The week continues with the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List by looking at the next group of five players between 11 and 15 on the list. We’ve been counting down since Monday and it’ll keep on going through Friday.

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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)*

11. TJ Friedl | OF | Age: 23

2019 Team: Chattanooga | Acquired: Undrafted FA 2016 | Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 180 lbs | B/T: L/L

In one of the more strange draft stories over the last decade, TJ Friedl fell into a weird spot in 2016 where he hit .401 at Nevada but more than a few teams didn’t even know he was draft eligible. Some teams did, though, and didn’t select him. After joining Team USA more teams began to figure out he was draft eligible in the previous month and was thus now a free agent. The Reds took advantage of having a high draft pool, and used every ounce they could to pay Friedl the highest signing bonus in history for an undrafted free agent among draft eligible players.

In 2019 the Reds sent TJ Friedl back to Double-A after he finished up there to end 2018 in the second half. The destination was different as Cincinnati moved affiliates from Pensacola to Chattanooga, but the league was the same. Things didn’t go as planned with the Lookouts for the then 23-year-old outfielder. At the plate he struggled to hit for average, posting a .235/.347/.385 line. But he did get on base and show a little bit of pop for someone who can handle center field just fine. The bigger issue with how 2019 was a disappointment, though, was that his season came to an end on July 1st after an ankle injury required season ending surgery.

Biggest Strength: Defense. He’s an above-average defender in center field with a quality arm.

Biggest Weakness: Nothing really jumps out at you as a true weakness for Friedl – but if you’ve got to point to something his power isn’t going to play as an every day guy if center field isn’t open for him to play.

2019 Season Stats

12. Michael Siani | OF | Age: 20

2019 Team: Dayton | Acquired: 4th round, 2018 | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 188 lbs | B/T: L/L

In June of 2018 the Cincinnati Reds worked their draft pool and picked up Michael Siani in the 4th round and were able to pay him a 7-figure bonus to sign rather than attend college. He spent that first summer playing for the Greeneville Reds. The center fielder hit .288/.351/.386 in 46 games that first year.

During 2019 the Reds sent the left-handed hitter to play for the Dayton Dragons. The season didn’t get out to a good start, and that’s putting it nicely. On May 22nd Michael Siani was hitting .168/.279/.252 on the year after 38 games played. But he turned things around from that point forward. In the final 83 games he hit .291/.358/.378. He also finished the season with 45 stolen bases.

Biggest Strength: Defense. He’s a plus defender in center field and will routinely make highlight reel defensive plays.

Biggest Weakness: While there’s more power potential in there, right now his power is well below-average.

2019 Season Stats

13. Joel Kuhnel | RHP | Age: 24

2019 Team: Chattanooga/Louisville/Cincinnati | Acquired: 11th round, 2016 | Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 260 lbs

In the first three seasons as a professional Joel Kuhnel moved one level at a time. In 2016 he was with Billings after being drafted. During the 2017 season he spent his entire season with the Dayton Dragons. In 2018 he pitched out of the Daytona Tortugas bullpen. He found success along the way, and showed some real stuff, but it was 2019 that saw him really break out.

The 2019 season began for the big right-handed reliever in Double-A Chattanooga with the Lookouts. He dominated there in the first half, posting a 2.27 ERA in 35.2 innings with 30 strikeouts and picking up 10 saves. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Louisville. He didn’t slow down there, posting a 2.00 ERA in 18.0 innings before being called up to Cincinnati. With the Reds he’d make another 11 appearances in the final two months, giving up five runs in 9.2 innings.

Biggest Strength: He throws hard. His fastball averages 96.5 MPH and touches 100.

Biggest Weakness: There’s not really one. He’s big league ready, throws strikes, has the stuff.

2019 Season Stats

14. Vladimir Gutierrez | RHP | Age: 24

2019 Team: Louisville | Acquired: International FA 2016 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 190 lbs

In the last year where teams could spend whatever they wanted on international free agents, the Reds made a trio of big signings of Cuban-born players. Vladimir Gutierrez was the lone pitcher in the group that also included shortstops Alfredo Rodriguez and Jose Garcia. In each of his first two seasons, Gutierrez got out to a slow start to begin the season, then rebounded after getting settled in.

In 2019 the right-handed pitcher once again got out to a slow start. Through 10 starts and the end of May his ERA was 8.43 with 17 walks and just 30 strikeouts in 47.0 innings. And much like the previous seasons, he did rebound moving forward. Well, sort of. In the final 90.0 innings and 17 starts his ERA dropped to 4.80. He walked just 31 batters and he struck out 87 batters. Home runs were still a big issue – he gave up 18 of them in those 90.0 innings. But the other numbers rebounded quite well.

Biggest Strength: His breaking ball is an above-average offering that he can throw for strikes.

Biggest Weakness: As a starter the fastball just might not be enough to work and may push him to the bullpen where letting it go could allow it to play up.

2019 Season Stats

15. Noah Davis | RHP | Age: 22

2019 Team: AZL Reds/Billings | Acquired: 11th round, 2018 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 195 lbs

When the Reds drafted Noah Davis in 2018 they knew he wasn’t going to pitch for a while. He had already undergone Tommy John surgery that spring while at UC Santa Barbara. But they felt he could come back from it and selected him with their 11th round pick.

In 2019 the right-handed starter didn’t pitch until June. That’s when he joined the Arizona League Reds for five rehab starts over the next month, going into the third inning just once as he worked his way back. But at the end of July he was promoted to Billings to join the Mustangs rotation. And that’s when he started to get stretched out a little bit more, completing at least 4.0 innings in all eight of his starts. He was dominant in the Pioneer League, posting a 2.10 ERA in his 34.1 innings pitched after joining Billings.

Biggest Strength: His slider flashes plus and could be a put away offering in the future.

Biggest Weakness: At this point it’s just that he’s only pitched into the fifth inning a few times as a professional as he’s worked his way back from injury. From a stuff standpoint – the change up lags behind his other offerings.

2019 Season Stats

You can see the entire Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect list here (once it’s completed at the end of the week)

28 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    With the other tools being mostly equal, why wouldn’t Siani be rated higher than Friedl? I would think his power potential would be the separator?

    Boy, so far the prospect list is a bit depressing. Outside of Siani, I’m not sure there’s a probable starting position player or rotation piece in the bunch. Previous years were more encouraging. That said, I have confidence in the Reds talent evaluators.

    • Doug Gray

      Friedl’s bat is a lot better, and thus he’s a lot safer right now. The upside goes to Siani because the defense is a tad better, and the power might be a tad better in the future too. But the floor is a lot lower right now. As always, there’s a balancing act.

    • Pete

      Why? I can’t make sense of your comments:

      “the prospect list is a bit depressing”
      ” I have confidence in the Reds talent evaluators”

      Hope or blind faith?

  2. Krozley

    I’m guessing this will be the most questionable group of five. Davis ahead of Richardson? I would think he would have to prove a little more before I’d make that leap. Siani below Hinds and Callihan also seems strange to me. Each day this list makes me feel worse about the status of the farm.

    • Doug Gray

      With Davis over Richardson it comes down to secondary stuff for me. I like his better. And even while recovering from Tommy John, he’s throwing just as hard.

      With Siani/Hinds/Callihan, it’s the bat(s). There’s a lot of upside with the latter two hitters at the plate. With Siani, there’s more of a “he might hit for a center fielder” upside. Nothing at all wrong with that, especially with the defense being as good as it is. But I’m almost always going to lean on the upside of a bat over the upside of the defense when it comes to guys who are for the most part unproven.

    • Norwood Nate

      I agree with your thoughts here Krozley. I had mentioned yesterday that I had Richardson safely in the top 15, and honestly hadn’t considered Davis, he was a surprise to see here, especially as a 22 year old in RK ball (yes I understand his injury situation). I also have Siani higher than Hinds/Callihan, and with more upside than Friedl.

      But, with that said, this year more than ever it seems there is very little separating players 11-20…or maybe even 11-25.

      • Doug Gray

        Tom, it probably is in that 20 range. After the top group there is certainly a drop off. There are some real upside guys outside of that top 6, but the certainty isn’t there with those guys – lots of questions that still need to be answered.

        It’s not a bad farm system. They’ve still got impact kinds of players up and down the Top 25. And the Top 6 has guys with impact potential and some solid chances of reaching it. I think the issue is that after that group there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ceiling guys, the floor guys, and even just the “maybe contributor” guys.

      • Oldtimer

        You only need 1 or 2 good rookies a year. That’s how Reds did it in 1960s and 1970s.

        Gordy Coleman and Leo Cardenas 1960.
        Johnny Edwards 1961. (I forget in 1962)
        Pete Rose and Tommy Harper 1963.
        Sammy Ellis and Billy McCool 1964.
        Tony Perez in 1965.
        Tommy Helms in 1966.
        Lee May and Gray Nolan in 1967.
        Johnny Bench in 1968.
        Hal McRae in 1969.
        Bernie Carbo, Dave Concepcion, Don Gullett, and Wayne Simpson in 1970.
        George Foster and Ross Grimsley in 1971.
        Dan Driessen in 1973.
        Ken Griffey, Sr and Will McEnaney in 1974.
        Rawly Eastwick in 1975.
        Pat Zachry in 1976.
        Ray Knight in 1977.

      • stock

        You need more now with the advent of free agency if you are a small market team like the Reds. Rose, Perez and Bench are gone by 1975 in FA times. Lee May and Helms are gone making the Astro trade (Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham…) not possible. I think now the Reds need to develop a star every other year. A good player every year and a role player every other year at minimum.

        Since 2008 the Reds have developed 1 star and he came via trade. Meso had a chance to be a star but injuries derailed him. Senzel could be a star. Castillo is the only star since the Votto, Bailey, Cueto, Bruce class.

        Based upon your list the Reds went from 1969 – 1977 without producing a star. I guess you can argue that Gullett and Simpson were stars but injuries prevented them from reaching their potential.

        Concepcion and Griffey were good players. The rest, McRae, Carbo, Grimsley, Grimsley, McEnaney, Eastwick, Driessen and Zachary were no more than role players.

      • Oldtimer

        1969 McRae was a star. One of best DH in AL.
        1970 Gullett was a star. Ace LHP for Reds.
        1971 Foster was a star. MVP in 1977.
        1974 Griffey was a star. Hit .300 (+) for BRM.
        1976 Zachary was a star. NL ROY in 1976.

        I presume you weren’t born yet then so you don’t recognize the names.

        Reds had players leave by trades in those days. Replaced by 1 or 2 rookies a year.

    • Gaffer

      Agree completely, these guys should not be in a top 20 of a team that is depending as heavily as the Reds are on the farm system. Definitely not for a team hoping to get cheap MLB production in the next few years. I actually like these players and how they were acquired, but most look like AAAA players at best. The bad 2012 and 2014 drafts are really haunting us now.

  3. Wes

    Vlad could be a decent bullpen option this season. Reds should have him preparing for that at start of spring training unless they see him as a potential 5th starter on this current team

  4. Wes

    Trade rumors has Didi and grandal both signing w reds for roughly 31 Mil of their roughly 43 available cap space. Reds pull that off we should be in for a fun season !

    Add puig-


    Good looking lineup

    • jbonireland

      If this happens I just don’t see good things happening. I
      ll be surprised if Grandal hits .250 for his 68 miliion and he blocks our catcher of the future Tyler Stephenson. We are already saddled with a mediocre player in Galvis, Gregorius taken out of Yankee stadium may just be another Galvis. I’d rather spend the money on another quality pitcher in free agency since we will only have Bauer and maybe DeSclafani for another year.

      • Jefferson Green

        Grandal was a 5 WAR player last year. Over the last two years he has been the 16th most valuable player in all of MLB (Fangraphs), meaning he would be the most valuable position player on over half the teams. Last year he was the second best catcher in baseball, and over the last four years, he is the most valuable. Don’t let batting average be such a dominant stat for evaluating any player, especially a catcher. Grandal is very, very valuable.

      • asinghoff99

        Plus he can spell Votto against lefties at 1B as he ages and hopefully be a quality vet for Stephenson to lean on when he comes up late 2020/early 2021.

    • Nep O'Tism

      That lineup looks like a bad lineup that will be on a losing team. Here’s that lineups OPS+ for 2019…

      111 OPS+
      98 OPS+
      87 OPS+
      134 OPS+
      100 OPS+
      119 OPS+
      89 OPS+
      92 OPS+

      • Wes

        How bout compare the team to cubs cards brewers instead of the boogie man. It’s not like they are trying to unseat the Astros.

      • Nep O'Tism

        Wes, Cubs top 9 players in PA in 2019…

        131 OPS+ (Bryant)
        137 OPS+ (Rizzo)
        120 OPS+ (Schwarber)
        98 OPS+ (Heyward)
        113 OPS+ (Baez)
        125 OPS+ (Contreras)
        66 OPS+ (Almora)
        102 OPS+ (Bote)
        104 OPS+ (Caratini)

        At the trade deadline they removed that 66 OPS+ from the starting lineup and added in a guy who had a 155 OPS+ for them (Castellanos, 121 OPS+ on the year).

        – – – – – – – – – – – –

        Brewers 2019 top 9 players in PA…

        119 OPS+ (Grandal)
        81 OPS+ (Cain)
        114 OPS+ (Moustakas)
        179 OPS+ (Yelich)
        64 OPS+ (Arcia)
        116 OPS+ (Braun)
        117 OPS+ (Thames)
        85 OPS+ (Gamel)
        138 OPS+ (Hiura)

        – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        The Reds in the NL were…
        12th in BA
        12th in OBP
        10th in SLG (despite playing in GABP)
        12th in runs

        They need to add more than just Grandal, Gregorious, and bringing back Puig (who is more hype than production). They need to make a big splash and add a Betts/Lindor caliber player to make this offense competitive.

        5 of the 6 division winners were Top 7 in MLB in both OPS and runs scored. The World Series was between the 3rd and 6th scoring offenses (1st and 6th in OPS).

      • wes

        Nep, you are using one year stats to skew your opinion. Both Schwarber and Heyward were terrible in 2018. And 1/2 those dudes on your Milwaukee team don’t play there anymore as of today.

        To acquire Betts or Lindor Reds will have to part with one or both of Lodolo and Greene. Right now, Reds can afford to loose Bauer due to Lodolo and/or Greene projecting as legitimate replacement. You acquire either one of those guys your window shrinks to one year now or never as they both are free agents next season. Not a fan of that plan….

        Xander Boegrats can be obtained and he has an opt out after 3 years but reds may be able to get him if reds take a couple salaries like Pedroia and Eovladi. But that would put them over their salary threshold. And I think Didi, Grandal, and Puig is a better whole addition than a Boegrats/Pedroia/Eovladi.

  5. Scott C

    I really like Siani and Friedl I know the power is not there at least right now but Friedl can hit and Siani is young and seems to be putting it together. Would like to see Friedl in AAA and Siani in Daytona this year. To be Davis is really exciting possibility to post those numbers in Billings a year removed from TJ looks really good.

  6. Norwood Nate

    At this point it’s pretty easy to figure out the top 10 (basic deduction skills). What’s going to be really interesting is who’s at #6.

    IMO, Lodolo and Greene are shoe-ins for the top 5. But I think there’s a case to be made either way for Stephenson, Santillan, India, and Garcia to claim the other three spots in the top 5.

    I’m guessing Garcia is #6, but it’s a tough call largely based previous rankings

    • Hanawi

      Lodolo, Greene and Stephenson are a clear top 3 for me. I’d probably have Garcia 4, just because I’m so down on Santillan and India.

  7. AirborneJayJay

    So far, #11 through #25 looks like the very definition of a barren farm system. There isn’t one player to be very excited about to watch rise through the system. And it appears as though #6-#10 won’t be much better.
    What a terribly disappointing group of “prospects”. No wonder the Reds farm teams had so many losing records the past 2 seasons.
    The Reds have been drafting in the top 5 and top 10 for the last 5 seasons (drafts) and THIS is what they have to show for it? Good Lord, what a mess.
    Chris Buckley should be publicly flogged in the town square at noon for his crappy drafts. Farm system wise, the Reds are up the creek without a paddle.

    [Doug, about your dog, if he isn’t eating dry food but is going to town on the can food, check his teeth and gums. He is an older dog, so his teeth and gums can become very sensitive at that age. That crunchy dry food can be painful for older dogs. You may have to go with the can food from here on out.]

  8. Jim

    Some have hope for the Red’s minors but really outside of the Votto-Bruce-Cueto the farm just doesn’t turn out anything close to great players.
    Yanks might have all the money but they use some wisely and develop good players. They can take others castoffs and develop them as well.
    Maybe instead of going after Didi and Grandal that we ought to sign every free agent coach or scout we can from the yanks, dodgers and astros.

    • Oldtimer

      Grandal and Gregorius were drafted by Reds and played in Reds MiLB system.