Hooray for Riley. Another right-hander joins the mix.
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.
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.
Ryan Hendrix, 26, RHP
Where he spent 2020: Alternate Site
What excites you: Solid velocity and good swing miss ability with offspeed pitches.
What concerns you: Missed 3 months in 2019 with elbow injury. Walked 3.7 batters per 9 innings in 2019.
Ryan Hendrix was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Texas A & M University. Since joining the Reds’ farm system, he has had a pretty solid career. He’s put up a 2.55 ERA in his 4 seasons, while striking out 12.2 batters per 9 innings. His velocity sits at 93-96 MPH and he has an overpowering curveball. Where he does well with making batters swing and miss, he struggles with his command and walking batters. He has averaged 4.0 walks per 9 innings in his career, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Hendrix spent his 2019 season in Double-A Chattanooga but missed about 3 months because of an elbow strain. When he did pitch, he put up pretty solid numbers, holding opposing batters to a .172/.255.218 slash line on the year. He projects as a late-inning bullpen option.
Who is your #17 prospect?
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