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Thread: Minor League Prospect Tiers (2021)

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    Member Bourgeois Zee's Avatar
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    Minor League Prospect Tiers (2021)

    One of the most pleasant of surprises in 2021 was the emergence of several prospects at the major league level who were, to put it mildly, afterthoughts. Tony Santillan was at the bottom of the top 10 prospect lists or below, but he showed enough that he will likely be expected to play a hugely important role in the 2022 bullpen. Jonathan India, Baseball America's biggest bust pre-2021, turned into their ROY. Tyler Stephenson became that rarest of birds-- an 800 OPSing catcher. Even guys who weren't in the top 20 prospects-- Dauri Moreta, Alejo Lopez, Max Schrock, and Vlad Gutierrez-- all played positive roles for the parent club last year (and profile to do the same this season).

    This year, I suspect, should see more of the same. In fact, I'd argue that the Reds are positioned to use 8 or 9 guys who could really help from the minor league system. And those top 20 guys seem to be deep in talent.

    I enjoy shorthand designations instead of hiding behind scouting numbers. My designations are fairly simple to understand:

    Hall of Famer-- Guys you're convinced are the elite of the elite. Bryce Harper, Junior, ARod. Top, top prospects.
    All-Star: Guys who'll enjoy long, productive careers with at least one All-Star game. TOR starting pitchers and very good if not elite offensive performers. Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker in 2021. 900 OPS corner bats, 850 middle of the diamond bats, and pitchers who'll start in the playoffs.
    First-division starter: Guys who'll help you win championships and pennants. MOR SP and elite closers.
    Second-division starter: The Adam Duvalls of the world... until Duvall took off in 2021. Adequacy, they're slightly below average with the bat or overall or inconsistent. Kyle Farmer was the 2021 Patron Saint of second-division starters.
    Role player/ platoon guy/ middle relievers: John Lowenstein insists these guys are important. They have holes in their game, but a bench full of them means you have a great bench. A bullpen full of them means you have a very good bullpen. They don't hurt you if they play. Placeholders.
    Bench guy/ long reliever: He'll get more than a cup of coffee in the big show, but not amount to much. The Skip Schumakers of the world.
    Suspect: Interesting to follow, maybe, but either too far away or too many massive questions to put anywhere

    Here's mine:

    All-Star Level Talent/ TOR SP
    Hunter Greene-- He's not a HOF prospect, but he's got a real chance to be special. The best bet at an ace the Reds have had in their system since... Tony Cingrani? Sigh.
    Nick Lodolo-- Were it not for shoulder fatigue, Lodolo could well have leapfrogged Greene as the top pitching prospect in the system. He dominated AA.
    Jay Allen-- That patience/ pop/ speed combo in a CF body is mouth-watering, even if it is years away. He'll move fast if he can do that in Daytona to start 2022.
    Elly De La Cruz-- The power might be an 80 grade, and the wheels and arm are just behind that. But the patience is thin as cheesecloth. He'll need to develop but those tools are LOUD.

    First-Division Starter/ MOR SP/ Elite Closer
    Graham Ashcraft-- I'm guessing he settles in as a dominant closer. Lots of Ks and a massive ground ball rate is ultra rare, though. It bears watching if he can repeat that. If he can, there's no reason why he can't move up a level. He could be a force as a relief arm in 2022 if they needed him. Just saying.
    Jose Barrero-- Not convinced he'll ever hit well enough to show his power. He's here because most of the people I respect love him.
    Matt McLain-- No huge tools, but he does everything well. Reports on his defense are positive. I really like his patience and hit tools.
    Bryce Bonnin-- IMO, perhaps the most underrated prospect in the system. Dominant stuff, dominant results until he got tired late. Really think he's a fast mover in 2022. By the end of next year, he might well be the top pitcher in the system.
    Christian Roa-- See Bonnin. Rinse, wash, repeat. Great stuff, but because of early injury, we didn't get the hype. Another possible fast mover.
    Andrew Abbott-- Another possible relief candidate who could move fast if he's made a closer. I'd give him half a season as a SP in Dayton(a) to see where he's at before I do anything.

    Second-Division Starter/ BOR SP/ Set-Up Relief Arms
    Rece Hinds-- Another 80 power guy with a questionable hit tool. He K'ed too much (28%) for my tastes. I'd like to see him in RF.
    Austin Hendrick-- See Hinds. Add 10% to the K rate. Add 50% to my worry rate about his ability to recognize offspeed pitches. Injuries may have colored his development. Still 80 grade power and a quick bat.
    Tyler Callihan-- Injured but that hit tool is drool-worthy. I'd move him to 3B right now if I'm sure he can't play 2B.
    Matt Nelson-- Love the idea of him, but question the production. He struggled defensively in small samples. That said, pedigree and position would argue for his inclusion here.
    Jose Torres-- Did nothing but hit once drafted. Wonder where he starts next season? AA?
    Ivan Johnson-- Hit well everywhere last year and is young enough that he should be discussed in the tier above this one. His hit tool and K rate keep him here, however, as does his apparent iron glove. Will have to switch off SS soon. I'm in favor of CF.

    Bench Bats/ Long Relief
    Alejo Lopez-- Like the hit tool. Were I he, I'd push to play CF as much as possible. He has speed enough. Probably has enough arm too. That's likely the only way he'll break into the lineup consistently.
    TJ Friedl-- Like him as a fifth OF and defensive caddy/ pinch runner across all three OF spots. Might end up a sneaky good CF in the vein of Jay Payton.
    Dauri Moreta-- Might be more, but minor league relievers have to prove it before they're seen as anything special.
    Jared Solomon-- Threw 100 mph before Tommy John. If he can still get it up that fast, he'll get every opportunity to showcase it. He was the talk of extended season ball in 2019 before his injury.

    Suspects
    Andruw Salcedo-- Too far away of course, but a catcher who hits .350? Yes, please.
    Carlos Jorge-- Young and productive, he's the furthest away on the list. I'd challenge him, if only to see if that speed plays.
    Allan Cerda-- He's another power guy with a questionable hit tool. I'm guessing he starts in A+ with Hendrick and... Hinds? That'd be cool.
    Yerlin Confidan-- Again, a long way away, but the MVP of the ACL and young. What's not to like?

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