The Cincinnati Reds farm system had a strong showing today as Baseball America released their Top 100 Prospect list. It’s the first list from a major publication to be released, though the Baseball Prospectus list is expected to come out tomorrow – so it’s officially prospect list season. Cincinnati’s top four prospects all made the list and three of them were well inside the top 50.
Jose Barrero was the first Reds prospect list and he came in 33rd overall on the list. The shortstop had a big minor league season in 2021 as he had 19 doubles, a triple, 19 home runs, and added 16 steals during the year between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. The shortstop also hit .303/.380/.539 between those two stops. Barrero also had a home run (and a walk) during All-Star weekend in Denver when he was selected to play in the Futures Game. Later in the season he was called up to Cincinnati, but he didn’t play often as he managed to get just 56 plate appearances in about seven weeks of play while seeing more time in the outfield than at shortstop.
Not too far down the list is Hunter Greene. He was the 35th overall prospect on the list. The #2 overall pick int he 2017 draft has a strong comeback year after returning from Tommy John surgery (April 2019) and then only pitching at the alternate site in 2020. He began the year in Double-A Chattanooga where he made seven starts and posted a 1.98 ERA. Greene moved up to Triple-A Louisville after that and made 14 more starts. Most were strong, but he did have a few poor starts mixed in and posted a 4.13 ERA in 65.1 innings with the Bats. Overall between the two stops the top pitching prospect in the organization had a 3.30 ERA in his 106.1 innings where he walked 39 batters and had 139 strikeouts.
Nick Lodolo was next on the list, literally. The lefty was #36 on the list. He started the year in Double-A and he was making a mockery of the Double-A south until blister issues kept him off of the mound, and then limited how many innings he was getting when he returned. Still, the lefty posted a 1.84 ERA over 10 starts and 44.0 innings with the Lookouts while allowing just one home run, walking just 9 batters, and striking out 68. Lodolo moved up to Triple-A, but only threw 6.2 innings before he was shut down with shoulder fatigue for the final month.
The final Reds prospect to make the Top 100 was shortstop Elly De La Cruz. The switch-hitter exploded onto the scene in the summer and went from unranked in Cincinnati’s Top 30 to ranking 77th overall in baseball. Beginning the season with the Arizona Complex League Reds, De La Cruz his .400/.455/.780 in the first two weeks with 11 extra-base hits in 11 games and was moved up to Low-A Daytona. A late season slump dragged his numbers down with the Tortugas, but in 50 games he hit .269/.305/.477 with 24 extra-base hits while there.
For the Reds, it’s a good showing after entering the 2021 season with just two Top 100 prospects – Jose Barrero and Austin Hendrick. Reminder that both Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India missed the list and went on to have strong rookie seasons (with India, of course, taking home the National League’s Rookie of the Year). The organization graduated Stephenson, India, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Tejay Antone from their farm system during the year and still landed four Top 100 guys and probably have another few players who were at least close to being in the conversation.