LOD’s 2019 Offseason Top Prospects: Cincinnati Reds #10-#6
Here at Legends on Deck our passion is prospects and the offseason presents an outstanding opportunity for us to showcase some of baseball’s top up and comers. Throughout the offseason, we will be bringing you the top ten prospects from all 30 organizations. We will start with the Arizona Diamondbacks and work our way alphabetically all the way through the Washington Nationals. This series is the opinion of Jake Berry, Senior Editor at Legends on Deck and does not reflect any official MLB rankings.
#10 – C Tyler Stephenson
2019 Opening Day Age: 22 ETA: 2020 Top Future Tool: Arm
2018 Stats (High-A): .250/.338/.392, 11 HR, 59 RBI
Stephenson is the first player in what was a very hard list for me to rank. I think the top five in the Reds system is one of the stronger groups, the top 15 is solid, and there are some sleepers later on down the list. With that being said, these first three guys you read about here could easily move up or down this list, due to no fault of their own, simply because there are some pretty good players all around them.
Stephenson is strong behind the plate and has the skillset to be one of the games better defensive catchers. He posses a decent bat with big power out of his 6’4 frame. The main goal for Stephenson moving forward will be staying healthy and on the field. He took a step in the right direction in 2018 where he didn’t show up on the DL once and appeared in a career high 108 games.
#9 – 2B Shed Long
2019 Opening Day Age: 23 ETA: 2019 Top Future Tool: Hit
2018 Stats (Double-A): .261/.353/.412, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 19 SB
You will probably see Long and the next guy flip flopped back and forth on a lot of lists. Long has claimed his spot as the Reds second baseman of the future thanks mainly to a strong hit tool, one that is stronger than many of his positional counterparts. The ability to barrel and get the hands through the zone produce a lot more power than you’d expect from the 5’8 masher. He does have over the fence power, but has also been known to gap a line drive or two as well.
#8 – SS Jeter Downs
2019 Opening Day Age: 20 ETA: 2021 Top Future Tool: Run
2018 Stats (Single-A): .257/.351/.402, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 37 SB
After a little bit of seasoning, I could see Downs as a 15/25 guy and maybe even a 20/25 player depending on how he adjusts to major league pitching. The real question surrounding Downs is the defensive position. Many think the 2017 32nd overall pick is destined for second base, but with Long in the system, I believe the Reds will do everything they can to develop Downs at short. I think he has the range and a decent enough arm to be a serviceable everyday shortstop.
#7 – RHP Vladimir Gutierrez
2019 Opening Day Age: 23 ETA: 2019 Top Future Pitch: CB
2018 Stats (Double-A): 9-10, 4.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 145 SO, 38 BB
I got a live look at Gutierrez last July in a start against Chattanooga where he allowed a season high nine hits and an uncharacteristic three walks. He struggled to find the zone in that game and also allowed a lot of fly ball contact. It wasn’t the most impressive outing, but he did make some good pitches. The Cuban righty has the ability to command two presently plus pitches in his fastball and curveball and has shown flashes of a good changeup as well. The ceiling for Gutierrez is a mid rotation starter and, in my eyes, the floor is a bullpen role. Either way there is going to be a spot for him on the big league roster in the near future, it just depends on how the changeup comes along.
#6 – OF Jose Siri
2019 Opening Day Age: 23 ETA: 2019 Top Future Tool: Run
2018 Stats (High-A/Double-A): .239/.294/.449, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 23 SB
Siri has a serious ceiling. The 23 year old is knocking on the door of the majors and I believe we will see him in September. Most are scared off by the high swing and miss rates and the lack of on base ability he has shown in the past. Sure, I take note of these things, especially on a 23 year old whose “development” years are winding down, but every now and then you find a guy with the raw tools to make you hold faith. That guy for me is Jose Siri. Big power and speed are the highlight of his offensive profile and while he would benefit from getting on base more as a potential steal threat, he also uses his plus speed to his advantage to take the extra base. The only thing lagging is the plate approach. Outside of that, Siri has what it takes to be a four, potentially five, tool player.
Featured Image: Jeter Downs (Courtesy of Mathew Carper/Legends On Deck)