It’s that time of year again where we take a look at the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects. Each day this week we will unveil five new spots on the list as we work our way through the Top 25 Prospects heading into the 2022 season.  If you were supporting the site on Patreon you would have gotten the entire Top 25 list last week and had early access to this, and all other scouting related articles that show up on the site. Click here to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive and kicking via support through Patreon.

These write ups will not feature scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start next week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 50-75 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason. For the entire list you can click here (each day it will be updated as the next piece comes out).

*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2022 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitched, or less than 45 days on the active MLB roster that doesn’t include September)*

6. Matt McLain | SS | Age: 22

2021 Team: ACL Reds/Dayton | Acquired: 1st Round (2021) | Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 180 lbs

Cincinnati used the 17th overall on McLain in 2021 after a big season at UCLA where he posted an OPS over 1.000. After a brief stop in Goodyear after being selected, the Reds sent McLain to join Dayton where he played for the final month of the year, hitting .273/.387/.424 with 17 walks and 24 strikeouts while playing shortstop.

Biggest Strength: Hitting. He’s got an above-average hit tool and his strong strikezone recognition allows that to perhaps play up.

Biggest Weakness: Power. Most scouting reports have his power potential as slightly below-average.

2021 Season Stats

7. Jay Allen | OF | Age: 18

2021 Team: ACL Reds | Acquired: 1st Round (2021) | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 190 lbs

Rated pre-draft much higher than where he was selected – 30th overall – Jay Allen fell to the Reds and signed for a little over slot value. A multi-sport star in high school, Allen was considered one of the best athletes in the entire draft and in his pro debut he showed both that athleticism as well as skill on the baseball field. While his action was limited, he crushed the ball, stole 14 bases in 19 games, and walked nearly as often as he struck out – while making plenty of contact along the way.

Biggest Strength: The all around skillset. All five tools grade out at least average if not better.

Biggest Weakness: We have to get nit-picky here, but reports are that his speed is better once he gets going rather than an explosive quick first step.

2021 Season Stats

8. Rece Hinds | 3B | Age: 21

2021 Teams: Daytona | Acquired: 2nd Round (2019) | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 215 lbs

Rece Hinds had to be thrilled to get back onto the playing field in 2021 and into games that actually counted. After being drafted in 2019 he played in just three games before an injury cost him the rest of the year. Then his 2020 season was cancelled, though he did see action at the Reds alternate site. The 2021 season, though, also saw him miss some action due to injury. Still, he got into 54 games – including 11 on rehab assignment in Goodyear. What Hinds showed on the field was big time power as he slugged .542 thanks to 13 doubles, 4 triples, and 12 home runs. With Low-A Daytona he put together a .251/.319/.515 line that also included 6 stolen bases.

Biggest Strength: Power. He may have the most raw power in the organization.

Biggest Weakness: Defense. While his action on the field has been limited due to the injuries, in two seasons he’s posted an .890 fielding percentage at third base between Greeneville, the ACL, and Daytona.

2021 Season Stats

9. Christian Roa | RHP | Age: 22

2021 Teams: ACL/Daytona/Dayton | Acquired: 2nd Round (2020) | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 220 lbs

After starting the season opener in Daytona, Christian Roa didn’t return for the second inning of the game. It would be two months before he’d get on the mound again in a game, making two rehab startsin Goodyear in the first week of June before returning to Daytona. He’d make four starts there before being pushed to Daytona where he had some struggles after his debut, but finished strong.

Biggest Strength: Four average or better offerings. There may not be a plus pitch in there (though you will occasionally get a plus grade on his change up).

Biggest Weakness: The injury cost him two months on the mound, and when he did return he did battle some inconsistency.

2021 Season Stats

10. Bryce Bonnin | RHP | Age: 23

2021 Teams: ACL/Daytona/Dayton | Acquired: 3rd Round (2020) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 190 lbs

It took a while before Bryce Bonnin was able to make his professional debut. After being selected in the 2020 draft he dealt with an injury that cost him much of the first two months of the 2021 season. He would make a rehab start in Arizona in late June before joining Daytona on July 7th where he struck out 11 in 5-hitless innings. He continued to dominate with the Tortugas before a late-season call up to Dayton where he struggled in two of his three starts.

Biggest Strength: Fastball. He topped out at 99 during the season, averaged 96, and it’s a high-spin fastball to boot.

Biggest Weakness: Coming out of the draft there were some concerns about whether he could hold up as a starter. He only threw 47.0 innings in 2021 – though dominant at times – and those questions still remain.
2021 Season Stats

*All listed ages as as of the date published, not necessarily the age of the player during the 2021 season*

33 Responses

  1. Stock

    I was so impressed with Jay Allen this year that I decided to compare him to former #1 prospects who are also the top hitters in baseball at this point. My list started out as Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Mike Trout and Vlade. Since I had 4 of the top hitters and did not have Mookie and Tatis, I added Tatis. Mookie had an ISO of 0.040 in his first year so I ended up excluding him. Then I added Jay Bruce since he was a #1 prospect. I also added Nick Senzel and Matt McLain since they are Reds. I looked at their rookie league stats only (except for McLain where I only looked at his stats in Dayton). Here is a summary:

    Jay Allen – Age 18, SB/Game – .737, K% – BB% – 5.3%, ISO – .230, OPS – 0.997
    Jay Bruce – Age 17, SB/Game – .111, K% – BB% – 14.3%, ISO – .218, OPS – 0.825
    Nick Senzel – Age 21, SB/Game – .265, K% – BB% – 5.5%, ISO – .210, OPS – .908
    Matt McLain (A+) – Age 21, SB/Game – .322, K% – BB% – 5.6%, ISO – .179, OPS – .851

    Juan Soto – Age 17, SB/Game – .111, K% – BB% – 6.0%, ISO – .189, OPS – 0.960
    Mike Trout – Age 17, SB/Game – .333, K% – BB% – 5.4%, ISO – .146, OPS – 0.924
    Ronald Acuna – Age 17, SB/Game – .291, K% – BB% – 5.9%, ISO – .169, OPS – 0.818
    Vladimir Guerrero – Age 17, SB/Game – .242, K% – BB% – 0.7%, ISO – .178, OPS – 0.808
    Fernando Tatis – Age 17, SB/Game – .326, K% – BB% – 18.1%, ISO – .153, OPS – 0.738

    What Soto, Trout, Acuna and Vlade have in common is the incredible K% – BB%. Jay Allen has this too. In fact of the 9 on this list Jay Allen trails only Vlade in K% – BB%. This tells me he has a great hitting tool. In SB/Game he is first by a wide margin. This tells me he is fast but I also think it indicates he has great instincts on the bases. His ISO is first also. This tells me he has more in game power than these others did in their first year of pro ball in the USA. He ranks 1st or 2nd in all these categories and I am comparing him to the best players in the game today.

    He is 18 and the others are 17. That gives him one extra year of experience and one extra year to develop and therefore maybe not a perfect comparison. But he was a 3 sport player throughout his youth. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that many if not all these players had more experience at age 17 than Allen did at 18. In my mind this sort of negates this advantage.

    I think Allen will begin the year in Daytona but I don’t think he will be there in September. He will be competing with Greene as the top prospect in the system at the end of 2022. Maybe I place too much weight on K% – BB% ratio. But Trout, Betts, Vlade, Soto and Acuna all had great K% – BB% in the minors and turned out to be stars.

    One final comparison: Senzel was good and Doug had him as the #1 prospect in the system after his debut in Billings at the age of 21. Allen is faster than Senzel, has more in game power than Senzel and an equal hit tool at the age of 18.

    • michael

      @stock,

      Love the work. I always worry about small sample size but I do like the work and the potential you have dug up.

    • Matt

      I disagree with your statement about competing with Greene for top prospect by the end of 22, because I believe that he’ll have enough action in MLB to lose rookie status.
      There’s a chance that 3 members of the top 5 lose prospect status (not spoiling – go support Doug’s patreon! but most can probably guess the 2 SP and SS that will lose eligibility). And there’s a chance the other SP in the top 5 will see some MLB action.
      Depending on the 22 draft, I think Allen/De la Cruz/McLain are duking it out for Reds #1 prospect.

  2. Norwood Nate

    Hinds seems like a great option to replace Votto down the line at 1B. That’s provided that he can stay on the field long enough.

      • Norwood Nate

        That’s an interesting thought. I don’t think he’ll stick at 3B, so if he plays the INF it’ll have to be 1B. I don’t know enough about his athleticism/speed to know if he could play OF, but it would be good to have options to play him on the field. Of course, DH may be a possibility as well.

      • DaveCT

        6’4″ 215 with plus plus arm strength seems like RF to me, especially if his hitting takes off. Maybe a Cody Bellinger 1B/OF type. Either way, I don’t think he beats out whoever survives the infield competition out of De La Cruz, McClain (or India if he slides back to 3B), Barrero, even Senzel, etc. post Suarez. Good problems, right?

      • MBS

        You want everyone in RF, lol. JK you said that about Confidan the other day. I’d guess Confidan has a better shot in RF than Hinds, I don’t think Hinds has any speed.

      • DaveCT

        Haha, yeah I heard we might have an opening. Truth be told, Confidan’s already there. But still, the more the merrier

  3. SultanofSwaff

    Really excited about McClain and Allen—wonderful combination of high floor with high ceiling. That’s good draft strategy. Bonnin strikes me as a reliever, but the organization should take their time before making that decision.

    On a day you lose Barnhart and Castellanos it can be challenging to find the silver lining, but I believe in the Reds ability to both draft well AND develop them more so than maybe I ever have. Probably in for a couple lean years until we clear the Moose/Geno/Shogo contracts, but growth can happen while we wait. Most importantly, the front office needs to lock up the core pieces so the window of contention stays open as long as possible.

    • Matt

      I’m sure this will be brought up at RLN later when a Castellanos article comes up, but Andrew McCutchen raked against lefties in 2021. Wonder if the Reds may pursue him to replace Castellanos if he doesn’t sign the QO. Winker/Naquin/Schrock vs RHP, Senzel/Cutch/Aquino(?) vs LHP

  4. JaxDan

    With Castellanos opting out I know the Reds will give him a qualifying offer, will the Reds get another sandwich pick as well? If so this will give the Reds 3 high picks to continue to build the minor leagues.

    • Stock

      I think their small market pick will be a 2nd round pick this year. But I do think they get additional money in the international pool.

      • JaxDan

        If I figured this out correctly 5 picks in the top 90

        #18
        Pick for Castellanos
        Pick around #53
        Sandwich Pick around 65 to 72
        90

        I hope the Reds continue to draft well because I cannot think of the last trade (maybe Castillo) that brought in a prospect who has done well.

  5. Stock

    I think a small market team like the Reds need to draft 5 future regular’s, SP or closer ever three years. I also think they need 5 bench bats or RP (non-closer) every three years. 2015 – 2017 the Reds did not draft or sign enough quality players.

    Regulars: Senzel
    Bench bats: Trammell, Fairchild
    RP: Santillan (potential closer)
    Still in the minors: Ashcraft, Lopez, Solomon, Marinan (trade), Moreta, Sanmartin, Kolozsvary

    Instead of 5 every day players (or SP) they 2.
    Instead of 5 bench bats (RP) they have 3 or 4.

    2018 – 2020 looks much better

    Regulars: Josiah Gray and possibly Gutierrez
    RP: possibly Gutierrez
    Regulars still in the minors: Greene (#1 prospect on my list), Barrero (2) and Lodolo (5)
    Good chance regulars still in the minors: Hinds (12), Johnson (14), Callihan (20), De La Cruz (4), Hendrick (8), Bonnin (7) and Boyle (10),

    Outside chance regulars still in the minors: Cerda (17), Roa (21), Vellojin (32), Confidan (23), Minier (28), Jackson Miller (30),
    Chance to be bench players: Siani (25), Brian Rey (39), Urbaez (50)
    Chance for Bullpen: Richardson (31), Gabriel Aguilera (36), Spiers (38)
    Too early to say: Diego Omana (41), Luis Mey (47)

    If only 4 of the 8 with a good chance to be regulars are regulars (or SP) then that would give the Reds 8 or 9 regulars and plenty of additional players.

    But 2021 is looking even better. I think 5 position players will start in the majors.

    Players I think could be really good: Allen (3), McLain (6), Jose Torres (11), Carlos Jorge (16), Leonardo Balcazar (19),

    Players I like: Andrew Abbott (15), Ariel Almonte (22) and Thomas Farr (24)

    Player with a lot of potential but K’s too much: Malvin Valdez (29)

    Players I will follow: Matheu Nelson (26), Justice Thompson (43), Hunter Parks (37), Kevin Abel, John Ascanio (40), Shawn Guilliams and Jose Serrano (49).

    • Doug Gray

      That feels like an incredibly unrealistic expectation. A quality draft is basically picking 1 starter (whether it’s a starting pitcher or an every day player) and 1 utility guy/reliever. That’s a good draft.

      • Stock

        If you are the Rays it is a bad three year period. Goals should not be easy.

        ML Players drafted or signed from 2017 – 2019 in the majors for the Rays

        2017: Arozarena, Baz, Patino, Walls, Josh Fleming
        2018: Franco, McLanahan, Rasmussen, Joe Ryan
        2019: None

        This is 8 regulars or SP and Walls a utility IF.

        Players in the minors with rating 40 or above:
        Comparison sake Fangraphs rated Stephenson, Greene and Lodolo as 50
        India, Callihan, Hinds and Siani as 45

        50 or higher:
        2017: Brendon McKay, Blake Hunt
        2018: Xavier Edwards
        2019: Seth Johnson

        45 or 45+
        2017: Drew Strotman
        2018: Joe Proctor, Alejando Pie
        2019: Greg Jones, JJ Gross

        Assume half of these are regulars which is what I assumed before and you have 12 regulars so based upon this 5 seems a bit conservative.

        To be completely fair Arozarena, Baz and Patino came over in trades. Also Fleming had several starts where he followed the opener and at the end of the season he was in the bullpen.

        This also ignores the 18 players fangraphs rated 40+ or 40. Reds players who are 40+ (Roa, Solomon, Ivan Johnson, Santillan) and 40 (Jackson Miller, Vladimir Guitterez, Bonnin, Ashcraft, Friedl and Cerda).

        If you include the 40+ and 40 players you are conservatively at 15 players. Is 5 unrealistic? It is terrible if you are a Ray fan.

    • Luke J

      The farther back in the years you look, the worse the classes will look. So it only makes sense that when comparing 2015-2017 with 2018-2021, the current crop will look better. Why? Because many of those you project as regulars may never make it. If you looked at 2015-2017 back in 2017, there were a lot more players with promise then too. Hindsight allows us to already know who made it or didn’t in that group. But we don’t have that same hindsight with the current crop of prospects.

      So while I think the prospects the reds currently have are very nice, I don’t think it’s a proper comparison.

  6. Stock

    Since my list is full of international signings it should be obvious what I meant. But even then my statement is hardly unrealistic since the Rays easily exceed this.:

    Draft players only:
    2017
    ML Position Players: Walls
    ML SP: McKay (before TJ), Baz, Fleming (SP & RP)
    Minors 45 or better: Hunt, Strotman
    Minors 40 or 40+: 8

    2018
    ML SP: McLanahan, Rasmussen, Joe Ryan
    Minors 45 or better: Edwards, Proctor
    Minors 40 or 40+: 3

    2019
    Minors 45 or better: Seth Johnson, Greg Jones, JJ Gross
    Minors 40 or 40+: 3

    Total:
    ML Position Players: 1
    ML SP: 6
    Minors 45 or better: 7
    Minors 40 or 40+: 14

    This is drafted only. Assuming 4 of the 45’s make it and 3 of the 40/40+ make it you have 14 drafted players in 3 years. Far more than 5 which means 5 starters and 5 role players is not unrealistic even though I meant signed. Because of their limited budget TB probably does need 6 or 7 starters and 6 bench pieces/RP every 3 years.

    • Benny

      That’s still not players the Rays exclusively drafted. If Reds trade Luis Castillo or a Blake Snell equivalent, then they should have a higher number of future starters like the Rays.

      • Stock

        I agree Benny. Castillo should get a top 50 and maybe another in the top 100. Gray and Mahle should get two top 100 picks. That would really strengthen the class with a top 50 and 5 from 51-100

  7. Tom

    Really optimistic about this batch. The drafting has been so good the last few years. Here’s to health for Hinds. Imagine him hitting 25 bombs next year. Is the defense issue his glove or arm? One or the other could determine where he ends up defensively, if not DH.

    • Doug Gray

      Hinds had 10 errors this past season. 4 fielding, 6 throwing.

  8. DaveCT

    Roa and Bonnin at first seem like a bit of a drop-off compared to the arms ahead of them (through no fault of their own due to injury in an injury filled year).

    But both are college arms who could possibly begin to move quickly, so we could have some nice depth behind those who shall not be named before the lists are completed.

  9. Bubba Woo

    I was surprised McClain was only 6th until I realized the five in front of him. Just for fun, I’ll guess tomorrow is 1. Greene 2. Barrero 3. De la Cruz 4. Lodolo 5. Ashcraft

    • Jim Walker

      Because I support Doug via Patreon, I can tell you that you have the right suspects but not the right order. ;-)

  10. RedsGettingBetter

    Doug, I notice in your writing that Jay Allen could be the #1 Reds prospect in the near future, of course, depending on his development as long as it would be positive. Even Allen seems to have better upside than McLain but at this moment Allen is less prepared as a player in other words he is farest to be a finish product than McLain…

    • Doug Gray

      Allen certainly seems to have a little more upside than McLain does. Not as polished right now, which isn’t surprising given the age and experience difference. I don’t think it would shock anyone if a year from now Allen were the Reds top prospect.