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Cincinnati Reds Top-10 Fantasy Prospects

While the rebuilding Reds lack impact-talent at the top of their system, they do have an interesting mix of advanced bats, toolsy position players, and potential mid-rotation arms.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Photo Day Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat that must be rehashed every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the off-season, and so how we view a player may evolve significantly over time. We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing players between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers that do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

Cincinnati has no prospects in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#1 - Nick Senzel (3B)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 21

ETA: 2019

The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senzel has the look of a player who will outproduce his tools--and his tools are fine. The young third baseman lacks elite raw power, but he has a chance to hit for both average and power thanks to an advanced approach at the plate. While he’s not a burner, he has shown a consistent ability to make plays on the basepaths. In 2016, most of which he spent at Low-A Dayton, he slashed .305/.398/.514 with 7 HR and 18 SB in 68 games. Although he has yet to play a full season of professional ball, he could reach Double-A Pensacola in 2017 and might even be the first member of the 2016 draft class to arrive in the majors. Fantasy owners should view him as a future first-division regular.

#2 - Amir Garrett (LHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 24

ETA: 2017

A former 22nd-round pick and basketball star at St. John’s University, Garrett has blossomed into perhaps the Reds’ most promising pitching prospect. He features a fastball-slider combo that would allow him to succeed as a reliever should the Reds ever decide to go that route, but he also sports a developing changeup that in all likelihood will allow him to remain in the rotation. His 2016 season included a dominant run at Double-A Pensacola and a solid showing with Triple-A Louisville. All told, he finished 7-8 with a 2.55 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 59 walks in 144.2 IP. He’ll need to cut down on the free passes, but overall Garrett is an intriguing arm--a potential number two starter--who could help the Reds as early as 2017.

#3 - Jesse Winker (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

The 49th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Winker has made frequent appearances atop Reds prospect lists, which is both good and bad. There’s no denying his plus hit-tool, and many scouts continue to view him as capable of hitting 20-25 HR in the future, in which case he would project as a mainstay in the middle of the Cincinnati lineup. On the other hand, his offensive development has slowed in the upper minors. He reached Double-A Pensacola back in 2014 but then spent the entire 2015 season at that same level. In 2016 he hit for average at Triple-A Louisville but also managed only 3 HR, a sharp decline from previous years, when he reached the mid-teens. In short, Winker has the tools and the low-minors track record to become a productive fantasy outfielder, but his uneven performances in recent years suggest a wait-and-see approach.

#4 - Robert Stephenson (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 24

ETA: 2017

Like Winker, Stephenson has spent years at or near the top of Reds prospect lists. A first-round pick back in 2011, Stephenson also had his progress slowed at Double-A Pensacola, where he spent parts of three seasons (2013-15). No one doubts the quality of his three-pitch arsenal--fastball, curveball, and changeup all have plus potential--but command issues thus far have prevented him from reaching his ceiling as a frontline starter. His 71 walks in 136.2 IP at Triple-A Louisville punctuated a mediocre 2016 season, during which he also struggled with his first taste of the majors. He remains a Tier 2 fantasy prospect, however, because look out if he puts it together. With a strong spring training, a spot in the Reds’ Opening Day rotation would not be out of the question.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats, like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#5 - Taylor Trammell (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 19

ETA: 2020

Thanks to impressive debuts from Nick Senzel and 35th-overall pick Taylor Trammell, the Reds appear to have had a solid 2016 draft. Unlike the polished Senzel, Trammell offers a good deal of projection. The young outfielder, a football star in high school, already is a plus runner with some raw power potential, and his hit-tool might be more advanced at this stage than scouts expected. In 2016 he slashed .303/.374/.421 with 2 HR and 24 SB in 61 games with Rookie-level Billings. He’s a very long way from the majors, but at this early stage Trammell looks like one of the more dynamic and promising offensive players to come out of the 2016 draft. Fantasy owners, at the very least, can dream on his power-speed potential as he makes his full-season debut in 2017.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#6 - Tyler Mahle (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 22

ETA: 2018

A 2013 seventh-round pick, Mahle has ascended Reds prospect lists thanks to an outstanding 2015 season at Low-A Dayton, where he finished 13-8 with a 2.43 ERA, 135 strikeouts and only 25 walks in 152 IP. In 2016 he struggled a bit once reaching Double-A Pensacola but still posted solid numbers across the board. He has good control of four pitches, all of which grade as average or better, and he has exceeded 150 IP in each of the last two seasons, so he appears capable of both remaining a starter and handling a starter’s workload. He’s not an elite prospect, but he could be a sneaky-good mid-rotation starter in the not-too-distant future.

#7 - Aristides Aquino (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 22

ETA: 2018

All things considered, Aquino in 2016 put together one of the more impressive seasons in all the minor leagues. After a 2014 breakout campaign at Rookie-level Billings, he struggled in 2015 with both injuries and poor performance, diminishing his prospect stock and lowering expectations for 2016, when he would give it a go with High-A Daytona of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. All he did this past season, however, was finish second in the rugged FSL with 23 homers. To this impressive power outburst he added 11 steals and a .273 average. Aquino is as toolsy as they come in the Reds system, and his star is back on the rise as he heads to Double-A Pensacola in 2017. His power-speed potential makes him a must-watch in fantasy circles.

#8 - Rookie Davis (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

Acquired from the Yankees as part of a mediocre package for closer Aroldis Chapman, Davis at least has the potential to help the major-league club in the near future. In 2016 Davis put together a nice run of success at Double-A Pensacola, where he finished 10-3 with a 2.94 ERA before struggling in his first taste of Triple-A. His best pitch is a plus fastball, which he complements with a curveball and changeup that grade as average. No doubt Cincinnati management will be anxious to see some return on the Chapman trade, which makes Davis a potential dark-horse candidate to make the Reds rotation by the second half of 2017.

#9 - Sal Romano (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

23rd-round picks do not often ascend the prospect rankings, but Romano has done exactly that since he was drafted out of high school back in 2011. After spending two full seasons at Low-A Dayton in 2013-14, he has shown steady improvement. In 2016 he enjoyed a bit of a breakout campaign at Double-A Pensacola, finishing 6-11 with a 3.52 ERA and a solid 144:34 K:BB ratio in 156 IP. Much depends on his fastball, which grades as his only above-average offering. Still, if he continues to miss bats at Triple-A Louisville, he could find his way into the back end of the Cincinnati rotation.

#10 - Phil Ervin (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 24

ETA: 2017

The 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ervin has shown tantalizing skills but also has a fairly low floor for an older prospect. While fantasy owners should be intrigued by his power-speed potential, his hit-tool has not developed as hoped. He has reached double-figures in home runs each of the last two seasons and has swiped at least 30 bases every year since 2014. In that time, however, his batting average has hovered between .235 and .241. On balance, Ervin’s counting stats make him an interesting fantasy prospect, though he comes with more risk than the average minor-leaguer.