Among the national publications, Baseball America is considered the gold standard for prospect lists. They’ve been doing it for more than a decade longer than any other publication that still exists. And their track record is much easier to follow, too. Today they released their Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospect list. It’s behind their paywall, so don’t expect me to give it a full rundown. If you’re a subscriber you can see the full list here.
What they are offering up for free for everyone to see is the projection of the 2023 lineup, rotation, and the current list of best tools within the organization. Let’s talk about that a little bit. With the way the future lineup works, it assumes that anyone currently in the organization remains there, even if they are projected to be a free agent before that date. On the position player side, the farm system is only placing Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India, and Jose Garcia into the starting eight. And India is sliding over to second base in this scenario.
The rotation is where things get interesting. Sort of. At the top of the rotation is Luis Castillo. We don’t have to squint too hard to make sense of that one. But it’s Hunter Greene at #2. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s believable if you’ve ever seen Hunter Greene pitch. What makes it interesting is that he’s ahead of Sonny Gray. Gray, of course, was actually better than Luis Castillo was this past year. No big deal, really – just an interesting thought process. Nick Lodolo slides in at #4 ahead of Tyler Mahle, who rounds out the 2023 projected rotation.
Looking at the Top 10 prospects, as put together by Justin Coleman, there are a few large differences between their list, and the one that I put together last month. Two players made the Baseball America Top 10 who were outside of my Top 15: Lyon Richardson and Jameson Hannah.
I wrote about each of those players last week with my full reports on them. With Richardson, the good side of the write up was that he improved during the season, and he projects to have three solid offerings and he throws strikes. But the flip side of that was that none of those three offerings really stick out to you, either. And after throwing up to 98 in high school, he’s topping out at 95, and mostly throwing 90-93 these days. The report from Baseball America projects his stuff slightly better across the board. That could explain the difference in the rankings.
With Jameson Hannah, my write up had some good and some questions, too. On the good side he’s got plenty of athleticism. He’s fast, has a quick bat, and there’s some power potential in there to tap into. But the flip side of that is that he’s going to have to change his batted ball profile around in a huge way to get that power to play, and for a player who doesn’t show much game power, he’s got some swing-and-miss going on. There’s upside there, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be put in to get from where he’s at now to that point.
There was one thing that my list, and the Baseball America list agreed on: Hunter Greene is the guy at the top. While there are always going to be some concerns with a player coming off of an injury, and Greene is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, his upside is simply unmatched in the organization.
Much like the list released here last month, the list at Baseball America shares the same players in the Top 6 spots. After that is where we start seeing differences. That does support the feeling that after that group there’s a different tier. For me, and I’d guess for many others – that top tier of six is pretty strong. Don’t let anyone tell you the Reds don’t have a farm system to trade from. They do. It’s not as strong as it once was – but that’s more about that second and third tier rather than the first one.