siani on tomorrow’s list. Be interested to see how close I come to what Doug has.

    • James K

      If you were a supporter on Patreon, you would already know and you wouldn’t have to speculate!

  2. CP

    Multiple guys whose tools show more potential than they produced last year.

    – Siri hit for very low average, but did get more walks and hit for power
    – Shed was solid, but below average for his previous standards
    – Downs has a graded above average hit tool but didn’t hit for that high of an average (not that that is the most important thing).

    Common denominator that is encouraging is it seems each of these guys weren’t relying on high contact rates and/or babip for a high average, but rather had an approach. Hopefully these guys can start putting it all together.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    These guys would be rated 1-5 for a lot of franchises. It took a while, but the quality of the Reds minor league system is impressive.

    Now that said, outside of Stephenson, I wouldn’t hesitate to include multiple players from this 6-15 prospect range (plus India) in a trade to acquire cost controlled pitching. So many of these guys will be blocked for at least 2+ seasons. It would be easy to replace them in upcoming drafts while accelerating the opening of the next competitive window.

  4. Stock

    Our top 7 are identical, differences in placement but the same players. It is at 8 & 9 where I have players that are not on your list (at least yet). I have Siani at eight followed by Friedl at nine.

    Friedl does not have Long’s power but he does get on base at a .350 clip and though Siri blocks him in CF it sounds like he is quite capable there. His lack of power may mean he is never more than a 4th OF. But if he can play CF I think he his .350 OBP provides more value than Hamilton does.

    Siani is going to be a stud. As he develops look for him to have a projectile similar to Trammell with a little less power. This is why he is in my top ten.

    In an era where most players are trying to increase their launch angle, Downs may need to decrease his. One out of every six balls in play was an IFFB last year. His 50% FB rate seems rather high too. He is my #10.

  5. AirborneJayJay

    That is a good group, #6 – #10. The only disagreement I would have is that RHP Josiah Gray was not included. He had an excellent first season of pro ball. He acquitted himself very nicely in Greeneville. But then one of Downs, Long or Gutierrez would have to be bumped down to the #11 – #15 group.
    It is amazing how close Long’s and Downs’ season stats ended up being. They aren’t identical, but very, very close. Really like those 37 SB’s from Downs. And really like the 5 triples by Long. I can see maybe one being included in a trade this winter. Maybe Downs is the one to keep, he is younger. But an argument can be had for either really.
    The 2B redundancy in the Reds organization is something else. Scooter>Senzel>Dilson Herrera>Blandino>Long>Downs>Case Cash>others. Need to trade from your strengths. I can’t see where all of these will be in spring training for the Reds.
    Nice work. The hard parts are coming next. Whittling down to the final 15 had to be a chore. A lot of hairs to split. After these first 2 groups, it will be interesting to see how each 5 man group will work out. One interesting part will be to see how many relievers are in the final 3 groups. There have been several in the past to make the top-25. Don’t think that will be the case this time. There might be a few, but it will be lower than in the past. And that is probably a good thing. Even with the ever evolving role of the reliever at the Major League level.

    • CP

      One reason for these guys at 6-10 instead of Gray is that these guys are performed at A ball or higher. They have proven themselves, in some respects, at a higher level of competition.

  6. Tom

    Of this list you could make a case for Jeter Downs and Tyler Stephenson for top 5 – certainly by next year.

  7. MK

    After watching Downs several times a week this past season, I think he is rated a little high here. I know tools play a lot into the ratings and with that being the case I would slot Jose Garcia there. I talked to a Rays scout who was not impressed with Downs hustle or attitude.

    • Doug Gray

      With Garcia/Downs, the big differences are production and plate discipline. Tools wise, Garcia may have a slight edge because of the defense. But if there is a difference, it’s small.

      That said, I talked with a scout for an NL team who was very adamant that he did not like what he saw from Garcia in terms of effort. To the point that he seemed offended by it. It was a take that was so strong that I didn’t even bother talking to him more about it, or other players on the Dragons that day.

      Downs certainly has some things he needs to work on. You’d like to see him hit better, but most of the people I spoke with throughout the year thought he would do that – and I generally agree. Downs is solid-average across the board, with plus speed. I’ll take that at this part in the rankings.

      • MK

        Doug that was almost exactly the same reaction we heard about Jeter’s effort. He even said they should bench Jeter and kind of huffed when he said it. I never really noticed that from either Garcia or Downs. I did hear from a Dayton media person that he was told pre-season that Garcia would be the best player on the team, which really did not happen, especially in the first half.

      • Doug Gray

        Was I that media person? Because I’m telling you, in Arizona, he looked better than everyone else on that team, and it wasn’t close.

  8. Redsvol

    Doug – no love for Clementia? His numbers were very good for a catcher this year. I’ve heard his defense is behind his offense so hopefully he improves there. What does he need to do to crack the top 10 next year?