Former first-round pick Tyler Stephenson made his third appearance in the Community Prospect Rankings, this time barely missing out on the top 10. Hopefully an injury-free season will see him move even higher in the rankings next year. Joining the ballot is a pitcher coming off a solid season in Pensacola.
Alex Blandino, 2B, 25
Highest 2017 Level: AAA (Louisville)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 32 walks against 37 strikeouts in 237 AAA plate appearances (.390 OBP). 49 total extra base hits in 2017.
Most Worrisome Fact: He’s getting a bit old for a prospect, there is still concern about his “Stanford” swing, and his defensive ability.
Alias(es): The Great Blandino, Blandiyes, The Standford of Swat, Alex The Great
Alex Blandino has been around for a while, and has been all over the prospect rankings. Right now you’ll see him lower on most, but that mostly has to do with his age. Here at RR that may concern us too, but he’s shown enough in the minors that we’re willing to wipe it away. Mostly, it has to do with his 2017 season which was the best of his career and came at the most opportune time.
Blandino has shown good plate discipline in the past and swats quite a few extra base hits as shown above. His detractors hate on him for where he went to school. If you didn’t know, Stanford hitting coaches usually change the swing of their players to fit a certain mold. They basically change everything to hit the other way, and are really big into small ball. When in reality you should never bunt and always hit dingers. That did not keep from Blandino from being the 29th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He was the compensation pick (when there was such a thing) for Shin Soo Choo signing with Texas.
Blandino has also been knocked for his ability to stay at 2B, but he’s also played all over the field since becoming a pro. As of right now, it seems the Reds have definitely noticed as Blandino has been instructed to get reps at a variety of different positions, including the outfield. There is a realistic shot to see him make the club out of spring training as a super sub bench bat. That would be pretty sweet. Blandino makes the list at this point because he looks to be a player that could add some real value right now, even if that isn’t top end value. He’s an extremely high floor player, while the upside potential may be limited, and so will his position in the field. It doesn’t help they’re telling Senzel to do everything they’re telling Blandino to do.
Stuart Fairchild, OF, 21
Highest 2017 Level: Pioneer League (Billings, R)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .393 OBP in 234 PA at Billings
Most Worrisome Fact: .108 ISO despite being an advanced college bat in Rookie League
Alias(es): Stuart Little, Sweet Summer Fairchild, Stuballs
The Reds 2nd round pick in 2017 out of Wake Forest, Fairchild signed for nearly $1.8 million and went to work in Billings, hitting .304 with a .393 OBP in 234 plate appearances.
Fairchild was an All-American as a freshman in college but faded a bit as a sophomore before coming on in his junior season. Fairchild is said to have the speed and athleticism to stick long term in CF with raw strength and bat speed to potentially make him threat at the plate.
There is some questions about his swing mechanics as he advances, as scouts see some swing and miss potential and question whether or not he’ll ever be able to hit well enough to tap into the power potential. Also, he slugged only .330 in 2016 stint in the Cape Cod League.
Regardless, he showed plenty a Billings to keep an eye on for his first full season in Dayton starting this season. If he can make the necessary adjustments, he’ll slot in as a lower ceiling but safer bet to produce in the outfield than some of his fellow, more highly regarded Reds prospects.
Jose Israel Garcia, SS, 19
Highest 2017 Level: Did not play in minors, signed in June
Eye-Poppingest Fact: $5,000,000 signing bonus
Most Worrisome Fact: Not actually played yet, so who the hell knows
Alias(es): Say It Ain’t Jose, Cherry Garcia, Holy Land
There’s not a lot of tape to go on for the kid, but he was signed to a hefty signing bonus during the Reds spending spree in the 2016-2017 International signing class, joining Alfredo Rodriguez and Vlad Gutierrez as big gets for the team.
The thing you’ll read everywhere based on those who have seen him play in Cuba and at workouts in Mexico is that he’s a supreme athlete whose speed, arm strength, and range will allow him to hopefully stick at shortstop, as long as he doesn’t add too much bulk to his 6’3” frame.
Everything else you’ll read is iffy on the power potential, but he’s said to have a good doubles swing with an advanced hitting approach, with the potential to turn that gap power into dinger danger down the road.
It’ll be a wait and see game for 2018, but Garcia seems to be talented enough. Let’s see if he puts the tools together and makes the Reds look smart with their $5 million gamble.
Jose Lopez, RHP, 24
Highest 2017 Level: AA Pensacola
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Only 114 hits allowed over 147 IP; 8.8 K/9
Most Worrisome Fact: 3 BB/9, not huge “stuff”
The Reds drafted Lopez in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery and wouldn’t make his debut in the system until 2015, pitching 57 solid innings for the Mustangs, striking out nearly 11 per 9. Things were a bit tougher in 2016 throughout A and A+, as his ERA pushed over 4 and his WHIP nearly 1.300. 2017 was solid, however, posting a 2.57 ERA over his stints in Daytona and Pensacola, with a K/9 near 9.
Lopez doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, probably due to the aforementioned Tommy John surgery. After reaching peak velo in college (upwards of 97 MPH), he hasn’t returned to those levels even three years after the elbow injury. Still, the fastball reportedly sits 90 to 93 MPH, with the capability to reach 95 MPH.
What he lacks in pure physicality he gains back in deception. One scout referred to it, relayed by blog fiend Doug Gray over at Reds Minor Leagues, as an “invisi-ball” because of the way Lopez hid it throughout his windup and delivery. Lopez also features a 12-6 curve and slider that are both average but potentially devastating if honed and used correctly.
We should see Lopez in Louisville sooner than later depending on how the pitching situation shakes out over Spring Training. Regardless, Lopez could be seeing time in Cincinnati this year, depending on how his year (and the team’s health) plays out. He as added to the 40 man roster this offseason, so you could possibly expect to see him in September, regardless.
Up to date Community Prospect Rankings for 2018:
- Nick Senzel
- Hunter Greene
- Taylor Trammell
- Jesse Winker
- Tyler Mahle
- Jose Siri
- Shed Long
- Tony Santillan
- Vladimir Gutierrez
- Jeter Downs
- Tyler Stephenson
Who is the Reds’ #12 prospect?
This poll is closed
Jose Israel Garcia