Which Cincinnati Reds shortstop prospect is most likely to change positions?

Ivan Johnson throws to first during the Tortugas opener at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona.
Ivan Johnson throws to first during the Tortugas opener at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona. / Nigel Cook/News-Journal via Imagn

The Cincinnati Reds have a good problem on their hands, and heading into the 2022 season, it'll be an interesting one to follow.

The Reds have a plethora of shortstops in their farm system. One or more is likely to switch positions in the coming years. Who should it be and where might they line up defensively?

Which Reds SS prospect is likely to switch positions?

I'm sure several folks throughout Reds Country are shaking their heads at the notion of seeing one of the team's top prospects change positions.

Relax! This is what happens in baseball, especially at the shortstop position.

Shortstops are typically the most athletic players on the field. This is particularly true at the high school level.

Just go back and look at the 2021 MLB Draft. A total of 10 shortstops were taken in the first round. The only position to eclipse that number were pitchers (14).

I will guarantee you that several of those 10 shortstops taken in Round 1 will be fielding different positions by the time they make it to the big leagues.

Former Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton was drafted as a shortstop and turned into one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. His hitting prowess is a different story.

The point is, the Reds have several shortstops within the upper echelon on their farm system, and in order to get the most out of all of them, one or more is going to have to switch positions.

Who are the Reds top SS prospects?

According to MLB Pipeline, four of the Cincinnati Reds top 30 prospects are shortstops.

Matt McLain (3), Elly De La Cruz (8), Ivan Johnson (16), and Jose Torres (22) can all play shortstop.

Normally, having so many talented shortstops would not be such a conundrum, as there are four levels of minor league baseball.

The problem the Reds will have heading into 2022 is that all four could potentially start the season at the same level.

Matt McLain and Ivan Johnson finished the 2021 season at High-A Dayton while Elly De La Cruz and Jose Torres reached Low-A Dayton.

One would assume that all four will jump up a level at the start of the 2022 season, meaning McLain and Johnson would begin at Double-A Chattanooga while De La Cruz and Torres start at High-A Dayton.

Johnson has already shown the ability to play second base, as that became his primary position after Cincinnati took McLain in Round 1 of the 2021 MLB Draft.

De La Cruz burst onto the scene in 2021 and has the arm to make every throw from the shortstop position. He also saw time at the hot corner in 2021.

Torres is a shortstop through and through. I honestly would expect to see last year's third-round pick continue to get the majority of reps at his natural position.

Is Reds SS prospect Matt McLain likely to switch positions?

Matt McLain will be an interesting player to follow next season. McLain played all over the field in college for UCLA, but was the team's primary shortstop in 2021.

McLain played 49 games in center field during his freshman season with the Bruins, and has the arm strength and speed to be an above-average centerfielder.

There's a good chance that three of the four Reds shortstops will change positions between now and the time they make it to The Show.

Don't forget, the Cincinnati Reds have Jose Barrero set to compete with Kyle Farmer for the starting shortstop gig next season.

The Reds experimented a bit with Barrero in center field last season, but if Nick Senzel comes into spring training 100% healthy, you have to assume the position is his to lose.

If you throw Barrero into the mix, the Cincinnati Reds have a ton of talented young shortstops.

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But, if the Reds are looking to get all of their young talent on the field at the same time, some position changes may be in order.