Cincinnati Reds Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, and Busts
Discover sleepers and breakouts from the Cincinnati Reds for dynasty fantasy baseball both on the MLB and prospect side.
With dynasty season ramping up, it is time to talk about some sleepers, breakouts, and busts for each team. You can find our rankings and reports to see how we at the Dynasty Dugout value players for your dynasty leagues, but I also feel like it’s helpful to truly identify whether I believe a player can be a breakout or not. Here is where we call our shots on players, I think, require a call to action in dynasty, whether it be to buy or sell that player.
Cincinnati Reds Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, and Busts
MLB Sleeper: Spencer Steer, 1B/OF
Steer's 2023 season seems like it flew under the radar amid all the talent that was called up to Cincinnati last year. But Steer hit 23 home runs while stealing 15 bases and a .271/.356/.464 slash line.
Having strong plate discipline skills, Steer plays up in an OBP format, and while the underlying power metrics are underwhelming, his bat plays up well in Great American Ballpark.
Being slated to hit in the middle of what should be a solid lineup, Steer should have plenty of run and RBI opportunities while having the potential to hit 20 or more home runs and steal at least ten bases. Given that he steals bases and has multi-position eligibility, Steer is a sneaky good dynasty asset.
MLB Breakout: Noelvi Marte, 3B
When I say I am way in on Noelvi Marte for 2024, I am ALL in. After a strong performance across Double-A and Triple-A in 2023 in which Marte slashed .279/.358/.454 with 11 home runs and 35 extra-base hits in 99 games, he earned a call to Cincinnati, where he had an impressive showing in 35 games. Across 123 MLB plate appearances, Marte slashed .316/.366/.456 with three home runs and seven doubles.
Marte originally signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2018 before being the centerpiece of the trade that sent Luis Castillo to Seattle. Despite filling out the frame quite well and adding a ton of muscle mass, Marte has sustained his ability to play shortstop before settling in the hot corner in the majors.
There is massive raw power in the profile as Marte has explosive bat speed and strong torque from his frame. Both the power and the bat speed come easy, and it showed in the underlying data as Marte posted a 106 mph 90th percentile exit velocity in the Minors before turning around and posting an average exit velocity north of 91 in the Majors. Both these marks put the power firmly plus.
With the kind of slugger that Marte is, you might expect aggressiveness and swing-and-miss in the profile. Marte actually is fairly selective with his pitches and posts chase rates near league average, while making contact in the zone at a solid rate, posting an 86 percent clip in the minors and 83 percent in the majors.
To fully tap into his power, Marte will need to lift the ball more often, posting high ground ball rates and surprisingly low barrel rates despite the high amount of hard-hit balls. But given the skillset, Marte could be a consistent 30-home run with respectable batting averages, especially given the nature of Great American Ballpark.
MLB Bust: Frankie Montas, RHP
While I admire Cincinnati going out and paying for a starting pitcher, I worry about how Montas fits, especially having Great American Ballpark as his home park. Montas pitched just one inning in 2024 after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in February of 2023.
Montas spent several seasons with the Athletics but was traded to the Yankees at the deadline in 2022. In his short stint of eight starts in New York, Montas posted a 6.35 ERA across 39.2 innings. That followed up a near 300 innings stint the previous two seasons with Oakland in which he posted a 3.30 ERA.
The issue with Montas is that he allows barrels at a rate much worse than average, and in Great America Ballpark, that could lead to a home run issue. Pitching in Oakland masked some of the issues, and he allowed 20 and 19 home runs in 2021 and 2022, respectively. But according to Baseball Savant’s expected home runs by park, Montas would have allowed 32 and 23 if all games were in Great American Ballpark.
We also do not know what Montas’s arsenal will look like in-game after his shoulder injury. Can the fastball get back to 96 mph? Will his signature splitter still be effective? All the questions lead me to be out on Montas for 2024 and in dynasty.
Prospect Sleeper: Chase Petty, RHP
Petty flew up draft boards in 2021 after displaying a high-end fastball that would touch triple digits with a nice slider to pair with it. The Twins drafted Petty 26th overall but ultimately traded him to Cincinnati.
Petty’s fastball now sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but not due to injury or anything of that nature. Petty now throws from a completely different release height and arm slot, creating more running life in his sinker, and his command is exceptionally better than it was as a prep. The interesting thing to watch is that his velocity has been back up to 99 this offseason in bullpens, so it will be fun to see how that plays in games.
His slider sometimes plays more like a cutter, emulating that movement profile and sitting 88-89 mph. It sits in the same velocity band as the changeup, but Petty can get 30 inches of separation between the two pitches, creating challenges for hitters to pick up. The changeup is more used against lefties than righties.
There is no denying the talent level or the stuff with Petty, but there are durability concerns, and the fact the Reds have babied him leaves questions on whether he can handle a starter’s workload longterm. 2024 should be a season in which the Reds let the reigns off a bit and see what Petty can do with a bigger workload. The upside is undeniable and I am firmly buying into a Chase Petty breakout in 2024.
Prospect Breakout: Leonardo Balcazar, INF
Balcazar seemed primed for a breakout in 2023, but it was unfortunately put to a halt due to a torn ACL just 18 games into the season. After a strong 2022 season at the Complex Level in which Balcazar slashed .322/.411/.476 with four home runs, he was slashing .324/.427/.471 in Single-A Daytona.
Balcazar has the makings of a top-of-the-order shortstop with strong contact and on-base skills. He brings a simple approach the plate and does not try to do too much, hitting the ball where it is pitched. He currently shows good gap power but can generate over-the-fence power with the torque in his lower half.
He has grown and filled out his frame and appears bigger than his listed height and weight. Reports have even stated that Balcazar has added 10 pounds of muscle during his rehab work for his knee and is back swinging the bat regularly. He is stated to be back for the beginning of the 2024 season, which could see his stock rise significantly.