Good for him! Hopefully, he can get some good experience this year and show us a little something.
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.
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.
Riley O’Brien, 25, RHP
Where he spent 2020: Alternate Site
What excites you: Good, hard fastball and a good slider.
What concerns you: Struggles with control.
Riley O’Brien was traded for in the 2020 season when the Reds finally gave up on Cody Reed. O’Brien is an interesting case that has a decent shot to make the Reds bullpen maybe this year but at least for the 2022 season. His scouting grades for his pitches are pretty good, with MLB.com giving him a 60 grade for his fastball and a 55 for his slider. His fastball ramps up into the high 90’s but usually sits the mid range. His slider has good break, a high spin rate on his pitches, and has matured quite a lot since he was drafted.
O’Brien was drafted from a NAIA school in the 8th round in 2017 and he’s only excelled since then. His numbers in the minors have been pretty good, even with the wildness, with a career ERA that sits under 4.00. His 2019 was a big one for him and he’s been starting most of his career. In that year, it also seems the Rays kind of took the kids gloves off allowing him to pitch over 100 innings. I can see the Reds giving him a chance to start but with his big frame, big fastball, and age his best shot at a major league career comes from the bullpen.
Joel Kuhnel, 26, RHP
Where he spent 2020: Cincytown
What excites you: Dude throws super hard.
What concerns you: He’s gotten beat around in the big leagues.
Joel Kuhnel is a monster of a man, coming in at 6’5 and tipping the scales at near 300 pounds. He uses all that potential energy to sling fastballs towards the plate at 100+ MPH hour. That part is really cool, and honestly Kuhnel has been kind of a fan favorite at Red Reporter for a couple years now because he’s fun. The dude has a legit 70 grade fastball and a slider that plays. His scouting grade for his control isn’t terrible, but he has shown some struggles with his command. While he doesn’t walk a ton of guys, it’s pretty likely he doesn’t always put the ball where he wants.
Due to some of these concerns, Kuhnel, has had some serious struggles when he’s been with the big league club. Mostly, he tries to live and die with that fastball and MLB hitters turn it around about as fast as he brings it in there. If he could find a little better command, and rely more his secondary offerings, Kuhnel has closer like potential. However, right now he’s relegated to AAAA/middle relief status, but he’s still fun.
Who is your #16 prospect?
This poll is closed
Jackson Miller, C
TJ Friedl, OF
Riley O’Brien, RHP
Joel Kuhnel, RHP