The arrival of the offseason means that it's time to rank stuff. Already this winter, we've sized up the 60 best free agents, both on an overall and positional basis. There's no law that prevents us from ranking minor-league players in addition to their big-league counterparts. As such, we're going to spend the winter evaluating every team's farm system.
The lack of a minor-league season makes that more of a challenge this year. It doesn't help that some teams opted against sharing video and data from their alternate-site camps with the rest of the league. As such, we've opted against overthinking this. Our rankings will essentially be the same as they were last winter with a few changes. First, we'll exclude anyone who graduated by exhausting their rookie eligibility; second, we'll replace them with draftees or other worthy prospects; and third, and lastly, we'll present the information in a new format.
In every article in this series, you'll find a team's top five prospects as well as five others we felt like including, either because of their promise or some other reason. For those top five prospects, you'll find a quick summation of their pros (their saving grace, if one will) and their cons (their fault line), as well as beefier report and our attempt to peg their "likeliest outcome."
These rankings were compiled by talking to industry folks -- scouts, analysts, and other evaluators -- and include a touch of our own evaluative biases. Remember, that this is more of an art than a science, and that the write-ups matter more than the rankings themselves.
Now, let's get on to the top five prospects in the Cincinnati Reds system.
1. Nick Lodolo, LHP
Age (as of 4/1/2021): 23
Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 205 pounds
Acquired: No. 7 pick in the 2019 draft (TCU)
Highest level: A-ball
Saving grace: Polish
Fault line: Limited upside
Scouting report: Lodolo was the first pitcher off the board in 2019 thanks to an athletic, repeatable delivery; a solid three-pitch mix; and a David Price-like frame that should enable him to shoulder big-league workloads. Lodolo lacks the top-end stuff that would enable him to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, but that shouldn't prevent him from having a career as an above-average starter.
Likeliest outcome: Mid-rotation starter
2. Austin Hendrick, OF
Age (as of 4/1/2021): 19
Height/Weight: 6-foot, 195 pounds
Acquired: No. 12 pick in the 2020 draft (West Allegheny High School, Pennsylvania)
Highest level: High school
Saving grace: Upside
Fault line: Swing-and-miss
Scouting report: Hendrick has garnered comparisons to Clint Frazier because he's a hard-swinging corner outfielder with good bat speed and ample amounts of raw power and swing-and-miss. Despite being a cold-weather product, Hendrick solidified himself as a top prep bat the summer before last, when he posted elite exit velocities against top-notch competition. There's star-level upside here if Hendrick can continue to do that as he climbs the ladder. It seems more likely that he'll fall a little short of that ceiling, much in the way Frazier has.
Likeliest outcome: Run-producing corner outfielder
3. Jonathan India, 3B
Age (as of 4/1/2021): 24
Height/Weight: 6-foot, 200 pounds
Acquired: Fifth pick in the 2018 draft (University of Florida)
Highest level: Double-A
Saving grace: On-base skills
Fault line: Power
Scouting report: India is a tough prospect to nail down. He has above-average strength, and proved as much during his junior year at Florida. Yet he's seldom tapped into that power outside of that year, and has instead been a hitter whose value stems from hitting for average and walking. That's fine … it just makes for an underwhelming profile at third base. The Reds, to be fair, have also given India some exposure to second base -- an experiment that might nod at Eugenio Suarez's presence, or perhaps their desire to find a more appropriate position for him. Whatever the case, India should reach the majors before 2021 is over.
Likeliest outcome: Chase Headley-like third baseman
4. Hunter Greene, RHP
Age (as of 4/1/2021): 21
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
Acquired: Second pick in the 2017 draft (Notre Dame High School, California)
Highest level: A-ball
Saving grace: Velocity
Fault line: Non-fastball aspects
Scouting report: Greene was a well-regarded two-way prospect in high school, a pitcher and potential first-round-worthy shortstop, which speaks to the kind of athleticism he possesses. What he hasn't had lately is much luck. He missed the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery, then had the pandemic wipe out his 2020. Greene has elite arm strength, but he needs the reps in order to improve his command and secondary pitches. Hopefully, for his sake, he was able to make progress at the alternate site. We should find out in 2021.
Likeliest outcome: Mid-rotation starter?
5. Tyler Stephenson, C
Age (as of 4/1/2021): 24
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 225 pounds
Acquired: No. 11 pick in the 2015 draft (Kennesaw Mountain High School, Georgia)
Highest level: MLB
Saving grace: Power
Fault line: Durability
Scouting report: Stephenson has battled injuries throughout his career, delaying his arrival to the majors until this year. He appeared in eight games, hitting two home runs and recording a .294/.400/.647 slash line. His bat -- specifically his raw power -- is his selling point. Stephenson grades as a below-average framer, according to other teams' internal metrics, with the concern being that his large frame blocks the umpire's sightline. Whatever the case, Stephenson should get a run as a starter so long as he can stay on the field and stay productive in the batter's box.
Likeliest outcome: Regular catcher
Five others to know
- Jose Garcia, SS
Garcia made the leap from High-A to the majors. The results were, predictably, not great. He hit .194/.206/.194 with a 26-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 68 plate appearances. Ouch. Garcia has the defensive aptitude and the power potential to be a quality two-way contributor in due time.
- Christian Roa, RHP
One of Asa Lacy's rotation mates, Roa has a power pitcher's frame and fastball. What he didn't have was a great junior year: he permitted more than a home run and more than four walks per nine innings. The Reds took him in the second round with an eye on getting more from him.
- Riley O'Brien, RHP
O'Brien came over in a midseason trade from the Rays. He's a lanky right-hander who has improved his velocity on his fastball and breaking ball in recent years. O'Brien's changeup and command still need work, and could force him into a relief role sooner than later. The Reds will presumably give their development staff most of the year to see what they can do.
- Rece Hinds, 3B
The Reds popped Hinds in the second round in 2019 based on his boom-or-bust potential. He has enormous raw power, but it's unclear if he'll make enough contact for it to matter. It's also unclear if he'll remain at third base for the long haul, or if he'll be forced to first or the outfield.
- Tony Santillan, RHP
The last time we saw Santillan, he had an underwhelming 2019 that included wildness and multiple trips to the injured list because of arm issues. Ruh roh. Either and/or both of those factors could force him into the bullpen instead of a spot at the back of a rotation.