The minor league season won’t begin until Thursday, and as I’m typing this on Sunday night/early Monday morning, we don’t have rosters for the Triple-A, Double-A, and Advanced-A teams just yet. I am expecting those rosters to come out at some point on Monday, but they may not. We do have the Dayton Dragons roster – the Low-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds – thanks to the fact that they were scheduled to play an exhibition game this weekend to celebrate the Dragons 20th anniversary. The game was cancelled due to rain.
With all of that said, we have a generally good feeling for where everyone is going to begin the year. For the most part this is some speculating on my part, but it’s based on good information and deduction – as well as things I saw out in spring training.
1. Nick Senzel – Outfielder
Unfortunately for most Cincinnati Reds fans, and for Nick Senzel, he was re-assigned to the minor leagues near the end of spring training. A few days later he injured his ankle while sliding into second base. Dr. Kremchek provided an update over the weekend that sounded promising, but he’s still likely going to begin the year on the injured list for Triple-A Louisville. Projected start: Louisville Bats (injured list)
2. Hunter Greene – Right-Handed Pitcher
Update: 10 hours after this post was published it was announced that Hunter Greene had suffered an injury in spring training and would now require Tommy John surgery on his elbow. That means he will miss the entirety of the 2019 season.
Last season saw Hunter Greene finish his year on the disabled list. A torn UCL in his pitching elbow led to his season ending in late July. He opted to go the rehab route rather than Tommy John surgery and things have been going well with that treatment. In terms of throwing, he’s not being held back. But he’s also still building up his pitches/innings as he comes back from rehab. I saw him pitch a week ago in Goodyear to live hitters and it’s pretty clear he’s going at 100%. He won’t begin the season with a team when things get started on Thursday, but when he’s ready to play look for him to join Daytona. Projected start: Extended Spring Training, then the Daytona Tortugas.
3. Taylor Trammell – Outfielder
The Reds drafted Taylor Trammell back in 2016. Since then he’s spent a season at each level – Billings in 2016, Dayton in 2017, and last year in Daytona. This year he’s heading to Double-A Chattanooga to play for the Lookouts – at least to start out the season. I had a chance to talk with him over the weekend for a few minutes if you’re interested in checking that out. Projected start: Chattanooga Lookouts.
4. Tony Santillan – Right-Handed Pitcher
This was one of the tougher ones to figure out. Tony Santillan was my 2018 Minor League Player of the Year after making 26 starts with a 3.08 ERA between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola. With that said, he only made 11 starts in Double-A, and while they were 11 good starts, that’s less than half of a season. He won’t turn 22-years-old for another two weeks, but he’s also performed quite well and he’s got some of the best stuff in the organization – Majors or Minors. With his age, and just 11 Double-A starts I’m guessing that he heads to Chattanooga to begin the year. Projected start: Chattanooga Lookouts.
5. Jonathan India – Third Baseman
Last year saw Jonathan India destroy the SEC, get drafted 5th overall by the Cincinnati Reds, then see action in Greeneville, Billings, and Dayton after the draft. This spring he was absolutely on fire. I heard from people both inside and outside of the organization about how well he had been hitting the baseball in Arizona. He’s ready for the next step up the ladder. Projected start: Daytona Tortugas.
6. Tyler Stephenson – Catcher
When Tyler Stephenson was drafted back in 2015 he was viewed as the catcher of the future. Fast forward to 2019 and that’s still the case, but there have been some bumps in the road for the Georgia native as he’s had large parts of two seasons wiped away by injuries. 2018 was not one of them, though, and he made strides in all aspects of his game last year for Daytona. This season he’ll move up to the next level and into more friendly hitting environments, too – getting out of the Florida State League. Projected start: Chattanooga Lookouts.
7. Jose Siri – Outfielder
Last season didn’t start out great for Jose Siri, who was injured during the first game of big league spring training when he collided with the center field wall trying to make a catch. He injured his thumb and missed the next two months of playing time. When he came back he struggled to get his bat going for a bit in Daytona, but was promoted to Double-A Pensacola after five weeks. In the Southern League he struggled to hit for much average, but his walk rate improved and he showed off big power and speed. Look for him back in Double-A to begin the year where he’ll try to make some improvements after half of a season there last season. Projected start: Chattanooga Lookouts.
8. Vladimir Gutierrez – Right-Handed Pitcher
This was the other tough one to figure out among the top 10. Vladimir Gutierrez missed nearly two full seasons after leaving Cuba as an 18-year-old. He signed with the Reds in 2016 and spent the 2017 season in Daytona before moving up to Double-A Pensacola in 2018. His season overall was solid, but unspectacular. But it was also a tale-of-two-halves. In his first 11 starts he posted a 6.75 ERA and allowed 10 home runs in 54.2 innings. Over the final 16 starts his ERA was 2.92 and he allowed just eight home runs in 92.1 innings. The strong finish would sell me on sending him to Triple-A, so that’s my guess. Projected start: Louisville Bats.
9. Mariel Bautista – Outfielder
In the prospect world I am the highest on Mariel Bautista. He’s in the top 20 everywhere else, but he’s inside of my Top 10. He’s hit .333, .320, and .330 in each of the last three seasons between the Dominican Summer League, Arizona Rookie League, and Pioneer League. Last year is when he began to show in-game power, too. Toss in that he stole 16 bases in 19 tries, and had 16 walks with just 29 strikeouts in 56 games last year and it’s easy to say he’s ready for the next challenge. Projected start: Dayton Dragons.
10. Michael Siani – Outfielder
The Cincinnati Reds picked Michael Siani with their 4th round selection in 2018 out of high school. And to keep him from heading to college they gave him the 2nd highest bonus in their draft – $2,000,000. Known for his elite defense, Siani hit well for Greeneville last season – posting a .288/.351/.386 line for the newest Reds affiliate. At just 19-years-old he will be one of the youngest players on the Dayton team this year. Projected start: Dayton Dragons.