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De La Cruz, Boyle earn starring roles for Reds

Big prospects put up eye-catching numbers to reach Double-A
Elly De La Cruz was the only player in the Minors with at least 25 homers and 45 stolen bases this season. (Paul R. Gierhart/
November 7, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Cincinnati Reds.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Cincinnati Reds.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Louisville: 60-90
Double-A Chattanooga: 61-75
High-A Dayton: 67-61
Single-A Daytona: 54-74
ACL Reds: 32-19 (division winner)
DSL Reds: 24-26
Overall record: 298-345 (.463 winning percentage, 25th among MLB organizations)

Reds Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Daniel Vellojin

Vellojin got a delayed start to his season after undergoing offseason surgery on his right hand, yet he still managed to compile 10 home runs over 70 contests across three levels. That constant change in competition led to some disparate numbers between clubs, and a .199 overall average, but the 22-year-old recorded a solid .327 on-base percentage in addition to his strong defensive marks.

First base: Alex McGarry

An undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2020, McGarry came out of the gate slugging in 2022, collecting 23 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs in his first 28 games for Dayton. He spent the majority of his year with Chattanooga, where he walloped 16 home runs and posted a .529 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old got a taste of Triple-A to close the year, but a wrist injury in September sidetracked his tenure and cost him a shot to push for the organizational lead in homers.

In total, McGarry collected 27 roundtrippers with 78 RBIs and an .860 OPS while adding 15 stolen bases in 19 attempts. He slashed his K rate at each stop up the ladder and delivered a .990 fielding percentage at first base.

“He’s tough on himself; he’s very, very competitive,” said Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender. “I’m just proud of the work he’s done.”

Second base: Tyler Callihan

After Tommy John surgery necessitated a late start to his season, Callihan kicked off the campaign in style, homering in his first at-bat for Daytona. Ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the Reds system, he graduated the level in late June after batting .282 through 32 games. Upon his arrival at Dayton, the 22-year-old split time between the keystone and the hot corner. Callihan’s smooth left-handed swing at the dish needed an acclimation period, but he finished with a flurry, compiling a .359/.405/.744 slash line over his final 10 games. In total, the 2019 third-rounder swiped 15 bases in 18 attempts.

Third base: Nick Quintana

Acquired by Cincinnati in exchange for longtime catcher Tucker Barnhart last November, Quintana’s first year in the organization saw him earn his first taste of Double-A as he split the year between the Dragons and Lookouts. The right-handed-hitting infielder collected 10 homers and 52 RBIs in addition to his .358 on-base percentage.

Shortstop: Elly De La Cruz

“Elly is one of the coolest stories I’ve ever been involved with in my life,” Pender said of the Reds' No. 1 prospect. “I saw him when he was over in the D.R. and he was probably five inches shorter and about 30 pounds lighter.”

Now standing 6-foot-5, De La Cruz became arguably the preeminent breakout star of the 2022 Minor League season. He put his extensive skill set on display over a 120-game stretch that saw him nearly enter the rarefied air of a 30-homer/50-steal season (28 homers, 47 steals). The 20-year-old mashed his way to Double-A after posting a .968 OPS across 73 contests with Dayton.

“This is one of the smartest pure players I’ve been around, period,” Pender said. “His baseball IQ, his desire to learn and achieve is really remarkable.”

De La Cruz drew the majority of his starts at shortstop, although the organization did give him a smattering of duties at the hot corner. His bat, which notched a .910 OPS upon his promotion, has been his calling card, but he has also seen considerable time at second base during the Dominican Winter League, further enhancing his defensive pliability.

The switch-hitter has earned high praise from those inside the organization for his work ethic both on and off the field, which has included a dedication to learning English.

Outfield: Michael Siani

Siani ran his way from Double-A to the big leagues during 2022, spending the overwhelming majority of his year with Chattanooga. After a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League last year, the No. 26 Reds prospect played to his strengths this season with a .351 on-base percentage and 49 stolen bases across 121 games with the Lookouts.

Highly regarded for his defensive abilities, the 2018 fourth-rounder notched seven assists and two double plays while manning center field.

Isiah Gilliam

The Reds first hit the Chipola College pipeline – where they also found 2022 first-rounder Cam Collier – when they inked Gilliam to a Minor League contract last December. The switch-hitting outfielder mashed to the tune of a .515 slugging percentage across 62 games with Chattanooga, paving the way for a stint with Louisville that similarly saw him post an OPS north of .800. In total, the 26-year-old collected 18 homers and 13 steals with a .274/.361/.496 slash line in his first year with the organization.

Allan Cerda

Raw pop has long been the name of Cerda’s offensive game, and he swatted a career-best 24 homers this season between Dayton and Chattanooga. He played 62 games at each stop in 2022, notching at least a 16 percent walk rate en route to posting a .360 on-base percentage. The 22-year-old split his time defensively between center and right field, combining for seven assists.

Right-handed starter: Joe Boyle

Ranked as Cincinnati's No. 22 prospect, Boyle took off in his first full professional season since Cincinnati selected him out of Notre Dame in the fifth and final round of the 2020 Draft. He yielded one earned run or fewer in 14 of his 17 starts for Dayton, logging a 2.17 ERA and limiting opposing batters to a staggering .107 average.

At 6-foot-7, the backbone of Boyle’s arsenal is a power heater. He was utilized entirely out of relief during his college days, which allowed him to amply deploy his triple-digit fastball. Now in the rotation, walks have remained an issue (7.5 per nine), but he also compiled 153 strikeouts in just 100 2/3 innings across stints with Dayton and Chattanooga.

“The best way to develop any pitcher is to give them more opportunities,” Pender said. “This is a kid that went to Notre Dame that never really had a lot of success, but he had a lot of talent and he had desire. … We felt like giving him the opportunity to pitch more as a starter would help him develop, be able to repeat his delivery.”

Left-handed starter: Andrew Abbott

Much like Boyle, Abbott wasted little time making a significant impact in his first full season as a pro. After dominating High-A to the tune of a 0.67 ERA over five starts, Abbott spent the remainder of his season with Chattanooga.

The 2021 second-rounder and star at the University of Virginia profiles as a fast-riser for the Reds. His 159 punchouts led all members of the farm system and tied him for 15th across the Minors. He is currently ranked as the Reds' No. 10 prospect.

Reliever: Fernando Cruz

A quintessential story of baseball persistence, Cruz re-emerged in the Minors in 2022 after pitching in independent leagues and the Mexican League since he departed the Cubs’ organization in 2015. Originally Drafted as an infielder by Kansas City in 2007, Cruz honed his arsenal on the hill en route to notching 23 saves and posting a 2.89 ERA over 51 appearances for Louisville. He got his first taste of the big leagues at 32 years old, but his success out of relief for the Bats – and his journey to get there – makes him a slam dunk choice.

“To watch the emotion when he found out he was going to the big leagues would probably be one of the highlights of my baseball career,” Pender said. “Just the humility, the gratitude. … It’s what makes it an even greater story.”

Jesse Borek is a reporter/coordinator of prospect content at MLB Pipeline and MiLB. Follow him on Twitter @JesseABorek.