Fangraphs wasn’t able to stick to rating each organizations prospects in the offseason. And they’re still working their way through the various organizations – but today they finally got around to the Cincinnati Reds top 36 prospects. The system overview isn’t great from Eric Longenhagen, who wrote this:
This system looks rough in large part due to a combination of graduations (Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino) and trades (Taylor Trammell, Josiah Gray) made with an eye toward competing for a playoff spot in a strong division.
The international program seems inclined to re-engage with a significant portion of the market it had previously avoided. The Reds also seem more inclined than other clubs to draft older high schoolers, and an unusually high number of their slugging corner bats have among the most reckless approaches in all of baseball. The current pillars of the org’s scouting and player development haven’t been in place for very long and 2020 is a key year for understanding the org’s new tendencies as they reveal them. It was hard not to write this list with the org’s new pitching development processes in mind, as Pitching Coordinator Kyle Boddy’s body of research and thinking is basically available online.
There were a few surprises to me among the rankings, but let’s start at the top, where there’s not really much of a surprise in the top five. Tyler Stephenson, Hunter Greene, Jose Garcia, Nick Lodolo, and Jonathan India make up the guys at the top.
When it comes to a few of the surprise rankings, perhaps it’s just that I want to see a little more from him before ranking him higher – but Lyon Richardson being the #6 prospect was indeed a surprise to me. He’s got the draft spot working for him, but he’s a right-handed starter who throws 89-93 MPH with solid, but unspectacular secondary stuff. And it’s not as if he dominated in the stats, either – he posted a 4.15 ERA in the Midwest League last season, where the league average ERA was 3.75. That’s not to say there’s nothing to like – he pounds the strikezone and has a solid array of pitches, and he’s thrown harder as an amateur – but right now that’s a tough sell for the profile at #6.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was Tejay Antone at #12. Now, if you wanted to talk about where he would rank today, the #12 spot doesn’t seem too much of a surprise. In the offseason he didn’t make my own Top 25 based on the 2019 season. He was close, but not quite there. But when he came out in spring training sitting in the upper 90’s with his fastball, things changed. He went from a guy with a fringy starter profile with a solid middle relief profile to a guy with a potential good starter profile and perhaps a back end of the bullpen profile. The surprising part here, though, is that the write up doesn’t mention the enormous uptick in velocity this spring at all and notes that he’s maybe a back of the rotation or middle relief guy.
There’s write ups on plenty of guys at the link, and there’s good information on a lot of the guys in there. So be sure that you go check it out. I’ll contend that the system is still a little bit better than what it’s being given credit for – though it’s still certainly a bottom-half of the league farm system right now that’s absolutely taken a hit in the last year.