This top Reds prospect will surprisingly begin his 2022 campaign at Low-A Daytona

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Austin Hendrick (12) fields a ball during practice.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Austin Hendrick (12) fields a ball during practice. / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Hendrick was the Cincinnati Reds first-round pick in 2020 and spent his entire 2021 season at Low-A Daytona. According to Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender, Hendrick will begin the 2022 back in Florida with the Tortugas.

That news may come as a bit of surprise to the Cincinnati faithful, as it would seem only logical to move Hendrick up the ladder and allow the left-handed slugger to start the 2022 season at High-A Dayton. It appears, however, that the Reds brass has other plans for Hendrick.

Reds OF prospect Austin Hendrick will begin 2022 at Low-A.

Austin Hendrick played in 63 games for the Tortugas in 2021 and launched seven home runs. The power is Hendrick's calling card, and was said to have the most raw power during the 2020 MLB Draft. Aside from fellow prospect Rece Hinds, Hendrick may have the most raw power in the Reds farm system.

But, with that power comes a lot of swings and misses. Hendrick went down on strikes in 100 of his 266 plate appearances. That's a strikeout-rate of 37.6%. Ouch! That said, Hendrick did record 51 walks as well which is good for a very respectable 19.2% walk-rate. In short, almost 60% of Hendrick's plate appearances ended with a home run, strikeout, or free pass.

Given all that information, it's no wonder that the Cincinnati Reds expect to send Hendrick back to Low-A Daytona to begin the 2022 season. Per Pender, the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season may have effected Hendrick more than any other Reds prospect.

“Probably more than anyone in our organization, he was punished the most for COVID. He was a high school kid from the Northeast. He was getting limited at-bats, anyway, compared to other guys. He loses a whole year because of COVID, shows up. We sent him to the alternate site, but he was such a young kid. There were no real games. He went to instructional league and had very limited games. Really, he never had a Rookie [level] season.”
Shawn Pender, Reds VP Player Development

Austin Hendrick is currently the Cincinnati Reds' fourth-highest rated prospect per MLB Pipeline. While some scouts feel that he can play center field, it's more likely that Hendrick will find a home in right field where he spent 56 of his 62 games last season.

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Hendrick's development is essential to the long-term success of the organization, and while starting him at Low-A once again next season seems a bit odd, it also appears to be necessary. Let's hope the 20-year-old makes huge gains in 2022.