The talent was on full display for Jay Allen II during his final season at John Carroll Catholic High School in 2021, and it propelled him to being the 30th player selected in the 2021 MLB Draft. He promptly backed that up by posting a .997 OPS in small-sample Arizona Complex League play, in which time he swiped 14 bags in 19 games.
That paired with plus CF defense pushed him all the way up to #6 in last year’s Community Prospect Rankings. Things didn’t go quite as well for him in 2022, of course, as the pitcher-friendly confines in the Florida State League conspired to sap some of his in-game power, and that’s likely why he slid to this point this year.
Still, there’s ample to like about Allen, who only turned 20 years old in November. He swiped 43 bags in just 91 games, the CF defense is still very much there, and while the power is still trying to show through, his plate discipline is borderline elite. Hopefully the move to High-A Dayton this year allows his swing to fully take off.
On to the voting for spot #18!
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.
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.
Victor Acosta, SS - 19 years old
2022 at a glance: .237/.348/.360 with 2 HR in 165 PA in Arizona Complex League (ACL) play split between the Cincinnati Reds organization and San Diego Padres organization
Pros: Solid walk rates, rangy infielder with plus run and plus glove ability, plus arm, developing switch-hitter
Cons: Production took a significant step back from his 2021 work in the Dominican Summer League
Victor Acosta went from being a prized signing of the Padres during the 2021 international signing period to the player sent to the Reds in exchange for Brandon Drury’s breakout last summer. It was something of a high price to pay for the Padres given Drury’s longer track record, but they were clearly in ‘win now’ mode last year and made the move.
For the Reds, it adds a piece that’s still very far off, but who has shown glimpses of being an infield stalwart for years to come. The glove is still very much ahead of the bat, but Acosta has shown acumen to suggest he’ll end up a switch-hitter with good plate recognition in due course. That he won’t turn 19 years old until this summer is both a good thing in terms of ignoring his current iffy stats and also in terms of setting your expectations for far, far down the road.
Plenty of tools possessed, plenty of patience needed.
Bryce Hubbart, LHP - 22 years old
2022 at a glance: 3 H, ER, 6 BB, 12 K in 7.1 IP split between Arizona Complex League (ACL) and Daytona Tortugas (Florida State League)
Pros: Whippy fastball that has touched 97 mph; four-pitch arsenal featuring potential 70 grade curveball; excellent results in Cape Cod League play in 2021 (against wood bat competition)
Cons: Still developing effective change-up; delivery described in ways varying from ‘funky’ to ‘wonky’
Hubbart, the Reds 3rd round pick out of Florida State University, truly burst onto the national scene with his Cape Cod League work during the summer of 2021 in which he earned All Star status. His velocity spiked into the upper 90s, his curveball kept wood-bat hitters completely off-piste, and he finished 31.1 IP with a minuscule 0.87 ERA and 0.71 WHIP - all while fanning 45 against just 8 walks. While he inevitably regressed a bit during his final season in Tallahassee, he pitched well enough there to show he’s clearly ready for next-level work.
Listed at just 6’1” and 181 lbs, he’s going to likely need to fill out a bit to withstand the rigors of starting pitching on a full pro-league slate, and do so without losing velocity or letting his delivery get in his way. We’ve not yet seen that from him - he hasn’t failed at it, he’s just not yet had the chance - but the hope is that his ability to get the most out of his offerings will outweigh his lack of a truly elite ceiling. If so, he could be the next in a solid line of lefties to emerge from the Reds system of late.
Daniel Vellojin, C - 23 years old
2022 at a glance: .199/.327/.358 with 10 HR in 271 PA split between Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League, Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League), and Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League); .292/.430/.597 2ith 123 HR in 193 PA in Dominican Winter League play
Pros: Elite chase rate, elite walk rate, projectable power in athletic swing
Cons: Raw defensively, struggles to make contact (particularly up in the zone)
What’s the old adage again? You rarely see catchers traded at the trade deadline because it takes them a lot of time to get used to running a whole new staff mid-year?
Put yourself in Daniel Vellojin’s shoes during the 2022 season then, if you will. Despite logging just 271 PA all year in full-season ball, he was bounced from Daytona to Dayton to Chattanooga in that time, all while trying to run pitching staffs. The end result - offensively, at least - was a sub-par year for a guy who’d crushed Dominican Summer League play to the tune of an .896 OPS in his previous pro season.
That Vellojin settled in and mashed for the Vaqueros de Monteria in DWL play this fall when given one team for an extended stint was much, much more encouraging, and the hope is that he’ll get settled in quickly in a similar fashion for a Reds affiliate in 2023. If so, his plus pull power and elite strike zone recognition might help his prospect stock take completely off, as he’s a talented, athletic player at an absolutely essential position. Given that there’s a bit of a hole behind Tyler Stephenson in the catching ranks in the system, it’s Vellojin that’s giving me the vibes as the next backstop to emerge for the Reds at the big league level...if things go well this season.
Who is the #18 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed