With alternate site coming to an end, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.
Top position prospect: Jonathan India, 3B (No. 5 on Reds Top 30)
When the Reds took India No. 5 overall in the 2018 Draft, they hoped the Florida Gators product would bring the advanced power bat he showed during his junior year with him and make a quick ascent to the big leagues. While he did reach Double-A in his first full season in 2019, it didn’t go exactly according to plan as the infielder hit just .259/.365/.402 and really scuffled in the Arizona Fall League (.133/.254/.333).
In India’s defense, he spent most of the year playing through a nagging wrist injury that clearly hampered him, particularly in the power production department. But now that his wrist is 100 percent, the guy at Prasco Park, the Reds’ alternate site in Mason, Ohio, looked like the guy the Reds took in the '18 Draft.
“There’s a consistency to his approach,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. “We saw an increase in bat speed, an increase in power.”
India was shut down for the last four or five days at the alternate site because of a pulled lat, but he’s already fully recovered and back to preparing for what could be a big 2021 season.
“More than anything, there’s a consistency of driving the ball to all fields,” Pender said. “There’s an overall improvement and maturity in his hitting approach.”
Top pitching prospect: Hunter Greene, RHP (No. 2)
Typically, there’s some rust a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery has to shake off upon his return. Greene had elbow surgery in April of 2019 and had last thrown a competitive pitch in late July of 2018. The Reds knew he had worked hard at home on his rehab, but couldn’t have been more thrilled with just how polished the former No. 2 overall pick looked.
“He came ready,” Pender said. “This was the first time he was on the field, competing. His ability to command and throw strikes was surprisingly improved for someone who had not pitched for a while.”
In addition to showing his usual power stuff, Greene has also added a cutter that gives him another effective weapon to go with his elite fastball and above-average slider.
“All of his pitches improved,” Pender said. “He did a great job on his own; he was facing batters at home. He made significant strides with the consistency of his strike throwing. Ultimately, the idea was to get him some competitive innings to get him ready for next year.”
Youngest prospect: Austin Hendrick, OF (No. 3)
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 Draft out of the Pittsburgh area high school ranks, Hendrick is just 19 and obviously has zero professional experience. He wasn’t at Prasco Park for long, only for the last two weeks, but he clearly got a lot out of it and brought it with him to instructs in Arizona.
“He talked about the ability to be around the older players,” Pender said. “To interact with veteran guys, who took the time to help him and help him acclimate to his first opportunity in professional baseball was great for him. He’s an impressive kid, a physical specimen with aptitude and desire to get better. He certainly showed that at Prasco.”
2020 Draft picks
Hendrick was the only draftee at the alternate site. He and the other five selections are all in instructs now in Goodyear, Ariz.
Top prospect Nick Lodolo already had good stuff and the kind of advanced feel for pitching teams covet in a college lefty in the Draft, and that’s why he was the first pitcher taken (No. 7 overall) in the 2019 Draft. Even after pitching very well during his summer pro debut, the TCU product understood he needed to improve his changeup to be an elite-level starter. He was forced to throw it a lot this summer without having to worry about results and he made huge strides in understanding how to sell the pitch with deception and when to use it.
No. 7 prospect Mike Siani was the Reds’ fourth-rounder in 2018, one who got a well-above slot $2 million bonus to sign. Over the course of his first full year he showed that he’s a gifted defender who is going to play center field for a long time. But the Reds are also thrilled with the gains he’s showing on the other side of the ball. He’s gotten more mature, both physically and in terms of his approach. Facing older and more advanced pitching, he started showing better swing awareness and made better adjustments.
The Reds were thrilled to get No. 9 prospect Rece Hinds and his power potential in the second round of the 2019 Draft, but he barely got to play as a quadriceps injury limited him to just eight at-bats during his summer debut. He was looking good early in the spring and then the shutdown happened, meaning he really hadn’t played competitive baseball since his senior year of high school. He definitely was overmatched when he first got to the alternate site, but he started to make adjustments, key growth for a power-first hitter some worried about in terms of his ability to make contact. He also showed vast improvement with his defense at third.
No. 10 prospect Tony Santillan had a big 2018 season in the Florida State and Southern Leagues. But in 2019, his fastball and his command regressed, largely because his mechanics got out of whack and partially because he was hampered a bit by a leg injury. This summer, the velocity was back and his secondary stuff was much sharper.