Andrew Abbott’s reliability as a reliever early in his career and his durability as a starter his senior year gave you guys the confidence to place him as our #11 prospect. Another pitcher joins the fold. Keep voting Reds fans!
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.
Lyon Richardson - RHP (22 years old)
2021 at a glance: 5.09 ERA in 76.0 innings for the Dayton Dragons (High-A Central League); 91/38 K/BB.
Pros: Mid-90’s fastball, average slider and curve ball that he can throw for strikes when he’s on.
Cons: Velocity has never hit the reported 98 MPH that he threw in high school at the professional level. Has struggled to get batters out in the minors.
Things have been pretty difficult for Lyon Richardson since the Reds took him in the second round of the 2018 draft. He was an athletic, two-way player committed to the University of Florida when the Reds paid over slot value to get him. Mainly known as an outfielder, he was relatively new to pitching when he was drafted and his upper-90’s fastball really impressed scouts. Unfortunately that raw talent hasn’t translated at the professional level.
Richardson has a career 4.88 ERA in three minor league seasons since getting drafted back in 2018. There were some signs of improvement last season, but he still struggled mightily with his command, walking 4.50 batters per 9 innings in 2021. He did improve his strikeout totals, fanning nearly 11 batters per 9 last season, so the stuff is there when he’s on. Hopefully another full season on the mound will help things start to materialize for Richardson in 2022.
Which prospect deserves the #12 spot in the 2022 Community Prospect Rankings?
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