Cincinnati Reds acquire four prospects in trade deals

It’s been a busy week for the Cincinnati Reds on the trade front, and on Tuesday afternoon they completed two more deals that brought prospects (along with a cash “swap” for the veteran wide receiver. league that is currently in the minors and not on the 40-man roster that brings them Austin Romine).

The big trade was the one that sent Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins for three prospects. Cincinnati acquired infielders Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, as well as left-handed pitcher Steven Hajjar as part of the deal. About 45 minutes later, the Reds sent Brandon Drury to the San Diego Padres for shortstop Victor Acosta.

Spencer Steer scouting report

Shortstop

Height: 5′ 11″ | Lester: 185 pounds.

Born: December 7, 1997

Minnesota selected Spencer Steer in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft from Oregon. After two solid years in 2019 and 2021, Steer broke out in 2022, showing more power and significantly lowering his strikeout rate. He started the season in Double-A and hit .307/.385/.591 in 35 games before being promoted to Triple-A. Things slowed down a bit in St. Paul as he hit .242/.345/.485 in 48 games. Much of the drop appears to be related to his BABIP dropping from a reasonable .318 in Double-A to a weak .248 in Triple-A. Maybe there’s a reason it’s weak, but without access to the kind of information teams have, it’s hard to know if it’s a bit more bad luck or a bit more “not setting any.” good contacts quite often”, although the fact that he is always having a lot of extra base hits can negate the latter a bit.

Where Spencer Steer ends up on the defensive spectrum is a bit up in the air. He plays shortstop and he can play there if you need him, but he’s better at second or third base. His bat will play great at any position. But especially considering all the other shortstops in the Reds organization, it looks like he’s going to end up playing somewhere that isn’t a shortstop in the near future.

Although his current Triple-A average is .242, he plans to average well in the future and he should also achieve above average power. It’s not hard to imagine a .265 hitter with more than 20 major league homers.

Baseball America had ranked Steer as the Twins’ No. 4 prospect in the system and 97th overall in all minor league baseball in their midseason update. You can see his career stats here.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand Scouting Report

third baseman

Height: 6′ 0″ | Lester: 224 pounds.

Born: December 1, 1999

After hitting 33 home runs in 81 games for Yavapai Junior College and then hitting another 15 in 56 games for Oklahoma State as a junior in 2021, the Twins selected Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the 4th round of last year’s draft. He went off with a .391 / .424 / .598 hit in 22 games for Low-A Fort Myers last season, which included a monster home run from 456 feet. This year he started the season at Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League and hit .296/.370/.599 with 23 doubles, 3 triples and 20 home runs in 74 games. He was promoted to Double-A Wichita a few weeks ago and continued to smash the ball, hitting .333/.400/.685 with 5 more home runs, 2 more doubles and a triple in 13 games. His first Double-A home run went 484 feet, just in case you want another fun stat.

Offensively, he showed some improvement in his approach compared to where it was in college, and he was able to maintain his positive power while doing so. Potency is certainly the calling card of his scouting report, earning plus-plus raw power ratings at times. There’s also a chance he’ll hit for a solid average down the line, though that’s less certain than how his power will play out. Defensively, he’s been at third base the majority of his time as a pro and to say it all went wrong would be an understatement. In his 67 starts over the past two seasons, he has posted an .876 fielding percentage at that position. He has experience at first base, having played there in 19 games since being drafted, and it may be time to make this decision a permanent one.

He was listed by Baseball America as the Twins’ No. 14 prospect in the midseason update. You can see his career stats here.

Victor Acosta reconnaissance report

Shortstop

Height: 5′ 11″ | Lester: 170 pounds.

Born: June 10, 2004

Victor Acosta was one of the top prospects in the 2021 international signing class and earned a $1,800,000 bonus from the Padres in January 2021. He made a strong debut in the Dominican Summer League last year at the age of 17, hitting .285/.431/.484 with 26 interceptions, 12 doubles, 5 triples, 5 homers, 38 walks and 45 strikeouts in 240 plate appearances. This season he moved to the Arizona Complex League and things slowed down a bit. The switch hitter has played in 32 games and has 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and just 5 interceptions in 12 attempts while hitting .243/.346/.360 in 131 plate appearances.

As you’d expect from a guy who got a $1.8 million signing bonus less than 18 months ago, Victor Acosta has a lot of tools and projections in his game. there might not be a ton of physical projection left, there is a lot of development going forward from the 18-year-old. He has more speed, more arm, above average power potential – especially on the left side, and his striking tool could be above average down the line as well.

Victor Acosta is very firm to have reached the major leagues. He is just starting his career and he is only 18 years old. He’s the same age as the kids who just graduated from high school this year, so he’ll probably need a lot of patience. His age and distance from the big leagues means there’s a ton of risk involved, but he’s also the kind of lottery ticket that pays off big if you get the numbers right.

He was listed by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect for the Padres in their midseason update. You can see his career stats here.

Steven Hajjar scouting report

left-handed pitcher

Height: 6′ 5″ | Lester: 215 pounds.

Born: August 7, 2000

The Twins’ 2021 2nd-round pick, Steven Hajjar was the only pitcher acquired by the Reds on Tuesday. The left-handed starter didn’t pitch after last season’s draft. He started this year in Low-A with Fort Myers in the Florida State League (the same league in which the Daytona Tortugas play). He made nine starts before going on the disabled list and missing the next six weeks before returning on July 17. Minnesota has limited its pitching count all year and has yet to throw more than 82 in a game, and has only gone over 75 three times in 13 games. He was very good on the mound, posting a 2.47 ERA for Fort Myers with 71 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. Hajjar did, however, walk 22 batters, which is a little higher than what you’d like to see from a college pitcher in Low-A.

Fastball: He’s mostly operated in the 90-93 range this season, averaging 91.7 mph and peaking at 95.2. There’s a lot of movement with the pitch and combined with some deception, it allows the pitch to play beyond the velocity.

Slide: The ground works in the 80s and is a solid offer.

To change : His best pitch when it comes to scouting raw ratings, he runs in the 80s and shows above average at more.

curve ball: A fringe offering that he doesn’t throw as often as his other side throws, curveball works in the upper mid-70s.

He has enough to carve out a career as a starting pitcher if he makes the most of his projection. If he wants to stay a long-term starter he will have to reduce walks, and he may have to be a little more consistent with his fastball speed because sometimes he will dip in the 88-91 MPH range and that’s really difficult to get away with at the big league level today.

Baseball America ranked him the Twins’ 11th-best prospect in their midseason update. You can see his career stats here.

Instant reaction

Unlike the deal that involved Luis Castillo who I said I hated but felt the team had a good comeback, these two deals aren’t like that. Tyler Mahle is a good starting pitcher, but not an elite one. He may have more success outside of the Great American Ball Park where he too often seemed to struggle, and perhaps he can become a much stronger version of himself in a slightly less friendly park. The team could still have tried to re-sign him and keep him, and maybe they did and things just weren’t going to work out. That said, it looks like the Reds have salvaged a good set of prospects for Mahle from the Twins.

Along with Brandon Drury, he was a free agent in the making. The Reds were probably not going to try to re-sign him, and Nick Krall even said the other day that they hadn’t had those talks. A late spring signing on a league minimum contract turned into one of the top international prospects of just a year ago? It’s hard to say it didn’t work out well for Cincinnati.

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