Standout Reds prospects from the '21 season

October 19th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- The 2021 season brought the return of Minor League Baseball after a year off because of the global pandemic. It was also a season of progress in many ways for the Reds organization.

In August, MLB Pipeline ranked the Reds as the No. 10 farm system in baseball, a jump of 10 places from their preseason ranking. It was boosted in large part by seven players entering the system as Top 30 prospects in the organization, plus two more players added as international free agent signings.

Both Double-A Chattanooga and High-A Dayton enjoyed winning seasons. Although Triple-A Louisville was under .500, it could have multiple players making a push in 2022 for the big leagues.

Here are some players who are deserving of a brighter spotlight after successful years of development:

Three players who forced their way onto the radar this year

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Moreta’s steady climb up the ladder accelerated this season. The 25-year-old reliever -- ranked as the organization’s No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline -- was 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 18 appearances for Chattanooga. Once promoted to Louisville, he had a 0.68 ERA in 24 games -- including 24 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings before he gave up his first earned run.

By September, Moreta finished his season in the big leagues with four appearances. With the Reds’ bullpen likely to get retooled in the offseason, he will have a chance to make the club out of camp next year.

Ranked No. 26 in the organization, Kolozsvary had a notable Spring Training moment on March 6 vs. Cleveland. On one of the back fields in Goodyear, Ariz., he slugged a home run against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, and he did it with several eyes on him -- including Reds manager David Bell.

Kolozsvary, 26, slashed a combined .221/.329/.402 with Chattanooga and Louisville, but continued to impress defensively. He also earned his way onto the USA Olympic squad this year. Starting all four games during the qualifiers, he batted .417 (5-for-12) with two homers and drew praise for his work from Team USA skipper Mike Scioscia, a former Major League catcher.

The switch-hitting Lopez is ranked No. 21 in the organization after enjoying a big year. First, he batted .362 in 25 games at Double-A before a promotion to Louisville. At that level -- which was interspersed with promotions to the big leagues -- the 25-year-old slashed .303/.386/.446 in 67 games.

Although he has very little power, the 5-foot-10 Lopez has a short swing and had a high contact rate this year, making a name for himself as a tough at-bat. In 14 games over multiple callups to the Reds, he batted .261 while making starts at third base and second base.

Two possible breakout players to watch in 2022

Ranked No. 8 in the organization and only 19 years old, De La Cruz has five-tool talent and is another potential future shortstop in the system. The switch-hitter slashed .296/.336/.538 with eight homers, 18 doubles and nine triples at two Minor League levels this season. He spent most of his time with Low-A Daytona and was used primarily at third base and shortstop.

The Reds could have a new feather in the cap for their Latin America scouting. They signed De La Cruz in the Dominican Republic for only a $65,000 bonus at the start of the 2018-19 international signing period.

Drafted in the second round of the 2019 Draft, Hinds is Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect with the potential of being a big power bat. He was limited to 54 games this season, mostly with Daytona, after dealing with a torn meniscus in his left knee. But in 226 plate appearances, the 21-year-old slugged 12 homers, 13 doubles and four triples while slashing .259/.332/.542 and driving in 32 runs.

Hinds was coveted enough as a prospect that the Reds sent him to their alternate site to play with more advanced players during last year’s season shutdown. Although he struggled there, he showed he could make the necessary adjustments at instructional league and during the 2021 season.

One big question for next season

Will open 2022 in the big league rotation?
The Reds could have at least one opening in next season’s starting rotation, and Greene will be at big league camp for the first time -- he will likely be added to the 40-man roster next month.

Ranked No. 1 in the organization and No. 26 overall, according to MLB Pipeline, Greene’s reputation has long preceded him because of his poise and easy triple-digit fastball velocity.

At Chattanooga, Greene was 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in seven starts. In only 41 innings, he struck out 60 batters and allowed two home runs. At Louisville, however, he was 5-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 14 starts. In 65 1/3 innings for the Bats, he walked 25 and struck out 79 batters, but allowed 11 homers.

Greene, 22, lacks arm mileage after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018, which caused him to miss all of ’19, and then sitting out during the 2020 shutdown. With all the time he missed, plus his more human numbers at Louisville, there is an argument that he could use some more Triple-A innings before getting promoted to the Majors. This delay would also push back his service-time clock toward arbitration.

But if Greene looks strong in Spring Training while showing improved secondary pitches, the Reds could have a potential big star in the starting five. That talent would be hard to hold back, even for financial concerns.