Will Reds' catcher Chris Okey finally realize his major league dream this season?

Cincinnati Reds catcher Chris Okey (68) catches a foul ball.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Chris Okey (68) catches a foul ball. / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Okey is no longer considered a prospect. He passed that threshold awhile ago. But that doesn't mean that the former second-round draft pick can't make an impact on this year's Cincinnati Reds team. Now, more than ever before, Okey has a real opportunity to make it to the major leagues.

Okey was taken with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft; the same draft that saw Cincinnati select Nick Senzel with the second-overall pick. So far, that draft is looking like one the Reds front office would like to forget.

Will Reds catcher Chris Okey make it to The Show in 2022?

It's now or never for Cincinnati Reds catcher Chris Okey. With Tucker Barnhart off to Detroit, the Redlegs will be looking for a backup catcher this season. Tyler Stephenson will carry the load and likely start 120-plus games at catcher for Cincinnati in 2022. But the battle for the backup spot is up for grabs.

Cincinnati has seven backstops on the minor league spring training roster, but only Okey, Chuckie Robinson, Aramis Garcia, and Andrew Knapp are invited to major league camp once MLBPA and the owners figure things out and hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.

Okey has never been a standout hitter, despite the fact that Cincinnati took the Clemson standout more for his bat than his receiving skills. Thankfully, Okey has developed into a serviceable defensive catcher. Unfortunately, that offensive skillset that saw Cincinnati take him in the second-round has yet to materialize.

Okey has never hit above .250 at any minor league level, though he certainly improved his eye at the dish last season. In 71 games with the Louisville Bats in 2021, Okey owned a walk-rate of 11.3% and lowered his strikeout-rate to 24.2%.

Who is Chris Okey's biggest competition in Reds camp?

Okey's biggest competition for the backup catcher spot on the Reds roster is likely Knapp, though Garcia could be a threat as well. Both Knapp and Garcia have big league experience, and while neither is even an average major league hitter, the fact that the tandem has called games at the big league level gives them a leg up.

There's also the matter of the Cincinnati Reds only other catcher on the major league roster; Mark Kolozsvary. The rookie was called up to The Show last season but never saw the field. Kolozsvary, like every other backstop mentioned, is defense over offense.

Since being drafted by the Reds in 2016, even if Chris Okey produced average results in the minors, there was always another catcher ahead of him. From Tucker Barnhart to Devin Mesoraco to Curt Casali and now Tyler Stephenson, the 27-year-old has never been able to carve out a role on the big league club.

Next. 3 Reds on the minor league roster who'll make some noise. dark

Perhaps things will change for Okey this season. If he really wants to make the Opening Day roster, his bat will have to show up in Goodyear. Okey needs to continue to show patience at the the plate and build on the progress he made last season. Okey has average pull-side power, but must keep his strikeouts to a minimum.