When it comes to finding the the answer at a particular interest group sometimes it’s best to throw just throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks. You never know what prospect will pan out. Ivan Johnson is an interesting, and talented prospect the Reds were able to swipe in the 2019 draft. However, they were probably hoping to get to see more from him at this point in his career, but 2020 was not accommodating. Johnson is a little older than some of his peers and the development clock is already against him. Hopefully, for him and the Reds, he can make some noise this year.
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.
TJ Friedl, 25, OF
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site
What excites you: Good speed, good defense, will take a walk
What concerns you: Lack of hit tool and iffy power.
It feels that we have grown old with TJ Friedl. I expected him to be like 30 years old. If you remember he was the product of some funky business back in 2016 when every team literally did not know he was draft eligible, and it sounds like he didn’t either, and the Reds were able to sign him as a FA after the draft because they had the most cash sitting around. At the time, he was considered to be 2nd round potential. Pretty neat! Since then Friedl has slowly been progressing through the minor league system, making all the way to AA as a 22 year old and sporting some pretty nifty numbers along the way. In 2019, though, his season was limited because he had an extra bone in his ankle that he broke? Something like that. Mutant.
Friedl’s scouted ceiling for a while now has been as a fourth outfielder. He’s left handed which gives him advantage off the bench, can run, and play centerfield. While the Reds left him unprotected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft, there is still some potential there for him to help the big league club in the future. The question will always be if he can hit enough to stick around. He does have some gap power but he will never be a dinger threat.
Who is your #14 prospect?
This poll is closed
Jackson Miller, C
Jacob Heatherly, LHP
Vladimir Guttierez, RHP
TJ Friedl, OF