In a much closer vote than the previous two, Taylor Trammell walked away with the #3 spot in our 2018 Community Prospect Rankings. The first three went pretty much the way I expected it, and the way most lists have panned out so far. Going forward, it looks to get quite a bit more difficult, and this where the discussions tend to heat up. A new player has been added to keep the choices you have at four.
Tyler Mahle, RHP, 23
Highest 2017 Level: MLB (Cincinnati Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Mahle needed just 89 pitches to sit the Mobile Bay Bears in order last year while with AA Pensacola. All of them. The Perfect Game was actually Mahle’s second career no-hitter, as he logged one in 2016 with Daytona.
Most Worrisome Fact: His fastball isn’t exactly blazing, as it averaged just 92.9 mph in his stint with the Reds last year; a career 8.3 K/9 through his 5-year MiLB career is solid, yet not overwhelming.
Alias(es): Poppin’, Flogging, Mahle-able, Tinker Taylor Tyler Mahle
Mahle is a classic example of a pitcher who doesn’t just throw, he pitches, and it’s that master-of-craft ability that has seen him crack many Top 100 overall prospect lists as he’s risen through the minors. A 2.85 career ERA in 558.0 MiLB innings is impressive in itself, but a minuscule WHIP of 1.10 and rock solid 4.48 K/BB in that time stand out as much, if not moreso.
While he’s got the ability to run a fastball up to 96-97 mph at times, that’s not at all what he uses to get batters out. Rather, he pounds the strike zone relentlessly, and his 1.9 career BB/9 in those MiLB innings exemplifies it.
The former 7th round pick cracked the big leagues for the first time in 2017, yet holds still holds his rookie status. And while his initial outings with the Reds didn’t flash the same kind of peripherals we’ve seen from him in the minors, he once again managed to keep runs off the board - something the litany of young pitching peers of his failed at across miserably, by comparison.
Considering he got just 59.1 innings of time at AAA Louisville before his late-season call up by Cincinnati, there’s a chance he opens the year with the Bats in 2018. However, if he shows in Spring Training the kind of arsenal and effectiveness he’s flashed throughout his career, a spot in the Opening Day rotation is by no means out of the question.
Jesse Winker, OF, 24
Highest 2017 Level: MLB (Cincinnati Reds)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: A .904 OPS and 133 OPS+ in 47 games with the Reds, featuring his patented on-base ability (.375) and the return of his power stroke.
Most Worrisome Fact: His defense is average, at best. Also, his power nearly evaporated completely at the upper levels of the minors, though the hope is that multiple wrist injuries were the culprit - and are now fully healed.
Alias(es): Stinky Winky, Uncle Jesse, Winker Taylor Soldier Spy
If it seems like Jesse Winker has been at or near the top of this list for a generation, you aren’t wrong. Since being a supplemental 1st round pick out of high school in 2012, Winker has long been well regarded in prospect circles thanks to his gifted offensive game.
Heck, MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo once picked Winker to lead all of Minor League Baseball in hitting back in 2015, and we all nodded that it was completely possible.
Winker peaked as the #26 overall prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline prior to that 2015 season, and was a universal Top 100 prospect by them, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball America for several years running, but when his power disappeared, so too did his prospect status despite him still possessing several other, valuable traits.
If the car crash and multiple wrist injuries he’s fought through over the last few years were both the reason for his power evaporating and are now fully healed, though, we’re talking about a sweet-swinging lefty with elite on-base skills who once won the Class A Dinger Derby title while an All Star with the Dayton Dragons. And that, folks, is exactly the kind of corner OF the Reds could use in their everyday lineup for at least the next six years.
Antonio Santillan, RHP, 20
Highest 2017 Level: A (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 9.6 career K/9.
Most Worrisome Fact: 4.4 career BB/9.
Alias(es): Santigold, Guns Up Tony.
The Reds selected Santillan in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of Seguin, TX. While the right-hander has been known as a fireballer that will blow people away, he struggled with command during his first two minor league seasons. His first full season in MiLB showed why the Reds thought so highly of him back in 2015, as he put up his best season of his young career with Low-A Dayton. He improved his command and posted a career-best 3.9 BB/9 in 2017 while still striking out 9 per 9 innings. His best start in 2017 came back on May 8, where he dominated Cedar Rapids by striking out 10 over 6 innings while giving up only 1 run and no walks.
He will be 21 for most of the 2018 season, so he has plenty of time to continue to work out his control issues. Hopefully he uses his strong 2017 to continue to improve in 2018. Santillan will most likely start the 2018 season in Daytona.
Shed Long, 2B, 22
Highest 2017 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .922 OPS in A+ Daytona with with 30 extra base hits in 279 plate appearances. 11.9% BB rate in AA with a drop in his K%
Most Worrisome Fact: Defense is shaky according to scouts, and his numbers slid when promoted to AA with .227/.319/.362 line.
Alias(es): Tool Shed, Shed To Bed, Shed Blockers, Shed Shocked
Shed Long was drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft out of Jacksonville, Alabama as catcher. You’ll notice he doesn’t play catcher anymore (just like Joey Votto), the last time playing the position coming in rookie ball. Not much was known about the kid until he reached Class A Dayton at the age of 19, and he’s never really looked back.
Shed is a guy that does a lot of things right. He won a wiffle ball HR derby at Reds Fest in 2016 one handed because he was recovering from surgery. That’s just really cool. He’s also one of those toolsy players the Reds are coveting that seem to know how to take a walk. His career line in the minors is .279/.353/.444. That’s plenty of power from a 2B, and he can run pretty well. However, the stolen base is not a huge part of his game.
There are some iffy parts though. It’s been speculated that Shed might not be able to stick at 2B, and he did hit a slide on his first go around at AA. Much of that seems to be BABIP driven as it dropped from .368 to .271 once he was promoted. For the rest of his career he’s sported BABIPs in the mid .300s, but even if it reverted to league average his numbers would have looked much better. One glimpse of hope is that this was could be just a fluke. He showed more patience and struck out less once reaching AA. Look for Long to start the season once again in AA, but look for a mid-season promotion to Louisville. With Senzel, Blandino, Scooter, and Dilson Herrera all vying for crowded infield and outfield spots in the near future, having a guy like Shed Long is a good problem for the Reds.
Who is the Reds #4 prospect?
This poll is closed
Tyler Mahle, SP
Jesse Winker, OF
Antonio Santillan, SP
Shed Long, 2B