In grand style, much like last night’s Democrat sweep of the Georgia Senate seats to take a thin Senate majority, Tyler Stephenson secured an election by 12 votes (7% total) making him your #1 prospect! Tyler Stephenson looks poised to take over a big share of catching duties at the major league level since the release of Curt Casali and you obviously liked what you saw. I also believe this is Stephenson’s first #1 ranking, so congratulations to the young man.
On to #2! Democracy, it’s such a beautiful thing.
Jose Garcia, SS, 22
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site, then 68 PAs in MLB.
What excites you: Sure hands and a cannon for an arm that should make him a very good defensive shortstop, combined with loud power for his position.
What scares you: Pitch recognition skills need to improve significantly before his next extended run at the majors.
Garcia got his first shot at MLB pitching in 2020, just three years after signing with the Reds as a 17-year-old out of Cuba, and was proportionately exposed. He struck out 26 times and walked just once while collecting just 13 hits — all singles — in 68 plate appearances. That makes a good deal of sense when considering the fact that he’d never previously played above Advanced-A ball, and would have never dreamed of cracking the MLB roster in an organization with any kind of shortstop depth.
Hopefully, this year will allow him the opportunity to go back to refining his skills in the minors, where he should be able to better show off his considerable talent. His defensive tools are lauded across the board, from his hands to his instincts to his big arm. Those skills raise his floor before we even get to his bat, which may turn out to be an asset itself. He’s likely to battle strikeout issues throughout his career, but his substantial pop should still help him provide value with the stick. If that happens, he could be one of the better shortstops in the league for years to come.
Nick Lodolo, LHP, 22
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site
What excites you: Smooth, clean delivery and good command of three different pitches allow for high probability he sticks as a starter.
What scares you: Stuff is a bit boring for a former No. 6 overall pick.
Lodolo was selected sixth overall out of TCU in the 2019 draft, and threw 18.1 innings in pro games before getting shut down for the year. To his credit, it’s difficult to imagine how he could have impressed more in that short time — he struck out 30 batters and walked none(!) while allowing just five runs. The Reds toyed with him in spring training and in their summer camp, even allowing him to start a scrimmage against Detroit, but never called him to the big leagues during the regular season.
Prospect reports of Lodolo won’t try to persuade you into thinking he’s an ace, but they can be inspiring nonetheless. Scouts love both his frame and his mechanics, which they believe will help fast-track him to a rotation job he’s likely to keep for a long time. The southpaw’s stuff is a bit vanilla, but far from poor — his fastball velocity stays in the 90s, and his curveball and changeup have drawn plenty of positive reviews. Lodolo isn’t necessarily the kind of star one hopes to find near the top of the draft, but if you’re into value generated via quality innings delivered in bulk, this is very much your guy.
Hunter Greene, RHP, 21
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site.
What excites you: Fastball velocity that peaks well above 100 mph, anecdotal reports of breaking ball development, exceptional makeup.
What scares you: Has only thrown 72.1 innings in 3.5 years since being drafted.
Since Lee Jenkins’ glossy profile of Hunter Greene ran in Sports Illustrated in April 2017, his bright star has kept getting dimmer. He was a two-way prospect whose abilities as a shortstop and pitcher were both said to be worth first round picks, but Cincinnati quickly squashed his position player side after selecting him with the second overall pick. Then he was given the chance to throw in full-season A-ball in Dayton, only to give up 19 runs over his first 17 innings, spanning seven starts. Shortly after he began to deliver much better results, he was shut down with an elbow injury. That injury in 2018 turned into Tommy John surgery at the start of 2019, leading to Greene going the last two full seasons without throwing a pitch during a live game.
If there’s anyone who could withstand that many setbacks and still be a highly-regarded prospect, though, it’s Greene. He reportedly has a much different delivery post-injury, and Reds Director of Pitching Kyle Boddy has said Greene’s slider has advanced far beyond the average grades it received when he was still a prep. Evaluation of Greene’s outstanding makeup hasn’t changed much since that SI profile either. There’s a heightened risk of him needing to throw out of the bullpen, but Greene still carries frontline starter potential.
Jonathan India, 3B, 24
Where he spent 2020: Alternate site.
What excites you: Solid minor league track record with the bat that includes .259/.365/.402 line in pitcher-friendly leagues in 2019.
What scares you: Has yet to replicate draft year power in the pros, and lacks a convincing long-term defensive home.
Man, it would have been great to see India get a full minor league season in 2020. He’s been a well-above-average stick ever since getting drafted fifth overall in 2018, succeeding across three levels and following that up with another strong year across Advanced-A and Double-A in 2019. He’s responded to aggressive assignments well, but one glaring weakness still sticks out: He’s homered just 17 times in 165 career games. Considering how much of a factor his raw power was in his draft stock two years ago, that number is a disappointing one, and the jury is very much out on whether it will ever look much better than that.
Defensively, India seems to be mostly regarded as a solid enough defensive infielder, though he isn’t a shortstop and isn’t likely to be plus with the glove. He’s athletic enough to gain positional versatility, but the further he moves down the defensive spectrum, the more pressure there will be for his bat to excel. There are a lot of good traits here, but India isn’t exactly young as far as prospects go, and it’s time for us to see him put everything together.
Austin Hendrick, OF, 19
Where he spent 2020: High school, then instructional league.
What excites you: Outlandish raw power from the left side, good outfield arm.
What scares you: Swing-and-miss troubles hang a flashing red “boom or bust” sign on him.
The Reds used the 12th overall pick in 2020 on Hendrick, a 19-year-old high school prospect who has explosive raw power from the left side and possesses an arm suitable for right field. The Jay Bruce comparisons write themselves. Hendrick’s weaknesses are no small thing — big whiff risk, uncertain pitch recognition skills, fringey foot speed that will likely limit him to a corner spot defensively — and could certainly prevent him from carving out much of a big league career. The ceiling his power gives him, however, is quite high. He’ll be a fun follow wherever his first pro ABs start happening.
Who is your #2 prospect?
This poll is closed
Jose Garcia, SS
Nick Lodolo, LHP
Hunter Greene, RHP
Jonathan India, 3B
Austin Hendrick, OF