Christian Roa is an oft-injured pitcher that the Reds took in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft. When healthy, he’s been able to miss a lot of bats and throw with the velocity that projects him to start in the big leagues. Despite his injuries, he showed everyone here enough to land him in the top 10 of these highly regarded rankings. A power-hitting catcher joins the mix today.
Andrew Abbott - LHP (22 years old)
2021 at a glance: 4.15 ERA in 13 innings between the ACL Reds (Arizona Rookie League) and Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)
Pros: Good movement on his fastball and an above average curve ball.
Cons: Below average change-up as a third pitch, walk rate hasn’t been great in his career.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: The Cincinnati Reds drafted a reliever-turned-starter out of the University of Virginia with an early pick in the MLB draft. The good news for the Reds is that Andrew Abbott has already tried his hand as a starter before joining the Reds’ organization, and that it went quite well. After spending his entire career as a reliever, UVA was able to move Abbott to the rotation and he was able to vault himself up the draft boards with his performance. He threw 106.2 innings during his senior season, putting up a 2.87 ERA and striking out 162 batters, which was good for 3rd in the country.
Abbott sits in the low 90s with his fastball that has good movement and misses a lot of bats in the zone and has topped out at 97 on rare occasion. His curve ball is above average and is a good out pitch. He doesn’t have much to offer as a third pitch, with a below average change-up that still needs some work. Look for Abbott to start the season in Daytona.
Tyler Callihan - 2B/3B (21 years old)
2021 at a glance: .299/.351/.437 in 99 PA with Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)
Pros: Excellent contact skills, gap to gap power, low K-rate
Cons: Defensive question marks, and where he’ll end up position-wise remains in question
Tyler Callihan can flat out hit, y’all. The sweet-swinging lefty could hit when the Reds selected him in the 3rd round of the 2019 MLB Draft, and the reason why he held a scholarship from the University of South Carolina was because - you guessed it - he could flat out hit.
He was hitting just fine last year when an elbow injury ended up sidelining him for the bulk of the season, too. The expectation (and hope) is that said injury will be fully healed at the dawn of the 2022 minor league season, and that we’ll see Callihan somewhere in the infield for High-A Dayton hitting again, too.
My best guess is that he’ll be stationed at 2B for as long as he can make it work there. Heck, while we’re talking about Reds who flat out hit while manning 2B, perhaps it’s making an upside comp for Callihan to none other than Scooter Gennett, even though Tyler’s a bit bigger. One can hope, after all...
Bryce Bonnin - RHP (23 years old)
2021 at a glance: 2.87 ERA in 13 innings between the ACL Reds (Arizona Rookie League), Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League), and Dayton Dragons (High-A Central League); 71/17 K/BB
Pros: Fastball that flirts with 100 mph, plus slider
Cons: Injury pushed back his season debut until almost July; just 47 total IP since being drafted in 2020; primarily a two-pitch pitcher, which could mean a bullpen role
Bonnin eschewed the Chicago Cubs selecting him in the 26th round out of high school in Texas to instead begin his college career at the University of Arkansas (hi, ARF!). A transfer to Texas Tech soon followed, however, and a final season at the scholastic level saw him post a head-scratching 7.36 ERA in just 4 appearances before the Reds plucked him with a 3rd round draft pick.
That paired with the pandemic-induced closure of the entire MiLB season in 2020 and an injury that pushed back his 2021 debut means we’ve barely seen Bonnin at all. Kyle Boddy, former Reds pitching coordinator and Driveline guru, has seen plenty of him though, and in his interview with FanGraphs’ David Laurila shortly after the 2020 draft, he spoke glowingly about Bonnin’s ability to maintain his high-90s velocity and the plus slider/fastball combo he possesses, even if that means he gets fast-tracked to the bigs as a reliever until developing another offering.
To me, that sounds like Bonnin’s a big-leaguer - the question only remains whether he continues to try to develop as a starter in the minors some more, or jumps into the mix for bullpen innings with the Reds perhaps as early as this summer. You, voters, get to rate/value that accordingly!
Matheu Nelson - C (23 years old)
2021 at a glance: Hit .330/.436/.773 in 53 games at Florida State University and hit .179/.343/.321 in 35 PA between ACL Reds (Arizona Rookie League) and the Dayton Dragons (High-A Central League).
Pros: Incredible raw power to all fields, strong arm behind the plate.
Cons: 17 of his 35 PA in the minors ended in a strikeout last season.
Matheu Nelson was one of the breakout players in all of college baseball in 2021. After a covid-shortened season in 2020, Nelson went absolutely nuts, hitting .330/.436/.773 with 17 doubles and 23 home runs. That was enough for the Reds to use their Competitive Balance Round A pick on him and select him 35th overall in the 2021 draft.
Nelson is a power-hitting catcher who can hit the hell out of the ball all over the field. Once he makes contact, it’s going to go a long way, but the issue starts with actually putting the bat on the ball. He struggled with strikeouts in college and struck out in 17 of his 35 plate appearances in the minor leagues. Defensively, Nelson has a strong arm that helps neutralize the running game. He does show some inconsistencies with receiving, according to scouts, so there is still some work to be done with him. If he can shore up his contact issues and receiving issues, Nelson has the potential to be a very productive catcher in the big leagues.
Which prospect deserves the #10 spot in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings?
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