Re-signing Luke Maile bridges the gap to these 2 Reds prospects

The Reds signed catcher Luke Maile to a one-year contract this week.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile
Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds retained their most impending free agent on Thursday by agreeing to terms with catcher Luke Maile on a one-year/$3.5-million contract with a club-option for 2025.

Maile, a Northern Kentucky native, signed a one-year contract last offseason and became a reliable backstop who developed a very good rapport with the Reds young pitcher staff.

After watching Tyler Stephenson struggle in 2023, though there may be some ;lingering effects from the surgery he underwent in 2022, there are questions surrounding the catcher position moving forward.

Re-signing Luke Maile bridges the gap to these 2 Reds prospects

Having Luke Maile in the fold for 2024 gives the Cincinnati Reds a reliable backup behind what fans hope is a fully-healthy Tyler Stephenson. However, in the event that Stephenson doesn't have that bounce-back season, there are reinforcements on the way.

It seems as though most of the top prospects in the Reds farm system debuted last season, but there's another wave of young talent on the way. Two of the club's top prospects heading into 2024 are catchers.

Matheu Nelson was a first-round pick in 2021, and the former Florida State Seminole made it all the way to Double-A last season. Nelson finally got consistent playing time and showed off that pop that was perhaps his best tool coming out of college.

According to FanGraphs, Nelson hit .220/.322/.422 with a wRC+ of 110 in 89 games at High-A Dayton last season. The 24-year-old mashed 18 home runs along with nine doubles for the Dragons.

Nelson is still developing those defensive skills behind the dish that are imperative for every single catching prospect to master. Nelson allowed four passed balls, but did throw out over 25-percent of would-be base stealers.

The other catching prospect that Reds fans should be excited about is Cade Hunter. the Cincinnati Reds fifth-round pick in 2022, Hunter presents some intriguing skills that make him a watch-must prospect.

Hunter flew up through the Reds farm system this past season, seeing time at three different levels of the minor leagues. The one thing Hunter did at every level was produce a good on-base percentage. On the season, the 22-year-old posted a .351 on-base percentage.

Maintaining that trait will be key to his development. In addition to time behind the plate, Cade Hunter also saw time in left field. Hunter was able to nail 25-percent of those runners who attempted to steal a bag and only allowed three passed balls in 56 starts.

Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile will handle catching duties in 2024, but after that, all bets are off, Maile's contract contains a club-option for 2025, and Stephenson is under team-control through 2026. But these young prospects are making a name for themselves.