Blake Dunn is the right-handed hitting outfielder Reds fans have been clamoring for

Why sign a high-dollar free agent when the you have a perfectly good prospect in the farm system?

Dayton outfielder Blake Dunn takes a swing
Dayton outfielder Blake Dunn takes a swing / Cody Scanlan/Holland Sentinel / USA

The Cincinnati Reds' offseason priorities seem to be pretty clear - pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Whether a starter or reliever should be atop the list is debatable, but bolstering the team's pitching staff remains priority No. 1 this winter.

However, a close second among many of the Cincinnati faithful is the addition of a right-handed hitting outfielder - prefferably one with a lot of pop in his bat.

Names like Jorge Soler and Teoscar Hernandez have been tossed about as potential fits. And while no one would scoff at the idea of adding one of those big boppers this offseason, is it possible that the Reds already have an in-house option?

Blake Dunn is the right-handed hitting outfielder Reds fans have been clamoring for

Blake Dunn, ranked as the Cincinnati Reds' 22nd-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, had an unbelievable run in 2023. Dunn, who was the 450th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, split time between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season.

The 25-year-old combined to hit .312/.425/.522 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI last season. Not only does Dunn provide pop from the right side, but he offers plenty of speed as well. Dunn swiped over 50 bags in 2023.

Injuries have slowed Dunn's ascent through the Reds farm system, but after a healthy 2023 season, he appears to be knocking on the door of the big leagues.

After non-tendering Nick Senzel earlier this offseason, Blake Dunn could potentially slide into that platoon role the former first-round pick occupied in 2023. Currently, the Reds everyday outfield would seem to be comprised of all left-handed bats.

TJ Friedl is a lock to play center field on Opening Day next season. The Reds' breakout performer would likely be flanked by Jake Fraley and Will Benson, though Spencer Steer will surely see some time on the outfield grass as well.

With Jacob Hurtubise and Rece Hinds already added to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster, the team's outfield is beginning to get a little crowded.

Adding a free agent like the aforementioned Jorge Soler or Teoscar Hernandez is likely to come with a high price tag and high expectations in terms of playing time. Is that really the wisest use of resources for a team that's looking to draft and develop its young talent?

Look for Dunn to receive an invite to big league camp during spring training. It's a bit of a stretch to assume that Dunn would wind up on the Reds Opening Day roster. But stranger things have happened.

Blake Dunn could follow Matt McLain's path and find his way to the majors after a few weeks in the minors to begin the 2024 season.