It’s prospect list season once again. Today we are kicking off the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List. Each day this week we will unveil five new spots on the list as we work our way through the Top 25 Prospects heading into the 2023 season. If you were supporting the site on Patreon you would have gotten the entire Top 25 list last week and had early access to this, and plenty of other benefits for your patronage. Click here to see what all you can get for helping keep the site alive and kicking via support through Patreon.
These write ups will not feature full scouting reports. Those will be included with the Season Reviews, which will start next week – first working my way through the Top 25 prospects before then branching out into another 25-50 interesting prospects through the remainder of the offseason.
*To be eligible for the list a player must have 2023 Rookie of the Year eligibility (Fewer than 130 at bats in the big leagues, fewer than 50 innings pitched, or less than 45 days on the active MLB roster)*
All ages listed are as of April 1st, 2023
21. Allan Cerda | OF | Age: 23
2022 Teams: Dayton Dragons, Chattanooga Lookouts | Acquired: International FA 2017 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 203 lbs
What to like: Defense, power, walks. Those are areas where Cerda not only is good, but areas that he excels. Not only does he have good range in center but he’s also got a big arm. At the plate he showed off his power in 2022 by hitting 24 home runs to go along with 22 doubles and a triple.
What he must work on: Making contact. For all of the good stuff that Cerda brings to the table, he struggled to make contact in 2022 – striking out 33% on the year, but it was 37% at the High-A level where he spent the first half of the season. It dropped to 30% in the second half when he was promoted to Double-A.
22. Leonardo Balcazar | SS | Age: 18
2022 Team: ACL Reds | Acquired: International FA 2021 | Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 190 lbs
What to like: The shortstop hit well in 2022, posting a .322/.411/.476 line as he stepped up to the Arizona Complex League. Balcazar also went 13-for-14 in stolen bases.
What he must work on: He has the tools to remain at shortstop, but he has made 20 errors in 50 games at the position as a pro, posting an .884 fielding percentage. That rate of errors will need to improve moving forward, but he won’t turn 19 until the middle of June in 2023 and has plenty of time to work on that aspect as he moves up the ladder.
23. Ariel Almonte | OF | Age: 19
2022 Team: ACL Reds | Acquired: International FA 2021 | Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 218 lbs
What to like: He followed up a good professional debut with an even better 2022 season as he jumped from the DSL to the ACL. Almonte hit .286/.390/.493 for the Reds as an 18-year-old while collecting 11 doubles and 6 home runs. There’s a lot of power potential for the outfielder and he’s already showing some of it in games.
What he must work on: The lefty hit well in 2022 but his strikeout rate went up from where it was in 2021. This past season he struck out 29.9% of the time he came to the plate. While strikeout rates are going up in the game, that is a rate you would like to see come down as he moves up the ladder.
24. Hector Rodriguez | OF | Age: 19
2022 Teams: FCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, ACL Reds, Daytona Tortugas | Acquired: International FA 2021 (Mets), Trade (July 2022) | Height: 5′ 8″ | Weight: 186 lbs
What to like: He makes contact at an elite rate – striking out just 10.2% of the time he came to the plate in 2022. Rodriguez has plus speed and he can use it well on the field. He has hit .320/.374/.510 since signing prior to the 2021 season with the Mets.
What he must work on: Despite high contact rates his strikezone judgment isn’t great. Shrinking his swing zone could help him continue to hit for high averages and allow him to get the most out of his limited power.
25. Javi Rivera | RHP | Age: 23
2022 Teams: Daytona Tortugas, Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 20th Round, 2021 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 195 lbs
What to like: After being drafted late last summer, Rivera didn’t pitch. He had to wait until the start of 2022 to make his professional debut and he made up for lost time, posting a 3.29 ERA in 24 games during the year. The righty struck out 111 batters in 93.0 innings and showed strong control as he walked just 25 batters and allowed just eight home runs.
What he must work on: The pitch count for Rivera was monitored closely and he never topped 76 pitches in a single game. He’s going to have to show that he can handle an increase in both pitches per game as well as a bump up in his innings while maintaining his stuff as he climbs the ladder.
Click here to see the rest of the list
Seems that to a man, these 5 have a wide variance of possible outcomes, but there’s a lot to like with each. Cerda would be the only one who has to kinda figure it out faster given his age. Unlike years past, imo you don’t have to squint as hard to see how they might make it to the show.
Good job Mr Doug, it’s a so interesting and awaited info..
In my opinion, since the prospects are going to be showed as a countdown list from
#25 to #1 thru monday to friday, I think they could be sorted in the same way in a daily basis. For instance, we could read from #20 to #15 prospect tomorrow and not from #15 to #20 , I don´t know if I explain my idea well..
I understand what you’re saying. It’s too late to go that route now. Maybe next year.
For being the back end of a top 25, that’s a pretty good group of prospects. I like Rodriguez, but his diminutive size and lack of power is going to be tough for him to overcome.
Looking at his video, it looks like there is a lot of potential for a more powerful future performance. I liked that he didn’t skip a beat after the trade which can be very troubling especially for a young person.
Joe Morgan, Jose Altuve – two pint size players who found some power.
So far, Hector Rodriguez is showing a ton of power for a kid who seemingly doesn’t own any power. A .520 slugging percentage over 91 games and 337 PAs seems pretty great.
Almonte, Balcazar, and Rodriguez are three of a whole host of intriguing ACL and DSL prospects. Lots and lots of 18- and 19-year-olds with some numbers worthy of a second or third look. Carlos Jorge is another in the same vein. (In fact, I’d likely have him ranked a bit higher, if only because of his power: he was among the league leaders in the ACL in slugging percentage, OBP, and OPS despite being among its youngest.) Carlos Sanchez is another in the DSL– he’s a 17-year-old who owned a .500+(!) OBP. That ranked second in the league behind a 20-year-old.
hi – is Allan Cerda sort of like Adam Dunn lite….or is that a stretch? In 2000 in Dayton Dunn struck out roughly once/5 plate appearances. Cerda is roughly once/3 plate appearances. Dunn was also a starting LF @ 22 for the Reds….
A couple differences are Cerda can play defense and is faster. I would think a more apt comparison would be Jimmy Wynn, but Cerda will need to improve his contact greatly.
I don’t consider Dunn a good comparison. At the age of 21 in AA/AAA Dunn had an ISO of .337, 15% BB% and a 19% K%. At 23 Cerda had an ISO of .236, 16% BB% and a 30% K%.
Dunn had a .334 BA vs. .199 for Cerda.
For Cerda to make it he would have to dramatically decrease his K% without sacrificing power. Since he is 23 already he is running out of time.
Cerda is pretty simple as a hitter. If it’s a fastball in the middle of the zone, he swings. If it’s not, he doesn’t, often even if there’s two strikes. Thus the walk and strikeout rates are a bit deceptive. Nothing about his current plate approach projects, which is too bad because he does have the tools.
I’ve never seen a dude strike out looking so much, and I’m struggling to think of a time I’ve seen him hit an off-speed pitch out of the infield. Heck, I’m struggling to think of a time I’ve seen him hit an off-speed pitch.
I did a quick check on the videos I’ve had of Cerda uploaded on the site and found this one from last year where he just destroyed a breaking ball when he was in Daytona – https://www.redsminorleagues.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Allan-Cerda-Website.mp4
I am with BZ. I feel a 0.178 ISO in the pitcher friendly Florida State League is pretty good. Add to it that he did this at the age of 18 and I am very impressed. For these reasons I have him at 14 in my rankings. It will be very interesting to see how his power develops.
As an 18 year old Altuve was in Rookie ball with a lower ISO (.149), a lower BB% and a higher K%. I am excited about what he will do in Dayton next year (assuming he makes it there at some point). I think his ISO in Dayton will exceed .200.
I have Balcazar and Almonte in the 20-25 range as well. I have Cerda and Rivera in the 25-30 range so these four players are pretty much spot on with Doug’s rankings.
This is a great kickoff to your top 25. 3 of the 5 are teenagers in the 21-25 range, with many more to come in the top 20. The Reds system may be about 5th overall, but the teenaged talent has to be higher than that, perhaps #1 in the minors.
I disagree with all of those on this site and Redleg Nation about the Reds ownership being cheap. After all the wasted money on free agency a few years ago, and the end of the Votto contract, given they were going to be bad in 2022 and 2023, there was no reason to spend more money on the major league roster. I don’t believe in throwing good money at bad money, and that’s where the Reds are.
They have spent money in free agency (Shogo, NC, Moose, Minor and others), and gotten nothing for it. They have signed their own (Bailey, Suaraz, Mesarocco, and others) and gotten nothing for it. They are not the Yankees or Dodgers, and I don’t think any of us expect them to be, not do I want them to be.
With regard to free agency and signing your own, it seems to me that most guys are at or near 30 when their 6 years of control are exhausted. It also seems to me the peak years of most careers in their late 20s. Player after player after player sees a sharp drop off in production from about age 30 on. Why play in that arena when the odds are against you if you can do it another way? Become the best at harvesting young talent and getting it to the majors. I believe this is what the Reds are trying to do.
It is obvious, the Reds are spending money on the future. They are spending internationally, and are spending all their allotment on the draft. Some had Cam Collier as the best player in the draft in 2022. Somehow he fell to #18 because teams were concerned about how much money he would demand. The Reds drafted and signed him. That doesn’t sound cheap to me. They have spent money on minor league systems to make it better. I think there could be an upgrade in minor league coaching, but I don’t know.
Someone please tell me where I’m wrong.
@Greenfield Red – thank you for being reasonable. I get tired of Redleg Nation for all the negativity and complaining. lol. I would agree with you as well. My only hope would have been to try and keep the band together for 2022 rather than trading Winker in February and stuff + try and sign nick castellanos for 3+ with opt out clauses.
I agree as well. So much of the negativity is unnecessary. If you look at how things were trending before the pandemic, they were entering into the hundred50 million $ range in payroll. They had a strong farm system as well. Call it bad luck. Try again but this time go all in on the rebuild, which is what we’re seeing pretty much. I actually fully expect the Reds to have $150 million payroll by 2025.
I agree that “cheap” probably isn’t the best word for the Reds ownership. My problem is the way they vacillate wildly from one plan to the next, and never make the commitment to the last move that gets them over the top. They get close, don’t quite know how to get great, then cry poor. Wash, rinse, repeat. We’ll see if they can stick with this newest plan long enough for it to bear fruit.
This I agree with 100%. Stick with a plan.
I will give you four examples. The first one is minor (pun intended). Minor was acquired in a trade not a FA.
Second if the Reds don’t trade Iglesias prior to the 2021 season I think they make the playoffs in 2021. They received zero in return in what was a clear money drop.
Third, Miley was our best SP in 2021 and the Reds did not exercise his realitively cheap option. They later reallocated the $10 they saved on Miley and spent it on Minor.
Fourth, if the Reds were in rebuild mode prior to the 2022 season they would not have included Suarez in the trade with the Angels. It is a given that Suarez’ contract was a bad contract a year ago. Not including him in that trade would have brought the Reds a better return than they received in the trade.
With all that said I do agree the Reds were right to trade for prospects in 2022. I agree with you in that this was the correct decision.
With the exception of the Iglesias trade I like all the moves the Reds made. Therefore, items 3 and 4 are also minor.
Thanks Stock. I enjoy your posts and insight.
This is an exciting time for Reds fans. Not at the major league level, but in watching all these youngsters working their way up to the majors. I believe if the continue to fill this pipeline (high draft in 23, internationally (Duno and hopefully others in 23), and trades for high end young talent), they can win the World Series in the next few years.
Stock if you remember the time you are talking about the Angels trade. The Angels had signed Anthony Rendon the previous winter s that pretty much ended any interest in Suarez.
Thanks for your comments Greenfield.
MK, I messed up. I meant Seattle not the Angels. Here is that sentence revised. Thanks for finding my error.
Fourth, if the Reds were in rebuild mode prior to the 2022 season they would not have included Suarez in the trade with the Mariners.
However, Wade pitched 31 innings this year.
So Tucket did not perform well.
So maybe it was not too bad.
The minor pickup was really bad.
You are wrong in that they’ve signed their own and gotten nothing. They did well on the Votto contract, the Bruce contract, the Phillips contract, the Cueto contract. They did ok on the Suarez contract before they traded it away.
And I’ll argue all day that they actually haven’t spent in free agency – it just feels like they have because they have been historically inept at actually spending money in free agency. The most money they’ve ever paid a guy isn’t even half of what guys are making today per year.
Every single team in baseball spends their draft and international money. The Reds don’t get credit for also doing that. The Reds aren’t the worst when it comes to spending to buy/improve tech, processes, etc in the minors, but they absolutely aren’t at the top of the food chain there, either.
They aren’t the Pirates. I’ll give them that.
Doug, we’ll probably never agree on the JV contract. We was elite before the contract (over 30 WAR in 6 years before the contract) and now roughly 30 WAR in 9 years after with little hope of adding much in year 10. Is 30 WAR over 10 years worth over 200 mil? To me, no, unless it is part of a lot of winning baseball, which it isn’t.
It’s not Joey’s fault that the Reds didn’t commit to winning for more than half of his deal. It was a good contract. The Reds were just run poorly for much of it.
And in terms of “free agent dollars”, 30 WAR in 9 years is absolutely, without question, worth more than $200M. 1 WAR has been worth $8-9M in the time of his contract. So you’re talking 30 times 8 or 9, which is $240-270M of value.
Doug I would also add that Votto‘s value over the life of his contract goes way beyond his production on the field. He probably has the most jerseys sold and he’s pretty much the number one reason to watch the Reds on any given night. The fact that he will become a Hall of Famer as a red and an all-time reds icon is all just baseball as it should be and we should all be glad that Votto is who he is.
Unfortunately, they m hearing from some pretty good sources that Hector Rodrigues will miss most, if not all, of next season
Injury. Broke his leg. Already had one surgery. Will need another.
Doug have you heard this?
Kerrick do you have a link about this? I have not read this yet. I know he got hurt at the end of the year. Missing a year over a broken leg sounds like a lot of missed time.
I run a reds minor league Facebook group and someone close to him is in the group. He is someone that would know.
It’s rewarding as a fan of the reds’ minors that Javi Rivera made the top 25 and earned some nice recognition. He just had a really nice season.
I don’t agree with everyone about the Reds being cheap. They were they spent there money to soon. Made bad signings then sold off all there homegrown talent to appease there bad decisions. The Bauer trade was a good trade, but to go out and sign Moustakas and Shogo….Basically cost us Winker and Castillo. I just can’t stand that atleast 1 person in this organization can’t stand up and say we made a mistake we going to tear it down and start again. Castellini is not capable of either pis### or getting of pot. He the guy that keeps he feet in the water but he is scared to jump off the deep end. Let me know if you want some more bad analogies I got a whole bag of them. Atleast you know what your getting with Mike Brown.