I almost was dumb enough to caption the above photo ‘he’s older than that now,’ only to realize that we all are. We all most certainly are.
That’s a photo from back in 2018 of Connor Phillips, former Comp Round B selection of the Seattle Mariners and PTBNL from the deal that sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker west from the Cincinnati Reds. After his work with both High-A Dayton and AA Chattanooga last summer, that’s a photo of the guy who y’all ranked 11th in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings, too.
Phillips can hurl some serious gas and has the kind of pitch-mix that elicits a ton of Ks, but it’s his career 5.4 BB/9 as a professional that’s the only thing keeping him from rocketing up these rankings. Hopefully, he can begin to get a tad more strike zone precision beginning this spring, in which case he’ll be on the Reds big league radar in short order.
On to the voting for spot #12!
Sal Stewart, 3B - 19 years old
2022 at a glance: .292/.393/.458 in 28 PA with the Reds Arizona Complex League (ACL); drafted 32nd overall by the Reds in the 2022 MLB Draft
Pros: Advanced RH bat with plenty of power projected; good arm at 3B
Cons: Might end up a bit too big and lumbering to stick at 3B
Cincinnati Reds pitching guru Derek Johnson spent a ton of time working as the pitching coach for Vanderbilt under head coach Tim Corbin, who’s still running the show there today. The work there by the two turned the program into a perennial national title contender and formed bonds between Johnson and many of his players - many of whom have swung through Cincinnati since Johnson joined the Reds with success in varying roles. Sonny Gray has pitched at an All Star level, Curt Casali has been here for two stints now, and Caleb Cotham rose through the coaching ranks to land the Phillies pitching coach job, for instance.
So, when the Reds drafted Sal Stewart 32nd overall last summer and gave him enough money to forgo his commitment to play at Vandy, I’m guessing there was a good bit of information exchanged on the kid. That his reputation as perhaps the best HS bat out there preceded him was obvious; I’m simply hypothesizing that the Reds leveraged that kind of relationship to know as much as they could about Stewart, and that all they heard was positive, positive, positive.
That makes his skillset of being big with both plus pop and contact ability incredibly intriguing, even if defense isn’t his calling card. The bat, folks, will make him move through the ranks incredibly fast, beginning in Daytona this spring.
Carlos Jorge, 2B/SS - 19 years old
2022 at a glance: .261/.405/.529 in 154 PA with the Reds Arizona Complex League (ACL)
Pros: “bodybuilder’s physique,’ per FanGraphs; power driven by athleticism despite short build; good walk rate
Cons: Some swing and miss issues; lack of true defensive position at this point
After ripping his way through the Dominican Summer League in 2021, Jorge kept right on mashing in Goodyear in 2022, too. He has coaxed 49 walks through his first 342 PA as a pro in the Reds system, though his K-rate did spike to 26.6% there last season. If he can corral that, though, he’s got the kind of hit tool that could carry him to the bigs.
Of course, where he’ll play might be the issue. There are some worries that his lack of defensive prowess could see him moved to a corner outfield spot, and given his stature (listed at 5’9”, likely shorter than that) that draws into question whether he can pack enough pop to be an effective force there. For now, though, his power looks like it should hopefully continue to play, though he’ll face a stout test in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League for his next stop in Daytona.
Ricardo Cabrera, SS - 18 years old
2022 at a glance: .253/.363/.380 in 180 PA with the Dominican Summer League Reds
Pros: Chance to be a five-tool player, plus contact skills, emerging power, ability to stick at shortstop
Cons: He just turned 18 years old, and we’ve not seen him play in the states just yet
Signed for $2.7 million during last year’s international signing window, Cabrera was pretty universally considered to be one of the top players in his class. Owning the ability to use all fields with his bat and generate projectable pop already, his offense sure looked the part - and his .363 OBP in DSL play suggests he’s got a good eye at the plate, too.
Pair that with good movement on the infield, a plus glove, and a solid arm, and the Reds might have another young shortstop on their hands along with [/checks notes] the other 27 talented young shortstops on their hands.
Of course, we’re still a ways away from finding out just how projectable any of this is in the states, as he’s yet to even tackle Arizona Complex League play. There’s the chance he could skip that and head straight to Daytona in the Florida State League, of course, but I’d wager that’ll be more a late-2022 target than one to look for in April. Once he gets that platform to further show us how he stacks up against his peers, however, there are a good number of scouts to expect him to excel there quickly.
Michael Siani, CF - 23 years old
2022 at a glance: .252/.345/.405 with 14 HR, 52 SB in 569 PA split between Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League) and Louisville Bats (AAA International League); 4 for 24 with 7 K, CS in September call-up with Cincinnati Reds
Pros: Elite CF defense, plus-plus baserunning, solid eye at the plate, power that emerged more in 2022 than any other season
Cons: Career .248/.336/.364 hitter in 1713 PA across MiLB career to date
If you’re an optimist, you see that Siani was signed out of a cold-weather high school and has improved each and every year in a slow, gradual way. He brings several plus tools that give him a high floor - he’s an elite defender in CF and can swipe bags with the best of them - and his 2022 season in the upper minors showed more pop than ever before, maintained an impressive 12+% BB-rate, and saw his K-rate drop by over 8%.
He’s getting better, and is still just 23 years old!
The pessimists out there see what he already has shown in over 1700 PA in the minors - a guy who is good at several things but whose bat likely will never play at the big league level.
If the pessimists are correct, Siani still has the kinds of tools that will make him a fine 4th/5th OF for years. That’s a good thing! That’ll make him a fine living! If the optimists are correct, however, we’re may be talking Kevin Kiermaier upside and the CF of the Reds future for the next half-decade. That’s an awesome thing!
Where Siani fits into the Opening Day mix might well play out in spring training when we finally get to see just how surgically repaired Nick Senzel is in CF. Siani might just take the job and run with it there, otherwise he’ll likely begin back in AAA with the chance to show he’s made yet another leap over this off-season.
Jay Allen II, OF - 20 years old
2022 at a glance: .225/.347/.324 with 3 HR, 43 SB in 383 PA split between Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League)
Pros: 13.4% walk rate with Daytona; elite base-stealer (43 SB in just 91 total games); ability to play CF
Cons: Lack of pop
Allen hit the ground running in 2021 after being selected by the Reds with the 30th overall pick in that year’s draft, slugging .557 with a .440 OBP in a small-sample of work with the ACL Reds. While the walking ability stuck around in his first trip through full-season ball in 2022, however, the punch in his bat completely dried up.
Thing is, his power reportedly exists - it’s just that he had a difficult time putting that to work in-game during 2022. The hope is that since the bulk of his efforts last year came in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, we might get the chance to see it play a bit more as he advances. That’s the hope, at least.
Of course, it’s extremely worth noting that Allen was just 19 years old during his 2022 season, much, much younger than the averages in the leagues in which he plied his trade. There’s still a ton of time for him to figure out how to put his power into play in-game, even if it comes at a development rate that’s a bit less aggressive than the one the Reds put him on during last season. The tools there, after all, are aplenty.
Who is the #12 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed
Jay Allen II