Cincinnati Reds Top 46 Prospects by Eric Longenhagen January 13, 2023 © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK Top Prospects Team Lists 2023 2022 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Cincinnati Reds. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb. A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here. All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Reds Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Elly De La Cruz 21.0 AA SS 2024 60 2 Spencer Steer 25.1 MLB 3B 2023 50 3 Edwin Arroyo 19.4 A 2B 2026 50 4 Cam Collier 18.1 R 3B 2028 50 5 Noelvi Marte 21.2 A+ 3B 2024 50 6 Chase Petty 19.8 A+ SP 2026 45+ 7 Matt McLain 23.4 AA SS 2024 45 8 Connor Phillips 21.7 AA MIRP 2025 45 9 Brandon Williamson 24.8 AAA SP 2023 45 10 Michael Siani 23.5 MLB CF 2023 45 11 Christian Encarnacion-Strand 23.1 AA 3B 2025 40+ 12 Carlos Jorge 19.3 R 2B 2026 40+ 13 Lyon Richardson 23.0 A+ SP 2024 40+ 14 Andrew Moore 23.4 A SIRP 2025 40+ 15 Andrew Abbott 23.6 AA SP 2025 40+ 16 Daniel Vellojin 22.8 AA C 2023 40+ 17 Jay Allen II 20.1 A+ CF 2026 40+ 18 Yerlin Confidan 20.1 A RF 2025 40+ 19 Victor Acosta 18.6 R SS 2025 40 20 Ricky Karcher 25.3 AAA SIRP 2023 40 21 Joe Boyle 23.4 AA SIRP 2024 40 22 Levi Stoudt 25.1 AAA SP 2023 40 23 Carson Spiers 25.2 AAA SP 2024 40 24 Ricardo Cabrera 18.2 R 2B 2027 40 25 Sal Stewart 19.1 R 3B 2028 40 26 Jose Montero 19.5 R SP 2026 40 27 Cade Hunter 22.1 A C 2027 40 28 Steve Hajjar 22.4 A+ SP 2025 40 29 Bryce Bonnin 24.3 A+ SIRP 2024 40 30 Matheu Nelson 24.0 A+ C 2025 40 31 Tyler Callihan 22.6 A+ 2B 2024 40 32 Logan Tanner 22.2 A C 2027 40 33 Hector Rodriguez 18.8 A 2B 2026 35+ 34 Donovan Benoit 24.0 A+ SIRP 2025 35+ 35 Austin Hendrick 21.6 A+ RF 2024 35+ 36 Allan Cerda 23.1 AA RF 2023 35+ 37 Daniel Duarte 26.1 MLB SIRP 2023 35+ 38 Vin Timpanelli 24.3 AA SIRP 2024 35+ 39 Dennis Boatman 23.1 A+ SIRP 2025 35+ 40 Kenya Huggins 20.1 R SIRP 2026 35+ 41 Chris McElvain 22.3 R SP 2026 35+ 42 Luis Mey 21.6 A SIRP 2023 35+ 43 Bryce Hubbart 21.5 A SP 2026 35+ 44 Thomas Farr 23.7 A+ SIRP 2025 35+ 45 Javi Rivera 23.1 A+ SP 2025 35+ 46 Kevin Abel 23.9 A SP 2025 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 2B SS 3B CF RF SP SIRP MIRP 60 FV Prospects 1. Elly De La Cruz, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/70 45/60 70/70 45/55 70 De La Cruz has the most exciting combination of tools and defensive fit in the minors, a switch-hitter with plus-plus power, speed, arm strength, and all-around athleticism, as well as a somewhat more consistent look at shortstop than he had a year ago, even at 6-foot-5. He followed up his splashy 2021 with a ’22 tidal wave, reaching Double-A Chattanooga as a 20-year-old while tabulating over 70 extra-base hits and about 40 stolen bases. He sports ridiculous all-fields power from the left side of the plate, floats from base to base with huge, graceful strides, can clock home-to-first times close to 4.00 seconds, and still has room for much, much more mass on his frame before it detracts from his mobility enough to push him off shortstop. While he could stand to be a little more consistent on defense (many balls got through him early this winter with Licey), the range, bend, hands, and arm strength to play short are all comfortably here. If he does that while getting to most of his power, he’ll be one of the better players in baseball — it’s just that De La Cruz has struck out a concerning 30% of the time. Even at shortstop, there isn’t a full-time player in the big leagues who punches out quite that often. The closest contemporary statistical predecessors and tool-based comps to make for De La Cruz are Willy Adames (a 29% K% hitter who has performed like a 60 because he gets to his power and plays great defense) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (27.6% K%). Elly’s tools are big enough to stand with those guys, but if he’s striking out at a 30% clip at Double-A, it’s likely he’ll do so more often against big league pitching, which puts him in a dangerous area. His strikeout problems stem from poor breaking ball and offspeed recognition, as he chases those pitches a fair bit (about a 40% rate against sliders and curveballs at Double-A per Synergy) while also swinging through lots of them in the zone (75% Z-Contact% versus non-fastballs). His overall chase rates remain a little worse than average but they’re not terrifying. There are plenty of good players on the big league O-Swing% leaderboard, including many young stars, but these issues together create hit tool-related bust risk for Elly. Obviously he’s ranked here as if he’s set to become a star player anyway. Added to the 40-man roster in November, De La Cruz is on pace for regular big league playing time in 2024. 50 FV Prospects 2. Spencer Steer, 3B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Oregon (MIN) Age 25.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 50/50 45/50 40/40 40/50 45 As both the Twins and Reds (Steer was drafted by Minnesota and came to Cincinnati in the Tyler Mahle trade) searched for a viable defensive position for Steer, he has backed into valuable defensive versatility that should keep him on the field in all but a few game situations. After the Reds gave him some time at first base in 2022, Steer now has experience at all four infield positions. He sometimes struggles with arm accuracy from third base and has sub-par range at second, but his footwork, hands, and actions keep him afloat at each spot. Cincinnati’s present roster situation funnels him to third base, but Jonathan India‘s injury history, Joey Votto’s age and handedness, and the Reds’ willingness to play Kyle Farmer at shortstop in the past likely mean that Steer will see time all over the infield throughout the next few years, and this flexibility along with his hitting skill should make him nearly an everyday, every-inning player despite some of his defensive blemishes. The bat is Steer’s carrying tool and has been since his days at Oregon. The addition of a leg kick in 2021 increased his power output without disrupting his timing at the plate, and now Steer has a well-rounded hit/patience/power toolkit that would profile in a 50 FV capacity at any non-first base position. He has some vulnerability to high fastballs and tends to do most of his extra-base damage against middle-middle mistakes, but Steer is capable of making line drive contact in basically all parts of the strike zone, and is especially adept at poking outer-third pitches the opposite way for base hits. He’s a good hitter who will stabilize an infield spot in Cincinnati for the next half decade or so. 3. Edwin Arroyo, 2B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Central Pointe Christian (FL) (SEA) Age 19.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 50/55 25/55 55/55 40/50 50 Arroyo is a hard-swinging shortstop who is off to a much more powerful offensive start than was anticipated when he signed out of high school. Back then, he was a switch-hitting, switch-throwing prepster who would pitch left-handed and play the infield, too talented to be a sideshow but not enough to go in the first round, as 10 high school shortstops were drafted ahead of him. He fell behind some of the other high school infielders in his draft class due to doubts that Arroyo could stay at short and concerns about his hit tool. To an extent, each of those things is still true. Arroyo hit for a surprising amount of power at Low-A Modesto before he was sent to the Reds as part of the Luis Castillo trade, golfing out 13 homers and slugging .514. He doesn’t have huge raw juice (his peak exit velos are in the 106-108 mph range — a bit shy of big league average, but still good for a player Arroyo’s age), and his bat-to-ball and chase rate stats are comfortably below average, but Arroyo lifts the baseball with remarkable consistency. His left-handed swing has natural pull-side loft and he’s adept at impacting the baseball way out in front of the plate from the right side, accomplishing the same goal with a slightly different look. His open batting stance and deep pre-stride crouch are much more extreme than they were last year, and this change might have enabled him to see the ball better (similar to the way opening his stance helped unlock peak D-backs Luis Gonzalez) and improve his bat-to-ball ability enough for all of his modest power to play, especially in the Cal League. For a relatively compact hitter, Arroyo’s swing is swift and explosive. He’s going to get to whatever raw power he ends up growing into and has a good shot to be a middle infield regular, though probably not until 2026 or so just based on his 40-man timeline.There are mixed feelings about his defensive fit, with most of my sources projecting him to second base (a mix of scouts and analysts), which is where I had him coming out of high school. He shares many similarities with Eduardo Escobar. 4. Cam Collier, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Chipola JC (CIN) Age 18.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 55/70 20/70 40/30 45/60 70 Not since Bryce Harper has a prospect carved a path quite like Collier’s, one that was optimized to appeal to draft models, weighty in-person scouting looks, and perhaps lead to a very young eventual free agency. The son of 15-year pro Lou Collier, Cam was among the most physical prospects in the 2022 draft even though he reclassified from the ’23 group and was one of its youngest at just over 17-and-a-half on draft day. Like Harper, Collier got his GED a year before he was originally set to graduate, went to a prominent junior college to play against older guys during his draft spring, and then (going beyond Harper) used the later timing of the draft to also play on Cape Cod against an even better collection of talent between the end of the JUCO season and the draft. He was a model-friendly prospect because of his age and performance, and a scout-friendly prospect because of his relative polish (especially on defense), physicality, and showcase tools. It seemed as though he had potential landing spots in the 2022 draft’s top 10 picks, but he ended up parachuting to 18, and signing for an over-slot $5 million. Despite being this size at this age, which might typically cause long-term 1B/DH projection, Collier’s defensive feet, hands, actions, and arm strength are all excellent, and make him a future plus third base defender. Because he participated in Team USA and showcase events from a very young age, Collier generated an inordinate amount of amateur data. Synergy Sports has film of Collier seeing about 1,300 pitches since 2020, a gigantic sample size for a teenage prospect. His on-paper whiff and chase rates are about average, while his peak power and hard hit rates are at the top of the scale for a hitter his age. Collier has stand-out raw strength and generates it across a very short mechanical distance, capable of driving thunderous contact to center and left/center with a flick of his wrists. His swing, however, works in such a way that his contact quality tends to be highly variable, his bat path really only enables him to work middle-away with any authority, he gets jammed a bunch, and he doesn’t seem to be able to go down to scoop or spoil pitches that finish down-and-in. Pro pitchers attacked him with lots of back-foot breaking balls in Collier’s brief ACL and instructs run, and while he spotted lots of them and hammered a few that didn’t finish, he struggled to touch any that were even close to well-executed. The swing particulars of an 18-year-old aren’t especially important, and Collier’s skill set gives him star-level ceiling, this is just a specific, key area to be sensitive to as he develops. 5. Noelvi Marte, 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SEA) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 60/65 30/50 40/40 30/50 60 Marte had a long and eventful 2022 that culminated in him looking absolutely gassed during the Arizona Fall League. After playing some winter ball for Gigantes del Cibao, Marte saw 520 regular season plate appearances, changed organizations as the highest-profile prospect in the blockbuster Luis Castillo trade in the midst of those, went to Germany as part of Team Spain’s WBC qualifier roster, and then came back to the US and played for another six weeks in the Fall League. His desert lethargy was understandable, but it’s still the most recent thing the industry has seen. There have been prior instances of prospects, including Mike Trout and Buster Posey, who had a terrible Fall League coming off a long year simply because they were tired, and then rebounded the following season. It’s prudent to bake this context into how one thinks about Marte, but there are also some statistical yellow flags evident in his regular season performance as well as some harsh realities to come to grips with regarding his trajectory on defense. His frame is maxed out, and Marte is not currently mobile enough to project as a big league shortstop defender. Because he’s still so young, the chances are better that Marte can course correct in this area, and there’s recent precedent for that path in Julio Rodríguez, who became sleeker and faster to stay in center field. But assuming that third base is now his likeliest position, more pressure will be put on Marte’s bat, and while there’s good news in that regard, there also needs to be refinement if Marte is going to hit enough to play an everyday role at third base. For instance, Marte isn’t easy to beat in the strike zone. His hands load in a pretty typical spot that keeps him short back to the baseball, and he doesn’t swing and miss a ton. He’s also shown some ability to make mechanical adjustments, trading a high leg kick for a lower, longer stride that makes it even more evident just how powerful and balanced his lower half is than his previous swing did. Still, the quality of Marte’s contact, as much as he might make, is not consistent or authoritative, and this was true in the regular season when he looked twitchier and looser than he did in the fall. Considering how strong he is and how much contact he makes, there is a shocking dearth of measurable, high-quality contact happening here. It’s possible Marte simply lacks feel for squaring up the baseball, and/or that his power output was caricatured by the hitting environments of Seattle’s A-ball clubs (Everett is hitter-friendly, and pockets of the Cal League are extremely so), or was simply over-evaluated in the first place. It’s not typical for a prospect who was just put on a 40-man roster to have this much perceived volatility or create this level of polarization. You can do some thought exercises around where he’d go were Noelvi a 21-year-old draft prospect, or play “would you rather” with the names of other prospects to try to triangulate where he should fall on the FV scale, and all of that went into placing him here, and close to 75th overall amid other high-ceiling, high-risk players. 45+ FV Prospects 6. Chase Petty, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Mainland HS (MIN) Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/70 40/50 20/45 93-96 / 100 The track record for high school pitchers who are among the hardest throwers in their class is not very good, and even after a relatively successful first full pro season, this spectre follows Petty, who came to the Reds from Minnesota during the fall of 2022 in a trade for Sonny Gray. He was up to 102 mph and routinely sat in the mid-to-upper 90s during his draft year, then “only” averaged 94 mph throughout his first full pro season while working four innings per outing. The natural tailing action of his fastball diverges from the movement of his mid-80s slider in such a way that righty batters are often frozen by the latter, and Petty might develop letter-high fastball utility due to his heater’s shallow angle. Arm actions as long as Petty’s tend to be difficult to repeat, and aren’t typically the sort on which you project huge changeup growth, but Petty’s 2022 was very encouraging on both fronts. He never walked more than three batters in any outing (and only did that three times), threw each of his pitches for strikes at least 60% of the time (his fastball nearly 70% of the time), and the rate stats on his changeup were quite good even though he didn’t use it very often. Well-built and strong, Petty has uncommon athleticism, and even though the cement on his frame is closer to being dry than it is for most teenage prospects, there are signs of growth and an increased likelihood of Petty developing into a starter. 45 FV Prospects 7. Matt McLain, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from UCLA (CIN) Age 23.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 45/50 45/50 60/60 50/55 50 McLain’s 2022 could not be farther flung from his amateur scouting report and reputation. McLain’s bat was well-regarded enough that the Diamondbacks took him in the first round coming out of high school. He didn’t sign and went to UCLA with the hope that he’d hit enough over the next few years to be drafted even higher, which he was. He was initially evaluated as a plus-hitting middle infielder who wasn’t a lock to stay at shortstop. Now McLain’s profile has done a 180, and he’s more or less a slam dunk shortstop with a power-over-hit offensive skill set. McLain struck out more in 2022 than he did in his entire college career. He also hit more home runs. His underlying contact quality and batted ball data suggests that the power output is for real (a 31% groundball rate, a barrel rate already above what is typical for a starting big league shortstop), but so is McLain’s vulnerability to fastballs up around his hands, which he struggles badly to get on top of. Other than a subtle change to the position his hands load from, there hasn’t been a noticeable swing overhaul or anything like that here, but there’s a significant enough signal in the data to alter the way we think about McLain’s skill set. He doesn’t have huge raw power, but he’s going to get to the power he does have in games via the lift in his swing and a selective approach that prioritizes damage. Big league pitchers are going to force him to make an adjustment against those high fastballs, creating some volatility that mimics that of Jeter Downs. The defense and on-base skill gives McLain some amount of floor, but he’ll still need to patch that hole at the letters to profile as an everyday shortstop, and he’s more likely to end up in a valuable utility role. 8. Connor Phillips, MIRP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from McLennan JC (SEA) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 45/55 60/60 30/40 30/40 95-97 / 99 Phillips looked like he’d be the next Mariners pitching prospect to break out when, after an electric 2022 spring, he was the Player to Be Named Later in the pre-season Jesse Winker deal. Drafted out of a Texas JUCO, Phillips turned 21 at the start of the 2022 season and was sitting 93-96 mph just before he was traded to Cincinnati. His velocity continued to trend upward throughout the year, and he finished the season having averaged 95-97 while absorbing a nearly 40-inning workload bump from 2021. He is still about the age of a draftable college pitching prospect, but Phillips has already reached Double-A and is on pace to make a big league debut sometime in 2024, way ahead of most pitchers his age in terms of timeline, though perhaps not in polish and pitchability. Even though the durability box has now been checked, Phillips still has plenty of command-related relief risk, walking opponents at a 14% clip in 2022, a little more than one walk every other inning. He has a starter’s mix, though, headlined by the fastball and supplemented by two above-average breaking balls. The slider is used more often, but Phillips’ spike curveball is his best breaker, a gorgeous, present plus pitch with big-arcing depth that he can reliably land for early-count strikes. Its interplay with his fastball at the upper corner of the strike zone gives both left- and right-handed hitters fits, though release variation makes it a less reliable chase pitch. Hitters seem to be able to spot him getting way over the top of the baseball when he wants to bury it in the dirt, and lay off it. His hard slider is laterally-oriented, a little easier for righty hitters to spoil and poke at than is ideal even when Phillips has located it well, but it still gives him a distinct second breaking ball. The slider’s raw length, its amount of movement, indicate the pitch might have more ceiling that could be teased out with time and adjustment. Phillips is just 21, remember. Boxy and more powerful than he is graceful, he looks more like a reliever as far as delivery, athleticism, and feel to pitch are concerned. Even if that’s the case, his stuff quality and repertoire depth would make him a nice multi-inning weapon. He’s much closer to that reality than he is ready to be a big league starter, and that will probably also be true in 2024, when a typical timeline would put Phillips on the 40-man. Given his age, it makes sense for the Reds to try as hard as they can to let Phillips develop as a starter into his first and second option years, so even though he’s already pitched at Double-A, he’s probably a couple years away from a steady big league role. 9. Brandon Williamson, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from TCU (SEA) Age 24.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 50/55 45/50 35/45 90-94 / 95 There’s incongruity between what scout sources saw of Williamson in 2022 and what his data bears out. In a season split between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, Williamson’s strikeout rates dipped to career lows while his walk rates leapt to career highs upon each subsequent promotion. He made 27 healthy starts and held his 90-94 mph velocity all season, which is a stroke in the “pro” column for Williamson’s 2022 after he had shown velocity fluctuations in the past. But after a fantastic May, the length and efficiency of those starts took a nosedive, and he walked 36 hitters across his final 45 innings (11 starts) of the slate before he was added to the 40-man roster following the season. Scouts and executives who saw Williamson still thought he pitched pretty well in their looks. Williamson is always likely to be inefficient from a strike-throwing standpoint because of how he pitches off his fastball, aiming at the top of the strike zone and above, where his heater is less likely to be hit but also less likely to be a strike. Off of that fastball he works a mid-80s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a low-80s changeup, and his ability to mix these offerings in an unpredictable fashion still excites scouts and gives Williamson a good shot to pitch toward the back of a contender’s rotation. Aside from the slider, none of his other secondaries played like an above-average offering in 2022. His curveball has visually-pleasing depth but is perhaps a little too slow to fool upper-level hitters, while the changeup’s sink action looks great on paper but doesn’t play as well in games. Williamson’s slider does, however, and it can act as a chase pitch like most sliders do and also parachute into the top of the strike zone from above, as hitters don’t seem to be able to tell it apart from his fastball when he locates it up there. Nearly 25 now, it’s getting a little late for the command component of Williamson’s skill set to develop, and he isn’t the sort of electric on-mound athlete for whom you want to project late growth in this area. He has a starter’s mix and some of his stuff plays up due to underlying pitch characteristics, enough to consider him a five-and-dive no. 4/5 starter likely to debut in 2023 and seize a rotation spot within a year. 10. Michael Siani, CF Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from William Penn Charter HS (PA) (CIN) Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 40/40 30/30 60/60 55/70 60 Siani has a terrific collection of soft skills that make him a high-probability, glove-first fourth outfielder or low-end regular in center field. He’s fast, and his defensive instincts and routes are excellent, so he has a chance to be one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball at peak. On offense, he has a great idea of the strike zone and creates a lot of infield action (oppo liner pokes and slaps, high infield chops, some bunts), but probably won’t grow into relevant power because he’s neither a great rotator nor an explosive athlete. Though it’s not likely to happen via his offense, there are lots of ways Siani can impact a game and his center field defense is stellar enough to consider him more than a 40 FV fifth outfielder, even though that’s where light-hitting center fielders tend to perform. 40+ FV Prospects 11. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Oklahoma State (MIN) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 70/70 50/60 40/40 40/45 60 A superlative statistical performer in 2022, Encarnacion-Strand had one of the best lines in all the minors, slashing an incredible .304/.368/.587 with 32 homers and 68 total extra-base hits in just 122 games. He hasn’t stayed in one place for very long as a prospect, spending a couple years at Yavapai Junior College in Arizona, then one at Oklahoma State, one with the Twins, and then a few months with the Reds after he was part of the Tyler Mahle trade. He’s built like a hard-hitting NFL safety and has thunderous all-fields raw power that he’s found a way to tap into in games so far despite some concerning issues with chase, especially against breaking balls. CES has made himself into a viable third base defender, though he’s still a little stiff over there and the Reds began to accelerate how often he was deployed at first base after they acquired him. There are definitely times when he looks too stiff to play third and others when he finds clever ways to use effort and physicality to send the baseball where it needs to be in time, and his max-effort arm strength is plenty for third. Corner defense profiles with this amount of chase are scary and at risk of busting or becoming a Matt Davidson type of Quad-A hitter. Here Encarnacion-Strand is evaluated as if he’ll get to enough of his power to be a good role player at the bottom of the defensive spectrum. He’s probably the type of prospect who fantasy players should prioritize higher than he’s ranked here. 12. Carlos Jorge, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 19.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/55 25/60 55/55 30/45 40 The short and muscularly dense Jorge punches above his measureables in the batter’s box thanks to his high-effort, uppercut swing and new body builder’s physique. He’s probably even shorter than his listed height, but Jorge is an explosive rotational athlete who has an authoritative top hand through contact, and he can adjust the posture of the rest of his body to stay uphill with his hands and strike the baseball in the air, ripping majestic fly balls to his pull side. Short but not small, the power here feels sustainable by virtue of Jorge’s style of hitting, which is enabled by his remarkable athleticism and bat speed. There are some cons. This style of swinging led to a significant 2022 strikeout increase compared to his DSL debut, and Jorge’s athleticism doesn’t necessarily extend to his defense. Scouts hope he can stay at second base, but a few think he’s destined for the outfield, where he probably doesn’t run well enough to play center field (rookie ball stolen base totals aren’t a great way to assess speed, so don’t you do it). If he eventually moves to left field, the strikeouts will need to come down. If he can stay at the keystone, there’s more room for the K’s, though it’s worth mentioning that no qualified major league second baseman struck out more than 22% of the time in 2022 so perhaps that thinking needs to be revisited. Jorge has among the best chances of being an everyday player or integral role player of all the Reds 2022 complex level players not named Cam Collier. His style of hitting is not well-suited for the Florida State League, so don’t freak out if his surface stats falter next year. 13. Lyon Richardson, SP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Jensen Beach HS (FL) (CIN) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 50/50 45/55 45/55 89-93 / 95 Richardson has dealt with intermittent arm issues as a pro, showing diluted stuff in 2019 before an arm strength spike in ’20 that occurred in a controlled, dev-only environment. Even though his arm strength was relatively intact at High-A in 2021, he struggled. He had Tommy John in September of that year, which caused him to miss the entire 2022 season. Back for 2022 Instructional League, Richardson’s stuff was not only back but harder than before, as he peaked in the upper-90s during brief rehab outings. This was somewhat unsurprising as Richardson has a reputation for being a diligent worker. Recall that the org felt comfortable leaving him to his own devices during the 2020 shutdown and he threw enough innings remotely to forgo instructs that year. He was among the pitchers with the best chances of sticking as a starter prior to his injury, with the makings of above-average command of a four- or five-pitch repertoire. He may be on an innings count in 2023 as he returns from surgery and is perhaps more likely to reach Great American Ballpark at some point the following year even though he’s currently on the 40-man. 14. Andrew Moore, SIRP Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from Chipola JC (FL) (SEA) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 60/70 30/35 94-97 / 98 Moore was a nice semi-under-the-radar pickup for the Reds in the Luis Castillo trade. Drafted in the 14th round in 2021 out of Chipola Junior College in Florida, he is a pure relief prospect who has scrapped his changeup and added a second breaking ball to his repertoire, while also experiencing a bump in velocity. Moore’s velo climbed throughout his 2021 JUCO season and after he was 91-94 mph early on, he finished in the 93-96 range and averaged 94-97 in pro ball after the draft, then 95-98 throughout the ’22 season. He’s lanky and has a whippy, loose arm action that he doesn’t repeat consistently, which is where the relief projection comes from. His mid-90s fastball has explosive rise-and-run action that is helped by his athletic, drop-and-drive style delivery, which creates shallow angle on the pitch, though he doesn’t consistently spot it in the optimal location. Moore has developed a plus power curveball in pro ball and still has a harder, short slider that he has retained from college. He is quite wild but misses bats at an elite rate (18% swinging strike rate, 43% strikeout rate) while also inducing a ton of groundballs (51% GB%). His ceiling will be dictated by how much his command develops, but there is late-game pure stuff here. 15. Andrew Abbott, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Virginia (CIN) Age 23.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/60 40/45 30/45 91-94 / 95 Abbott was mostly deployed as a reliever during his first three college seasons and his draft year was shortened by the pandemic. He went unselected in 2020 in part because he never had the opportunity to convince teams that he could start; he moved into the rotation as a fourth year junior in 2021. Abbott brought a third pitch to the party that year (a changeup, used twice as often as the year before) and ended up going in the second round. He was pushed through the minors aggressively and spent most of his first full pro season at Double-A Chattanooga, where the wildness that kept him bullpen-bound early in college resurfaced. Abbott’s vertical fastball/breaking ball combo is the foundation of his profile. His low-90s heater has enough carry that it will often miss bats in the strike zone even when it isn’t well-located. Release inconsistency has created confusion around whether Abbott has one or two different breaking balls. The shape and velocity of his breaker changes quite a bit. Manual pitch tagging in Synergy suggests he has a curve and slider, while automated pitch tagging (I went to multiple sources for this) suggests he has just one, mostly in the 76-82 mph range. During the most recent in-person look I’ve had at Abbott, he only warmed up with a curveball, not a curve and slider. It’s possible he’s manipulating the shape of one breaking ball or that Abbott’s inconsistent release is simply impacting what his breaker’s movement looks like pitch to pitch. Ideally he’ll have two distinct breakers at maturity since Abbott has such great feel for spin, but for now let’s say he just has one. After his changeup usage spiked in his draft year, it was back down in the 8% range in 2022. It’s not an especially nasty pitch, but Abbott’s feel for locating it is impressive considering he struggles with that in general. Components that would eventually allow Abbott to be a no. 4 starter on a contender are here, they’re just unpolished, and his track record of wildness is pretty long. He might ultimately end up being so inefficient from a strikes standpoint that he produces more like a generic fifth starter or ends up in the bullpen. But Abbott and the Reds have two seasons before he even has to be added to the 40-man and he only has two post-high school seasons as a starter under his belt, so there’s optimism for growth. 16. Daniel Vellojin, C Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Colombia (CIN) Age 22.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/55 40/50 30/30 35/45 45 This is a fairly heavy FV grade to put on a player who was just passed over in the Rule 5 Draft but an old scout adage to live by is “juice catchers with any sort of offensive ability,” which is true of Vellojin, who has a great idea of the strike zone and impressive pull power. He is raw on defense. Despite his compact size, Vellojin has a high crouch that hinders his ability to receive and frame low pitches, and he lacks lateral mobility and quickness out of his crouch when he catches on one knee. He has plus raw arm strength but it often takes him a while to get out of his crouch, so his pop times tend to be below average. None of his defensive characteristics are great, but they also aren’t so bad that Vellojin projects to another position; he’s just a young catcher who needs to work on things to be viable back there. If he can be, he has a shot to be an integral role player, and perhaps a chance to be a primary catcher, as one of our scout sources put an everyday grade on him in 2022. His plate discipline (a paltry 19% chase rate, tied with Jacob Hurtubise for the best in the system) and power are both impressive for a young catcher, and he’s run walk rates in the mid-to-high teens his entire career. Vellojin also has sexy pull-side power, and he takes a hell of a rip for a hitter his size. His athleticism is more evident in his swing than it is in his defense, and you can see bend and explosion in his lower half, which helps him to generate all that power. Because he runs such deep counts and has a swing hole in the upper corner of the strike zone, Vellojin is likely to end up with something like a 30-grade hit tool, which is not abnormal for a big league catcher. If he’s getting to the power, that will be fine. After a terrific winter in Colombia, his defensive progress as he spends a whole season in the upper-levels of the minors will be the key to him earning a 40-man spot next offseason and competing for big league time over the next three years. 17. Jay Allen II, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from John Carroll HS (FL) (CIN) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/60 30/45 60/60 40/50 50 Allen did enough in 2022 to stick around in this FV tier even though his surface-level stats aren’t great and there might still be some long-term issues with his swing’s efficacy. He slashed .224/.359/.332 with Low-A Daytona, a line which is slightly above average in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. That’s how Allen’s offense looks on paper when you start breaking down the component parts via his TrackMan data, which is more telling than FSL stats diluted by the hitting environment there — he’s either slightly above or slightly below average in all facets. His bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline are slightly below average while Allen’s peak power is slightly above, though his ability to tap into it in games is also below average. That last detail is somewhat surprising because when you watch Allen hit, his swing appears geared for low-ball pull and lift. His swing has changed somewhat in pro ball and it looked as though the tweaks might help him get on top of high, inner-third fastballs more consistently, but FSL pitchers still tried to attack him up there and Allen appeared vulnerable. This is something to watch as he progresses through the minors. He’s going to have some margin for error on the offensive side because Allen has retained the long speed to play center field even though his body has grown up pretty quickly. He already looks close to physical maturity at age 20, but he can still really run. Overall, Allen’s profile is still in an amorphous place. Elements of his swing and future hit tool feel unstable, but he’s shown an ability to make mechanical adjustments and perform at an acceptable level while doing so, and his physical tools give him upside in the event that he and the Reds find something that more effectively taps into his power. 18. Yerlin Confidan, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 60/70 35/60 50/40 30/50 60 Confidan missed three months of the 2022 season with a quad strain and didn’t have more than two weeks of uninterrupted at-bats at any level, so his FV is in a holding pattern until he gets going again. A year ago this was the youngest and most projectable fledgling power hitter in this system and, unless you consider Cam Collier’s body to be projectable, that’s still true. Confidan hit 11 homers in just 50 games during the 2021 Arizona Complex League season and continued to put on quite a show (when he actually made contact) during instructs that year. Then Confidan showed up for 2022 spring having remade his physique. He’s more lithe and athletic now, and his frame is even bigger than the Hinds/Allen/Elly contingent, leaving room for 20-30 pounds between now and when he is at his physical peak. At age 18-19, Confidan was already posting high-end exit velos that would be plus on the big league scale, and even though he didn’t generate enough of a 2022 sample to indicate any real progress, he still projects to have thunderous, potentially elite raw power at peak, giving him 35-plus homer potential. Like a lot of the other power hitters in this system, Confidan’s swing decisions and bat path both severely limit his ability to make contact, so there’s also a chance he ends up with a 20-grade hit tool and isn’t a big leaguer at all. This is a very exciting and sometimes frustrating player to watch, but the way he remade his body during the offseason indicates Confidan is driven to work on improving his game, which will hopefully also eventually manifest in his approach at the plate. 40 FV Prospects 19. Victor Acosta, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 18.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 40/45 20/40 60/60 45/60 60 His profile is heuristically pleasing, and at times Acosta will show you flashes of ability that make you think he could be an everyday player, but with a well-rounded collection of 45- and 50-grade tools, he’s more likely a switch-hitting utility man who is still about a half decade from the bigs. As is often the case for a switch-hitter this age, Acosta’s two swings are fraternal rather than identical twins and vary in their efficacy. His barrel drags through the zone from the left side, making it hard for him to turn on pitches and causing him to pepper the opposite field, while his righty swing lacks vitality. In both ways he is similar to D-backs shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, who has scuffled with the bat against major league pitching. They’re also mechanically similar, though Acosta is a bit more compact than Perdomo. Acosta is a dynamic athlete with the range and arm strength to play anywhere on the infield. He has plus defensive feet, hands, and actions, making him a likely long-term fit at shortstop and giving him a relatively high floor for a teenage prospect. 20. Ricky Karcher, SIRP Drafted: 13th Round, 2017 from Walters State CC (CIN) Age 25.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 40/45 30/40 96-98 / 100 Karcher spent most of his high school career in Florida before he moved to Michigan for his senior season; he spent his freshman year in Ann Arbor before transferring to Walters State for what would be his draft year. He didn’t pitch a ton as a pro until 2022, never exceeding the 31.1 affiliated innings he threw way back in 2018 in any season until the most recent one. That was in part due to injury, including a shoulder impingement in 2021. In 2022, Karcher exploded. He was already throwing hard but somehow found another three ticks of velocity and averaged 96-98 mph while reaching Triple-A, peaking at the very end of the season as he was ripping fastballs past International League hitters. He mixes his fastball and upper-80s slider at an almost 50/50 split, with a low-90s changeup tossed in every once in a while. Neither his fastball nor slider miss quite as many bats as you might expect given how explosive their velocity and movement is to the eye. Some of that is because Karcher’s high-octane style of pitching isn’t especially concerned with precision and command, but he already has a middle-inning skill set (even with the control problems) and hasn’t pitched a ton as a pro, even less so with his current velocity. He’s now on the Reds 40-man and is likely to debut in 2023, with a chance to carve out a later-inning role with continued polish. 21. Joe Boyle, SIRP Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Notre Dame (CIN) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 60/70 50/55 60/60 20/30 95-98 / 101 A couple of scouting sources whose coverage included the Reds system this year saw Boyle on a night when he threw strikes and came away thinking he should be the third- or fourth-ranked pitcher on this list based on their look. Boyle certainly has huge stuff, and has for his entire lifetime as a prospect. It’s just that with the benefit of data and a bigger evaluation window, it’s clear that he is incredibly wild, at times so severely that he was effectively benched for parts of his college career. Boyle pitched exclusively as a reliever at Notre Dame and walked well over a batter per inning there. The Reds moved him to the rotation in pro ball (which makes sense from a developmental standpoint even if the chances are remote that he’ll develop enough control to start in the big leagues) and things have gotten a little bit better. The 2022 season was the first in which Boyle walked fewer than a batter per inning; his 19.7% walk rate (which, to be clear, is still awful) was the best of his career. Even the most walk-prone big leaguers from the 2022 season, such as the apathetic version of Aroldis Chapman, don’t walk quite so many hitters, and Boyle still needs to hone his strike-throwing in order to profile as a reliever. But his stuff is huge. Even though he isn’t routinely sitting 100 mph like he was as a pure reliever (though he might when he eventually returns to the bullpen, hence the projection on his fastball here), his 95-to-99-mph fastball has huge riding life, and each of his two breaking balls flash plus, most frequently Boyle’s low-80s curveball. It’s late-inning stuff undercut by problematic command that needs to get better for Boyle to be a career big leaguer at all. 22. Levi Stoudt, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Lehigh (SEA) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 30/40 50/60 93-96 / 97 Dealt to Cincinnati as part of the Luis Castillo trade, Stoudt was a small school prospect with mid-90s arm strength and a good changeup who fell in his draft year due to a looming Tommy John surgery. He and the Mariners used his rehab to rework the shape of his slider, of which Stoudt has developed ultra-consistent, almost robotic glove-side command. He has similar letter-high command of his mid-90s fastball, which doesn’t have huge life. He’s going to feast on the hitters who struggle to get on top of pitches in that area, but his fastball isn’t so explosive that it will blow past everyone up there. This causes Stoudt to have to pitch backwards and nibble a lot with his slider, which was the pitch he used the most in 2022. While he will show you a curveball and changeup each about 10% of the time, his new arm stroke doesn’t allow him to create quite the same bat-missing action on his changeup that he got at Lehigh, and the loopy curveball is best used as a get-me-over pitch when Stoudt needs a strike but doesn’t want to throw a fastball. His command makes him extremely likely to remain a starter long-term, pitching in a spot start role in 2023 and pushing for a permanent back-of-the-rotation role in ’24 and beyond. 23. Carson Spiers, SP Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (CIN) Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/55 40/45 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 96 Spiers made incredible developmental strides between when he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and when he made his affiliate debut in 2021. A fastball/changeup reliever throughout his entire career at Clemson, he added a cutter and significantly increased his usage of his slider as a pro. He transitioned seamlessly into the Dayton rotation, dominating High-A in his first season as a Red. He began to meet resistance in 2022, when Spiers carried a 4.99 ERA and 6.19 FIP with Chattanooga and his ability to miss bats took a nose dive even though his velocity was actually up from 2021 across all of his pitches. He still presents a clean and consistent mechanical look but had some trouble locating his secondaries last year, especially his changeup, which was hit hard throughout the season. It’s possible Spiers was fatigued from having blown through his previous career high in innings the year before and he’ll once again be an “arrow up” prospect in 2023, but he looked more like a fifth or sixth starter throughout ’22. 24. Ricardo Cabrera, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Venezuela (CIN) Age 18.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 35/50 20/45 50/45 30/45 40 The short-levered Cabrera, who signed for $2.7 million in 2022, spent his pro debut season in the DSL slashing .253/.363/.380 with below-average underlying contact metrics, including what was a shockingly low in-zone contact rate considering Cabrera’s amateur reputation as a plus batsman. He’s also filled out pretty quickly, and the second base projection that some felt to be pessimistic when he signed now looks like a best-case scenario. He only turned 18 after the season ended and his amateur status still carries some amount of weight, but Cabrera has come out the gate slowly when “polish” and “mature skills,” things that should have theoretically prevented that from happening, were the foundation of his amateur prospecthood. 25. Sal Stewart, 3B Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Westminster Christian HS (FL) (CIN) Age 19.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 55/60 20/50 40/30 30/40 55 There was some scout buzz just before the 2022 draft that Stewart’s camp considered telling teams to stay away, that he was headed to Vanderbilt. After the Reds picked Cam Collier and surely needed to offer him an above-slot bonus to sign, Cincinnati would have been perhaps the last team one would expect to draft and sign Stewart. But for just north of $2 million (which was under-slot where they picked him at 32nd overall — Stewart was ranked 75th overall in the draft class at FanGraphs) a deal was struck, and Stewart joined the iceberg of young position player prospects the Reds have slowly been floating through the lower levels of the minors. The bird’s eye view of Stewart’s skill set — a potential slide from third base to first based on his present physical maturity, advanced bat-to-ball feel and BP power that doesn’t really play in games yet— is like the high school scouting snapshot of Austin Riley, who exceeded expectations on defense. How Stewart’s athleticism trends into his early 20s may sap him of enough mobility to play the hot corner, but if he can keep things in check, he’ll give himself a chance to stay there. In either case, Stewart has preternatural feel for contact (he’s especially adept at putting the bat head on inner-third fastballs and had a nearly 3-to-1 ball-in-play-to-whiff ratio on the showcase circuit, per Synergy) and the strength to do damage, though he doesn’t tend to show you home run power in games quite like he can during BP. He has a barbecue-style leg kick (low and slow) and lands with a narrow base indicative of a below-average athlete. He was late on some hittable fastballs in pro ball after signing and started tinkering with his footwork (ditching the leg kick for some of the ACL) to be more on time. Getting to the power in games will be more important if Stewart has to move to first base. 26. Jose Montero, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Venezuela (CIN) Age 19.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 45/50 40/55 25/60 91-94 / 97 Montero is the best non-Petty teenage pitching prospect in the Reds system and spent most of 2022 in the DSL before coming to the US at the end of the year. He is an athletic, well-composed righty of medium build and presently medium arm strength, who sits in the 91-94 mph range and topped out at 95 mph for one source who saw him and 97 mph for another. It’s a low-spin fastball with sink and tail action, but Montero’s athletic delivery creates shallow angle that may enable him to run the heater up the ladder eventually. His slider, mostly 82-84, lacks big raw spin but has two-plane movement and might eventually be an impact pitch based on Montero’s feel for locating it. You can also project heavily on his upper-80s changeup because of Montero’s general athleticism and short arm action. He’s among the higher-probability starter prospects in the system, though he lacks the frame-based projection of most young arms. 27. Cade Hunter, C Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Virginia Tech (CIN) Age 22.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/55 35/50 40/40 40/55 40 This is a pretty drastic repositioning of Hunter, who was ranked as a second round prospect before the draft and ended up going in the fifth round, a large enough delta to cause a total reevaluation of his skills. There is much less hit tool stability here than originally acknowledged due to concerning secondary pitch recognition, though that might come with more reps; Hunter’s first two years at Virginia Tech were squelched by the pandemic and a broken hamate, and it’s feasible that he’ll make progress in this area as he sees more good pitching. Presently, he is adept at getting on top of letter-high fastballs but tends to swing over top of breaking balls at the bottom of the strike zone. He has rare twitch, physicality, and athleticism for a catcher, especially one who hits left-handed. Curiously, despite his limited reps, Hunter shows some advanced ability on defense. For example, similar to Dodgers catcher Will Smith, Hunter’s legs are fluid and moving as he sets his target, and he tends to drop to one knee as he’s receiving rather than starting that way. This helps him avoid tipping pitches to baserunners while staying limber and athletic back there, though some scouts don’t think Hunter can catch because he lacks the arm strength. An intriguing offensive package, handedness, and some tip-of-the-iceberg traits propel Hunter into a high-variance area of interest. 28. Steve Hajjar, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Michigan (MIN) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/55 45/45 45/50 35/50 90-93 / 94 Hajjar’s fastball velocity fluctuated pretty wildly while he was at Michigan, sitting 86-91 mph throughout most of his starts and then peaking at 97 when he threw at the 2021 pre-draft combine. The Twins, who took him in the second round, chose not to send him out to an affiliate after the draft and, quite conservatively, sent him to Low-A when camp broke in 2022. He struck out a whopping 41% of opposing hitters there before he was shipped to Cincinnati at the trade deadline as part of the Tyler Mahle prospect package. Hajjar made just two starts as a Red before he was shut down with a shoulder impingement, his second IL stint due to a shoulder issue in 2022. Those issues counterbalance what appeared to be more stable velocity last year. Hajjar is a strapping 6-foot-4 and was still just 20-years-old on draft day, so there was hope he’d find a way to throw harder in pro ball. That appeared to be happening, as Hajjar was more in the 91-93 range in 2022, but the shoulder issues cast doubt on it returning, which we simply won’t know until he throws in front of scouts this year. His perfectly vertical, midnight arm slot creates Collementer-esque angle and carry on his fastball, so he doesn’t need to throw very hard for it to play against big league hitters. Aside from that, he has a fairly typical collection of secondary pitches and projects to the back of a rotation provided he can stay healthy. 29. Bryce Bonnin, SIRP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Texas Tech (CIN) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 30/45 30/40 93-96 / 97 Bonnin has had many injuries, most recently a shoulder impingement that ended his 2022. He began his college career at Arkansas but transferred to Texas Tech after a shoulder injury forced him down the Razorbacks’ depth chart and into their bullpen. He got to start at Tech and his stuff was great, though the combination of his injury track record and a lack of repertoire depth made him a likely relief prospect in the eyes of major league clubs, and that continues to be true based on his trajectory in pro ball. His 2021 got off to a delayed start due to a forearm strain. Once he returned, he was dominant for two months before struggling with walks during his final few starts and returning to the IL with a rib cage injury. Bonnin looked healthy again during the spring of 2022, sitting 93-96 mph while flashing a plus slider before the shoulder stuff cropped up. He worked almost exclusively with his fastball and slider in 2021 and ’22, though past notes have him throwing a changeup and maybe a cutter (they might be fastballs with natural cut that some clubs’ pitch-classifying systems are misidentifying as cutters) that were both behind the developmental curve for obvious reasons. At this point you’re just hoping he stays healthy enough to be a typical fastball/slider middle reliever, and because Bonnin has so few innings under his belt and 2023 is his 40-man evaluation year, it’s possible a move from starting to relieving will be made shortly. 30. Matheu Nelson, C Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Florida State (CIN) Age 24.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/60 35/50 30/30 30/40 55 The recent track record for hitters who break out the season after they’re first draft eligible isn’t especially good. Brent Rooker made the big leagues and has hopped around the fringes of a rosters, Kody Hoese has struggled and been hurt, and now Nelson’s foray into pro ball is off to a slow offensive start as he posted a below-average line in the Midwest League. Nelson was a draft-eligible sophomore in 2020 but had a bad stretch before the COVID shutdown, striking out in about a third of his at-bats and going undrafted. Then in his junior year, he slugged .773 and hit 23 bombs while posting a more manageable strikeout rate and doing an acceptable job behind the plate. He has reverted to striking out a ton in pro ball and looks to have a backup catcher ceiling at this stage. He is an adequate receiver (he works from one knee, then squats with two strikes and runners on) who can post sub-2.00 pop times from his knees, though not often with precision. He’s a willing but unskilled ball blocker, which is the part of his game that needs the most immediate polish. The raw power is still in there, it’s just extremely unlikely that Nelson gets to enough of it to profile as a primary catcher. Instead, he’s a power-over-hit backup. 31. Tyler Callihan, 2B Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Providence HS (GA) (CIN) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 55/55 30/45 30/30 30/30 40 He’d ideally be more selective at the dish, but Callihan remains a well-rounded hitter who had a pretty good 2022 considering he barely saw affiliated pitching in the prior two seasons because of the pandemic and a TJ. Callihan’s sweet lefty stroke should enable him to hit for an above-average rate of contact and tons of doubles. He remains a below-average hands-and-feet athlete on the infield, spending time at both second and third base again in 2022, with more time at the latter after he was promoted to High-A. A bat-first player who’ll likely give way to a superior defender when his team has a late lead, lefty hitters like Callihan tend to have long careers holding down an infield platoon role. 32. Logan Tanner, C Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Mississippi State (CIN) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/55 35/45 30/30 40/50 40 Tanner performed on paper in parts of three seasons in the SEC, slashing .285/.385/.476 during his career. Like a lot of the 2021 CWS champions, he didn’t have quite as strong of a 2022. Tanner tends to spray good velocity to the opposite field and crush hanging breaking balls to his pull-side. He’s strong enough to put balls out in either direction, and has a big, physical, prototypical catcher’s frame. Defensively, Tanner has improved as a receiver but has a 40 arm (it was better early in the 2021 college season), though he’s a gung-ho ball blocker and field general. He has flashed everyday offensive ability but that trended down in 2022, and some of his defensive issues remain. He has started to track like a backup (he’s FV’d like a high-probability backup here), but at his amateur peak he looked like he could be more than that. 35+ FV Prospects 33. Hector Rodriguez, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 18.8 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 186 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 30/40 20/30 45/45 30/50 40 The rebuilding Reds received Rodriguez from the Mets as part of the Tyler Naquin trade. He spent basically all of his pre-trade time (the Mets gave him a two-game espresso at Low-A in mid-July before sending him back down) on the complex in Southeast Florida, where Rodriguez hit an incredible .356/.387/.558. He kept raking in Arizona just after the deal and was promoted to Low-A Daytona and sent all the way back to Florida for the last couple weeks of the season. A plus runner, Rodriguez has mostly played center field but has experience all over the diamond (second and left in the Low-A games), and his long-term outlook includes defensive versatility. He’s a compact lefty batter who has precocious bat control despite limited strength. His underlying approach metrics are a bit of a red flag, masked by his surface-level performance, as Rodriguez swung about 58% of the time in 2022, which would have been the highest rate among qualified big leaguers in 2022. Still, Rodriguez is a talented developmental utility prospect in the very early stages of his pro career. 34. Donovan Benoit, SIRP Drafted: 10th Round, 2021 from Tulane (CIN) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 40/50 30/45 93-96 / 97 Benoit struggled as a starter at Tulane, but he seems to have hit a new gear following a move to the bullpen in pro ball and had a strong first full season as the High-A closer. His delivery has more moving parts than a German cuckoo clock, a cross-bodied, low three-quarters operation that creates a funky sinking and tailing mid-90s fastball, up a few ticks from his time as a starter. Pair that with a long, sweeping slider that righty batters don’t seem to see and you at least have the foundation for a righty specialist reliever. Benoit pitched for Great Britain in the WBC qualifiers in September and his velocity appeared to be down a bit there, per Synergy Sports. Otherwise he’d be in the 40 FV tier as a high-floor middle relief prospect. 35. Austin Hendrick, RF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from West Allegheny HS (PA) (CIN) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/60 25/55 50/45 30/45 55 Hendrick was drafted as a bit of a developmental project. While he was old for his high school class, the Western Pennsylvania prepster was raw relative to his peers in a few ways. Chief among them, he had some concerning swing-and-miss tendencies and was in flux mechanically, as his swing changed a few times during his pre-draft summer. Because of his location, he basically had no 2020 varsity season since things didn’t really get going before the shutdown. The Reds still bet on his power, which was among the best in the entire 2020 draft class, and drafted him 12th overall. Hendrick has swung and missed a ton in two years of pro ball. The entire Florida State League ran exorbitant strikeout rates in 2021, but Hendricks didn’t come down upon initial assignment there in ’22 and stayed north of 35% when he was promoted from Daytona to Dayton. His swing is explosive but grooved, cutting through the middle of the zone without much variation to match pitch locations. We’re talking about a sub-60% contact rate here. Hendrick’s saving grace is that when he does make contact, he’s doing huge damage. He somehow managed to hit 21 homers in just 109 games in 2022 even while striking out 37% of the time, and his hard-hit and barrel rates are already above the big league average for a right fielder. It’s not a good sign to strike out this much in A-ball, though, and if we take a step back and view Hendrick without the context of his draft position, he looks like a low-probability, power-only flier. 36. Allan Cerda, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/70 35/55 50/50 40/50 60 Heavy sigh Even though he had obvious swing-and-miss issues, Cerda was absolutely stuffed on this list last year because he’s kind of a freak physically. He’s built like an NFL wide receiver, has huge pull-side power, and still had room to grow into his frame at age 22. Somehow still listed at a comical 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, he’s probably closer to 6-foot-5, 220 now, and has enjoyed all the raw power that comes with that extra size and strength. After swatting 17 homers and nearly 40 extra-base hits in just 87 games in 2021, Cerda followed that up with 24 homers combined between High- and Double-A in ’22, though he hit just .198 at the latter stop in a 62-game sample. He is a career .233/.367/.470 hitter and trending down in the batting average department because Cerda has a very immature approach to hitting, trying to yank everything to his pull side (if you had this kind of raw power, you’d be tempted to do that, too), and he struggles to stay with pitches on the outer third of the zone. When he runs into one, though, holy cow. Visual evaluation of the quality of Cerda’s at-bats (bad) does not match up with his chase data (good), and the multi-year track record of above-average walk rates should probably trump subjective scouting in this case. There is a contingent of scouts who think he’s passable in center field (he’s pretty good at going back on balls) but most do not (he’s not good at coming in and makes frequent situational errors), and it’s rare for an athlete this size to stay there. It would certainly help support a big league profile of some kind if Cerda could play out there for the long haul. In either case, he should remind Reds fans of two recent prospect friends, Jose Siri (the center field version) and Aristides Aquino (the right field version), both of whom ended up on the roster fringe. 37. Daniel Duarte, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Mexico (TEX) Age 26.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/60 40/40 94-97 / 98 Duarte has played all over, from Texas to Kansas City (via the minor league Rule 5 draft) to LIDOM, and for several Mexican clubs, eventually signing with Cincinnati half way through 2021. He reached Triple-A quickly, sitting 94-96 mph with a plus slider, then continued pitching in Mexico after the 2021 season, where he pumped 96-97 at times, including during the Caribbean Series. He carried that into 2022 spring and broke camp in the Cincinnati big league bullpen before he was quickly shut down and put on the IL with elbow swelling. When he finally returned late in the 2022 calendar, Duarte’s arm strength was mostly intact, and things have stayed that way as he has transitioned into throwing in Mexico (for Los Mochis) again this winter. He’s currently sitting 92-95 with flat angle and a plus mid-80s slider. It isn’t quite as electric as Duarte looked a winter ago, but it’s still probably enough to crack the Reds’ bullpen at some point in 2023. 38. Vin Timpanelli, SIRP Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (CIN) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 50/55 60/60 30/40 92-95 / 97 Timpanelli spent almost his entire college baseball career as a catcher and could have been a 2020 Day Three senior sign had that year’s draft been whole. Instead, the 2020 college season ended in March and the draft was reduced to five rounds. Timpanelli threw an experimental inning in an actual game before the season shut down, then pitched in a men’s summer league; it was there that he was seen by the Reds associate scout who would ultimately sign him. He had only been pitching for a few months, but had already progressed from just barely touching 90 mph to topping out at 95; his slider was also quite hard for a new pitch. He had an incredible first pro season, striking out 40% of opposing hitters at Low-A Daytona and High-A Dayton in 2021. He broke camp with the Double-A club in 2022 and struggled so badly there that he was demoted and spent the meat of the season repeating High-A. Timpanelli’s grip-and-rip style of pitching lacks elegance, and he’s untenably wild at times, but his fastball’s movement and the quality of his slider give him a pretty standard middle reliever’s repertoire. Unless his command improves, he’s probably in an up/down tier rather than being a consistent on-roster weapon. 39. Dennis Boatman, SIRP Drafted: 17th Round, 2021 from Sacramento City College (CIN) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 30/40 40/55 30/40 93-96 / 97 Boatman committed to UCLA pretty early in high school and hadn’t yet developed a reliable ability to throw strikes by the time he actually reached college. The UCLA coaching staff asked him to shift to a JUCO and polish things up before returning to UCLA later in his career. Partially because of the pandemic, Boatman never made it there, pitching parts of two seasons at Sacramento City College before being drafted. He had a velo spike at Sac City and held that throughout his first full season in pro ball, sitting 94-96 mph across about 45 innings of work. Boatman is a broad-shouldered 6-foot-5, and because his velocity is still fairly new and he’s such a long-levered athlete, better feel for locating his fastball may still be coming; it currently induces a lot of groundballs. He needs to find a more consistent secondary pitch, and even though he used it less than his slider in 2022, his changeup is perhaps his best shot at having a second major league-quality offering. 40. Kenya Huggins, SIRP Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Chipola JC (CIN) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 20/40 91-95 / 97 Huggins has a giant frame and showed upper-90s heat at various points in 2022, most notably at the Draft Combine, where he sat mostly 96-98 mph and absolutely dwarfed many of the hard-throwing pitchers from Power Five schools. His slider has vertical action, but it, as well as his changeup, has variable effectiveness because his feel for location is quite raw. He’s an arm strength-driven developmental prospect. 41. Chris McElvain, SP Drafted: 8th Round, 2022 from Vanderbilt (CIN) Age 22.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 55/60 30/50 30/45 89-93 / 95 McElvain spent his first couple of years at Vanderbilt in the bullpen, then moved to the rotation in his draft year. He has a plus two-plane breaking ball and his fastball plays up due to its riding life, but it isn’t hard enough to miss bats within the zone, so McElvain needs to live above the zone to avoid getting hurt. For this reason, he was walk-prone in 2022, but his command actually isn’t bad — it’s just what he has to do to get by. Because he’s so new to a rotation, he may just be scratching the surface in some pitchability areas (that’s where the changeup projection is derived from here), but Vanderbilt isn’t a school that tends to leave developmental meat on the bone, and it’s rare for pitchers moving from the ‘pen to the rotation to add velocity, something McElvain will ideally do. The Reds didn’t send him to an affiliate after the draft, so he’s poised to be rested for the start of 2023, important context to keep in mind if he’s throwing harder at the onset of camp. 42. Luis Mey, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/70 40/45 35/45 20/35 97-99 / 101 A pure relief prospect, Mey’s velocity climbed again in 2022 while his command and slider consistency remain deficient. He sat 96-99 mph in 2022 while touching 100. His fastball is nastiest when it’s getting two-seam sink and tail action to Mey’s arm-side, and it’s less useful in other parts of the zone. His mid-80s slider isn’t great, but it is fairly new, as my notes have him using a curveball in previous years. Mey doesn’t have anything close to viable big league command, but he needs to be monitored due to his arm strength in case things click. He’s in an up/down relief area right now. 43. Bryce Hubbart, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Florida State (CIN) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 60/60 40/50 35/55 87-91 / 93 Hubbart had a great career at Florida State despite wielding fringe velocity, and struck out 203 hitters in 155 career innings for the Seminoles. His fastball has secondary traits that help it play up, but his velocity was actually a little bit down throughout 2022, averaging 88-91 mph and peaking in the 93-94 range. His shapely, upper-70s breaking ball has more in-zone utility than it does whiff-inducing finish and it will be key for him to find a second, firmer breaking ball that can act as a chase pitch in pro ball. As it stands right now, he’s tracking like a command-oriented, spot-starting lefty. 44. Thomas Farr, SIRP Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from South Carolina (CIN) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 45/50 40/45 40/50 30/50 92-95 / 97 Farr transferred from Northwest Florida State to South Carolina for what was supposed to be his draft year, but he only ended up making three starts before the 2020 shutdown and it wasn’t enough to buoy his stock into the shortended draft. The following year, Farr showed an ability to hold velocity deep into games even though he had thrown many more innings than the year before, while his secondary pitches were plentiful, but all below-average. That’s largely still where Farr is at, sitting 92-95 mph throughout most of his starts while mixing in three secondaries, the best of which is currently his slider, though his changeup has a lot of action and may ultimately be his go-to out pitch. 45. Javi Rivera, SP Drafted: 20th Round, 2021 from Florida Atlantic (CIN) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 40/50 30/50 91-94 / 95 About a year after he was picked in the last round of the 2021 draft, Rivera is tracking like a spot starter, and reached High-A after carving up the Florida State League in his first pro season. The athletic little righty sits 92-93 mph with consistency, he creates depth on his mid-70s slurve, and you can project on his changeup and command enough to see him rounding out a viable three-pitch mix because his delivery is so concise and consistent. His body isn’t especially projectable and ideally his breaking ball will develop more velocity over time (or he’ll add a new slider), but the feel for spin, athleticism, and quality of strikes with the fastball are all indicative of a potential future starter and Rivera has performed well so far. His stuff will be stress-tested by upper-level hitters. 46. Kevin Abel, SP Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Oregon State (CIN) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/30 50/55 60/60 30/45 90-92 / 94 Abel’s performance as a freshman in the 2018 College World Series was remarkable, capped off by a two-hit gem to clinch the championship against Arkansas. But his amateur career after that was plagued by injury, including a Tommy John surgery that kept him off the mound for most of 2019 and all of the shortened ’20 season. He came back strong to start 2021, but with slightly lower velocity on his fastball, which he makes up for with a whiff-inducing plus changeup and an above-average curveball. Still, he struggled as his 2021 season progressed at Oregon State and he post his highest ever walk rate, an issue that has followed him to pro ball. His velocity is back in the 90-92 mph range, which is more in line with his pre-surgery average as opposed to the high-80s he was offering in 2021. Abel’s secondary stuff should enable him to be a spot starter even if he only ever sits in the low-90s, but the command component of his profile still needs to improve. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. High-Risk Hit Tools Rece Hinds, RF Ariel Almonte, RF Justice Thompson, CF Donovan Antonia, LF Braylin Minier, 3B Hinds, 22, has 70-grade power and a plus arm. He took to the outfield like a bird to the sky when he was moved off of third base, and he has plus makeup, but his contact ability and plate discipline are both 30-grade skills. It’s tough to profile in right field when that’s the case, especially as a right-handed hitter. Almonte has a plus frame and plus bat speed, but his hands are super noisy during his set-up and his swing path won’t play at the upper levels as it’s currently constituted. Thompson had a breakout draft year at North Carolina and was worth a pick to see if he could continue that trajectory, but he hasn’t found an offensive groove in pro ball. Antonia had a white-hot start to his 2022 complex-level campaign, but it was cut short by something (there’s no IL stint listed, he just stops playing in August) and his 2022 sample is less robust than it was in ’21, when Antonia punched out 40% of the time. I’m skeptical the surface stats are real even though I’ve seen him hit some baseballs quite far. Minier was a high-profile international signee who filled out very quickly. Despite his bat speed, he lacks the on-base skill to fit at a corner infield spot. Shortstop Depth, Bench Infield Hopefuls Leonardo Balcazar, SS Trey Faltine, SS Jose Torres, SS Balcazar hit on the complex, but I’m skeptical that his hit tool will hold up against advanced arms. He is pretty physical for an 18-year-old, though. Faltine was a two-way high schooler who had a nice career as a shortstop at Texas, including a power breakout in his junior year, but it’s rare for college hitters who punch out 30% of the time to reach the bigs. Scouts are putting late-bloomer candidate Torres in an org guy bucket mostly due to his approach; he has tantalized with his power and defense at times. Luxury Depth Types Francisco Urbaez, 2B Jacob Hurtubise, OF Nick Quintana, 2B Ruben Ibarra, 1B Ivan Johnson, 2B Urbaez (contact), Quintana (power), and Johnson (switch-hitting mistake power) all have a core competency, but they lack the offensive punch to be everyday second baseman and the defensive versatility to be bench guys. Hurtubise can really run and makes a lot of contact, but there’s almost no impact because everything is on the ground. Ibarra is a husky, power-hitting 1B/DH with huge bat speed and a very high offensive bar to clear at the bottom of the defensive spectrum. Relief Pitchers on the Fringe Jared Solomon, RHP Stevie Branche, RHP Jacques Pucheu, LHP Jayvien Sandridge, LHP Solomon looked great coming off of TJ a couple years ago, but even though he throws very hard, his fastball’s movement and angle just seem hittable and he was taken off the 40-man. Branche, an Division-III undrafted free agent, sits 94-96 mph with very little feel for location. Pucheu (pronounced like you’re shooting lasers out of your finger gun) is an older lefty with 30-grade athleticism and a Bugs Bunny changeup that might enable him to pitch in the big leagues. Originally drafted by the Orioles, the 6-foot-5 Sandridge was released by Baltimore and used a loophole in college eligibility created around the pandemic to return to a non-DI school, Lynn University. He had a velo spike there and ended up signing with the Reds, returning to pro ball with a 92-95 mph fastball, and a slider that is aided by his deceptive arm swing. He’s also very good at killing spin on his splitter, but struggles to throw strikes. He’s a lefty relief sleeper. Depth Starters Hunter Parks, SP Reynardo Cruz, SP Jake Wong, SP Christian Roa, SP Jose Acuna, RHP Parks sits 93-95 mph as a starter and will show you a plus slider. He barely throws his other two pitches and is probably destined for the bullpen eventually, where he’ll be a main-lister if he throws harder in relief. Cruz and Wong both sit about 93-94 mph with sink and have fringe secondary stuff. Roa has never been quite as good as his pre-draft spring at A&M due to strike-throwing issues, but he is still a four-pitch starter with average stuff. Acuna, who came over from the Mets as part of the Tyler Naquin deal, is an advanced 20-year-old without a ton of physical projection, so his fastball is likely to settle in it’s current 90-94 range. System Overview For the last handful of years, this system has been full of sluggers with a poor approach, many of whom were a little old for their draft or international amateur class when they initially signed. Jose Siri, Aristides Aquino, Jose Barrero, Rece Hinds, Austin Hendrick, Allan Cerda, Alfredo Rodriguez, and many more fit into this bucket. You can kind of see the rate at which these types of guys actually pan out over the last half decade or so, and it’s pretty low. The chickens are coming home to roost for some of the recent high-profile examples of this category of hitter. They all have huge perceived ceilings because of their power, but they rarely get there because of contact and approach issues, with many busting altogether. If even one of them hits in the way it looks like Elly De La Cruz is going to hit, though, it will all have paid off. In the event that one of these players becomes so talented that they can transcend their own fatal flaw, they make pumping first round picks and international pool space into low-probability, high-variance players feel worth it, like they’re a switch-hitting, all-world scratch off ticket. The 2022 fire sale that sent Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and others packing has had a significant impact on the depth and quality of the talent in this system. Roughly a quarter of the prospects in the main section of the list were originally drafted or signed by another org, and this is especially true toward the top of the system, where seven of the top 11 (!) were. The number of prospects in the 40+ FV tier and above has nearly doubled during the last couple of seasons, though fans should expect the rate at which they actualize, especially the free-swinging Yerlin Confidans of the world, to mimic that of recent years. Cincinnati finished the 2022 slate as our eighth ranked farm system. Even with Noelvi Marte’s re-evaluation during this offseason cycle, enough of the other upper crust prospects have moved into the 50 FV tier to counterbalance Marte’s fall. This system is still likely to be in the top 10 once all 30 have been written up. The Reds tend to do a thorough job scouting junior college talent, with six JUCO draftees in the system (out of their 26 domestic draft prospects who finished high school) and three more (Thomas Farr, Brandon Williamson, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand) who passed through a junior college on their way to a D-I program. That’s roughly a third of their prospects who weren’t signed right out of high school, and the number would be even higher if a few of the Honorable Mention guys had made the main section of the list (Ivan Johnson, Jared Solomon).