A Minor Review of 2018: Cincinnati Reds

Welcome back to my annual off-season series that has a quick-and-dirty review of all 30 minor league systems around baseball. This feature began way back in 2008.

If you were perusing this series back in 2016 you would have read:

The Lottery Ticket: Taylor Trammell (OF): I’m going back to the 2016 draft to find my Reds lottery ticket. Trammell is by no means a true sleeper. He was drafted 35th overall in ’16 but he’s still quite raw despite his successful pro debut. The 19-year-old outfielder strikes out a lot for a player whose game should be focused on putting the ball in play and running like the wind (57 Ks in 228 at-bats). He’s extremely athletic and his quickness allowed him to nab 24 bases in his first 61 games – despite his rough edges. Trammell is also learning the nuances of playing center field in pro ball but has the raw ability to develop into a plus fielder.

Now on to the new stuff:

Top Rookie of 2018: Jesse Winker, OF: I wasn’t a huge fan on Winker early in his pro career but I’ve warmed to him since seeing him adjust to the Majors so quickly. He doesn’t have much defensive or base running value — nor does he produce much power. But the hit tool and his ability to get on base like Joey Votto has immense value. He probably won’t ever be a big power guy but it would be nice to see him drive balls into the gap and pile up the doubles on a more consistent bases as he matures.

The Draft Pick: Jonathan India, 3B: India parlayed a massive junior year in college to a fifth overall selection. And while he possesses a number of strong attributes, that was the only year of amateur ball from high school to college that he really dominated. So I’m being cautiously optimistic with his potential until we see a full year of pro ball under his belt. On the positive side, he shows a strong and improving eye at the plate and has shown a willingness to take a walk. India has also shown a willingness to use the whole field and isn’t hung up on swinging for the fences. As a result, his approach will generate pop but he likely won’t be a prolific slugger. I really like his quiet set-up at the plate and quick-to-the-ball swing.

The Riser: Tony Santillan, RHP: A 2015 second rounder, Santillan has moved methodically through the Reds system and didn’t reach double-A ball until the second half of 2018. He really took off last year thanks in part to improved command and control. His stuff has always been strong with a heater in the mid 90s that can touch the upper 90s. His secondary stuff has improved and both his slider and changeup should be average or better. My biggest concern with Santillan is his soft body, which could head south in a hurry — he’s already listed at having 240 pounds on his 6-3 frame. There is No. 3 starter upside here and a big, strong body that should be able to provide lots of innings.

The Fallen: Jose Siri, OF: Siri is ultra athletic with a tantalizing mix of power and speed (and a very strong arm). The downside to his game is that he swings and misses a lot. More advanced pitchers took advantage of his rudimentary approach to hitting at the double-A level and he struck out at a rate of 32%. Still, he’s only one year removed from low-A ball where he slugged 24 homers and stole 46 bases (with a 23.6% strikeout rate). Siri was probably rushed to double-A after spending just 30 games in high-A ball so the Reds will need to be much more cautious in 2019 while he hopefully rebounds and learns from a rough 2018.

The 2019 Contributor: Nick Senzel, IF/OF: Although there is no guaranteed home for Senzel in 2019, it looks like he’ll play a significant role on the team, if healthy. Illness and injury took a big chunk out of his 2018 with his case of vertigo being the most concerning issue; if it’s resolved for good then he shouldn’t need much time at triple-A (if any). He is an incredibly advanced hitter who makes excellent contact. He likely won’t be a big home run guy but Senzel has a very quick bat and should generate tons of gap pop, with a solid amount clearing the fences.

The 2019 Sleeper: James Marinan, RHP: Just 20, Marinan already stands 6-5 and has a maxed out body. He throws hard and can touch 96-97 mph but he has yet to show much with his slider or changeup due to below-average command. Despite his size, he shows some athleticism on the mound and repeats his delivery ok despite a number of moving parts. A simplified delivery (he brings his hands/glove over his head during his windup) might help him stay more streamlined and have a positive impact on his command. I see the potential for a No. 4 starter here is he can continue to improve.

The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Mariel Bautista, OF: Bautista is an exciting toolsy (but very raw) prospect much like Jose Siri but without the extreme contact issues (and sans the strong arm). There is an intriguing power/speed mix but with the question mark over the hit tool. He can be very quick to the ball and punish fastballs up in the zone but his swing can get long and he struggles with off-speed stuff down in the zone. Bautista holds his hands too far out in front, leading to too much movement before he starts his forward swing motion, leading to inconsistency. He still makes a solid amount of contact but doesn’t hit the sweet spot on the ball, leading to pop-ups and harmless infield fly balls.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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