Trying to predict whether or not a top prospect will reach his ceiling is oftentimes exceedingly difficult. Scouts have gotten it wrong more times than they'd probably care to count.
Cincinnati Reds fans have seen former first-round draft picks like Nick Senzel, Robert Stephenson, and Nick Travesio tabbed as "can't miss", only to see them fall well short of expectations. Whether it's due to injury, preparedness, or poor performance, not every early-round draft choice works out.
Several of the Reds top draft picks from previous years, like Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, and Lyon Richardson made their way to the major leagues in 2023. But a handful of promising young prospects continued to struggle in the minors. Which four prospects have not lived up to their draft status?
1. Reds prospect Matheu Nelson has not lived up to his draft status
Matheu Nelson was selected with the 35th-overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Ever since Tyler Stephenson made his debut, the Cincinnati Reds have been searching for another catcher to rise up through the minor leagues and join the former first-round pick on the major league roster.
Nelson looked like that type of player coming out of Florida State University, but the backstop has never lived up to the hype that came with his draft status. Nelson posted a 1.210 OPS with the Seminoles in 2021 and launched 23 homers for FSU that season.
But since being drafted, Nelson's bat has let him down. In 2022, the right-handed hitting catcher slashed .219/.303/.364 at High-A Dayton. Nelson's power reemerged in 2023, but the 24-year-old struck out 109 times in 101 games while splitting time between High-A and Double-A.
Matheu Nelson is no longer viewed among the top prospects in the Cincinnati Reds farm system according MLB Pipeline. The 2024 season will be crucial for Nelson's development, as the Reds have invested heavily in catchers during the past few drafts.
Catchers always require a little more patience, but the Reds have Logan Tanner, Alfredo Duno, and Cade Hunter waiting in the wings to take Nelson's place. Nelson's stock took a hit in 2023, but he's not done yet.