Reds should take notes after watching Cardinals demote struggling top prospect

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since spring training, many of the Cincinnati faithful have shown a desire to see some of the Reds top prospects make their major league debut. It's understandable. After all, the Cincinnati Reds traded away several quality major leaguers over the past year and restocked the club's farm system with players who are supposed to be key to the team's long-term success.

But the St. Louis Cardinals just demonstrated what can happen when you push a young, talented player too quickly. Heck, the Reds have their own example with current shortstop Jose Barrero.

The St. Louis Cardinals have optioned their top prospect, Jordan Walker, back to Triple-A. You're sure to hear varying opinions as to why this happened, but quite frankly, the rookie has been struggling of late.

Did the Cardinals just show the Reds why it's important to be patient with prospects?

Jordan Walker, over the last two weeks, has hit.192/.250/.231 with only one extra-base hit, 11 punch outs, and just two walks. This is, of course, after Walker began the season with a 12-game hit-streak.

Now, the Cardinals will tell you that they want to continue to develop his approach, that he needs to learn how to lift the ball more, and that they're outfield is overcrowded. Blah, blah, blah. The bottom line is that Walker was rushed to the big leagues.

Walker has a ton of potential. He's only 20 years old and never played above Double-A. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol even talked about the struggles that Walker had at Double-A last season which included hitting the ball on the ground and a less than desirable walk-rate.

Reds fans saw the same thing happen to Jose Barrero. The shortstop prospect was rushed to the big leagues in 2020, made a handful of starts out of position in 2021, failed miserably in 2022, and is now a fringe-roster player in 2023 who's constantly looking over his shoulder at the likes of Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz.

What's going on with Jordan Walker is a cautionary tale that the Reds need to pay attention to when it comes to some of their younger prospects. I'm not talking about Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, or Andrew Abbott, though there's not need to rush them either. But those three all had successful college careers.

But it's not going to crush the confidence of prospects like Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and Connor Phillips to stay in the minors throughout the season. Each of those players has superstar potential, but until the Reds are able to provide each of them with playing time every day, they might as well stay on the farm.

Will Jordan Walker rebound and get back on the track? There's a good chance that happens, but he could just as easily be a bust. Reds fans have seen their fair share of those stories over the years as well.

The bottom line is, for a team like the Cincinnati Reds there's absolutely no reason to rush some of these young prospects to the big leagues. Their time will come soon enough.

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