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2022 Red Reporter Community Prospect Rankings - Nick Lodolo is #2!

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2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The polished lefty is poised for a big league role in 2022.

Lefty Nick Lodolo ran away with the votes for the #2 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system in this, the 2022 Community Prospect Rankings.

That’s not at all surprising, either. Lodolo has twice been a 1st round draft pick, and in each and every stop while within the Reds system he has shown exactly the combination of talent and production that matches that lofty expectation. He’s very much the future - and present, really - of this organization, and it’ll be a joy to get to see him in a Reds uniform as early as this season.

On to the voting for spot #3!

Elly De La Cruz - SS/3B (19 years old)

2021 at a glance: .296/.336/.538 (.874 OPS) in 265 PA split between AZL Reds (Rookie League) and Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)

Pros: Legit five-tool upside, elite power/speed combo with chance to stick at SS, switch-hitter, plus fielder

Cons: Swing and miss concerns (31.0% K-rate at Daytona), low walk rate (4.8% at Daytona)

There were few prospects at any level in any system that had a rise up future depth charts the way that De La Cruz did last year. After a promising (yet mostly punchless) debut in 2019 as a 17 year old in the Dominican Summer League after signing for a modest $65K, his entire 2020 campaign was lost as the pandemic shut down all minor league games. When he made his debut in 2021 at the Reds Goodyear complex, though, he quickly began to turn heads with his tremendous physical skills.

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He’s got an incredibly long way to go to fine-tune those skills, of course, but remains one of the best young, raw talents to come through the system in years. The Reds decision to promote him to Daytona early on in 2021 suggest they’re willing to move him quickly, though, and I fully expect him to electrify the crowds in Dayton to begin 2022 in a fashion that could even see him reach Chattanooga by year’s end, too.

(Also, his birthday is January 11th, so happy birthday, Elly!)

Jay Allen - OF (19 years old)

2021 at a glance: .328/.440/.557 in 75 PA with AZL Reds (Rookie League)

Pros: Standout athlete played three sports in high school, with college offers for both football and baseball on the table

Cons: Some swing and miss with his approach, still quite raw

Jay Allen and Elly De La Cruz.

Elly De La Cruz and Jay Allen.

There’s both a very intriguing similarity between the two youngest members of this particular CPR ranking round and an ability to dream on just what could be for the Reds if both manage to materialize at anywhere near their particular ceilings.

The Reds swung big to land Allen with their comp pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, taking the John Carroll HS OF with the 30th overall pick. It was a pick based very much on long-term upside, however, as they spent the requisite amount necessary to ink him when he had college options in varying sports on the table, too.

Allen offers a power/speed combo that profiles as the almost ideal CF of the future should things all play perfectly, though a move to RF at any point might also be both more realistic and still a feasible path to the bigs in short order. Honestly, he’s a legit five-tool prospect who could shape the Reds OF of the future in his own likeness, and while we’ve only just glimpsed his pro career to date, buy some tickets for Dayton games this summer to watch him dazzle.

Graham Ashcraft - RHP (23 years old)

2021 at a glance: 3.00 ERA in 111 IP split between Dayton Dragons (High-A Central) and (Chattanooga Lookouts (AA South), 129/37 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP

Pros: Sinking fastball that flirts with triple digits and induces an astonishing (astonishing!) rate of groundballs

Cons: Mainly successful with just a fastball/slider, lack of third pitch

Ashcraft was a 6th round pick out of UAB in the 2019 MLB Draft, and had a debut 2019 season with Greenville of the defunct Appy League that one could pretty aptly describe as mediocre - a 1.34 WHIP and 4.53 ERA in 53.2 IP despite being a tad old for the level.

Perhaps the 2020 off-year was just what he needed, however, as he reemerged in a 2021 season that saw him rip off a tremendous 44 inning scoreless streak as he moved from High-A Dayton to AA Chattanooga. All told, he impressed across both levels enough with his ability to miss bats (10.5 K/9) and keep the ball in the park (just 4 HR allowed) to rocket up the rankings by All Those Who Rank.

If all continues to plan, he’ll reach AAA Louisville at some point in 2022, and as we all know, if you’re at AAA, you’re a snap away from reaching the big leagues, something that’s not at all out of the question to see from the 24 year old this year.

Matt McLain - SS (22 years old)

2021 at a glance: 1.013 OPS in 47 G with UCLA prior to being drafted, .283/.389/.462 in 126 PA split between AZL Reds (Rookie League) and Dayton Dragons (High-A Central)

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Pros: Strike-zone recognition, high-contact, improved fielding paired with solid arm that should let him stick at SS long-term, plus speed

Cons: Average power, last name is spelled with only one ‘c’ which I screw up absolutely 100% of the time I try to write it

McLain is the latest 1st round pick by the Reds, and is also the latest 1st round pick by the Reds who was formerly a 1st round pick by someone else - this time, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected McLain 25th overall in 2018 only to see him choose to attend UCLA instead.

Though there are often iffy connotations when calling someone a ‘high floor’ prospect, if you ascribe to that kind of label, McLain is pretty much it. He’s a known quantity at this point, and is very good at the aspects of his game that are his focal points. He is not a power hitter now, nor will he ever truly be one, and that’s a fault that he’s managed to make moot with his ability to hit the ball gap to gap, take balls when thrown them, and make play after play at SS.

That’s got great value, of course, and the Reds will likely move him quickly through the ranks in expectation of it continuing.

Austin Hendrick - OF (20 years old)

2021 at a glance: .211/.380/.388 (.767 OPS) in 266 PA at Daytona Tortugas (Low-A Southeast League)

Pros: Patience (51 BB, 19.2% BB-rate), bat speed, how damn far he socks the baseball when he makes contact

Cons: Making contact (100 K, 37.6% K-rate)

There might, might be one other player in the entire minor league system who puts on a more impressive batting practice display than Austin Hendrick. There might not be anyone, in many eyes.

His elite bat speed and uppercut swing can produce some absolute bombs off the bat, and his plus arm strength and good enough athleticism make him pretty much the prototypical right-field prospect. Pair that with an ability to work counts and take walks, and there’s an almost endless amount about his game to dream on.

There is an alarming about of swing and miss to his game in actual games, however. Like, an almost overwhelming amount of it given he was debuting at the lowest level of the modified minor league system in 2021. Still, there was expected to be a pretty large learning curve with Hendrick when the Reds plucked him out of high school in the 1st round of the 2020 MLB Draft, and at just 20 years of age - he won’t turn 21 until June - there’s plenty of time left for him to bring the swing and miss stuff down to a more palatable level, a level that would then let his ability to coax walks in deep counts shine that much more.

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