Hey there, Reds fans. New Year, new you, right? Well, maybe for a week. That’s about how long I get excited about the Community Prospect Rankings too. However, right now the sun is going to rise on a new work week, or a new work year, and you need something to distract you. We all need something to distract us from the mindless slog of employment. Why not argue about something as useless as where a prospect should rank on an arbitrary list? Yeah, you know you wanna.
So, let’s get down to it. After a few years of graduations, trades, international signings, and drafts the Reds have themselves a rather weird farm system. It has some exciting high end talent, guys that have been toiling away for years with only a little to show for it, some got hurt, some are just not great, the farm sports a weird depth in the ranks of #5 to #15 and then it kind of just drops off. But, that latter issue is like two weeks away, thank Jeebus. From the top prospect there are really only three selections, in my mind, so that’s what you get. Vote away, enjoy your day, and here’s to a better 2020 than 2019. Maybe this ranking will get completely destroyed because Dick Williams is finally serious? Please, be serious. Please.
Hunter Greene, 20, RHP
Highest 2018 Level: Didn’t play. Pitched in Single A Dayton in 2018
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 103 MPH fastball while being a starter. He’s tall and lanky. 11.7 K/9 in 2018
Most Worrisome Fact: His elbow exploded in 2019 Spring Training. His off speed stuff isn’t fantastic.
Alias(es): John Deere Greene, Hunter and Gatherer, Two Way
Taylor Trammell would likely be topping this list but Trevor Bauer happened. So, let’s move to the next guy. Hunter Greene is someone everyone knows. He’s someone that everyone is excited about. He’s also the one prospect everyone is terrified of what could be because we’re all pessimists. When you look at the list of awesome there is no reason for Hunter Greene to not be one of the top prospects in all of baseball and definitely for the Reds. He can hit 100+ with his fastball. He has above average control. He’s 6’4, 215 lbs and could get bigger and stronger. He’s a young 20 years old. He can also swing the bat a bit, but the Reds plan on him never doing that except for when he pitches. Alas, there is always a but..
His UCL shredded in 2019 during Spring Training and he needed Tommy John surgery. This was coming from a 2018 where he was shut down due to another UCL issue they believed was rehabbed. It’s believed his UCL was fully healed and tearing it was just random but who knows? That all really sucked and currently sucks. It sucks because we probably have to wait a bit longer to see Greene and he hasn’t pitched much outside of 2018. He sat out most of his Senior year before being drafted and signing a huge contract with the Reds. He also doesn’t have the greatest off speed stuff. He relies heavily on that fastball, which obviously makes sense, but it’s a straight fastball with almost no movement. Luckily, he’s an exceptional athlete, an apparent excellent young man, and very coachable.
But, with all the good and all the bad Hunter Greene is still a tantalizing prospect that Reds fans will patiently wait on or could be a headliner to bring in some MLB ready talent for what looks to be a win now franchise. If he pitches this year he’ll likely start the year in Dayton outside of games in Arizona to loosen up.
Jonathan India, INF, 23
Highest 2018 Level: AA Chattanooga
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 15.2% BB% and 17.9% K% in 145 PA in AA. Decent career power.
Most Worrisome Fact: Laid and egg in the AZL, power evaporated in AA, and his future position is murky.
Alias(es): Bollywood, Johnny Baseball, The Delhi Dinger
Jonathan India was drafted 5th overall by the Reds in the 2018 Amateur Draft. So, he’s automatically going to be a top prospect. That’s how this works, duh. But, since becoming a Cincinnati Reds, India, has been nothing but stable and reliable in the minors. He’s walked a decent amount (>10%) and hit for decent power (ISO > .150) and played mostly third base. There have been some small trials at short stop, I believe, but those have mostly been scrapped due better defenders at the position. Right now third looks like India’s position, which blocks him, but he could also likely handle second. Consider the levels and leagues that he’s hit in he’s fared very well, but we expect that from a guy drafted where he was.
The one thing that India has going for him is the improvements he’s made in plate discipline. With each level, he’s increased his walk rate and decreased his strikeout rate. That’s good. I mean his .414 OBP in AA is outstanding. But, it also coincided with a drastic drop in his ISO by about fifty points. He also hit .133/.254/.333 in 71 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League though that was likely pretty unlucky. A knock against him from scouts is his ability to make contact going forward. I would expect to see him get another year in AA and hopefully with a mid season promotion to AAA.
Nick Lodolo, 21, LHP
Highest 2018 Level: A Dayton
Eye-Poppingest Fact: Didn’t walk a guy in 18 professional innings. 14.7 K/9 in rookie league and Single A.
Most Worrisome Fact: He got hit around a bit in Billings. He’s super exciting?
Alias(es): Stretch, Mr. Fantastic, LOLolo
You want my honest opinion? I think Nick Lodolo is going to be sneaky good. He rates at above average in literally everything he does. Above average fastball (90-96 MPH with movement), above average curve that he’s switching to a slider, and a really nasty change up. All of those pitches rate at 50-55 on the scouting scale with potential for more. That’s nice. He’s also 6’6, 202 pounds, so there’s a reasonable belief he could add some muscle. There have been some comparisons to Chris Sale due to body type and arm motion though Lodolo doesn’t throw as hard. Lodolo was drafted out of TCU and taken by the Reds 7th overall in last season’s draft. While it was a bit controversial based on scouting reports it looks to be a really good pick and Lodolo fits in well in a farm system that is sorely lacking high floor pitching talent. Not to mention that he’s a lefty.
Lodolo didn’t throw much for the Reds in 2019. He totaled 18.1 innings. But, he didn’t walk a guy in those innings and also struck out thirty batters. That’s really good. Technically, he was even better in Dayton though he only got two starts before being shut down. In Billings he got hit a bit but was able to limit the damage. It’s understandable for him to dominate the lesser competition being one of the best college pitchers in 2019. He was just better than they were. But, with Lodolo’s ceiling, stuff, make up, and draft pedigree the Reds could be aggressive with him in 2020. It could also make him the headliner in a trade which would be exciting and sad. Expect Lodolo to start the year in Dayton, but I could also see the Reds being super aggressive and sending him to Daytona to let him sink or swim.
Who is the 2020 top prospect for the Reds?
This poll is closed
Hunter Greene, RHP
Jonathan India, INF
Nick Lodolo, LHP