The crew at Fangraphs – Eric Longenhagen, Kevin Goldstein, and Tess Taruskin – released their 2022 Top 100 Prospects list this morning as a part of prospect week over at the site. The Cincinnati Reds landed three different players on the list. As we’ve been noting everywhere else – on this list Jose Barrero is not eligible, though he’s still a part of “The Board” in the graduates section and given a 55 FV, which would place him in the #17-#32 range overall with the other players graded as 55’s.
With Barrero not eligible, it’s Hunter Greene that is leading the way among the Cincinnati prospects. The 22-year-old right-handed pitcher comes in at #31 on the list after spending time in both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville last season. Fangraphs rates both his fastball and slider as plus pitches, with his fastball garnering an 80-grade (the highest the scale goes).
Left-handed starting pitcher Nick Lodolo is the next Reds prospect that shows up on the list. The 24-year-old comes in at #51 on the list. He spent most of his season in Double-A with the Lookouts, but saw limited action in the second half with Triple-A Louisville. His season in 2021 was rather limited as he threw just over 50 innings thanks to blisters costing him plenty of time in the early-to-middle part of the season and then he was shut down with a shoulder strain for the final month of the year. He’s back and throwing already in Goodyear during minor league camp now. Dominant while on the mound thanks to three average to plus offerings, the 6′ 6″ lefty has both a high floor and a high ceiling that he could reach rather quickly.
The final Reds prospect to crack the list is shortstop Elly De La Cruz. After having an explosive stateside debut in 2021, De La Cruz has gone from relatively unknown prospect in the Reds system to the #59 prospect in all of minor league baseball in less than a year. The Fangraphs write up, however, does note just how much of a boom-or-bust prospect that he is. Some of the tools are listed as plus-plus, but the concerns over his approach right now make him just as likely (in their opinion) to be a bust as it’s likely that he’s going to be a big leaguer down the road.
His 4% walk rate in full-season ball is a ruby red flag, near the bottom of the statistical barrel, and hard evidence of an extremely aggressive approach that has been the undoing of several talented players before him. But if De La Cruz “booms,” it could be a boom on par with the one that created the universe. De La Cruz is among the toolsiest minor leaguers in baseball, a gigantic, projectable switch-hitting infielder with plus-plus speed, arm strength, and power potential.
That’s only a part of the write up from Fangraphs, but “it could be a boom on par with the one that created the universe” is absolutely hilarious, but also speaks to just what kind of upside you are potentially talking about with the infielder.
That those three prospects made the list wasn’t surprising. Those three names have been on all of the lists that came before it. With Jose Barrero not being eligible here, the only remaining question was going to be around whether or not Matt McLain or perhaps Graham Ashcraft would show up on the list. McLain has been seen on the list from Keith Law at The Athletic as well as the list from Baseball Prospectus. Ashcraft hasn’t been on any list so far, but at least in my opinion, deserves to be in the conversation.