3 Reds who should already be in the 2023 Rookie of the Year conversation

Cincinnati Reds infielder Spencer Steer
Cincinnati Reds infielder Spencer Steer / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds had a lot rookies on the field in 2022. While none ultimately took home the Rookie of the Year trophy, reliever Alexis Diaz did receive some recognition and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

The year before, Jonathan India came out of nowhere to land a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster and went on to win the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

With the Reds in midst of rebuild, chances are good that a number of talented prospects will make their debut in 2023. Which three Cincinnati Reds players should already be in the mix for the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year conversation?

Reds SS Elly De La Cruz should already be in the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year conversation.

One of the most electric prospect in all of the minor leagues last season was Elly De La Cruz. The highest-rated prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system was recently added to the team's 40-man roster and it seems like only a matter of time before the 21-year-old make his major league debut.

De La Cruz abuse opposing pitchers last season. The switch-hitting shortstop posted a slash line of .304/.359/.586 with 28 home runs, 86 RBIs, and 47 stolen bases. De La Cruz did post a strikeout-rate around 30.0%, but other than that, every aspect of his game appears ready for the major leagues.

It would appear, however, that the Reds front office would like for De La Cruz to receive some more seasoning in the minors before making the leap to the big leagues. So, unless De La Cruz hits the cover off the ball during spring training, chances are good that his 2023 season will begin in either Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Louisville.

That said, Elly De La Cruz is a force to be reckoned with and could make his way to the major leagues rather quickly. If De La Cruz is on the 26-man roster by June, there's a very good chance that he could make a run at the 2023 Rookie of the Year Award.

Reds 3B Spencer Steer should already be in the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Spencer Steer has a golden opportunity with spring training just around the corner. Since the end of the 2022 season, the Cincinnati Reds have waved goodbye to Kyle Farmer, Mike Moustakas, and Matt Reynolds.

All three veterans would have surely seen time at the hot corner. And while Reynolds will return this spring as a non-roster invitee, his chances of making the team out of spring training will be very slim. Steer will likely be given every opportunity to secure the starting job at third base.

Steer has the makeup to be a very solid contributor on next year's team. The 25-year-old is extremely versatile, and even if Reds manager David Bell chooses to give a spot start at third base to Alejo Lopez or Nick Senzel, Steer could act as the team's designated hitter or play nearly any other infield position.

Steer had lacked the prototypical power that most teams covet from their starting third baseman, but last season saw that may not be the case. After posting a career slugging percentage of just .435 in at the University of Oregon, Steer's slugging percentage in three minor league seasons is sitting at .483 and he slugged .515 between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

That will be the key number to follow as Spencer Steer makes his case for the NL Rookie of the Year in 2023. If Steer is able to maintain a slugging percentage above .450 and rack up 15-plus home runs, he could make a strong push for to be the second Cincinnati Red in the last three seasons to win the award.

Reds SS Matt McLain should already be in the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year conversation.

With all the buzz surrounding top prospect Elly De La Cruz and the addition of young players like Edwin Arroyo, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte, former first-round pick Matt McLain seems to get lost in the shuffle.

The former UCLA Bruins fell into the laps of the Cincinnati Reds during the 2021 MLB Draft and has steadily worked his way up the minor league ladder. McLain will be a non-roster invitee once spring training begins and will likely be given a chance to win the starting shortstop job.

There's also the chance that McLain sees time in center field once Cactus League play begins. With so many shortstops in the Reds farm system, it's high-time one of them starting shagging balls in the outfield.

McLain played center field in college, but has remained on the infield dirt since being selected by Cincinnati with the 17th pick back in 2021. McLain's batting average (.232) took a hit last year, but the 23-year-old still maintained a very high on-base percentage (.363) and smacked 17 home runs in 103 games with Double-A Chattanooga last season.

Matt McLain may have the best chance, of any of the Reds non-roster invitees, to sneak his way onto the Opening Day roster. McLain's high baseball IQ and defensive versatility could see him find his way into the conversation to become the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year.

1 NRI prospect who'll make the Reds Opening Day roster. dark. Next