Reds: 5 prospects who could open 2022 in the starting rotation

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez #76 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez #76 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds picks the ball up off of the pitchers mound.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 15: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds picks the ball up off of the pitchers mound. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

5. Lyon Richardson, Reds right-handed pitcher

The Cincinnati Reds best young player you’ve never heard of is probably Lyon Richardson. It’s odd that we don’t hear more about the 21-year-old, as he was the team’s second-round pick in 2018. However, Richardson has been mostly under-the-radar during his brief professional career, and the cancellation of last year’s minor league season is likely a big reason why.

Richardson’s 2021 season has gotten off to a roaring start. He’s 1-1 in four starts in Advanced-A Dayton and owns a 1.10 ERA with a 9.92 K/9 and a 25.7% strikeout-rate. Richardson has allowed just 13 hits in 70 at-bats against him and only two runs have crossed the plate in 16.1 innings of work.

Of all the prospects listed, Lyon Richardson has the tallest mountain to climb, as he’s currently playing for the High-A Dayton Dragons. However, if he continues his current pace, the Reds front office will have no choice to elevate the right-hander to Double-A Chattanooga.

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Richardson has a four-pitch repertoire, though at times, his curveball and slider can overlap one another. The key to unlocking Richardson’s potential is an increase in velocity and better command of his breaking pitches. Richardson has an opportunity to be the talk of Cincinnati’s farm system this season, and an impressive 2021 season may put him in line to start for the big league squad in 2022.