The April numbers are in, and they’ve been dutifully crunched for an extra day just to make sure we highlight all of the best - and worst - of the Cincinnati Reds farm system from the last calendar month.
Taylor Trammell - OF (Daytona Tortugas)
The 35th overall pick from the 2016 MLB Draft kept right on raking in April after finally popping up prominently on Top 100 overall prospect lists galore over the winter. The 20 year old wrecked Florida State League pitching to the tune of .286/.394/.512, with 3 dingers, 3 triples, 4 doubles, and an impressive 15/17 BB/K ratio in his 23 games played.
His 3 triples have him tied for the league-lead, his walks rank third in the FSL, and he’s managed to both raise his walk rate to a career best while simultaneously shrinking his strikeout rate to a career best, as well. The injury to Jose Siri has meant Trammell has played most of his games as a CF, too, which should have all of you drooling at his overall potential for the Reds in the near future.
Tony Santillan - RHP (Daytona Tortugas)
Trammell’s teammates in Daytona have been quite good, too, with Santillan carrying the pitching staff at the moment. The 2015 2nd round draftee was nails in his 28.1 IP in April, as he allowed just 2 ER for a near-spotless 0.64 ERA. It wasn’t just luck, either, as he shrunk his BB/9 to a career best 2.5, his H/9 to a career best 6.7, and even the .270 BABIP against him suggests it isn’t solely because his opponents are just hitting balls right at his defenders.
The 6’3”, 240 lb righty certainly looks the part of a frontline starter, and his numbers to date certainly are backing up that assertion. That he continues to strike out over a batter an inning - 29 total, to date - on helps to confirm that.
Heck, there’s a reason the Tortugas are 17-8 to start the year.
Shed Long - 2B (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Long rocketed up the rankings of the best prospects in the Reds system in 2017, but stalled a bit once he was promoted to AA Pensacola. That kept him on the fringes of Top 100 overall prospect lists, but his start to the 2018 season will certainly have him moving onto those by mid-season if he keeps this up.
The 22 year old has destroyed Southern League pitching to date, hitting .351/.432/.468 in the process in the 21 games the Blue Wahoos managed to play (stupid rainy season). Especially considering he got time in AA last year, I’d wager that the moment Nick Senzel finally gets the call-up to Cincinnati, it’ll be Long who takes his place in the Louisville infield.
Alfredo Rodriguez - SS (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
The expensive Cuban signee languished out of the gate in AA to begin 2018, hitting just .192/.276/.192 in his first 9 games, with nary a steal nor an extra-base hit. That’s precisely the kind of punchless offense that still has him off the radar completely for the big league level despite a glove at SS that is probably good enough to play for the Reds right now.
Then, the 24 year old hit the DL with a hamate injury, which is precisely the kind of debilitating wrist issue that only further serves to sap hitters’ power. Ugh.
Stuart Turner - C (Louisville Bats)
Turner not only lost his 40-man roster spot with the Reds to begin the 2018 season, he’s also lost all clue at the plate. The 26 year old former Rule 5 Draftee - who spent the entire 2017 season on the big league roster in order to keep him in the system as future catching depth - has hit just .143/.211/.143 in early action, effectively now in a time-share behind the plate with journeyman Tony Cruz.
It was once thought that Turner would be the natural choice to be Tucker Barnhart’s backup once Devin Mesoraco reached free agency after 2018, but that’s now firmly up in the air - as is whether there’s actually enough catching depth in the upper minors to provide that backup without having to go outside the organization altogether.
Hunter Greene - RHP (Dayton Dragons)
It’s been a pretty, pretty miserable beginning to Greene’s first full season as a pro, though it’s admittedly an incredibly small sample (and one where his extremely particular management should certainly be noted). Greene has only thrown 8 IP so far in 4 GS, which goes to show exactly how carefully he’s being brought along as an 18 year old who barely pitched at all during calendar year 2017. In that time, though, he’s allowed an unsightly 13 ER, 18 H, and 6 BB, leaving him with a bearish 14.63 ERA to date.
Of course, you can’t mention Greene without at least acknowledging his massive upside, as he’s repeatedly hitting 101 mph on radar guns and showing a slider that’s getting better by the day. It’s also certainly worth mentioning that in those 8 IP - that’s 24 total outs, if my math is correct - he’s fanned 17 opposing hitters, which is good for an incredible 19.1 K/9.
Greene will be just fine at some point down the road, especially once he gets enough experience under his belt to fall into a normal MiLB work schedule. For now, though, he’s got a set of April 2018 numbers he’d surely rather forget.