MLB 2020 Farm System Overview: Cincinnati Reds

While we wait for the 2020 MLB season to get underway, it’s time to take a closer look at players who could one day be on opening day rosters. For the next month or two, we’ll be examining each team’s farm system, which will contain several prospects that will either one day be contributors for them, or could be used to acquire impact major leaguers. 

Since we’ll be going in alphabetical order by city, our seventh farm system overview will be of the Cincinnati Reds. We’ll rank their top ten prospects, discuss some of their other notable minor leaguers, and then analyze the overall state of the farm system.

#1: RHP Hunter Greene

Photo Cred: Los Angeles Daily News

Age: 20

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 215 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Overall- 2017

Fastball: 77.5 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 50 Command: 55

Overall Grade: 60.125

In the 2017 MLB draft, no player generated more hype than Hunter Greene; he was a two-way standout, easily touched 100 MPH with his fastball as an 18-year-old, and overall, had rare athleticism. He looked to be making good on that hype by posting a 3.13 xFIP in 68.1 innings in Single-A, but right before the 2019 season got underway, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Since this is his first surgery, I anticipate the recovery will go smoothly, but nevertheless, it’s tough to lose a year of development. Nevertheless, when it’s all set and done, the 20-year-old still looks like a future ace. His fastball, which honestly sits at 100 MPH, is a little flat at the moment, but nevertheless, figures to be a true 80-grade offering in the future. Plus, his power slider is coming along nicely, as his changeup, and for being a young fireballer, his command and feel for pitching is excellent. Outside of the surgery, there are no red flags with the former second overall pick, who’ll look to pick up right where he left on as he makes his return in the 2020 season.

#2: LHP Nick Lodolo

Photo Cred:

Age: 21

Height: 6’6″ Weight: 202 lbs

Drafted: 7th Overall- 2019

Fastball: 57.5 Breaking Ball: 57.5 Third Pitch: 55 Command: 55

Overall Grade: 56

The 2019 MLB draft was rather unique- the first six selections were all position players. That made Nick Lodolo the first pitcher taken when the Reds drafted him with the 7th overall pick; Cincinnati is getting an absolute steal. The 21-year-old was a standout performer at TCU, and projects to make a quick transition to professional ball. His three-pitch mix of a mid 90s fastball that plays up due to his extension, a sweeping breaking ball, and riding changeup will generate plenty of swings and misses. On the other side of the spectrum, his advanced feel for pitching also should help him out in the walks department, so in the end, his K-BB ratios should be fantastic. Add in the deception he creates with his delivery, and you’re looking at a polished, all-around pitching prospect. Between Lodolo and Greene, the Reds rotation should be in good hands for years to come.

#3: RHP Tony Santillan

Photo Cred:

Age: 22

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 240 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- 2015

Fastball: 70 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 52.5 Command: 47.5

Overall Grade: 54.75

Greene and Lodolo look like sure bets to front the Reds rotation in the future, but if everything pans out, they have a third pitcher in their farm system that has front-line starter potential- Tony Santillan. The 22-year-old’s fastball, which sits in the upper 90s MPH with elite movement, is what stands out, but he’s more than just a fireballer; his slider and changeup also both figure to be plus pitches in the future. Now, Santillan hasn’t ever posted the gaudy strikeout numbers you’d hope to see, and his command did regress significantly this season, but all the makings are there of a high-end starting pitcher. Will he maximize on that potential? Right now, he’s a rather tough prospect to evaluate, but one thing is for certain- the 2020 season, whether at Double-A or Triple-A, will be key for him and his development.

#4: 3B Jonathan India

Photo Cred: Reds Minor Leagues

Age: 23

Height: 6’0″ Weight: 200 lbs

Drafted: 5th Overall- 2018

Hit: 55 Power: 50 Field: 55 Arm: 55 Speed: 50

Overall Grade: 53.4

Just a year before they drafted Lodolo, the Reds had the 5th overall pick, and were expected to select Florida pitcher Brady Singer. Instead, they selected a different Gator. Heading into his junior season, Jonathan India was seen as a fringe first-round prospect at best, but he broke out in a huge way, and vaulted himself to being a top-five pick, which is quite impressive. Since then, he’s continued to dominate in the minor leagues, and looks to be close to even making his major-league debut. The 23-year-old has demonstrated excellent plate discipline, and overall, displays the pure-hitting ability necessary to post high on-base percentages. Plus, the 50-grade I gave him for his power may turn out to be too low, as even though it hasn’t translated yet, he still generates plenty of lift with a favorable launch angle. Heck, he’s even a sure-handed defender at third base, with the ability to play all around the infield. In essence, India doesn’t have a specific weakness, and because of that, he’s a rather safe bet to be an everyday player in the future. He may not become a superstar, but more teams could use reliable prospects like him.

#5: OF Michael Siani

Photo Cred:

Age: 20

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 188 lbs

Drafted: 4th Round- 2018

Hit: 50 Power: 45 Field: 57.5 Arm: 60 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 52.575

Since the Reds were able to sign India to an under-slot deal, they had extra money to utilize. That led them to give $2 million to prep outfielder Michael Siani, which is an enormous amount considering his draft position (fourth round). The 20-year-old’s offensive profile is limited, as he doesn’t hit for much power, and his hit-tool is still unpolished. Nevertheless, if he can just be an average hitter, he’ll definitely be an everyday outfielder, as his athleticism is likely what drew the Reds to him; he should be a plus defender in center field. He’s still a project for the most part, but his floor and ceiling are both enticing, and there’s a lot to be excited about with his future moving forward.

#6: C Tyler Stephenson

Photo Cred: Red Reporter

Age: 23

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 225 lbs

Drafted: 11th Overall- 2015

Hit: 50 Power: 50 Field: 52.5 Arm: 65 Speed: 37.5

Overall Grade: 52.55

If there is one thing we know about catcher prospects, it’s that their development doesn’t always good as smoothly as one can hope for. That’s the case with Tyler Stephenson, who was drafted 11th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, and after dealing with multiple injuries early in his career, is on the brink of a breakout. The 23-year-old has a pretty sound approach at the plate, with impressive discipline numbers, and also has some nice raw power; neither his on-base skills or power is a strength, but they’ll be at least average. For a catcher, that’s more than enough to get the job done, especially since his defense, and his arm strength, in particular, are noticeably above-average. We’re clearly looking at an everyday catcher with the potential to even to be better than that, and with the Reds’ current catching situation looking very suspect, Stephenson could even be a critical part of a team trying to make the postseason down the stretch.

#7: RHP Lyon Richardson

Photo Cred: Dayton Daily News

Age: 20

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 192 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- 2018

Fastball: 55 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 50 Command: 50

Overall Grade: 52

Siani wasn’t the only player in the 2018 MLB draft to receive an over-slot bonus from the Reds; second-round pick Lyon Richardson signed for around $2 million out of high school. The 20-year-old isn’t a pitcher with one clear strong suit, but at the same time, he doesn’t have any glaring flaws. It’s a little concerning that his fastball velocity went down as he dealt with a sore elbow, which could raise some questions about his durability, but when healthy, his fastball-slider combination should translate to the next level. To complete a four-pitch mix, Richardson also shows a decent feel for his changeup and curveball, and posted a great 2.64 BB/9 in Single-A this season, but at the moment, he’s still a work in progress in those areas. I’m not sure what Richardson’s ceiling is, but after posting great numbers this season, he’s a candidate to move through the system quicker than expected, barring any injury problems. At the moment, looks the part of a future middle of the rotation starter.

#8: OF Jose Siri

Photo Cred: Red Reporter

Age: 24

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 175 lbs

Signed: September 21, 2012

Hit: 40 Power: 52.5 Field: 55 Arm: 62.5 Speed: 65

Overall Grade: 51.825

When a prospect has all the tools necessary to be a star, it can be very frustrating when he fails to put it together. Between maturity issues and a lack of consistency, outfielder Jose Siri has been in the Reds organization for seven seasons, yet continues to hit roadblocks in his development. Plus, now that he’s 24-years-old, he’s simply running out of time. The Dominican outfielder has a lot of swing and miss concerns, which have certainly plagued him offensively, and even his elite raw power doesn’t always translate into games. At his best, he’s a menace at the plate, but far too often, he’s a liability, almost in Yasiel Puig fashion. That may actually be a great comparison for Siri, as, like Puig, he’s an excellent athlete with a cannon arm and sound defensive skills, but for him to be more than a fourth outfielder, we need to see some offensive development.

#9: OF Jameson Hannah

Photo Cred:

Age: 22

Height: 5’9″ Weight: 185 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- OAK 2018

Hit: 55 Power: 42.5 Field: 52.5 Arm: 47.5 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 50.15

Ironically, Jameson Hannah may be the exact opposite of Siri; he’s severely limited physically, yet continues to overachieve. Sitting at just 5’9″ and 185 pounds, the 22-year-old will never hit for much power, but luckily for him, he has a really nice feel for hitting and possesses excellent contact skills. A capable defender as well, Hannah does have a decent chance to be an everyday outfielder, but for the most part, he’s probably a fourth outfielder/platoon type. I could see him following the Denard Span type of trajectory, which doesn’t translate great in today’s game, but certainly wouldn’t be a bad outcome by any means.

#10: 3B Tyler Callihan

Photo Cred:

Age: 19

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 205 lbs

Drafted: 3rd Round- 2019

Hit: 50 Power: 50 Field: 47.5 Arm: 52.5 Speed: 40

Overall Grade: 49.5

Sticking with their theme of signing periods to bigger than anticipated deals, the Reds paid Tyler Calihan more than double the amount of slot value to select him in the third round, primarily based on his pure hitting ability. Now, I’m not high on Calihan, and wasn’t in favor of him as a prospect during the draft process; his offense is limited with a swing that neutralizes some of his raw power, and with a stocky build, isn’t a great athlete nor a good defender at third base. Still, he’s a high-school prospect, so maybe with some development, he could work his way into becoming an everyday player down the line.

Best of the Rest

  • Jose Garcia is a great athlete with plus defense at shortstop, though his offense is very limited at the moment.
  • Rece Hinds is a one-trick pony at the moment, relying on his raw power, but the upside is tremendous

Farm System Overview

The trio of India, Siani, and Stephenson represent the position players that the Reds can expect to be starters at the next level, but it’s the club’s collection of pitching prospects that stand out. Greene is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Lodolo was the best pitcher in this 2019 draft, and Santillan has all the tools needed to be a #2/#3 starter. Ironically, the Reds rotation is a strength in the short-term and long-term, but when you add in these three prospects, they could be at the top of the league in fewest runs allowed for a long time.


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