Christian Roa has yet to throw a pitch for the Cincinnati Reds, well in an actual game, but the high ceiling righty from Texas A&M looks to make noise and quickly rise up the ranks on his quest to become a MLB pitcher.
Ivan Johnson, SS/2B, 22
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site/instructs
What excites you: His offense. Has a little power in the bat and showed a willingness to walk in his first stint.
What concerns you: His hit tool a bit and ability to stick at SS, though scouts seem to think he’ll stick there.
Here we go with another guy the Reds drafted in that 2019 draft, which seems so far to be one that scouts liked. Ivan Johnson was taken with a 4th round pick out of Junior College after initially plying his trade at the University of Georgia. In his first stint in pro ball, he did walk at a 8.5% clip and had a .160 ISO but was also playing against some more inferior competition at Greeneville while his draftmate, Tyler Callihan, got a late season promotion to Billings. There is a tiny bit of concern about his age, 22, and not having been advanced farther than that. COVID and 2020 did not help him prove doubters wrong there.
It will be interesting to see if the Reds will try to be a bit more aggressive with these kinds of guys to see what they’re made of with the new minor league structure and the fact that they just didn’t see much live pitching, outside of whatever happened in instructs, last year. For now, Johnson appears to be relatively high-floor type guy who has mostly shown what he is.
Jackson Miller, C, 19
Where he spent 2020: Instructs
What excites you: His well roundedness. He can hit a little and play the position
What concerns you: No real exciting tools. He’s just an average guy.
Jackson Miller was selected by the Reds in the limited 2020 draft right out of high school in the 2nd round as a competitive balance pick, making him the highest drafted catcher by the Reds since Tyler Stephenson, I believe. The Reds did their normal business, throwing some money at this kid to get him to not go to college, giving him a cool $1.29 million. Miller is rated as being a good athlete with good plate discipline. He’s not a power guy, but as a lefty, scouting reports glow about his ability to hit the ball back up the middle.
He reminds me a bit of the reports of Tucker Barnhart coming out of high school which is a very good thing. Miller still has some work to do behind the plate but his arm grades out very well and scouts say he has some real good pop time. Unless you’re looking for a big bat from behind the dish, which usually means some kind of college development, getting a guy like Jackson in your farm system has to feel like a win for Cincinnati.
Jacob Heatherly, LHP, 22
Where he spent 2020: Instructs
What excites you: Good velocity, can generate swings and misses with curveball and slider.
What concerns you: Has struggled with command and a high walk rate in the minors.
The Reds selected Jacob Heatherly out of Cullman (AL) High School in the 3rd round of the 2017 amateur draft. He has shown pretty good velocity in his time in the Reds’ system, as he has been able to get his fastball up to 95 MPH after throwing in the low 90s in high school. His curveball and slider are also good swing and miss pitches when he is on.
After struggling in Greeneville in 2018, he started the 2019 season off in Dayton (low-A). He only made 4 starts in that season and put up a 8.31 ERA with a BB/9 of 6.23 in the process. A shoulder injury ended his season early, so that was the last we have seen of Heatherly in the last two seasons. He did, however, show his ability to strike out batters, as he put up a 11.4 and 10.4 SO/9 in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully he was able to improve his command in 2020 and can turn his young career around.
Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, 25
Where he spent 2020: Alternate Site
What excites you: His secondary stuff is legit, grading out well above average. Decent velocity.
What concerns you: Has struggled with command later in his career and gets clobbered when he misses spots.
Vladimir Gutierrez has been in the Reds system since the wayback days. He’s old. However, he’s still a rather exciting prospect if he can ever figure it all out. Early in his career, he was compared to Raisel Iglesias because of his country of origin (Cuba), his slight frame, and his wicked secondary offerings. The difference between the two is that Raisel just had a better fastball, better control, and his pitches were just better overall. Not to mention more experience in those Cuban leagues. Gutierrez came to American, after getting a sweet six figure bonus, to hopefully run up the farm system ranks on his way to Cincytown. Regretfully, he has had some growing pains along the way.
In 2020, his first stint in AAA, Gutierrez got crushed. His peripheral stats were actually still kind of good (7.69 K/9, 3.15 BB/9) but his HR/9 almost doubled his career average to a 1.71. That is unsustainable but when you look at that ERA of 6.00+ you can start see where the improvements can be made. Limit some of the walks, don’t give up so many dingers, and he could find himself in the rotation in 2021.
Who is the Reds #13 Prospect?
This poll is closed
Ivan Johnson, SS/2B
Jackson Miller, C
Jacob Heatherly, LHP
Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP