When the Cincinnati Reds selected Ethan O’Donnell in the 6th round of the 2023 MLB Draft they had to feel like they were getting a player with some polish who had a chance to perform quickly in the minor leagues. In 2022, O’Donnell broke out as a sophomore at Northwestern. He hit .320/.410/.619 that season with 24 doubles and 10 homers. He then transferred to Virginia for his junior year and he did even better. In 2023 he hit .354/.448/.587 with the Cavaliers in nearly 100 more plate appearances than he had the year before. He also stole 18 bases – 14 more than he had the year before.

O’Donnell was one of the earlier players that Cincinnati put on the field from their draft class this summer. He didn’t spend much time out in Arizona playing for the complex league Reds – just four games where he went 3-15 with a walk. At the end of the first week of August Cincinnati sent him up to join Single-A Daytona. His start there wasn’t great, going 0-1 in his first three games with The Tortugas.

But in his 4th game with Daytona he picked up two hits and was hit by a pitch. He hasn’t looked back since. O’Donnell has played in 18 games since that day began and he’s hit .436/.527/.758. Last night in St. Lucie he clubbed a home run for the 4th consecutive game. During this most recent 18-game stretch he’s walked nine times, been hit by three pitches, struck out just 12 times, and has 10 extra-base hits among his 27 total hits.

Sal Stewart walks it off

The Dayton Dragons are chasing a playoff birth and entering last night they needed to win out to have a chance. Dayton is playing the first place Fort Wayne TinCaps, but are battling with three other teams trying to overtake them, too.

With the game tied up at 3-3 in the bottom of the 9th inning last night, it was Sal Stewart’s time to shine. The 19-year-old was in just his 26th game with the Dragons on Thursday night and he had worked a full count with one out in the inning before unloading on a pitch and sending it onto the concourse in left field to keep the playoff hopes alive for at least one more day in Dayton.

For Stewart, it was his 2nd home run with Dayton and his 12th on the season in 114 games between Single-A Daytona and in High-A with the Dragons. Since joining Dayton he’s hit for a higher average than he had in Daytona, but has had a bit less power, a lower (but still quality) walk rate, and he’s struck out a bit more often (but is still making contact at a very high rate). Between the two stops this season he’s hitting .276/.393/.420 with 79 walks, 76 strikeouts, and he is 14-for-18 in stolen base attempts.

5 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    These are two of my favorite draft picks in recent years.

    I’m fairly sure O’Donnell projects as able to stick in CF, and it’s seems we picked up a guy with better value than our no. 2 pick last year, Justin Boyd (traded in Benson deal). This might be a good indicator of just how deep the 2023 draft was, too, besides what O’Donnell’s skills translate to in pro ball.

    Stewart to me is just (so far) a pretty darn good piece of scouting, given his advanced batting approach. But he’s done something else (I believe he really committed to conditioning in the off season?) as the 14 steals show. Coming from a guy with pre-draft ratings of only 30 grade speed, seems he’s really, really improved there, as well as that he’s got to be even more athletic than thought.

    Like I said, these look like two truly excellent draft picks. Scouting and Development Depts should get some big props.

  2. Michael

    Any chance that O’Donnell skips A+ and goes straight to AA next year? His current performance shows him to be significantly more advanced than A and as a 3 yr College Player – could he handle the jump?

    • Doug Gray

      Seems unlikely. They have only done that kind of jump on a very rare occasion.

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    I think they should be patient about O’Donnell for the time being and don’t push him to upper levels, he should finish at Single-A and maybe start again there the next season and if he performs well then he cab be promoted to A+ and continuing to be monitored…Maybe his ETA is 2025

    • DaveCT

      One factor is 2024 will be his first year of full-season ball. That’s a big adjustment.