The 2022 season was not a good one for the major league squad. Cincinnati got off to a tough start winning only two of their first 15 games, while losing 11 in a row. That set the stage for a mostly complete tear-down of the major league team. That tear-down saw some major talent come into the farm at the trade deadline. The Reds moved Tyler Naquin, Tommy Pham, Brandon Drury, Tyler Mahle, and Luis Castillo. The only one that really hurt the Reds’ fan base was Castillo. He went on to perform very well in Seattle and would still have been a very productive member of a Reds rotation, being only 35, when their competitive window starts to open again, possibly in 2025.
The 2022 Draft went fairly well for the Reds. Cam Collier falling down to the Reds at pick #18 after being much more highly rated by many prospect-ranking channels was a tremendous grab. That pick did mean that they would have to go over slot to sign him, and that meant overdrafting other guys to be able to save some funds. While I still love Collier, I wish they had gone after more pitching, not drafting one until the 3rd round, their 4th pick of the draft, in Bryce Hubbart.
The top of this farm system will look much different than last year and that is a great thing. There are some players on this list that are expected to be All-Star level, but this is not just a top heavy system. There is serious depth here. This is a top 5 farm system in my eyes. The Reds intend to draft and develop with excellence. This is a very important season for many prospects that are highly regarded. A lot of these write-ups will include the note that they will need to be protected form the Rule 5 Draft next offseason. They’ll have some very important decisions to make this coming year.
Reds MiLB affiliates:
Louisville Bats (@LouisvilleBats) – Triple-A
Chattanooga Lookouts (@ChattLookouts) – Double-A
Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) – High-A
Daytona Tortugas (@daytonatortugas) – Single-A
Arizona Complex League Reds – Rookie
Dominican Summer League Reds – Rookie
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 2022
* = signifies member of 40-man roster
1. Elly De La Cruz*, IF, 20, Double-A
De La Cruz is the crown jewel of the farm system. He will most likely be ranked in the top 10 of most prospect rankings, maybe top 5. He started 2022 in High-A and after hitting .302/.359/.609, with 20 homers and 28 stolen bases, the Reds decided to challenge Elly and move him up to Double-A Chattanooga. Elly responded and slashed .305/.357/.553 with 8 homers and 19 more stolen bases over 207 plate appearances. He kept his walk and strikeout rates at their norms as he has moved up, right around a 7% walk rate and 30% whiff rate. Those strikeouts are alarming but you will take that power everyday. A question remains about where he plays long-term. He’s stated that he prefers to stay at shortstop, but the Reds have played him at third and his Dominican Winter League team had him at second. There has been talk about playing him in center. and while he has the speed to do so, it has yet to happen. I think De La Cruz will start the season in AA but will move up very quickly if he gets off to a hot start. He is on the Reds’ 40-man as of this offseason but I would not expect him to make his major league debut until 2024.
2. Noelvi Marte*, SS, 21, High-A
Marte was the highest rated prospect in the Mariners farm system at the time of his trade after Julio Rodríguez was promoted to the majors by the Mariners. In most systems he would be the #1 prospect. He spent the year in High-A with both teams slashing .279/.371/.458 between both stops. Marte is a shortstop by trade and has only played there professionally although his bat and arm would play at third and he could handle center. That positional flexibility would come in handy moving forward as the Reds are stocked with middle infielders, highly rated ones at that. He did play some third in the Arizona Fall League with mixed results. He was learning a new position on the fly. Noelvi has a solid eye and approach at the plate not selling out for power but he has plenty of raw power to tap into. Marte was also added to the Reds’ 40-man this offseason and should be challenged to start the year in Double-A.
3. Edwin Arroyo, SS, 19, Single-A
With all of the middle infielders the Reds currently have in their system, and many of them being shortstops by nature, Arroyo may be the one that hangs on to the actual position. Another addition from the Mariners, acquired in the Luis Castillo trade, Arroyo is known as an elite defender, ranking 60 0n the defensive side of the 20-80 scale. Arroyo is more a slap-type hitter but did find some power last year hitting 14 homers over 519 plate appearances in total. His whiff rate did climb up to 28% after his trade to the Reds but he is known to have a good eye at the plate. He played a little at second and third in the winter leagues this offseason. I expect him to start out as the shortstop in High-A Daytona in 2023.
4. Cam Collier, 3B, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Collier somehow slid down the draft boards into the Reds’ lap at #18 in the draft. He was ranked #8 by MLB in their pre-draft rankings and most publications, if not all, expected him to go much higher. Collier went to the Arizona Complex League and did not disappoint. In 35 plate appearances he hit .370/.514/.670 with 2 home runs and more walks than strikeouts. Collier has a smooth left-handed stroke and the high-schooler has plenty of untapped power. Collier has the arm strength to stick at third, hits 90 off the mound, but could eventually see a spot in the corner outfield or first base. The son of former major leaguer Lou Collier should start the year at the hot corner at Single-A Daytona.
5. Spencer Steer*, 3B, 25, MLB
Steer joined the Reds after being involved in the trade for Tyler Mahle. Primarily a third basemen, Steer does have the ability to play any infield position and could be a versatile, utility-type player, i.e. Jake Cronenworth. Steer was having a solid year in Triple-A batting .274/.364/.515 with 15 homers. Having started the year in Double-A for Minnesota, Spencer had no issues moving up the ladder. He did struggle in his first 108 major league plate appearances but that is to be expected from most rookies. He is a highly regarded prospect and should be the starting third baseman for the Reds to open the season. He is only 35 at bats away from losing his rookie status.
6. Matt McLain, SS, 23, Double-A
After being drafted with the #17 overall pick in 2021, McLain, another middle infielder, and if you’re keeping track at home this is the third in the top 6, made his way to Double-A. He spent the entire year there hitting .232/.363/.453 with 17 homers in 452 plate appearances. That batting average leaves a lot to be desired from someone drafted so high. McLain does draw plenty of walks, a 15% clip, but also shows some swing and miss in his profile, 28% last year. He is a shortstop by trade but did slide over to second after the promotion of De La Cruz to Double-A. I have concerns about his bat, but I felt the same way about another Reds prospect a few years back, Jonathan India, who did prove me slightly wrong. McLain is a decent defender and could stick at short or end up at second. The former first rounder should start in Triple-A Louisville at short this year.
7. Brandon Williamson*, LHP, 24, Triple-A
The 6’6” lefty joined the Reds prior to the 2022 season coming over in the trade involving Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez. Williamson began the year with 14 starts in Double-A with a 4.14 ERA and 5.24 xFIP. He was then promoted to Double-A for his final 13 starts with a 4.07 ERA and a 6.29 xFIP. Williamson struggled throughout the year and I did see some reports that he was having difficulties with ball tack being used in Double-A. He saw his strike rate drop as he progressed through the system as well as his walk rate rise. His fastball can reach 96 and he has an amazing 12-6 curveball that really leaves batters looking silly. He also throws a slider and a change. I still see Williamson as a middle of the rotation pitcher with a shot at being a #2. He should start the year in Triple-A. As the best pitching prospect on the farm at this time, after seeing the graduations of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft, the Reds can take their time and let Williamson work on some things in the minors.
8. Sal Stewart, 3B, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Stewart was drafted in 2022, 32nd overall, with the Reds’ competitive balance pick. He is a Florida high school product, the same high school that produced Alex Rodriguez and MJ Melendez, and is known for his power bat. Currently a third baseman, many believe he may have to move to first due to his lack of speed. He has plenty of arm for third though. Stewart had just 28 plate appearances at the Arizona Complex League, with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks showing a solid eye at the plate. He has plenty of raw power and I expect him to put up 15-20 homers playing at the hot corner in Daytona to start next year.
9. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B/3B, 23, Double-A
Encarnacion-Strand came along with Steer in the Mahle deal. While Steer was probably seen more as the crown jewel of the trade, CES is no Sleeping Beauty. He has tremendous raw power, as seen in the 32 homers he hit over the course of the 2022 season between both High-A and Double-A. There is plenty of swing and miss and CES does not draw many walks but still makes plenty of contact. CES should start the year in Triple-A and if he continues to perform at this level he could be the heir apparent to Joey Votto whose deal is expiring after 2023, unless the Reds pick up Votto’s option. Unlikely.
10. Andrew Abbott, LHP, 23, Double-A
Abbott was a 2021 draftee by the Reds, 53rd overall out of Virginia. He started the 2022 season in High-A but after 27 innings of carving up the hitters there, he was promoted to Double-A. In High-A he had an amazing 0.67 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP. Those are video game numbers. Double-A did challenge Abbott. His strike rate was still a stellar 11.8% but his walk rate more than doubled to 4.1%. His ERA also jumped to 4.75. I expect the Reds to send him back to AA to start 2023 but just like last year, if he hits the ground running, he will get a shot at Triple-A. I expect him to remain a starter with his fastball, curveball, changeup mix.
11. Chase Petty, RHP, 19, High-A
The Reds and Twins hooked up on a few trades last year with the first of those being the acquisition of Petty for Sonny Gray. That exchange shows how highly both teams think of the players they acquired. Just like Abbott, Petty was a high draft pick in the 2021 Draft by the Twins, 26th overall. Petty made 18 appearances, 13 starts in Single-A before making 7 starts in High-A to close out his season. The Reds were very cautious with Petty’s innings, as never went more than 5 innings, doing that only seven times over the course of the season. He finished the year with a 3.48 ERA over the two stops with a 3.10 K/BB rate. His fastball reaches the uppers 90’s and he mixes in a very sharp slider and changeup. He has all the tools to remain a starter and should be back in High-A to start 2023 and get more innings under his belt.
12. Jay Allen, OF, 20, High-A
Allen was drafted 30th overall by the Reds in 2021 out of high school. He progressed through two levels last year finishing up in High-A as a 19-year-old. That made Allen about three years younger than the average age at that level. He held his own, not allowing his K rate to rise but his walk rate plummeted. Allen has plenty of raw power he displays in BP but has yet to tap into it during games with only three homers in 2022, six over his professional career in 458 plate appearances. Allen does show plenty of speed swiping 43 bases last year in 53 attempts. He definitely can hold his own in center and should be manning the position in High-A to start 2023.
13. Bryce Hubbart, LHP, 21, Single-A
Hubbart was drafted 94th (3rd round) overall last year by the Reds out of Florida State. He pitched only 7.1 innings for the Reds between rookie leagues and Single-A. There isn’t much to glean from those numbers as the sample size is so small. Hubbart has a 4-pitch mix that he can locate for strikes. He sits in the mid 90’s with his fastball and has a sharp curveball and changeup. He worked in the Cape Cod league to add a slider. There is a lot to like here and Hubbart should head back to Single-A to start 2023.
14. Rece Hinds, 3B/OF, 22, Double-A
Hinds is the first player I really struggled with where to rank. Had injuries not derailed multiple seasons for him he would rate higher for me. Also, if he were able to remain at third instead of moving to right, that would raise his value in my mind. I think the move to right was two-fold. The Reds have a glut of infielders coming up and Hinds was getting passed by many. However, he has a cannon for an arm and a solid bat which allowed the Reds to move him to right. A 2nd round pick by the Reds in 2019, Hinds really needs to have a full, productive season as he will require a spot on the 40-man next offseason to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. He only had 29 plate appearances in Double-A so I think the Reds will place him there to start but be quick to promote him. He should be able to hold down an outfield position but is going to need to work on his bat to ball skills this season.
15. Connor Phillips, RHP, 21, Double-A
Phillips was drafted 64th overall by the Mariners in 2020. He will also need to be added to the Reds 40-man next year. Phillips has a smooth, repeatable delivery and moves so quickly, he makes batters look lost sometimes. However, he has issues with command walking 6.7 per 9 in 2022 at Double-A in 45 innings. He has a solid 4-pitch mix with a mid 90’s fastball, curveball, slider, and change. Phillips started in High-A last year but made quick work of the league before being challenged in Chattanooga. I imagine he starts in Triple-A Louisville in 2023 because of the 40-man issue.
16. Victor Acosta, SS, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Acosta was an international signing by the Padres in 2021 who came over to the Reds in the Brandon Drury trade. He truly has 5-tool potential. He has all the skills to remain at short and the Reds will let him do so for now. He spent last year at the Complex League in Arizona hitting .237/.348/.708. He does not show a lot of power yet but still has some growing to do. This was a great grab by the Reds for a rental player in Drury. I expect Acosta to move up to Daytona to start 2023.
17. Austin Hendrick, OF, 21, Double-A
Hendrick is a polarizing prospect for Reds fans. Drafted 12th overall by the Reds in 2020 before Mick Abel, Justin Foscue, and Pete Crow-Armstrong. MLB rated him as the 13th best prospect so the Reds weren’t far off as far as the talent evaluators thought. He was promoted to High-A but wasn’t necessarily deserving of that promotion. He was slashing .205/.297/.402 with a 40% whiff rate in 145 plate appearances. He then went on to slash .222/.311/.448 in 299 plate appearance in High-A. Hendrick has power. That’s not in question. That batting eye is in question. He won’t have to be protected from the Rule 5 until after the 2024 season so there is still some time but most Reds fans have thought he would move quicker than this. I think he could still be a serviceable outfielder but he is likely not going to live up to that 12th overall draft pick. He really needs to start in Double-A and impress this year.
18. Christian Roa, RHP, 23, Double-A
Roa was drafted 48th overall in 2020 and has been bitten by the injury bug, derailing his progress through the minors. I have always liked Roa’s arm and think he has the chance to be a mid-rotation starter. His fastball can get up to 96 and he has a slider, an 11-5 curveball and what is most likely his best secondary pitch, his changeup. He spent most of last year in High-A but pitched 17 innings at Double-A to end the year. He performed well with a 1.06 ERA. I expect Roa to return to Double-A and move up to Triple-A fairly quickly. He is another player that will have to be added to the 40-man this coming offseason.
19. Logan Tanner, C, 22, Single-A
Tanner was the 55th overall pick in the 2022 Draft out of Mississippi State. Tanner should be a solid catcher in the future with a plus-plus arm by some evaluators. He doesn’t seem to have a ton of power but should be able to land somewhere between 10-15 homers a year with decent on-base skills. Tanner only made 73 plate appearances in pro ball last year with all but three of those appearances in Single-A. He slashed .211/.343/.316 with one home run. He struck out 28% of the time but did have a lofty 17% walk rate. I would imagine Tanner will head to High-A and be groomed to be the next long-term catcher in the Reds system, ready to replace Tyler Stephenson.
20. Hector Rodriguez, 2B/OF, 18, Single-A
You are going to see a pattern between this spot and the end of Tier 3. These are some super young players that I really like. They are far away from being on a major league squad, but this time next year, if still trending in the right direction, they could be Tier 2 players. Rodriguez is the first one of those prospects. He was acquired from the Mets in the Tyler Naquin deal and hit the ground running after coming over to the Reds. Between the two systems he hit .333/.372/.536. He also had 16 stolen bases in 299 plate appearances. He is not going to give you much power but will provide excellent defensive at second base. Rodriguez can also move around the outfield. With 300 solid appearances in Single-A, I think he will be challenged at High-A this coming year.
21. Jose Torres, IF, 23, High-A
Torres will be the oldest of this grouping. Torres was drafted 89th overall in 2021. He spent the entire season in High-A slashing .234/.287/.378 in 437 plate appearances. He saw his power numbers rise dramatically but his batting average plummeted by over 100 points. Torres is primarily a shortstop but did spend some time at second last year. He may struggle to move up the ladder with the glut of middle infielders ahead of him. I like Torres and think he could be a decent major league infielder but he has to find the sweet spot between making contact and not selling out for power. He should be headed to Double-A to start 2023.
22. Ricardo Cabrera, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
The Reds signed Cabrera out of Venezuela last January for a lofty $2.7 million. He was rated highly among all of the international players available at the time. He is a complete five tool player who should be able to stay at short. He could end up at third and has the power to play there should he continue to grow. He hit .253/.363/.380 in the DSL last year. It will be interesting to see what the Reds do with him this season. It may be too much to bring him to the US and have him start in Single-A. I would think the Reds will bring him over to start in Arizona at the rookie Complex League.
23. Carlos Sanchez, 3B/OF, 17, Rookie (DSL)
I am likely going to be higher than anyone on Sanchez. It may mean I’m a genius or I’m completely out of my mind. In 138 plate appearances in the DSL as a 16 year old, he hit .355/.505/.947 with two homers and 14 stolen bases. I don’t believe the lefty hitter will be a power bat, but he shows a great eye at the plate. At 17 coming into this year and at 6’0″ and 177 lbs., he could continue growing and be more of an OF/1B guy. Cabrera is someone you can dream on. If you are in a deep fantasy league, he’s someone I would grab late and sit back and watch what he does.
24. Carlos Jorge, IF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Here’s the last of the Tier 3 players who are so young and projectable. Jorge was signed with Cabrera in January of last year. He came with a much smaller price tag though, only $495,000. He performed very well in his first pro-season and followed that up by coming stateside in 2022 and hitting .261/.405/.529 in 154 plate appearances. He also has a ton of speed, swiping 27 bags, being caught only four times. He played at second last year after moving over from short. I don’t believe Jorge has anything left to prove in rookie ball and should move up to Single-A this year.
25. Joe Boyle, RHP, 23, Double-A
26. Steve Hajjar, LHP, 22, High-A
27. Levi Stoudt*, RHP, 25, Triple-A
28. Leonardo Balcazar, SS, 18, Rookie (ACL)
29. Sam Benschoter, RHP, 24, Double-A
30. Kevin Abel, RHP, 23, Single-A
31. Casey Legumina*, RHP, 25, Double-A
32. Mat Nelson, C, 23, High-A
33. Alex McGarry, 1B, 24, Triple-A
34. Michael Siani*, OF, 23, MLB
35. Julian Aguiar, RHP, 21, High-A
36. Stuart Fairchild*, OF, 26, MLB
Boyle has stopper reliever written all over him. He throws extremely hard, often touching triple-digits, but has a minor league career BB/9 rate of 7.33. That’s not good. The Reds have dragged their feet about moving him to the bullpen, but he will need to be added to the 40-man next offseason, so now is the time to see if he can thrive in the backend of a pen. Balcazar exploded on the scene in Arizona and is a middle infielder to keep an eye on moving forward. McGarry really came into his power and was next in line to possibly replace Votto until CES was acquired. Siani and Fairchild both played for the big league squad in 2022 and are solid defenders, Siani with awesome speed, but neither are more than late-inning replacements, 4th or 5th outfielder types. Fairchild will graduate with just a few more at bats.
37. Javier Rivera, RHP, 23, High-A
38. Allan Cerda, OF, 23, Double-A
39. Ariel Almonte, OF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
40. Daniel Vellojin, C, 22, Double-A
41. Lyon Richardson*, RHP, 22, High-A
42. Tyler Callihan, IF, 22, High-A
43. Justin Boyd, OF, 21, Single-A
44. Ivan Johnson, IF, 24, Double-A
45. Kenya Huggins, RHP, 20, Rookie (ACL)
46. Bryce Bonnin, RHP, 24, High-A
47. Jake Wong, RHP, 26, High-A
48. Trey Faltine, IF, 21, Single-A
49. Yerlin Confidan, OF, 20, Single-A
50. Austin Callahan, 3B, 21, Single-A
Vellojin was one of the hardest guys for me to place on this list and I may be very low on him but last year was a rough one. Across three levels he slashed .199/.327.358. I’ve heard he has been performing very well in the Colombian Winter League. Callihan is a slap-hitting middle infielder who may be able to crack a roster as a super utility player. Johnson is also a light hitting infielder who has just been surpassed by a lot of guys at this point. He went undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft this year which probably says a lot about what the league thinks of him. Huggins, a 2022 draftee, was a teammate of Collier’s and has a mid-90s fastball but also a devastating slider, both being plus pitches. I have always been a fan of Bonnin but he has not been able to stay healthy and looks like a bullpen piece if anything at all at this point. If he can get healthy and stay healthy, he could be a shut down reliever. Wong is a recent acquisition from San Francisco and could be a solid depth piece in Triple-A. Confidan was another hard one for me to rank and he could be my biggest swing and miss. For some reason I get reminded of Yorman Rodriguez when I look at Confidan’s stat line.