3 Reds non-roster invitees that could sneak on the 2024 Opening Day roster

The Reds have invited several young prospects to major league spring training in Goodyear.

Cincinnati Reds bat and helmet rest on the field
Cincinnati Reds bat and helmet rest on the field / Kareem Elgazzar, Cincinnati Enquirer via
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The Cincinnati Reds are continuing to build their roster ahead of the 2024 season, as more and more names begin to emerge. On Thursday, the team agreed to terms with all their arbitration-eligible players except for Jonathan India, and signed reliever Brent Suter to a one-year contract.

The Reds also revealed a number of minor league players who'll be invited to join the team in major league camp at Goodyear this spring. That group of young players, most of whom are highly-touted prospects, will join several veterans looking to re-establish themselves back in the big leagues.

It's obviously still early, and more minor-league signings are likely to be on the horizon, but which non-roster invitees have the best chance to sneak onto the Reds 2024 Opening Day roster.

1. Catcher Austin Wynns could sneak onto the Reds 2024 Opening Day roster

Austin Wynns signed a split-contract with the Reds earlier this offseason, but after signing Frankie Montas to a one-year deal, the catcher was designated for assignment. Seeing an opportunity, Wynns accepted the outright assignment and will be part of Reds spring training.

Wynns is a glove-first catcher, so Reds fans should not be expecting a poor man's J.T. Realmuto. While his skills in the batters' box are lacking, Wynns does a good job controlling the run game. In today's game, with such an emphasis on swiping bases, having a catcher who can keep would-be base stealers in check is an important part of the job.

Wynns' opportunity, however, is tied to health of the two catchers currently on the Reds 40-man roster. If Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile are able to survive the spring unscathed, those will be the two catchers leaving Goodyear on the active roster.

But injuries happen, and donning the tools of ignorance can be one of the most taxing jobs in baseball. If either Stephenson or Maile suffers an injury during spring training, Wynns will be the next man up. If not, the hope is that he'll remain in Triple-A for depth behind the dish.

2. Outfielder Blake Dunn could sneak onto the Reds 2024 Opening Day roster

The chances of this actually happening would seem slim, but Blake Dunn has been counted out since he was drafted. The Western Michigan product was a 15th-round draft pick in 2021, but overcame the odds and is knocking on the door of the big leagues.

Make no mistake, Dunn will be in The Show at some point next season. That's not up for debate. The outfield prospect did enough this past season to turn heads, and Dunn will be one of handful of prospects who'll have a chance to make a run at the Opening Day roster.

Dunn is a right-handed hitter; something that will work in his favor. The majority of Cincinnati's outfield is comprised of left-handed bats. TJ Friedl, Will Benson, and Jake Fraley all bat from the left side. And while most Reds fans assume that the versatile Spencer Steer will take to left field like a duck to water, some questions still remain about his defensive abilities in the outfield.

Dunn is able to play all three outfield spots and could be a fantastic platoon option to pair with Benson and Fraley in right field. After bidding farewell to Nick Senzel earlier this offseason, the Reds are little light in terms of right-handed platoon outfielders.

Stuart Fairchild will be Dunn's biggest competition this spring. Fairchild is out of minor-league options, and with Dunn having never played above Double-A, it's quite likely that the 25-year-old will begin the 2024 season at Triple-A Louisville. But if Dunn puts on a show in spring training similar to what fans saw from Benson a year ago, manager David Bell may have no choice.

3. Pitcher Rhett Lowder could sneak onto the Reds 2024 Opening Day roster

Okay, some Reds fans are going to laugh at the notion of last year's first-round draft pick making a run at the team's Opening Day roster. While it would seem rather unlikely, it's certainly not impossible. In fact, Lowder won't be the only first-round pick from the 2023 MLB Draft who's competing for a roster spot.

Pittsburgh Pirates' first-round pick Paul Skenes will be looking to secure his spot on the Buccos' Opening Day roster as well. Skenes, who made his professional debut last season, went to the Steel City with the first-overall pick in last year's draft, while Lowder went to Cincinnati with pick No. 7.

Lowder is behind a long list of potential starters, so it will certainly be an uphill climb. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft will have a leg up on the competition, and Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, and Connor Phillips will be in the mix as well. Don't forget Frankie Montas, and perhaps even Nick Martinez.

If the list of potential starters is already that long, how in the world will Lowder even break into the Reds Opening Day rotation. Well, not to be pessimistic, but Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, and Montas all spent time on the 60-day IL in 2023. Abbott battled fatigue down the stretch, while Phillips was very erratic during his brief time in the big leagues.

While it's true that fans rarely see a pitcher skip over the minor leagues entirely, former Reds draft pick Mike Leake did so in 2010. After being named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year in 2009 while throwing for Arizona State, Leake skipped over the minors entirely and won the spring training competition for the fifth spot in the Reds rotation.

The odds are not in Lowder's favor, but the Wake Forrest product has an advanced repertoire that will already play at the big league level. Though the most likely scenario would be for Lowder to perhaps start at Double-A Chattanooga, the fact that he's receiving an invite to big league camp suggests that the Reds coaches and player development staff see him as a quick riser.