This week is going to be spent looking at the various trade chips that the Cincinnati Reds could use over the next two weeks as the trade deadline approaches. The Reds have said that they are looking to be buyers. But they’ve also noted that they aren’t looking to buy rental players. Anyone they look to acquire will need to be someone that helps now and into the future.
The Reds farm system entered the year as a top 10 farm system in baseball. But, the system has taken a hit. Nick Senzel graduated, and losing a Top 5 prospect in baseball hurts any farm system. Toss in that none of the top 10-15 guys behind him have really taken that next step forward, and some have taken a step back, and the system is down quite a bit. But, it’s not an empty farm system, either. There are certainly pieces of value, and some players have indeed improved their stock.
Top 25 Prospect Infielders
The midseason Top 25 Prospect list was updated on June 20th. Not a whole lot has changed since then. Let’s take a look at which infielders ranked inside the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 when that list came out:
- Jonathan India – #5
- Tyler Stephenson – #6
- Jose Garcia – #8
- Rece Hinds – #12
- Tyler Callihan – #13
- Josh VanMeter – #17
- Miguel Hernandez – #20
- Juan Martinez – #22
That’s a solid group, but only three of those players are guys that a team acquiring them would view as “close to helping”. That may or may not be important to the other side.
The close-to-helping group
Josh VanMeter is ready to help out a Major League team today. He’s got some limited time in the Majors this year with the Reds in a utility role. In Triple-A this season he’s hit an absurd .356/.434/.684 with 23 walks and 34 strikeouts in 206 plate appearances. That’s just building on the .308/.367/.591 that he hit over the final 45 games for Louisville in 2018. Over the last calendar year here are his stats:
He’s just 24-years-old. And he’s absolutely destroyed the Triple-A level for the last year. There’s value here if the Reds were to consider moving him.
While Jonathan India is still in Advanced-A, he’s a guy that a team could look at as someone who could help soon. While the 2019 season seems out of the question, getting India to the Majors in 2020 isn’t out of the question. He’s probably ready to make the jump to Double-A right now, and starting there next season would put him on the brink of the Majors if he performs well.
Tyler Stephenson is already nearly a full season into Double-A and he’s more than holding his own. Like India, 2019 is probably out of the question for a Major League debut. But 2020 doesn’t seem unreasonable at some point. Triple-A could be where he begins the 2020 season, and he’ll be on the 40-man roster. Both of those things, along with his performance as a catcher give him a real opportunity to see big league action very soon.
The not-as-close but upside group
The most recent draft saw the Reds pick up two high upside high schoolers in Rece Hinds and Tyler Callihan. Neither player can be traded today. But both could be players to be named later, and then named after the end of the World Series. Hinds has played in just three games with Greeneville this year. He’s been injured over the last 3-and-a-half weeks. Callihan has played in 18 games and is currently hitting .230/.269/.338 with 4 walks and 13 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances.
Then there’s Jose Garcia in Daytona. Signed out of Cuba in June 2017 for $5M, his professional debut in 2018 didn’t go as planned. He struggled to hit in Dayton, but showed improvements each month. This season has been quite a bit different. His walk rate is up – nearly doubling from last season, and he’s showing a lot more power despite playing in the most power suppressing league in the minors. He’s got 30 extra-base hits in 66 games played for the Tortugas this season. Toss in that he’s a strong defender at shortstop and you’ve got a valuable chip.
Will the Reds look to move anyone from the group
It’s tough to say with any sort of certainty if a specific player would be on the move. Different teams are looking to address different needs and have different opinions of players. All offseason Jonathan India was talked about as a piece the Reds were trying to move. He’s still a Red.
With all of that said, this group is a particularly strong one when it comes to trade value. If the Reds were going to make a “big” acquisition, don’t be surprised if the player going the other way comes from this group. There’s depth on the infield within the Cincinnati system.