Top Lineup – Levels C– Hendrik Clementina – I’ll begin with the admission that I firmly believe that 2015 – 1st round draft choice Tyler Stephenson is the heir apparent to the full-time catching job in Cincinnati. He spent all season with HiA Daytona where he batted .250 with 11 home runs, 20 doubles, 59 RBi and 60 runs scored. He’s a huge 6’4”- 225 pounds, his power potential is quite impelling at the position and he’s working on becoming a better overall defender behind the plate. However, power at the position isn’t all that common, but the 6’0” – 250 lb. Curacao native Hendrik Clementina supplied serious lumber and for that, is this year’s UTR OAS choice. Clementina came to the Reds in the July 2017 trade that sent relief pitcher Tony Cingrani to the Dodgers. He spent his first three seasons inside the DSL and AZL before splitting time between Rookie Pioneer League North Division Ogden, then heading to the Pioneer League South Division to play for the Billings Mustangs. From his debut in 2014 through the end of the 2017 season, the righty swinger hit a combined 14 home runs with 31 doubles; a span of 170 games. In 2018, he threw the gloves off. In his first full season with Cincinnati and in full-season ball, Clementina batted .268 with 22 doubles, had 59 RBi, scored 38 runs and belted 18 home runs, which ranked fifth in the Midwest League and third overall in the Reds organization behind first baseman and April 2018 (Dodgers) trade acquisition Ibandel Isabel (36) and Double-A outfielder Aristides Aquino (20). It’s difficult to predict where a prospect would be if injuries didn’t curtail his ascension. Thus is the case with Stephenson. Had he not lost the end of 2016 nor the start of 20117 to injuries, you might be able to predict/project that he might have spent all of 2018 with Double-A Pensacola. Which, as a 21-year-old power hitting catcher (now 22), would be pretty impressive because he’s already a top prospect. Clementina had a great year, however, let’s be smart, honest and look at the bigger picture. 1B – Ibandel Isabel – Speaking of Ibandel Isabel, for an annual All-Star list, it would be downright foolish to leave the 6’4”- 225 pound, right-handed slugging Isabel off after he hit an overall minor league tying 36 home runs. His 36 bombs tied New York Mets uber-prospect Pete Alonso and his home runs nearly tripled the amount of doubles he hit for HiA Rancho Cucamonga last year. The 64 home runs Isabel has hit over the last two seasons is pretty indicative of what he brings to the table as a prospect: huge power. However, he’s also a solid defender at first, posting a .985 fielding percentage in 2018, and carrying a .989 career number. He’s logged time in each corner outfield spot, but first base seems to be his most comfortable defensive home moving forward. However, When looking deeper at Isabel’s numbers, it’s obvious that he’s taken advantage of the high octane atmosphere of the Cal League. He has 87 career minor league home runs with 29 of them coming courtesy of the Cal League. Thirty-five of Isabel’s 36 home runs were in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season, but based on his power output from his debut in 2013 until the end of 2016, he had only 23 homers. So, it’s not hard to figure out. Thing is, regardless of Isabel’s power, he will undoubtedly be overtaken by 2018 – 26th round draft choice Rylan Thomas. The University of Central Florida draftee punished his own set of baseballs to the tune of 10 home runs and 12 doubles for Rookie Greeneville in 2018. He came to the organization with a great hit tool with big time power potential, but some are put off by his stout 5’11- 235 lb. frame, but you can’t argue with production. But the Reds have a lot of time to develop another prospect at the position, as 2010 N.L. MVP and 6-time All-Star (and one of my favorite players of all time) Joey Votto has dibs on first until the 2023 season. 2B – Jonathan Willems – It’ll be interesting to see what the Reds do with Scooter Gennett this coming season. He’s on the final year of his contract and after breaking out in 2017 and sustaining that success all the way through 2018, you’d think Cincinnati might try dangling the 28-year-old, to try capitalizing on his offensive output. But recent trades prove the Reds could be solid contenders in N.L. Central. Now, for hypothetical sake, let’s say they trade Gennett. Filling in could be fellow 29-year olds Derek Dietrich, or defensive whiz Jose Iglesias. However, neither looks to be a long term answer at the position. 2016 – 1st rounder Nick Senzel, whom the Reds have discussed playing second base, is projected to see the vast majority of his time in the outfield moving forward possibly?!?! So, in a UTR sense, you’re led to wonder who the next top second base prospect could be. I’m not declaring that 19-year-old Jonathan Willems is the next great top second base prospect in the system, but a solid 2018 certainly throws his name into the hat. It wasn’t earth shattering, but the Curacao native’s 102 total bases led all of Rookie Greenville. His 57 hits ranked second on the Rookie Greenville squad and his eight home runs slotted right below the aforementioned Rylan Thomas. He also batted a career high .263, drove in 39 and scored 30 runs in 55 games for the APPY League Reds. Defensively, he has a lot of work to do, as he committed a jaw-dropping 24 errors in 56 games. Again, in a nutshell, he made the list. Moving forward, if I were Reds GM Nick Krall, I’d be signing Scooter Gennett to a small extension asap. 3B – Jonathan India – It looks as if the Reds are moving on from Nick Senzel as their third baseman of the future despite his career .314 average and 27 home runs since his debut in 2016. Cincinnati is transitioning the former University of Tennessee stand out to the outfield, yet haven’t ruled out spotting him in the infield on occasion. But the Reds more than made up for pulling Senzel off the hot corner when they drafted Jonathan India fifth overall in the 2018 draft. The 6’1”- 200 lb. right came via the University of Florida and in spite of a .240 batting average across three levels, he’s the most advanced hitter in the Reds system and a plus-defender at third. Of all the third basemen we stacked for the OAS series, India led the pack. However, much like Votto at first base, Cincinnati has fifth-year pro Eugenio Suarez signed through the 2023 season, so it will be intriguing as to what the organization does with India, especially if he moves quickly through the system like Senzel did. Either way, India is going to hit. But wow, a pretty good problem to have. SS – Jeter Downs – I’d like to know the special relationship the Reds have with the Dodgers. It’s not a purposeful thing, but despite the late December 2018 blockbuster trade that sent Veterans Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood, catcher/infielder Kyle Farmer and $7MM to Cincinnati for righty Homer Bailey, young righty Josiah Gray and infielder Jeter Downs to Los Angeles, the 5’11” – 180 lb. Downs earned his way into this year’s OAS spot. I mean, from a major league standpoint, the trade made sense. Cincinnati has 24-year-old Jose Peraza on tap for the next four seasons, so what’s the rush right? However, dealing Jeter from a position that doesn’t boast much organizational strength to one that has a multitude of plus-prospects at the same position makes me scratch my head a little. Especially after the season the 5’11”- 180 lb Colombian had. Spending all year with LoA Dayton, Downs held his own in an incredibly loaded Midwest League, ranking fifth in stolen bases (37) and tying for 12th with Minnesota’s Akil Baddoo in total bases with 183. Downs batting average slipped ten points from his 2017 debut season, but the extra base hits arrived in droves, as he boosted his extra-base percentage by nearly 10 percent. I fully expect the Dodgers to promote the 20-year-old righty to HiA Rancho Cucamonga, where his numbers could explode. But the difference is Downs has already proven he can hit. It’s just a matter of what position he’ll hit from moving forward. LF –Taylor Trammell – Prior to the December trade that brought Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati, the Reds major league outfield wasn’t one to make your jaw drop. Now, I’m a big Jesse Winker fan and Scott Schebler is bit underrated, However, the addition or Kemp and Puig suddenly made/makes things interesting in the N.L. Central and firmly plants the Reds in the middle of possible division-winner discussion. As far as their minor league outfield goes though, I believe it’s their biggest position player strength, and by a very wide margin. If I’m going purely by UTR numbers, Taylor Trammell is the guy here. There isn’t a thing he can’t do. In his three years in the organization, he’s made a steady climb through the ranks starting with Rookie Billings in 2016, then LoA Dayon in 2017 and onto HiA Daytona of the Florida State League last season. He batted .277 with eight home runs, 19 doubles and stole 25 bases, and even though his overall production took a slight hit in 2018, he’s still the heir to the left field position in Cincinnati. Oh, he’s also committed only five errors in 172 career games in left. Reds fans are in for a treat when this guy finally makes it to Great American Ballpark. CF – Mariel Bautista – Guys like Bautista are why Jim and I do what we do. Looking at the minor league centerfield hierarchy, you could place current Reds top 10 prospect Stuart Fairchild at the top. And sure, you could place Reds 2018 – 4th rounder Mike Siani close to Fairchild, but in UTR talk, give me the guy who’s done it longer. Production over projection. But like I said in Trammell’s bio above, outfield is by far the biggest position player strength in Cincinnati system, which allows us to choose a guy like Bautista, who registered his best season as a pro in 2018. After beginning his career with two consecutive seasons in the Dominican Summer League, the 6’3”- 170 lb. righty finally made it stateside to the Arizona League in 2017. In his first three seasons he batted a combined .307 with five home runs. Last season with Rookie Billings, the 20-year-old Dominican Republic native led the Mustangs with a .330 average, belted eight home runs, stole 16 bases and yet logged a disappointing .928 fielding percentage. Some prognosticators say Bautista is poised to breakout soon. I definitely won’t disagree with that. He possesses solid power potential, has great plate discipline and scouts say he’s a very good defender. Better than he showed last season. We’ll see how 2019 goes, as he’s projected to move up a level to LoA Dayton. RF – Michael Beltre – The 6’3”- 220 lb switch-hitter has made a methodical climb through the Reds system since his debut back in 2013. He started off with two consecutive seasons in the DSL, before heading to the AZL, where he stayed for the entire 2015 season. He started 2016 back in the AZL before a promotion to Rookie Billings in early August. Beltre moved to LoA Dayton in 2017, but started back there this last season, only to see a promotion to HiA Daytona in early June and finished the year with the Tortugas. He batted a combined .278 with five home runs, 13 doubles, eight triples, scored 55 runs and stole 22 bases. However, this may all sound like fluff. Beltre is one of those prospects who’s posted good numbers, has all the tools to both hit and defend, but his weaknesses just seem to hover too closely to his overall skill set, and he just hasn’t put everything together yet. I liked him this year, but moving forward, unless he truly breaks out for either HiA Daytona or when challenged with a promotion to Double-A Pensacola, it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach. There’s just too much talent in the Reds minor league outfield to get overly excited for anything other than his solid performance this past season. Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Scott Moss – (16) / HiA Daytona “Legit UTR”
**Moss can be labeled as a finesse type lefty, with excellent command and control, that also features a repeatable, but deceptively funky delivery. The 4th round pick in 2016 also has the “injury risk” tag hanging from his 6′ 5″ 215 lb frame. He missed a large portion of his collegiate seasons due to having Tommy John surgery. Despite that, the Reds took the chance and the 23-year old southpaw hasn’t disappointed. He also hasn’t disappointed my system, in repeating as the Reds #1 UTR-OAS and tagged as a Legit UTR. In 25 starts last season, Moss finished with a 15-4 record and a 3.68 ERA. His punchouts in 2018 (7.8 K9) fell considerably when compared to the 2017 season (10.3 K9), but at the other end, so did his walk rate slightly. Now it’s time to see if the lefty can hurdle the Double-A wall and possibly establish himself as a #4 type starter.
2. LHP Packy Naughton – (13) / LoA Dayton
** The 9th round pick in 2017 was a nice surprise to this roster after the numbers shook out. Naughton is true UTR, as there is nothing that stand outs, other than a 6′ 2″ 195 lb right-hander with pitchability and control. His fastball lives in the range of the upper 80’s / low 90’s, but will touch in the mid 90’s. His secondaries are all average, except his changeup which is a near plus offering. All this and his solid velocity showed flashes of strikeout stuff. During his first taste of full season in 2018, Naughton struck out 137 in 154 innings and only walked 34 hitters. He led all Reds system pitchers in 28 starts and innings pitched. Work needs done to improve his command (168 hits) in 2019, as the soon-to-be 23 year-old begins the new season at HiA Daytona.
3. RHP Hunter Greene – (11)/ LoA Dayton
** All eyes will be on Greene when he take the mound in 2019. The 1st round pick in 2017 suffered a strained elbow (partial UCL tear) halfway through his first full season, and was shutdown. Damage wasn’t enough to require surgery, so Greene immediately started rehabbing. Even with only a half season’s worth of work, the 6′ 4″ 215 lb right-hander easy scored to make the OAS roster. Noted for his power arm coming from the draft, which fetched a bonus-pool record 7.2 million dollars, Greene’s factor score was bolstered by his blazing fastball. With a repeatable and easy delivery, the 19-year old’s heater fires-off in the upper 90’s and occasionally north of 100 mph (104).
4. LHP Wennington Romero –(11)/ HiA Daytona
** The Reds usually won’t push their pitching prospects quickly through their system, but Romero has already reached HiA as a 21-year old. The Dominican lefty spent the whole season at Daytona and posted near identical peripherals compared to his 2017 season at LoA Dayton, except a steep decline in his K9 rate. Romero was my Cincinnati selection prior to the 2018 season, as the “One to Watch”.
5. RHP Tejay Antone – (10.5) / HiA Daytona
** Antone’s 2019 UTR story begins….what could have been. The story is far from finished for the now 25-year old right-hander. Drafted in the 5th round in 2014, Antone was on his way by reaching HiA Daytona and a Triple-A cup of coffee by 2016 and making back-to-back (2015/2016) UTR-OAS rosters. The momentum halted in 2017 when Antone underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the whole season. He repeated at Daytona last season to work his way back, making 17 starts, with near half lasting five innings to less.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Ryan Hendrix – (17) / HiA Daytona “Legit UTR” / “Solid Stash”
** Hendrix repeats on the UTR-OAS roster and getting the Legit UTR tag in the process. I also assigned the Solid Stash label based solely on his stuff. He owns two plus pitches, a near 99 mph fastball (which rates plus-plus) and hammering breaking ball that bites on a 12-6 plane. Throwing that type of heat, Hendrix has suffered command and control issues (4.6 BB9), but he took a step-forward correcting that in 2018. Future closer?
2. RHP John Ghyzel – (14) / LoA Dayton
3. RHP Joel Kuhnel – (10) / HiA Daytona “Legit UTR”