Last July as the trade deadline was approaching the Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Tyler Naquin along with minor league left-handed reliever Phillip Diehl to the New York Mets as they made a push for the playoffs. The Reds were looking to acquire younger players to help build towards the future as they were simply trying to avoid being the worst team in baseball last summer. The two teams agreed that in return for the current big leaguer in Naquin and the minor leaguers with big league experience Diehl that Cincinnati would get 18-year-old outfielder Hector Rodriguez and 19-year-old right-handed pitcher Jose Acuna.

At the time both players were considered solid prospects, but didn’t really jump off of the scouting report page at you. Both guys performed well in their limited action last season after joining the Reds organization, though Rodriguez saw his season come to an end a few weeks early after a pretty serious leg injury that even some within the organization felt may keep him out until the middle of this season.

Fortunately for Hector Rodriguez he recovered faster than initially expected and began the 2023 season on time. Rodriguez, though, hasn’t exactly played to the scouting report that he entered the organization with. But that’s a good thing in this case.

Entering the season Baseball America rated him as the 25th best prospect in the organization. He had four tools that were average or better, but his power was rated as a 30 on the scouting scale. That’s well below-average and projects for just a handful of home runs a season.

Last night Hector Rodriguez hit his 7th home run of the season for the Single-A Daytona Tortugas. That puts the 19-year-old outfielder in a tie for second place in the league. He’s also hitting .304 with a .368 on-base percentage, and he’s got a .551 slugging percentage. Rodriguez ranks 2nd in the league in slugging and he’s 8th in the league in average, while also ranking 4th in the league in OPS.

The home run total is a true surprise. While he’s just 19-years-old and like many players that age still figuring out a whole lot on the baseball field, he had six home runs in his career when the season began. He hit three in each of his previous two seasons where he had played in 42 games and 49 games. And he’s not really hitting cheap home runs, either. All of his home runs have been between 364 and 413 feet, with three of them topping the 400-foot mark. This is all coming in the Florida State League, too, which has long been known to be the most pitcher friendly league in all of minor league baseball.

Jose Acuna was not ranked in the top 25 prospects within the Reds organization by any of the large publications. The 20-year-old right-handed pitcher is in the High-A Dayton Dragons rotation and last night he allowed one run in 5.0 innings for the Dragons in his 8th game of the season. That lowered his ERA to 2.41 on the year.

Acuna is 3-0 this season and has allowed just 22 hits and 10 walks in his 37.1 innings pitched for Dayton. His WHIP is just 0.86 and he’s picked up 39 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .165 against him. His 2.41 ERA ranks 3rd best in the league. His WHIP is 2nd best in the league. The .165 average against is also 2nd best in the league.

There’s a long way between A-ball and the big leagues. But early on in the 2023 season the two prospects that came back to Cincinnati in a trade for pending free agent Tyler Naquin and a 28-year-old minor league reliever are performing about as well as anyone in the league that they are playing in.

35 Responses

  1. Redlegs1869

    Doug-thanks for updating Reds fans on some of the younger players we may not be familiar with. Sounds like we could be hearing their names much more in the next couple years. Let’s hope so at least!

  2. BhamRedsFan

    …And the results of another trade where Krall seemed to really get the best of things!

    • JayTheRed

      Yes, I would just like to say Krall has done a nice job. Could you imagine what he could be doing if he actually had a good MLB Payroll. The guy may not talk well but he sure knows when to pull the trigger on a good trade. Course some of that is the guys that he surrounds himself with too.

  3. CFD3000

    Great updates Doug. Most prospects don’t pan out, but it really does feel like the Reds have so many highly regarded players that are actually putting up strong numbers that there could be a steady flow of productive players to Cincinnati for several years. That’s exciting. Although I must ask – with Rodriguez playing outfield, is that even allowed under the current rules? I thought the Reds were only permitted to have infield prospects? Where would he play?

      • CI3J


        Pretty sure the Reds’ have a policy that the only players that can play outfield for the big league club are converted infielders.

  4. Alex Reds

    This trade was a heist. Naquin wasn’t worth much and didn’t perform well for the Mets. These are nice prospects and still trade bait for when the Reds need to get the pitching for next year and with $100M in payroll to spend on pitching since their hitting is solidified.

    • jmb

      Naquin was a solid bench player, and the Mets were trying to add depth for a play-off run. Diehl was an Ohio native the Reds claimed off the waiver-wire from the Rockies. Yes, the Reds sent not much and got a great return! That’s how small market teams can feed off of the big market teams. We’ll see how Rodriguez and Acuna develop. Both look real good at this point.

  5. JB

    Nick Krall is killing it. People on here act like he has done nothing but look at the trades he has made and the guys he has picked up for the bullpen. Not to mention Weaver has been a nice little addition.

    • jmb

      I agree! Krall is doing just fine, in fact much better than just fine. Yet, so many Reds fans have called for him to get the axe ever since the Suarez/Winker trade. But looks how the team is playing of late and look how the AAA team has played in May! Krall’s taken a lot of heat, but he knows what he’s doing. And those “fans” may very well be eating lots of humble pie soon, if they haven’t already seated themselves at the table.

      • Kevin H

        Trades have worked out so far. As far as humble pie, nah as fans get upset. I was as at the time, however now I see it working.

      • greenmtred

        People were upset about that trade, but neither Suarez nor Winker would have been part of the future as it’s unfolding.

      • MK

        The biggest argument against the big Winker/Suarez trade was they had to give up Jesse to get rid of Suarez. Jesse was a bust and for the most part still is and Suarez has become Suarez again.

      • LDS

        Suarez was decent last year but certainly not this year thus far. Dumping him & Winker were good moves. I would have liked a better return. Dunn is a bust thus far. Williamson showing some signs of life. Fraley kills RH’ers but not LH’ers. A better option than Dunn would have been good but still a good trade.

      • Rob

        I have waffled some on this trade moving toward neutral and positive on a daily basis. Wink was the starting all star OF for the NL in 2021 when we made the trade. A solid 300 hitter but he was slow and a below average defender and would have been due for a decent payday in 2023. I sure couldn’t see him falling off the cliff like he has though. Suarez hit like 30-35 HRs and drove in 90+ runs last year while hitting 220-230 and striking out a zillion times. Would take him in a second for a DH at $11M. So much better than Myers or Pham. But no, I am not overwhelmed with the return even with the Wink falloff. Williamson was the centerpiece and is looking better but I don’t think victory can be declared here. If he becomes a solid #4 starter with 180 innings, then we can declare victory. Fraley is over achieving but I am not sure he has sustainability as a starter …. maybe utility or platoon. TBD. Dunn, the #2 or #3 piece in the deal has been a Zero much like Wink. So as of today, it boils down to Suarez vs Fraley and Williamson. With our current roster, for 2023 I would still rather have Geno’s thump but by the start of 2024 I could see my view totally flipping with Fraley being better than platoon and Williamson showing above average potential. And then there is also the A kid but who knows where that is going. Or maybe if we just had one power bat in the lineup, I would say the heck with Geno and his 30 HRs and 90 RBIs. Come on Krall, go out and get one of these guys for $20-25M. A little speed and maybe multi positional like Kris Bryant.

      • LarkinPhillips

        IIRC, Phillips was a part of this trade as well. I would consider this a Reds win with possibly 2 starters and a quality platoon player along with salary flexibility afforded from shedding Suarez.

      • 2020ball

        Phillips is who will end up winning that trade

      • JayTheRed

        @LDS, We don’t know what we have in Dunn yet. He has been injured most of the time he has been with us. Hopefully next season he can get back on track and maybe turn into a solid #4 or #5 starter at the worst.

    • JB WV

      Krall has done a great job especially considering he has limited funds to work with.
      Went to Wrigley for the first time yesterday and a young guy sitting behind us played high school ball with Stuart Fairchild. He said that Fairchild was like a god in the weight room, by far the strongest guy on the team. Bit of a surprise. This kid looked bigger than Fairchild

  6. AllTheHype

    The Tyler Mahle trade is looking even better than that one.

    • Alex Reds

      Mahle has had a very good ERA with the Twins but also is getting Tommy John surgery. Unfortunate for Twins. Reds should win this trade if Steer or Strand continue to contribute.

      • Rick Pearson

        Spencer Steer he’s playing good ball Improve a little bit on defense I think he’s going to be good for us

  7. Redsvol

    Krall is doing very well – especially with the trades with Mets and twins. I personally wish we would have pushed for more on the Castillo trade but it’s likely he couldn’t get the Yankees in a bidding war.
    What can we get at this years’ deadline? Probably not much as we don’t need to trade anyone. But this is exactly when a team like the rays would trade their guys entering arbitration if big $ teams like the Mets, Yankees and dodgers want to overpay. I could see some relievers getting traded. Doubt it on India.

    • wolfcycle

      I love what we got back from Mariners in Castillo trade, Marte, Arroyo, Williamson, and Stoudt. Sure the 2 pitchers may end up being relievers that remains to be seen, they still have some work to do, but I think Marte will be up soon, and Arroyo is a great glove that is at this time a streaky hitter, but very young. They all will see the Majors and contribute. Arroyo may be blocked ( hopefully by success of other players ) and may be part of a trade package to bring us back a controllable player to help us make another step forward.

      • RedsGettingBetter

        Actually Williamson wasn’t a piece of the Castillo’s trade. The players involved were minors leaguers Marte, Arroyo, Stoudt and Moore… Williamson was part of Winker/Suarez’s trade

    • Rick Pearson

      I can see them possibly moving off Jose barrero possibly Trading they are so deep with all this Talent waiting down for the call up

  8. TR

    Up until the last year or so, Krall was basically a ‘no name’ in the world of major league G.M.’s. That is no longer the case.

    • Jon

      Is it though? Prospects are just that-prospects. Until they produce at the Major League level, they are nothing more than question marks. At this moment in time, the only prospect the Reds have acquired via trade that is currently doing this is Steer. Williamson is the only other big name traded prospect currently on the roster.

      The real evaluation for Krall will be after this winter when he is expected to field a team that can win the Central in 2024. How will he add the necessary pieces to the roster via trade or free agent signings, and who gets traded away? Up to this point, his higher dollar value acquisitions have proven to be disasters- Minor, Pham, and Myers have not provided any value. Given the nature of the division, it’s safe to assume that all four other teams will be more active as well this winter trying to improve, making Krall’s mission more difficult.

      • Optimist

        Myers, Pham and Myers were not “higher dollar value acquisitions”, relative to MLB. Perhaps to the Reds, but not really even that. Moose was the last higher dollar acquisition, and though overpaid and unproductive, that contract was not all that much compared to the rest of the league.

      • Doug Gray

        Correct, Optimist. Even for the Reds – $15-20M isn’t really a high dollar amount. They’ve been paying Joey Votto more than that per year for the last decade and they are bringing in significantly more money now than they were then.

  9. Jim Walker

    Maybe Doug is hinting that Rodriguez and Acuna are a couple of unheralded guys who seem to be low to mid system placed emerging risers that would make good lottery picks for an MLB team looking to move an established middle to back end of the rotation starting pitcher as they move into a rebuilding phase?

  10. Rick Pearson

    Personally I would really love to see Joey Votto announced his retirement at the end of the year and possibly him becoming a coach

    • Sonny5674

      Yes I agree would love to see votto become our hitting coach would love to see how he could do with the young guys.

    • Brayan O'Malley

      I love Joey Votto. It has been an utter joy to watch him play ball, especially after his personality pushed its way into the limelight. But…. I’m afraid Joe is finished. He may prove me wrong, but I am sooooooo ready for the Reds to move off of him and go with the kids. This won’t be popular, but, I am sooooo starved for meaningful post-season play, and I simply don’t see JDV contributing much to that ultimate goal. GO REDS!!