The minor league baseball season is a little more than six weeks in for guys that started the season in Triple-A, and nearly five weeks in for those who started below Triple-A. It seems like it’s a good time to check in on some of the guys on the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List who have had their stocks go up and some who have had their stock go down based on how they’ve looked so far this season.
Top 25 Prospects: Stock Up
Elly De La Cruz: When the season began he was on the injured list and he’s only played for a little more than three weeks, but he’s been doing things that no one else in baseball is doing. He’s got the top velocity on an infield throw this season (and the second one, too). He’s got the top exit velocity in baseball this season. And he’s walking more than ever and in the month of May he’s got as many walks as he’s got strikeouts. Despite being the Reds top prospect and in some places the top prospect in all of baseball, his stock is up.
Matt McLain: He made his big league debut last night in Colorado, went 1-4 with a walk, double, and he scored two runs – showing off his speed and aggressiveness on the bases in the process. McLain has done nothing but crush the ball this season. He had the best OPS in all of minor league baseball prior to his call up thanks to a high walk rate, lowering his strikeout rate, and hitting for an elite level of power in the first six weeks of the season.
Andrew Abbott: The left-handed pitcher made a mockery of Double-A in his first three starts of the season and was promoted to Triple-A. He’s made four starts there, with his last one being one where he ran into some troubles. Still, between the two levels he’s posted a 3.03 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 10 walks in 35.2 innings. His stuff has improved a little bit since last season and he’s been finding better results with it.
Carlos Jorge: The second baseman has been playing in Single-A Daytona this season and has continued to do what he’s done at the other two levels he’s played at in his career: Rake. In 28 games with the Tortugas he’s hitting .320/.402/.505 with eight steals. The Florida State League has long been known as the most pitcher friendly league in minor league baseball and this season it hasn’t shown any reason that it’s still not the case. The league is hitting .235/.338/.357 as a whole.
Top 25 Prospects: Stock Down
Brandon Williamson: He will make his big league debut tonight in Denver, but it’s tough to say his stock is anything but down this season. After struggling with his control in 2022 he’s struggling with it again in 2023. The 25-year-old lefty has 20 walks in 34.0 innings this season. Unlike last year, though, he hasn’t been able to overcome a high walk rate. His strikeout rate is down – he has just 27 of them this year – and his home run rate has nearly tripled from where it was last season. After eight starts his ERA is 6.62 with Louisville and his WHIP is sitting at 1.88.
Rece Hinds: A strong athlete with tons of tools, Hinds has always struggled to make contact. He’s also struggled to stay on the field as he’s had numerous injuries in his career that have cost him a lot of playing time. Last season he cut down on his strikeouts as the season went along – though they still remained higher than you’d like to see. This season, though, he’s racked up 53 strikeouts in 118 plate appearances with Double-A Chattanooga and has hit just .182 as a result.
Michael Siani: In 2022 Siani took a step forward offensively. He hit 12 home runs – doubling his career high – and he cut his strikeout rate significantly as he fanned just 16.7% of the time he stepped to the plate. This season he’s hitting just .179/.258/.321 for Louisville and his strikeout rate has jumped to a career worst 31.2% – nearly double his rate from last season.
Unranked prospect check in
Blake Dunn: The outfielder got out to an incredible start to the season, but has slowed down at the plate in May. He, like Hinds, has had some problems staying on the field in his career. Because of that he’s 24-years-old and in High-A with the Dayton Dragons. But he has big league tools, he just hasn’t had much opportunity to showcase them since being drafted in 2021. He’s played in 31 games this season for Dayton and that’s already the longest stretch of time he’s been healthy and on the field as a professional. He’s hitting .291/.431/.515 with 16 stolen bases. He’ll need to stay healthy, but his stock is up.
Ricky Karcher: The 25-year-old right-handed reliever was added to the 40-man roster in November. A hard thrower, Karcher had struggled to consistently throw strikes in his career, but over his final 11 games in 2022 he walked just three batters in 11.2 innings and had 17 strikeouts. The Reds gambled that he may be selected if left unprotected and added him to the roster despite having walked 37 batters in the previous 45 innings of his season. This season he’s thrown 13.1 innings and walked 27 batters. His ERA sits at 12.83 for Louisville. His stock is down.
A comp for Williamson that I have read is Andrew Miller. Similar size; both LH pitchers. Once Miller became a reliever he had 6 or 7 good seasons in that role. Before that he was a starter with spotty control.
If Williamson does not find it as a starter, perhaps relief is his calling?
Had the same thought!
Near term pitching prospects seem scarce. Abbott may not have as much time in AAA as he ideally needs, but it’s hard to envision that he’s less ready than Williamson.
Williamson it at least getting his big league debut in pitcher friendly Coors field tonight. That should boost his confidence.
Hmmm…that sounds a little bit like sarcasm. 😉
Who knows? He may give the Reds 5 (Five!!!) solid innings. If he can throw strikes.
Cessa released along with his salary of $2M+
Too bad…I think Cessa has some value as a reliever, he is as least as value of the two they just called up, apparently the Reds disagree. What do I know?
Timing, Cessa was released before the decision was made to IL Lodolo and before Legumina was hurt. That said, 29 teams passed on claiming him for about $2M, a very reasonable salary for a reliever with “value.” We’ll see if anyone signs him for the prorated ML minimum or if ends up with a minor league contract.
Whatever Luis Cessa was valued at as a pitcher, the Reds have successfully destroyed that value.
I too, think he might be alright…somewhere.
I have no proof, but I am wondering if maybe Cessa had an argument or something with management and they said we are not dealing with that and that’s maybe why he is gone?
With his bullpen history I feel like he should have been given a shot there instead of released.
I’ve never understood the theory about how “confidence” is supposed to work with professional baseball players. If a guy is rushed through the minors and fails when he reaches the majors, I’m told this will hurt his confidence. What I’d be more worried about is a guy who’s slowly brought up through the minors, enjoys success at every level, everyone says “he’s as ready as he possibly can be,” and then he gets to the majors and things don’t go well. I would think THAT would be the guy who might start wondering “what’s wrong with me?” whereas the guy who’s rushed the majors can fall back on “I just wasn’t ready yet.” If I ran a team, I’d be getting promising prospects up to the majors ASAP to see what they can do, give them a sense of what it’s like, give them a reason not to worry if things go badly, and then if they have to go back down for a while, when they come back up they won’t be so overwhelmed. And they’ll be less pressure on them knowing that this isn’t their “one chance” to make it in the majors. What worries me the most are the guys who are told they’re absolutely ready for the majors because they’ve had all the training anyone could possibly need. If things go badly for those guys, what does THAT do for their confidence?
I don’t think there is a pat answer because each person’s makeup is unique. That said, I’ll define confidence in promoting a ready player as Matt McLain who took second base on his first hit last night. He had no hesitation, not caught up in the moment of his first big league action–just allowing his skills to do what they would have done at AAA. No one would have thought less of him if he had stopped at 1B and smiled at his parents in the stands.
I don’t think “confidence” is the only thing in play in making decisions on promoting players. There are technical aspects of a player’s game that should affect the decision as well. Hitters that can’t read certain pitches, poor defensive technique, etc. It’s doing a disservice to the player and team when aspects like this are overlooked and a player is promoted prematurely.
It’s a theory. I’m just not sure you’re correct in assuming the “ story” you suggest is told in those respective scenarios are anywhere close to accurate.
Assumes facts not in evidence. And it’s one of the reasons I think you are wrong in your assessment of Barrero’s future.
My opinion? MLB is hard. And it takes as much time as it takes for most players, everyone being different. Some get ample opportunities and some other players run out of opportunities. Hopefully for the latter they get another chance elsewhere. Many don’t, and many just never make the jump. But fans are the least ble to predict who will or won’t.
Nice to see EDLC is walking more.
I would love to see DLC start getting some work in the outfield real soon.
I floated that idea last year, but it doesn’t look to be in the cards for that to happen. If I saw there was a gaping hole in the MLB OF, and it looked like it could be my fastest path to the show, I’d be willing to play OF as quickly as possible.
It doesn’t just go for EDLC…but Mclain, Marte, maybe even Collier.
Out of this group, am I wrong to be most concerned about Hinds and Karcher? They certainly have “tools” or attributes, but looking at their MiLB lines there’s really no standout season. All the others had notable success at some level or some aspect of the game for an extended period, but Hinds and Karcher seem not to have ever has a long stretch where it all came together, no?
Sound like a fair assessment to me.
Very good point. This year is probably their last chance in the organization. Maybe Cerda as well.
DO we have enough confidence in our young position players in the minors now to go full “rays way” and make a trade for some pitching? perhaps packaging India and Senzel for some pitching prospects?
Senzel yes…India no,for me
While I do think yes eventually they will trade some position depth to bolster the big league roster, don’t think india is part of that move
He seems to be the guy
Its encouraging to see a younger roster of 23-27 year olds and a core of Fraley/Friedl/Steer/India/Stephenson/McLain. Many great pitchers struggled early in their first 2 seasons of their careers so I’m patient with Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft and soon to be Abbott.
The outfield pipeline however looks barren. Fraley is a great platoon lefty and Friedl looks like a high energy everyday piece but where is the franchise RF? Benson, Siani, and Hopkins dont project aa franchise power hitting RF. Fairchild is probably ok this year as a 4th outfielder but wont be Jay Bruce or Ken Griffey senior or even Reggie Sanders.Castellanos was great hitter with a bad glove. I dont see anyone in the farm system. Reds arent buying a FA for 100 mil either in the off-season.
When do the Reds commit one of the infielders to an everyday outfielder? or do they trade a high prospect INF for a high prospect OF?
Steer, India, EDLC, and Marte look like the best internal candidates to transition to the OF. India doesnt look like a RF. Steer perhaps. EDLC can do anything and I wouldnt think the Reds would move Marte to 3b and then again to RF.
Reds need an outfielder in this next wave of roster construction.
Wouldn’t that have been like moving AROD to the OF? Mariners never did and look where it got them…a HOF SS; which is more valuable than a HOF CF
I’ll take a HOF anything. lol Seriously EDLC is 6’5″ with great speed and a rocket arm. That’s why I believe he’d be more valuable out there than anyone else. Ground balls in the infield at that height would wear on him in the long run too in my view.
ARod played a lot of third base for the Yankees.
As of today, OPS+ for Red’s hitters:
1. McClain, 137
2. India, 118
3. Fraley, 116
4. Friedl, 115
5. Steer, 104
6. Senzel, 104
7. Stephenson, 82
By the end of this season, CES and ELDC should be in the mix, too. That nine players for nine spots in the lineup. I would deploy them like this:
C – Stephenson (Robinson as backup)
1B – CES
2B – McLain
SS – ELDC
3B – India
LF – Fraley (platoon with either Fairchild or Hopkins)
CF – Friedl
RF – Senzel
DH – Steer (play 2B, 3B, 1B, and RF when others DH)
Bonus if Barrero or Benson produces enough to join the rotation. Senzel, with lots of ML OF experience, is the best choice to transition to a corner OF spot. The position player portion of the roster is shaping up nicely. Free agent dollars go to bolstering the pitching staff–it will be the second half of the season before we get insight into any of the injured list pitchers.
That’s how I see I with the only exception being Senzel 3B, and India RF swapping spots in the field.
That would also leave 3B ripe for the picking when Marte is ready sometime in 24 hopefully.
You give me that team and spend a bit of money to sign a legit starter Urias 25 * 5, and a closer, Hader 18 * 4, and we’ll be looking real good.
@MBS, I’m more hesitant than most to suggest a player can transition from IF to OF when there’s no evidence to support such a move would be successful. I’m even more reluctant to suggest moving the top performer on the team. India’s main issue at 2B is range. That would be mitigated at 3B. Moreover, a move to the outfield will not happen midseason. We could see the lineup I suggested this season.
At any rate, it’s not important who moves to the outfield. What’s important is that it does not look like the Reds need to go outside the organization to build a competitive lineup. Having Marte in the wings only helps.
I expect Hader and Urias to go for a little more than you suggest, but who knows? However, they are exactly the level of talent the Reds need to bring in to be highly competitive. Hader would make any bullpen better. Urias would make any rotation better. I don’t mind one-year contracts to round out the roster, but they are rarely the type of difference makers that win division titles or playoff games.
There are no great spots for India. I’d also prefer a career OF, but our excess talent lies in the infield. Someone is going to need to transition, or be traded. I fear trading India is the plan. Just looking for solutions to get the best 9 on the field, and at positions where they have the best chance of success.
The numbers on the free agents are based off of what I’ve read on spotrac, I added a bit per year to Hader’s number, and kept it the same on Urias’s number. The FA market is hard to predict, so I let them do it for me.
@MBS, I didn’t know about the Sportac FA valuation tool. Thanks for pointing it out.
I mean from a future standpoint in regards to what I hope once marte breaks the majors the team stands at…
RF Fraley (maybe ahead of Marte idk its stacked either way)
UTL (2B, 3B, 1B/ DH will probably be split between many especially CES, therefore some combination of Steer/CES will be at 1B)
Seems like a really solid team and really this starts 2024, as long as Marte hits as he has been.
The big wild card THEN being, do you trade senzel??? He is a 2nd overall pick, finally hitting, 2-3 years of control….Seems like a prime time to trade and get a nice pitcher….
What about India moving him to LF could be a mistake, he is a leader though? He hits well? do we trade him for a solid pitching prospect, or OF prospect.
IMO if you want to go all in and have sustanable success, DON”T trade prospects for desperate pitching trade India, Senzel for 3-5 pitching prospects and OF, India scares me to trade, but realistically he needs to move, 3B is Martes in 2024, steer I would keep, he is fun and a decent player that will only improve.
Trading India scares me, too. He really does appear to be a leader and is hitting well. Assuming that one of the prospects will be able to replace him in kind seems rash: wait to see how Marte et al do when they get to MLB. Maybe, hah hah, the owners will spend enough in free-agency to shore up the pitching
more than 1
Prospects or suspects? Yeah, Rece Hinds is a great looking “athlete”, like Will Benson. Will they ever turn that into being a good ML out fielder?
At this point….no, I don’t think so.
And, speaking of “prospects” (heh), our old “friend” Chase Anderson is starting for the Rockies tonight against Williamson. With the dearth of left – handed hitting in the Red’s lineup, he will probably stymie them a lot. Stymie.
I am wondering if CES’s inability to take a walk will hurt him in the major leagues? I am assuming it will. The level of pitchers he is playing against are not the same level he will face up in the ML. I think it may be wise to lower some of the expectations when it comes to him. I hope I am wrong, but we’ve seen this before with hitters who are too aggressive. It may work in AAA but not so much up here (unless you are the OG Vlad G.).
I commented on a prior thread that CES is, at best, now looking like Dan Vogelbach or Matt Davidson – a player with one predominant tool (power) but serious drawbacks. At worst, I suspect CES would be a noticeable improvement to the Reds lineup since it so obviously lacks a HR threat. For that reason alone he should be called up soon, but the BB/K ratio really is unsustainable as MLB pitchers adjust to it – Vogelbach’s is actually not bad, which is why he’s still getting playing time, while Davidson simply lost whatever hit tool he had.
CES likely has a much better hit potential than those guys, but it might never be seen with his current K%, which is actually a bit worse since he joined the Reds organization, and this season to start AAA. Still, a small sample size and if he can adjust more than a little bit, his ceiling rises quickly. Apparently other’s anecdotal reports show that his defense is improving noticeably, so there’s that.
I’m thinking that Encarnacion-Strand’s comp is more like Lee May, .267/.313/.459/.772
There is going to be some money to spend for the Reds this coming off-season. This is the last year we for sure have to pay Moose, Votto, and Griffey. I am hoping some of that money is going to go towards signing a few of our young good players. Maybe India, maybe Lodolo, there are a few others I would consider signing long term too from the younger kids that are just coming up.
The two things the Reds need to do this coming offseason is sign at least one pretty good outfielder and at least one decent starting pitcher. Other than that, I like the team. These players don’t have to be superstars either. Just quality players. Maybe trade is the best way to get this but there probably is a free agent or two that might fit as well.