The Cincinnati Reds have four players in ESPN’s Top 100 prospect list that was released this morning. Kiley McDaniel, the author of the list, ranks all four of those players within the Top 50. Another prospect just missed the list.

Elly De La Cruz picked up another Top 10 ranking (more on this later). McDaniel ranked him 9th on the list, noting in his write up that “we’re already into all-time territory of the best tools anyone has ever seen”. That’s some kind of praise for a guy who has never played in the big leagues, but De La Cruz is certainly a different kind of athlete, too. He hit .304/.359/.586 between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga with 47 steals, 31 doubles, 9 triples, and 28 home runs. He won the Triple Crown on the Reds farm system thanks to those numbers.


The next prospect on the list is another shortstop. Edwin Arroyo cracks the list at #40 overall. The switch-hitter was known for his defense coming into the 2022 season, but then he went out and hit .293/.366/.460 in 2022 as an 18-year-old in Single-A while splitting his time between Modesto and Daytona. That line came along with 25 doubles, 10 triples, 14 home runs, and 27 stolen bases. Still known for his defense by most accounts, McDaniel believes he can remain at shortstop but isn’t the defender others do.

Just four spots down the list is Noelvi Marte. He, like Arroyo, is a shortstop and came over in the same trade at the deadline with the Seattle Mariners. Unlike Arroyo, Marte is known more for his bat and the potential with it. Last season he hit .279/.371/.458 while showing off above-average raw power and a potential to hit for a high average. While there are some questions about where he will wind up defensively, he’s got all of the tools to play third base in the future where his bat profiles well and his arm should still stand out.

The final Red on the list is Cam Collier. The 2022 1st round pick came in at #50 overall. He hit .333/.419/.537 at Chipola Junior College in what would have been his junior year of high school had he not graduated two years early to enroll. Once he signed he played in nine games at the complex in Arizona for the Reds rookie level team and hit .370/.514/.630 with more walks than strikeouts. McDaniel seems to love his bat and raves about his arm strength, too.

While the rankings ended at 100, McDaniel listed the rest of the players who he would have given a 50 FV grade to – which equates to being a league average starting player. There were 29 players on this list. Spencer Steer was the only Cincinnati prospect that was listed here. In the minor leagues he hit a combined .274/.364/.515 between a stop in Double-A Wichita, and stops in two different Triple-A cities before spending September in Cincinnati with the Reds. He hit .211/.306/.326 in his 108 plate appearances in the big leagues last season.

The Final Rankings

With ESPN’s Top 100 list now being here, we’ve seen all of the lists from credible sources (in my opinion). Here’s how the Reds players stacked up:

Baseball America Baseball Prospectus MLB Pipeline The Athletic ESPN
Elly De La Cruz 8 5 10 4 9
Noelvi Marte 63 29 29 49 44
Edwin Arroyo 65 61 44 58 40
Cam Collier 70 49 69 17 50
Connor Phillips 96

26 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    I’d say each are well above average athletes, including you know who being freakishly gifted, with this a terrific reflection of the emphasis upon athleticism enacted in the latter Williams era and continued under Nick Krall. And we aren’t discussing tools goofs who are such enormous projects they stand little chance to make an impact in the majors. On the contrary, their baseball skills appear to match their athleticism, at least to date, and their baseball intelligence and acumen seem strong as well — to have accomplished so much as such young ages is truly impressive. I got to see a fair amount of Julio Rodriguez last season. He’s the real deal. At least one of these guys may likely be mentioned in the same breath.

    • MK

      Is your too goof Jim Bowden, who collected 5 tool outfielders who didn’t have tool boxes ?

  2. Matt

    Happy February! Means we’ll get to see some of these dudes on the field this month! Excited to start seeing baseball instead of just throwing hypotheticals out there (not that I don’t enjoy the back and forth with y’all…I miss baseball games).

    • 2020ball

      Same brother, same. I just want games, how good one or another team is isnt my top priority.

  3. Stock

    Here is a comparison of four Prospects and Oneil Cruz. I can’t afford to pay for access to these sites so I don’t know how they rank but my guess is Volpe and Lawler are ranked above EDLC and possibly Mayer. First I will give you their stats at comparable levels:

    First I will give you their highest level (reasonable # of games). Almost all are age 20 in AA or age 19 in A+ which is comparable in my mind. Volpe did not play in AA at age 20 so his stats are age 21.

    EDLC – Age 20 AA 7.7%/30.9%/.247/.910
    Marcelo Mayer Age 19 A+ 14.7%/25.0%/.184/.828
    Anthony Volpe Age 21 AA 11.5%/17.7%/.220/.820
    Jordan Lawlar Age 19 A+ 12.3%/25.4%/.189/.862
    ONeil Cruz: Age 20 AA: 11.0%/25.7%/.143/.758
    ONeil Cruz: Age 22 AA 7.3%/23.4%/.244/.882

    I included Cruz in this piece because he is the athlete in baseball most similar to Cruz. EDLC had the highest ISO and OPS but also has the highest K%. I would take ELDC stats from above. I am not sure about the work habits of the others or the speed or the clubhouse presence but EDLC is fantastic at all three. Cruz’ AA season at age 20 pales in comparision to EDLC. His age 22 season is slightly superior thanks to his superior K%. It is a judgement call on EDLC higher K% and ISO and OPS. Volpe loses in my mind because he is 21. I take Lawler second and Mayer third.

    EDLC – Age 20 A+ 7.8%/30.7%/.306/.968
    Marcelo Mayer Age 19 A 16.6%/25.3%/.218/.910
    Anthony Volpe Age 20 A+ 10.5%/22.7%/.300/.978
    Jordan Lawlar Age 19 A 13.0%/23.1%/.253/1.050
    ONeil Cruz: Age 20 A+ 5.5%/26.2%/.213/.860

    Looking at this set of stats I rank them Lawlar/Volpe/Mayer/EDLC
    There is no doubt that EDLC has the highest ceiling here. He also has the lowest floor. But his floor is that of Oneil Cruz. In September Oneil had his lowest K% in the majors for a month 29.8% and his highest OPS.

    I would rank them as follows: EDLC/Lawlar/Mayer/Volpe.

    • DaveCT

      I just did a very quick review of Mayer, Volpe, Lawlor and EDLC. I agree with your take on the age/level comparisons being equal all things considered. I would also add that the total pro years also being consistent. One factor I noted, however, was the amateur background of the three not named Elly.

      Lawlor, Mayer, and Volpe each played in significant high school programs, where presumedly EDLC dis not (and accentuating his meteoric rise). And I consider that factor to be a pretty important leg up when comparing them to EDLC, and a testament to his many skills and abilities.

      • Stock

        I agree DaveCT. In fact I think EDLC rise is because of the combination of his work ethic and his ability to determine his weaknesses and learn. His baseball intelligence is through the roof. His tools are also.

      • DaveCT

        Throw in the Jr. Griffey or Julio Rodiguez charisma, and this signing will rival Johnny Cueto’s.

    • patrick

      I do not like using ops without taking into account babip. EDLC babip was nearly .400 so that is extremely lucky number IMO. Have him drop down to a .340 babip drops his BA by about 40 points and his ops 80.

      I use Senzel minors ops numbers as an example of not getting to excited by ops numbers with high babip.

      • Doug Gray

        I mean I won’t speak for everyone, but you give me an .865 OPS’ing shortstop that can steal 40 bags and I’m getting excited.

  4. Greenfield Red

    I’m not a huge fan of buying out free agents years. It never seems to work out for the team (Bailey, Mesorocco, and Geno come to mind).

    However, I wonder if EDLC wouldn’t be a great target for such a move. Having signed for only $65,000, he probably would like a big payday ASAP since he’s not sitting on a multi million dollar bonus like most of these guys.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    What Arroyo did as an 18 year old was extraordinary. What gives me pause is the talk he won’t stick at SS. If that’s the case, then his value diminishes down to where someone like Matt McClain is (whom I think is underrated btw). Certainly a valuable guy but not one worthy of such a high ranking. All that said, these rankings have never been very telling…..just ask Tyler Stephenson.

    • DaveCT

      I suspect we’ll know a lot more about his defense after a year in the org. But this is what BA had to say about him mid-season last year:

      “That athleticism translates to his defense at shortstop, where his fluid actions, quick reads, reliable hands and plus arm strength give him the potential to be a plus-plus defender. He has advanced defensive instincts for his age and gets the ball out of his glove remarkably quickly.”

      I find that sometimes a lone opinion or two floats around out there and develops a life of its own. Either way, though, he’ll be in Dayton and possibly Chattanooga, so I suspect we’ll get some informed takes of his defense after eyes on observations. Only at Reds Minor Leagues!

  6. RedBB

    Lots of bias against Reds prospects IMO. Both Arroyo and Marte got downgraded significantly after the trade. I guarantee you both would be significantly higher if they got traded to the Dodgers. Unfortunately I think the Senzel effect is still having an effect on these rankings.

  7. Lars Benders

    What is the intended meaning of this sentence?

    “Still known for his defense by most accounts, McDaniel believes he can remain at shortstop but isn’t the defender others do.”

    • Matt

      I think that McDaniel believes he could be a shortstop longterm, but, McDaniel isn’t as high on his defense as some other evaluators.

    • Doug Gray

      That while most places have Arroyo as a plus defender, McDaniel thinks he’s average.

  8. MBS

    Law seems to be the most outside of the norms on his ratings, but it’s really all the same. A more interesting list might be top prospects with the biggest impact on the 2024 team.

  9. MK

    Having watched a lot of both I wonder how Elly is listed so low and Noelvi so high.

  10. William

    I think the Reds have a future superstar, De La Cruz, and Marte is going to be a great Red as well. Marte has great power and almost looks at times like he his knocking the ball out of the park with one arm, although the other is always involved. The big market teams get their prospects frequently overrated. Gets me sick how the MLB treats the small market teams. The NFL is much fairer. Oh well, it is what it is.

    • Hoyce

      I disagree. I think the reds have 2 elite prospects. EDLC and the 2nd…collier. I like marte and arroyo. And I think arroyo may end up being the full time SS in a few. I woulda tried to flip marte. To someone like the marlins in a package for eury Perez

  11. RedsGettingBetter

    Hoping Christian Encarnación-Strand could perform at the same level of last year or better, I think he has been underrated maybe because of his defense…