I’m a little surprised at this result, to be honest, but it’s hard to argue that Stephenson isn’t worthy of this sort of recognition. He takes it with over 60% of the vote, a complete runaway. He’s shown a steady climb in this space over the last few seasons, and finished #6 in these rankings last year.
There are some definite question marks coming into the season for him, with his power numbers taking a step back last year, but there’s no understating his importance to the future of the Reds. The Reds made the decision not to bring in a catching upgrade on a multi-year deal this offseason to bridge the gap between the current crop and Stephenson, and that decision seems to imply that Tyler’s time may be coming sooner rather than later. It’ll be fun to see what happens this year when he really gets tested assuming he spends some time at AAA, and a strong performance there could force his way onto the major league scene in 2020.
Still plenty of talent up there, and Aaron didn’t tell me to add another player, so you’re getting to pick between the same three from yesterday.
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.
Tony Santillan, 22, RHP
Highest 2018 Level: AA Chattanooga
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 8.1 K/9, 0.7 HR/9 in 102.1 IP
Most Worrisome Fact: Control: 4.7 BB/9 Hittable: 9.7 H/9 WHIP: 1.603
Alias(es): Santigold, Tony The Tiger, Sizzillan
This is where the talent of the farm system starts to grow some question marks while staying very interesting. Tony Santillan is one of those pitchers that has all kinds of potential. He throws hard (sitting 93-97 with good movement), and has arguably pretty decent off speed pitches. But, control has been a struggle most of his career. He’s seemed to dial it down a bit to try and get it over the plate. That worked for him 2018 where he had ERAs of 2.70 in Daytona and 3.61 in Pensacola. Those came with much lower walk rates that helped keep runners off the bases even if it was coupled with lower strikeout rates. Basically, he was learning to be a better pitcher. This got his K/BB ratios above three which is always really good to see. It also made him much more hitable, but he did a good job limiting that damage.
Obviously, his 2019 wasn’t one to write home about. His WHIP was atrocious and won’t keep him around for long if he can’t figure that out. He was able to limit the damage a little bit. He didn’t give up a ton of deep balls and kept his ERA below 5.00. Those are crappy silver linings, I know. However, based on his 2019 season, you’ll likely see a repeat in AA to see if he did figure it out. He also didn’t have the healthiest of seasons last year, which is evident in his numbers and innings pitched. But, like I said, he’s still an exciting pitcher who was cracking Top 100 lists just last year. He’s slid a great deal but is only 22, and I see no reason to sour on him yet.
Jose Israel Garcia, 21, SS
Highest 2018 Level: A+ Daytona
Eye-Poppingest Fact: .280/.343/.436 slash line in 452 plate appearances in Daytona. 37 doubles, 1 triple, and 8 dingers.
Most Worrisome Fact: Didn’t fare as well in the Arizona Fall League
Alias(es): Cherry Garcia, Hip Hip Jose, No Way Jose
Jose Garcia became a member of the Reds organization in 2017 when he defected from Cuba. At the time it was a wonder if he was a real person or not because really there was a just a report of his signing. There was very little information about the guy other than that. We didn’t know if he was good. We didn’t know if was near major league ready. We just knew he’d probably get a start in the minors. In the end, we found out the Garcia was a slick fielding short stop that would probably take a decent amount of time before he would be ready for big league ball. That’s not a bad thing, but it was a struggle to hear that after the blow up of the signing of Alfredo Rodriguez.
2018 wasn’t a great year for Garcia, but 2019 surely was. In 2018, Garcia was getting his first taste of American professional ball and struggled with the learning curve. He was also probably really rusty because he hadn’t played in a while. In 2019, Garcia showed an ability to get some hits, get on base a little, while also hitting for some decent gap power. He had a higher ISO than Tyler Stephenson if that means anything. He didn’t have quite the same performance in the Arizona Fall League but that’s fine. Garcia is a rangy kind of kid with a good arm and everyone is hoping that his bat follows. It’s also really nice to see a middle infielder have a good season. I have heard some rumblings that with a good season the Reds could speed up his path to the bigs and he could rocket prospect lists. He’s a scout’s dream but needs to figure it all out.
Who is the Reds’ #4 prospect?
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