At the beginning of the year, the Cincinnati Reds outfield seemed to be aligned. Bringing in veteran Wil Myers to go along with returning players in Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Nick Senzel.
As the year has progressed, the outfield group has not. The Reds have gotten solid play from TJ Friedl, and after a slow start Fraley has caught fire in the Reds lineup.
Myers, however, has struggled. On top of the struggles from the 32-year-old free agent acquisition, there has been a revolving door for the fourth outfield spot.
Smoking-hot Reds prospect T.J. Hopkins has shown that he's ready for the big leagues.
Nick Senzel has made the move back to third base and hasn’t looked back. Will Benson has shown he quite simply can’t hit big league pitching at the moment. And then you have Stuart Fairchild, who hasn’t provided much production for the Cincinnati Reds in outfield relief.
The good news for the Reds is that there is a 26-year-old outfielder in Triple-A who has come out of the gate swinging. It might just be time for him to finally break into the big leagues.
When you hear Reds prospects, you think of the top names; Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte. Louisville Bats outfielder T.J. Hopkins has swung a bat at the same level as those three big names.
Heading into Wednesday’s afternoon game for Louisville, the former ninth-round pick had, according to FanGraphs, a wRC+ of 154 in 138 at bats. Wednesday’s game saw him go 2-for-5 with an RBI to bump his season average up to .329 with a .991 OPS.
T.J. Hopkins' seven home runs is good for second best in Louisville, which goes along with his team leading 12 doubles. Hopkins' above-average bat has burst onto the scene and provided the Cincinnati Reds with yet another prospect who could make his debut in 2023.
The Reds have tried other guys in that fourth outfielder spot. Benson has been up two times, Fairchild, who played with the team last season, has shown what he is at this point in his career.
Perhaps the big hurdle for Hopkins is he doesn’t occupy a spot on the 40-man roster. To get him in the majors, someone will have to be DFA’d, released, or pushed to the 60-day IL. In regards to that, it shouldn’t be a roadblock held against Hopkins. If Hopkins has proven he can hit, he deserves, at the very least, a shot with the big league team.