Reds prospect Collier starts Spring Breakout off with a bang

March 15th, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Not only was Reds third-base prospect anticipating Spring Breakout, he also was expecting the pitch he saw in the second inning, when he launched a two-run home run to fuel a 4-1 victory over the Rangers’ prospects.

Collier drove a two-run home run to left-center field on a 2-1 pitch from right-hander Emiliano Teodo in the top of the second inning to give the Reds a 2-1 lead on Thursday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.

It was the first of two Spring Breakout games for the Reds this week, with the second coming Saturday against Guardians prospects.

“That felt great,” Collier said in the dugout after the homer. “I set out to be aggressive, and the guy threw my pitch and I just went after it. I was sitting heater; he gave me the heater. It just exploded.”

Collier, 19, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati's No. 7 prospect. He was taken in the first round (18th overall) of the 2022 MLB Draft. Last season for Single-A Daytona -- his first full pro season -- Collier batted .246 with a .705 OPS, six homers and 68 RBIs in 111 games.

A left-handed hitter, Collier was hoping he would be selected to play on Thursday.

“It’s a blessing because I worked very hard to get here," Collier said. "I saw it in the offseason, and I just made it my plan to make it to this game.”

Lowder has smooth outing
Pitcher , who is ranked No. 2 in the organization and No. 34 overall, made it look easy during his two scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth innings. The right-hander was changing speeds throughout, ranging from 78 mph to 95 mph, and crossing up batters.

“I just got out there and tried to throw strikes,” Lowder said. “We were making plays, so it wasn’t too bad. I had all four [pitches] working, both sides. Felt good. Felt easy out there.”

Lowder, who was Cincinnati's first-round Draft pick (seventh overall) just last year, gave up no hits or walks and struck out two while facing seven batters. Collier’s two-out throwing error in the fifth kept Lowder from having a perfect day.

Double-A Chattanooga manager Jose Moreno, who was the skipper for the Spring Breakout game, will likely have the 22-year-old Lowder pitching for him this year.

“I’ve been watching him at Spring Training,” Moreno said. “You can tell he has a really good arm. He’s a big league talent.

“He’s attacking the zone. He’s getting ahead in the count. His breaking ball is really good. I think it’s going to be fun to have him. Hopefully, we can for sure have him in Chattanooga for a short period of time and then send him to Cincinnati.”

Lowder, who did not pitch in the Minor Leagues last season after being taken out of college at Wake Forest, experienced his first big league camp at Spring Training. Known for his good command and plus changeup, Lowder feels like he can make the transition against professional hitters.

“I think it’s just being more comfortable throwing all pitches in any count to both sides," he said. "I feel like in college, you can kind of just experiment with one pitch to each side. But you have to mix it up here more. I think it’s something I had no trouble doing, but it’s getting a little more experience with it.”

Aguiar starts, works three innings
Reds No. 17 prospect loved getting the chance to start the first-ever Spring Breakout game.

“It was an honor to be named the starter of this game; it was exciting," the 22-year-old Aguiar said. "I was just looking forward to coming out here and competing.”

Aguiar, a 12th-round Draft pick in 2021, gave up one earned run and four hits with one walk and two strikeouts to get the win. Texas led off the bottom of the first inning with Sebastian Walcott's single to right field. Walcott scored on an RBI triple to center field by Cameron Cauley.

“It felt great," Aguiar said of his start. "It was my first outing of three innings, felt amazing. Building back up, I could ask for nothing better.”

Aguiar, who was the Reds' organization's 2023 Minor League pitcher of the year, was 8-5 with a 2.95 ERA in 25 starts combined with High-A Dayton and Chattanooga last season.

“I saw Aguiar last year for the last two or three weeks of the season," Moreno said. "Very aggressive with his fastball. He has confidence, mound presence, is aggressive. Today he used his changeup a couple of times. A really good pitch. It will continue to develop. I think that will be the key for him to continue to move up the ladder.”