Despite playing in a pitcher’s park in Daytona, Allan Cerda has shown that he can really mash the ball, putting up 14 dingers in his time with the Tortugas. An infielder joins the ballot today.
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.
Ivan Johnson - SS/2B (23 years old)
2021 at a glance: .264/.367/.451 with 10 HR and 19 2B in 330 PA split between Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Central League).
Pros: Decent hit tool from both sides of the plate and has some raw power. Defense plays well at both shortstop and second base.
Cons: Strikeout rate of 28% in Daytona and 34% in Dayton after showing a strong ability to make contact in Greeneville.
Ivan Johnson is a 23 year-old switch-hitting infielder who the Reds drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft out of Chipola Junior College. After a solid season in 2019, he had to play in the instructional league during the canceled 2020 season. While he showed some upside at the plate with his power and ability to draw a walk, he also struck out a ton. He struck out 100 times in 330 PA (30.3%), up from a K% of 22% in 2019.
Johnson definitely has some upside at the plate, as well. He showed off some decent power numbers, mashing 10 dingers and hitting 19 doubles in those 330 PA. He hits slightly better from the left side, hitting .274/.362/.471 from the left side while hitting .230/.382/.377 from the right side. Interestingly, he put up a BB% of 18.4% from the right side against a 10.8% BB% from the left. He’s an average defender with an arm that can play at both positions, but his range is a little questionable so he may end up at second base in the long term.
Which Cincinnati Reds prospect deserves the #14 spot in the 2022 Community Prospect Rankings?
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