All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don’t get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get out of the top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you are looking for.
1) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Grade B+: Love the walks, strong power, but sharp platoon split keeps him from higher grade at this time.
2) Todd Frazier, INF, Grade B: I like him. A nice solid hitter, maybe not a star, but should be productive. Only question is defense.
3) Chris Valaika, SS, Grade B: I like him, too. Looks like a fine hitter, even without strong plate discipline. Probably more a 2B than SS.
4) Neftali Soto, 3B, Grade B: Very impressed with his long-term potential. Could use more patience, but strikeout rate isn’t bad and he’s very young.
5) Drew Stubbs, OF, Grade B-: Where did the power go? Other skills are coming along nicely.
6) Josh Roenicke, RHP, Grade B-: Very impressive arm, could be a closer perhaps.
7) Zach Stewart, RHP, Grade B-: Strong arm, command issues, could move fast in the pen. Maybe a C+?
8) Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, Grade B-: Might downgrade to C+. Very young, tons of potential, command and injury issues. This is one of my “intuition guys” though.
9) Daryl Thompson, RHP, Grade C+: He’s a solid pitcher if he can stay healthy, a big if. I’ve liked him since I shadow-drafted him out of high school.
10) Juan Francisco, 3B, Grade C+: Enormous power potential, very young, but dismal discipline. Did reduce strikeouts last year.
11) Ramon Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: Could rank as high as 8 depending on what you want to emphasize. Small right-hander with a strong arm, took step forward in ’08.
12) Chris Dickerson, OF, Grade C+: Tremendous tools. He’s more a .250 hitter than a .300 guy, but with speed, power, and defense. Older prospect, which limits his grade.
13) Matt Maloney, LHP, Grade C+: Another guy I have liked for awhile, could be a decent strike-throwing fourth starter.
14) Chris Heisey, OF, Grade C+: Like the speed, gets on base, could be solid fourth outfielder.
15) Sean Henry, OF, Grade C+: A bit less speed than Heisey, but with more pop.
16) Dan Dorn, OF, Grade C+: Kills right-handers, could be a solid platoon bat.
17) Dallas Buck, RHP, Grade C+: Sleeper prospect acquired from
18) Robert Manuel, RHP, Grade C+: One of several guys who could slot in nicely as a middle reliever.
19) Carlos Fisher, RHP, Grade C: Considered C+, another potential relief arm with ability.
20) Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Grade C: Too young and raw to rank higher in my system. Need to see some numbers first.
21) Juan Duran, OF, Grade C: Too young and raw to rank higher in my system. Need to see some numbers first.
Others include Alex Buchholz, Scott Carroll, Zach Cozart, Ramon Geronimo, Ryan Hanigan, Danny Ray Herrera, Jeremy Horst (a sleeper!!), Ben Jukich, Sam Lecure, Devin Mesoraco, Adam Rosales, Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Justin Tuner, Pedro “Don’t call me Frank” Viola, Sean Watson, and Byron Wiley.
If there is someone else that you really think should be included, make your case. I always miss someone. Space is limited and some of the players above will probably get cut if I have to add someone else.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF:
The Reds graduated a lot of talent last year, and while things have thinned at the top, there is more depth in this system than is commonly realized. They have an interesting mix of polished college-type bats (Alonso, Frazier, Valaika), along with toolsy Latin American guys at the lower levels. While they could use some more impact arms, they have several pitchers who look like they will provide bullpen depth down the line. There’s quite a bit of C+ type talent here and guys who could be good role players.
Ranking players like Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran is difficult. I have usually not included many guys like that in the book until they hit
Remember what Grade C means: “These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars.”
Reports on these guys and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order for January 31st shipping now!