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2024 Community Prospect Rankings: #1 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system

Vote for which future Red deserves the top spot!

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Aaron Doster/Getty Images

The snow has begun to fall, the New Year’s bells have been rung, and it’s high time we began to rank some prospects around these parts. It is, after all, an annual tradition around here.

It has been quite the year for the Cincinnati Reds farm, with the graduation off last year’s list of seemingly half the active roster projected to lead the team forward at the big league level in 2024. On top of that, we spent the entire offseason anxiously waiting to see if Nick Krall would deal from the still-considerable depth on the farm to acquire some of that sweet, sweet starting pitching we all crave, though he eventually pivoted to the free agent market to achieve that quest.

The result? A farm system that’s going to feature a completely overhauled Top 10 (and Top 25) compared to last year, albeit one that’s still considered among the absolute best in the game by those who consider such things. Now, it’s up to you to vote for which players fill out those lists, and we’ll begin with the absolute top spot today.

Who, to you, is the top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system right now?

Noelvi Marte, SS/3B - 22 years old

2023 at a glance: .316/.366/.456 with 3 HR in 123 PA with the Cincinnati Reds; .279/.358/.454 with 11 HR in 399 PA split between the Louisville Bats (AAA International League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (AA Southern League)

Pros: Broad-shouldered, muscular build with still-emerging power; great athlete; potential middle of the order bat with good lateral mobility, solid arm; high contact, relatively low K%

Cons: Already growing out of the shortstop position, glove still a work in progress

I do not think ‘the plan’ was ever for Marte to make his big league debut in 2023. The Reds had a stack of prospects ahead of him ready to assume infield roles, enough so that Spencer Steer - a rookie infielder himself - got pushed to the outfield. Injuries wrecked Matt McLain, Joey Votto, Jonathan India, and Jake Fraley, however, and the Reds quickly turned to their best bat still in the minors, and Marte stepped right in and delivered.

Where Marte fits in on the 2024 Reds when everyone is healthy remains to be seen. His small-sample performance suggests he may well deserve to be the 3B from day one, but his age and rushed 2023 mean he may be the one who gets tabbed for ‘more seasoning at AAA’ given the rest of the roster crunch. One thing is for sure, though - even if he gets squeezed out on day one, his high-contact approach and gap power is ready for big league action, and he’ll be forcing his way back into the big leagues immediately. And if the power continues to develop, well, this might be the single biggest bat the Reds have in their lineup going forward.

Rhett Lowder, RHP - 21 years old

2023 at a glance: 15-0, 1.87 ERA, 143/24 K/BB in 120.1 IP for Wake Forest University; drafted 7th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2023 MLB Draft

Pros: Owns all corners of the strike zone; fastball that runs up to 97 mph and perhaps the best changeup in the 2023 draft class; developing slider

Cons: His polish means a lack of real upside projection (i.e. ‘he is what he is at this point’)

Lowder is not the kind of pitcher who can touch 97 mph with his fastball right now as he adds weight, fills out, and works toward throwing it 102 mph in a couple of years. That’s not a bad thing, though!

What he is is a right-handed starting pitcher who has mastered his craft with the offerings he has, offerings that look plenty good enough to get Major League hitters out right this minute. The former Wake Forest star and back to back ACC Pitcher of the Year has elite command and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to throw three plus pitches from a very repeatable arm-slot that keeps hitters completely guessing at all times.

He did not pitch as a professional after being drafted last year, though he was added to the Dayton Dragons development list in August. My best guess is that he’ll begin there to start in 2023, with a move to Chattanooga in short order should he continue to show that his floor is already much higher than the competition at the High-A level.

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.

Poll

Who is the #1 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Rhett Lowder
    (126 votes)
  • 2%
    Edwin Arroyo
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Chase Petty
    (21 votes)
  • 71%
    Noelvi Marte
    (478 votes)
  • 1%
    Connor Phillips
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Cam Collier
    (10 votes)
664 votes total Vote Now