The Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect list isn’t quite balanced. There are only nine pitchers in the Top 25, with 16 position players on the list. Today we are going to look at the nine pitchers that did make the list and look at where it’s likely that each of them start. This is a guess from before I made it to spring training. Injuries or performance could change this.

Hunter Greene (#2) | Right-Handed Pitcher

The 2018 season for Hunter Greene was cut short when he suffered a partial tear of his UCL in his pitching elbow. He opted for rehab rather than Tommy John surgery, and things seemed to go well with that route. At least to this point. He spent his season last year with the Dayton Dragons, and he performed well – dominating for the final two months while he was playing. The next step would seem to be a jump up to Daytona. But I’m not so sure that he’s going to begin the year with the Tortugas.

There’s a few reasons for that: First, the Reds are still going to want to limit his innings. Second, he’s still coming back from a torn UCL, and while there’s no report that he’s not healthy – giving him extra time isn’t a bad idea. Third, he’s gone from being listed on the “Dayton Dragons alumni roster” for their 20th anniversary game to not being listed on it. While not every player on that roster was going to be scheduled to play, it’s an interesting change that may be telling. With all of that going on, my guess is that he will begin the season by staying back in Goodyear before joining Daytona after the season begins. Projected at the start of the season: Extended Spring Training.

Tony Santillan (#4) | Right-Handed Pitcher

In 2018 Tony Santillan split his season between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola. In Daytona he made 15 starts with a 2.70 ERA, 22 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. When he moved up to Pensacola in the second half he made another 11 starts. That came with a 3.61 ERA in 62.1 innings with 16 walks and 61 strikeouts.

In some other years I would have thought that with a good performance in the second half of 2018 at Double-A it would make for a promotion to Triple-A. But this year the amount of starting pitching depth may keep a guy like Tony Santillan back in Double-A to begin the year and get a little more time at the level. I would hedge my bet that he could begin in Triple-A, but I’ll favor heading back to Double-A slightly in this case. Projected at the start of the season: Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.

Vladimir Gutierrez (#8) | Right-Handed Pitcher

The 2018 season was tough at the start for Vladimir Gutierrez. In his first 11 starts for Double-A Pensacola he posted a 6.75 ERA in 54.2 innings while allowing 10 home runs. Over the next, and final 16 starts of the season he was rather dominant. He threw 92.1 innings with just 8 home runs allowed and posted an ERA of 2.92 in that span.

Similar to Tony Santillan, the depth could be a deciding factor for where Vladimir Gutierrez begins his season. That he had a full season in Double-A last year, though, gives me the thought that he will get the bump up to Triple-A to begin the 2019 season. I would hedge it a little bit with the idea that he could return to Double-A and join Chattanooga, but Triple-A is my guess. Projected at the start of the season: Triple-A Louisville Bats.

Lyon Richardson (#11) | Right-Handed Pitcher

The Cincinnati Reds second round draft pick in 2018 had a rough introduction to professional baseball last year. In 11 starts for the Greeneville Reds he posted a 7.14 ERA in just 29.0 innings. He walked 16 batters and had 24 strikeouts.

Historically the Reds haven’t been aggressive promoting many 19-year-olds to begin their first full season out of the gate. With Lyon Richardson that seems even more likely to be the case given his pitching history and experience. Look for him to begin the year in Goodyear back in extended spring. Projected at the start of the season: Extended Spring Training.

Keury Mella (#15) | Right-Handed Pitcher

Last year saw Keury Mella pitch at three different levels. The then 24-year-old began the year in Double-A, making 16 starts with a 3.07 ERA. He then made another five starts in Triple-A where he posted a 2.74 ERA. For the second season in a row he would also see limited action in Cincinnati. With the Reds he pitched in four games out of the bullpen.

With the amount of starting pitching depth the Reds have it will be interesting to see what they do when it comes to the role for Keury Mella. He’s going to begin the year in the minors, and at the Triple-A level. The question is will he be in the rotation or will he be in the bullpen? It’s tough to see where he’s a starting moving forward. Is this the year he gets pushed into a relief role full time? Projected at the start of the season: Triple-A Louisville Bats.

Jimmy Herget (#20) | Right-Handed Pitcher

The 2018 season was the worst of the minor league career for Jimmy Herget. And that says a whole lot about how good his career has been. The reliever spent the entire season in Triple-A Louisville where he posted a 3.47 ERA in 59.2 innings. He allowed just five home runs, walked 21 batters, and he had 65 strikeouts. In no way was his season anything but successful.

There’s a few spots potentially open in the Cincinnati bullpen. How the team handles who steps into the rotation for Alex Wood to begin the season – as they likely will need at least a short-term filler – could make for an extra spot. That could go to Jimmy Herget, who is on the 40-man and has very little to prove in the minors at this point. But he’s got options and that could be working against him when several other pitchers vying for the bullpen spots can’t be sent back to the minors without exposing them to waivers. Fairly or unfairly, sometimes that’s just how the game works. Because of that, I’ll hedge my bet on him heading back to Triple-A to begin the season. Projected at the start of the season: Triple-A Louisville Bats.

James Marinan (#21) | Right-Handed Pitcher

The Reds acquired James Marinan half-way through the 2018 season. The then 19-year-old was pitching for the Arizona League Dodgers, having made three starts on the season when he was traded to Cincinnati. The Reds sent the teenager to Billings to join the Mustangs. Once he arrived he made 11 starts in the hitting friendly Pioneer League, posting a 3.98 ERA in 43.0 innings with 19 walks, 1 home run allowed, and 39 strikeouts. The next logical step would be a bump up to Dayton. He’s had some success in Billings, and at 20, the age and experience isn’t something that should hold him back. Projected at the start of the season: Low-A Dayton Dragons.

Ryan Hendrix (#23) | Right-Handed Pitcher

To say that Ryan Hendrix dominated the Florida State League in 2018 would be an understatement. The then 23-year-old posted a 1.76 ERA for the Daytona Tortugas in 2018. He racked up 12 saves, allowed just 2 home runs, and he struck out 79 batters in 51.0 innings. He did walk 26 batters on the year, but his walk rate dramatically improved as the season went along.  Now a 24-year-old, there’s no reason to keep him from moving up to Double-A Chattanooga. Projected at the start of the season: Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.

Joel Kuhnel (#25) | Right-Handed Pitcher

While teammate Ryan Hendrix racked up 12 saves, it was Joel Kuhnel who led Daytona with 17 saves. He pitched in 44 games and finished 35 of them while posting a 3.04 ERA for the Tortugas. In his 53.1 innings he walked just 11 batters – and 2 of those were intentional. He would also rack up 56 strikeouts and allowed just 2 home runs on the season. Much like Hendrix, there’s no reason that Kuhnel shouldn’t get promoted to Double-A to begin the year. Projected at the start of the season: Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.

16 Responses

  1. Matthew O'Neal

    Given you have Santillan in AA, I’m intrigued at your Bats rotation. Mahle, Sims, Romano, Gutierrez and Reed? Would Santillan be the first to go to AAA if Wood is on injured list to start the year, or would Mella get starts for LOU to keep Santillan in one place?

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah – Santillan is a bit of a wild card. It’s tough to know exactly how the Reds will handle about 3-4 different guys between rotation/bullpen.

      Between how the big league situation could play out, and new people making the decisions in the minors – which gives us no real track record to look at and say “they did this with guy XYZ in the past with a similar situation”, it’s just me guessing. Wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up in Triple-A. But I still think it’s slightly more likely it’s off to Chattanooga.

      • MK

        Think a Piggyback rotation in Louisville could be in the cards? A piggyback rotation that includes Sims, Romano, Aldeman, Reed, Santillan, Finnegan, Gutierez, Mahle could make a nice start.

    • Gaffer

      Gutierrez needs to be a reliever, as well as Reed and Romano.

    • Stock

      Romano and Mella have proven they are not ML SP. Put them in the bullpen and let them learn how to be successful there.

      SP in Louisville: Adleman, Reed, Sims, Gutierrez and Santillan

      Bullpen: Herget, Finnegan, Reyes, Romano, Stephens, Mella and Peralta.

      When Mahle comes back down, Reed goes to the bullpen.

  2. MBZ

    Seems as if Wood won’t be ready to start the year. I’d guess that puts Mahle with the Reds, and Santillana in Louisville. I think Santillana would be in AAA anyway, but that just locks it in. Reed is very likely in the pen for the Reds to open the year.
    My AAA rotation would be Romano, Sims (the next 2 most likely to be called up) Mella Santillana, Gutierrez.

  3. Gaffer

    Any word on Nick Travieso, if he even plays anymore.

  4. Simon Cowell

    Slim pickings. Good thing we are going to score 20 runs a game with Nick Senzel. We are going to need that type of production in 2020

  5. Doc

    Speaking of pitchers, the Reds site said yesterday that Bob Steve was scheduled to pitch today. I was at the game and everyone else who was scheduled (Roark, Iggy, Hernandez, Bass, Bowman) all pitched, but Stephenson, who was listed last, did not pitch the ninth, a lefty did. Is Stephenson still hurting? Is he looking like a DL candidate?

    • Doug Gray

      That was a gamenotes thing. On Thursday Stephenson threw to live hitters. Things went fine – but the Reds wanted to give him another session before pitching him in a game. But they never updated the game notes.

  6. Optimist

    For starters, is there that much of a distinction between AAA and AA? In the recent past the Reds have been willing to promote directly from AA. I understand that you don’t want to send down from MLB to AA, but for future starters needing innings (Santillan, Vlad) wouldn’t the regular 5-day routine in AA be sounder than adding to the clog and juggling which seems likely for the Bats staff?

    • Oldtimer

      Not just in recent years. Way back when, too.

      Jim O’Toole in 1959 (pitched AA in 1958). Gary Nolan in 1967 (pitched A in 1966). Don Gullett in 1970 (pitched A in 1969). To name just a few. Jim Maloney is another (in 1960).

    • MBZ

      Yes, there are a lot of players in AAA that have major league experience, so those batters are typically move developed as a rule.

  7. Krozley

    Interesting Siri was the first position player re-assigned to the minor leagues. O’Grady, AlfRod, Friedl, Trammell, and Aquino get to stay with the big club a little longer. I know none of them have a shot at the 25 man roster to start the season, but that seems a little ominous in regards to Siri.

    • MK

      He ended an 0-18 streak yesterday and had the two stolen bases. Maybe they wanted to send him along on a high note with a positive performance.

  8. Bob Anderson

    Remember grade 1 UCL tears are like catching early liver disease(fatty liver/inflammation) before Cirrhosis. Platelets have a 50/50 chance of working to heal the micro-tears. If they don’t work, then he will need a procedure. Price it worked, That Asian dude(can’t remember his name) who signed with the Angels, it didn’t work.

    My guess if he makes it through the season with re injury, he is cured……………..