In a very close race, shortstop Jose Torres won the weekend voting for spot #15 in this year’s Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings. There were certainly other qualified candidates, of course, but it’s hard to deny that what Torres put together during calendar year 2021 wasn’t deserving.
His play with NC State landed him as a 3rd round draft pick, and all he did once entering the professional ranks was show that his bat just might play much, much better than most scouts thought.
On to the voting for spot #16!
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.
TJ Friedl - OF (26 years old)
2021 at a glance: .264/.357/.422 with 12 HR and 15 2B in 448 PA with Louisville Bats (AAA-East), .290/.361/.419 in 36 PA with Reds in MLB debut
Pros: Speed and defense, with just enough arm to make it a pretty feasible CF combination; high contact, ability to take walks
Cons: Lack of hard contact and lots of soft contact
It’s a bit difficult for my old eyes to process that it’s been almost six years since Friedl’s unique journey to the Cincinnati Reds. Despite playing for Team USA and having grades as high as a potential 2nd round pick by some scouts, Friedl’s draft eligibility somehow got overlooked by most all teams in baseball, rendering him undrafted out of the University of Nevada in 2016. When teams across MLB had their eureka moment that he was signable, though, most had already used up their draft bonus pools on their actual draftees, and the Reds - who had nearly a quarter of a million bucks still to allocate - landed Friedl with the best offer.
Since then, Friedl’s performed just fine, though he’s pretty much progressed in a linear fashion - meaning, he had the look of a potentially fine 4th OF slash platoon bat, one who could run the bases well for someone else and make some good plays on defense in the outfield, and that’s still pretty much where he is. He’s not yet faltered from that path, nor has he busted out and left it behind, but it was good enough to get him to the bigs last fall and to have him very much in the mix for an Opening Day roster spot as just that, too. Known quantities have plenty of value, y’know.
Which Cincinnati Reds prospect deserves the #16 spot in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings?
This poll is closed