Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Cincinnati Reds
Here is a look at rookies and prospects who played for the Cincinnati Reds in 2012.
Tony Cingrani, LHP: Age 23, had an amazing season with a 10-4, 1.73 ERA mark and a 172/52 K/BB in 146 innings between High-A and Double-A, with just 98 hits allowed. Up for the September stretch run providing an extra arm, has fanned eight in his first 4.1 innings. Very deceptive with low-90s fastball, breaking stuff has improved compared to college days. Drafted in the third round in 2011 from Rice University; quite a ride from college to a playoff team in one year.
Mike Costanzo, UT: Age 29, minor league vet, hit .268/.369/.437 with 12 homers, 53 walks, 90 strikeouts in 343 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, went 1-for-18 in the majors with 10 strikeouts. Off the roster in early August, journeyman at this point. Drafted in the second round in 2005 by the Phillies from Coastal Carolina.
Zack Cozart, SS: Age 27, hit .249/.291/.405 with 15 homers, 33 doubles, 31 walks, 111 strikeouts in 551 major league at-bats. OBP is a signficant weakness, but he's got some power and he is very impressive on defense, pushing his WAR up to 3.0 on the season. One of the keys to Cincinnati's success this year. Drafted in the second round in 2007 from the University of Mississippi.
Todd Frazier, UT: Age 26, hit .274/.333/.500 with 26 doubles, 19 homers, 36 walks, 103 strikeouts in 420 major league at-bats, seeing action at third base, first base, and the outfield. A very solid player, another key contributor drafted by the Reds out of college in 2007. I think he is a good candidate for a significant breakout in the age 27/28 window, and he's already good. Supplemental first round pick from Rutgers.
Didi Gregorius, SS: Age 22, hit .265/.324/.393 with 41 walks, 80 strikeouts in 501 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, is 6-for-20 in the majors following September promotion. Very well-regarded with the glove, and he has a chance to hit although I think he could use more Triple-A time. Signed out of Curacao in 2007 for just $50,000, which could be a huge bargain.
J.J. Hoover, RHP: Age 25, excellent trade pickup from the Braves, posted 1.22 ERA with 13 saves, 55/12 K/BB in 37 innings for Triple-A Louisville. Very effective in the majors, 2.20 ERA with 31/13 K/BB in 29 innings, 17 hits allowed. I think he can handle a larger role and I've liked him since he was in college. Drafted by Atlanta in the 10th round in 2008 from Calhoun Community College in Alabama.
Devin Mesoraco, C: Age 24, hit .212/.288/.352 with five homers, 17 walks, 33 strikeouts in 165 at-bats for the Reds. Didn't take over regular catching job, disappointing many fantasy owners and Cincinnati fans who were expecting a Rookie of the Year contender. Still has the tools to do so. Drafted in the first round by the Reds in 2007 from high school in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Kris Negron, OF: Age 26, minor league vet, spent a few days on the roster in June but not a genuine prospect, hit .218/.287/.342 in Triple-A and just .216/.269/.338 at the same level in 2011. Has speed but doesn't hit enough to use it. Drafted by Red Sox in seventh round in 2006 from Cosumnes River Junior College.
Denis Phipps, OF: Age 27, struggled with contact in Triple-A, hitting .221/.293/.401 with 33 walks, 103 strikeouts in 357 at-bats but showed power with 15 homers. In majors for September run and has gone 3-for-10 with a homer and four strikeouts. Broke out with monster .346/.397/.527 campaign in 2011 in the high minors, but didn't repeat it this year. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004.
Todd Redmond, RHP: Age 27, another minor league vet given a brief shot, posted a 3.63 ERA with a 136/39 K/BB in 149 innings in Triple-A, got one major league start and gave up seven hits and four runs in 3.1 innings. Good control, multi-year track record of success in the high minors, but doesn't have the stuff to excite scouts. Originally drafted by the Pirates in the 39th round in 2004 then signed as a draft-and-follow the following spring.
Henry Rodriguez, 2B: Age 22, hit .282/.310/.370 this year at three levels, excellent in Double-A (.348/.385/.439) but not so good in Triple-A (.244/.264/.333). Up for September, is 3-for-13 so far with two walks. Needs more Triple-A time but I like him, switch-hitter with a chance to have an impressive bat. Defense draws mixed reviews. Signed as a free agent in 2007 from Venezuela.
Pedro Villareal, RHP: Age 24, 4.36 ERA with 107/38 K/BB in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 160 hits. Up for September but has thrown just one inning. Low-90s fastball with slider, probably more of a relief guy in the majors than a starter. Drafted in the seventh round in 2008 from Howard Junior College in Texas.
Rookies Zack Cozart (3.0 WAR) and Todd Frazier (2.9 WAR) played key roles in the lineup this year, both college products from the 2007 draft class. It seems clear to me that J.J. Hoover can be a strong contributor going forward, while Devin Mesoraco needs at-bats. Gregorius and Rodriguez provide more middle infield options for the future.