For the longest time, the Cincinnati Reds held on to players like Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, etc. and only recently they decided to sell them off. And while the Chapman trade didn’t really help the rebuild effort as much as it could’ve (the Reds received no Top 30 Baseball America prospects for Chapman while the Yankees received Gleyber Torres for him from the Cubs), the Reds have received valuable assets for the other guys.
For Latos, they received Anthony DeSclafani; for Leake, they received Adam Duvall; for Frazier, they received Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler; for Bruce, they received Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell and for Cueto, they received Cody Reed and Brandon Finnegan. The rebuild may not be entirely over as Duvall, Disco, Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart may all be dealt soon, but they seem to be heading in the right direction. It may still be another year or two before they are competing for a Wild Card (they still share a division with the Cubs), but this club is slowly turning around.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Today I am continuing my list of prospect systems in the NL Central. I have already covered the Chicago Cubs. Later, I will delve into the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. To read more about my prospect coverage, click here.
Top Overall Talent: Nick Senzel
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Nick Senzel
When Senzel was drafted in last season’s draft, the general consensus was that he was the most polished prospect in the draft. At Tennessee, he displayed an acute understanding of the strike zone with an impressive swing to go along with it. He did not show much power, but scouts believe he will develop more as he generates more loft in his swing. He has a bit of speed, but he’s probably going to top out at 10-15 stolen bases in a given season.
Senzel is an incredibly mature prospect and could theoretically debut in 2017, but with Eugenio Suarez at third, I’m betting Senzel will be kept down to receive as much developmental time as possible. Expect him to debut in 2018 and immediately have a major impact in dynasty leagues.
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Jesse Winker
Winker has always been one of those guys who just posts incredibly solid, but not outstanding numbers. Last season was another one of those years where he failed to wow, yet still had a great year. Though he only hit three home runs, he reached base at a .397 clip and posted an even 59/59 walk/strikeout ratio. His elite plate discipline gives him a high floor and he could be a major fantasy asset if he develops more pop.
Though he is limited to a corner outfield position, Winker will debut in 2017. Left fielder Adam Duvall started to trail off towards the end of last season and he might end up platooning in left with Scott Schebler if Winker dazzles at Triple-A this season. If Winker can get over his wrist issues and find some of his lost power from seasons past, he could be a very productive dynasty outfielder.
Biggest Boom or Bust: Robert Stephenson
This was an easy choice to name Stephenson as the biggest boom or bust in the system. Ask anyone and they will tell you that few pitchers in baseball can match Stephenson’s stuff when he is at his best. That is why it is all the more disappointing that he has been unable to match the control with the stuff. His upper-90s fastball and borderline-elite curveball and changeup make up one of the most dominant repertoires out there, but he had to slow down his fastball in an effort to limit the walks. Despite decreasing his velocity, his walk rate stayed roughly the same.
Stephenson has so much potential and could be an ace if he ever finds consistent command, but right now it is looking like his future is in the bullpen. Owners considering owning him should understand that he is an incredibly risky asset at this point.
Biggest Sleeper: Aristedes Aquino
Aquino has always shown potential, but it wasn’t until last season that his potential started to look like developed tools. In 125 games at Advanced Class-A, Aquino bashed 23 home runs, swiped 11 bags and put together a .273/.327/.519 with a sub-20 percent strikeout rate. Scouts have for years clamored about his power given his size (6-foot-4, 190 lbs) and his great pull-side strength. They were extremely encouraged by his past season and many believe he now likely stands out as the Reds’ right fielder of the future. He will need to prove he can repeat if he is going to have a major impact on dynasty leagues, but the upside here may be too great to pass up and dynasty owners should consider him to be a great sleeper as few know about his upside just yet.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Aristedes Aquino
As previously discussed, Aquino’s size and recent display of power give him immense upside. Most scouts view him as a 60-grade+ power bat with the potential to blast 30 or more home runs at the big league level. Of course, he still likely has a season or two more under his belt before he is ready for the majors and he will need to prove this past season’s display of power is no fluke, but he certainly has the raw talent and size to produce copious amounts of home runs at the big league level.
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Jesse Winker
Winker’s incredibly balanced and well-rounded approach should allow him to easily maintain a .300+ average in the big leagues. it was a tough choice between Winker and Senzel for this spot, but Winker has proven over many seasons that he has arguably the most disciplined approach of any hitter in the minors (Winker has never struck out more than 18.5 percent at any MiLB level with at least 25 games played). And while he hasn’t flashed a whole lot of home run power to this point, Winker has been praised by scouts for his ability to spray the ball to all fields and should have no issue continuing that trend at the big league level. If you need a Reds’ prospect to hit over .300, you really can’t go wrong with either Winker or Senzel, but my money’s on Winker doing it first.
Best Burner on the Bases: Taylor Trammell
When Trammell fell to the Reds with the 35th overall pick, they were likely ecstatic. This is a high-upside, speedy center fielder who has the potential to be a five-tool player with only a few years of development. While scouts project he will hit for some power in the future, the clear top tool of his right now is his speed. Trammell is a serious burner as evidenced by the 24 successful stolen bases he swiped in 61 games at Rookie league after being drafted.
Trammell is not quite going to be the next Hamilton, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Sure he is not as fast (few players can even come close), but he is projected to be a far better hitter which should be a welcome sight to Reds fans who have watched Hamilton labor at the plate for the past three seasons. He still has a few years of development remaining, but he could be the leadoff, speedy center fielder who can actually hit that many Reds fans have waited for.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Cody Reed
Poor Cody Reed. The southpaw was called up after extraordinary numbers at both Double-A and Triple-A. He proceeded to make 10 starts, allowing four or more runs in all but two games. But dynasty owners should not be too nervous about him. He has a mid-90s fastball and one of the best left-handed sliders in the business that has served as his primary outpitch. His changeup needs some work, but it should be strong enough to allow him to remain a starter in the big leagues. Typically, Reed strikes out around 20 percent of opposing batters and that shouldn’t be too difficult of a number for him to reach in the big leagues. His floor is likely that of a bullpen arm or No. 4 or 5 starter while he certainly has the stuff to reach his ceiling of a No. 2 starter.
Best Command: Tyler Mahle
Mahle has not received nearly as much attention as he should. Prior to his time at Double-A, Mahle consistently posted walk rates below 6 percent with strikeout numbers above 20 percent. His ERA has usually been somewhere in the 2.50-3.50 area. Some people might attribute his success to the lower levels of pitching, but he has a solid prospect profile. The right-hander possesses a mid-90s fastball with heavy sinking action and pin-point command over all of his pitches. His secondary pitches right now are really what keep him from taking the step to becoming a top notch pitching prospect, but with his excellent command and groundball approach, he should be able to reach his ceiling of a No. 4, Mike Leake-esque starting pitcher.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Cincinnati Reds
1. Nick Senzel (3B, A)
A future .290+ hitter with 20/15 seasons, Senzel has an incredibly high floor and should be a big league starter by the starter of 2018.
2. Jesse Winker (OF, AAA)
Incredibly disciplined, line-drive oriented approach should help him reach base at incredibly high rates even if the power is slower to come.
3. Cody Reed (SP, MLB)
Reed struggled in his brief MLB taste last season, but his stuff and above-average command should allow him to succeed long-term in the big leagues.
4. Amir Garrett (SP, AAA)
It has taken a long time for Garrett to reach this point in his career path, but now that he’s finally on the verge of the majors, he could be a future No. 2 or 3 starter with strikeout upside.
5. Aristides Aquino (OF, A+)
Incredibly high-upside bat could be an explosive middle-of-the-order presence if he proves last season wasn’t a fluke.
6. Taylor Trammell (OF, ROK)
Trammell has probably the highest upside of anyone in this system and could be a future 20/30 threat if he develops the type of power scouts see in him.
7. Vladimir Gutierrez (SP/RP, NA)
Gutierrez is the latest Cuban pitcher signed by Cincinnati and as with Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias, he has the stuff to be a great starting pitcher. But the Reds have a track record of sending those guys to the bullpen to ensure they last for a long time.
8. Sal Romano (SP, AA)
Romano exploded onto the scene in 2016 at Double-A and likely has a future as a No. 3 or 4 starter thanks to his explosive upper-90s fastball and upper-80s slider.
9. Robert Stephenson (SP/RP, MLB)
Stephenson still possesses a potentially electric arsenal of pitches, but many are starting to see his future in the backend of a bullpen rather than the frontend of a rotation.
10. T.J. Friedl (OF, ROK)
Friedl has 70-grade speed and a swing that generates a lot of contact. He could be a future leadoff hitter if he starts to drive the ball a bit more and slightly improves his plate discipline.
This farm system is almost entirely composed of pitchers and outfielders. Between Garrett, Reed and Romano, they have three eventual starting pitchers in their rotation and their bullpen could be dynamite with electric arms like Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Gutierrez and Stephenson. They soon will have a crowded outfield as well, but my guess is the future will look something like Winker in left, Trammell in center and Aquino in right with Duvall, Schebler and Hamilton all likely being traded away before the next contending Reds team.
This system, though not littered with elite talent, is very deep. Dynasty owners looking for deeper league keepers might see valuable catching prospects like Chris Okey and Tyler Stephenson, other pitchers like Keury Mella, Nick Travieso and Mahle and some decent bats like outfielder Phillip Ervin and shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. In deeper dynasty leagues, they may certainly have some value as might some other names not listed in here. This is definitely a system to keep an eye on moving forward.