When you think Cincinnati Reds prospects, you think Nick Senzel. Maybe second overall pick Hunter Greene comes up, and whether his electric fastball with stand the test of time. Perhaps Jose Siri’s hit streak comes up, maybe Tyler Mahle’s 88-pitch perfect game, or you debate if Jesse Winker will ever get his shot to be an everyday outfielder.
After that, the names and their level of household use drops a bit. But there is plenty to watch. Here are three that stand out.
Stuart Fairchild, CF
Fairchild may prove to be a steal in the second round. The toolsy outfielder out of Wake Forest had a good pro debut in 2017.
Fairchild ended his illustrious career at Wake in a big way. He hit .360 with 19 doubles, 17 home runs, 67 RBI, 21 stolen bases and an ACC-best 94 hits. He was nearly a consensus First Team All-American, while taking home the Gold Glove and his third First Team All-ACC nod in as many years.
The Reds snagged him with the second pick in the second round of the MLB Draft and he continued to hit in the Pioneer League. There, Fairchild slashed .304/.393/.412 with 12 extra base hits (five doubles, four triples, three home runs) while going 12-for-16 on the base paths.
Fairchild does everything well. He clearly has the speed to be a threat on the base paths as well as in the outfield, although some question his arm keeping him there. Fairchild has an advanced approach at the plate, striking out 35 times and walking 19 in 234 professional plate appearances. He has modest power, and it seems primarily pull at this point with all three home runs and four of his doubles going to left field.
Where scouts and our own John Sickels agree Fairchild is a weakness may be in his swing mechanics. It looks quick and compact, but some, such as Baseball America’s Bill Mitchell felt it got longer once he went pro.
This will be a big season for Fairchild, his first full in pro ball. We should know more about that bat and if he can stick in center by season’s end.
Randy Ventura, OF
One word sums up Ventura.
I saw Ventura a bunch last season with the Rome Braves. It was a very fast lineup, with Anfernee Seymour’s elite speed on top, and Ventura blew me away. Here’s what I said after my first time watching:
The 19-year old switch-hitter has always shown speed and sound instincts at the plate and it has translated quite well in his full-season debut. He is slashing .409/.480/.455 while going 6-for-6 in stolen bases. Ventura hasn’t been rattled by older pitching, as he has drawn three walks to three strikeouts. He won’t wow you with power -- of his nine hits, one has been for extra bases -- but he seemingly turns every single into a double. Short and compact standing at 5-foot-9, Ventura made swiping third base look pretty easy.
Ventura was traded in August to the Reds and he headed to Dayton. There, he continued to put the bat on the ball and cause havoc on the base paths. Speed is hands down his biggest asset, and still just 20, other tools could develop to see him flourish as a fourth outfielder.
He may never be a top prospect or an everyday big leaguer, but watching him rattle pitchers both at the plate and on the bases make him one to watch.
Scott Moss, LHP
Here’s the bottom line about Moss. He pitched for Florida. If the Gators have proven anything over the years, it’s they have an eye for pitching.
Moss is a big lefty, listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. He has an outstanding fastball-slider combination that induces strikeouts. He had an injury-riddled career at Florida, missing two seasons thanks to Tommy John surgery. If he can put it together, the Reds found a treasure in the fourth round.
He has made 36 starts over his first two pro seasons. Aside from a week on the disabled list last year, he has remained relatively healthy, pitching 135.2 innings last year. John ranked him the 20th prospect in the Reds system. Here’s why:
Age 23, fourth round pick in 2016 from University of Florida; posted 3.45 ERA with 156/48 K/BB in 136 innings in Low-A, 114 hits; fastball reported anywhere between 88 and 95 MPH, report I had from the Midwest League had him sitting at 91, but heater playing up due to effective mixing with plus slider and decent change-up; also drew positive notice for mound presence, work ethic; he didn’t pitch much in college due to injuries so there could be untapped possibilities here; I wrote him up so you would notice him. ETA 2020.
Moss is still very much a mystery as far as his ceiling goes. That alone should keep him on the radar for at least one more year.