3 Cincinnati Reds prospects bound for a different position in the major leagues

A view of the stadium reflection in the Nike sunglasses on a Cincinnati Reds hat.
A view of the stadium reflection in the Nike sunglasses on a Cincinnati Reds hat. / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cincinnati Reds have several talented players in the team's farm system, but not all of them may be playing the same position in the big leagues that they're currently occupying at the minor league level. Which prospects, currently in the Reds farm system, are bound for a different position in the major leagues?

Let's not pretend like we haven't seen this before. While some position changes have worked out brilliantly, others have been complete flops. Billy Hamilton was drafted as a shortstop, but became once of the best defensive outfielders in the game. Then there's Nick Senzel, who still doesn't look comfortable in center field after being moved off the infield dirt.

Last year, we saw Jonathan India, who'd spent the majority of his college and minor league career at the hot corner, make a seamless transition to the keystone and looks to be the Cincinnati Reds second baseman for the foreseeable future. So, which prospect should we expect to see switch positions before making their big league debut?

1. Elly De La Cruz, Reds SS prospect

Elly De La Cruz burst onto the scene in 2021 and vaulted into the Cincinnati Reds Top 10 prospects per MLB Pipeline. De La Cruz is currently viewed as one of the team's top shortstop prospects, but fans should brace for the 20-year-old's move to third base.

De La Cruz was a bit of unknown heading into last season. Having spent his first season in the organization in the Dominican Summer League, De La Cruz's second season of professional baseball was bumped to the 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 minor league baseball season.

Elly De La Cruz hit .296/.336/.539 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. That power might see De La Cruz move from shortstop to third base by the time he debuts in the bigs. In fact, De La Cruz saw more starts at the hot corner (35 games) than he did at shortstop (22 games) in 2021.

De La Cruz is still several years away from making his major league debut. By the time Eugenio Suárez's expires, the skilled infielder should be ready for The Show. The Reds have a bevy of shortstops in the farm system, so a couple will likely switch positions.

Cincinnati Reds helmets are stacked in the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds helmets are stacked in the dugout. / Bobby Ellis/GettyImages

2. Rece Hinds, Reds 3B prospect

Rece Hinds is a power-hitter. The dude flat-out rakes. The question is where will Hinds wind up on the field when it's all said and done. For the time being, the former Florida prep star is fielding the hot corner, but by the time he debuts in the bigs, Hinds could play any number positions.

In all honesty, the likely addition of the designated hitter to the National League may really benefit Hinds in the long run. Hinds was limited by injuries last season, but did appear in 43 games at Low-A Daytona last season and saw 10 starts at DH.

Hinds other 33 starts were at third base, but the 21-year-old committed eight errors. Look for the Reds to move Hinds to a corner outfield spot (maybe left field) or to first base. Some major league ball clubs prefer to have a left-handed throwing first baseman so the defender can catch and tag in one motion during a pickoff play, but Joey Votto had no problem as a right-handed thrower.

Rece Hinds signed for above-slot value after being taken in the second-round of the 2019 MLB Draft. The Reds see him as a potential middle-of-the-order bat, and in order to get him in the lineup on a regular basis, Cincinnati may shift Hinds to the outfield, first base, or he may become the team's DH.

Matt McLain of UCLA hit a ball.
Matt McLain of UCLA hit a ball. / Andy Bao/GettyImages

3. Matt McLain, Reds SS prospect

The Cincinnati Reds may have landed the steal of the draft in 2021 when they took UCLA shortstop Matt McLain with their first-round pick last July. McLain is an elite prospect and is recognized by many outlets as a Top 100 talent. But will the former Bruin stay at shortstop?

McLain is likely to debut at Double-A in 2022. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon spoke with Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender late last year, and it sounds as if Cincinnati will be looking to fast-track McLain to The Show.

“We’re going to give him a chance to go to Double-A, if he looks like he’s ready coming out of Spring Training. If not, we’ll start him in High-A and see how long he needs to stay there before we move him. That’s the goal.”
Shawn Pender

Is Matt McLain blocked at shortstop? A lot of that depends on how the Cincinnati Reds view Jose Barrero and Kyle Farmer next season. Will Farmer return to a utility role in 2022? Will Barrero be given the opportunity to be the Reds starting shortstop.

In my humble opinion, there's no way the Reds should allow Farmer to impede Barrero's progress. The 23-year-old is viewed by many to be the team's top infield talent, and the Reds owe it to Barrero to see what they've got in the Cuban infielder. That's not to say the job should just be handed to Barrero in spring training, but with all things being equal, Farmer should return to being the top player off the bench in 2022.

dark. Next. What's the Reds ideal lineup with the addition of the DH?

What then do the Reds do with Matt McLain? The 22-year-old is athletic enough to play center field. He's also certainly able to find a home at either second or third base. However, Jonathan India has the keystone on lockdown, and Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas are both under contract through at least the 2023 season.