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.
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)*
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)