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.
|4||Elly De La Cruz||SS|
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).