We are wrapping up the 2023 Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List today. Each day this week we unveil ed five new spots on the list as we worked 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.
A reminder that 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
1. Elly De La Cruz | SS | Age: 21
2022 Teams: Dayton Dragons, Chattanooga Lookouts | Acquired: International FA 2018 | Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 200 lbs
What to like: Nearly everything. When it comes to tools he’s unmatched in the organization and nearly unmatched in all of professional baseball. He’s got multiple plus-plus tools. The switch-hitter is a highlight film to himself, showing off 491-foot home runs as well as the ability to use his speed to gain extra-bases on nearly any kind of hit.
What he must work on: With his size, some suggest he may be taller than the listed 6′ 5″, he’s almost always going to swing and miss somewhat. Still, you would like to see his strikeout rate come down from where it’s been. He’s just 20-years-old and he’s skyrocketed through the system, and you can see him making the adjustments if you watch him every day – but this is the biggest area.
2. Cam Collier | 3B | Age: 18
2022 Teams: ACL Reds | Acquired: 1st Round, 2022 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 210 lbs
What to like: There’s not much professional track record to look at here, but in 2022 you have to like everything that Cam Collier did. In what would have been his junior year of high school had he not graduated early to enroll at Chipola Junior College, Collier hit .333/.419/.537 with 25 walks and 33 strikeouts while playing at one of the top junior college programs in the country. After signing he hit .370/.514/.630 with more walks than strikeouts in his nine games played for the ACL Reds. And he’s still two weeks away from his 18th birthday. At the plate he shows everything you want to see in a hitter – power, the ability to hit for average, and a strong understanding of the strikezone.
What he must work on: At this point you have to say it’s more about just getting experience on the field. He’s the youngest player on the list. With that said, defense is his weakest area and it’s one that he’ll need to stay on top of to remain at third base.
3. Noelvi Marte | SS | Age: 21
2022 Teams: Everett Aquasox, Dayton Dragons | Acquired: International FA 2018 (Mariners), Trade (July 2022) | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 181 lbs
What to like: Marte is known more for his bat than for his glove, but that speaks more to how good his bat can be than anything about his defense. While he’s playing third base in the AFL currently, he can play shortstop right now. At the plate he shows above-average raw power, a good understanding of the strikezone, and he’s performed well.
What he must work on: When the season began there were concerns that Marte wasn’t quite in the same shape as he was the previous season. Baseball America hinted at this at the trade deadline, but also noted that he took care of that as the season progressed. Out in the AFL he’s put up above-average sprint speeds in the few games where that’s been tracked. Staying in shape moving forward could be the biggest area to keep up on as not only will it increase his chances of remaining at shortstop, but also his value on the bases and potentially at the plate.
4. Edwin Arroyo | SS | Age: 19
2022 Teams: Modesto Nuts, Daytona Tortugas | Acquired: 2nd Round, 2021 Draft (Mariners), Trade (July 2022) | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 175 lbs
What to like: Known as a defensive first player entering the 2022 season, Arroyo came out hitting. The then 18-year-old hit .293/.366/.480 with 27 steals between his three stops on the season. A potentially plus defensive shortstop who can also hit leaves a whole lot to like.
What he must work on: The California League isn’t quite as hitter friendly as it used to be due to the loss of some teams, but it’s still hitter friendly overall. Arroyo performed well in the league at the plate, but he did show some struggles after the trade to Cincinnati and moving to the very pitcher friendly Florida State League with Daytona. There’s no reason to believe his breakout was due entirely to the league he was playing in, but another strong showing in 2023 would really go a long way towards truly cementing his top prospect status.
5. Spencer Steer | INF | Age: 25
2022 Teams: Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints, Louisville Bats, Cincinnati Reds | Acquired: 3rd Round, 2019 Draft (Twins), Trade (August 2022) | Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 185 lbs
What to like: There’s a lot of defensive versatility from Steer, who had experience at shortstop, second base, third base, first base, and right field this past season. While he’s not likely going to be an every day shortstop, he can be your back up option there while being more of an every day player at the other spots. While his big league debut didn’t go great at the plate he hit fairly well in the minor leagues between Double-A and Triple-A and projects as at least a solid hitter in the big leagues.
What he must work on: He has crushed left-handed pitching in his career in the minor leagues, hitting .313/.408/.585 over the last two seasons. While he hasn’t been bad against right-handed pitching in the minors, he’s had far more struggles against them – hitting .237/.328/.442 against them over the last two seasons. His walk rate is good (10.2%) and his strikeout rate has been fine (21.9%), but the hits just haven’t come through nearly as often.
And with there, here’s the entire Top 25 (you can see all of the write ups here)
|1||Elly De La Cruz||SS|
|13||Jay Allen II||OF|
This looks to be a good list. If I squint…I think I could see 12-14 players who get to the Reds at some point…whether for a cup of coffee or a long career. Seems to be a really good list. Probably the deciding factor will be if the under 20y SP’s develop into middle rotation starters or not.
Maybe Top 5 farm system since 2000? Probably nothing will beat the 2006-2007 rankings with Votto, Cueto, Baily, Bruce….
This is without a doubt a better group of prospects than the pre-2008 class of Bruce, Bailey, Cueto and Votto. Many in that class really outperformed their prospect ranking of that year though.
It remains to be seen if this class will have a better career WAR than the pre-2008 class. I think it will though.
The top to bottom quality of this group seems to be the best the Reds have had in a long, long time. It seeks logical that it should bode well for the team very soon!
Really good list, Doug. Thanks for the time and effort it took to do the research.
Early 2023 could be a long couple few months, but as we start to see these guys come up, it’ll at least give some entertaining value to the summer months. The ranked guys of Elly, Steer, McLain, Encarnacion-Strand, Williamson, Abbott, and Cerda could all conceivably make it to the show this season (though the last two less likely). Then unranked guys like McGarry, Gilliam, Hopkins, Nutof, Karcher, and Roa could all get called up, especially in a season that 2023 projects to be.
My hope is that they don’t rush these guys. Our future is dependent on the prospects.
No I agree, take all the development time necessary for them, and if that means a bunch of AAAA guys in Cincinnati and veteran retreads, so be it, but I do think we see a handful of them this year. Hopefully 1 or 2 can come to town and make their presence known and hang on to it.
Pretty good AAA squad if they do:
De La Cruz SS
Bullpen (make sure you score 10 runs first)
This top 25 list makes for a good good farm system. Lots of youth putting together quality seasons at advanced levels. It’s really what you want to see.
From top to bottom there is enough potential to see the system keep pace with promotions and remain in the top 10 league wide for the next year or more. Fingers crossed for a number one pick!
My pic to click into the top five is Ricardo Cabrera. I’ll also take McGarry, the underdog, to play in Cincinnati next year and have a sensational impact in his debut. I’ll parlay both of those predictions at one and 200 odds.
You can’t say enough about how special the top 3 are…..and that’s on top of a generational talent in Hunter Greene.
Who was the last great 4-5 tool switch hitter? I’m struggling to think of one in my lifetime—Roberto Alomar? Bernie Williams? Might have to go back to Micky Mantle to accurately find a reasonable combination of physical gifts paired with natural ability.
I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable that Collier reaches the majors by the age of 19. Juan Soto OPS’d .973 at 17, Andruw Jones .780. Age 18, Soto .919, Jones .884. It’s really that age 19 season where both jumped 3 levels, eventualy reaching the majors. I don’t think starting at high A would be a stretch for Collier.
Marte’s bat path is so clean, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t OPS .800 for the entirety of his Reds career.
Alright here’s my predictions as to what all the Reds top prospects will come to be as Major League players
1. Elly De La Cruz: Perennial Top 5 player every year, MLB Hall Of Famer.
2. Can Collier: 4x All-Star, 1 time World Series winner (with the Dodgers).
3. Noelvi Marte: Bust.
4. Edwin Arroyo: Bust.
5. Spencer Steer: Scrappy utility man who you want up to bat with the game on the line.
6.Matty (Ice) McLain: Perennial Top 10 second basemen who drives Jonathan India out of town.
7. Christian Encarnacion-Strand: Right handed version of Reds legend Josh Naylor.
8. Connor Philipps: High Spin rate type guy who never finds his way in the rotation and moves to the bullpen and becomes an inconsistent reliever.
9. Chase Petty. Dominant ground ball pitcher who will always get overlooked just because he doesn’t get many strikeouts.
10. Sal Stewart. Bust.
11. Brandon Williamson: Starts out in the bullpen dominates. Goes back to the rotation and becomes a 4.50 ERA type guy, but the Reds being to dumb decide the rotation is better for him.
12. Ricardo Cabrera: Never makes it past double AA.
13. Jay Allen: Speedy outfielder who gets to many opportunities and doesn’t make much of them and becomes basically the next Aquino.
14. Andrew Abbott: Big time Lefty Starter, comes close to winning a CY Young award ends his career with a 3.53 ERA with an average K/9 of 10.2.
15. Reece Hinds: Bust.
16. Victor Acosta. Defense first shortstop, bounces around multiple teams for only his defense.
17. Joe Boyle: Multiple time All-Star Closer. Will have electric stuff and will be one of the most feared closers in the game
18. Carlos Jorge. Doesn’t make it to the majors until he’s 27 years old. By then he’s lost most of his playing ability.
19. Michael Siani: = next Kevin Kiermaier.
20. Julian Aguiar: Really bad major league reliever.
21. Allan Cerda: The second coming of Adam Duvall. He will come up as Adam Duvall is retiring from his outstanding major league career. Adam Duvall will then pass the torch to Alan Cerda. Alan Cerda will then go on to hit 287 big league home runs and become one of the greatest Reds outfielders of all time.
22. Leonardo Balcazar: I don’t even know why he’s on the top 25 Reds prospects. Easy bust.
23. Ariel Almonte: Guy that has all the tools, but can never put them together.
24. Hector Rodriguez: High contact guy that really has no other ability than that. Basically just another Alejo Lopez.
25. Javi Rivera: comes up at 26 and becomes a very solid middle innings reliever.
BONUS PROSPECT ANALYSIS
Alex Mcgary: sweet swinging left handed 1st basemen that takes over 1st base for Joey Votto. And becomes a very good one. Putting up 110-120 ops+ numbers nearly every year.
Austin Hendrick: Poor mans Joc Pederson. Still has the clutch but isn’t that good of a player other than that.
I would have to say these are pretty spot on except for Allan Cerda and the great Joe Boyle who will probably when multiple Cy youngs as a starter
Not bad but I definitely think Marte will be the real deal. Other than that not to bad.
Tom, have to be honest I was disappointed with what I saw of him in Dayton. He isn’t close to Elly. Defensively Torres was a better shortstop. He will play in the big leagues but probably at third, left field or first.
Good thing there are holes at (checks notes) those positions
For as juicy as this list is, it’s tough not to wonder what it would look like if Hendrick, Nelson, Roa, Callihan, Bonnin, & Co. had panned out thus far (with the obvious caveat that it’s still early enough for them to *figure it out*). That’s a lot of recent draft capital that’s been lapped, to date.
In fairness, Bonnin, Roa, and Callihan have dealt with injuries, so they’ve lacked the same opportunity as their peers to produce where we’d thought they might. And to have been bumped down the list given the influx of talent in the past 1-2 years, i.e. McGarry, Ivan Johnson, isn’t as harsh as it might seem. Every organization needs depth and role players.
If CES can maintain his batting numbers, this could become an all-time great MiLB class. Certainly they are all potential busts, but it doesn’t take much to see 2-3 all stars and 3-4 long time MLB production types. Given it’s the Reds, 20 of these guys may end up with MLB stat lines of some kind.
I still use Edwin Encarnacion as a good comp for CES
I wonder if Cam Collier could be even better than EDLC when he gets pro ball experience in next years…
If I were forced to predict future WAR right now I would have Cam higher than EDLC.
Do you think he has better upside than EDLC?
I am not sure any minor league hitter has the upside of EDLC. I think Collier has a higher floor. I think Collier will hit for more power and a better BA. EDLC speed is a game changer but so many of the things that make a team better because of this speed will not be reflected in WAR. My guess is that EDLC will be one of the best in the majors at going from 1st to 3rd on a single.
His bat may certainly challenge EDLC. However, his speed and defense will likely keep him behind Elly’s all-round game.
Arroyo getting significant playing time for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Leaguez. I find this a little surprising for someone of his age and experience. Brian Rey is also on that team which is typically one of the stronger team in that League.
Yeah, I’m going to have a winter league update of sorts tomorrow. I tried to not bury any of the Top 25 stuff this week unless it was something of real note that also wouldn’t really fit over at Redleg Nation. The timing is also good, though, with the AFL coming to an end this weekend.
Just like last year I had 20 of Doug’s top 25 in my top 25. Biggest disappointment was Hendrick did not make the top 25. Interesting that last year I had Boyle at 11 and he did not make Doug’s top 25. Boyle went on to be pitcher of they year in the organization. This year I have Hendrick at 11 and Doug did not rank him. Does that mean he is destined to be the 2023 Hitter of the organization?
The five players I have in my top 25 this year that Doug does not are
11. Hendrick, 19. Jose Acuna, 22. Esmith Pineda, 23. Daniel Vellojin and 25. Carlos Sanchez.
The five players Doug has included that I did not are Williamson, Hinds, Acosta, Cerda and Rivera. If Williamson was pitching hurt last year he probably should be in my top 25. But as far as I know he was shut down once he was hurt and was not trying to pitch through an injury.
Last year I had 5 players in my top 25 that Doug did not have. I had Boyle at 11, Santillan at 15, Connor Phillips at 16, Carlos Jorge at 19 and Leonardo Balcazar at 23.
The five players Doug had that I didn’t were Roa at 10, Nelson at 16, Friedl at 17, Moreta at 19 and Almonte at 24.
I completely agree about Acuna and Hendrick. I think they are both very special prospects that have a future in MLB. Hendrick was coming on strong at the end of the year and Acuna seems to have the control a lot of these pitchers do not. You have to throw strikes to be a MLB pitcher. Acuna reminds me of Mahle. All he does is keep players off the base paths at every level but, it took a while for Mahle to get respect as a prospect as well.
The biggest problem I have with the list is no catchers. Hope they get a top catcher in the next draft.
Alfredo Duno is expected to sign. That is a start.
The saddest part is we waste a top 100 pick every year at the position. We need to draft the top catcher in the draft or leave the position alone in the top 100 and just take flyers on guys in the 8-10 round range. We are not having any luck drafting the 3rd or 4th best catcher every year and the hit rate is much lower than other positions of need. We are spending too many resources at catcher without enough returns. Top 100 picks are too valuable to spend one at catcher every year.
I know Logan Tanner (17 minor league games played) is not on this list, but is he not worthy of consideration? Mathew Nelson (1 year in)? I think Tyler Stephenson was a good pick. And Alfredo Duno may help… a year from now he may be climbing the list.
I agree that it seems a little low on Catchers, and Okey and others failed, but the Reds are not exactly desperate at the position in my opinion.
I agree with you Greenwood. Not being in the top 25 is not as good of a determinate as would be the future prospect value. There are two reasons it is more difficult for a second round pick to be in the top 25. One is that nine of the top 25 spots in Doug’s top 25 belong to players acquired via trade. Additionally Cincinnati is finally getting a foothold internationally and five of Doug’s top 25 belong to international signings. That leaves just 11 spots for traditionally drafted players.
If you eliminate players acqured in trades the last year then Cade Hunter makes my top 25. If you exclude international signings on top of that Cade Hunter comes in at 17 on my list. If you exclude these same group of players then Nelson and Tanner are in my top 27. Additionally, Vellojin is already in my top 25.
The players added via trade and our newfound success on the international front in no way impact the skill level of our players drafted in the draft. But because some players are now not in the top 25 it may have an impact on the perceived skill level of these players.
I am looking forward to see how Vellojin and Cade Hunter perform this year.
Stock – Good points on Cade Hunter – he has all the personal background to move quickly thru MiLB. That said, take your time with catchers. A long history of comments about their long development time.
Looks like Hunter will start the season in Daytona, but it won’t surprise if he moves to Dayton in mid-season. After that, if his bat holds up, he could move quickly depending on confidence in his defense.
7 of top 11 came in trades in prev one year and 9 of 11 were not in Reds org one year ago.
A lot to like for Reds fans on this list, and they should get plenty of opportunities with the current roster in Cincy. For those who follow more, how does Petty compare to Mike Leake? Leake was extremely valuable to the Reds while he was around, high ground ball rate innings eater with a decent ERA/WHIP.
Petty doesn’t really compare well to Leake. Petty throws a good bit harder than Leake, and he’s on the high school to minors pathway (with strict pitch limits), where Leake was a highly polished collegian from a top national program.
If Petty would have gone the college route like Leake he would be drafted in July of 2024. He would still have 2 years left in college. In 2024 Petty may very well be in Cincinnati. I would think 2025 for sure.
Leake spent very little time in the minors after being drafted, so while their paths may different, the timeline to the majors is similar. How does their stuff compare?
Leake was closer to Bronson Arroyo than Petty.
You are correct here Hurt Like Griffey. Leake went straight from college to the majors. That said I don’t think Leake is a good comp. I agree with the Leake, Arroyo comp of Greenfield Red.
For Petty I would think more like Ashcraft+. Between Daytona and Dayton, Petty had a 54.8% GB%. Ashcraft was at 54.5% for Cincinnati. They both throw in the upper 90’s.
Petty has several advantages over Ashcraft though. Petty has more control than Ashcraft. Petty should have a higher K%. Most importantly Petty is doing this at a much younger age than Ashcraft.
Ashcraft should have reached Dayton at the age of 22 (he did not show up until age 23 because of COVID). Petty arrived at the age of 19.
Also maybe Shane McLanahan minus
BB% and GB% similar to McLanahan but his K% is a bit lower. McLanahan has 4 solid pitches. Petty has two and is working on a changeup. But Petty is 19 and McLanahan was in A+ ball at the age of 22.
Further, Petty is 6’2″, 190. While he’s thrown over 100 in high school, though sits lower than that, mid to higher 90’s. BA reports him having great life on his stuff
Ashcraft is also 6’2″ but is 30 pounds heavier, at the least. His velocity is probably a click or two higher than Petty’s, and has similar life on his stuff.
Mike Leake is 5’10”, and 170 lbs. In his prime, he probably threw with ML average velocity and often less, but was far more reliant on command and control.
As for a comp in body type for Petty, my favorite is old friend Luis Castillo. Same height, same weight, and (hopefully) similar stuff.
Just to clear this up – Petty absolutely does not sit mid to high 90’s. He didn’t even hit 97 MPH this year (unless we round up). Graham Ashcraft throws significantly harder than Chase Petty does.
All in all I like the list, there is a lot of promise there.
I wonder if Steer has enough prospect appeal to get Alejandro Kirk away from the Jays. That would be my main focus if I were Krall, finding a few good pieces from some of our depth of prospects.
With Kirk coming off a year where he produced 3.9 bWAR/3.8 fWAR, the Blue Jays would certainly want more than Steer. With Moreno ready, they may be more willing to trade Jansen. The Royals also appear to have a surplus at catcher with Melendez mostly playing LF for them. I like the idea of finding a catcher who can produce enough to keep them in the lineup as the DH (or another position) on the nights they don’t catch.
I agree it would take more to get Kirk. What do you think it would cost in prospect capital?
Given the talent on Toronto’s roster, I don’t think they would trade for prospects. Reportedly, they are looking for a LH bat and starting pitching. The Reds don’t have a good enough LH hitter to offer so it would likely take a starting pitcher. Using Baseball Trade Value’s simulator, Nick Lodolo has the closest value to Kirk and I doubt the Reds would part with him. I just don’t see a viable path that satisfies the needs of both teams with Toronto.
KC reportedly wants a RH hitter. I could see the Reds trading India for Melendez and another player. While the Reds don’t have a surplus of
infield depth in the Majors, today; they should by the end of next season.