The Cincinnati Reds announced that they’ve invited five minor league prospects from their organization to big league spring training. Pitchers Andrew Abbott and Connor Phillips, as well as infielders Alex McGarry, Matt McLain, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were all extended big league camp invitations by the club.
Connor Phillips joined the club in the spring last year when he was acquired by the Reds in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. The right-handed pitcher split his time between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season. In 12 starts with Dayton he posted a 2.95 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 32 walks in 64.0 innings. After his promotion to Chattanooga he made 12 starts for the Lookouts and posted a 4.93 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 34 walks in 45.2 innings. The organizations 8th rated prospect, Phillips has big time stuff, but the 21-year-old will need to improve his ability to find the strikezone as he continues to develop.
Andrew Abbott also saw action with both Dayton and Chattanooga last season. He pitched in just five games with the Dragons in High-A, posting a 0.67 ERA in 27.0 innings with seven walks and 40 strikeouts before the organization moved him up to Chattanooga. In 20 starts there he battled consistency, posting a 4.75 ERA in 91.0 innings with 41 walks and 119 strikeouts. The left-handed starter has solid stuff across the board. Rated as the teams 14th best prospect, the 23-year-old participated in the Futures Game last summer but struggled a bit after returning. He closed out the season on a high note, not giving up a run in his final three starts and striking out 21 batters with just three walks.
Matt McLain, the organizations 1st round pick in 2021 had an interesting season from a statistical standpoint. He spent the entire year in Chattanooga during 2022. He missed a month with a wrist injury in the middle of the year. After he had a big April, things slowed down a bit in one area. April was the only month he played in where he had an average higher than .229. The batting average simply wasn’t there for the organization’s 6th rated prospect as his strikeout rate climbed to unexpected rates. But his power also climbed to unexpected rates as he slugged 17 home runs in just 103 games. McLain also walked a bunch, giving him a final line on the season of .232/.363/.453 to go with 27 steals in 30 attempts. In the second half of the season he slid over to second base frequently to make room for Elly De La Cruz at shortstop.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s 2022 season in the minor leagues rivals that of Elly De La Cruz. The corner infielder didn’t join the Reds until the trade deadline and then spent the final two months of the season with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. Between the three stops he had between High-A Cedar Rapids, Double-A Wichita, and Chattanooga he hit .304/.368/.587 with 31 doubles, 5 triples, and 32 home runs. The Reds 7th rated prospect had real struggles defensively in the first half, but an adjustment he made in mid-June took a 1st half fielding percentage of .827 to a .976 fielding percentage from June 21st through the end of the season (at third base).
Alex McGarry came out of nowhere, so to speak, in 2022. Undrafted in 2020 out of Oregon State in MLB’s shortened 5-round draft, McGarry signed with the Reds as an undrafted free agent. After a so-so debut in 2021 he put on a show for much of 2022. The first baseman/corner outfielder played in 110 games between stops in Dayton, Chattanooga, and Triple-A Louisville. In 416 at-bats he hit .264/.316/.543 with 23 doubles, 6 triples, 27 home runs, and he stole 15 bases in 19 attempts.
With these five additions to the roster for spring training there are now 17 non-roster invitees to go along with the 40 players on the big league roster. 26 position players will be in camp to go along with 31 pitchers. There’s still a month remaining until spring training begins, so there will likely be another addition or two before pitchers and catchers start showing up in Goodyear.