Last week the full season teams around Minor League Baseball finished up the final series of the first half. That felt like it was an appropriate time to make an updated Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect list. There had been multiple players who “graduated” from having prospect eligibility since the start of the season and performance dictated some changes as well. Let’s jump into the list and talk about why each player is ranked where they are. The new rankings went out to subscribers over at Patreon over the weekend. Early access to some things is one of the perks of financially supporting the work here. If that interests you, you can see what else you get and sign up here.
1.Elly De La Cruz | SS | Dayton Dragons
Why he is here: He has the best set of tools of anyone in the organization and he is using them on the field on a daily basis. The 20-year-old is hitting .294/.349/.561 with 25 steals, 13 doubles, 6 triples, and 15 home runs in 67 games for High-A Dayton.
Where he must improve: We’ve been seeing it throughout this season, but he needs to continue to hone in on his plate discipline. He has improved his walk rate each month this season, setting a career high in walks in both May and in June.
2. Nick Lodolo | LHP | Cincinnati Reds
Why he is here: He’s big league ready (he returns from the injured list tonight to pitch for the Reds), has the upside for be a quality major league starter, and he has had all kinds of success in the minor leagues where he’s posted a 2.42 ERA in his 25 career minor league starts to go along with just 14 walks and 126 strikeouts.
Where he must improve: It’s tough to point at any one specific thing for Lodolo at this point. He made a mockery of the minor leagues without any apparent holes in his game and at the big league level he’s made just three starts.
3. Connor Phillips | RHP | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he is here: He has some of the best overall stuff among pitchers in the farm system and he’s been able to use it well this season, too. He’s posted a 3.26 ERA in 13 starts with 97 strikeouts and 34 walks in 69.0 innings (64.0 of those innings in High-A Dayton).
Where he must improve: His walk rate is higher than you would like to see. He turned 21 two months ago and he’s already in Double-A, so there’s plenty of time for that to improve.
4. Matt McLain | SS | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he is here: He can do a little bit of everything. He hit 12 home runs in 59 games in the first half of the season, showing off good pop in his bat. And he also stole 16 bases in 17 attempts, showing off both speed and smart baserunning. He is currently on the injured list while dealing with a sore wrist.
Where he must improve: He’s only hitting .237 and a big part of that is because he’s striking out 31% of the time he steps to the plate. He’s in his first full season and it’s at the Double-A level, but strikeouts weren’t supposed to be an issue for McLain coming out of college and is an area you’d like to see him improve on.
5. Brandon Williamson | LHP | Louisville Bats
Why he is here: He’s got plenty of stuff to work with and coming into the season he had a good track record in both college and as a professional. After a slow start to begin the season he began to show signs of turning it around.
What he must improve on: This season his stuff has taken a little bit of a step backwards and his consistency has, too. In 2021 he walked 33 batters in 98.1 innings, but this season he’s already walked 40 in just 71.1 innings. The walks absolutely have to return to the levels he showed last year if he’s going to be a big league starting pitcher.
6. Jay Allen | OF | Daytona Tortugas
Why he is here: Similar to Matt McLain, he’s capable of doing a little bit of everything. He hasn’t shown the same kind of pop yet, hitting 12 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs in 60 games in the first half. But he’s also just 19-years-old and he’s playing in the most pitcher friendly league in all of the minors. He’s stolen 27 bases already this season while being caught just 6 times. He is currently on the injured list with an oblique injury.
What he must improve on: There’s more power in there and you’d like to see that start to show up in games. At his age there’s not much concern about that yet. He’s also hitting just .230. There’s no strikeout issue here, so just finding a way to pick up a few more hits along the way would be beneficial.
7. Chase Petty | RHP | Daytona Tortugas
Why he is here: He’s pitched well this season, posting a 3.38 ERA in 56.0 innings while walking 18 batters and striking out 54. He’s got plenty of stuff to back up those numbers, too, with a plus fastball and breaking ball to go along with an improving change up.
What he must improve on: The Reds haven’t asked Petty, who celebrated his 19th birthday the first week of the season, to pitch deep into games yet. Out of his 15 games this season he’s topped 70 pitches just four times and only recorded an out in the 5th inning three times. That’s not necessarily on him, but throwing deeper into games is an area he will have to show he can do moving forward when it’s asked of him.
8. Andrew Abbott | LHP | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he is here: One of the early season breakouts, Abbott dominated in Dayton, posting a 0.67 ERA in his first five games before being promoted to Double-A. He had a terrible start on June 18th where he allowed eight runs in 0.2 innings for the Lookouts. Outside of that start he’s been quite good for Chattanooga, but that outing really skews the numbers in his other eight outings since his promotion.
What he must improve on: It’s tough to pinpoint a specific area that he needs to truly improve upon. He shows good control, but his command could be better. That’s nit-picking a bit, but he’s fairly polished.
9. Allan Cerda | OF | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he’s here: Allan Cerda does a whole lot on the field. He’s hit 15 doubles, a triple, and 16 home runs in 69 games this season. He’s walked 48 times and has a .379 on-base percentage. And he’s a strong defender in center with a big time arm.
What he must improve on: He’s hitting just .227 on the season and he’s struck out 100 times in 280 plate appearances. There’s a lot of swing-and-miss happening and it’s making it difficult to hit for average. That’s been a problem throughout his career. When he hits it, he makes it count, but he needs to improve his rate of contact
10. Christian Roa | RHP | Dayton Dragons
Why he is here: There are times when Christian Roa looks very good on the mound, showing off four average to better pitches that give him a shot to be a solid big league starting pitcher. His velocity has picked up this season compared to last year – at least when it comes to where he’s sitting at.
What he must improve on: Consistency has been an issue for Roa since he was drafted. His control and command waver at times and he’ll get in trouble when that happens.
11. Rece Hinds | OF | Dayton Dragons
Why he is here: The 2022 season has been interesting for Hinds. He made the move to the outfield and the transition was rough at first, but with more experience out there you’ve been able to see the improvements come quickly. At the plate his April was about as bad as it gets, striking out nearly half the time he stepped into the batters box. But he made some adjustments and things started to get better after that, hitting .284/.351/.470 while making much more contact. He is currently on the injured list after breaking his hamate bone.
What he must improve on: While he has improved his strikeout rate post April, he’s still striking out at a rate higher than you would like to see – even from a guy with the power potential that he has. He’s had a lot of injuries in his three years on the field, limiting his game experience, which could be hindering some of his development in this area.
12. Bryce Bonnin | RHP | Dayton Dragons
Why he is here: Bonnin has electric stuff, which can be seen in the numbers he’s posted this year. In his six games he’s put up a 2.52 ERA and allowed just 11 hits in 25.0 innings while striking out 28 batters. In his career in the minors he’s given up just 38 hits in 72.0 innings and struck out 99 thanks to two plus offerings with his fastball and slider. He’s currently on the injured list with a right shoulder impingement.
What he must improve on: If you noticed above, he’s only pitched in six games this season and he’s currently on the injured list. He’s spent a lot of time on the injured list since being drafted, throwing just 72.0 innings in the year-and-a-half since the start of the 2021 season. The stuff is not in question, but his ability to stay on the mound certainly is.
13. Ricardo Cabrera | SS | DSL Reds
Why he is here: Cabrera was the biggest international signing that the Reds have made of a non-Cuban in a long, long time. He’s just getting started in his professional career.
What he must improve on: He’s played in just 20 games, and he’s the same age as a junior in high school, so he’s got to improve on literally everything at this point. With that said, he’s made 14 errors and has a .797 fielding percentage at this point. That’s got to improve.
14. Tyler Callihan | 2B | Dayton Dragons
Why he’s here: There’s plenty to like at the plate for Tyler Callihan. He’s got a good hit tool, some power potential, and a good approach at the plate that leads to good contact numbers.
What he must improve on: He suffered a wrist injury during spring training that cost him the first six weeks of the season. That may be holding back his bat just a little bit still as some wrist injuries take more time to return from in all capacities than others. With that said, his raw power hasn’t shown up frequently in games to this point in his career.
15. Joe Boyle | RHP | Dayton Dragons
Why he’s here: He’s posted a 1.72 ERA in 13 starts this year while allowing just 16 hits in 57.2 innings and striking out 91 batters. His stuff is as good as you can imagine with that stat line.
What he must improve on: His start yesterday is the prime example: He walked 6 batters in 2.1 innings. While his walk rate has improved from both where it was in college and where it was in 2021, he’s still walked 43 of the 228 batters he’s faced this season. That’s a 19% walk rate. Basically, his walk rate is the same as a prime Joey Votto. It’s far too high for him to remain a starting pitcher in the long run, and may even be too high for him to be a middle reliever without improvements in this area.
16. Jose Torres | SS | Dayton Dragons
Why he’s here: There’s plenty to like with Jose Torres. He’s a quality defender up the middle, though he’s been playing off of shortstop often enough as he’s splitting time there with Elly De La Cruz. He’s shown a solid amount of pop in his bat, and he’s gone 17-for-19 in stolen base attempts this season.
What he must improve on: He’s hitting just .228 after a big slump in June. Torres doesn’t walk much, though his walk rate has improved as the season has gone along.
17. Ariel Almonte | OF | ACL Reds
Why he’s here: After having a good season with the DSL Reds in 2021, Almonte has moved up to join the ACL Reds this year. One of the top signings in the 2021 international signing class for the organization he’s been one of the better hitters from the group and has plenty of upside.
What he must improve on: He’s just 18-years-old so there’s a whole lot he has to improve on as he continues working his way up. This season he’s played in 17 games, but he’s struck out 23 times. Making more contact seems to be the biggest area he could improve upon right now.
18. Alex McGarry | 1B | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he’s here: There are breakouts and then there’s what Alex McGarry has done. After posting an OPS of just .716 in 2021 he’s split time between Dayton and Chattanooga this year and has an OPS of. 961 with 13 doubles, 3 triples, and 19 home runs in just 62 games played.
What he must improve on: In Dayton he struck out 57 times with just 10 walks. He’s walked 5 times with 23 strikeouts in Chattanooga. The walk rate is similar, but the strikeout rate has come down big time – though he’s only played in about half as many games. Keeping, or even improving his rate of contact he’s shown in Chattanooga would go a long way for him as he continues his progression and power breakout.
19. Leonardo Balcazar | SS | ACL Reds
Why he’s here: Last season the then 17-year-old had a nice showing for the DSL Reds, posting an .882 OPS in 29 games played. This season he’s played in 17 games with the ACL Reds and he’s done even better, hitting .346/.431/.618 with 4 home runs.
What he must improve on: He turned 18 less than a month ago, so he’s got to improve on everything. For his age, and looking at his numbers in context, there doesn’t seem to be any area that jumps out that needs a ton of work given where he’s at in his development.
20. Carlos Jorge | 2B/SS | ACL Reds
Why he’s here: Another guy who had a big season in 2021 with the DSL Reds, posting a 1.015 OPS with 27 steals. This season he’s played in 20 games with the ACL Reds and is hitting .279/.392/.508 with 10 steals in 10 tries.
What he must improve on: Like Balcazar, he’s just 18-years-old so he’s going to have to improve on every aspect of his game. That said, his strikeout rate in 2022 is up quite a bit from where it was last season. Small sample size of just 20 games, but if we are going to nit-pick, that’s an area he could improve on.
21. Yerlin Confidan | OF | Daytona Tortugas
Why he’s here: He was coming off of an MVP season as an 18-year-old in the ACL where he led the league in home runs and posted a .315/.359/.573 line. This season he’s only played in 15 games after suffering a quad injury that’s cost him the last two months of the season. He is hitting .280/.368/.440 in his limited action. He is currently still on the injured list.
What he must improve on: Defense. While he’s just 19-years-old he’s really struggled in the outfield. Not only does he have an .894 fielding percentage, the eye test also gives some pause as he often enough just doesn’t look comfortable in the outfield.
22. Michael Siani | OF | Chattanooga Lookouts
Why he’s here: One of the best defenders in the farm system regardless of position, Siani shows excellent range and a strong arm in center. He’s also having his best season at the plate in 2022. Improved plate discipline has helped as he’s walked 36 times with just 51 strikeouts this year in 313 plate appearances. Siani is also 23-for-30 on stolen base attempts this year.
What he must improve on: He’s hitting just .243 this year, and a low average is something he’s had in full season leagues since 2019 began. He’s making more contact this year than ever before, and hitting for more power, but those two things haven’t yet resulted in big strides in the average department.
23. Malvin Valdez | OF | ACL Reds
Why he’s here: Along with Ariel Almonte, Valdez was one of the big signings in the 2021 international signing class that got a big 7-figure bonus. He’s got plenty of tools to work with, including plus speed that’s helped him steal 30 bases in 36 attempts in his 68 game career.
What he must improve on: He’s just 18-years-old so everything is going to have to improve. But he’s also struck out 95 times in 276 plate appearances so far. That’s a 34% strikeout rate and one that is going to have to improve as he continues to develop.
24. Esmith Pineda | OF | DSL Reds
Why he’s here: He got the second highest bonus from the Reds in the 2022 international signing class and he’s hit like he wants to show them he was worth it. In 15 games so far with the DSL Reds he’s hitting .367/.456/.592 with 3 homers, 7 walks, and 9 strikeouts.
What he must improve on: I feel like a broken record, but when you are talking about guys in rookie ball who are just starting their careers, they need to improve on everything.
25. Daniel Vellojin | C | Dayton Dragons
Why he’s here: A quality catcher from a defensive standpoint who walks nearly as often as he strikes out at the plate. Coming off of a hamate injury he struggled to hit in 20 games with Daytona to start his season, but he has caught fire and is hitting .333/.457/.579 in his last 17 games (he’s only played in 33 this season because of the hamate injury).
What he must improve on: Defensively he calls a good game, receives the pitch well, and he’s got a good arm. But he struggles with balls in the dirt and blocking them and it’s an area that’s been a concern for a few years now. If there’s one place to look for improvements, this is it.
Players who graduated prospect eligiblity
These players no longer qualify as “prospects”: Hunter Greene, Jose Barrero, Graham Ashcraft, TJ Friedl, Alejo Lopez, and Dauri Moreta.