Cincinnati Reds: 5 players most likely to have a breakout season

Mar 21, 2021; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker against the Chicago Cubs during a Spring Training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2021; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker against the Chicago Cubs during a Spring Training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Cionel Perez (43) returns to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Cionel Perez (43) returns to the dugout. /

The 2021 baseball season is upon us, and it’s always fun to look at a handful players who are looking to break onto the big stage. While Luis Castillo has been known to Cincinnati Reds fans for years, his start in last year’s Wild Card game versus the Atlanta Braves seemed like an announcement to the world that La Piedra was a force to be reckoned with.

So, who fits that mold heading into the 2021 season? Which Reds players have the potential to go from relative unknown to National League All-Star? Is there a Randy Arozarena among the group of Cincinnati players set begin play this week? Let’s look at five Reds players ready to breakout in 2021.

Cionel Perez, Reds left-handed pitcher

The Reds recently received word that Cionel Perez was granted a fourth minor-league option, meaning the team can demote the left-hander to Triple-A Louisville this season and still retain his services without exposing the 24-year-old to waivers. It’s my opinion that Perez will stay with the big league club from Opening Day until the end of the season.

Perez was acquired from the Astros after Houston’s front office dealt the southpaw to the Queen City in exchange for Luke Barryhill. Perez was originally signed out of Cuba for $2M and made his major league debut in 2018.

Perez was thought early on to have an outside chance to be part of the Cincinnati starting rotation, but as Cactus League play went along, it became more and more obvious that the Reds coaching staff see him as reliever. Perez has gone 10.2 innings this spring and struck out nine batters.

Perez has a solid three-pitch mix, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. David Bell is likely to carry three left-handed relievers this season, but by July, I expect Perez to supplant Sean Doolittle and join Amir Garrett in the backend of the Cincinnati bullpen.