There are two key components to any team trying to emerge from a deep, dark rebuild. The first, of course, is play on the big league field, and it’s in that area where we won’t have a chance to evaluate the Cincinnati Reds for another 2+ months. The second, though, is in how well the club has built the farm system for the future, and in that regard the club received a pretty solid endorsement on Monday.
That came in the form of Baseball America’s Top 100 overall prospect list, which the venerable organization released Monday morning. On that list? Five prospects currently in the Cincinnati system, headlined by Nick Senzel at #7. Following Senzel were Hunter Greene (#29), Taylor Trammell (#48), Tyler Mahle (#90), and Jesse Winker (#98), making for a solid combination of players who could impact the Reds themselves this year and in years down the road.
For Senzel, the #2 overall draft pick from 2016, it marks the highest he’s been ranked on a pre-season list so far in his well-regarded minor league career. BA had him at #9 overall this time last year, and the .321/.391/.514 season he had between A+ Daytona and AA Pensacola certainly did nothing to damage his stock in their eyes. Greene, who just turned 18 in August, makes his debut on a pre-season rankings list, the #2 overall pick from the 2017 draft now poised for his first full season in professional ball after he and his 102 mph fastball logged just 4.1 innings on the mound last year.
Perhaps the largest surprise on the list was Trammell, because while it was expected that he’d be a part of the rankings somewhere, I can’t say I truly thought he’d crack the top half of them. At #48, it’s a testament to not just his impressive skill set, but also the .281/.368/.450 output from his time with Class A Dayton last year. That impressive walk rate paired with 41 steals and emerging power from the former D-1 college football recruit opened plenty of eyes last year, and is making the #35 overall pick from 2016 look like a steal in hindsight.
Rounding out the list are Mahle and Winker, precisely the kind of high-floor guys with cups of coffee at the big league level that usually flood the tail end of most rankings. For Mahle, it marks his debut on a pre-season rankings list despite having cracked many mid-year updates last season thanks to his impressive performances at AA Pensacola and with AAA Louisville. The 23 year old righty’s 2.06 ERA and microscoping 0.96 WHIP in 144.1 IP between those two levels earned him a call-up for 20.0 IP with the Reds last year, and rightly so. Mahle, who fired a perfect game in those MiLB innings last year, will be firmly in the mix for a big league rotation spot when pitchers and catchers report in a month. Winker’s 2017 story isn’t too dissimilar from Mahle’s, though Jesse’s prospect pedigree has been well regarded for long enough that this marks the third pre-season rankings list from BA on which he’s been included. Ranked #47 prior to 2015 and #51 prior to 2016, Winker fell off the list entirely prior to 2017 thanks to his power almost completely evaporating, but his healthy wrist and impressive .904 OPS in his first tour with the Reds last year apparently did enough to warrant his inclusion among the game’s best prospects once again.
In all, it’s a tip of the cap to the health of the overall farm, especially when you factor in some of the talented names behind those five that didn’t quite make the cut. Clearly, though, BA feels there’s a lot of superstar talent at the very top, which should have you excited for what’s to come.