The photo above is not of Hector Rodriguez, the prospect within the Cincinnati Reds whom you just determined was #11 on this year’s CPR. That guy up there is Tyler Naquin, who was scooped up by the Reds prior to the 2021 season on a minor league deal, bonked 26 dingers for them across a season and a half, and was subsequently flipped to the New York Mets at the 2022 trade deadline.
In that trade, of course, was Rodriguez, who has done nothing but rocket up everybody’s list of the top prosepcts in the Reds system. He outslugged everyone during his stint in the Florida State League with Daytona last year at age 19, and while a knee injury ended his season prematurely, he picked right up where he left off in Dominican Winter League play, going so far as to earn the honor of Rookie of the Year down there.
He’s one to watch with quite the spotlight heading in to 2024. Thanks again, Mets!
On to the voting for spot #12 on this year’s list!
Ty Floyd, RHP - 22 years old
2023 at a glance: 4.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 120/37 K/BB in 91.0 IP for Louisiana State University; Drafted in the 1st round (38th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2023 MLB Draft
Pros: 95+ mph fastball from low release point whose ride allows him to flourish up in the zone (a la Tyler Mahle); excellent command of primary pitches
Cons: Low-use secondary offerings (slider, change) that still need a lot of work to avoid landing as a reliever
Floyd’s delivery and mastery of his go-to offering - a rising fastball from a low-ish arm angle that is deceptive as heck to hitters - means his upside is that of a big league reliever in very, very short order. If he can manage to improve his slider and change, though, he’s got the kind of control of the zone that could make him a very effective mid-rotation starter, too.
Said delivery elicits memories of both Tyler Mahle and Lucas Sims, in many ways, an almost abrupt, short-armed motion that creates deception to go along with mid-90’s gas. Said approach was incredibly effective during his time with LSU, including a spotlighted 17 K game against the University of Florida in the highest profile game in which Floyd has pitched thus far (the College World Series).
Rece Hinds, OF - 23 years old
2023 at a glance: .269/.330/.536 with 23 HR, 20 SB in 461 PA with the Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)
Pros: Immense power with max exit velocities; plus athlete with powerful arm that profiles as a RF prototype
Cons: Plenty of swing and miss to his game (32.8% K-rate in 2023); persistent injuries over the last few years, particularly to his legs
The Reds selected Hinds in the 2nd round of the 2019 MLB Draft and promptly served him up a large bonus to get him to forgo his commitment to LSU, a collegiate baseball powerhouse. That’s a pertinent point regarding Hinds, as he’s been on the radar of the best of the best baseball organizations for quite some time, his raw talent and legendary power having preceded him for years.
Due to injuries, position switches, the lost 2020 MiLB season due to the pandemic, and plying his trade at multiple levels during each of his first two years of time, it seems as if he’d struggled to get settled and perform to his reputation entering 2023. That seemingly diminished his star, as did a slow start to the year (just a .643 OPS through Chattanooga’s first 42 G). From June 1st through his final game of the season, however, he flipped a switch and absolutely blistered the baseball, swatting 18 homers, 3 triples, and 19 doubles over his final 69 G, a .993 OPS that featured an elevated walk-rate in that time, too.
If that’s at all the player he’s evolved into, the Reds have someone truly special on their hands, and perhaps it’s telling that they didn’t spend big on a right-handed power bat for the OF mix this winter, either. Hinds will be the big bat in the AAA Louisville order to begin the 2024 season, and if anyone at the big league level experiences a hiccup/injury to begin the year, he’ll be the one they turn to.
Lyon Richardson, RHP - 24 years old
2023 at a glance: 3.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 100/38 K/BB in 69.1 IP split between Daytona Tortugas (Class-A Florida State League), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League), and Louisville Bats (AAA International League); 16 ER allowed in 16.2 IP with the Cincinnati Reds
Pros: Fastball that reaches 98 mph mixed with hard slider and developing slow curve; elite swing and miss potential
Cons: Pitch counts and IP limits in 2023 as he returned from Tommy John surgery; shelled in initial cup of coffee at big league level
We’ve seemingly been writing about Richardson forever, the former 2nd round pick having long carried a reputation as a flamethrower who’ll eventually impact the Reds. Tommy John surgery shelved him for all of 2022 after he was roughed up in a 2021 season in which he experienced diminished velocity, and he fell down the top prospect lists as he became something of an afterthought.
He was back in 2023, however, and the stuff he made his name with was, too. He did not pitch deep into games while being held back in his first year back on the mound, but what he showed in short outings looked familiar - an electric fastball and swing and miss stuff that looks like a sure-fire big leaguer. That didn’t translate in his cup of coffee, though, but after a winter finally spent healthy (instead of rehabbing) the hope is that his stamina and endurance will return to match his stuff entering 2024. If so, he’ll firmly be in the mix for IP of some variety with Cincinnati, with the kind of stuff that could lead to some instant success for them.
Blake Dunn, OF - 25 years old
2023 at a glance: .312/.425/.522 with 23 HR, 54 SB in 559 PA split between the Dayton Dragons (High-A Midwest League) and the Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)
Pros: Plus speed that translates to both plus CF defense and baserunning; developing power; arm that touched 95 mph when a pitcher
Cons: Old for his levels in 2023, in part because he’s been banged up so much that he hadn’t had a chance to show off in a full season and advance earlier
Blake Dunn will turn 26 years old before the end of the 2024 season, and he’s still yet to make it to AAA. He came to the Reds as a 15th round pick who signed for basically the minimum amount he could at that point, what with his status as a college senior out of unheralded Western Michigan University not exactly a huge calling card (with apologies to alums Adam Rosales and Ball Four’s Jim Bouton).
Dunn logged a mere 31 PA in his first full season due to injury, and his second ‘full’ year in 2022 saw him post an excellent .435 OBP between Daytona and Dayton in just 141 PA before, again, injuries shut him down. When he finally stayed healthy enough to log serious PA in 2023, though, he hit the absolute snot out of the ball at both levels where he donned a uniform, pairing that elite zone management with plus pop, top-tier baserunning, and the kind of CF defense that might just carry him to the big leagues even if his bat, for whatever reason, falls off a cliff.
The knocks are easy: he’s old for his level and there simply has to be a reason why everyone else always overlooked him. Unless, of course, they aren’t so easy, and he’s a diamond in the rough who would have always shown out like he did in 2023 if he’d just managed to stay a little bit healthier. If it’s the latter, well, his right-handed bat might well force its way into the Cincinnati lineup at some point in 2024 as a player who bucked the odds and figured out how to make it as a pro just a little bit later than everyone else.
Sammy Stafura, SS - 19 years old
2023 at a glance: .071/.212/.191 with 1 HR, 0 SB in 53 PA with the Arizona Complex League (ACL) Reds; drafted in the 2nd round out of Panas HS (NY) in the 2023 MLB Draft
Pros: We don’t know!
Cons: We don’t know!
Both Devin Mesoraco and Austin Hendrick fall into a similar category as Stafura in that all three were drafted out of northern high schools with high draft picks. The wild card there, of course, is that the seasons are usually plagued by cold, dank weather, and it’s really hard to show out in those conditions - especially when the quality of competition up there isn’t as hyper-aggressive as it is in more temperate climates.
Contrary to the pros and cons listed above, we do know that Stafura is an excellent athlete with developing power, and a hit tool that looks like it should let him smack doubles all over the outfield. His defense is such that he’s projected to stick at SS, too, something that tends to keep guys with more question marks elsewhere higher on these kinds of list. What we also do know, however, is that his extremely small sample of pro ball last fall after being drafted was abysmal, and he’s got a lot to prove heading in to 2024.
For now, we’re trusting that the Reds know what they’ve got in Stafura, and hope that his upside track follows more of the Mesoraco path than that of Hendrick.
Who is the #12 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?
This poll is closed