The Cincinnati Reds have been wheeling and dealing today, signing four players to contracts for 2024 to avoid arbitration and also signing free agent Brent Suter to a deal for 2024 that includes an option for 2025. But they weren’t just out there getting ink onto paper, the club also announced that they were extending spring training invites to eight minor leaguers. Pitchers Julian Aguiar, Chase Petty, Rhett Lowder, and Zach Maxwell all got the invite. They’ll be joined by catcher Michael Trautwein, infielders Tyler Callihan and Edwin Arroyo, as well as outfielder Blake Dunn.
The group of pitchers features three of the Reds Top 25 prospects. Rhett Lowder, the clubs 2nd rated prospect, was their 1st round pick in 2023. He didn’t pitch after being drafted 7th overall out of Wake Forest where he went 15-0 on the season with a 1.87 ERA in 120.1 innings. During his junior season he walked just 24 batters and had 143 strikeouts.
Chase Petty dealt with an elbow injury to start the year. The Reds limited his usage per outing – he never threw more than 4.0 innings in any of his 18 starts. But when he was on the mound he was dominant, posting a 1.72 ERA on the year while not giving up a home run in 68.0 innings. That performance, along with his stuff, pushed him to the 6th spot on Cincinnati’s Top 25 prospect list.
Julian Aguiar had a breakout season of his own in 2023. He posted a 1.92 ERA in 14 starts with the Dayton Dragons before being promoted in the second half to Double-A. He went on to make 11 starts for the Lookouts and posted a 4.28 ERA while in Chattanooga. Overall he threw 125.0 innings with a 2.95 ERA, walking just 37 batters and striking out 138. All of that led him to the #18 ranking on the clubs Top 25 prospect list.
Zach Maxwell didn’t make the prospect list, but he’s arguably the teams top relief prospect. The big right-hander split his season between Daytona and Dayton, posting a 4.11 ERA in 34 games that saw him throw 61.1 innings. His control wasn’t always there as he walked 38 hitters, but he also showed off elite stuff that led to him striking out 96 batters. Following the regular season he went to the Arizona Fall League and posted a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings where he walked nine batters and had 22 strikeouts.
Shortstop Edwin Arroyo headlines the position player group that got invitations today. The Reds 3rd best prospect, Arroyo spent almost all of his regular season in Dayton with the Dragons, but got a call up to Double-A Chattanooga for the final week of the season. As a 19-year-old he hit .252/.324/.433 between the two stops, but a slow start to the season hides just how good he was for much of the year. In his final 89 games of the season that covered four months, he hit .281/.360/.480.
Blake Dunn was the team’s player of the year in 2023. He’s only the second player in the organization since 1960 when there’s full minor league data available to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 50 bases in the same year. The outfielder played in 47 games with High-A Dayton before being promoted to Double-A Chattanooga where he played his final 77 games of the year. Between the two stops the team’s #15 prospect hit .312/.425/.522 with 23 home runs, 54 steals, 107 runs scored, and 79 runs batted in. He was better in Chattanooga than he was in Dayton, posting an OPS 118 points higher in Double-A.
Michael Trautwein put together his best season of his career in 2023. He began the season in Dayton and played 38 games with the Dragons before moving up to join Double-A Chattanooga. He finished the season with the Lookouts, playing in another 49 games. Between the two stops he hit .248/.360/.384 while seeing action as a catcher (53 starts) and an outfielder (15 starts). The Reds then sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .217/.333/.435 with three home runs in 15 games played.
Tyler Callihan has struggled to stay healthy in the past, but he played nearly every day in 2023. He began the year in Dayton and played in 109 games for the Dragons while hitting .236/.312/.373. The second baseman was then promoted to Chattanooga to finish out his season. In the final month there he played in 22 games and hit .310/.396/.460 with the Lookouts while showing much better strikezone control – walking more and striking out less than he had done with Dayton.