The Cincinnati Reds announced that they’ve invited five minor league prospects from their organization to big league spring training. Pitchers Andrew Abbott and Connor Phillips, as well as infielders Alex McGarry, Matt McLain, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were all extended big league camp invitations by the club.

Connor Phillips joined the club in the spring last year when he was acquired by the Reds in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. The right-handed pitcher split his time between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season. In 12 starts with Dayton he posted a 2.95 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 32 walks in 64.0 innings. After his promotion to Chattanooga he made 12 starts for the Lookouts and posted a 4.93 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 34 walks in 45.2 innings. The organizations 8th rated prospect, Phillips has big time stuff, but the 21-year-old will need to improve his ability to find the strikezone as he continues to develop.

Andrew Abbott also saw action with both Dayton and Chattanooga last season. He pitched in just five games with the Dragons in High-A, posting a 0.67 ERA in 27.0 innings with seven walks and 40 strikeouts before the organization moved him up to Chattanooga. In 20 starts there he battled consistency, posting a 4.75 ERA in 91.0 innings with 41 walks and 119 strikeouts. The left-handed starter has solid stuff across the board. Rated as the teams 14th best prospect, the 23-year-old participated in the Futures Game last summer but struggled a bit after returning. He closed out the season on a high note, not giving up a run in his final three starts and striking out 21 batters with just three walks.

Matt McLain, the organizations 1st round pick in 2021 had an interesting season from a statistical standpoint. He spent the entire year in Chattanooga during 2022. He missed a month with a wrist injury in the middle of the year. After he had a big April, things slowed down a bit in one area. April was the only month he played in where he had an average higher than .229. The batting average simply wasn’t there for the organization’s 6th rated prospect as his strikeout rate climbed to unexpected rates. But his power also climbed to unexpected rates as he slugged 17 home runs in just 103 games. McLain also walked a bunch, giving him a final line on the season of .232/.363/.453 to go with 27 steals in 30 attempts. In the second half of the season he slid over to second base frequently to make room for Elly De La Cruz at shortstop.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s 2022 season in the minor leagues rivals that of Elly De La Cruz. The corner infielder didn’t join the Reds until the trade deadline and then spent the final two months of the season with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. Between the three stops he had between High-A Cedar Rapids, Double-A Wichita, and Chattanooga he hit .304/.368/.587 with 31 doubles, 5 triples, and 32 home runs. The Reds 7th rated prospect had real struggles defensively in the first half, but an adjustment he made in mid-June took a 1st half fielding percentage of .827 to a .976 fielding percentage from June 21st through the end of the season (at third base).

Alex McGarry came out of nowhere, so to speak, in 2022. Undrafted in 2020 out of Oregon State in MLB’s shortened 5-round draft, McGarry signed with the Reds as an undrafted free agent. After a so-so debut in 2021 he put on a show for much of 2022. The first baseman/corner outfielder played in 110 games between stops in Dayton, Chattanooga, and Triple-A Louisville. In 416 at-bats he hit .264/.316/.543 with 23 doubles, 6 triples, 27 home runs, and he stole 15 bases in 19 attempts.

With these five additions to the roster for spring training there are now 17 non-roster invitees to go along with the 40 players on the big league roster. 26 position players will be in camp to go along with 31 pitchers. There’s still a month remaining until spring training begins, so there will likely be another addition or two before pitchers and catchers start showing up in Goodyear.

20 Responses

  1. Jedi Joey

    Alex McGarry’s story is fascinating. Those are some nice numbers last year. It will be interesting to see how he does this season.

    • David

      I think he starts in AAA, unless he has an amazing Spring Training and Joey Votto isn’t ready to play yet, at 1st base.
      He had great numbers at High A, and pretty good numbers at AA, but he kind of tailed off in AAA at the end of the season. Might have just been tired, too.
      Christian Encarnacion Strand is also a guy that is just about ready. If he has a great spring, and again, if Joey isn’t ready, I could see him making the team, at 1st base. Likely he starts at AAA, but he’s close.

      • Jedi Joey

        Good assessment, David. I bet you are right and he starts in AAA. Some extended time in AAA may tell us a little more.

  2. Bdh

    If Abbott forces his way into the discussion for 2023 then that’s great for the big league team but it’ll add to some tough decisions at the end of the year. Am I correct in assuming after the 2023 season the reds have to make 40 man decisions on all of Phillips, Roa, Boyle, and Bonnin?

    The only pitchers currently on the 40 man who’d be gone would be Cessa, Farmer, and Weaver so some tough decisions will have to be made somewhere

    • MBS

      I hope you’re right about it being tough, but looking at the pitchers on the 40 man I think it will be easy.

      Abbott, or Williamson making it into the rotation would be awesome. One of the 2 plus Lodolo would be a nice balance to Greene, and Ashcraft.

  3. Optimist

    I believe I opined last year on this, but how does McLain compare with India? The stat line seems similar – low avg, very high OBP, enough power, perhaps slightly better defense – is that accurate? Is there something in the underlying/peripherals that is revealing – BABIP, barrel%, park factors?

    He’s at the age where he needs a breakout of sorts, but many seem down on him while there’s still quite a bit to like.

    All these invites make sense, and only McGarry would be a surprise if he continues to advance – just from his age and progress so far.

    What am I missing?

    • DaveCT

      Optimist, my comments.

      India’s age 22 season was largely in Daytona and, if I recall, his numbers there were somewhat average at first glance. However, I believe Doug has pointed out in the ‘India is a bust’ discussions, his Florida State League numbers were actually above average in comparison to league average numbers. So his performance was, IMO, msinterpreted.

      McLain’s age 22 season (Chattanooga) had numbers that were arguably odd as Doug said above. His age 21 season lead to scouting reports that he needed to show some power, and fast. 2022 reporting in season spoke to the issue of major strikeout numbers seemingly a result of trying to get to his in game power. So McLain’s age 22 season may also have enough wiggle room to influence misinterpretation. Another year of major strikeout numbers for him won’t be good, however.

      • Optimist

        Interesting – makes sense. Good thing to work out in MiLB, particularly if he’s in AAA for a bulk of the season – that K/BB% will be revealing considering the level of pitching competition.

  4. David

    I could see Connor Phillips, Andrew Abbott and/or Levi Stoudt being with the Reds sometime this year as maybe a reliever. Recall that TJ Antone was always a starter in the minors, but he had a great arm and worked as a short reliever (Well, it was innings, not height).
    And yeah, they should one day start, but it would not be terrible if they came up as relievers to get used to the ML.

    And before anyone brings up Aroldis Chapman being a reliever instead of a starter, I don’t think he had the mental make-up and self discipline to be a starter. And I think Dusty Baker knew that.

    • Melvin

      He (Chapman) basically won the World Series as a reliever for the Cubs if I”m not mistaken. 🙂

      • Optimist

        More accurate to say he didn’t lose it.

    • Mark Moore

      Based on my observations and in my opinion, Chapman was a headcase who fell in love with the “closer role” and then didn’t want to do anything else. Electric stuff only takes you so far.

  5. LDS

    Richie Martin signing, yeah, another SS. I guess Newman isn’t mediocre enough.

    • Harry Stoner

      For a team choking on SSs the Ricky Martin signing makes zero sense.

      Backup for Barerro and Hello Newman? Here I was hoping that the Reds would clear out some of this dead wood so Bell wouldn’t be tempted to juggle his lineup around with them.

      Maybe he’s just here to clog SS in AAA for the upcoming Young Turks there?

      The lefty looks like a reasonable low cost risk.

  6. DataDumpster

    Well, these are the guys (not on the 40 man) that you hear about as the future so its appropriate for them to get a closer look and assurance by David Bell that they can get MLB time this year. I would predict at least 4 of them will (whether they are ready or not).
    Good luck to all of them, I hope the coaching and player decisions have improved relative to player development. That is the key, the raw talent seems to be in abundance.

    • TR

      It seems to me that as long as the Castellini’es are the controlling owners of the Reds that the team is slowly being transferred into a Tampa Bay Rays type organization.

  7. Michael B. Green

    Great insight (sp) with these invites da club.

    • TR

      My mistake. The word should be transformed, not transferred.

  8. LarkinPhillips

    @Doug, This is the first year ever that I plan to head to Spring training. I am excited to see the prospects. When would be better to attend to get to see the prospects the most? Earlier in the spring or later in the spring? Also, any recommendations from others who have went to Spring Training prior?

    • Doug Gray

      Definitely later. Full minor league camp doesn’t start until early March. They won’t begin playing games until mid-March.