Perhaps it’s that Major League Baseball is still in a lockout and shooting itself in the foot daily, but there’s something about this year’s Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings that’s brought out a little bit extra joy for me. Of course, the fact that the system is pretty loaded certainly helps - we didn’t even include Jose Barrero as a prospect despite other outlets opting to keep him a part of the farm - and it’s still loaded with talent.
Ariel Almonte is fueling that fire though, too. He can absolutely smoke the ball, and my same old head that fawned over the idea that Christian Yelich would eventually develop into a world-beating lefty has begun to see that in Almonte with every swing of his I watch. (They don’t put many of his bad swings on video on the internet, of course, but I’m just going to ignore that for the time being and go back to projecting world dominance for the lad.)
Anyway, Almonte made this year’s CPR in spot #19, which I’m sure he’ll leave behind as he rockets upwards next year and beyond. On to the voting for spot #20!
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.
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).
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.
Malvin Valdez - OF (18 years old)
2021 at a glance: .218/.363/.347 in 212 PA in the Dominican Summer League; 25 SB
Pros: Prototypical power/speed combo who projects as a potential middle-of-the-order bat and CF; 17.0% walk rate in DSL play
Cons: 34.4% K-rate in DSL play, pitch recognition must improve
This CPR update led off with comparing Ariel Almonte to Christian Yelich, with Almonte having signed during the international window in 2021 for some $1.85 million. Enter Malvin Valdez, who signed for $1.9 million in that same window, and let’s go ahead and compare him to...Mike Cameron.
Power and speed for days with the ability to cover CF? Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of upside teams look for all over the planet, and in Valdez, the Reds hope they’ve found that rare combo in a player - one who can expertly cover one of the most difficult defensive positions and be perhaps the biggest bat in the lineup, too.
There’s obviously a long, long way to go with Valdez, of course, and he struggled more in the DoSL than did Almonte just last year. With these kinds of tools, though, we’ll be plenty patient, and hope that as his pitch recognition improves, a lot of the swings and misses we saw from him during his first pro PA in 2021 turn into barreled rockets down the line.
Which Cincinnati Reds prospect is deserving of the #20 spot in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings?
This poll is closed