August 15, 2022

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Hendrick has first career multihomer game

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Welcome to the Reds prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.

Hendrick has first career multihomer game (April 17)
Austin Hendrick‘s power potential was a main reason the Reds selected him with the No. 12 pick in the 2020 Draft.

The No. 11 Reds prospect showed off that power with his first career multihomer game, blasting a pair of solo shots in a three-hit game for Single-A Daytona in its 4-3 win. Hendrick boosted his OPS to 1.118 with nine total bases. All three of his home runs this season have been solo jacks.

Hendrick flashed his power tool in his debut season last year with seven homers and 16 doubles. He also showed a penchant for getting on base, with 51 walks and a .380 OBP. The 20-year-old seems to have ironed out issues with his approach after batting .211 last season and if he continues to rake, Hendrick could be a quick riser through the Reds system. — Nick Trujillo

McLain hits for first career cycle (April 17)
Hitting for the cycle is an accomplishment for any hitter, but doing it in as few pitches as Matt McLain did it on Sunday adds to the impressiveness of the feat.

McLain, the No. 86 prospect in baseball, needed to see just seven pitches to hit for the first cycle of his career in Double-A Chattanooga’s 7-6 win over Birmingham. The 22-year-old was a perfect 4-for-4, driving in three runs and scoring three runs in his second career four-hit game.

“I was just trying to get my pitch in my spot and hit it hard and I got to do that a couple times today,” said McLain over the phone following the game. “It was just fun. Playing baseball is fun.” Full story »

Abbott sets career high, fans 10 (April 16)
Andrew Abbott, the Reds’ No. 13 prospect, was lights-out as he picked up his first win of the year for High-A Dayton. The 22-year-old, whom the Reds selected in the second round of last year’s Draft, threw 50 of his 77 pitches for strikes as he twirled five scoreless innings and racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts. Abbott walked two and surrendered just two hits while lowering his ERA to 1.00.

The lefty has made a pair of starts this season and given up just one run, while striking out 14, over nine innings. After being drafted out of the University of Virginia, Abbott appeared in six games last year and threw 13 innings in his brief professional debut. — William Boor

Greene dazzles in MLB debut (April 10)
ATLANTA — The way Hunter Greene was pitching for the Reds, it looked like he has been doing this for quite a while. But no, Sunday afternoon’s series finale vs. the defending World Series champion Braves was the top prospect‘s much-hyped, much-anticipated Major League debut.

Not appearing too dialed up for a moment he’s prepared for since he was a teenager, Greene, MLB Pipeline’s No. 22 prospect overall, was impressive during a 6-3 Cincinnati win before 38,233 fans at Truist Park. As he threw 92 pitches over five innings, the 22-year-old right-hander yielded three earned runs on four hits and two walks to go with seven strikeouts to earn his first victory.

“I felt great out there. I felt like I was at home,” Greene said. “A lot of people were like, ‘Don’t look up.’ But I looked up right when I got out there. I wanted to take it all in and enjoy it. I felt really comfortable out there. I’m really happy with today.” Full story »

Greene, Williamson shine in Cactus League finale (April 5)
The Reds utilized their final Cactus League game of the 2022 campaign to get a glimpse at two of their premier pitching prospects, both of whom are set to factor prominently into the team’s long-term rotation plans: Hunter Greene and Brandon Williamson.

Greene drew the start in Tuesday’s 12-9 win at Goodyear Ballpark and was tested against a Mariners lineup that will likely resemble the group they will send out for Opening Day. After yielding a pair of solo home runs in the second, the fireballing 22-year-old settled in and struck out four of the final six batters that he faced.

“I made some good adjustments going into that third inning,” Greene said. “I got instant feedback from the hitters. I’m really happy with how I was able to turn it around. That’s what it’s about: making those little adjustments and being able to just go out and compete.”

Ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 1 prospect, and No. 22 overall, per MLB Pipeline, Greene will make his big league debut Sunday against Atlanta. He comes with considerable pomp, especially after striking out 11 across nine innings in the Cactus League. Home runs were an issue in his last two times out, yielding four in total against stout competition.

Williamson, the club’s No. 5-ranked prospect, was the headliner of the March 14 deal that sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to Seattle. The southpaw spun 2 1/3 innings against his former club, in which he tossed 45 pitches (31 strikes) and departed after a sun-aided double in the eighth opened the floodgates on his final stat line: three runs allowed on four hits and one walk.

After a quick 1-2-3 frame in the sixth, Williamson was able to bow his neck and work around a second-and-third, no-out scenario in the seventh. He wasn’t able to wriggle free in the eighth, but his second big league spring outing showcased the 95 mph fastball and sharp breaking stuff that have vaulted him up prospect boards.

While Williamson will open the season down in the Minors, Greene’s time for The Show has arrived. The next time that he takes the hill will be his first Major League appearance, a glimpse into his opportunity to make good on a comparison that once dubbed him “Baseball’s LeBron.”

“I’m just trying to stay present and really prepare these next four days and just go out and have fun — approach it like any other game,” Greene said. “I’m going to take it in as much as I can because there won’t be another one. I’m really just trying to enjoy it and go out and give the team a really good chance to win.” — Jesse Borek

Reds find their man in hard-throwing Phillips (March 30)
One day after acquiring right-handed prospect Connor Phillips to complete a March 14 trade with the Mariners, Reds general manager Nick Krall discussed why the club chose him among a pool of potential player to be named candidates.

“We could have scouted for another month, but we liked him over the other players on the player to be named later list,” Krall said Wednesday. “We scouted all of them extensively through the last week, month into Spring Training. We had a pretty good idea he’d be the guy. 

“At the end of the day, we took him yesterday because it was better to get him into camp here — meet our guys, the players, the coaches, the coordinators that he’s not going to be able to meet if we took him in the middle of the season and put him in Dayton.”

Greene continues push for rotation spot (March 26)
Hunter Greene‘s strong spring continued with his second Cactus League appearance (and first start). The right-hander, who is the Reds’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, tossed two scoreless innings against the Giants. Story >

In the bottom of the first inning, an error by third baseman Brandon Drury followed by a walk and infield hit loaded the bases with two outs before Lodolo escaped. After a scoreless second inning, a pair of hits in the third inning led to a sacrifice fly and the lone run on Lodolo’s ledger.

“This spring, I hadn’t gotten to work much out of the stretch,” Lodolo said. “That was something to take away from today, being able to make pitches out of the stretch. For the most part, I did well in that situation today.”

“Maybe not his best stuff, but he was able to get his pitch count up,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He kind of locked in his breaking ball. I think it was another good step for him. It wasn’t easy but he was able to pitch through it. I thought he looked really good.” — Mark Sheldon

De La Cruz blasts grand slam (March 23)
The buzz was already building around Reds shortstop prospect Elly De La Cruz at Minor League camp. On Wednesday, De La Cruz was summoned for a big league game and gave the club a nice jolt with a grand slam during a 12-8 victory over the Brewers.

A switch-hitter batting lefty in the eighth inning of an 8-8 game, Cincinnati’s No. 3 prospect (No. 76 overall), slugged veteran reliever Brad Boxberger’s first-pitch fastball to left-center field. The contact was loud, and the ball easily carried over the fence.

“It feels great. I feel a little bit emotional and a little nervous, too, just because of everything that’s going on right now,” De La Cruz said via translator Jorge Merlos. “I’m glad I was able to contribute to the team and the team did well as well tonight.”

Reds manager David Bell spent a few minutes earlier in the day chatting with De La Cruz, who entered the game in the sixth inning and went 1-for-2.

“He has that presence about him where something is going to happen,” Bell said. “It’s a confidence. But that was the first time I’ve seen him play. It was fun. For him to come up in that situation was nice.

“I’ve heard so much about him. It’s very unique. It’s coming fast, too. Then the exciting part is he’s 20 years old and he has a lot of improvement ahead of him. We can’t rush it. We have to let it happen and I know he’s confident it’s going to happen soon.” — Mark Sheldon.

Cerda impressing Reds in big league camp (March 22)
With no experience above High-A, outfielder Allan Cerda will not challenge for an Opening Day roster spot during Reds camp, but he has already impressed.

“He looks like a Major League player,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We commented quite a few times that his presence at the plate, the way he moves — big, strong young man, athletic — he looks like he belongs. It’s been fun to watch him play.”

The 22-year-old Cerda, who was protected on the 40-man roster in November, had two hits and a walk in four at-bats over his first four spring games. In 87 games combined at Single-A Daytona and High-A Dayton last season, he slashed .250/.361/.523 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs. — Mark Sheldon

Ashcraft posts strong ST outing (March 21)
Seeking to land a spot in the big league rotation, right-handed pitcher Graham Ashcraft pitched three innings against the Cubs on Monday.

Ashcraft struck out two and gave up one run on one hit with no walks, but he hit two batters. His fastball velocity was mostly 96-99 mph, but he reached 100 in the first inning against leadoff hitter Nick Madrigal.

“I was feeling good. When I came in [after two innings], they asked me if I wanted to go back out. I was feeling strong and ready to roll, so I told them I wanted that extra inning,” Ashcraft said. “It always feels nice after you’re kind of jumping around everywhere to come back in and be dialed in to get three quick outs.”

After a scoreless first inning that ended with Patrick Wisdom looking at a breaking ball for a called third strike, Ashcraft lost some command in the second. He hit back-to-back batters to load the bases with no outs, but he escaped with just one run scoring on a groundout. He recovered to retire the side in order during the third inning. — Mark Sheldon

Williamson’s strong first impression (March 18)
The Reds were able to get their first look at their new No. 4 prospect, lefty pitcher Brandon Williamson, on Friday vs. the Guardians. Williamson followed starter Nick Lodolo and pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts during a 3-2 loss to Cleveland. Manager David Bell was pleased overall.

“There are some similarities between him and Lodolo,” Bell said. “He has a confident, nice presence on the mound. He has really good stuff. When he needed it, he hit 94, 93 [mph]. Good first outing.”

Lodolo and Williamson were teammates at TCU and lived together in the past three offseasons.

Williamson, 23, was acquired in Monday’s trade with the Mariners for Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker. He is part of the competition for the vacant fifth spot in the Reds’ rotation. — Mark Sheldon

Greene competing for rotation job (March 15)
Hunter Greene spent most of his winter soaking up as much information as he could from veteran big leaguers like Marcus Stroman and former teammate Sonny Gray. This, combined with his adjusted routine after a full season of Minor League play is helping guide the Reds’ No. 1-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, as he seeks to fill one of Cincinnati’s rotation vacancies. — Mark Sheldon Story >

Reds release Rodriguez (March 12) 
The Reds released Minor League infielder Alfredo Rodriguez on Saturday. Rodriguez spent the 2021 season at Triple-A Louisville. 

Although Rodriguez never reached the Major Leagues, his departure is a significant transaction for Cincinnati, because the organization spent $7 million to sign him out of Cuba in July 2016. Because they went over the international bonus pool allotment that summer, the team paid additional money in penalties. 

Over 430 Minor League games, the 27-year-old batted .260 with a .631 OPS, eight home runs and 141 RBIs. A former Top 30 prospect in the organization, he was signed as a shortstop but moved around the infield as the organization added depth at the position with Jose Barrero, Elly De La Cruz, Jose Torres and more. — Mark Sheldon

Top ’21 Draft choice McLain set to open in Double-A (March 7)
As the Reds’ early Minor League camp transitions to full Minor League participation for the organization, it’s been a good spring for the organization’s top 2021 Draft pick, shortstop Matt McLain.

McLain is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati’s No. 3 prospect and No. 90 overall. It’s very possible that the 22-year-old could be the Reds’ only top 10-ranked position player stationed in the upper portions of their Minor League system to open the 2022 season.

“It’s going very well. Unless something changes, he’ll probably go to Double-A,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. “We’ll look to send him to [High-A] Dayton or Chattanooga, but we’ll see how it works out. He’s looked good. We feel like we know we’ve got a really good baseball player who has the tools to play shortstop and the bat to play someplace else if there’s another option for him to be there.”

Taken 17th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, McLain slashed .273/.387/.424 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 27 games for Dayton after he signed for $4.63 million.

Moving McLain up also could help the organization spread out some of its shortstop depth in the lower Minors. Fellow Top 30 prospects Elly De La Cruz, Jose Torres and Ivan Johnson will all need places to play this season. — Mark Sheldon

Lodolo healthy, on track for season (March 5)
The Reds’ No. 2 prospect, left-handed starting pitcher Nick Lodolo, has had a normal spring to this point — and that’s notable. Last season, Lodolo had a left shoulder sprain that put him on the injured list late in the year, and he dealt with blisters on his pitching hand.

“Honestly, I’ve put it behind me,” Lodolo said recently at Cincinnati’s early Minor League camp. “I feel good. I feel as if I came into any other spring without limitations or hesitation.”

Lodolo, who’s ranked No. 31 overall by MLB Pipeline, has thrown several bullpen sessions without issue and threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts during a recent intrasquad scrimmage.

“He’s looked really good,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said on Friday. “He’s looked healthy, and he’s throwing all three of his pitches. The changeup looks like it has improved, which is the one thing we wanted him to continue to work on and develop — it’s the feel.”

Lodolo, 24, was 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 13 starts combined last season for Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He was limited to three starts with Louisville because of the shoulder injury. — Mark Sheldon

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