Ranking the 10 most important young players for the Reds future

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Hunter Greene, Reds starting pitcher

Okay, obviously this is subjective, but Hunter Greene is the most important young player in the Cincinnati Reds organization. A case can certainly be made for Elly De La Cruz, Nick Lodolo, or even a player like Jonathan India. But with Greene now locked up for the foreseeable future, he becomes the most important player when it comes to moving this franchise forward.

Greene inked a six-year contract extension earlier this season. The Reds have now shown a commitment to pitching, and if Greene lives up to that contract, Cincinnati will have secured his services for an incredible value. Top-of-the-rotation pitching on the free agent market is going for over $30-million per season. Greene's contract has an AAV of less than $9-million.

The fact that the Reds have now put their money where their mouth is speaks volumes about the direction of the franchise. The club is also rumored to have engaged in discussions with Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft about possible contract extensions as well. Good pitching trumps good hitting.

Greene was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, has come up through the team's farm system, and finally debuted last season. His rookie year presented some challenges, but there's little doubt that Greene has the raw tools to be the ace of this Reds rotation for years to come.

Let's not forget that he's only 22 years old. Hunter Greene's fastball/ slider combo has already gotten a ton of swings and misses through one-plus season. If Greene is able to really develop that third offering (changeup), the rest of the league will be hard-pressed to find success.

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