After narrowly missing out on the #3 spot in this year’s Community Prospect Rankings, dynamic shortstop Edwin Arroyo has checked in at #4. The glovey switch-hitter has all the makings of an elite two-way shortstop, and we’ll get to see him tackle the AA level this year with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Congrats to Edwin, and on to the voting for spot #5!
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...
Carlos Jorge, 2B/CF - 20 years old
2023 at a glance: .282/.374/.464 with 12 HR, 32 SB in 450 PA split between the Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League)
Pros: Impressive 13.2% walk rate with Daytona; obliterated Florida State League pitching despite its proclivity for pitching-friendliness; four true tools and potential for plus power/speed
Cons: Moved off SS already, still searching for a defensive identity; struggled in initial 23 G for High-A Dayton after mid-season promotion (.674 OPS)
Listed at just 5’10” and 160 lbs, Jorge isn’t the kind of player who would wow you getting off the bus, but he possesses plus speed and a sweet, sweet left-handed swing that can spray liners all over the field. His power is progressing, and that paired with an elite eye at the plate led him to the single highest OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last year (min. 250 PA).
He was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a SS, but he’s already been moved to 2B primarily, though last season saw him begin to get clock in CF (due both to his talent and to a crowded infield mix his age that includes both Cam Collier and Sal Stewart also looking for their defensive roles). If he can stick at either of those spots - or hell, at both! - his offensive profile looks promising, with 15-20 homer upside and enough speed to swipe 30+ bags in the cards. If he has to move to 3B or a corner OF spot, however, that outlook becomes dimmer due to the offensive expectations of players in those spots.
This season will be a defining one for Jorge as he’ll begin back in Dayton with a chance to show that his early success in the lower minors can translate to better competition. The tools, though, are very much there.
Ricardo Cabrera, SS/3B - 19 years old
2023 at a glance: .346/.475/.531 with 5 HR, 24 SB in 202 PA split between the Arizona Complex League Reds and Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League)
Pros: High contact rate & plus hit tool; developing power while remaining selective at the plate; plus speed
Cons: Likely will need to move off SS for good
The Cincinnati Reds swung big to sign Cabrera for $2.7 million during the 2022 international signing period, and he’s begun to make them look wise in their decision already. He blistered ACL pitching at age 18 last season while adding 21 steals in just 39 games at that level, eventually joining the Daytona Tortugas for their final stretch run.
His bat is what defines him at this stage, with a swing that allows him to use all fields with relatively low swing and miss to it. Most every scouting report I’ve come across suggests he’s got power potential he’s yet to tap into, too, with room to grow as well.
It’s that growth that may ultimately lead him to 3B, as he’s got the arm for the position while his range and mechanics at SS aren’t exactly plus at this point despite his speed. Add in that the Reds have an abundance of SS-caliber prospects around his level (Leo Balcazar, Carlos Sanchez, and the recently drafted Sammy Stafura, among others), and we may well see him get even more run at 3B in 2024 than he got last year. Still, if the bat continues to develop as it has so far, where he lines up defensively won’t be at all what defines him.
Who is the #5 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed