De La Cruz, Marte among 6 added to Reds' 40-man roster

November 16th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Ahead of the Tuesday deadline to protect eligible players from being plucked in next month’s Rule 5 Draft, the Reds added top prospect Elly De La Cruz and five others to their 40-man roster.

De La Cruz, a 6-foot-5 shortstop who will turn 21 on Jan. 11, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 14 overall prospect in baseball. By joining the roster, he will be part of his first big league Spring Training in 2023.

“I think that he's going to come into camp as a roster player and keep moving forward, keep making progress,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “That's what he needs to do. Don't get over your skis, just do what you're good at. I think for him, it's being a premium athlete, using his athleticism to make things happen.”

A five-tool talent, the switch-hitting De La Cruz batted .304 with a .945 OPS, 28 homers and 47 stolen bases over 120 games for High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga in 2022. De La Cruz can also play second base and third base, and he could get looks in center field before he lands on a set position.

The Rule 5 Draft is being held on Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Cincinnati also added the following players to its 40-man roster:

SS Noelvi Marte
The Reds' No. 2 prospect and the No. 17 overall prospect in baseball, Marte was among the prospects acquired in the July 30 trade that sent rotation ace Luis Castillo to the Mariners. Over 115 games at the High-A level this year, the 21-year-old Marte batted .279 with an .829 OPS, 19 homers, 68 RBIs and 23 steals.

LHP Brandon Williamson
The Reds’ No. 6 prospect, Williamson came over in the March trade that sent veterans Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to Seattle. The left-hander went 6-7 with a 4.11 ERA over 27 starts between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville in 2022. In 122 2/3 innings, he walked 77, struck out 123 and had a 1.56 WHIP.

RHP Levi Stoudt
Also part of the haul in the Castillo trade, Stoudt is the Reds’ No. 24 prospect. The right-hander went 7-8 with a 4.70 ERA in 25 starts between the Double-A and Triple-A levels this past season. Over 111 innings, he posted a 1.29 WHIP with 32 walks and 103 strikeouts. Both Williamson and Stoudt will be given a chance to compete for rotation spots in either the big leagues or Triple-A in '23.

RHP Ricky Karcher
A 13th-round selection by the Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft, the 25-year-old reliever went 5-5 with a 3.65 ERA in 52 appearances between Triple-A Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga.

“We thought about bringing him up in September,” Krall said. “He's got a chance to be a big league reliever, whether it's now or to go back to Triple-A to be depth there. It's a guy who throws hard with good stuff, and if he can harness that stuff and throw strikes, he has a chance to be a back-of-the-bullpen type guy.”

RHP Lyon Richardson
Cincinnati’s second-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft missed all of the ’22 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Over three Minor League seasons -- with his highest level reached being High-A -- he has a 4.88 ERA.

“He was throwing 98-99 [mph] at the end of instructional league, so we felt there was no need to risk it with him,” Krall said. “Whether he starts in High-A or Double-A, he’s got a chance to be a legitimate big league pitcher, and there was no need to leave him unprotected. We felt it was better safe than sorry.”

Among the players not protected by the Reds were second baseman Ivan Johnson, their No. 28 prospect, and catcher Daniel Vellojin, a former top prospect who reached Double-A in 2022.

To make room for the additions, outfielder Aristides Aquino and right-handed pitchers Kyle Dowdy, Jeff Hoffman, Derek Law, Jared Solomon and Art Warren were designated for assignment.

Aquino, Hoffman and Law were eligible for arbitration this winter. Warren is expected to miss all of 2023 after undergoing right elbow surgery.

This is the second time this year that Aquino was taken off the roster. He has great power, and it showed as a rookie in 2018, when he hit 19 homers in 56 games, but he has largely struggled since. He batted .197 with 10 homers in 80 games this year, as he received significant playing time the final two months. His defense -- which produced a team-high 12 assists -- wasn’t enough to keep him.

“He’s a really good person, a likable guy in the clubhouse for us,” Krall said. “We wish him the best. I think he’s shown some streakiness where he's been really good, and he’s played some pretty good defense. It’s just with where we are with the roster and at-bats we need to give other guys, he wasn’t a great fit right now.”