3 under-the-radar Reds prospects no one is talking about

Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) holds a catchers mask.
Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) holds a catchers mask. / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cincinnati Reds farm system has been receiving quite a lot of attention lately. After seeing the success of Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, and Vladimir Gutierrez in 2021, the bar will certainly be raised for the likes of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo heading into next season.

Both pitching prospects are assumed to begin their major league careers in 2022, and we'll surely see a handful of other rookies join the big league club as well. But the Reds have some under-the-radar prospects who really excelled in 2021 and have their sights set on wowing fans and scouts alike in 2022.

1. Daniel Vellojin, Reds C prospect

While much of the focus in the Cincinnati Reds farm system had been focused on the development of Tyler Stephenson over the last couple of years, the organization has a handful of talented backstops still playing ball at the lower minor league levels.

One name that every Reds fan should keep a close watch on heading into next season is Daniel Vellojin. The left-handed hitting catcher could be the perfect compliment to Stephenson if he reaches his potential.

Vellojin was an international free agent signing back in 2018 out of Columbia. Until last season, Vellojin had yet to play professional baseball in America, instead spending two seasons in the Dominican Summer League.

However, in 2021, Vellojin suited up for Low-A Daytona and was quite impressive. Vellojin hit .247/.401/.403 with 21 doubles, seven home runs, and 34 RBIs in 362 plate appearances. And make no mistake, heading into last season, Vellojin's glove work was well ahead of his hitting.

The most impressive stat that I saw from Vellojin's 2021 season was his walk-rate. Drawing a free pass 19.9% of the time is quite impressive for a 21-year-old. Combine that with a wRC+ of 127, and the Cincinnati Reds may have something special brewing down on the farm.

With Stephenson firmly entrenched as the Reds starting catcher heading into 2022, there's no need to rush Vellojin's development along. Cincinnati fans know all too well that it takes time to develop a reliable backstop. Keep an eye on Daniel Vellojin headinf into next season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders pitcher Bryce Bonnin (40) prepares to throw.
Texas Tech Red Raiders pitcher Bryce Bonnin (40) prepares to throw. / Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Bryce Bonnin, Reds RHP prospect

It's extremely difficult to evaluate pitching prospects after the lost season in 2020. Bryce Bonnin was part of the five-player draft class the Cincinnati Reds selected in 2020 and saw his first professional action last season.

Bonnin is a relief prospect through and through, however, all of his appearances last season were as a starter. I'm not suggesting that Bonnin doesn't have starter stuff, but is his delivery repeatable? Bonnin's cross-body release makes some scouts doubt that the right-hander has what it takes to be a full-time starter.

That said, if I were the Reds, I'd keep sending Bonnin out as a starter until he proves that he can't handle it. The 23-year-old has a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and a plus slider. Bonnin also has a curveball and changeup as part of his repertoire as well.

Bryce Bonnin's numbers in 2021 at both Low-A Daytona and High-A Dayton were quite impressive. Collectively, the right-hander started 11 games and posted a 4-2 record with a 2.87 ERA. Bonnin struck out 71 batters over 42 innings of work and a 38.6% strikeout-rate.

Bonnin saw just three games for Dragons in 2021, but mowed down the opposition to the tune of a 41.7% K-rate and 16.36 K/9. The problem during those three games was the 16.7% walk-rate with eight free passes over 11 innings at High-A.

Bryce Bonnin offers a lot of upside, especially if he can gain better command and control heading into the 2022 season. It'll be interesting to see where Bonnin begins the 2022 season, and if he continues to be as dominant once the competition gets tougher.

Justice Thompson of UNC rounds the bases.
Justice Thompson of UNC rounds the bases. / Andy Mead/ISI Photos/GettyImages

3. Justice Thompson, Reds OF prospect

In my opinion, one of the Cincinnati Reds best draft picks from a year ago, other than the obvious selection of Matt McLain, was former North Carolina outfielder Justice Thompson. Thompson's raw ability alone might be enough to get him to the bigs, but if he's able to develop into just an average hitter, the 21-year-old will force his way onto the Reds roster soon enough.

Let's face it, center field is a veritable black hole within the Reds organization. Nick Senzel is not the answer. Michael Siani, though he played well in the Arizona Fall League, has yet to show consistency with his bat. And the jury still out on whether or not Austin Hendrick is capable of playing center field at the major league level.

Defensively, Thompson can cover a lot of ground. His plus-speed is his best attribute. While he may have a fringe arm for the position, it's not as if Great American Ball Park has the expansive outfield that one would find at Petco Park or Coors Field.

The issue with Thompson, as it seems to be for an overwhelming majority of Cincinnati center field prospects, is his ability to hit. In his 54 games at UNC, Thompson hit .304/.386/.444 with eight doubles and seven homers, but could only muster a .239/.362/.375 at Low-A Daytona last season.

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I'd expect to see Justice Thompson begin the 2022 season back in Florida with the Tortugas, but rest assured that the right-handed hitting outfielder will move through the Cincinnati Reds farm system rather quickly if he proves that he can hit.