Ivan Johnson put together an .817 OPS between Daytona and Dayton during the 2021 season, but it was his breakout performance in the Arizona Fall League that really opened some eyes. With a bat that plays and the ability to adequately defend all over the infield, his future is looking brighter by the minute within the Reds organization, and I’m willing to bet he’ll check in higher on this list this time next year because of it.
On to the voting for spot #19!
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.
Jared Solomon - SP (24 years old)
2021 at a glance: Same as his 2020 at a glance, which is to say...nothing. Solomon missed all of 2021 after a lack of a 2020 MiLB season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery
Pros: High-spin fastball that runs up to 99 mph, plus slider.
Cons: The injury, obviously, and that he’s not pitched in a game since 2019; questionable change-up puts his ability to stick as a starter in question, as does control.
Solomon yielded just 5 HR in over 115 IP during the 2019 season, the last season in which he posted any sort of stats for us to break down. It was a season that mixed in early struggles with command, some brilliance in the middle, and some shoulder issues he managed to pitch through while progressing from (then) Low-A Dayton to (then) High-A Daytona. On top of that, his ability to spin the ball was highlighted specifically during the early days of the Driveline revolution around Spincinnati, and it looked like he was precisely the kind of in-house prospect the new pitching gurus would perfectly mold.
The unfortunate followed, of course, and Tommy John surgery was then required, meaning we’ve not seen him since those 115.1 IP of 3.98 ERA, 8.7 K/9 ball. Still, there was enough that Solomon showed to prompt the Reds to add him to their 40-man roster last winter and keep him away from any would-be Rule 5 Draft selection, and it’s clear they think his upside is still pretty damn promising. Not bad for a former 11th round draftee out of Lackawanna College (PA).
Daniel Vellojin - C (21 years old)
2021 at a glance: .247/.401/.403 with 72 walks against 73 strikeouts and 29 extra-base hits in 362 plate appearances for the Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League).
Pros: Great approach at the plate, threw out 41% of opposing baserunners in 2021.
Cons: Has some work to do with the bat but shows some promise.
The Reds signed Daniel Vellojin back in January of 2018. He was assigned to the Domincan Summer League that summer and played two seasons there, where he performed well. After hitting .314/.444/.451 in 2019, he earned a call up to Daytona for the 2021 season. He was able to find his stride pretty will in Daytona, hitting .247/.401/.403 on the season. He has a solid approach at the plate, as he walked (72) nearly as many times as he struck out (73). He also can hit for a little power, mashing 21 doubles and 7 dingers.
Right now, his glove is what makes him intriguing as he has done well defensively since he has signed. He is a solid defender behind the plate and is even better with his arm. He threw out 41% of opposing baserunners in 2021. Hopefully he can continue showing those upsides in 2022.
Ariel Almonte - OF (18 years old)
2021 at a glance: .278/.398/.438 in 196 PA in the Dominican Summer League in first professional season (as a 17 year old); 15 SB, 13.3% walk rate
Pros: Power to all fields (38.7% opposite-field rate in 2021 nearly equaled his 39.6% pull-rate), plus arm, good speed
Cons: 26.5% K-rate, still a work in progress defensively
It’s tough enough to rank prospects in this list when there’s a mix of position players and pitchers. It’s even tougher when you begin to try placing players based on their production at just 17 years old in the lower-reaches of the team’s farm system.
Up against his peers, though, Ariel Almonte stood out in his work at age-17, and put together a short season worth of numbers that begin to reflect the amount of talent seen in him when he landed a $1.85 million bonus from the Cincinnati Reds in the international signing period mid-pandemic.
He’s got big, projectable power and all the makings of a prototypical RF, and that’s incredibly exciting. You wouldn’t have to do too much talking to convince me he should’ve made this list a lot earlier, in all honesty. Odds are he’ll get the chance to make an impact within the states during 2022, at which point we’ll have a lot more to go on, and I’m anticipating it being a whole lot of fun to break down.
Which Cincinnati Reds prospect deserves the #19 spot in the 2022 Community Prospect Rankings?
This poll is closed