5 Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Noelvi Marte
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Noelvi Marte / The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY
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There will be a number of eyes on Triple-A Louisville this season with Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Levi Stoudt set to begin their march toward the big leagues in the Derby City.

But Double-A Chattanooga will have their fair share of talented Cincinnati Reds prospects as well. Last year, the aforementioned duo of De La Cruz and McLain wrecked havoc in the Southern League and are now on the cusp of making it to The Show.

Who will be the next group of must-watch Reds prospects gearing up to take the field for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2023?

1. Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023: Andrew Abbott

Reds fans are excited about the trio of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft entering Year 2 in the majors. The three-headed monster atop the Cincinnati rotation look to be the real deal heading into 2023.

But the backend of the Reds rotation could certainly use a boost. Brandon Williamson and Levi Stoudt will be the next arms up, but don't sleep on Andrew Abbott. The former University of Virginia reliever is looking to assert himself as a starter for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2023.

There is certainly some reliever risk with Abbott, and the southpaw may very well end up in the Cincinnati bullpen. In fact, the quickest way to get Abbott to the big leagues would be to shift him into a relief role.

But, with the aforementioned Williamson and Stoudt on the edge of making it to the majors, there's no reason to accelerate Andrew Abbott's path to The Show. Look for Cincinnati to start Abbott at Double-A Chattanooga, but if he experiences success early, moving him to Triple-A before Memorial Day should not be out of the question.

2. Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023: Noelvi Marte

There is a lot to like about Cincinnati Reds infield prospect Noelvi Marte. It sounds as if the front office and coaching staff are all-in on transforming Marte into a third baseman, which, in the long run, will benefit the club greatly.

Cincinnati has more than enough shortstops at the moment. The club is heading into 2023 with Jose Barrero and Kevin Newman in the major leagues, while Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain are licking their chops in anticipation of joining the big league club.

While Spencer Steer will be given a chance to be the team's everyday third baseman this season, recent reports suggest that Nick Senzel may be getting a few reps at the hot corner once he's fully healthy.

But in reality, while both Steer and Senzel are fine players, Marte possesses something that neither of the other two has - massice pop. Marte showed off his strength from the right side of the dish during his 2022 minor-league season, in the Arizona Fall League, and this spring as well.

Noelvi Marte needs to make the leap to Triple-A by the end of the 2023 season and could be a candidate to earn a September call-up later this season. Marte has a good eye at the plate, and if he keeps his strikeout-rate, the sky's the limit for the 21-year-old.

3. Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023: Connor Phillips

Outside of Christian Encarnacion-Strand, there might not have been a prospect who received more buzz this spring than Connor Phillips. The player to be named later in last spring's trade with the Seattle Mariners looks like a top-end starter.

There's every reason to believe that Brandon Williamson, Levi Stoudt, and Andrew Abbott can all be effective starts in the major leagues. But Phillips may be actually outperform all of them this season.

While his ascension up the ladder seems unlikely to end in Cincinnati this season, Phillips could put himself in prime position to be a starter on next year's roster if he's able to excel with the Chattanooga Lookouts to start the 2023 season.

Phillips is just 21 years old, but this young man knows how to attack the strike zone. According to FanGraphs, Phillips owned a 31.7-percent strikeout-rate in 2022 and opponents only hit .218 off the right-hander in stops at both High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.

The next step for Connor Phillips is command his fastball. A 14.0-percent walk-rate is unsustainable at the big league level, but last year's was Phillips' second full season playing professional baseball. Some scouts believe that Phillips will eventually wind up in the bullpen, but the Cincinnati Reds are focused on keeping him as a starter.

4. Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023: Rece Hinds

This is a make-or-break season for former second-round draft pick Rece Hinds. The Cincinnati Reds sent Hinds to the Arizona Fall League last year, and all he proved was that he needed to keep working on making contact.

Hinds is starting to give off Aristides Aquino vibes; staggering power from the right side of the plate, but far too many swings and misses. Hinds had a strikeout-rate north of 40-percent in 2022, and gave no reason to believe that it's going to get any better.

The Reds already made the decision to move Hinds off third base. The 22-year-old is now playing in the outfield, and the reports are good in terms of his adjustment defensively. But that's not going to matter one bit if he can't put the bat on the ball.

Hinds is entering a crucial point in his professional career. Injuries have hurt Hinds' development, and like so many others, the slugger missed a full season of minor league baseball due the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it's put up or shut up time for Rece Hinds. He made to Double-A Chattanooga last season, but only for a handful of games. The Reds will have a choice this fall about whether or not to protect HInds from the Rule 5 Draft. This season will go a long way toward deciding his fate when it comes to a 40-man roster spot.

5. Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga in 2023: Joe Boyle

Joe Boyle might have the best fastball in the entire Cincinnati Reds organization. Yes, I'm even putting it in the conversation with Hunter Greene's heater. The problem is, sometimes Boyle doesn't know exactly where it's going. That's scary.

Boyle was raw when the Reds drafted him out of Notre Dame in 2020, but his arm was absolutely electric. The question has always been about his command and control.

Last season, according to FanGraphs, Boyle posted a 36.5-percent strikeout-rate and 13.68 K/9 while pitching at High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga. Those are staggering numbers. But so was Boyle's 20.0-percent walk-rate and 7.51 BB/9.

While all the pitchers on the list have reliever-risk, Boyle is the most likely to find his way into the bullpen. Starters need three good pitchers, while relievers can get away with two. If Boyle can control his fastball and work on his slider, he could be a dangerous weapon at the end of games.

It's likely that the Cincinnati Reds continue to run out Joe Boyle as a starter in 2023, but it's doubtful he stays there once he's deemed major league-ready. But if you're in southeastern Tennessee and want to take in a show, go watch Boyle pitch. You won't be disappointed.

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