Might the Large Purple Machine be making a comeback in Cincinnati?
OK, possibly I’m placing the cart in entrance of the horse, however on the subject of younger gamers who’re thrilling to look at, the Reds are one of many high groups to keep watch over. This week I’m shining a highlight on three younger Cincy gamers. However spoiler alert, I’m NOT going to speak about Elly De La Cruz.
Should you play in dynasty leagues, then you need to already know all about De La Cruz. The person is a stud and everyone knows it. In case you are new to dynasty league baseball then all it’s essential learn about De La Cruz is he’s a participant everybody desires on their staff. If you will get him, accomplish that. If you have already got him, maintain him.
Getting into the 2023 season the Reds had six prospects listed on the MLB.com High 100 record – De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Cam Collier, Matt McLain, and Andrew Abbott. It seems the Reds love to gather center infielders as De La Cruz, Marte, Arroyo and McLain can all play shortstop whereas Collier is a 3rd baseman and Abbott is a left-handed pitcher.
However I’m not right here to speak about all six of these gamers. Out of that group, solely McClain is featured this week. Becoming a member of him is former high 100 prospect Jonathan India and Spencer Steer, who completed the 2022 marketing campaign because the Reds’ No. 7 prospect, in line with MLB.com.
Let’s get to the breakdowns of every participant.
After I did my 2023 High Keepers – Second Basemen breakdown, that is what I wrote about India: “I absolutely anticipated Jonathan India to construct upon his 2021 Rookie of the Yr season. As a substitute, he regressed badly, slashing .249/.327/.378 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. However he slashed .261/.351/.400 with six house runs and 26 RBI over his last 63 video games and I consider he shall be nearer to his 2021 kind subsequent season.”
For as soon as, I could have gotten one thing proper. By way of India’s first 62 video games this 12 months, he’s slashing .279/.360/.417 with six homers, 31 RBI, and 12 steals, a 162-game tempo of 15 homers, 81 RBI, and 31 steals. His first 62 video games almost matches his output over his last 63 video games final 12 months.
Making an attempt Too Onerous
After his Rookie of the Yr marketing campaign in 2021, the wheels fell off the truck for India in 2022., his numbers drastically dropping throughout the board.
“I used to be making an attempt to make up for lots of fellows that we misplaced,” India instructed the Cincinnati Enquirer late final season. “We misplaced numerous big-time bats in our lineup. I began considering the highlight was on me to do the injury and do extra of it. We’re lacking Castellanos, Winker, Suárez, all these guys that do injury within the lineup.
“They weren’t there, so I used to be like, I’ve acquired to select up the slack just a little, hit for extra energy. It acquired me in hassle. Now I’m simply getting again to my sport, hitting the ball laborious wherever it’s pitched.”
Again to Who He Is
India has energy, however as a substitute of making an attempt to hit house runs as he did for a lot of final 12 months, he has returned to the method that earned him the ROY honor in 2021. As a substitute of making an attempt to drag the ball, India is now pulling the ball at a profession low proportion of 31.3% whereas going to the other subject a career-high 19.3% of the time whereas not sacrificing energy as half of his house runs have gone to proper subject. Solely certainly one of his homers went to proper subject final season and solely three in 2021.
As you possibly can see above, he’s extra selective on the plate as properly, hanging out solely 17.6% of the time whereas growing his stroll charge by 2.2% from final 12 months. When India makes contact, he’s doing so constantly more durable than at any level in his profession. His common EV is as much as 89.2 mph and his laborious hit% is 40.9%
Will India proceed his stolen base tempo? Most likely not, however he did have 12 his rookie season and the brand new guidelines are proving to result in extra steals, so reaching 25 steals just isn’t out of the query. Will India attain 15 homers and 81 RBI? I absolutely count on him to and probably surpass that tempo, particularly the house runs contemplating the park he performs in. I’ve remained in India’s nook all through final season and I proceed to stay in his nook.
Whereas at Oregon energy was by no means a giant a part of Steer’s sport. In 595 faculty at-bats, he hit solely 12 homers. And his profession as a Duck wasn’t something spectacular till his junior season when he slashed .349/.456/.502 with six house runs, 57 RBI, and 6 steals in 56 video games because the staff’s on a regular basis shortstop.
After the Twins chosen Steer within the 2019 draft, he slashed .280/.385/.424 with 4 house runs mixed at Rookie and Class A. However when the 2020 minor league season was shut down as a consequence of COVID, Steer labored with the Twins hitting instructors to drive the extra with extra consistency. The outcomes had been shortly seen in 2021 as he hit a mixed 24 house runs with 66 RBI in 110 video games between Excessive Class A and Double A.
The ability continued in 22 as he slugged 23 homers and drove in 75 runs whereas slashing .274/.364/.515 at Double A and Triple A. Steer earned a spot within the Futures Recreation and, liking the ability Steer was displaying off, the Reds acquired him on the commerce deadline for Tyler Mahle. The commerce seems to be a win for the Reds as Steer is sitting on eight homers by way of his first 60 video games.
Feasting on Breaking Balls
Serving to Steer and his energy stroke is the very fact he’s feasting on breaking balls proper now. Final season with the Reds he hit .171 with a .229 slugging proportion with 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats towards breaking pitches. This season has been a very completely different story as he’s slugging .545 and hitting .284 towards breaking pitches, smashing 5 house runs and eight doubles in 88 at-bats.
Steer can also be doing higher towards fastballs, going from a .218 common and .327 slugging proportion to .297/.449 this season.
Third Base? First Base? Left Subject?
At Oregon, Steer performed shortstop his junior 12 months but in addition noticed time as a 3rd baseman and second baseman, and he continued to play these positions within the Twins’ group. When traded to Cincinnati, Steer has transitioned to be extra of a 3rd and first baseman. However with first baseman/third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand banging on the door to be the following prospect recalled by the Reds (and a potential return of Joey Votto), Steer earned a begin in left subject earlier this week.
Contemplating Steer was a shortstop in faculty and early in his professional profession, he has the athleticism to transition to left subject and be an honest participant there and maintain his bat within the lineup. After struggling in his temporary stint with the Reds final season, Steer has a 3.2% house run proportion this 12 months with a stable 19.1% strikeout charge and a pleasant 10% stroll charge whereas producing a 38.4% laborious hit% and a median EV of 89.6 mph.
Steer doesn’t do one factor nice, however he produces a stable slash line, is ready to steal a base right here and there, and has good energy. Add in the truth that he can play a number of positions and he’s a pleasant participant to have in your dynasty staff, particularly should you play in a deep league.
Matt McClain has been on the radar of professional scouts for years. In 2018 he was chosen within the first spherical (twenty fifth decide) out of highschool by the Arizona Diamondbacks however as a substitute selected to attend UCLA. As a Bruin, McClain had a profession OPS of .838 and topped 1.000 in each the shortened 2020 marketing campaign and once more in 2021. The Reds then snagged McClain within the 2021 draft with the seventeenth general decide and gave him a signing bonus of $4.625 million.
Assigned to Rookie ball after signing, McClain made issues look straightforward, slashing .429/.429/1.000 in two video games on the degree, main him to be promoted to Excessive A ball. He completed the season at that degree, slashing .273/.387/.424 with three homers, 19 RBI, and 10 steals.
However in Double A in 2022, McClain struggled on the plate. In 103 video games, he slashed .232/.363/.453 whereas posting a 28% strikeout charge, approach greater than the 15% charge he had his last 12 months at UCLA. If there was a vibrant facet to 2022, it was the very fact he drew 70 walks in 452 plate appearances (15.5% charge) whereas nonetheless hitting for energy and displaying off his pace as he had 17 house runs and 27 stolen bases in 30 makes an attempt.
Mix of Energy and Pace
Assigned to Triple A Louisville to start the 2023 season, McClain torched opposing pitchers to the tune of a .348/.474/.710 slash line with a mix of each energy and pace as he socked 12 properties and stole 10 bases in 38 video games. His strikeout charge additionally dropped under 20% whereas posting a 16.7 stroll proportion.
Whereas McClain can hit for energy, he’s higher when he makes use of his fast and compact swing to often produce line drives. And as soon as on base and out within the subject, McClain’s pace is the instrument that may maintain him within the majors. Why? As a result of he’s not going to be a shortstop for the Reds sooner or later.
No Future within the Infield
Whereas De La Cruz can play third base, opening a spot at shortstop for McClain in the mean time, it’s only a matter of time earlier than Marte or Arroyo are at quick (or De La Cruz). In the meantime, India is entrenched at second base until the Reds commerce him, leaving a spot within the outfield for McClain.
However taking part in on the market wouldn’t be a brand new enterprise for McClain as he was the beginning heart fielder for the Bruins his freshman 12 months. McClain might find yourself being an excellent utility participant, however I believe he has an honest arm and the athleticism to play heart subject and might envision a future Reds lineup of Steer in left and an infield of De La Cruz, Marte, India, and Encarnacion-Strand sooner or later for the Reds.