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.