Hey, guys and gals, did you know that baseball ended in October? Well, the most important baseball ended in September. I don’t even remember any of it, and, no, it’s not for the reasons that you would suppose. Life just kind of creeps up on you sometimes, and you forget about everything else. However, there is 3 feet of snow on the ground and it’s -15 degrees where I live, so at this point I’m just staring out the window and waiting for Spring. You know what usually starts happening during this drag period where everything dies?
We get to argue about arbitrary prospect lists people actually get paid to make. By the way, Red Reporter will begin making their own arbitrary (and usually stupid) list next week as we reprise our yearly Community Prospect Rankings. Stay tuned.
Today, Baseball America took a swing at the Cincinnati Reds Top Ten Prospects, written by JJ Cooper, and I thought we should add our own little analysis.
First, I’d like to point out that I usually agree with JJ Cooper, and he’s most definitely smarter than I am, but I’m going to complain about some things anyway. It’s my right.
To get right off the bat, JJ goes into a lot of things that make me sad. A 94 loss season, the middle of a full on rebuild, and the fact that Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey make a crap ton of cash money and are porcelain dolls. That’s not a surprise. It’s just more knife twisting.
Then good things like the emergence of Adam Duvall, Dan Straily, Jose Peraza, and Billy Hamilton, having the 2nd overall pick in 2016 and 2017, and having a ton of money to spend on draft picks are stated. I like that because it makes me happy. It’s a good reminder that we might be getting to a better place. What I don’t like comes next.
Mr. Cooper decides to let us know about how the Reds must lament how they screwed up in the past, and how it has hurt their farm system.
The Aroldis Chapman trade wasn’t good. It should have been made at the 2015 deadline at the height of his value. However, I’m not sure you can really blame the organization for dumping Chapman for peanuts after his domestic violence allegations. He was a stain on the franchise, and I’m sure they just wanted him gone. Though, I don’t think they really anticipated he would bring in the haul the Yankees got from the Cubs. Good for the Yankees. Good for the Cubs. Whatever. I don’t care. He’s got a point about Caleb Cotham and Tony Renda. My gripe with the pessimism is that the Reds still hold former first round pick Eric Jagielo and SP Rookie Davis who put up a 2.94 ERA in 101 AA innings. I’ll agree his strikeout rates are pretty much trash, but I think you still have to consider him a Top 30 prospect. Hell, I think he’s a Top 15.
Now, let’s move on to the criticism of the Jay Bruce trade. This is something I truly don’t understand. When were the Reds supposed to trade Bruce for a better haul? At the 2015 deadline for Zack Wheeler? The 2015-2016 off-season for Toronto’s chump change? No. Instead, they got lucky and were able to trade Bruce for Dilson Hererra who isn’t on this list because of service time and at bats. Herrera is a 22 year old 2B who has put up good numbers in the minors and is highly regarded. Even if he has to spend more time in AAA waiting for the Brandon Phillips problem to be solved, I think it’s a win. Max Wotell could turn into a good reliever with a funky motion?
If you really want to complain about the Reds rebuilding effort it should really start and end with Todd Frazier. True, the Reds got what looks like a good return in Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler, both of whom have graduated from the lists but are still young, but what if they traded Frazier at the 2015 deadline? I drool over what an All-Star, Home Run Derby Winning third basemen could fetch at the deadline before a quite bad second half. The Reds could have asked the world for Frazier, but they sat on him.
I digress. Let’s get to the list.
1. Nick Senzel, 3B
2. Cody Reed, LHP
3. Amir Garrett, LHP
4. Robert Stephenson, RHP
5. Taylor Trammell, OF
6. Jesse Winker, OF
7. Aristides Aquino, OF
8. Sal Romano, RHP
9. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
10. Tyler Stephenson, C
Let’s break this down a bit. If you want more insight from Cooper you’ll have to get behind the paywall. I don’t pay for things.
1.) I don’t think anyone can really argue against Senzel being #1. I think some people will put Garrett here, but #2 overall picks usually get put right at the top of prospect lists. They’re good and so is Senzel. Senzel is probably the most MLB ready hitter and has one of the highest ceilings in the system. He could make moves to push Eugenio Suarez off of 3B as soon as 2017, but it looks like that could more likely be 2018.
2 & 3.) I think this is where there can be quite a bit more contention. Cody Reed is technically still a rookie (47 IP in 2016), but I think some lists might drop him off because of how much he pitched and pitched poorly. I’d keep him on the list because he’s ROY eligible. Reed made it to Cincinnati and was pretty horrible. He was crushed, but his strikeout and walk rates were acceptable. I think he still has the best stuff in the system. Amir Garrett had the best season by a Cincinnati Minor League pitcher last year, and is on the cusp of making the starting rotation in 2017. I think it’s a wash.
4.) Honestly, I expected more of a slide by Robert Stephenson. His season was underwhelming even if he did get some spot starts in the majors. I think there are a couple of hitters that should be placed ahead of him, but he still throws hard and has been at the top of these lists for a long time. #6 sounds better to me.
5 & 6.) Here is where things got weird. The Reds 2016 competitive balance pick, Taylor Trammell, jumped Jesse Winker. Both have wildly different skill sets, so I guess it just depends on what you prefer. Trammell is a tremendous athlete, who I believe had a D1 football scholarship to Georgia, and Winker has a very advanced approach to the plate but that’s about it. I think a player that might start the 2017 season in the Reds lineup, rather than one that just killed Rookie League Billings, should probably get the nod. Winker has a great BB/K ratio in AAA, but the knock about his power and position continues.
7.) Aristides Aquino shook off a bad and injury plagued 2015 with a tremendous 2016. I have no problems with this ranking. Aquino is running out of time, however, the dude has an amazing skill set.
8.) Sal Romano is good, and scouts drool all over him. I think you could also go with Tyler Mahle here, but that’s just a difference in preference. Romano pitched pretty well in AA while Mahle dominated A+ ball and struggled at the end of the season in AA. I think they profile similarly, and Mahle is a year younger. Tyler Mahle just has a cooler name.
9.) Vladimir Gutierrez is a new name many of you may not know. I know I completely forgot about him. He’s a live armed Cuban that was signed in 2016 for $4.75 million. He compares quite a bit to Raisel Iglesias. He has a live arm, hammer curveball, but projects as more of a reliever. I just think it’s funny that he’s ranked and the $7 million dollar man, Alfredo Rodriguez, isn’t . Signing both players put the Reds way over the international signing bonus luxury tax, which I don’t think matters anymore due to the new CBA. The Reds still paid a bunch of money for both.
10.) Tyler Stephenson had a rough 2016, but is a first round pick with a very high ceiling. I see no reason to kick him out of the Top 10 yet.
The most exciting part is you could make arguments for several other guys (Tyler Mahle, TJ Friedl, Chris Okey, Tony Santillan, Alfredo Rodriguez, Rookie Davis, Keury Mella, etc.). This farm system is incredibly deep. It will be exciting to see what some of the other lists will look like and how many Top 100 prospects will be named. The system does seem to be lacking some of the high end ceiling projections others boast. However, things are looking up in for this organization, and it all starts with the depth of the farm system.