It’s that time of year again where we take a 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 Prospects heading into the 2020 season. 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 here to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive and kicking via support through Patreon.
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. For the entire list you can click here (each day it will be updated as the next piece comes out).
*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2020 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)*
21. Michel Triana | 1B/3B | Age: 19
2019 Team: Did not play | Acquired: International FA 2019 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 225 lbs
The Cincinnati Reds had reportedly agreed to sign Michel Triana for $1.3M back in February. They made it official on July 2nd, locking up the Cuban infielder. Like nearly all of the international signings, he signed a contract during 2019 but the contract was actually for the 2020 season. That meant that he wouldn’t play after signing, except in the Tricky League (an informal league for newly signed players put together and participated in by the teams in the Dominican Summer League).
The Cuban slugger didn’t play much in the Cuban National Series while he was still in the country. Depending on where you look, he either hit .308/.455/.538 in 33 plate appearances, or .263/.417/.474 in 24 plate appearances in the 2017-2018 season.
Biggest Strength: This is solely based on second-hand scouting reports, as I’ve not had a chance to see Michel Triana play in person yet, but everyone I spoke with seemed to believe in the power he had in the bat. There’s above-average to plus raw power to tap into for the infielder.
Biggest Weakness: The fact that he hasn’t played yet certainly deserves to be mentioned here as he’s not really proven much on the field. That said, pretty much everyone I spoke with felt that while third base, and maybe a corner outfield spot could be there early in his career, that he was eventually going to wind up at first base defensively.
22. Miguel Medrano | RHP | Age: 21
2019 Team: Billings Mustangs | Acquired: Trade 2018 (Texas – originally signed in 2016 as an International FA) | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 165 lbs
The Cincinnati Reds acquired Miguel Medrano in February of 2018 from the Texas Rangers in exchange for international bonus pool slot money. The Reds didn’t actually send any money, they just gave the Rangers the ability to spend more money. Medrano had thrown 64.0 innings in the Dominican Summer League at the time of the trade. He had success, but was very far away – it was an upside play for the Reds at a low cost.
He’s pitched two seasons with the Reds since being acquired. In 2018 he spent the entire year in Greeneville. In 2019 he jumped up to Billings and had a bit of a breakout season for the Mustangs. Medrano led the Pioneer League with a 3.13 ERA in his 60.1 innings and 14 starts. He limited walks and racked up strikeouts along the way, too.
Biggest Strength: His change up is an outstanding offering and clearly his best pitch.
Biggest Weakness: He’s performed very well in the rookie-levels of the minor leagues. But he’ll be 22-years-old when the 2020 season begins and he’s never pitched in full season ball.
2019 Season Stats
23. Brian O’Grady | OF/1B | Age: 27
2019 Teams: Louisville & Cincinnati | Acquired: 8th round, 2014 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 215 lbs | B/T: L/L
Brian O’Grady may have been on the verge of being released following the 2017 season. As a 25-year-old he hit .166/.308/.337 in 210 plate appearances with the then Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. He was older for the league and the performance was bad.
But he put in the work and had a big 2018 season and followed it up with another big season in 2019, too. After hitting .280/.359/.550 in 112 games for the Triple-A Louisville Bats that saw him crush 59 extra-base hits, he was called up to Cincinnati in August and September to join the big league club. Used mostly as a utility player, he saw action in left, center and first base over his 28 games with the Reds down the stretch.
Biggest Strength: You could make the argument that the power in his bat is the biggest strength. Or you could make the argument that his versatility in the field is his biggest strength.
Biggest Weakness: The ability to make contact. Over the last two seasons in Triple-A he’s struck out 27% of the time he’s stepped to the plate. In the Major Leagues this season that rate was 35.4% – granted in a very small sample size.
2019 Season Stats
24. Packy Naughton | LHP | Age: 23
2019 Teams: Daytona & Chattanooga | Acquired: 9th Round, 2017 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 195 lbs
It’s not usual for a player to be significantly better as a professional than they were as a collegiate player. But Packy Naughton has broken that mold. In his three seasons at Virginia Tech he posted a 6.13 ERA – with his final two years seeing his ERA over 6.00. But as a professional he has been a much different pitcher.
In 2017 he posted a 3.15 ERA for Billings. Then in 2018 his ERA was at 4.03 in Dayton. This past season he began the year in Daytona with the Advanced-A Tortugas in the Florida State League. That stop didn’t last very long as he cruised his way to a 2.63 ERA in nine starts and was promoted to join the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. He would finish the season there with 19 starts and a 3.66 ERA in 105.2 innings.
Biggest Strength: Control is probably his biggest strength right now. He walked just 35 batters, and two of those were intentional, in 157.0 innings on the season. The previous year he had 34 walks in 154.0 innings. He pounds the strikezone.
Biggest Weakness: Not sure that there’s a specific thing that jumps out as a true weakness, but from a pure stuff standpoint, nothing sticks out, either.
2019 Season Stats
25. Ivan Johnson | SS/2B | Age: 21
2019 Team: Greeneville | Acquired: 4th Round, 2019 Draft | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs | B/T: S/R
After spending his freshman season at Georgia and getting limited action on the field, Ivan Johnson transferred to Chipola Junior College where he exploded as a sophomore. Not literally, of course – that would have been a mess. But the middle infielder did go out and hit .381/.491/.587 with 14 stolen bases. That performance and step forward resulted in his selection in the 4th round by the Cincinnati Reds in June’s draft.
Cincinnati sent Johnson to play with the Greeneville Reds for his first season and he held his own in the Appalachian League as a 20-year-old (he turned 21 in October). He flashed a little bit of power, showed off good speed, and hit .255/.327/.415 in his professional debut. Most of his time came at shortstop where he played in 34 games. But he also saw action at second base 11 times during the season.
Biggest Strength: From a scouting perspective he’s a middle infielder with above-average power potential.
Biggest Weakness: Johnson has some intriguing tools to work with, to the point that I may have underrated him a little bit here – but he is still a bit raw in some areas.
You can see the entire Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect list here (once it’s completed at the end of the week)
Good stuff as always Doug!
What kind of ceiling/floor are we looking at with Packy here? Can he be a MLB starter or will his stuff not play at that level? Its sounding like he isn’t a big stuff guy but rather depends on good control. Is that right?
Regardless it’s always nice to have a lefty starting to get in the upper minors who is performing well.
Next year we will have a better idea of his ceiling, after he faces AAA batters.
I think I answered this over on Patreon last week (shameless plug – go sign up everyone, for a few bucks a month you get plenty of extras – even during the offseason). Packy was off and on the list a few times as I did my various drafts/corrections. Ultimately he moved back onto the list because while I had several guys that were currently starters, but I saw as for sure future relievers who were likely to be better relievers in the future than Naughton would be, I still think there’s a chance he could be a 4/5 starter. The ceiling isn’t too high – unless he develops more velocity, which certainly could happen with Kyle Boddy on board now – but I’m not counting on that happening for anyone until it happens, unless there’s a reason to believe it’s going to happen because of physical development.
He’s got that back end kind of stuff right now – sometimes guys can make that work in the Majors. Sometimes they can’t. It’s usually not about the stuff at that point as much as it is the execution.
Not everyone can be Tom Browning. I don’t remember seeing Naughton in ST 2018 or 2019 but will probably see him in 2020. Browning came to mind as a comparable.
Well, Packy’s definitely throwing 10-12 MPH harder than Browning was in the early 90’s….
Browning was Red starting in 1985. Better then than early 1990s.
Love your work as ever Doug but one tiny presentational suggestion: if this is a countdown (and as we’re going from 21-25 to eventually 1-5, I’d suggest it is) should these in future go from 25 to 21 rather than 21 to 25?
Also suggestion for a future article: where Reds’ most recent draft picks slot into your Top 25 compared to previous years.
I would never criticize Doug, but I actually had the same thought
I can see it both ways. The reason it goes the way that it does, though, is for a reason: The Future.
This week it seems a tad weird. For the next 9 months, though, when people click through to read the entire list, they will start at the 1-5, read in order 1-5, then go to the next article, and read 6-10, and so on.
There’s not much “evergreen” content when it comes to sports news. Even articles written on say, Monday, are read only dozens of times by Wednesday – and that’s for sites that are getting thousands and thousands of visits a day. The prospect list, though – it’s at least short term “evergreen”. So I try to plan around it being read in the future in a way that makes a little more sense than if it were just going to be read today. Hopefully that makes some sense.
Thank you. That makes total sense.
Good stuff. Don’t know anything about Triana other than what I’ve read here. But I’m a fan of Packy and Medrano.
And that’s why this website is the best website, right? Lol.
With Packy and Medrano – I got a decent variety of opinions on Naughton and where he should be at. Medrano was more of a “needs to be higher” from my original list (I believe I sent along 10-15 names of guys I was also considering along with the top 25 draft). Medrano’s a guy that I had been hearing stuff about even before the Billings season began – he’s certainly been on the radar – and then he went out and put up a very good season. The only thing that held me back a little bit with him was his age. While I do think age matters less with pitchers than it does with hitters, I still do factor it in a little bit. But Medrano could be a guy that I could see taking a big jump up the list next year – all of the parts are there.