DAYTON, OH -Baseball America, the trade publication for Minor League Baseball, has announced its annual list of top-10 prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Selection to the top-10 prospect list is a notable achievement for any player among the approximately 200 minor leaguers in the Reds system.
Nick Senzel (sin-ZELL), who spent the second half of the 2016 season as the Dayton Dragons third baseman, was selected as the Reds #1 prospect. Senzel played in 58 games for the Dragons in 2016 after being selected in the first round of the '16 June draft by the Reds out of the University of Tennessee.
Seven of the 10 players on this year's list have played for the Dayton Dragons. Three of the top-10 prospects could play for the Dragons in 2017.
Senzel enjoyed one of the finest half-seasons in Dragons history in 2016. He batted .329 with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in while stealing 15 bases and playing strong defense at third base. Senzel's .567 slugging percentage was the highest in Dragons history for any player appearing in at least 50 games, edging Austin Kearns' mark of .558 in 2000. Senzel's slugging percentage would have ranked first in the Midwest League if he had reached the required number of plate appearances to qualify; his .415 on on-base percentage would have ranked second while his .329 batting average would have tied for third. Senzel collected 33 extra base hits in 58 games with the Dragons (23 doubles, three triples, seven home runs), the best ratio of extra base hits per game in Dragons history among players to play in at least 50 games. Jay Bruce, with 63 extra base hits in 117 games in 2006, had the previous best mark.
Left-handed pitcher Amir Garrett, a key member of the Dragons in 2013 and '14, is ranked as the Reds #3 prospect heading into the 2017 season, the same position he was listed in 2016. Garrett was selected as the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2016, splitting the season between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville and leading the organization with a 2.55 earned run average.
Right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson was selected as the Reds #4 prospect. Stephenson spent part of 2012 and most of 2013 with the Dragons. He was rated as the Reds #1 prospect in each of the past three seasons and made his Major League debut with the Reds in 2016 while spending most of the year at Louisville.
Jesse Winker, an all-star with the 2013 Dragons, is #6. Winker batted .308 despite dealing with a wrist injury at Louisville in 2016. His batting average was the third highest in the Reds organization.
Outfielder Aristides Aquino, who spent the 2015 season with the Dragons, is listed at #7. Aquino won the Florida State League Most Valuable Player award at Daytona in 2016 and was chosen as the Reds Minor League Player of the Year. He led the Reds organization with 23 home runs in 2016.
The Dragons all-time career leader in innings pitched and starts, Sal Romano, is rated as the Reds #8 prospect. Romano spent all of both '13 and '14 with the Dragons. He pitched at Double-A Pensacola in 2016.
Meanwhile, three players on the Top-10 list could spend the 2017 season with the Dragons. Highest-rated among those prospects is outfielder Taylor Trammell, who is listed as the Reds #5 prospect. Trammell was the Reds second selection in the 2016 draft, taken after Senzel and before catcher Chris Okey. Trammell, 19, a former Georgia high school football star, was also named by Baseball America as both the "Fastest Baserunner" and "Best Athlete" among all prospects in the Reds system. He hit .303 at Billings in the Pioneer League last summer after signing with the Reds as a supplemental first round draft pick.
Right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez, signed by the Reds as an international free agent out of Cuba in 2016, is rated at #9. Gutierrez did not appear in an official game after signing with the Reds but did appear in their fall Instructional League program and was extremely impressive. He could be part of the Dragons starting rotation in 2017.
Catcher Tyler Stephenson, the Reds #1 draft pick in 2015, is listed as the Reds #10 prospect. Stephenson spent all of 2016 with the Dragons but suffered a wrist injury in May that shortened his season to 39 games. He is expected to return to the Dragons in 2017, still just 20 years old, and could enjoy a breakout season now that he is healthy.
Left-handed pitcher Cody Reed, the youngest of three pitchers obtained in 2015 from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for former Dragon Johnny Cueto, is listed as the Reds #2 prospect for the second straight year. He is the only player on the list who is not a former Dragon or possible future Dragon.
Here is the complete list from Baseball America:
1) Nick Senzel, third baseman
2) Cody Reed, left-handed pitcher
3) Amir Garrett, left-handed pitcher
4) Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
5) Taylor Trammell, outfielder
6) Jesse Winker, outfielder
7) Aristides Aquino, outfielder
8) Sal Romano, right-handed pitcher
9) Vladimir Gutierrez, right-handed pitcher
10) Tyler Stephenson, catcher
Baseball America also selected the Reds prospects with the "best tools" in several categories. In addition to Trammell's two mentions, Senzel was named "Best Hitter for Average" while Aquino was picked as the "Best Power Hitter." Winker was named as the hitter with the "Best Strike Zone Discipline."
On the mound, 2016 Dragons flamethrower Tony Santillan was picked as the pitcher with the "Best Fastball." He is expected to return to the Dragons in 2017. Ariel Hernandez, who spent the first half of 2016 in Dayton, was picked as the pitcher with the "Best Curve Ball." Tyler Mahle, a star with the Dragons in 2015, was noted for "Best Control" while former Dragon Ismael Guillon was named for "Best Change-up" and Cody Reed was listed for "Best Slider." The full list of Best Tools is here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2017-cincinnati-reds-top-10-insider/#772x4qGSc7hLz2Bs.97
Reds # 1 Prospects by season from Baseball America since 2000 (listed with the upcoming season):
* indicates player played for Dragons
2017: *Nick Senzel, third baseman
2016: *Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
2015: *Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
2014: *Robert Stephenson, right-handed pitcher
2013: *Billy Hamilton, shortstop/center fielder
2012: *Devin Mescoraco, catcher
2011: Aroldis Chapman, left-handed pitcher
2010: *Todd Frazier, third baseman/outfielder
2009: Yonder Alonso, first baseman
2008: *Jay Bruce, outfielder
2007: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2006: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2005: *Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher
2004: Ryan Wagner, right-handed pitcher
2003: *Chris Gruler, right-handed pitcher
2002: *Austin Kearns, outfielder
2001: *Austin Kearns, outfielder
2000: Gookie Dawkins, shortstop
Complete information on the list is available at baseballamerica.com or by going directly to the story at this link: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2017-cincinnati-reds-top-10-prospects/#KmQh6V3CdQR2flKP.97
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.