We’re about to enter week seven of the minor league season, so it felt like a good time to take a look at some of the early season performers and breakouts (and let’s note that they may not be both).
The recently turned 24-year-old has been on fire for the Dayton Dragons all season long. He’s easily been the best performing hitter in the Cincinnati Reds farm system this year. McGarry leads the organization with 11 home runs, 21 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and he’s hitting .323/.365/.802 to top the farm in both slugging and OPS. His 1.168 OPS leads the next closest player, Matt McLain, by 249 points.
McGarry hit 11 home runs in 2021 while splitting time with both Daytona and Dayton. That came in 85 games played. 78 of those games came with Dayton and he hit just .230/.280/.367 with 16 doubles and 7 home runs. While he still has some catching up to do on the doubles, he’s already matched his home run output and is well on his way to catching up on everything else.
It’s still early in the year, but Michael Siani is having by far the best season he’s had in his career. During the 2021 campaign in Dayton, Siani hit just .216/.321/.327. He was injured early in the year, and while he was healthy enough to hit, he didn’t play in the field until late in the first month of the season. Perhaps that had something to do with his struggles, but even if it did, what he’s been doing this season is more than just a physical difference.
Through the first 30 games of the season, Siani is hitting .283/.366/.460. While all of his numbers are up across the board, it’s what he’s doing when it comes to balls and strikes that’s the biggest improvement. And it seems to have started last fall when he went to the Arizona Fall League. It was just 14 games, but Siani walked 10 times with just 9 strikeouts. This season he’s kept that going, walking 15 times with just 18 strikeouts. His walk rate is actually lower this season than last by about 1%. But his strikeout rate is almost half of what it was last season, going from 25.2% to 13.7%.
The only player mentioned in this article that began the season as a Top 25 Reds prospect, Abbott was coming off of his senior year at Virginia and limited to just 13.0 innings pitched after signing as Cincinnati’s 2nd round pick last summer. He dominated at Virginia, striking out 162 batters in 106.2 innings as a senior.
This season he’s been even better than he was at Virginia. He was so good in Dayton, where he posted a 0.67 ERA in 27.0 innings across five games, that the Reds promoted him to Double-A Chattanooga. In his first game there he struck out 12 batters without a walk in 5.2 shutout innings. Between the two stops he’s posted a 0.55 ERA in 32.2 innings with 19 hits allowed – just one homer – and has walked seven batters while striking out 40.
Coming out of college at Notre Dame, Joe Boyle was an enigma. He had elite stuff with a triple-digit fastball and a hammer breaking ball that graded out better than the fastball. But he also walked 48 batters in 36.0 innings pitched out of the bullpen in his three seasons for the Fighting Irish.
An injury late in spring training kept Boyle out much of the 2021 season, returning for the final six weeks of a shortened minor league season that didn’t begin until May. There were some strong performances in his eight games between the Arizona Complex League and Low-A Daytona where he struck out 41 batters in 19.2 innings and posted a 2.29 ERA. But he also struggled with the strikezone, walking 14 batters (and 13 of those came in 12.2 innings once joining Daytona).
This season it’s been similar, but at a higher level. Now with High-A Dayton, Boyle has 35 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. He’s also allowed just one run and that run scored after he had turned the game over to a reliever. Oh, and he’s allowed just three hits all season. He’s walked 19 batters, and while they haven’t haunted him yet (because as we all know, walks will haunt), it’s still a rate that must come down as he continues his development.