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)*
16. Miguel Hernandez | SS | Age: 19
2018 Team: Greeneville, Billings | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2015 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 170 lbs
After years of being dormant on spending money on international teenagers, the Cincinnati Reds broke through in the summer of 2015 and signed two of the top 30 players in the class. Miguel Hernandez was one of those players, along with outfielder Cristian Olivo. Hernandez has performed well since signing. This season the Reds assigned him to their new affiliate in Greeneville to begin the year. After a slow start in June, he hit .317 in the final 51 games of the season for the Reds in the Appalachian League with 13 walks and 26 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances.
After the Greeneville Reds season ended, Hernandez joined the Billings Mustangs for the final week of the year as they pushed for a spot in the playoffs. In his first game he went 2-6, but then went 0-18 with 3 walks and 2 strikeouts the rest of the season over the final six games. He spent nearly all of his time at shortstop while in the field, though he did play second base for the first time in his career for 37 innings.
Biggest Strength: Defense. Miguel Hernandez is an above-average defender at the toughest position on the field outside of catcher.
Biggest Weakness: Power. While there’s more power in there than the two home runs he hit in 2018, power is his lowest rated tool.
17. TJ Friedl | OF | Age: 23
2018 Team: Daytona, Pensacola | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2016 | Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 170 lbs
After struggling in the second half with Daytona in 2017, the Cincinnati Reds sent TJ Friedl back to join the Tortugas to begin 2018. He didn’t struggle this time around. In the first half of the season he hit .294/.405/.412 with 38 walks and 44 strikeouts. The Florida State League wasn’t the same challenge for him and he earned a promotion to Double-A in the second half.
With the Blue Wahoos the 22-year-old had a few more struggles with the bat, but still held his own. Over the 67 games in the Southern League, Friedl hit .276/.359/.360. His power dried up some, which isn’t surprising given what we know about the ballpark in Pensacola and what it does to left handers. In total, he’d steal 30 bases and post a .381 on-base percentage while splitting time between left and center fields.
Biggest Strength: Speed. He’s an above-average runner and he uses it well on the bases and in the field.
Biggest Weakness: Power. There’s not a lot of power now, or projected power in the future to his game.
18. Keury Mella | RHP | Age: 25
2018 Team: Pensacola, Louisville, Cincinnati | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2011 (Giants) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 200 lbs
Beginning the season in Double-A, Keury Mella was rather dominating for most of the first half. He would make 16 starts for the Blue Wahoos and post a 3.07 ERA over 85.0 innings. He walked 31 batters and had 87 strikeouts. It was a big improvement from his time in Pensacola the year before where he posted a 4.30 ERA during the year. That got him promoted to Triple-A. After three starts for the Bats and a 3.18 ERA he was called up to Cincinnati.
Over the next three weeks he’d pitch out of the Reds bullpen. The first two games were strong, but he really struggled in his final two appearances before returning to Louisville. With the Bats he would pitch in two more games. His season would end on August 24th, though, after exiting a start against Indianapolis with an oblique strain.
Biggest Strength: The fastball. In 2018 Mella found a bit more velocity than he had shown in the previous few seasons and it led to an uptick in strikeouts.
Biggest Weakness: His slider lags behind the fastball and change up.
19. Stuart Fairchild | OF | Age: 22
2018 Team: Dayton, Daytona| Acquired: 2nd round, 2017 Draft | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs
The season got out to a strong start for Stuart Fairchild. Assigned to the Dayton Dragons out of spring training, the outfielder split time in Dayton’s outfield between center and left field in the first half. While in the Midwest League he hit .277/.377/.460 where he stole 17 bases with 31 walks and 65 strikeouts.
It was in the second half of the season that saw him promoted to Daytona. After joining the Tortugas he saw his offense take a step backwards. The Florida State League sapped his power output, and the pitchers were a bit more stingy across the board. The downed walk rate and lower power led to a .250/.306/.350 line in the second half of the year. The totality of the season was solid, but it was a tale of two halves for the outfielder.
Biggest Strength: Speed. He’s got above-average speed and he’s capable of using it well in the field and on the bases.
Biggest Weakness: Power. He’s got fringe-average-ish power. It will play fine if he can remain in center, but if he has to slide to a corner position it could be the difference between being a starter or a 4th outfielder.
20. Aristides Aquino | OF | Age: 24
2018 Team: Pensacola, Cincinnati | Acquired: Undrafted FA, 2010 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 220 lbs
After a down season in Pensacola in 2017 the Reds sent Aristides Aquino back to Double-A to start with the Blue Wahoos once again. Things got out to a slow start for the right fielder once again. Through July 15th he hit just .237/.286/.406 with just 17 walks and he struck out 81 times. Things were not going well for the second year in a row.
After a few days off he returned to the lineup and everything seemed to change. In the final 36 games he significantly cut down on his strikeout rate, dropping it from 27.2% to 21.6%. His walk rate also improved from 5.7% to 12.2%. Those improvements also came with more power, as he slugged .535 down the stretch with 10 home runs, 5 doubles, and a triple. The overall production on the season was a bit better than the previous season, but he made real strides in the second half of the season with adjustments to his plate approach.
Biggest Strength: Power. He’s got plus power potential and it’s already an above-average skill he uses in games.
Biggest Weakness: Plate approach. While there were big strides made down the stretch this season, overall he’s going to have to show that over a longer stretch as it’s been something that’s plagued him for most of his career.