Nick Senzel’s name came up repeatedly ahead of last summer’s MLB Draft as a possible 1st overall selection, and his initial foray into minor league ball after being selected 2nd by the Cincinnati Reds did nothing to diminish that reputation. After a 10 game refresher course with the Billings Mustangs, the 21 year old Senzel joined the Class A Dayton Dragons and proceeded to knock the cover off the ball, hitting .329/.415/.567 in 251 PA and solidifying him as the potential star of the system.
January means it’s officially prospect ranking season, and Senzel has repeatedly been named the top prospect in the Cincinnati system, for good reason. On the heels of Baseball America releasing their own rankings yesterday with Senzel listed 1st, Baseball Prospectus named theirs today, concurring that Senzel is indeed the top talent the Reds can boast from their minor league ranks.
B-Pro’s complete rankings and analysis can be found here (if you’re a subscriber), but since they were kind enough to reveal their Top 10 prospects before the paywall, those are listed in order below.
- Nick Senzel, 3B
- Amir Garrett, LHP
- Jesse Winker, LF
- Robert Stephenson, RHP
- Tyler Stephenson, C
- Taylor Trammell, OF
- Aristides Aquino, OF
- Tony Santillan, RHP
- Shedric Long, 2B
- Ian Kahaloa, RHP
The most striking difference between these rankings and those from Baseball America is obviously Cody Reed not making the cut. There's a cut and dry reason for that, however. While Reed's 47.2 IP in 2016 came in below one threshold for rookie eligibility, his accrued service time (107 days) exceeded the threshold to still be a rookie. BA chose to consider him still a prospect - he came in 2nd overall in their rankings - but B-Pro opted not to consider him in their particular rankings, as Jeffrey Paternostro relayed to The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans earlier today
(The 25U Paternostro refers to is their ranking of the top players - big leaguers included - under 25 years old that the Reds control, where Reed obviously makes a solid appearance. That list is behind the paywall, though, so you'll have to pony up some bucks to find out which other new Reds they're particularly fond of.)
Each of the Top 7 listed by B-Pro made appearances in BA's Top 10, and while they're in slightly different order, I feel pretty confident you'd hear similar scouting reports from both sources that would largely echo one another. So, for the sake of brevity, I'll save the hair-splitting and opine, too, that all are worthy of Top 10 rankings in some regard.
Tony Santillan, Shed Long, and Ian Kahaloa round out B-Pro's Top 10, in place of RHP Sal Romano, RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, and the aforementioned Reed from BA's Top 10. Considering that B-Pro has a pretty consistent history of favoring younger, high-ceiling guys that may still be unproven over more established, high-floor guys in the upper minors, that seems to be in line with expectations.
Santillan is still just 19 years old, and the 2nd round pick of the Reds from the 2015 MLB Draft has the kind of electric right arm that's easy to obsess over. The former Texas Tech commit owns a fastball that can hit 98 mph and an over the top curveball with plenty of movement, and began his Pioneer League campaign in 2016 by striking out 27 batters through his first 13.1 IP. He eventually earned a promotion to Class A Dayton, but while his ability to still miss bats remained elite (11.3 K/9 in his 7 Dayton starts), it was his control there (7.1 BB/9) that raised eyebrows, too. He'll have to harness that command, but his combination of size (6'3" 240) and potential makes it easy to see why he's included here.
Shed Long, on the other hand, is pretty much the anti-Santillan - at least at first glance. Drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB Draft as a 17 year old catcher, the 5'8" Long hit just .172/.217/.207 in 93 PA with the Billings Mustangs in rookie ball in 2014, but since then the now 2B has seen his offense completely turn around. Named the Reds' Minor League Hitter of the Year for his 2016 exploits, Long hit .281/.371/.457 in 389 PA with Dayton before his call-up to Class A+ Daytona, where he mauled to the tune of .322/.371/.503 in 159 PA. He'll play the bulk of the 2017 season at still just 21 years of age, and if he recovers on a normal schedule from offseason wrist surgery, he'll be one of the more exciting hitters to watch in the entire system (as his one-handed wiffle ball dinger derby performance at RedsFest
last month exemplifies).
Like Santillan, Ian Kahaloa is a 19 year old RHP with a wealth of talent, but also one who has yet to make a significant impact in the upper minors. Still, the early returns have been stellar, as he's struck out more than a batter per inning in his two seasons in the system (9.7 K/9) while also limiting contact and commanding the strike zone (0.99 career WHIP, 2.3 career BB/9). 2016 saw him finally reach rookie ball with Billings, and in 10 starts there he posted a 2.82 ERA in 44 IP with a solid 1.14 WHIP. While his talent is certainly worth watching, his injury issues might unfortunately be, too. MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis noted after Kahaloa was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 Draft that elbow issues popped up during his physical
, and as Doug Gray noted at RedsMinorLeagues.com, Kahaloa's 2016 season ended with a forearm injury during Billings' playoff run