Righty James Marinan edged out Jose Israel Garcia to land at #18 in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings, the second straight former Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand to show up. The 6’5” righty certainly has plenty of developing yet to do, but the 20 year old former 3rd round pick certainly has the tools to develop into a legitimate big league pitcher, and a solid 2019 season could see him rise quickly in the rankings.
On to spot #19...
Jose Israel Garcia, 20, SS/2B
Highest 2018 Level: A (Dayton)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Great arm and solid defender.
Most Worrisome Fact: 19 walks against 112 strikeouts last season.
Alias(es): Say It Ain’t Jose, Cherry Garcia, Holy Land
Jose Israel Garcia was signed out of Cuba in the summer of 2017 to a $5 million bonus. 2018 was our first chance to get a look at Garcia, as he did not play in a single game after signing with the Reds in 2017. Unfortunately for Garcia, things did not get off to a great start. He hit .202/.248/.274 in the first half of the season in low-A Dayton, but bounced back in the second half. He had an overall line of .245/.290/.344 in 2018.
His biggest strengths are his arm and his athleticism. He split time at shortstop and second but saw most of his time at short. Even though he is tall at 6’3”, all reports say that he defended his position well. His biggest issues are his power and plate discipline. While he had 22 doubles on the season in 2018, he only knocked 6 dingers. The bigger issue was his plate discipline, as he struck out 112 times while only drawing 19 walks. That will obviously have to improve if he wants to continue to advance.
Ibandel Isabel, 23, 1B/LF
Highest 2018 Level: A+ (Daytona)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 36 HR in 443 PA
Most Worrisome Fact: 161 K vs. 38 walks
Alias(es): Princess Isabel, Aye-Aye, BOOM
Ibandel Isabel was the freakish surprise of the 2018 season. Not only was he traded by the Dodgers, like pretty much everyone else on this list, but he was traded for one of the most volatile relievers in probably all of professional sports, Ariel Hernandez. The hilarious thing is that Ibandel Isabel might be one of the most volatile hitters in all of minor league baseball. Like Hernandez only striking batters out and walking everyone and their mother, Isabel either hits dingers real far or knocks you over with the wind of his whiffs. He’s really that simple. Dude just hits the ball hard and strikeouts. He doesn’t really have a spot on the field which limits his value, and he doesn’t take a lot of walks. But, that power, hell yeah.
Ibandel Isabel also took home the Reds Minor League Player of the Year Award. This guy is just freakish. He hit 35 home runs and struck out 36.3% of the time. I’m also going to pop some stats I just read from Doug Gray and redsminorleagues.com. Isabel hit more home runs of 400+ feet (21) than any other Reds prospect had total home runs. He also went a two month stretch where he didn’t hit a double, or any extra base hit, other than a home run. That’s like some Adam Dunn territory without the walks.
It’s really difficult to see Ibandel Isabel making it with his skill set but that power is super fun. There was a point where you just expected him to hit home runs. It was just normal. That’s fun and baseball is supposed to be fun.
Lyon Richardson, 19, RHP
Highest 2018 Level: Rookie League (Greeneville)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Good athlete, fastball that touches 98 mph
Most Worrisome Fact: 7.14 ERA in 29.0 IP; 5.0 BB/9
Alias(es): Iron Lyon Zion, Interpol
Remember when the Cincinnati Reds drafted Nick Senzel, managed to sign him for a bit under the recommended slot value, and rolled those savings into an over-slot contract for their next pick, Taylor Trammell? Well, they pulled a similar move just last summer with Jonathan India in the 1st round and Lyon Richardson in the 2nd round, inking the latter to sign the projectable high school righty from Florida.
So far, the early results haven’t been great. Richardson struggled in his 11 starts in Greeneville, his 7.14 ERA and 1.828 WHIP indicative of just how hittable his stuff was. On top of that, he issued 16 walks in just 29 IP - and had 6 wild pitches - suggesting that there’s still a lot he needs to be able to harness to improve.
As Doug Gray noted in his 2018 season recap, scouts noticed that Richardson and his stuff often looked ‘tired’ on the mound, and while he’d been able to hit 98 mph in his prep days, he was working only in the low 90s for much of his time in Greeneville. Hopefully, that’s just an example of a kid making a transition to pro ball for the first time, and a fresh start in 2019 will have his best stuff return. That paired with a curveball that looks like hit could be a pitch he can lean on should help make his second season go much, much smoother than his first. There’s a ton of upside here, but we’ve certainly not yet seen it play out, albeit in very, very limited action.
Who is the Reds #19 prospect?
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Jose Israel Garcia