This here rebuild is moving into its fourth full season. And while that can make it tedious and disparaging to watch the big-league team get roughed up by the Nationals on Opening Weekend, it does mean the minor-league teams are dramatically more entertaining than they otherwise would be.
Today, the Reds officially announced the ports of origin for their legions of not-yet-ready-for-primetime-players, including top prospects Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, and Taylor Trammell. So I wanted to start here at the bottom and take a look at who will be wearing Dragon green(e) (GET IT??!!!) to begin Midwest League play on April 5th.
C Trent Rosecrans tweeted out this nice graphic to make things easy for all of us:
Some real interesting names on the @DragonsBaseball roster, even beyond Hunter Greene. Jose Garcia, Stuart Fairchild, Jeter Downs, Andy Sugillo... pic.twitter.com/OFYrCRooHp— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 2, 2018
The Headliner: Hunter Greene
Even if you are not a Farmers Only regular, you’ve probably heard of this kid. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the draft last year, at the tender age of 17. He slotted in at #2 on Red Reporter’s vaunted Community Prospect Rankings. He got his first taste of professional baseball late last summer out in Billings, but this will be his debut in full-season ball.
He has everything that scouts and fans and managers and teammates dream of in a pitcher. He throws 100 mph with the grace and ease of Humphrey Bogart non-chalantly tossing his jacket over his shoulder. He has the makings of a punishing breaking ball and a dizzifying change up. And he is, by all accounts, a really wonderful person. There are a thousand reasons to go to Dayton to watch a Dragons game (the ballpark is gorgeous and the fan experience is wonderful) but Hunter Greene makes it an absolutely necessity.
Top Draft Picks: Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild
While Greene was the #2 overall pick last year, Downs and Fairchild were the next two off the board for the Reds at #32 and #38.
Downs is a great athlete who plays a nice shortstop and has a solid, advance approach at the plate. He got 209 PAs in Billings last year and posted an impressive .370 OBP with 27 walks compared to just 32 strikeouts. He was #10 on our list.
Fairchild’s approach is very similar to Downs’. In 239 PAs in Billings, he posted a slash of .304/.393/.412 and he stole 12 bases. He can probably stick in CF, which would be good. Also, he’s already 22 years old after spending three good seasons at Wake Forest, so it would not surprise me if he isn’t in Dayton for very long. He ranked #14 on our list.
Expensive International Free Agent: Jose Israel Garcia
The JIG signed last June for nearly $5 million to close out the Reds luxurious spending spree on the international market. He will be making his American debut with the Dragons this week as he has yet to play an inning at any level thus far. My guess is that him and Downs will rotate between SS and 2B. He came in at #13 on our list.
Other Fellas to Keep Yer Eye On: Packy Naughton and Miles Gordon
Packy Naughton has one of the 19th-Century-Irish-Streettoughiest-Names in all of baseball, so that’s worth the price of admission all on its own. He was selected in the ninth round last June out of Virginia Tech. He started in Billings and threw very well, notching a 3.15 ERA and a 3/1 K/BB ratio in 60 innings. If he can build on that, he’s gonna start turning some heads.
Miles Gordon was drafted in the fourth round back in 2015 but he has yet to play in a full-season league. He spent the last two seasons in extended spring training before going to Billings. Over those two years, he has made 343 PAs and posted an OBP around .380. You might think his progress quite slow, but it is important to keep in mind that he is from Ontario. He probably played about half the amateur ball a kid from Texas would have. He just barely made the RRCPR this winter, coming in at #24.