Lyon Richardson has thrown a grand total of 76.0 IP as a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization since the end of the 2019 season. I don’t need to tell you how long that span is, nor do I need to tell you how little work that is, either.
That he allowed 43 ER in those 76.0 IP - good for a 5.09 ERA - is certainly not why he’s included here on the 2023 Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings. He’s here because the hope is that the Tommy John surgery that shut him down for all of 2022 has helped him get past the frustrating drop in velocity during his 2021 season and return to the flamethrower he was when the Reds made him a 2nd round pick back in 2018.
The talent has always been there despite the downtick in velocity. If it’s truly back the way it was in intstructional league work this past fall, well, there’s a real chance we get to finally see him at his best again in this, his age-23 season. The Reds appear to be trusting in that, too, as they’ve kept him on the 40-man roster through his rehab, and we’ll get the opportunity to see if their faith is rewarded in just a few weeks when he reports to camp in Goodyear.
That’s prospect #19 this year. On to the voting for #20!
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 with 12 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.
Austin Hendrick, OF - 22 years old
2022 at a glance: .217/.306/.433 with 21 HR, 16 SB in 109 PA split between Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League)
Pros: Big-time power from the left side, above-average throwing arm paired with athleticism that makes him a prototype RF
Cons: He strikes out enough to make you forget Adam Dunn ever did
There I go again, making the Adam Dunn comps. Hendrick is not 6’6” nor was he ever a QB for the Texas Longhorns, and after a rough couple of years after being drafted 12th overall, there’s not a scenario out there where he wouldn’t take Dunn’s 462 big-league homer career.
At the plate, though, there are ample similarities, though Hendrick’s making them at A-ball where Dunn made them at the game’s highest level. Immense power, when the bat connects with the ball, and more swing and miss than anyone out there would ever care for. Hendrick was also 19 upon being drafted out of high school, too, so he’s already ‘old’ for his development, and at age-21 was right on league-average in Dayton last year.
With those worries clearly stated, let’s at least state some reasons to even include him here. For one, he played high school ball in cold weather in PA, and that paired with the pandemic means he missed a ton of live action. On top of that, he hit .255/.377/.543 with 7 HR, 17 BB, and 30 K over his final 27 games of the 2022 season with Dayton, and the hope is that a corner was turned there that we’ll continue to see from him in Chattanooga to start 2023. Maybe, just maybe, that puts him on the slow, steady projection pace of a certain other former Reds 1st round pick out of a PA high school...
Christian Roa, RHP - 24 years old
2022 at a glance: 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 in 91.0 IP split between Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)
Pros: Four-pitch arsenal featuring fastball that can hit 96 mph
Cons: Lit up in Arizona Fall League play (17 ER in 8.0 IP); has dealt with arm injuries
That very, very small AFL sample listed right above this is the most recent work we’ve seen from Roa, and it featured several stumbly appearances with poor control sandwiched around a scoreless, 3.0 IP outing. All of this came roughly a month after he was promoted to AA Chattanooga for the first time, a promotion that earned him the Southern League pitcher of the week award on September 12th.
The up and down nature of his season is somewhat indicative of the run he’s been on for a while now, his form peaking during his final season at Texas A&M enough for him to warrant a 2nd round selection being used on him in 2020. He’s dealt with injuries and the pandemic, as have many, and the end result is that we’ve seen just 149.2 IP within the Reds system since being drafted, but his 3.55 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in that time has been plenty respectible. It’ll be the walks that he’ll need to work on - career 4.9 BB/9, 5.4 last season - if he’s going to truly take the next step, but his varied offerings at least will give him that chance.
Who is the #20 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed