Jesse Winker has been featured heavily in this yearly ranking for several years now. This will be his final time on this list, and you, our beautiful stable geniuses of readers, have ranked him number four on our list of prospects. You guys are, like, really smart.
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.
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.
Jose Siri, OF, 22
Highest 2017 Level: Low-A (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Professional career high .530 SLG and 24 HR in 2017 (previous: .483 SLG in Summer Dominican League in 2013, 10 HR at Billings in 2016); Midwest League record 39-game hitting streak.
Most Worrisome Fact: 6% walk percentage isn’t going to get it done
Alias(es): Apple, “Siri, get me a hit”, Jose “Ask” Siri, Jose “Rotis” Siri
Jose Siri is raw, but damnit if he doesn’t display everything you want to see in a top prospect. For instance, Baseball America ranks him as the Reds best prospect in the following categories: Best Power Hitter... Best Athlete... Fastest Base Runner... Best Outfield Arm...
They only rank 15 of those, by the way, and several of them are pitching categories.
Anyway, Siri lit the Midwest League on fire, breaking the hitting streak record and setting it at 39 games for the league. It ended badly with a Great Lake Loon, well, throwing at him before walking him in his last at bat of the game.
Him and Taylor Trammell will have to get out of each others way when it comes to the outfield, but it wouldn’t be super surprising to see Siri make a quick move to AA (at 22 years of age) while letting Trammell man CF at A+. This is what you call “A Good Problem to Have.”
Siri might have the most upside of any non-Senzel prospect in the system, but he hasn’t locked all of it in yet. Should he reach AA Pensacola and do his thing there, watch for Siri to skyrocket not only up this list, and not only prospect lists, but the Reds pecking order.
Who is the Reds #5 prospect?
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