With an overwhelming 60% of the votes in yesterday’s poll, Rhett Lowder was named the #2 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system in our 2024 Community Prospect Rankings, though ‘Rhett Lowder’s hair’ placed a respectable third in that particular round of voting.
The Wake Forest product owns a three-pitch mix that already looks like it’s ready to retire big league bats, with the lone remaining question with his development just how long the Reds choose to hold him down in the minors. Does that sound a bit hyperbolic while noting that he’s not yet thrown a minor league pitch since becoming a professional? Perhaps, but that’s also a testament to just how ready the most recent 1st round pick of the Reds is already in his development.
Congrats to Rhett, and on to the voting for the #3 prospect on the Cincinnati farm!
Edwin Arroyo, SS - 20 years old
2023 at a glance: .252/.324/.433 with 13 HR, 29 SB in 554 PA spent almost exclusively with Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League) with a 20 PA cameo with the Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)
Pros: Prototypical shortstop defense with good arm, range, and glovework; wiry athleticism; line-drive power with potential for more from the switch-hitter
Cons: Struggled at the start in 2023; still developing as a LHH while switch-hitting
If you waited until the end of May, 2023, to make every and all definitive decisions about the state of the Cincinnati Reds farm, you might have soured on Edwin Arroyo all the way through. He struggled mightily through his first 36 games of the season, posting a miserable .545 OPS in his first taste of Midwest League play. If you were patient, though, you saw the switch flip immediately from the electric shortstop.
From May 31st through the end of the season, Arroyo slashed .281/.360/.480, further establishing himself as the kind of potential five-tool prospect that had evaluators salivating while he rose through the Seattle system. He’s already well-lauded for his glovework at shortstop, and the switch-hitter continues to evolve into a quality contact, emerging-power bat who can swipe you 30 bags a season, too. That was good enough to see him reach AA Chattanooga at season’s end, and my best guess is that he’ll begin there in 2024 - at still just the ripe old age of 20.
Despite the glut of infielders the Reds have these days, it’s especially telling that they haven’t been moved to deal Arroyo, either. Methinks he’s just scratching the surface of what he can become.
Chase Petty, RHP - 21 years old
2023 at a glance: 1.72 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 66/15 K/BB in 68.0 IP split between Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)
Pros: Athletic build, fastball that can touch 100 mph; plus slider, developing changeup; allowed zero (0) home runs in 2023, just 7 overall in 171.1 IP as a professional
Cons: Lack of IP (due in part to an elbow injury that delayed the start of his 2023 season); never threw more than 4.0 IP in any start
I may have checked Petty’s BBRef page more than any other Reds prospect in 2023, though admittedly that was first due to how well Sonny Gray was pitching for the Minnesota Twins when the Reds really, really could have used him. Petty, to his credit, kept pitching well enough that eventually I was checking in to see if he ever gave up a homer.
(Spoiler alert: he never gave up a homer.)
Though his workload is still light and the sample-size still small, Petty is putting up the kind of numbers that don’t just match the talent you see in bullpen sessions, they exceed it. For a former 1st round pick and the guy who was the lone return for Gray, last season’s AL Cy Young Award runner-up, that’s quite the calling card, and frankly I’m wondering why he’s not rocketing up top prospect lists faster than he is. He was, after all, over 4 years younger than the average Southern League player when he debuted for Chattanooga last fall (where he allowed 2 ER, 5 H, BB, 5 K in 8.0 IP to finish the year).
Cam Collier, 3B - 19 years old
2023 at a glance: .246/.349/.356 with 6 HR, 5 SB in 461 PA for the Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League)
Pros: High contact left-handed bat with excellent strike zone command
Cons: Not the most athletic defender or base runner, who may have to move off 3B; power still developing
Let’s start with a Florida State League refresher course, shall we?
The notoriously pitcher-friendly league saw just 7 qualified hitters post a season-long OPS over .791, with nobody better than .883. And Cam Collier - at just 18 years old - hit 21 doubles, a mark that tied him for the 8th most in the league (with 28 being the most). His .349 OBP was 20th best in the league, and when considering the environment and his age, his 2023 season was a better overall performance than his league-suppressed numbers might indicate.
His bat is going to play, and play well once it gets to a more offensive environment. The only remaining question, though, is whether it will play well enough to compensate for his lack of plus defense or baserunning, something we’ll begin to discover in 2024 when he tackles the Midwest League in Dayton for the first time.
Connor Phillips, RHP - 23 years old
2023 at a glance: 6.97 ERA in 5 GS (20.2 IP), 26/13 K/BB for the Cincinnati Reds; 3.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 154/57 K/BB in 105.0 IP split between Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League) and Louisville Bats (AAA International League)
Pros: He will strike you out. He probably already has.
Cons: He will walk you. He probably already has.
Phillips boasts a fastball that flirts with 100 mph and a pair of breaking balls - one harder, one slower - that keep batters flummoxed. He owned the minor league strikeout lead across all levels for a time in 2023, and moved up to AAA after an absurd 15.4 K/9 in his time at AA Chattanooga. Injuries at the big league level eventually led the Reds to promote him for valuable IP down the stretch, and while Phillips continued to miss bats a-plenty, big league hitters and their refined approach forced him into pitching from behind in counts more often than not, and punished him for it.
That’s the rub with Phillips. Hitters know that if they swing at his offerings, they’re likely going to miss, but if they don’t, there’s a good chance those offerings miss the zone entirely, too. His walk rate (6.7 in AAA, 4.9 overall in the minors in 2023) is a problem, one he’ll have to clean up to be pitch-efficient enough to log the IP needed from a starting pitcher. If he can harness his stuff, though, it’s as electric as it comes, and he’ll surely be a factor in the Reds big league staff at some point in 2024.
Sal Stewart, 3B/2B - 20 years old
2023 at a glance: .275/.396/.416 with 12 HR, 15 SB in 518 PA split between the Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League)
Pros: More walks (84) than strikeouts (77) last year, advanced strike zone command; raw power
Cons: In-game power still developing; questions whether he’ll stick defensively at 3B
The Reds selected Sal Stewart out of high school in Florida with the 32nd overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, doing so despite knowing he was committed to baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt University. Perhaps they knew something, or had some inside info from former Vandy pithing coach Derek Johnson, since they managed to get Stewart signed for just the 40th highest bonus of the draft class despite that strong commitment.
Stewart has hit the ground running as a pro, flashing each of the impressive tools that made him so highly regarded as an amateur. He’s got elite command of the strike zone, and the power he flashes in batting practice (and dinger derbies) even began to show through in his time in Daytona, a league that’s notoriously pitcher-friendly. Frankly, if he hadn’t seen some of that power dip after his promotion to Dayton, he’d rank higher on my own personal list than I think he’ll land here. If that power shows up from day one in 2024, however, I think it’s pretty clear he’ll be on-track to be a quality, quality big league bat in short order.
The only real question with Sal, though, is where he’ll land defensively. Despite a strong arm (and enough speed to swipe 15 bags last year), his defense at 3B hasn’t exactly been lauded so far. If he can become even passable there, however...
Who is the #3 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed