Predicting the Reds 2023 Triple-A lineup with Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds recently made more cuts from major-league camp, and among them were top prospects Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

Two of the most highly-talked about prospects in the Reds farm system will begin play at Triple-A Louisville once the minor league season begins in April.

The Louisville Bats will parade some of the top minor-league talent onto the field this spring. While De La Cruz and Encarnacion-Strand will be the headliners, who else will join them at Louisville Slugger Field this season?

Predicting the Reds 2023 Triple-A lineup

1. Elly De La Cruz (SS): Look for the Cincinnati Reds top prospect to be sitting atop manager Pat Kelly's lineup card. Elly De La Cruz obliterated the competition at High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season. The shortstop will be looking to do the same at Triple-A Louisville in 2023 as he makes his push to join the big league club.

De La Cruz will likely play shortstop, though there has been whispers about moving him to the outfield. That seems a bit far-fetched at the moment, and that experiment didn't go so well the last time the Reds attempted that (see Nick Senzel).

2. Matt McLain (2B): Along with Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain was also reassigned to minor-league camp earlier this week. McLain, quietly, had a very impressive spring in Goodyear.

The interesting thing with McLain will be deciding where he lines up defensively. Through spring training, McLain has played both shortstop and second base, so look for that to continue at Triple-A Louisville.

3. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (1B): I'm convinced that one of the biggest reasons the Cincinnati Reds decided to leave Christian Encarnacion-Strand off the Opening Day roster was his lack of reps at first base. Throughout most of his career, Encarnacion-Strand has played third base.

With Spencer Steer getting a look at the hot corner this season and Noelvi Marte making the transition to third base at Double-A, it stands to reason that Encarnacion-Strand would be seen as the team's best choice to replace Joey Votto at first base.

Predicting the Reds 2023 Triple-A lineup

4. Allan Cerda (RF): Allan Cerda was added to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster during the 2021-22 offseason. But too many strikeouts last season doomed the outfield prospect's chances of sticking around and Cerda was non-tendered last fall.

But Cerda signed a minor-league deal this past offseason and showed off some of his power during Cactus League play. Cerda has a good knack for taking pitches, but sometimes he can be too patient. Look for the 23-year-old to be an everyday player for the Bats in 2023.

5. Jason Vosler (DH): The Reds inked Jason Vosler to a minor-league deal this offseason with hopes of the former San Francisco Giants infielder of being a left-handed contributor off the bench.

Volser hasn't looked the part this spring, and while he's still part of major-league camp, all signs point to the 29-year-old beginning the season in the minor leauges. Not being part of the Reds 40-man roster, Vosler could reject the assignment, but that seems a bit foolish with the inexperience across Cincinnati's infield and the lack of left-handed hitters.

6. TJ Hopkins (LF): I'm not yet sold that Henry Ramos will be designated for assignment. If he is, and accepts an assignment to Triple-A Louisville, look for the 30-year-old to find his way into the Louisville Bats starting lineup.

If not, the job could fall to TJ Hopkins. After the season he had in the minor leagues a year ago, it was a little surprising that Hopkins wasn't added to the 40-man roster this past offseason. Hopkins slugged .458 and launched 21 big flies between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville.

Predicting the Reds 2023 Triple-A lineup

7. Alejo Lopez (3B): Third base is not Alejo Lopez's strong suit, but the former 27th-round draft pick can field the position. With Matt McLain seeing time at the keystone, inserting Lopez at the hot corner is the easiest way to get his bat into the everyday lineup.

Lopez has done nothing but hit since making his way to the big leagues in 2021. Lopez is never going to crush 20-plus homers in a season, but if the 26-year-old continues to play up to the best of his abilities, he could earn another shot in the majors.

8. Chuckie Robinson (C): There's a chance that both Chuckie Robinson and Austin Romine are outrighted to Triple-A Louisville. But with more experience under his belt, Romine may choose to latch on with another club.

Robinson is one injury away from making it back to The Show, and after the Reds went through seven backstops in 2022, his best chance of doing that may be to play out the 2023 season in the Derby City.

9. Michael Siani (CF): All Michael Siani needs to do in order to make it back to the major leagues is prove that he can hit. Siani doesn't even need to post a batting average above .240. His speed and ability to draw walks will be more than enough to raise his on-base percentage to .320 or higher.

With the type of defense that Siani plays, plus the way his speed can impact the game, reaching base 3 out of 10 times might be enough for him to be a regular in David Bell's lineup. But he has to prove himself at Triple-A before being recalled to the Cincinnati Reds 26-man roster.

Next. Predicting the Reds Opening Day roster with Joey Votto. dark