Cincinnati’s 2018 First Round pick, Jonathan India, rounds out the Top Five of our Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings. India has an interesting future ahead of him that should be rife with positional speculation as he looks to be either a SS or a 3B. As long as he continues to hit, I don’t think most will care either way. His power is totally legit, but he’ll need to continue working on lower the strikeouts as he advances. All indicators point to him probably starting the year in Class A+ Daytona but returning to Dayton to start the year isn’t out of the question.
Tyler Stephenson, C, 22
Highest 2018 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 45 walks against 98 strikeouts. Played in 109 games.
Most Worrisome Fact: Can he continue to avoid the injury bug? .250 batting average and a drop off in production in the last part of the season.
Alias(es): Ty Steve, Bat Flip, The Mountain of Kennesaw
Tyler Stephenson was the 11th overall pick by the Reds in the 2015 draft. He was lauded for his athleticism and power. While being a high school catcher he was considered to be a rather safe pick for multiple reasons. Scouts believed he had all the skills to stick behind the plate and for him to be able to hit against more advanced pitching. Not just hit but hit for serious power. Injury issues have shorted most of his early seasons but in 2018 he found himself healthy for probably the first time for an entire professional season. All he did is show why the Reds drafted him #11 overall and has bumped up the prospect lists as a result.
Stephenson hit .250/.338/.392, and he has the potential to hit for even more power. What scouts like about Stephenson is his ability to control the strike zone even though he’ll probably never be a great contact hitter, and he’s shown that ability the past two seasons. He is 6’4 and gives off a bit of a Matt Wieters vibe due to body type which will probably cause him some contact and strikeout issues. Stephenson has a cannon of an arm and has been growing quite well behind the dish. There’s been zero talk of moving him away from the catcher position, and he should start the season at AA. A reasonable timeline is for to be getting a shot as a starting catcher in 2020/2021.
Shed Long, 23, 2B
Highest 2018 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 57 walks against 123 strikeouts in 522 plate appearances. .261/.353/.412 line.
Most Worrisome Fact: Can he stick at 2B? He was a bit streaky during the season with a slight drop in power
Alias(es): Shed My Pants, Tool Shed, Shedric Von Long In The Drawers
Shed Long has been a guy that’s been hanging around for a while, and it’s funny because he’s the oldest guy on the list so far. He was drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft as a catcher. The catcher thing didn’t work out, obviously, but he’s athletic enough to play 2B. Ever since becoming a pro Shed has shown the ability to get on base while providing some very nice pop from a middle infielder position. He’s also good for 15-25 steals a year it seems. The one weakness that has always followed Long was if he has the glove to stick at 2B because otherwise he’d probably have to become a corner outfielder. His bat doesn’t play as well there.
Long had a relatively strong 2018 even if it was sort of underwhelming based on previous seasons. He also represented the Reds in the Arizona Fall League where he had a .644 OPS because he showed pretty much no power but had a OBP of .333. I’m also for some reason thinking that Shed had missed a small amount of time with an injury? Possibly a wrist injury? I can’t bring myself to do the research on it. Either way, Shed Long is a pretty dang good prospect to have kicking around in the Reds system at this point, and for a lot of teams he’d be in their top five. I’d expect him to start in AAA.
Jose Siri, 23, OF
Highest 2018 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .245 ISO and a 8.3% walk rate in 283 AA at bats. He’s the best CF in the entire Cincinnati Reds system.
Most Worrisome Fact: 32.2% K rate in AA.
Alias(es): No Way Jose, R U Sirious?, Maple Siriup
Someone asked for Jose Siri in the comments, and while I don’t think he should really be this high, I’ll abide. I also don’t care that much. Siri is probably the most volatile prospect in the Reds system. He’s arguably a Top 10 prospect, but there are also damn good arguments that he’s not a Top 20 prospect. It all depends on your feel and how you value these players in rankings. The one thing that Siri apologists can argue is that he has freakish potential. He’s a true five tool player and the best defensive outfielder (maybe outside of Mike Siani) in the entire system. With everything he can do on defense there are real good arguments he’s gold glove caliber and potentially better than Billy Hamilton was. As with the argument for Billy, can Siri hit Major League pitching?
The answer? I don’t know. Can he? He’s gonna have to show a bunch more. Siri struggles mightily with putting the bat on the ball, as his career strikeout numbers have shown us. When he does make contact, he hits the ball hard and his wheels help get him on base. In 2018, Siri did increase his walk rates to career highs. However, his strikeout numbers rose as well. He was considered an above average hitter in AA based on wRC+ but that is giving him a heavy bump up due to his walk rate and power. His batting average was low and his strikeouts were at a rate that it’s unrealistic to expect him to ever hit pitching at the top level.
Regardless, Siri is an exciting player to follow and watch. He was arguably the best player for Dayton in 2017 and there were high expectations for 2018. Sadly, he ran into a wall in the Reds first Spring Training game and seriously messed up his thumb and didn’t make it back until late May. He’s also been around for a while so if he’s going to make moves with the Reds, and potentially become the CF of the future, he’s gonna have to be serious in 2019 about maturing his approach at the plate.
Who is the #6 prospect?
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Tyler Stephenson, C
Shed Long, 2B
Jose Siri, OF