Cincinnati Reds Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. 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. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Cincinnati Reds Top 20 Prospects for 2011
1) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Grade A: Is he a starter or a reliever? Either way he will be excellent if he stays healthy.
2) Devin Mesoraco, C, Grade B+: I think the breakout is real.
3) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Grade B+: Above average hitter, but blocked positionally.
4) Billy Hamilton, 2B-SS, Grade B+: Could use more patience, but I love everything else about him.
5) Yasmani Grandal, C, Grade B+: One of my favorites from the 2010 draft, power, plate discipline, and I like his defense more than some people do.
6) Juan Francisco, 3B, Grade B-: Strike zone issues and defense preclude higher grade, but the power is genuine.
7) Todd Frazier, UT, Grade B-: Maybe I'm just stubborn, but aside from his slow start last year, he still looks like a useful player to me.
8) Donnie Joseph, LHP, Grade B-: I might be too aggressive with this grade but I think he is more than a mere LOOGY type and might be able to close.
9) Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, Grade B-: Another aggressive grade; I truly believe in this arm, if he can just stay healthy. . .
10) Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Grade C+: Extremely young, very talent, still very raw.
11) Zack Cozart, SS, Grade C+: Can field, run, hit for some power, won't hit for average.
12) Brad Boxberger, RHP, Grade C+: I like the arm, but what is his role?
13) David Sappelt, OF, Grade C+: Undersized but a broad base of skills, needs to improve use of speed on the bases.
14) Ismael Guillon, LHP, Grade C+: Breakthrough candidate from rookie ball.
15) Henry Rodriguez, 2B, Grade C+: I seem to like him more than other people, but the performance is excellent and he's young.
16) Junior Arias, SS, Grade C+: Loads of power potential, but plate discipline and positional questions exist.
17) Ryan LaMarre, OF, Grade C+: Scouts love the tools, but something here holds me back, I'm not sure what.
18) Jonathan Correa, RHP, Grade C+: Another live arm from rookie ball.
19) Ronald Torreyes, 2B, Grade C+: Interesting middle infielder who leapt from VSL to Midwest League in one year.
20) Sam LeCure, RHP, Grade C: Average pitcher. . .but the kind of guy who could run off a surprisingly strong year with proper support from teammates.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Tucker Barnardt, C; Drew Cisco, RHP; Daniel Corcino, RHP; Danny Dorn, OF; Juan Duran, OF; Brodie Greene, INF; Didi Gregorius, SS; Matt Klinker, RHP; Wes Mugarian, RHP; Kris Negron, SS; Cody Puckett, 2B; Neftali Soto, 1B; Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RHP; Daryl Thompson, RHP; Chris Valaikia, INF; Phillippe Valiquette, LHP; David Vidal, 3B; Kyle Waldrop, OF.
This system is in good shape with a super-elite Grade A pitching prospect, four Grade B+ position players who all project as regulars for me, and then a big batch of B-/C+ types who have a chance to contribute. Some of the later guys (Lotzkar, most of the Latin American guys) have the potential for higher grades next year but have some sort of question or issue to deal with right now.
The Reds put a lot into finding power-hitting Latin American players but they all seem to have the same weakness with poor strike zone judgment. Mesoraco and Grandal give them the luxury of having two elite catching prospects. The pitching after Chapman is thinner, although there is significant raw material at the lower levels that could look really nice a year from now.