What is Nick Krall Waiting For?

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

What is Nick Krall Waiting For?


What is Nick Krall Waiting For?


Dylan Buell/Getty Images

At the time of writing this article, the Cincinnati Reds are only two games out of a wildcard position and four games out of the National League Central Division lead. Despite some disappointing performances from some star players, they are right in the thick of things almost 40 games into the season. They have a chance to do something special in 2023, and with three superstar prospects lighting up AAA, the question is: what is Reds general manager Nick Krall waiting for? 


Matt McLain

Matt McLain was the Reds’ first round pick in 2021 out of UCLA. He has quickly risen the ranks and is now dominating AAA ball despite only playing one full season of minor league baseball. He is currently the fifth ranked prospect in the Reds’ system according to MLB Pipeline. 

Through 37 games in Louisville, McLain has a batting average of .346 with a full slash line of .346/.464/1.177. As a bonus, McLain has seemingly tapped into some power that some draft analysts didn’t think he possessed coming out of UCLA, as he has hit 12 home runs and 12 doubles to begin the season. 

The issue with McLain has always been defensive positioning as he is currently playing second base in Louisville due to Elly De La Cruz, but he has played shortstop at every other level of baseball. He has played some outfield sporadically throughout his baseball career, so that is the likely landing spot for him down the line. 

However, the shortstop position has been a major issue both offensively and defensively for the pro club in 2023. Kevin Newman and José Barrero are simply not getting it done at the major league level. If the Reds aren’t comfortable bringing up Elly De La Cruz now, Matt McLain should be the everyday shortstop on the major league roster. The Reds cannot keep running out Newman and Barrero while the kids are down in Louisville, dominating. There is no justifying it. 


Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Christian Encarnacion-Strand was brought over to the Reds via the Tyler Mahle trade that sent the pitcher to Minnesota. Like McLain, Encarnacion-Strand was drafted in 2021 and is currently in his third season in the minor leagues. He is currently the sixth ranked prospect in the Reds’ system according to MLB Pipeline. 

He is lighting up AAA with a slash line of .346/.369/1.097 and nine home runs in just 18 games. Encarnacion-Strand has proven to be a nearly elite hitter at all three levels of the minors, and he possesses the major power that the Reds’ lineup is desperately missing, as they’re tied for fourth worst in Major League Baseball with only 32 home runs as a team. 

Now, Encarnacion-Strand isn’t the perfect prospect by any means. He has only walked once in 18 games. That isn’t good enough and will have to improve as he reaches the MLB level. However, he is too good of a hitter for that to hinder his promotion. He deserves to be in the Reds’ everyday lineup sooner rather than later.


Elly De La Cruz

Elly De La Cruz signed with Cincinnati as an international free agent for just $65,000 in 2018. Now, at just 21 years of age, De La Cruz is one of the best players in all of minor league baseball and is poised to be the future star of the Cincinnati Reds. 

At 6’5, 200 pounds, Elly De La Cruz runs like a deer with truly elite speed, hits for tremendous power from both sides of the plate as a switch hitter, and he can play a mean shortstop. He truly can do it all at an elite level.

Up until the last week or so, the major knock on him was his massive swing and miss rate. He wasn’t walking nearly as much as people wanted him to. So, what did he do? He has really focused on walking more, and he has now walked eight times since his last strikeout, and ten times total in his last five games, opposed to just two strikeouts. 

De La Cruz has proven that he can hit at every level, he has proven that he can quickly adjust to pitching, and he deserves to be the starting shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds for the next decade. If they want to keep him in Louisville for a couple more weeks, that is fine, but after a while, there is no justifying keeping him in AAA while the big-league team needs star power in their hunt for a playoff bid.

Overall, the Reds are in the hunt for a playoff spot, yet they continue to run out of replacement level players daily while three future stars are tearing up AAA. It is time to let the kids play, Mr. Krall. Bring them up and flourish. 


For more MLB content, check out the links below!

Ranking The Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects

MLB National League MVP Leaders

MLB Power Hitter Rankings Volume One


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