5 prospects the Reds must protect from the Rule 5 Draft and 2 who should be left exposed

The Reds have a lot of talented prospects who'll need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Rece Hinds
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Rece Hinds / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Reds must protect Jose Acuña from the Rule 5 Draft

Jose Acuña is easily the most controversial name on this list. The other four are virtual locks to be added to the 40-man roster later this offseason, but Acuña is in a bit of a different category.

Acuña, as Reds fans might remember, was part of the trade last summer that sent Tyler Naquin to the New York Mets. In return, the Reds received Acuña and highly-rated outfield prospect Hector Rodriguez.

Acuña is just 20 years old and spent all season at High-A Dayton. It's rare when clubs feel the need to protect such a player because any player selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the selecting team's active roster throughout the season, or be offered back to his original ball club.

But Acuña is very projectable, and you'd hate to lose out on his potential in the event that some team looking to secure a diamond in the rough would take a flier on the right-handed pitching prospect. Acuña was 7-3 last season with a 3.93 ERA.

It's not a slam dunk that the Cincinnati Reds add Jose Acuña to the 40-man roster this offseason, but it's a move that could pay off big time for the club down the road. As was the case with Lyon Richardson in 2022, the Reds should make sure to keep Acuña within the organization.