Cincinnati Reds

The Reds minor league system took a significant step up in 2022 with the development of Elly De La Cruz and the acquisition of Noelvi Marte and Cam Collier.  All three have a chance to be impact players, perhaps even stars at the highest level.  Their pitching depth is a little shallow, but with the recent promotion of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo, they have two guys that can pitch at the top of the rotation.  If they can add some pieces through free agency or have some of their other young players hit their ceilings, most notably Edwin Arroyo, Matt McLain, and Brandon Williamson, they could be on their way to contending.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Elly De La Cruz
  • Biggest Mover: Elly De La Cruz (Yep, from a Non-Top 100 guy to a Top 10 guy)
  • Emerging Prospect: Ricardo Cabrera

1. Elly De La Cruz (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS, maybe more
  • Tools Summary: Jazz Chisholm level tools, maybe more.  However, there’s plenty of swing-and-miss in his game…kind of like…

If you’re looking for toolsy players, look no further than Elly De La Cruz.  There’s double-plus raw, 70-speed, and he has a cannon for an arm.  He also stuck out 31% of the time with an aggressive approach (8% BB-Rate).  Therefore, the calculus is easy.  The upside is enormous if he can cut down on his strikeouts and develop a better approach.  To date, he’s been successful with a high BABIP (.402), and at some point, that will correct, and so will the stat line.  He’s fun to own, but he’s far from a finished product.

2. Noelvi Marte (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: After a slow start, he got his sea legs around mid-season and played well the rest of the season.  His star has dimmed as he’s matured and started to fill out (in a not-so-great way).

We aggressively ranked Noelvi Marte as the number nine prospect in the game before the 2022 season.  He didn’t disappoint.  In 115 games, he slashed .279/.371/.458 with 19 home runs and 23 stolen bases.  He also showed a terrific approach and did not chase pitches out of the strike zone.  This resulted in an acceptable 20% strikeout rate.  In many organizations, he would be ranked #1, but since Cruz has such a crazy upside, Marte will have to settle for second.  Regardless of the ranking, he has star potential.

3. Cam Collier (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Complex ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B or Top 40 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has plus future power potential with a feel to hit.

Twitter was a buzz when Cam Collier fell in last July’s Draft.  The Reds licked their chops and used their 18th pick to snag the 17-year-old third baseman.  Collier pulled a Bryce Harper and graduated high school early to play JUCO ball to enhance his skills and, ultimately, his draft position.  There’s plenty of bat speed to project 20+ home run pop.  Also, with his experience in facing college pitchers, there is hope that his game will translate quickly to professional ball.  The ceiling is a Top 15 third baseman or a Top 40 outfielder if a move to right field is necessary with 20+ home run pop and a .260+ batting average with 70 points more for his OBP.  Stolen bases will likely not be a big part of his profile.

4. Edwin Arroyo (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS or 2B
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing speed-power upside with a feel to hit.

Edwin Arroyo was acquired with Noelvi Marte at the trade deadline, and while all the hype at the time was around Marte, Arroyo is no slouch.  Before the trade, he had a breakout season in Modesta, hitting .316 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases.  He struggled after the trade, partially because he moved out of the hitter-friendly California League.  He’s short to the ball and has enough bat speed to hit 15+ home runs at the highest level eventually.  He’s also a 60-runner and should be able to steal 15+ bases.  Assuming he controls his strikeouts, he profiles as a Top 15 infielder (short or second).

5. Matt McLain (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: He appears to have traded contact for power, resulting in more home runs and strikeouts.

The Reds challenged their 2021 first-round pick Matt McLain to a Double-A assignment to begin the 2022 season.  He showed intriguing power and speed but appeared to have traded contact for power as he struck out 28% of the time.  The over-the-fence power is a new development as he didn’t show that in his debut or college.  Is it the right trade-off?  Time will tell, but if he can improve his strikeout rate with his plus speed, plate patience, and newfound power, there’s impact potential at the highest level.

6. Connor Phillips (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP or Reliever
  • Tools Summary: He throws a knee-buckling curveball but needs to add a change-up, or he’s likely a reliever

Connor Phillips’s best offering is a plus, maybe a double-plus curveball.  He can touch the mid-90s with his fastball but sits more than 92 to 93 MPH. If he wants to stay a starter, he needs to work on his change-up.  At 6-foot-2, he has the size to be a starter, but he will likely fall into the role of a multi-inning reliever.

7. Jay Allen (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: Patient approach with plus speed but needs to get stronger.

The Reds challenged 19-year-old Jay Allen to an assignment to Low-A, and he held his own.  In 73 games, he slashed .224/.359/.332 with three home runs and 31 stolen bases.  Most importantly, he showed a disciplined approach, walking 13% of the time while showing a feel for contact.  They did promote him late in the season for a taste of High-A.  He needs to get stronger and likely will as he fills out.  The speed will play on the bases and in the field; at worst, he’s a fourth outfielder.  I think he’ll be more.

8. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (3B)

  • Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: If he can keep his strikeouts in check, he could develop into a full-time regular with 25+ home run pop; most likely at first.

Encarnacion-Strand was drafted in 2022 out of Yavapai, AZ, Junior College, which has become somewhat of a factory of Major League baseball players, including Kole Calhoun, Willie Calhoun, Ken Giles, and Chance Adams.  He has 70-grade raw and demonstrated that in 2022 when he slugged .587 with 32 home runs in 122 games across High and Double-A.  He’s an average runner and, early in his career, might steal six to 10 stolen bases yearly.  He’ll strike out more than you would like, but he should hit enough to hit .250 with a low .300s OBP with 25 to 30 home runs.

9. Brandon Williamson (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP or Reliever
  • Tools Summary: He has the size and fastball to be at least a mid-rotation starter, but he lost the plate in 2022, putting pressure on his ceiling.

After an excellent step-up season in 2021, Brandon Williamson appeared to be a fast riser for the Seattle Mariners with a chance to help the team in 2022.  However, the Mariners had different plans and sent him to Cincinnati as part of the package for Jesse Winker last Spring.  Since the trade, he’s not been the same pitcher.  The stuff isn’t as sharp, and most importantly, he’s lost the plate.  In 25 starts across Double and Triple-A, he walked over five per nine (in 2021, he walked three per nine).  At 6-foot-6, he has the size and fastball, but unless his control improves, he’s a bullpen arm for me.

10. Andrew Abbott (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal but needs to throw more strikes to reach his ceiling of a number four starter.

Andrew Abbott had an excellent 2022 campaign where he pitched to a 3.81 ERA across High and Double-A while also representing the Reds in the Futures Game.  He has a solid arsenal with a fastball that sits 92 to 93 MPH with an above-average curveball and change-up.  The stuff was plenty good to get swings and misses as he struck out 12 per nine while walking 3.7 per nine.  If it all comes together, the ceiling is a number four starter.

11. Chase Petty (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: Big arm with some effort in his delivery

Chase Petty was initially drafted in the first round by the Twins but was traded before the 2022 season when the Reds sent Sonny Gray to Minnesota.  He has a big arm with a fastball that can touch the upper nineties but with effort and violence in his delivery.  His slider took a significant step up in 2022, with his change-up still lagging.  With his size and delivery, he could work better as a reliever, but the Reds will develop him as a starter with a ceiling of a number three starter.

12. Ricardo Cabrera (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with plenty of bat speed, but at 17, he has a long way to go.

Ricardo Cabrera was our Reds’ emerging prospect after signing a seven-figure bonus last January.  He didn’t show much in his professional debut in the DSL, only slashing .253/.363/.380 in 45 games.  Remember, he just turned 17 and still needs to fill out physically.  There’s plenty of athleticism and bat speed to suggest a full-time regular, but it could take several years before we can confirm.

13. Tyler Callihan (2B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Utility Player
  • Tools Summary: Hit-first player with limited power and speed.

After missing the second half of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Tyler Callihan started 2022 doing what he does best…hit!  He started the season in Low-A and posted a .282 batting average, striking out 15% of the time.  However, upon his promotion to High-A, he struggled, hitting only .232 in 56 games. Based on his feel to hit and approach, this issue is likely more a factor of a small sample size than something else going on.  Besides his ability to make contact, there’s not much else here.  He’ll steal a handful of bases and hit five to eight home runs, but his value in his hit-tool is in the mold of Adam Frazier or David Fletcher.

14. Austin Hendrick (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Extra Bat
  • Tools Summary: Former first-round pick who has just not hit.

Hendricks makes this list solely on name recognition.  He was the Reds’ first-round pick in 2020 (pick #12) and hasn’t hit.  There’s plus raw power, but it’s coming with a 37% strikeout rate.  He’s still just 21, but at this point, if he doesn’t improve his contact skills, he’ll likely not make it.

15. Rece Hinds (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Extra Bat
  • Tools Summary: Former second-round pick who has just not hit.

The Reds drafted Rece Hinds in the second round of the 2019 Draft and hoped he would make enough contact to get to his 80-grade raw power.  Unfortunately, the jury is still out, as he struck out 40% of the time in 73 games across High-A and Double-A.  Adding to his risk, he missed considerable time in the second half after fracturing his hamate bone in June.  He turned 22 in September, and there are serious questions about whether he’ll hit enough to become a Major Leaguer.

%d bloggers like this: