Could this righty be Reds' first '22 Draft pick to reach MLB?

June 16th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE -- Things are moving fast for No. 27 prospect Zach Maxwell, who has trended toward becoming the Reds' first 2022 Draft pick to reach the big leagues.

“He’s doing the things he needs to do to put himself in the conversation,” Reds Minor League director Jeremy Farrell said of the 23-year-old right-handed reliever who is at Triple-A Louisville.

Maxwell was taken in the sixth round of the '22 Draft. After being in big league camp at Spring Training, he opened this season with Double-A Chattanooga after splitting 2023 between Single-A Daytona and High-A Dayton.

Over 14 appearances for Chattanooga, Maxwell was 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. In his 14 2/3 innings, he allowed seven hits, walked nine and struck out 27 batters.

“From what we typically do with first-year Double-A pitchers, in terms of appearances and amount of rest between appearances, we had him on a little bit of an accelerated program," Farrell said. "We got him into back-to-back games earlier than what we typically do. It was with the idea that he could move quickly. He did everything that anyone could have asked for in Double-A and earned the promotion to Triple-A.”

Maxwell was promoted to Louisville on May 21, where he's been challenged. He entered Sunday with a 5.87 ERA in nine games. His walk rate has gone up as he's allowed 12 compared to 13 strikeouts in his 7 2/3 innings.

“We got him around more advanced hitters and are getting him [familiar] with the ABS system to hone in the command and control, and he’s handled everything that’s been thrown at him," Farrell said.

One of the things that immediately pops out about Maxwell is his stature. He is listed at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds. But there's more to him than just being large and throwing heat.

“He’s a big guy with a big arm, obviously, with the fastball that he throws. He has a solid secondary pitch with his slider," Farrell said. “The biggest thing with him is he’s a fantastic human being and a fantastic teammate. He shows up at the ballpark every day ready to work. He’s the same guy every day and he’s been an awesome addition to the organization.”

Here are some items from the rest of the Reds' Minor League system:

Double-A Chattanooga

After a rough first three outings following his promotion from Dayton, No. 1 prospect Rhett Lowder put together a nice stretch of starts from May 29-June 9. In those three games, Lowder had a 2.40 ERA after it was 11.91 over his first three games with the Lookouts.

Lowder -- ranked No. 23 overall by MLB Pipeline -- struck out 11 batters while allowing three runs in six innings on June 4 at Rocket City. Five days later against the same team, he pitched five scoreless innings.

On Saturday against Montgomery, Lowder lasted only 2 2/3 innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk.

High-A Dayton

Outfielder Hector Rodriguez (the Reds' No. 13 prospect) is batting .330 (30-for-91) with one homer, two doubles and a triple over his last 23 games. He has an eight-game hitting streak.

Overall this season, Rodriguez is batting .298 with a .766 OPS and five homers in 59 games.

Single-A Daytona

The Tortugas are without catcher and No. 10 prospect Alfredo Duno, who has been on the injured list since May 28 because of an injury to his ribs. Duno, who is batting .267 with a .789 OPS and three homers, was expected to be out for two months.