The 2022 Community Prospect Rankings are in the books and a slew of Cincinnati Reds minor leaguers have descended upon Goodyear, Arizona to ready themselves for their attempt at baseball this year. Yesterday, Grimey laid out in viewable form just how much turnover and evolution the CPR undertook from this time in 2021 to this time this year, a list that goes to show just how much a system can overhaul itself in one year’s time.
Or, just how much our eyes can be opened to new and different players in one year’s time, at least. I’m sure the fact that there was no 2020 minor league season impacted our preferences and aversions last year, and that paired with the impressive graduations of a handful of the top prospects in the system led to a 2022 CPR wholly different than its predecessor.
I should add here that our ranking system is far from flawless. It’s tough to come up with a system for open voting in multiple rounds without inevitably omitting some candidates altogether that some of you prospect wonks are higher on than others. Our technology is not exactly designed the best for that, and we get it. Pair that with an international signing period that started after we began the rankings, and there are undoubtedly good prospects in the Cincinnati system who did not land in these rankings this time around who are very well positioned to be there this time next year.
Here are a few of those, and why!
Jackson Miller - C (20 years old)
The 2nd round pick of the Reds during the 2020 MLB Draft turned pro instead of attending Wake Forest University, and the thought at the time was that he was an advanced lefty-swinging bat with great contact skills and gap power whose bat would play at any level he reached. Pair that with soft hands and quality defensive skills behind the plate, and the Reds had themselves quite the good developmental catching prospect.
He logged just 7 PA with the Arizona League Reds in 2021, however. It’s been noted in some places that he was dealing with an oblique injury, though Keith Law relayed in his evaluation of the Reds minor league system last week that Miller’s actually dealing with ulcerative colitis, something concerning on an entirely different level. Fact is either way that we barely saw any of Miller last year, and that paired with a mostly lost 2020 season (for different obvious reasons) means he’s got some...catching up to do to get back in this CPR mix.
Alejo Lopez - IF (25 years old)
Lopez, who’ll turn 26 this May, hit his way to the big leagues during the 2021 season, his high-contact ability leading to a .320/.401/.447 average in 409 PA split between AA Chattanooga and AAA Louisville. A switch-hitter, he logged time at 2B, 3B, SS, CF, and LF defensively at his various stops last year, all while walking more than he struck out.
That’s a lot of positives, undoubtedly, even if his limited cup of coffee with the Reds wasn’t nearly as impressive. He is what he is, which is a guy who is nearly impossible to strike out who can poke the ball into the outfield in a number of different ways, even if it almost never leaves the park in this, the age of balls being asked to leave the park as often as possible.
Generously listed at 5’10”, he’s a known quantity at this point, one who has a chance to make the Reds bench to begin this year. That probably puts him out of the running to make next year’s list, but if he manages to make the big league roster and sticks this year, he probably should’ve made our Top 25 in the first place.
Ricardo Cabrera - SS (17 years old)
Signed smack dab in the middle of the 2022 CPR was Cabrera, a potential five-tool shortstop who MLB.com had ranked as the #3 overall international prospect in this, a pretty damn impressive class of international prospects. His arm looks the part to keep him at short long-term, while it’s his right-handed bat that currently looks like the best tool in his belt.
There is obviously a boatload of variability here since we’ve seen so little of him to date, but there are also the requisite expectations with him given how much competition there was for his signature.
Jared Solomon - RHP (24 years old)
We had Solomon listed as a voting option for almost half of the posts for the 2022 CPR, though admittedly there’s been so little of him to watch with the lost pandemic season and year on the shelf post Tommy John that I can see why he’s hard to rank anywhere at this point and time.
Still, he’s a high-spin guy who keeps the ball in the ballpark, and it was enough for the Reds to add him to their 40-man roster a year ago despite his injury. That, of course, means he’s not going to be in camp in Goodyear until the lockout ends, yet another window where we’ll have to wait to see him. If he’s healthy when finally allowed to play again this year, though, I’ve still got high expectations for him.
Mark Kolozsvary - C (26 years old)
Teammates with Jonathan India at the University of Florida, Kolozsvary landed with the Reds as a 7th round pick back in 2017. After pummeling the ball with Billings in the defunct Pioneer League, he struggled with the bat at both Dayton and Daytona despite still being categorized as a plus catcher behind the plate.
2020 went poof for him, like all other minor leaguers, and when he returned to play in 2021 the bat came with him - for a time. A .780 OPS with AA Chattanooga led to him being selected to play for Team USA in Olympic qualifiers, a venue where he also knocked the cover off the ball. That didn’t translate so much when he returned to AAA Louisville, however, but his defensive ability paired with the Tucker Barnhart-sized hole in the Reds catching at the highest level could earn him his big league call early in 2022.