A delay to regular season will put the focus on these Cincinnati Reds prospects

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (86) receives a new ball after giving up a two-run home run.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (86) receives a new ball after giving up a two-run home run. / Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn

Well, it appears neither side wants to blink, and it's us, the fans, who will suffer. Major League Baseball and the Player's Association are locked in battle over a new collective bargaining agreement, and if a new deal isn't struck soon, the start of the 2022 season could be in jeopardy.

But, for diehard Cincinnati Reds fans like myself, at least we'll have minor league baseball to look forward to. No matter when the fight between the owners and players ends, minor league baseball is expected to go off without a hitch.

Which Cincinnati Reds prospects could shine if the season's delayed?

No one on the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster will be eligible to participate in team activities until a new CBA is reached. That means players like Hunter Greene, Allan Cerda, Jose Barrero, and Mark Kolozsvary are on ice until MLB and the MLBPA work out a new deal.

But, there are plenty of young prospects to be excited about, and even a few who are likely to make their major league debut in 2022. Nick Lodolo is the first name that comes to mind. While the left-hander is thought to be competing for a spot in the starting rotation, Lodolo is not yet on the 40-man roster and is able to pitch in the minor leagues this season.

Nick Lodolo is arguably the Reds top prospect, or a close second to fellow hurler Hunter Greene. The southpaw is a advanced pitcher with a nice three-pitch mix that includes a nasty slider with a good amount of break. If Lodolo can continue to develop his changeup, the sky is the limit for the former first-round pick out of TCU.

Keep your eye on these Cincinnati Reds prospects.

Another young Reds prospect to watch in the early going will be infielder Elly De La Cruz. The Dominican showed flashes of a five-tool player last season, and Cincinnati's front office is giddy with anticipation. If De La Cruz continues to produce, he could be a Top 100 prospect in baseball by season's end.

Last year's first-round pick Matt McLain will be another player to watch. This young Reds prospect began the 2021 season at High-A Dayton. We'll likely see McLain begin the 2022 season with the Dragons as well, and there may be a position change in his future. McLain's advanced approach at the plate could see him in the big leagues very quickly.

The power bats of Austin Hendrick and Rece Hinds will be fun to follow in 2022, as will the development of former fourth-round pick Michael Siani. Jay Allen, recently rated as the Cincinnati Reds most athletic prospect, is another name to watch during the upcoming minor league season.

Next. 5 Reds players who'll outperform their ZiPS projections. dark

Finally, Graham Ashcraft is a pitcher that Reds fans should keep a close watch on. The right-hander made great strides last season, and I wouldn't count him out of the competition for a spot in the Cincinnati rotation. Ashcraft is a power pitcher with an effective slider. The 24-year-old won't stay down on the farm for much longer.