The Cincinnati Reds have added prospects Tyler Stephenson, Tony Santillan, Ryan Hendrix, and Tejay Antone to the 40-man roster and protected them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
The first three names were ones that I wrote about earlier today that felt like they were nearly sure-things to be added. Tyler Stephenson and Tony Santillan currently rate as Top 5 prospects in the organization. Stephenson is now the fourth catcher on the 40-man roster, joining Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali, and Kyle Farmer. Santillan is joined in his addition to the roster by fellow pitchers Ryan Hendrix and Tejay Antone.
Tyler Stephenson is coming off of a season in which he hit .285 in Double-A Chattanooga. The catcher then went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .353/.421/.549 in 51 at-bats. The former 1st round draft pick and progressed nicely up the ladder and should be ready for Triple-A to being 2020.
For Ryan Hendrix, he too, was a player that I expected to be added. He’s got outstanding stuff, and his numbers have been great. His ERA has been under 1.90 in each of the last two seasons between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Chattanooga. Another team would have easily selected him. He was rated as the organizations 16th best prospect after this past season.
The surprise of sorts was adding Tejay Antone. The right-handed pitcher wasn’t among the organizations Top 25 prospects. He was, however, someone that was noted as a player that could be added. He’s a huge groundball machine who has had success in both Double-A and Triple-A this year – though as it went with most other pitchers, his ERA did jump up in Triple-A with the juiced Major League baseball in play.
The player who was left off
There was a rather big surprise, at least to me, about who was left off of the roster – TJ Friedl. Here’s what I wrote about him earlier today:
The outfielder went undrafted out of Nevada back in 2016, but a lot of teams failed at their jobs and didn’t know that he was draft eligible. After joining Team USA that summer and going on a tear teams began to look at him to prepare for the 2017 draft, only to then realize he was eligible that year and since he went unselected, he was now a free agent. The Reds took advantage of their draft position, which comes with more bonus pool money, and they used what they had remaining before facing penalties of 1st round draft pick forfeiture to sign him to the largest domestic signing bonus ever to an undrafted free agent.
Much like his teammate this year in Double-A Tony Santillan, health was a bit of an issue for TJ Friedl in 2019. An ankle injury would take out his season early in July as he needed surgery to get back to full health. He hit just .235 on the year up to that point, but posted a .347 on-base percentage and slugged .385. When he’s healthy he has always hit better than that. He makes contact, he draws walks, he can run very well, and he can play a quality center field. Friedl may not be Major League ready today, but he will be soon. With a floor of a 4th outfielder and a ceiling as a starting center fielder, the Reds 11th rated prospect is an easy choice to add.
He felt like a guy who was a lot more of a lock to me than apparently he was, especially since the Reds could have added him, and didn’t. The roster spot is still there. If I’m another organization he’s near the top of the list of players that I’m looking at in three weeks at the Winter Meetings when it’s Rule 5 Draft day.