Top 20 Cincinnati Reds Prospects for 2010
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!
1) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Grade A-: Could be a truly amazing pitcher if it all comes together, but there's obvious risk here given the need for cultural adjustment, as well as potential command issues.
2) Todd Frazier, INF-OF, Grade B+: Doesn't quite have Alonso's offensive upside, but much more versatile defensively and a very solid hitter in his own right. I like him a lot.
3) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Grade B+: Borderline B. Kills right-handers, but inability to hit lefties is an issue and how do they get him into a lineup with Votto? Stock will drop if he doesn't start to solve lefties next year.
4) Mike Leake, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Might bump him up the notch, haven't decided yet. Outstanding pitchability and athleticism, and I think his stuff is a bit underrated by some people. Shouldn't take long to fit into the rotation. While perhaps "only" a number three starter, what's wrong with that?
5) Chris Heisey, OF, Grade B: Just a very solid player, looks like a .280, 15-homer, 15-steal guy.
6) Juan Francisco, 3B, Grade B-: Borderline C+ due to strike zone issues. Could be a genuine monster if he gets the zone under control, but major league pitchers will eventually exploit his current approach. Is he really a 3B?
7) Brad Boxberger, RHP, Grade B-: Could move quickly if used in the bullpen, but needs better command to rank higher.
8) Travis Wood, LHP, Grade C+: Outstanding comeback season last year, but looks more like a four/five starter based on his stuff. Ranks ahead of Maloney since he's younger.
9) Matt Maloney, LHP, Grade C+: I have always liked this guy as a possible four/five starter. Great K/BB ratios with good strikeout rates despite average stuff. Main worry is home run tendency.
10) Zack Cozart, SS, Grade C+: Took a big step forward with his plate discipline last year, good glove, has some pop, but probably just a .240 hitter.
11) Donnie Joseph, LHP, Grade C+: Relief arm from the University of Houston should move quickly, lots of strikeouts, won't have to be stuck in LOOGY role.
12) Billy Hamilton, SS, Grade C+: Great athleticism, but will need time to develop the bat. Defensive value puts him a little ahead of the tools outfielders listed below.
13) Josh Fellhauer, OF, Grade C+: David DeJesus type.
14) Chris Valaika, SS, Grade C+: Gets an injury mulligan but has to get the bat going again quickly or he'll drop fast in '10.
15) Neftali Soto, 3B, Grade C: Great tools, terrible approach, still young.
16) Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Grade C: Yes, yes, I know all about his tools. If you go just by tools he's a top ten guy. If you go by skills he's not in the top 20 or 30. Since I look at both tools and skills he ends up here in a compromise position. He could turn into something good, but the risk of failure is too great for me to rank him higher at this point. See Neftali Soto.
17) Juan Silva, OF, Grade C: Pretty solid tools, and he was effective in rookie ball. Sleeper for the top ten next year.
18) Juan Duran, OF, Grade C: See Yorman Rodriguez.
19) Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RHP, Grade C: Dayton numbers aren't great, but I like his arm and I think he could break through next year.
20) Enerio Del Rosario, RHP, Grade C: Ground ball machine for the bullpen.
OTHERS (Grade C): Tucker Barnhart, C; Matt Fairel, LHP: Mark Fleury, C; Mariekson Gregorius, SS: Sean Henry, OF; Harold Johnson, RHP; Matt Klinker, RHP; Sam Lecure, RHP; Devin Mesoraco, C; Logan Ondrusek, RHP; Brian Pearl, RHP; Henry Rodriguez, SS; Miguel Rojas, SS; Mark Serrano, RHP; Daniel Tuttle, RHP; Phillippe Valiquette, LHP; Pedro Viola, LHP.
I'm having to get increasingly ruthless with cutting Grade C guys. Don't feel ripped off; all the teams I did earlier are going to lose guys, too. I'll put the guys who get cut into some sort of "outtakes" post. Also don't get too hung up on the exact ranking of guys outside the top 10.
The Reds have an interesting top group, with Cuban defector Chapman the headliner of course. I like both Frazier and Alonso for different reasons, although Yonder needs to make some adjustments or his stock will start dropping. Leake is a lot of fun to watch, and Heisey is a great value as a 17th round pick who could end up being a decent regular.
After that things get very muddled. You have a large batch of toolsy Latin players with big power potential (Francisco, Soto, Y. Rodriguez, Duran) but no clue about the strike zone. Francisco is the closest to being ready and I'm impressed that he could hit so well without any command of the zone, but frankly I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of them bust no matter how good their tools are. Their youth saves them for now; they have time to figure it out. Watch Juan Silva out of Puerto Rico, who does seem to have a feel for the game.
On the other hand, polished college products like Zack Cozart and Josh Fellhauer could be good role players but don't have the same kind of upside as the younger guys. Frazier seems to have the best balance between tools and skills of all the top prospects.
The pitching side is also muddled. You have pitchability lefties in Wood and Maloney, the wild card Boxberger, possible bullpen contributors Joseph and Del Rosario, and the live-armed but raw Sulbaran. There are several Grade Cs who could contribute, with Matt Klinker, Matt Fairel, Sam Lecure, Logan Ondrusek, and Pedro Viola all possibly able to help in '10.
Overall there are things for Reds fans to look forward to. Much of the major league core is young, and Chapman brings some excitement. On the other hand, I never did figure out what the point of trading prospects for Scott Rolen was, which kind of fits with the muddled theme amidst the bright spots.