The Cincinnati Reds landed four prospects on the Fangraphs Top Prospect List that was released this morning. While the article is titled The Top 100 Prospects, the list actually goes to 133. Fangraph’s prospect maven Eric Longenhagen went to 133 because that’s how many current prospects he projects to be 50 FV (Future Value) players. 50 is the grade given to a league average player/starting pitcher, or a quality reliever.
The highest rated prospect on this list is shortstop Jose Garcia. He came in rated as the #49 prospect on the list – his highest showing on any of the reputable national publication prospect lists. As with all of the write ups, there’s a lot more in there than I’m going to share, but here’s the conclusion from Longenhagen on Garcia:
I think Garcia is going to end up punishing mistakes on the inner half with power and swinging at inside breaking balls away from him en route to a power/defense-driven everyday role, and he has long-term All-Star ceiling if his approach improves.
The only other Cincinnati prospect to make the Top 100 is catcher Tyler Stephenson. He came in at #78 on the list after spending most of the year at the alternate site with a small taste of big league action where he hit .294/.400/.647 in 17 at-bats. Here’s the conclusion of the write up on Stephenson – and be sure to go read the full report once you’re done here:
It’s possible he eventually makes an adjustment that unlocks more in-game power, but I think a contact-first approach that derives power from Stephenson’s strength is still plenty for him to profile as a good, everyday catcher.
Cincinnati only had two prospects in the top 100. But they also had the first two prospects just outside of the Top 100. Hunter Greene came in at #101 on the list. He spent his 2020 season at the alternate site as he continued his way back from Tommy John surgery that he had in April of 2019.
The layoff and change in mechanics add degrees of variance (and probably added relief risk) to a profile that already included a lot of it, but I ultimately have faith in Greene’s combination of elite ability and seemingly strong desire to be really good, so I continue to project that he will be.
Coming in at #102 on the list was left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo. Like Greene, he spent his 2020 season at the alternate training site for the Reds out in Mason. Unlike Greene, Lodolo was also in big league camp during the spring of 2020 – at least while it lasted.
The stuff isn’t dominant, but some teams are still projecting on it because of how big and lean Lodolo’s frame is, which makes them think it might be eventually.
To get a good feel of things, we can look at the FV for the prospects on the list. The distribution among the different grades is quite telling.
There is only one 80-grade prospect and it’s Wander Franco. That’s the ranking of a generational standout talent. The next highest FV player is MacKenzie Gore who is a 70-grade prospect. Adley Rutschman is a 65-grade prospect at #3. And then you get into a group of 21 players that are rated out as 60-grade prospects. The players who were rated from 25-50 were all 55-grade prospects. The rest of the list, #51-133 are all 50-grade prospects.
Fangraphs grading of this kind is a little bit better than simply saying “so-and-so is ranked 23rd”. It really does put the players in tiers of their own. The difference between the guy rated #51 and the guy rated #133 on this list is almost nothing. From a future value standpoint they are expected to be about the same player. But the difference between the guy ranked 1st and even 2nd on the list here is actually quite substantial. As I always say – read the report and pay attention to it more than the number next to the name, because that’s where the information that is important is at. While the FV grade is also a number next to the name, the context for it is a lot different than the actual ranked number next to the players name.