We had another runaway result yesterday, with the Reds’ most recent first round draft pick taking the number 3 spot in our prospect rankings. The infielder out of UCLA had a great start to his young career, so here’s to hoping he builds off of that in 2022. Another infielder joins the poll today so vote early and often, everyone!
Elly De La Cruz - SS/3B (19 years old)
2021 at a glance: .296/.336/.538 (.874 OPS) in 265 PA split between AZL Reds (Rookie League) and Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)
Pros: Legit five-tool upside, elite power/speed combo with chance to stick at SS, switch-hitter, plus fielder
Cons: Swing and miss concerns (31.0% K-rate at Daytona), low walk rate (4.8% at Daytona)
There were few prospects at any level in any system that had a rise up future depth charts the way that De La Cruz did last year. After a promising (yet mostly punchless) debut in 2019 as a 17 year old in the Dominican Summer League after signing for a modest $65K, his entire 2020 campaign was lost as the pandemic shut down all minor league games. When he made his debut in 2021 at the Reds Goodyear complex, though, he quickly began to turn heads with his tremendous physical skills.
He’s got an incredibly long way to go to fine-tune those skills, of course, but remains one of the best young, raw talents to come through the system in years. The Reds decision to promote him to Daytona early on in 2021 suggest they’re willing to move him quickly, though, and I fully expect him to electrify the crowds in Dayton to begin 2022 in a fashion that could even see him reach Chattanooga by year’s end, too.
(Also, his birthday is January 11th, so happy birthday, Elly!)
Jay Allen - OF (19 years old)
2021 at a glance: .328/.440/.557 in 75 PA with AZL Reds (Rookie League)
Pros: Standout athlete played three sports in high school, with college offers for both football and baseball on the table
Cons: Some swing and miss with his approach, still quite raw
Jay Allen and Elly De La Cruz.
Elly De La Cruz and Jay Allen.
There’s both a very intriguing similarity between the two youngest members of this particular CPR ranking round and an ability to dream on just what could be for the Reds if both manage to materialize at anywhere near their particular ceilings.
The Reds swung big to land Allen with their comp pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, taking the John Carroll HS OF with the 30th overall pick. It was a pick based very much on long-term upside, however, as they spent the requisite amount necessary to ink him when he had college options in varying sports on the table, too.
Allen offers a power/speed combo that profiles as the almost ideal CF of the future should things all play perfectly, though a move to RF at any point might also be both more realistic and still a feasible path to the bigs in short order. Honestly, he’s a legit five-tool prospect who could shape the Reds OF of the future in his own likeness, and while we’ve only just glimpsed his pro career to date, buy some tickets for Dayton games this summer to watch him dazzle.
Graham Ashcraft - RHP (23 years old)
2021 at a glance: 3.00 ERA in 111 IP split between Dayton Dragons (High-A Central) and (Chattanooga Lookouts (AA South), 129/37 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP
Pros: Sinking fastball that flirts with triple digits and induces an astonishing (astonishing!) rate of groundballs
Cons: Mainly successful with just a fastball/slider, lack of third pitch
Ashcraft was a 6th round pick out of UAB in the 2019 MLB Draft, and had a debut 2019 season with Greenville of the defunct Appy League that one could pretty aptly describe as mediocre - a 1.34 WHIP and 4.53 ERA in 53.2 IP despite being a tad old for the level.
Perhaps the 2020 off-year was just what he needed, however, as he reemerged in a 2021 season that saw him rip off a tremendous 44 inning scoreless streak as he moved from High-A Dayton to AA Chattanooga. All told, he impressed across both levels enough with his ability to miss bats (10.5 K/9) and keep the ball in the park (just 4 HR allowed) to rocket up the rankings by All Those Who Rank.
If all continues to plan, he’ll reach AAA Louisville at some point in 2022, and as we all know, if you’re at AAA, you’re a snap away from reaching the big leagues, something that’s not at all out of the question to see from the 24 year old this year.
Austin Hendrick - OF (20 years old)
2021 at a glance: .211/.380/.388 (.767 OPS) in 266 PA at Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)
Pros: Patience (51 BB, 19.2% BB-rate), bat speed, how damn far he socks the baseball when he makes contact
Cons: Making contact (100 K, 37.6% K-rate)
There might, might be one other player in the entire minor league system who puts on a more impressive batting practice display than Austin Hendrick. There might not be anyone, in many eyes.
His elite bat speed and uppercut swing can produce some absolute bombs off the bat, and his plus arm strength and good enough athleticism make him pretty much the prototypical right-field prospect. Pair that with an ability to work counts and take walks, and there’s an almost endless amount about his game to dream on.
There is an alarming about of swing and miss to his game in actual games, however. Like, an almost overwhelming amount of it given he was debuting at the lowest level of the modified minor league system in 2021. Still, there was expected to be a pretty large learning curve with Hendrick when the Reds plucked him out of high school in the 1st round of the 2020 MLB Draft, and at just 20 years of age - he won’t turn 21 until June - there’s plenty of time left for him to bring the swing and miss stuff down to a more palatable level, a level that would then let his ability to coax walks in deep counts shine that much more.
Rece Hinds, 3B (21 years old)
2021 at a glance: .259/.332/.542 in 226 PA at ACL Reds (Arizona Rookie League) and Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)
Pros: Incredible power, absolutely mashes the ball when he makes contact, strong arm, decent runner.
Cons: Has struggled to stay healthy early on, struggles with off-speed pitches, swings and misses a lot (28% strikeout rate with Daytona).
The Reds took Rece Hinds in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft. Built with some incredible raw power, the Reds were unfortunately unable to see that put to use as he sustained a season ending injury just three games into his minor league career. After a 2020 season in the instructional leagues, Hinds came back and showed some improvements as a hitter. He showed that he’s already able to use his power, mashing 22 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs. He still leaves a bit to be desired elsewhere at the plate, as he still struggles to make consistent contact and swings and misses a lot.
Defensively, it’s still hard to figure out if he will stay in the infield or move to one of the corner outfield positions. He has a strong arm but his defense is one of his worst tools. He has also struggled to stay healthy, as he missed about 8 weeks with a torn meniscus in 2021 to go with the quad injury he sustained in 2019. Hopefully he gets a full, consistent season in 2022 to make the improvements at the plate that the Reds are hoping to see.
Who is the #4 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed
Elly De La Cruz