It’s been a busy week for the Cincinnati Reds on the commercial front, and on Tuesday afternoon they struck two more deals that brought in prospects (plus one cash “trade” for veteran players from the leagues who are currently in junior and not in Austin Romain’s 40-man roster).
It was the big trade that sent Tyler Mahley to the Minnesota Twins for three possibilities. Cincinnati acquired Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, as well as left-handed bowler Stephen Hajjar in the deal. About 45 minutes later, the Reds sent Brandon Drury to San Diego Padres to lead Victor Acosta.
Spencer Steyer Scout Report
to rise: 5 ′ 11 | Weight: 185 lbs.
Boy: December 7, 1997
Minnesota selected Spencer Steer in the third round of the 2019 draft outside of Oregon. After two strong years in 2019 and 2021, Steer took off in 2022, showing more strength and significantly lowering his strike 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 at St. Paul as he hit .242/.345/.485 in 48 games. Much of the drop appears to be related to the fact that his BABIP went from a reasonable 0.318 in Double-A to 0.248 in Triple-A. There may be reason for it being low, but without access to the kind of information the teams have, it’s hard to tell if it’s bad luck or a bit more “not making good communication often enough”, despite the fact that it still got On a lot of extra base hits you may cancel out the latter a bit.
Where Spencer Steer ends up on the defensive spectrum is a bit in the air. He’s been playing in a short position, and he can play there if you need him, but he fits better at second or third base. His racket will play well in either position. But especially when considering all of the other Reds’ stops, it looks like he’s going to end up playing somewhere not short in the near future.
Despite his current Triple-A average being .242, he expects to reach a good average in the future, and is also expected to deliver above-average strength. It’s not hard to imagine a .265 hitter with a 20+ house running along the streak in the major leagues.
Baseball America Steer ranked the Twins’ number 4 prospect in the system and 97th overall in all of Major League Baseball in the mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.
Scout Christian Encarnacion-Strand reports
to rise: 6 ′ 0″ | Weight: 224 lbs.
Boy: December 1, 1999
After making 33 home runs in 81 games for Yavapai Junior College and then 15 again in 56 games for Oklahoma State as a junior in 2021, the Twins picked Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He came out hitting .391/.424/.598 in 22 games with Low-A Fort Myers last season that included a whopping 456-foot home run. 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 points in 74 games. He was promoted to Double-A Wichita a few weeks ago and went on to crush the ball, hitting .333/.400/.685 with 5 more runs, 2 doubles, and a triple in 13 games. His first run in Double-A went 484 feet, just in case you wanted another fun setting.
Offensively he showed some improvement in his approach versus what he had in college, and was able to maintain his extra strength while doing so. Strength is definitely the calling card in his Exploratory Report, as you win more than raw Strength scores at times. There’s a chance he’ll hit a solid average down the streak as well, although that’s less certain than how his strength plays out. Defensively, he’s been at third base for the majority of his time as a pro, and to say it got worse, would be an understatement. In his 67 starts over the past two seasons, he posted 876 center turnouts. He’s had some first base experience, having played 19 games there since he was drafted, and it might be time to make that move permanent.
Ranked by Baseball America as the 14th prospect of the Twins in their mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.
Victor Acosta Scout Report
to rise: 5 ′ 11 | Weight: 170 lbs.
Boy: Jun 10, 2004
Victor Acosta was one of the top candidates in the international signing category 2021 and earned a $1,800,000 bonus from Padres in January of 2021. He made his first good appearance in the Dominican Summer League last year when he was 17, turning 285 . .431/.484 with 26 steals, 12 doubles, 5 triples, 5 home runs, 38 walks and 45 strikes in 240 backs of the board. This season he moved to the Arizona Composite League and things slowed down a bit. The substitution hitter has played in 32 games and has 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and only 5 steals in 12 attempts while hitting .243/.346/.360 in 131 board appearances.
As you’d expect from a guy who earned a $1.8 million signing bonus less than 18 months ago, Victor Acosta has plenty of gadgets and drops in his game. Although there may not be much physical projection left, there is a lot more development ahead from 18 years. He has plus speed, plus arm, above average power potential – especially from the left side, and his hitter can be above average down the line too.
Victor Acosta ranch is very accessible to the major tournaments. He has just started his career and is still only 18 years old. He’s the same age as the kids who just graduated from high school this year, so it probably takes a lot of patience. Its age and how far it is from the big leagues means there’s a lot of risk, but it’s also the kind of lottery ticket that pays off if you get the numbers right.
Ranked by Baseball America as the Padres’ No. 11 prospect in the mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.
Stephen Hajjar Scout Report
to rise: 6 ′ 5 | Weight: 215 lbs.
Boy: August 7, 2000
Stephen Hajjar was the only bowler to have the Reds on Tuesday, in the second round of the Twins competition in 2021. The left start was unsuccessful after last season’s draft. He started this year in Low-A with Fort Myers in the Florida State League (the same league as Daytona Tortugas). He started nine times before hitting the hit list and missing the next six weeks before returning on July 17. Minnesota limited the number of pitches throughout the year, has yet to throw more than 82 pitches in a game, and has topped 75 pitches only three times in his 13 games. He did so well when he was on the hill, posting 2.47 afternoons for Fort Myers with 71 strikes. In 43.2 rounds. A stoner walked 22 hitters, which is a bit higher than you’d like to see from a college pitcher in Low-A.
Fast Bowl: I mostly worked in the 90-93 range this season, averaging 91.7 mph and topped out at 95.2. There is a lot of movement with the pitch as well as some trickery, allowing the pitch to play beyond speed.
slider: The stadium operates in the mid 80’s and is a solid show.
change: His best score when it comes to his initial exploration scores, he runs in the lower 80s and flashes himself as above average to positive.
Curveball: A fringe show that doesn’t throw it out as often as other minor pitches, the curve ball run in the mid-’70s.
He’s got enough things to enable him to have a career as a novice kicker if he makes the most of his show. If he’s going to be a starting player in the long run, he’ll need to have fewer walks, and he may need to be more consistent with the fast ball speed as sometimes he’ll drop in the 88-91 mph range and that’s just too hard on Major league level today.
Baseball America ranked it as the Twins 11’s best prospect in their mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.
Unlike the deal that included Luis Castillo which I said I hated but felt the team got a good return, these two deals are not. Tyler Mahley is a good player, but he’s not an elite at first. He might have more success outside of Great American Ball Park where he seemed to struggle a lot, and perhaps he could turn into a much stronger version of himself in a park less friendly with the house management. The team could still try to re-sign and keep him, and they probably did and things just didn’t go well. With that said, the Reds seem to have restored a good set of possibilities for Mahle from the twins.
With Brandon Drury, he was a free agent. The Reds probably won’t try to re-sign him, and Nick Krall said the other day they didn’t have those discussions. Has signing in the late spring of a league minimum deal turned out to be one of the best international prospects in just a year? It’s hard to say that didn’t work out well with Cincinnati.