The Cincinnati Reds finished 68-94 and in the cellar of the NL Central. Despite another MVP-caliber season from Joey Votto, the Reds lacked the talent to gain any real momentum. It’s no secret that things have been pretty bad in Cincinnati for the past few seasons. That being said, the next crop of talent waiting in their system may be able to turn things around.
10. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
- Age: 22
- Signed out of Cuba in 2016 – CIN
2017 stats: (RK-FSL): 103 IP, 7-8, 4.46 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 94 K, 19 BB.
The Reds have high hopes for the Cuban righty they signed last year. While he pitched predominately as a reliever in Cuba, Gutierrez transitioned to a starter after signing. In his first full season as a starter, Gutierrez posted a 4.46 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 103 innings. While he gave up a few too many runs, mainly from the longball, he displayed excellent control. He issued just 19 walks while striking out 94. The 22-year-old still needs to find his footing as a starter, but he undoubtedly has the tools to pitch deep into games.
9. Alfredo Rodriguez, SS
- Age: 23
- Signed out of Cuba in 2016 – CIN
2017 stats: (RK-FSL): 118 games, .253/.294/.294, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 52 R, 11 SB, 25 BB, 79 K.
Rodriguez was signed out of Cuba at the same time as his teammate. Like Gutierrez, Rodriguez has plenty of tools that he is working on sorting out. In his first full season as a professional, Rodriguez played in 118 games with the Rookie-level Reds. He batted .253 with a couple of homers and 11 stolen bases. He worked on adding power last offseason, and while it didn’t necessarily show up in the numbers, there’s still plenty of time for him to show it.
8. Tyler Stephenson, C
- Age: 21
- Drafted: 2015, Round 1(11) – CIN
2017 stats: (Single-A Dayton): 80 games, .278/.374/.414, 6 HR, 50 RBI, 39 R, 44 BB, 58 K.
Stephenson is widely believed to be the future backstop for the Reds. Unfortunately, he missed a lot of time last year due to concussion and wrist problems. After playing 80 games to start 2017, he was bitten by the injury bug again when a thumb injury ended his season in July. When healthy, Stephenson has shown why he was a first-round pick. He has excellent plate discipline, working 44 walks while striking out just 58 times. He also slashed a healthy .278/.374/.414 with six homers and 50 RBI. While he’s missed a lot of time, Stephenson is still just 20 years old. There’s still plenty of time for his already impressive tools to develop into everyday productivity.
7. Shed Long, 2B
- Age: 22
- Drafted: 2013, Round 12(375) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 10 2B Prospects (#6)
2017 stats: (High-A Daytona): 62 games, .312/.380/.543, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 37 R, 6 SB, 27 BB, 63 K. (Double-A Pensacola): 42 games, .227/.319/.362, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R, 19 BB, 31 K.
Long emerged as one of the top hitting prospects in the Reds’ system a couple of years ago. In 62 games at High-A Daytona, Long batted .312 with 13 homers and 36 RBI. After continued to rake, the Reds decided it was time to send him to Double-A Pensacola. While his numbers dipped after facing tougher competition, Long still showed off some of his tools. He worked his walks and kept a solid eye at the plate. Long also made good use of his baserunning skills despite not being exceptionally quick. Despite his struggles at the higher level, Long has shown before that he’s capable of making adjustments. If he finds his stride and continues what he’s done before, Long may find himself closer to the Majors than a lot of his peers.
6. Aristides Aquino, OF
- Age: 23
- Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 – CIN
2017 stats: (Double-A Pensacola): 131 games, .216/.282/.397, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 54 R, 9 SB, 39 BB, 145 K.
After a great 2016 campaign, Aquino started 2017 at the Double-A level. Unfortunately, he didn’t have nearly the same success as he did before. He batted just .216 with an unsightly 145 strikeouts in 131 games. He did, however, show off his impressive raw power, hitting 17 homers. While he has plenty of it, his power numbers will continue to take a hit until he improves his plate discipline. Despite the poor showing, Aquino has the ability to be a true five-tool player if he can put everything together.
5. Jesse Winker, OF
- Age: 24
- Drafted: 2012, Round 1 SUP(49) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#99)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Lousiville): 85 games, .314/.395/.408, 2 HR, 41 RBI, 33 R, 38 BB, 46 K. (MLB Cincinnati): 47 games, .298/.375/.529, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 21 R, 15 BB, 24 K.
Winker has done nothing but rake the past few seasons. His career minor league average now sits at .300 after another great year at Triple-A. In 85 games, he batted .314 with a pair of homers and 41 RBI. He played well enough to earn his first cup of coffee with the Reds. In 47 games across multiple stints with the team, Winker hit .298 with seven homers and 15 RBI. Most impressively, he maintained his great discipline at the plate. After walking 38 times and striking out 46 times in Triple-A, he posted a 15:24 BB:K in the Majors. Winker’s great season and the uncertainty in the Reds’ outfield should give him a good shot at competing for a starting job next season.
4. Tyler Mahle, RHP
- Age: 23
- Drafted: 2013, Round 7(225) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#77)
2017 stats: (Double-A Pensacola): 85 IP, 7-3, 1.59 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 87 K, 17 BB. (Triple-A Louisville): 59.1 IP, 3-4, 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 51 K, 13 BB. (MLB Cincinnati): 20 IP, 1-2, 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 14 K, 11 BB.
Perhaps Mahle’s best tool has been his ability to make adjustments. After dominating Double-A, Mahle struggled out of the gate in Triple-A. He quickly settled down, made adjustments, and got himself right back on track. After going 10-7 with a 2.06 ERA in the minors, Mahle made four starts at the Major League level. He pitched well, posting a 2.70 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in four starts. Mahle relies heavily on his command and control. Across all three levels this season, he walked just 41 batters while striking out 152. Mahle has the ceiling of a middle-of-the-rotation starter and could realistically reach it as soon as next season.
3. Taylor Trammell, OF
- Age: 20
- Drafted: 2016, CBA(35) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#67)
2017 stats: (Single-A Dayton): 129 games, .281/.368/.450, 13 HR, 77 RBI, 80 R, 41 SB, 71 BB, 123 K.
Few players in the Reds’ system had as big a season as Trammell did. Once developed, Trammell has the potential to be a true five-tool player. In 129 games in Single-A, he showed off all of his tools. He hit 13 homers, swiped 41 bases and worked 71 walks while batting .281. He excelled at every asset of the game, even playing multiple positions in the outfield. 2017 was just Trammell’s first full season as a professional. If he continues to perform like this, the 20-year-old could be a legitimate star at the Major League level in a few years.
2. Hunter Greene, RHP
- Age: 18
- Drafted: 2017 Round 1(2) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#17), Top 10 RHP Prospects (#5)
2017 stats: (RK-PIO): 4.1 IP, 0-1, 12.46 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 6 K, 1 BB.
Greene was widely considered the best overall talent in this year’s Draft class. The two-way star in high school would have gone in the first-round as an infielder as well. The Reds’ ultimately drafted him as a pitcher, keeping his offensive talents in mind. In his professional debut, the Reds made it clear that they weren’t going to rush the 18-year-old. He threw just 4.1 innings across three starts. Greene has an electric fastball that reaches triple-digits occasionally. He can place it, too, which helps in limiting his walks. Greene has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in this year’s Draft, though he is still a long ways away.
1. Nick Senzel, 3B
- Age: 22
- Drafted: 2016, Round 1(2) – CIN
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#8), Top 10 3B Prospects (#2)
2017 stats: (High-A Daytona): 62 games, .305/.371/.476, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 41 R, 9 SB, 23 BB, 54 K. (Double-A Pensacola): 57 games, .340/.413/.560, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 40 R, 5 SB, 26 BB, 43 K.
Senzel has made his way up the ladder exceptionally quick. This year, in just his first full season, he reached Double-A at the age of 22. All he’s done is hit since making his debut, maintaining an average over .300 every step of the way. After 62 games at High-A Daytona, Senzel was sent to Double-A Pensacola. He only got better, batting .340 with 10 homers in 57 games. Senzel has a great combination of bat speed and power that allows him to hit for average as well as power. That, along with an approach that’s way beyond his years, has Senzel on the fast-track to Cincinnati. Though he has only a year and a half of professional experience under his belt, don’t be surprised if Senzel makes his debut as soon as 2018.