Back in November I released the 2022 Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects list for 2022. For a while nothing happened – there were no trades in large part due to the lockout – but when that was lifted the Reds got busy with a quickness and started making trades that brought in several high-level prospects. Back in January the international signing period took place and Cincinnati signed arguably their biggest international prospect in years.

I made a note of this earlier in the week, but I’ll type it here, too. In the past I have waited until midseason to update my prospect rankings once they were posted. The reasoning was that the draft was held in June and then the international signing period was July 2nd and that having an update right after that would be able to include the top picks and signings if they warranted inclusion, while also having time during the season to evaluate those who were already in the system on their progress (or lack of). But with the draft pushed back to mid-July and the international signing period now happening in January, that doesn’t quite make as much sense anymore. Plus, with how we do things at Patreon during the season around the Top 25 prospects, not including guys that would be in there didn’t make sense.

*Tosses on sales hat* – During the regular season if you are supporting the site through Patreon you will get additional information every day emailed directly to you about each game played on the farm the night before, including how each Top 25 prospect performed. If you’re interested in checking it out, here’s the link for you.

With that said, there are three new additions to the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List – two from trades and one international signing. Below is the new list, and some explanation on why I placed each player where I did in comparison to those around him. New additions are shown in bold.

Rank Player Position
1 Hunter Greene RHP
2 Jose Barrero SS
3 Nick Lodolo LHP
4 Elly De La Cruz SS
5 Graham Ashcraft RHP
6 Brandon Williamson LHP
7 Matt McLain SS
8 Jay Allen OF
9 Rece Hinds 3B
10 Christian Roa RHP
11 Bryce Bonnin RHP
12 Ricardo Cabrera SS
13 Chase Petty RHP
14 Austin Hendrick OF
15 Tyler Callihan 2B
16 Mat Nelson C
17 TJ Friedl OF
18 Alejo Lopez 2B
19 Dauri Moreta RHP
20 Andrew Abbott LHP
21 Jose Torres SS
22 Ivan Johnson SS
23 Allan Cerda OF
24 Ariel Almonte OF
25 Yerlin Confidan OF

Brandon Williamson

The lefty came over in the Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez trade with the Seattle Mariners last week. Some places rank him as a Top 100 prospect in the game, while others rank him just outside of the top 100. I opted to place him 6th within the Reds organization. That puts him behind Graham Ashcraft but ahead of Matt McLain.

The reasoning I placed him there is that when I look head-to-head with him and Ashcraft the upside seems similar. The floor feels like it’s ever so slightly in Ashcraft’s favor. Both guys have two 60 or better caliber pitchers with the fastball and breaking ball. Williamson has the better change up. Control and command is similar.

There are a few small things that push me to favor Ashcraft, though. I believe his fastball is simply better. He throws harder and the pitch has good movement on top of that. He’s also got a huge advantage when it comes to batted ball tendencies – he keeps the ball on the ground at very high rates. Williamson has been a fly ball pitcher to this point in his career.

Williamson has missed more bats along the way. But he’s also given up hits at a higher rate, too. Both guys split action in High-A and Double-A last season and both guys were born within 2 months of each other. Opponents hit .227/.302/.375 against Williamson. They hit .212/.288/.271 against Ashcraft. The leagues were different, but Williamson gave up more doubles – 17 – than Ashcraft gave up extra-base hits -15 – during the season.

There are still some scouts out there who see Ashcraft as a future reliever. While that’s a possibility for every pitcher, I think there’s still a bit of unconscious bias happening here given his background. Williamson has fewer “future reliever” marks on his report card, but hey – these are my rankings and what I’m seeing, not so much what others are seeing. In the end the two guys are extremely similar prospects in terms of their future value. Ashcraft seems to have the better results right now, has a similar upside, and I think the floor for both if they wind up relievers favors Ashcraft. Close call, but the big righty gets the nod for me because of those reasons.

As for why I have Williamson ahead of Matt McLain it’s a little bit of a different argument. The two don’t play the same position, so there’s not a 1-to-1 type of comparison. For me it comes down to the risk/reward aspect. Both players are Top 100 prospects depending on where you look. Williamson has the upside to be a #2 pitcher from where I sit. For McLain, though, I think he’s got a very high floor as a super-sub type of big leaguer who can play all over. His ceiling is a bit lower than that of a #2 starting pitcher (in the real world, not that “there are only 15 #2 starters in baseball (and only about 5-10 #1’s)). McLain seems like he’s got the ceiling of a slightly above-average shortstop or centerfielder – but not that of an All-Star caliber guy. Both guys are high floor types, but the edge on the ceiling for Williamson gets him the nod.

Ricardo Cabrera and Chase Petty

Ricardo Cabrera was the biggest international signing that the Reds have had in a long time. When he signed in January he was rated as the #3 prospect in the entire class by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. One scout I spoke with had him as the top prospect in the class.

Chase Petty was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the trade for Sonny Gray.

Both players are limited in their professional experience. Petty is still just 18-years-old and he’s thrown 5.0 innings, coming at the complex level last summer after he was drafted. Cabrera, a 17-year-old, has not played in any official games yet and won’t likely see the field until the Dominican Summer League begins later this summer.

Both players have very big upsides. Ricardo Cabrera has all 5 tools at his disposal. Petty was hitting 102 MPH during his senior season of high school and it may not have been his best offering.

On ceiling alone both players would rank higher. But given the age, lack of experience and track record, both guys have floors that are much lower than many guys on the list. It’s tough to rank them much higher than guys with longer track records who are much further along in their progression who also have high ceilings – even if some of those ceilings aren’t quite as high.

That’s mostly what kept both guys just outside of the top 10. What puts them ahead of Austin Hendrick and those that are below him is that upside mixed with a lack of a clear issue on their record. Of course that could simply be because we haven’t really gotten to see any track record at this point. With Hendrick, while the upside is very high, the astronomical strikeout rate in his debut is a big area of concern and one that will need big time improvement as he moves forward. Hendrick, along with a guy like Malvin Valdez and perhaps Joe Boyle are the only guys rated lower that have similar upsides to these two guys. Boyle, of course, has a long history of struggling to throw strikes. Valdez, the top signing by the Reds in the 2020 international class, like Hendrick also struggled to make contact in his debut (34% K rate with the DSL Reds last summer).

38 Responses

  1. Jim Walker

    Seeing 3 of the top seven guys listed as shortstops is a very good thing from my viewpoint because that should translate into 3 players who can eventually play anywhere on the field except behind the plate or on the mound.

    • MBS

      That’s the main reason I no longer care if Farmer is our SS this year. The Reds can move Barrero to the OF, and next year McLain can take over SS, or De La Cruz could in 24. 23, 24 should be a fun time, the young pitchers should be firmly entrenched into the Reds rotation, and the young position players should be filling out the roster. India and Stephenson will be the vets on the team. I think they’ll be good team leaders.

      • Doug Gray

        Barrero is a much better defender at shortstop than McLain is. McLain also has far more experience in the outfield than Barrero does. Seems a bit backwards to send Barrero to the outfield for McLain to take over shortstop.

      • MBS

        I’m not the coach or GM. Bell and Krall are, and they are keen on Farmer as our SS. Going into last year we didn’t have McLain, and no one, but maybe you knew who De La Curz was. I didn’t say I’d rather Barrero be an OF. I am saying I am no longer worried about having a SS of the future.

        If I ran the team, Barrero would have been the starting SS when he was brought up last year.

      • Doug Gray

        But really, if the front office/Bell are good with Farmer as the SS, then McLain to SS isn’t going to work either, right?

      • MBS

        Your right, if they value Farmer as SS more than McLain then we’ll still have Farmer at SS. Which will mean McLain will get another position, like you’ve said he’s played outfield, maybe that’d be his future in this scenario. Next man up should be De La Cruz, if Farmer wins out again, then Farmer is a lot better than I, we think. He’s now been able to stave off 3 of the best prospects we have. ALL HAIL FARMER, King of SS’s!

      • MK

        Farmer is 31. At best you he starts at SS until 34. McLain has a year at AA and a year at AAA. I see Barrero at short McLain at second and India moving back to third in the future. If de La Cruz keeps growing he might outgrow shortstop and could well be Votto’s replacement in a few years.

      • Greenfield Red

        I read a piece that claimed the Yankees need a stopgap SS who could also be an emergency catcher. Wouldn’t be fun if the Reds traded Farmer to the Yankees for some descent prospect after all of our complaining about him.

  2. Bdh

    Such a deep system right now especially after graduating India, Stephenson, Gutierrez, and Santillan. Seems like there could be anywhere from 5-7 more players (counting Sanmartin not on the list) graduate this year. With 4 high draft picks and the possibility of the PTBNL in the Mariners trade being a solid prospect the system will just stay loaded.

    Doug – how far was Jackson Miller from your top 25? I think he could be a fast riser in the system and could be the big league catcher if Stephenson moves to 1B post Votto

    • Doug Gray

      I think that right now, Miller’s in that 30-ish range. I just need to see something from him at this point. But I’d also say to never, ever count on a catcher being a fast riser. The number of catchers that move quickly in this game can be counted on one hand over the last three decades.

      • Bdh

        Fair point about catchers rising. Glad to know he’s in that next group though

  3. kevinz

    Nice List always so subjective.
    I would have Cerda over Friedl Hendrickson Calihan and Lopez.
    Take Mcclain over Williamson, risk with Pitchers higher over a Position player.

  4. kevinz

    To Shawn.
    My Guess is age being 21 and barely played A+.
    If performs this season at 22.
    Bet he Moves up.

    • Bdh

      Wouldn’t shock me to see any of the 3 outfielders 23-25 on Doug’s list shoot way up the rankings.

      Confidan and Almonte are both still teenagers but Confidan was the ACL MVP and Almonte is already grown up to 6’4 215.

  5. MK

    Doug,

    Have the previous two first round draft picks ever been listed lower on one of your lists than McLain/Hendrick?

    If not does this say more about these picks or more about the overall talent of their competition?

    • Doug Gray

      A little bit of both. I think McLain is where he is because of the guys in front of him. Hendricks is where he is because of what he’s done on the field. I am looking forward to seeing what he does this year, but he’s absolutely going to need to go out and make some drastic improvements because you simply can’t swing and miss anywhere near as often as he did last year.

  6. Optimist

    Allen and Confidan strike me as similar – nearly identical age, small sample sizes, high ceilings, very young. Are they really 17 spots apart on this? Seems they should be paired closer together?

    • Doug Gray

      Confidan isn’t a centerfielder and Allen is. That’s a pretty big difference in value alone. Allen’s also a better athlete and one who showed better zone recognition.

      • Optimist

        Thanks – didn’t account for the CF aspect, but noticed the BB/K ratio. Also intrigued that Allen was a multi sport player thru HS. Usually a good sign for development/refinement of discrete skills, raising the floor.

      • MK

        Doug, Confidan has the offense but he isn’t even a very good corner outfielder is he?

      • Doug Gray

        I have never seen him play, but he had an .860 fielding percentage this year so I don’t feel like it’s taking a leap to suggest that at least right now he’s not a good fielder.

  7. Doug Gray

    Cerda is quite interesting. He has some tools, though aside from his power none of them really jump out. He’s got some speed, but he’s not a blazer. And he’s a really poor base stealer, too. His approach is one that draws walks, but he’s got some real swing-and-miss in the zone issues that worry me a lot, and despite a good walk rate, he actually chases plenty of pitches out of the zone, too (36% while in Daytona’s road games last season). We’ll see if he can improve on that, but that’s my big concern with him right now.

    • kevinz

      All fair Points Doug.
      Guess this season see how much.
      He actually Improves and shows more of his tools.
      Thanks for your opinion on why lower on List.

  8. MBS

    I like Petty and Bonnin ahead of Roa. I see Roa more around the area you have Abbott listed. I have to admit that makes me happy that I might be missing what makes Roa special. I think this is going to be a fun year watching the progression of the young future Reds.

    • Stock

      I agree MBS. Williamson drops Bonnin to #8 on my list. Petty jumps in at #9. Roa drops to 24 on my rankings. I hope I am proven wrong with Roa but I have #10 pitching prospect.

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    Is not Matt McLain a player to be consider a future All-Star caliber guy? Now, should only could be a slightly above-average SS or CF?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t consider him to be a future All-Star caliber guy. I can’t speak for others. Being a better than average big leaguer is quite high praise.

  10. Beaufort Red

    How about McLain at 2nd and India to his natural 3rd. Barrero at short and De La Cruz in right. At least the future looks bright on paper.

  11. SellTheTeamBob

    I like the first 8 guys because they have produced since signed or drafted. Hendrick was the overall 11th pick and is 14th you would pick in a Reds only draft. His stock is DOWN.
    I’d say we are an easy top 10 system based on always 3/4 guys in top 100 and only Hunter n Lodolo everytime with the 3rd n 4th guys always changing by publication.
    Jay Allen is my prediction for Reds Minor League Player of the year.

  12. Matt

    Depending on how the season goes collectively and for certain individuals, 5 out of the top 6 could graduate this year. I think Greene, Barerro, Lodolo all absolutely see enough MLB time to graduate. Ashcraft and Williamson could, depending on need for rotation/bp need. McLain is the one exception unless he absolutely blows the door down.

    Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, and Williamson could be a real fun rotation for the Reds for years to come.

    • Doug Gray

      He was #25 until I updated things. So he’s #28 now.

  13. kyblu50

    Please can you tell me why Cinn stop using the 5 and 2 inning approach with their minor league pitchers? I remember that it helped some of the pitchers with their working both on control and different pitches.

    I think these where of those pitchers ….Johnny Cueto and Travis Wood along with Carlos Fisher, who spent three years in the big leagues, and Zach Ward, who set the Dragons club record that season for earned run average at 2.29 (his record still stands).

    • Doug Gray

      That was a decade and a half ago. They’ve gone through about 5 farm directors since then, multiple general managers, multiple pitching coaches in the big leagues, multiple pitching coordinators in the minors. Everyone has their own ideas about what works best.

  14. RedBB

    Great list thanks Doug. Seeing Jose Torres at #21 shows you how deep the Reds farm system is. A great defensive SS who has showed he can hit at least in small sample size in the minors. Is he someone you just needs to see with a full minor league season under his belt to rank him higher Doug? TIA

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah – I’d just like to see a little bit more. If he hits some this year I would expect him to climb up the ranks quite a bit. I like the bat speed, love the defense.

  15. ClevelandRedsFan

    Doug, if he stays healthy this year, do you think Callihan could jump up in the rankings? He hit .299 last year at A. He always seemed like he could be a great contact hitter.

    • Doug Gray

      If he can stay healthy and produce, absolutely. Much of his value is tied up in his bat, so he’s going to have to hit.