Earlier today, Baseball Prospectus (or, more accurately, its publisher) dropped their Top 101 Prospect ranking for 2016. Five of your favorite farmhands show up on the list, though the only two holdovers from 2015 dropped down the list slightly, while three new new names appear (Michael Lorenzen, #63 from 2015, is no longer eligible).
List stalwart Robert Stephenson is the top ranked Red at #30, dropping from his 2015 ranking of 16. Bob Steve fatigue is real and it's evident that the powerful right hander's prospect star doesn't shine as bright as it once did as control issues continue to nip at his overall upside. But, what he does well, he still does really, really well.
The Reds' top prospect has two potential 70-grade offerings in his fastball and curve, but like his NL Central counterpart, struggles to command them. With Glasnow, the difficulty is getting his long levers to repeat his mechanics; with Stephenson, it's due to what we called a "grip and rip mentality" on the mound in his pre-2015 scouting report.
There's still potential for an elite pitcher here, but he's going to need to iron out those control issues in Louisville in 2016.
Next up, rocketing onto the list at #47 is Cody Reed. Reed, the unheralded-at-first return for Johnny Cueto, had a brilliant year, blitzing the Carolina League before getting called up to AA Northwest Arkansas and then getting shipped to Pensacola after being swapped from the Royals organization to the Reds organization. He burned down the Southern League, and it's obvious that the masses have taken notice.
The tall, lanky lefty was in the midst of a breakout season in the Royals' system at the time, and he continued his success in Pensacola for the Reds. He has an electric fastball from the left side, which sits 92-95 as a starter and has touched 99 in short bursts. Reed pairs that with a sharp-breaking, upper-80s slider.
The blurb finishes by saying that Reed may end up a reliever long term, but that's dumb and I don't want to talk about that.
Jesse Winker comes in next, down just a few spots from 2015 (#47) to number 50. Winker does a lot of stuff well, but being defensively limited to left field while still at AA tends to temper a bit of the prospect hype. But Winker's bat looks real and already mature, even if the power will probably lack that of a typical left fielder. That being said, he's the realest and most promising bat in the system, so his development is paramount to the future success of the Reds.
Debuting at #77 on the list is Amir Garrett, who's also beginning to turn heads since choosing to play baseball full time. He moved to Daytona in 2015 and, well, basically did everything just as well or better as he did at Dayton the previous year.
Although he'll pop the mid-90s from a tough left-handed angle, he still hasn't quite figured out how to fully channel his premium athleticism into a consistent delivery. That hasn't necessarily mattered thus far, as he's shown plenty of raw stuff to get by in the lower minors, but 2016 will bring with it a stronger challenge at Double-A and a chance for Reds brass to figure out Garrett's place among the organization's expanding hierarchy of interesting pitching prospects.
As we've mentioned several times, the clock is ticking on Garrett's development so he's going to have to make a move through the organization as early as this year. Which means he's going to have to show that the development is real as he starts getting challenged by more advanced professional hitters.
Finally, at #81 is Jose Peraza. I was a little surprised and bummed out that he was this low on the list. But, after taking a glance at 2015's list, he's actually up about 10 spots overall. Admittedly, this probably has more to do with how many top level prospects graduated than by anything Peraza did, but alas.
There are things Peraza can't do, to be sure. He won't walk much or hit for any sort of power. That profile can be tough at the highest level, because major-league arms will challenge you if the worst they can expect is a line-drive single. Peraza can give you those, though. He can also run and has experience at all three up-the-middle positions. If he improves at shortstop, he's an everyday player...
The first one of the Reds left off is Tyler Stephenson, but you can imagine, as a top level catching prospect, he couldn't have been far behind. I think we can look forward to Ty Steve cracking the list as soon as next year.
A quick glance around the NL Central: the Pirates lead the division with six names on the list, including two in the top 25. Think the Cubs have emptied out their prospect cache? Think again. They're match the Reds number with five on the list, four of which in the same range as the Reds farmhands. The Brewers managed four names, one as high as number 11 and as low as 99.
The Cardinals manage only one, but it's an elite one: Alex Reyes ranks number 10 on the list. Besides, it doesn't matter, because I'm sure one of their prospects will win rookie of the year this year, regardless.