The week concludes with the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List by looking at the top five players on the list. We’ve been counting down since Monday and the final part of the list is here.
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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)*
1. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 20
2019 Team: Did not play | Acquired: 1st round, 2017 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 215 lbs
The 2018 season was one that had a whole lot going on for Hunter Greene. The then 18-year-old got out to a BABIP influenced tough start to the season. Through his first seven starts opponents had a .560 BABIP against him, leading to an ERA of 10.06. From there the BABIP normalized and in his next 11 starts he dominated the Midwest League, posting a 2.63 ERA in 51.1 innings with just 13 walks and 63 strikeouts. He looked like everything that was expected of the #2 overall draft pick in that stretch. But then came the injury.
Hunter Greene suffered a tear in his UCL. He opted to undergo treatment and rehab rather than Tommy John surgery. In late October of 2018 he said he was 100% and was feeling great. In late March he was pitching a simulated game during spring training (you can watch some video here) – but the next time he took the mound he injured his elbow once again. This time he opted to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2019 season. Given that his surgery didn’t occur until April of the year, he’ll likely miss at least the first half of 2020, too.
Biggest Strength: This all comes with the caveat of “when he was healthy”, but his fastball sits 96-99 MPH and touches 103 MPH.
Biggest Weakness: At this point in time it’s simply that he’s not yet fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. While most guys do make it all of the way back, that isn’t the case for everyone.
2. Nick Lodolo | LHP | Age: 21
2019 Team: Billings/Dayton | Acquired: 1st round, 2019 | Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 202 lbs
The 41st overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nick Lodolo chose to head to TCU instead of sign with the Pirates. After two solid sesaons, the left-handed starter broke out as a junior – posting a 2.36 ERA in 16 starts. He threw 103.0 innings with 25 walks and 131 strikeouts. That led to him being the first pitcher selected in the 2019 draft, going 7th overall to Cincinnati.
The Reds initially sent Lodolo to pitch for the Billings Mustangs. He made six starts, but was limited in his work load, throwing just 11.1 innings. He didn’t walk a batter and he struck out 21 of the 46 hitters that he faced. That led to his promotion to Low-A Dayton. With the Dragons he made two more starts – also limited in his workload – and threw 7.0 innings without a walk and with nine more strikeouts. Cincinnati then shut him down after having pitched a long season between college and his first taste of professional baseball. He finished with no walks, one homer allowed, and 30 strikeouts in his limited 18.1 innings to go with a 2.45 ERA.
Biggest Strength: His curveball is a plus pitch at times and projects to be one in the future.
Biggest Weakness: His change up is a clear third pitch that needs some work, but shows promise at times.
2019 Season Stats
3. Tyler Stephenson | C | Age: 23
2019 Team: Chattanooga | Acquired: 1st round, 2015 | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 225 lbs | B/T: R/R
In 2018 Tyler Stephenson put together his first full season that was injury free in his career. And he put up an above-average season in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, posting a 112 OPS+ (.730 OPS) with 32 extra-base hits in 109 games played.
This past season the Reds sent the catcher to join the new Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga. With the Lookouts things took a step forward at the plate. In 89 games played he hit .285/.372/.410 – good for an OPS+ of 130. The then 22-year-old catcher posted a career best 16.5% strikeout rate, while also keeping his walk rate at 10%. Following the season he headed out to the Arizona Fall League where he crushed the ball, hitting .353/.421/.549 in 57 plate appearances during his time in the league.
Biggest Strength: Power. While it hasn’t fully translated to games yet, he’s got plenty of raw power to tap into and at the catcher position it could really stand out.
Biggest Weakness: Not that it matters given that he’s a catcher, but he’s not a fast runner.
2019 Season Stats
4. Jose Garcia | SS | Age: 21
2019 Team: Daytona | Acquired: International FA, 2017 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 175 lbs | B/T: R/R
When the Cincinnati Reds signed Jose Garcia in June of 2017 it capped off their big international signing period that saw them spend roughly $30M in the last “free for all” international period. He didn’t play that year, instead making his debut in 2018 with the Dayton Dragons. Overall the season didn’t go as planned as he struggled at the plate. The then 20-year-old hit .245/.290/.344 overall, but saw his OPS improve every month throughout the year.
It was the 2019 season that saw Jose Garcia break out. The Reds sent the Cuban-born shortstop to Daytona to play up the middle for the Tortugas. All he did there was post a 130 OPS+ thanks to a .280/.343/.436 line in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Despite missing most of April before his season began, Garcia led the league with 37 doubles. His walk rate improved from 2018, though was still lower than you’d like to see. The strikeout rate also improved, as did the power output.
Biggest Strength: His arm is a plus tool. It’s a short arm action with tons of arm strength.
Biggest Weakness: While it’s not essential, it would be big if he could draw more walks moving forward. His 5.5% walk rate in 2019 was quite a bit lower than is ideal – even for a shortstop where the bat isn’t expected to play quite as much.
2019 Season Stats
5. Tony Santillan | RHP | Age: 22
2019 Team: Chattanooga | Acquired: 2nd round, 2015 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 240 lbs
The 2018 season was a breakout for Tony Santillan. He began the year in Daytona, and he led the Tortugas rotation in the first half before earning a promotion to Double-A Pensacola for the second half. Between the two stops he posted a 3.08 ERA in 149.0 innings with 38 walks and 134 strikeouts.
In 2019 it wasn’t quite the smooth sailing that 2018 was. The Reds sent Tony Santillan back to Double-A, but this time with their new affiliate in Chattanooga. The numbers weren’t nearly as good this time through the Southern League. The 22-year-old psoted a 4.84 ERA in 102.1 innings with 54 walks and 92 strikeouts. He dealt with several small injuries during the season that sent him to the injured list a few times. His season ended at the very end of July after hitting the injured list. None of the injuries were considered serious, but they likely did come into play with his season and performance.
Biggest Strength: When he’s at his best, his fastball is a plus offering that works 95-98.
Biggest Weakness: In 2018 his control took a big step forward, but in 2019 it fell back to where it had been previously and nearly doubled his walk rate from 2018. To reach his ceiling his walk rate and control must improve from where it’s been for the better part of his career and get closer to where it was in 2018.
2019 Season Stats
To recap the entire list, here we go:
|1||Hunter Greene||14||Vladimir Gutierrez|
|2||Nick Lodolo||15||Noah Davis|
|3||Tyler Stephenson||16||Ryan Hendrix|
|4||Jose Garcia||17||Lyon Richardson|
|5||Tony Santillan||18||Mariel Bautista|
|6||Jonathan India||19||Braylin Minier|
|7||Stuart Fairchild||20||Jameson Hannah|
|8||Jose Siri||21||Michel Triana|
|9||Rece Hinds||22||Miguel Medrano|
|10||Tyler Callihan||23||Brian O’Grady|
|11||TJ Friedl||24||Packy Naughton|
|12||Michael Siani||25||Ivan Johnson|