Shed Long has owned the Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby previously in his career, even taking home the title when swinging with just one good arm. That, his rather advanced walk rate, his ability to swipe bags, and his solid pop for a guy listed at just 5’8” has managed to keep him among the Reds top prospects for the last few years.
He destroyed Florida State League pitching to begin the 2017 season, and while he has struggled to repeat that in his AA outings to date - a .253/.345/.400 line in 682 PA across two seasons - there’s still enough promise in his hitting profile for him to take down the #8 spot in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings.
As for #9, well...
Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, 23
Highest 2018 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 3.82 K/BB ratio, 8.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Most Worrisome Fact: 4.35 ERA in 147 innings and was pretty hittable
Alias(es): Vlad Goots, Gootius Maximus, The Count
Vladimir Gutierrez was an international signee ($4.75 M bonus) from the 2016 class where the Reds paid a whole bunch of money to some base ballers. I don’t want to go in great detail on those signings because they’re super controversial but Vladimir Gutierrez was not controversial. He is a small guy (6’0, 190lbs) and profiled much like Raisel Iglesias when he was signed. Gutierrez is also considered to be one of the more polished pitchers in the Reds system, and his name has been brought up briefly in trade rumors.
Gutierrez has had a rather up and down professional career so far. Scouts laud him for his control and breaking pitches. His fastball isn’t super overpowering (low to mid 90’s, but has touched as high as 98) but it has decent movement and he can control the pitch. The problem with it so far is that it gets hit well. He also has a curveball that grades out at 60 and a change up at 50. If you go based on his peripherals Gutierrez looks really good and some of his blips are probably just maturation and feel. There has also been some concerns about his endurance at the ends of games and near the end of the season. He did pitch 147 innings in 2018, and as long as he can limit the real bad games the sky is the limit for this kid. His start to the 2018 season was about as bad as it could get with an ERA of 5+ in April and 7+ in May, but he settled down well in the Summer months. I think there’s a real good shot that he starts the year in AAA.
TJ Friedl, OF, 23
Highest 2018 Level: AA (Pensacola)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .381 OBP over 570 plate appearances in A+ and AA
Most Worrisome Fact: .100 ISO
Alias(es): TJ Of The Hill Friedl, Frield Day, You Got A Friedl In Me
At this point, I think everyone is aware that TJ Friedl came to the Reds as a undrafted Free Agent after some weird mix up in the 2016 draft. Basically, he was playing in an All-Star circuit, didn’t have an agent, and no one knew he was eligible to be drafted. Once it was figured out he was eligible to be drafted, the Reds threw the largest amount of money at him to sign him. I think it was something like $700,000 or so but don’t quote me on that. It’s also not like the Reds were throwing money around. They were the only team that could offered that much because of rules.
Regardless, the only thing Friedl has done since signing with the Reds is get on base, and he definitely did that in 2018. Friedl was putting up a super impressive season with Daytona (.405 OBP, .817 OPS) before being promoted to Pensacola and holding his own (.359 OBP, .719 OPS). Scouts like Friedl because of his dependability and because he’s a bit scrappy. He plays a good center field, and can reliably play all over the outfield, and as long as he gets on base he’ll find himself in the big leagues sooner rather than later. There could be a bit of controversy putting him on the voter list so early because he does lack that big prospect ceiling. But, he’s also one of those players that shows reliable skills that could make him a starter or at least a 4th outfielder type. Honestly, he’s probably one of my favorite prospects in the system so he’s getting a favoritism boost.
Mike Siani, 19, OF
Highest 2018 Level: Rookie (Greeneville)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .288/.351/.386 slash line over 205 plate appearances. He’s like really good at playing the defense.
Most Worrisome Fact: .98 ISO and he didn’t pick up many steals.
Alias(es): Mike Trout Siani, Mike Salami, Say It Ain’t Siani
When picking the new guy to put on the list I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t pick the young guy that’s in lower level rookie ball. Just don’t do it.” Well, I did it and I’m not ashamed. I’m gonna dream big on this kid because he’s got some killer tools in his arsenal. Mike Siani was considered a high potential draft pick that should have went earlier than the 4th round but a lot of teams figured he’d go to college. However, the Reds threw some big money at him ($2,000,000) which almost no youngster turns down. It’s real fun to see what the Reds do with their draft bonus pool money. They’ve been pretty creative.
What is exciting about Siani is that Mike Trout is his favorite player so of course he’s going to turn into Mike Trout. Definitely. Siani is lauded for being one of the best defensive center fielders in not only last year’s draft but probably in all of minor league baseball at any level. He’s got legit, plus skills across the board sporting great range, an amazing arm (90+ MPH pitcher in high school), and a nifty glove. Scouts believe that he’ll also probably keep his above average speed. The only knock on him is that scouts were mixed on how well he would hit. He’s not a real big guy right now, but there is some belief he could put on twenty pounds or so without losing a step.
In 2018, he was promoted to hit against college aged hitters and fared pretty well (see the Eye-Poppingest Facts). He didn’t hit for really any power but showed a mature approach at the plate that I don’t think many expected. Obviously, his talents are in the field but if he can continue to hit (and find some power) he’s going to be a top prospect in no time. The smart bet would be that he starts the year in instructional league and then starts the year in Billings. However, I’d be real interested to see if the Reds are more aggressive and just let him sink or swim in Dayton. They did the same thing pretty much with Taylor Trammell and that worked out pretty good.
Who is the Reds #9 prospect?
This poll is closed