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)*
1. Hunter Greene | RHP | Age: 22
2021 Team: Chattanooga/Louisville | Acquired: 1st Round (2017) | Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 230 lbs
After not pitching in games that counted since July of 2018, Hunter Greene jumped to Double-A Chattanooga to begin the season and was dominant for the Lookouts in the first six weeks of the season as he posted a 1.98 ERA in seven starts. The Reds promoted the then 21-year-old to Triple-A Louisville. He would spend the rest of his season there, making 14 starts with a 4.13 ERA. He wasn’t as consistent there, sometimes dominant but other times struggling – which isn’t surprising given that he was the youngest player in the league for much of the year.
Biggest Strength: Fastball. Greene touched 105 MPH this year and his average fastball velocity is tops among all professional players.
Biggest Weakness: Consistency. This is nitpicking, of course, given that we’re talking about a guy who has 179.0 innings under his belt spread across five years since he was drafted. But Greene did have a few outings with Louisville where he ran into problems and would surrender a big inning where it seemed things just fell apart.
2021 Season Stats
2. Jose Barrero | SS | Age: 23
2021 Team: Chattanooga/Louisville/Cincinnati | Acquired: International FA (2016) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: “175” lbs
After making the jump from Advanced-A to the big leagues in 2020’s strange season and being overwhelmed at the plate by Major League pitchers, Jose Barrero began the 2021 season in Double-A Chattanooga and he didn’t hold back as he hit .300 with 16 extra-base hits in 40 games before he was promoted. Once he arrived in Triple-A he took things to another level, hitting .306 with 10 doubles and 13 triples – leading to a .594 slugging percentage – in 45 games. He once again saw some limited action in the big leagues, but unlike his time in 2020 or even in the minors in 2021, the Reds played him in centerfield more than they played him at shortstop as they tried to find a way to get him some playing time down the stretch.
Biggest Strength: Arm. Barrero has plenty of average to above-average tools, but his arm sticks out as a plus tool that he can use well on the infield.
Biggest Weakness: There’s not much left to prove in the minors for Barrero. But his time in the big leagues has amounted to just four walks and 43 strikeouts. He’s going to have to improve that ratio moving forward.
2021 Season Stats
3. Nick Lodolo | LHP | Age: 23
2021 Teams: Chattanooga/Louisville | Acquired: 1st Round (2019) | Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 205 lbs
Starting the season in Double-A Chattanooga, Nick Lodolo dominated for the Lookouts. He allowed three runs in his first five starts (1.01 ERA), but he developed a blister on his pitching hand and would make just one start over the next five weeks as he dealt with that issue. When he returned he was limited in his use, pitching into the 4th inning – by design – in just three of his seven starts. Lodolo joined Triple-A Louisville at the start of August. That promotion lasted just three starts and at the end of August he went to the injured list with “shoulder fatigue” and missed the final month of the season.
Biggest Strength: Control. He’s walked just 11 batters in 69.0 professional innings.
Biggest Weakness: Change Up. Lodolo doesn’t throw the pitch often, but when he does it lags well behind both his fastball and breaking ball.
2021 Season Stats
4. Elly De La Cruz | SS | Age: 19
2021 Teams: ACL/Daytona/Dayton | Acquired: International FA (2018) | Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 195 lbs
There may not have been a bigger breakout player in all of minor league baseball than Elly De La Cruz. After solid numbers in 2019 in the Dominican Summer League, De La Cruz came stateside in 2021 and not only put up absurd numbers in Goodyear, but he turned heads with the tools he was showing, too. Cincinnati quickly promoted the switch-hitting shortstop to Low-A Daytona. The 19-year-old was a bit inconsistent there, but continued to show off big power and explosive tools as he posted a .269/.305/.477 line.
Biggest Strength: The all-around set of tools. There may not be another position player in my time covering the Reds farm system with a set of tools that can match the ones from Elly De La Cruz, who has three plus to plus-plus tools.
Biggest Weakness: Plate approach. De La Cruz has an aggressive approach that has led to a very low walk rate. Drawing just 14 walks in 265 plate appearances is a rate of walks that must improve as he continues to move forward if he’s going to get the most out of impressive hitting tools.
2021 Season Stats
5. Graham Ashcraft | RHP | Age: 23
2021 Teams: Dayton/Chattanooga | Acquired: 6th Round (2019) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 240 lbs
The 2021 season saw Graham Ashcraft go 44.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga in the middle of the season. That stretch led to him posting a 3.00 ERA in his 111.0 innings on the season. The big time ground ball pitcher allowed just four homers all season while also picking up 129 strikeouts – a combination that tends to lead to plenty of future big league success.
Biggest Strength: His fastball. He can throw up to 100 MPH and it’s basically a bowling ball that generates high rates of grounders.
Biggest Weakness: Change Up. He doesn’t throw it as often as the fastball or breaking ball, and when he does it’s not on par with the other two plus offerings.
2021 Season Stats
*All listed ages as as of the date published, not necessarily the age of the player during the 2021 season*
**Some publications will not have Jose Barrero listed as a prospect. They may be using the service time adjustment from the 2020 season that applies for arbitration and free agency that makes 1 real day worth 2.7 days of service time. I have chosen to just use 1 day as 1 day, meaning that Barrero still qualifies as a prospect**