Way back in 2006, Aaron Harang demonstrated just how much being 6’7” can help one keep opposing hitters off-keel when he led the National League with 216 strikeouts. That came with a fastball that barely averaged 90 mph, for the record, but when you land that close to home plate, any sort of stuff tends to play up.
Now imagine a guy standing 6’7” who can routinely pump fastballs up to 102 mph. That’s what the Cincinnati Reds have now in former Notre Dame closer Joe Boyle, the prospect you voted as #14 in the Reds system in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings.
No, he doesn’t always know where that heater is going to go. Yes, his opponents have been schooled to take pitches against him since, as stated a second ago, he doesn’t always know where it’s going to go. The strike zone command is an issue, but it’s been gradually getting better, and his heater/breaker combo remains one of the more devastating combos in all of minor league baseball.
Boyle needs refining, but guess what? That’s exactly what minor league baseball is for! If the Reds can harness his stuff just a little bit more, the sky’s the limit.
On to the voting for prospect #15!
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.
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.
Rece Hinds, OF - 22 years old
2022 at a glance: .233/.304/.428 with 12 HR, 15 SB in 322 PA split between Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League
Pros: Power. Power. The kind of power that needed to be said twice and emboldened. His exit velocities are some of the best in all of baseball at any level. He’s also got plenty of arm to profile as a pretty prototypical RF.
Cons: An alarming amount of swing and miss, as he struck out at a 38.8% clip during the 2022 season. Perhaps I should have emboldened that, too.
Hinds, the 2nd round pick of the Reds from back in 2019, is the kind of slugger you can simply marvel at in the right circumstances. Batting practice, for instance, or when you see a highlight video - he owns the kinds of ‘peaks’ in his game that would stand out among any crowd of players, big leaguers included.
It’s that upside and promise that has him continually ranked among the best prospects in the system despite his flaws, as he has the kind of talents no coach can teach. It’ll come down to whether or not those flaws can be coached out of his game, however, and making enough contact will be first among those. As things stand right now, he chases far too many pitches, and working that out of his game without completely overhauling his approach at the expense of his power will be the task at hand for the coaches with AA Chattanooga to begin 2023.
Rece just turned 22 in September, so there’s still ample time for him to figure it out. If he does, I fear for 3Bs across the league when he starts turning on inside pitches and launching them at 120 mph.
Lyon Richardson, RHP - 23 years old
2022 at a glance: Richardson missed all of the 2022 regular season while recovering from Tommy John surgery
Pros: A fastball that reaches the upper 90s with a slider/curve/change secondary mix
Cons: Has he ever really been healthy as a pro?
Here’s a way I made myself feel old: despite it seeming like I’ve written about Lyon Richardson forever, he was born in January of 2000. He’s still barely 23 years old.
The former 2nd round pick has thrown a grand total of 76 IP since the end of the 2019 season, however, with Covid first shutting things down for him before a 2021 season with decreased velocity eventually revealed the need for Tommy John surgery. That knifing left him on the sidelines for all of 2022, though as Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs noted, Richardson returned for instructional league play at the end of 2022 with velocity that was better than it’s ever been before.
Richardson checked in 21st on last year’s list, doing so before the influx of lots of other talented arms, but if he’s a) truly back and b) perhaps better than ever, that’s a large amount of arm talent in a guy on whom the Reds have been very, very high for quite some time. Ranking him here is by no means because of what he’s done on the diamond of late, but on what the renewed, healthy version of him might well begin to do when pitchers and catchers report in just a couple of weeks.
Who is the #15 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed
Jay Allen II