FINALLY! For the better part of the last year, and for almost all of the 2019 baseball season I was screaming that the industry as a whole was underrating Cincinnati Reds shortstop prospect Jose Garcia. In 2018 the numbers didn’t match the tools, but if you watched him play at all, you could see it. In 2019, the numbers started to match up with the stats. While we’ve seen Top 100 lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and from MLB Pipeline, Jose Garcia was nowhere to be found. But Fangraphs has come to the rescue of this particular prospect evaluators sanity and given Garcia his due. Eric Longenhagen, the new Fangraphs lead prospect evaluator, has the Cuban-born shortstop rated as the #82 prospect in all of baseball on their just released list.
Jose Garcia wasn’t the lone Cincinnati Reds prospect on the list, though. Catcher Tyler Stephenson was the top rated prospect from the organization here, coming in at #73 overall. Not too far behind the Reds future backstop was right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene, who came in at #77 on the list. Garcia was next at #82, as mentioned above. And rounding out the list for the Reds was 2019 1st round pick Nick Lodolo. The left-handed starter came in at #92 overall.
If you head over to the Fangraphs link above, you can read their scouting reports on each player. The last two sentences of the report on Jose Garcia read as follows:
If Garcia’s tools were installed in a 21-year-old college shortstop, he’d be very famous. Power, speed, arm strength, and flashy defense are all here, and Garcia has a chance to be a star if his approach isn’t his undoing.
That sounds pretty accurate from where I stand. Longenhagen might even be a little bit higher on the raw power than I am. But he’s also a tad lower on the hit-tool, too. Still, the overall package of skills and tools that Jose Garcia brings to the table is strong and at least one national publication is taking more notice.
Fangraphs list has the Reds 2019 1st rounder Nick Lodolo lower than everywhere else, with Longenhagen noting that the industry and his sources seem higher on the left-handed pitcher than he is. Still, the difference between a ranking of 50 and 100 is relatively small in the grand scheme of things.
Tyler Stephenson is making his lone appearance on a Top 100 list, just like Garcia. The 2015 1st round pick had a strong season in Double-A with the Chattanooga Lookouts, posting a 131 OPS+ during the year. That, along with the tools he brings behind the plate, was enough to have him land the top spot among all of the Reds prospects. The Fangraphs report is similar to mine, particularly with regards to the in-game power and how there may be an adjustment needed in the future to really tap into his raw power.
Overall this was easily the best showing for the organization this offseason in the prospecting arena. For a team that supposedly is the 3rd worst farm system in Major League Baseball, having four Top 100 prospect that doesn’t include a 5th guy who nearly made the Baseball America Top 100 list, the team seems to have a good crew of players at the top of the organization.