As I do research for my own dynasty baseball teams and absorb media in general, I feel like there is a team out there whose farm system is greatly underrated. That team is the Cincinnati Reds. In this article we are going to do just that, a spotlight on the 2022 Dynasty Baseball Cincinnati Reds Prospects.
This is a Minor League system in which I feel people are collectively sleeping on. You have Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo leading the way at the top of the system as two exciting pitching prospects. Then there are fun, recently drafted college bats like Matt McLain and Jose Torres.
Jonathan India and Jose Barrero are two recent examples. India began to fall off of Top 100 Lists, and then went on to win Rookie of the Year. Barrero's stock started to dip, and then he lit it up at AAA, and made the Futures Game.
In this article, I will be spotlighting three Reds prospects who I am quite high on.
2022 Dynasty Baseball Cincinnati Reds Prospects Spotlight
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Elly De La Cruz, SS, Cincinnati Reds
If you follow me on Twitter, and/or listen to my podcast (shameless plug), you likely know how much I love Elly De La Cruz. He is the most exciting prospect I have ever seen in person, in my over a decade of watching Minor League Baseball live. That is a bold claim, but it is true, and bear with me.
Anecdotally, I was at a Daytona Tortugas game in 2021 and immediately took note regarding how tall their shortstop was. That shortstop was six-foot-five Elly De La Cruz, and I would soon become much more familiar with him.
In that game, he hit a ball into shallow left field, and used his 70-grade speed to leg it into a double. This would have been a single for most players, but, man, De La Cruz has wheels. Later on, I saw him play again, and he was magnificent. He laced a single that had an exit velocity of 108.6 MPH. That is insane for a 19-year-old.
Then he showed off the wheels again as he stole second base. Oh yeah, he is also a switch-hitter.
Defensively, De La Cruz is one of the most athletic shortstops I have seen. Once again, anecdotally, he made five plays at shortstop that game that caught my attention. One of which would have been all over SportsCenter if the game was televised, as De La Cruz used his 6'5" height to leap in the air, somehow field the high-bouncing ground ball, and throw the runner out.
Statistically, De La Cruz is also super intriguing. He legitimately has a chance to be a five-tool player. 70-grade speed plus 80-grade raw power will always be appealing.
In 2021, in 265 PA across two levels, De La Cruz hit eight home runs and stole ten bases. The data regarding his splits is mostly inconclusive, due to playing rookie ball and simply not having many PA vs LHP, so that will be something to monitor in 2022.
The major knock on De La Cruz could be his swing and miss tendencies, as he posted a 4.8 BB% and 31.0% in Low-A. However, I am convinced there is too much upside here to pass up on. He posted ridiculously high max EVs as a teenager, and I think he can fix the swing-and-miss as he develops.
If he continues to breakout, he can legitimately be a perennial All-Star. He also draws comps to Pittsburgh's Oneil Cruz, which checks out, as they both have similar builds and similar tools.
Personally, I would rank De La Cruz within the Top 50 of a Top 100 Prospect ranking, and I think he will be Top 25, if not higher, this time next year. Put some respect on his name, and try to acquire in all your dynasty leagues.
Jay Allen, OF, Cincinnati Reds
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 12, 2021
We move on to a player who had one of the most exciting pro debuts from the 2021 Draft Class, and that is Jay Allen. The 6'3" outfielder was chosen in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft, 30th overall. Fun, random fact: Allen was born just 11 days after Elly De La Cruz.
In a 75 PA sample size, the Reds really could not have asked for much more out of Allen. He posted a .328/.440/.557 slash line, with three home runs, 14 steals in 15 attempts, and a 159 wRC+. The most intriguing part though, even more so than the eye-popping slash line, would be Allen's plate discipline. He posted a 10.7 BB% and 16.0 K%.
Allen is a player I anticipate to be all over in my First-Year Player Drafts next month. I think he has the tools to be an impact player, and could absolutely breakout in 2022. I already have him ranked as a Top 75 prospect in baseball.
Allan Cerda, OF, Cincinnati Reds
What does this swing, a 43º launch angle, 17 MPH winds, and a 92.7 MPH exit velocity get you?
— Justin Rocke (@JustinRocke) May 5, 2021
We finish off with a prospect who seems to be criminally underrated, and that is Allan Cerda. He is similar to Jay Allen in some regards, as they are both 6'3" outfielders with tantalizing power-speed upside.
In 2018 and 2019, Cerda posted well above-average numbers in rookie ball. In 2018, in the DSL, he had a .272/.402/.439 slashline with a 145 wRC+. He then debuted stateside, and kept up the good work in Greeneville, as he had a .220/.360/.470 slashline with a 127 wRC+. In the 2019 offseason, there were some people calling Cerda a sleeper, but overall, most people did not take note of his success.
In 2021, he just kept hitting. That season he had 276 PA with Daytona in the Low-A Southeast League. Cerda hit 14 home runs, with a slashline of .242/.362/.542, and a 136 wRC+.
I also need to mention the fact that he put up a 57.9 FB% while with Daytona. Those are incredibly fun numbers, especially considering how the Low-A SE League is known for being a pitcher-friendly league that suppresses power hitters.
He then earned a promotion to High-A Dayton to finish out the season and did not miss a beat. In an 87 plate appearance sample size, he posted an eerily similar slashline, with an identical 136 wRC+. He also kept his FB% above 50%.
Most intriguing to me, was the fact that his walk rate remained the same after his promotion (11.2% to 11.5%), while his strikeout rate dramatically declined (30.8% to 23.0%).
If Cerda's plate discipline improvements are somewhat real, he may very well be an everyday Major Leaguer in the future. His 60-grade power is legit, and his athleticism is top-notch. While his speed has not shown up much yet in his stolen base totals, he has shown it off in the outfield as he makes athletic catches look routine. Cerda is a player I am buying-low everywhere this off-season, and then will sit back and enjoy his 2022 season. I think he is already a back-end Top 100 prospect, and will be ranked even higher this time next year.
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