The 2021 season was very kind to the Reds’ farm system and there are a lot of prospects to be excited about. Given Cincinnati’s small market status, General Manager Nick Krall and company have certainly made a concerted effort to improve from within over the past two seasons. This has been especially evident through the seemingly continual increase in the number of pitchers in this system who have taken massive strides in 2020 and 2021. Of course, guys like Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo have been extremely impressive, but they were supposed to be this good. Others like Bryce Bonnin, Graham Ashcraft, Christian Roa, and Andrew Abbott are really starting to ball out. Only time will tell about the effects pitching guru Kyle Boddy had, but it’s hard to imagine that for these guys at least some of what they’ve shown doesn’t stick.
Not to be left out, the hitters have also catapulted the Reds’ system into relevance. Elly De La Cruz has been one of the hottest names in fantasy circles with his meteoric rise and impressive numbers that sustain it, but there are many others here too. In the years to come the Reds’ “alignment of the payroll” might actually pay off, no matter how hard it hurts me to say that.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making their team’s 40-man roster
Levels listed for each player are the highest levels player reached in 2021
1. Hunter Greene, RHP, 21, AAA
Greene absolutely dominated Double-A Chattanooga necessitating a promotion to Triple-A Louisville. The promotion was a wake up call in terms of the balls leaving the park, but the pure potential is there and his games are beginning to showcase every bit of it. Still a bit raw, but will be on display at some point during 2022.
2. Jose Barrero, SS, 23, AAA
This kid has all the tools to be a great major league shortstop. With a little time and more experience, Barrero should continue to prove it. The majors haven’t yet been kind to his bat (still only 117 AB after MLB action in 2020-2021), but it’s just a matter of time to when Barrero busts open in a big way.
3. Nick Lodolo, LHP, 23, AAA
Lodolo was absolutely dominant this year, but given the way the Reds season sputtered out, there was no call-up. With his advanced stuff, excellent command, and strong mound presence Lodolo will push for a spot in the rotation during spring. Either way, expect to see him graduate from this list in 2022.
4. Matt McLain, INF, 22, High-A
McLain is very athletic and played several positions in college, which could move him quickly through the system. Between McLain, Barrero, and India, no wonder Cincinnati is “aligning its payroll” this offseason. The middle of the field should be locked down for years to come.
5. Elly De La Cruz, IF, 19, Low-A
Cruz has been one of the hottest adds in dynasty leagues. After hitting .400 through 11 games in Rookie ball, the Reds moved him up to Low-A Dayton and he continued to impress. Not only did this kid put up impressive numbers, all indicators point to continued success. Still very raw, but will be set to dominate High-A and maybe even Double-A during 2022.
6. Jay Allen, OF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Allen has been an absolute steal for the Reds thus far. As a first round comp pick, Allen has exceeded every expectation and has hit the ball with authority. Hitting will definitely be his calling card, and expect him to continue to mash the baseball for years to come.
7. Graham Ashcraft, RHP, 23, AA
Ashcraft has an elite fastball-slider combo and used it to dominate in Dayton this season. Double-A Chattanooga wasn’t as kind, but what he showed this year was absolutely outstanding. If he can maintain his health, he should be able to crack the major league roster by 2023.
8. Tyler Callihan, 2B/3B, 21, Low-A
An elbow injury in June caused Callihan to miss the remainder of the season, but this kid can flat out hit and proved it when healthy this season.
9. Bryce Bonnin, RHP, 23, High-A
With Bonnin, there is a lot of reliever risk, but the fastball-slider combo is the best in the system. This combo helped lead to a very healthy strikeout rate and has kept him in the starter development stage. Bonnin will look to improve his season next year and to ward off the worries of hopeful fantasy managers.
10. Rece Hinds, 3B, 21, Low-A
There is a lot of projectability here with immense raw power and a solid glove at third base, but needs to cut down on the strikeouts to make things stick. 10 HR’s in Low-A is amazing, but a 31% K rate is scary when you only walk 13 times in 43 G.
11. Austin Hendrick, OF, 20, Low-A
Hendrick has immense power and plenty of time to adjust to professional baseball after being drafted just last year, but professional baseball has hit Hendrick hard. The K’s are a real issue, and might be too much for him to overcome, just don’t give up on him yet.
12. Jose Torres, SS, 22, Low-A
Torres tends to be over-aggressive at the plate, but he has good mechanics, a projectable frame, and a good amount of pop to his swing not to mention he was the best defensive shortstop in this years’ draft. Torres is good enough to stick at the position and as a college bat should move quickly.
13. Christian Roa, RHP, 22, High-A
Roa has the stuff to be a Tier 2 player, but injuries and inconsistency in college have me wary and I’ll reserve judgment until I can see him pitch a full season. What I have seen so far though has been very impressive and has me wanting more! I am hopeful to see him push up my rankings by midseason.
14. Andrew Abbott, LHP, 22, Low-A
Abbott is currently being developed as a starter, but would move quickly as a reliever. Abbott has two above-average pitches and a changeup, just don’t be surprised if he starts moving to the bullpen with his strikeout rates.
15. Lyon Richardson, RHP, 21, High-A
Incredible raw stuff with nothing to show for it yet, but if he gets it together Lyon will shoot up this board quickly.
16. Tony Santillan, RHP, 24, MLB
Walks have always been the issue for Santillan, and while he could be a back-of-the-rotation starter, the reliever risk is becoming a real concern. He’s still eligible for this list and many dynasty leagues with only 43.1 IP in the majors.
17. Mat Nelson, C, 22, High-A
Nelson has a lot of room to grow defensively, but he draws walks with plenty of projectable power for a solid offensive profile if he can cut down on the strikeouts.
18. Jackson Miller, C, 20, Rookie (ACL)
Miller has a ton of projectability, but with his injury, it’s hard to understand what kind of player he will be at this time.
19. Ivan Johnson, 2B/3B, 23, High-A
Quick hands and explosive speed out of the box are promising assets, and when you add in that he’s exceeding expectations at the plate, there is a lot to be excited about. Still early, but Johnson is a guy who could sneak into roster spot contention.
20. Yerlin Confidan, OF, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Big power, some steals, and a high batting average…sounds like a Reds outfielder if you ask me. Confidan is still super raw and only played in the ACL, but color me excited!
21. Justice Thompson, OF, 21, Low-A
22. Joe Boyle, RHP, 21, Low-A
23. Reiver Sanmartin, LHP, 25, MLB
24. Alejo Lopez, INF, 25, MLB
25. Thomas Farr, RHP, 22, High-A
26. Eduardo Salazar, RHP, 23, AA
27. Michael Siani, OF, 22, High-A
28. Ryan Hendrix, RHP, 27, MLB
29. Ruben Ibarra, 1B, 22, Low-A
30. Jack Rogers, IF/OF, 22, High-A
21. TJ Friedl, OF, 26, AAA
32. Allan Cerda, OF, 22, High-A
33. Hunter Parks, RHP, 20, Rookie (ACL)
34. Kevin Abel, RHP, 22, Rookie (ACL)
35. Donovan Benoit, RHP, 22, Rookie (ACL)
35. Brian Rey, INF/OF, 23, AAA
36. Jacob Hurtubise, OF, 23, High-A
37. Riley O’Brien, RHP, 26, MLB
Tier 4 has a lot of talent in the Reds farm system. Lopez, Hendrix, and Sanmartin all had a cup of coffee last season and an outfielder like Friedl shouldn’t be far behind…..Thompson has all the talent to be a 5 tool player, just needs to find some consistency at the plate…..Siani is in a similar situation as Dye, but has really fallen down due to consistently being inconsistent…..There are also a lot of great reliever prospects to watch here too in Benoit, Parks, Abel, Boyle, and Farr.
38. Ariel Almonte, OF, 18, Rookie (DSL)
39. Braylin Minier, SS , 18, Rookie (ACL)
40. Luis Mey, RHP, 20, Low-A
41. Malvin Valdez, OF, 18, Rookie (DSL)
42. Brayan Rijo, OF, 18, Rookie (DSL)
43. Leonardo Balcazar, SS, 17, Rookie (DSL)
44. Carlos Jorge, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
45. Jose Serrano, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
46. Mariel Bautista, OF, 24, AA
47. Luis Reyes, 3B, 18, Rookie (DSL)
48. Miguel Medrano, RHP, 24, High-A
49. Yan Contreras, SS, 20, Low-A
50. Eddy Isturiz, C, 17, Rookie (DSL)
Most of Tier 5 consists of the international signees from the last two seasons. There is a lot to like here from Almonte, Valdez, Minier, Rijo, and Jorge. It’s just a little early to tell on some of these guys and all have exciting skillsets given their age and experience.