The Cincinnati Reds have seen a number of top prospects join the major league roster this season. The competition has been fierce, with many young, hungry players looking to make their mark in the big leagues.
The Reds seen that same level of friendly competition in the minors as well. Catching prospect Cade Hunter was recently bumped from Low-A Daytona to High-A Dayton. Hunter, who was selected in Round 5 of the 2022 MLB Draft, now joins former first-round pick Mat Nelson.
Nelson, who was once a Top 25 prospect in the Reds farm system according to MLB Pipeline, has fallen out of favor with a below-average performance at High-A this season.
Reds prospect Cade Hunter looks to leapfrog former 1st-round pick.
Cade Hunter has emerged as perhaps the top catching prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. Hunter projects as an offensive-minded catcher with limited defensive skills.
Hunter's arm appears to be suitable for the position, but his development with game calling, blocking, framing, and the rest of the defensive side necessary to stick behind the plate will be the true test of whether or not the 22-year-old remains at the position over the long haul.
Hunter's bat has rarely been in question, as he is slashing .268/375/.483 across two seasons while in the Reds organization. He already clobbered 10 home runs at Low-A Daytona this season, and his promotion to High-A Dayton has already seen the New Jersey native go yard twice in just two games.
Nelson on the other hand, has struggled mightily at the plate for his entire Reds minor league tenure. His career batting average sits around .200, and his OPS is a meager .684. Nelson's offensive slump remains confusing to everybody after the former Seminole smashed over 20 home runs his senior year at Florida State.
Nelson is far from finished as a prospect and as a player. His potential is still there and he is showing the ability to drive the ball out of the yard. But Cade Hunter is right on his tail and could even pass him by season's end.
If Hunter is able to continue improving as a backstop, he could see a promotion to Double-A sooner rather than later. Both catchers better continue improving though, because Alfredo Duno and Logan Tanner look phenomenal in the lower levels of the Cincinnati Reds organization and will be nipping at their heels soon enough.