It is that time of year again. Today we kick off the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects 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 2024 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 2024 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, 2024

21. Jay Allen II | OF | Age: 21

2023 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: 1st Round, 2021 Draft | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 190 lbs. | B/T: R/R

What to like: He’s incredibly athletic and has the tools to be a well-rounded player who can contribute in all aspects of the game.

What he needs to improve on: Not a lot has changed here since the start of the season because Allen II missed nearly all of 2023. He injured his thumb in the third game of the year and missed the next three months. After spending a month back with Dayton he suffered another injury and missed the final six weeks, playing in just 25 games all year. He’s got to find more consistency. Allen II has struggled to hit for average or power since leaving the complex league. After returning to the lineup in July he struck out 35 times in 95 plate appearances.


(461-foot homer, 109 MPH off the bat)


22. Esmith Pineda | OF | Age: 19

2023 Team: ACL Reds | Acquired: International FA 2022 | Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 183 lbs. | B/T: R/R

What to like: He’s got plenty of power potential, and while the home runs didn’t come in 2023, he piled up plenty of extra-base hits in 2023. Going along with that he also hit for some average and got on base at a good clip.

What he needs to improve on: The biggest thing would probably be the defense. He made seven errors on the year and that led to an .877 fielding percentage in 2023 while in right field. That said, as I type this he’s still 18-years-old and needs to improve across the board – just like every other teenager.


23. Sheng-En Lin | Age: 18

2023 Team: ACL Reds | Acquired: International FA 2023 | Height: 5′ 11 | Weight: 185 lbs. B/T: L/R

What to like: There’s tons of athleticism here. More teams seemed to favor Sheng-En Lin as a pitcher, where he had touched 99 MPH with his fastball and had multiple offerings. The Reds saw a strong positional prospect, too, with plus-plus speed and plenty of potential at the plate.

What he needs to improve on: Everything, really. He was 17-years-old during the 2023 season and he didn’t play much after signing. From a position standpoint, he doesn’t really have one at this point. That’s not to say it’s due to a lack of ability/skills/tools, but more that the club is trying him in a few spots to see which one could be the best fit for him down the line. In his eight games he did play, he saw time in center and at shortstop.


24. Jacob Hurtubise | OF | Age: 26

2023 Teams: Chattanooga Lookouts, Louisville Bats | Acquired: NDFA 2020 | Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 180 lbs. | B/T: L/R

What to like: One of the fastest players in the organization, Hurtubise has always been strong on the bases and he’s drawn walks, but in 2023 he began to show far more power than he ever had before.

What he needs to improve on: While he showed far more power than ever, he still doesn’t have much useful power. It’s just that he previously had zero power.



25. Jose Acuna | RHP | Age: 21

2023 Team: Dayton Dragons | Acquired: Trade (Mets, 2021 – International FA 2019) | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 213 lbs. | B/T: R/R

What to like: There’s no big weakness in his repertoire – throwing multiple solid-average to slightly better pitches.

What he needs to improve on: While there’s no big weakness for Acuna, there’s not a big strength either. None of his pitches really stand out at this point and his control merely solid.



Click here to see the other parts of this series.

34 Responses

  1. Frostgiant80

    Thank you Doug. I am ready for all the offseason baseball nerd stuff you can throw out this winter.

    • Doug Gray

      This really starts all of the winter kick off stuff. With the season reviews and scouting reports coming nearly every week day moving forward past this week’s countdown it really gives me something that I’m not just kind of “waiting” on to write about. Take Monday night for example, despite the AFL, Dominican, Mexican, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican winter leagues all going strong, there was one game played between all of those leagues. That makes it unlikely that anything was likely to happen to write about for Tuesday.

      That said, I’ve got some stuff planned out beyond the season reviews/scouting reports – but those are going to come every week day starting on Monday until I get through the top 25 (except for Thanksgiving Day, probably). After that, it’ll probably be M-W-F for the guys that missed out but are worth taking a deeper dive into.

  2. BK

    Report from the AFL Fallstars game, “Michael Trautwein started behind the dish for the NL, but it was his offense that was on display. The backstop doubled in the third and then swiped third base, eventually scoring the first run of the contest. Trautwein fanned in his second at-bat, finishing 1-for-2. Right-hander Andrew Moore spun a 1-2-3 eighth inning, striking out two in the process.”

    Both of our players had nice games.

  3. Laredo Slider

    Appreciate the break down. Please tell us RH/LH/S. TIA.

  4. MK

    I really like Acuna. Early on he was pitch for pitch with Aguiar and his numbers went down later in the season as he threw forty-five more innings than he had the previous season and his stuff declined. The Naquin deal looks outstanding, and it gives credence to what Krall said about the asking price at the deadline this year if Naquin quality player brought two top 25 players last year.

    • BK

      To your point regarding trade deadline acquisitions over the last two years, the increased number of playoff spots has increased the ratio of buyers to sellers. Further, teams are burning through more pitchers than ever before. Based on these trends, small-market teams like the Reds must be aggressive in the offseason to avoid paying a premium for talent at the deadline.

      • Greenfield Red

        BK you make an excellent point. I was dead set against trades last August partially for this reason and partially because I thought it a bad idea to pay a high price for the tiny chance they could make a deep run in 23.

        Now is the time to strike. They’ve got money to spend, and if needed a player or two to spend to bring in the right starting pitcher.

        Deadline is a feeding frenzy.

      • Tom

        Greenfield, in a “weak” FA class there is at least a lot of pitching. Hope the Reds find the right combo of deals asap. Would be good to see them in the news early on one primary big target.

    • DaveCT

      Their pitches are so similar, there were times watching televised games I couldn’t tell Acuna apart from Aguiar.

  5. BK

    There are a couple of Rule 5 eligible players on today’s list. Acuna’s results this year were good, but he has yet to pitch above High A and lacks a standout offering. With roster spots at a premium, it’s worth the risk to leave him exposed to the draft.

    Hurtabise had a breakout year and has elite OBP and speed skills. However, his lack of power is a red flag, and he has yet to show improvement in the AFL. I see him as borderline for protecting, but I would lean toward adding him to the 40-man roster.

    • DaveCT

      Pitching is what I’d protect if push comes to shove. Acuna profiles as a back end starter/middle reliever, and that has decent value. He’ll spend 2024 at AA and could be ready in later 25, so I don’t see how they do not protect him.

      Hurtubise is sort of redundant, behind Friedl, Fairchild, Bubba Thompson, Hopkins, Dunn, with HRod, possibly Jorge and O’Donnell pushing up a level or two below.

      That said, Hurtubise does profile as a speed first hitter who gets on base, which follows suit for this team. But he’s only slugging .325 in AZ, with more strikeouts than in season in 2023. My brain doesn’t allow for exit velocity searches, but I’d be curious about that.

      I suspect he’s pretty worn down out there after a long year, and it may be that he isn’t getting the bat knocked out of his hands, but he’s not a big guy either at 180 lbs.

      Unlike the pitchers, where there isn’t really one or two obvious choices of whether to protect or not, the outfielders have at least one (Thompson, and likely two (Martini). It’s a game of chance.

      • BK

        I agree with prioritizing pitchers over hitters, particularly given the depth of position players in the Red’s system. However, it’s hard for a major league team to roster a non-contributing player for a whole year–especially a pitcher. A team could likely garner value by using Hurtubise as a 13th-position player.

        If you and I are correct that Acuna’s timeline is NET 2025, then it’s well worth the risk to leave him unprotected. If he’s on the 40-man roster, but not ready to contribute in 2024, the Reds could have to attempt to pass him through waivers to outright him off the 40-man–there is far more risk in losing him in this scenario than the Rule 5 draft as a team could claim him and option him. If the Reds add three to five free agents, 40-man roster spots will be very tight.

    • MBS

      Our 40 man has a ton of room if you’re willing to cut bait on the guys that they need to move on from.

  6. mac624

    It’s amazing how baseball has changed over the years from what it once was. Someone like Hurtubise would have been a top 100 prospect not too many years ago with his video game like OBP numbers. But today, it’s all about power rather than BA and OBP.

    I still think there’s a place for guys like Jacob and to a lesser extent, Lopez, that just find ways to get on and are fast and play pretty good defense. The name of the game is still scoring runs and while the home run does clear the bases with one swing, more times than not, it takes guys on base to make that happen. Hopefully Jacob gets a shot in majors to show what he can do and has a long prosperous career. While he doesn’t bring the WOW factor, his numbers trump anything Jay Allen II has done and probably will ever do in professional baseball. But Allen has the 5-star potential that Hurtubise never will, so he gets more opportunities regardless of production.

    Potential over production is how life is these days sadly in all walks of life.

    • BK

      Billy Hamilton may provide a good comp for where Hurtubise is right now. He maintained OBPs over 400 throughout his minor league time through AA. At AAA, his OBP fell, and his major league numbers mimicked his AAA performance. Why? MLB defense is better than minor league defense, MLB pitchers are better at exploiting hitter’s weaknesses, and outfields can take away some line drive hits by playing shallow on hitters with no power. Thus far at AAA, Hurtubise has maintained his top-tier OBP, so he may have enough power to make it work.

      Right now, Jay Allen has no bearing on Hurtubise’s progress. They won’t be playing at the same level, and he won’t take opportunities from him. Alejo Lopez lacks power, speed, and defensive ability, so he’s not a good comp for Hurtubise. His track record of nearly 200 PAs in the major, though, shows how difficult it is for a player with a “25-30” Power score on the scouting scale to succeed as an MLB hitter. Just another perspective.

      • AMDG

        Not sure Hamilton & Hurtubise really relate as prospects.

        Hamilton consistently played well below the average age for the minor league levels he was in, and reached the majors at age 22. While Hurtubise is already 26 and just recently had his first, brief taste of AAA.

      • BK

        @AMDG, great point. I looked at them because their OBP and SLG were similar across much of their minor-league careers. As Hamilton aged, he never increased his power, something that Hurtubise has done. Comps are never perfect.

    • Doug Gray

      Nah. Hurtubise is far too old to have been a top 100 guy at any point in the “prospect list” era.

      As for the Allen II and Hurtubise production thing…. Hurtubise is going to be 26. Allen II is going to be 21. That matters, a lot.

    • Old Big Ed

      Allen is 5 years younger than Hurtubise. When Hurtubise was Allen’s age, he had an OPS of .753 in the Patriot League, versus teams like Holy Cross and Bucknell.

      Hurtubise’s baseball career was hurt by playing 4 years at Army, although that means he also has a great degree to fall back on. It’s hard to root against the guy, but he needs a good spring training and a good start at Louisville.

    • MK

      Tom does it really matter if his off-season is healthy? I’m more concerned with a healthy in season.

      • Doug Gray

        I think it matters because being able to get all of the necessary work in during the offseason can (not a guarantee) lead to a more productive regular season.

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    I still remember that Jay Allen II was scouted a couple of years ago as a high prospect even he could be ranked top 3 in a given moment in the near future, but the injuries have slowed his progress as player…
    José Acuña is a typical average pitcher according to this article, I hope this will be enough to him for reaching the big leagues and staying there…
    Doug, have you considered to show the daily list in descending order? for example the next one may show the #20 first and the #16 last, it’s just my comment …

  8. Optimist

    Hurtubise is fascinating from many angles. Is Steven Kwan a good comparison? They’re almost the same age, and their MiLB stats are very similar, both LH batters. Kwan has more power, but it’s not much, it’s just more than zero as Doug notes from Hurtubise’s past.

    Is there something else in the analytics – exit velocity, zone discipline? The BB/K ratios are very similar.

    Unless he falters badly in Louisville in April/May, I expect we see Hurtubise called up mid-season.

    • DaveCT

      You know, Kwan may be a decent comp. I’ve typically said Brett Butler was my comp, but this one works, too.

      Doug has reported on Hurtubise’s exit velo’s, particularly those in his upper 10-15% which are more significant, being lower.

      I tend to be less bullish on Hurtubise but I will admit I wouldn’t count him out.

      • MBS

        @Dave, “I tend to be less bullish on Hurtubise but I will admit I wouldn’t count him out.”

        MBS quote is a bit different. “I tend to be bullish on Hurtubise but I will admit I wouldn’t count him in.”

    • Doug Gray

      While we are dealing with a much smaller sample size because of the public data that is/isn’t available, Kwan hits the ball significantly harder more frequently than what Hurtubise has between AAA/AFL. And Kwan is a guy who does not hit the ball hard at all.

  9. RMR

    Great stuff as always, Doug. I just wish you’d stick to either counting down from worst to best (like the order of your 5 articles) or counting up from best to worst (like the order of the prospects in this article). If it’s a countdown from 25 to 1 (which it is), start at 25 — not 21. Phew. Feels so much better to have gotten that off my chest after all these years….

    • Doug Gray

      Rules are for everyone else. I’m just here to break ’em

  10. Sean

    This may be stupid by why dont the Reds try to develop Sheng-En Lin to be their version of Shoehi? The dude has pitching and hitting potential, would it really ruin his development if he tried to develop both? Youd think with Shoehi’s emergence teams would be racing to try and copy that and see if they can somehow make it work.