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Inbox: Impressed by Reds' rebuilding effort?

August 24, 2017

While we had a little bit of early Draft fever at MLB Pipeline this week, there are still prospects playing in Minor League Baseball. With games on-going into September, including the playoffs, I thought it was best to focus on those guys for this week's Inbox.But that doesn't mean you

While we had a little bit of early Draft fever at MLB Pipeline this week, there are still prospects playing in Minor League Baseball. With games on-going into September, including the playoffs, I thought it was best to focus on those guys for this week's Inbox.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't catch a little bit of our Draft bug. This week, we rolled out Top 10 college and Top 10 high school prospects lists for the 2018 Draft class. Take a look, remembering that many of these names will be first-rounders next June and will work their way onto top prospects list shortly thereafter.

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The Reds fell just short of our revamped top 10 that came out right after the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they didn't miss by much. We didn't "officially" rank beyond the top 10, but I'm pretty sure the Reds came in at No. 11, or No. 12 at the lowest.
Here's the interesting thing about the rebuild. Overall, it's going well and the system is clearly in the upper half of all organizations in baseball. There's a lot of high-end talent and they've definitely improved the depth up and down the system. But I feel much of that has come by way of the last few Drafts and international signings. Every single player on the team's top 10 list was originally signed by the Reds, with eight of the 10 coming via the Draft. Just below the top 10 are some of the big-ticket international signings.
When you think rebuild, though, you think about trades and restocking the system that way. The organizational depth has certainly improved because of some of those deals that were made, but the impact has been somewhat minimal. Jose Peraza, Luis Castillo and Rookie Davis are young players acquired via trade who have played in Cincinnati, but only Castillo has made more than a moderate contribution. Some of the other players who were brought in have not performed quite as well as hoped.
Luckily, the system hasn't had to and doesn't need to rely solely on those acquired players. Picking near the top of the Draft certainly has its advantages and 2016 No. 2 overall pick Nick Senzel has more than lived up to his advanced billing. This year's No. 2 overall pick, Hunter Greene, is just getting started and the scouting staff has done a great job using the bonus pool system to bring in other high-ceiling talent like Taylor Trammell in 2016, as well as Jeter Downs and Jacob Heatherly in this year's Draft. If many of those players take steps forward, I could easily see the Reds climbing back onto the Top 10 farm systems list in 2018.

I've been getting a few questions about Andujar, the Yankees' No. 6 prospect (also No. 6 on the Top 10 third basemen list). I do agree with Rich that he has little left to prove at the Minor League level. He's excelled at two stops this year, with a combined .319/.357/.506 line that includes 15 homers and 76 RBIs. I think everyone wants to see more of him in New York, especially after his 3-for-4 big league debut.
I'll disagree slightly with Rich about his defense. Sure, he can get better, he is just 22 after all, but I think he's going to be just fine at the hot corner, and he has one of the strongest arms of any infield prospect in baseball. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League and he was much better than expected defensively. In terms of what the Yankees will do with him, it's possible he could be their third baseman at the start of the 2018 season. Chase Headley is signed through 2018, but the offseason might change things.

Now, about that Top 100. Andujar has been in the next grouping of prospects for some time now. I don't want to give away too much, but I'd keep an eye on that Top 100 list as this month comes to a close. The third baseman could find his way onto the Top 100 before you know it.

I'll say this: Astros fans sure love Whitley. And for good reason. When I wrote a story about him reaching Double-A in his first full season, there was some Twitter discussion about his ranking in the Top 100. Currently, he's at No. 40 overall, No. 10 on the Top 10 right-handed pitchers list and No. 2 on the Astros' Top 30. Accusations of bias were thrown around, but luckily I do not suffer the slings and arrows of social media ne'er do wells.
I'll be the first to admit that perhaps he's under-ranked and underappreciated by many in the prospect business. Of the many midseason rankings that came out, only Keith Law had Whitley higher than we did (Law put him at No. 36). But is he a top 10 overall prospect?

We won't know for sure until we re-rank in January, but for him to reach that level, it would pretty much mean he'd have to be considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Currently, the first 11 players on the Top 100 are hitters, with White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech the first hurler at No. 12 overall. I'm not quite sure Whitley would surpass him, Walker Buehler of the Dodgers or the Rays' Brent Honeywell, who are Nos. 13 and 14 on the list, but I think he's moved into the conversation. His Double-A debut that saw him toss six shutout innings and strike out 11 certainly didn't hurt. It should make for an interesting internal debate and even if Whitley starts a step behind that trio of righties, I could see the 2016 first-rounder ending up atop that list, and in the Top 10 overall, at some point during the 2018 season.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.