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View Full Version : Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?



M2
06-05-2003, 02:00 PM
It's kind of hard to tell. In previous years it's been fairly common for folks to post top 10 lists and the like (or if you're princeton a top 57 list), but those have been in short supply of late.

So here's a stab at one. I'll put heavy emphasis on 2003 performance, followed by level of advancement. Only players who qualify as rookies make the list.

1. Rainer Olmedo - All right, pick your jaw up. Rainer may not be a power hitter, but he is a legitimate 22-year-old SS who's been steadily improving at the plate. He's got Omar Vizquel upside and that's not bad upside.

2. Stephen Smitherman - The man can hit. He's never not hit. He's killing AA pitchers. My guess is he could whip on AAA pitchers too and hold his own against major league pitchers.

3. Josh Hall - The current valedictorian of the Chattanooga staff. He won an ERA title in Dayton in 2001. He thrived during a short stay in high A in 2002 and he's had the best transition to AA of the Reds' big three RHP prospects. He's just 22 and I'd like to see his K rate improve, but he's still on track to be a real pitcher by 2005.

4. Edwin Encarnacion - Wasn't ready for AA to start this season, but he's begun to draw a decent number of walks to go with gap power, speed and all the necessary tools to be a fine defensive 3B. My guess is he puts his game together over the next month or two. Still only 21.

5. Mark Schramek - Just leapfrogged Encarnacion, but Encarnacion also hit well down at A ball and he was two years younger when he did it. Schramek will probably stay ahead of Encarnacion on the food chain and reach the majors first, but he's got a lower ceiling.

6. Jesse Gutierrez - He's started playing behind the plate again and, if he stays there, the Reds may have themselves a catcher with some pop.

7. Dustin Moseley - He's hardly lighting up AA, but he's young. He'll probably need to repeat the level next year at the rate he's going.

8. Bobby Basham - Too easy to hit so far this season. Still in possession of a good K:BB ratio. Health concerns cropped up earlier this season.

9. William Bergolla - He can fly (26 SB) and he's hitting a respectable .274 after jumping a level to high A ball. Still a puppy, he needs to learn how to take a walk. Has zero power at the moment, though he hit for some gap power in rookie ball in previous seasons.

10. Nate Cotton - An honest-to-goodness closer in high A. Stays in the strike zone, impossible to hit, Ks everything. Been an All-Star in each of his first two seasons and should continue that at Potomac.

11. Ryan Mottl - Looky, an extra thrown in. Mottl's 25 and still a bit wild, but he's having a fine season in AA. If he can cut the BB rate, he's got a chance to be a pitcher.

Honorable mentions (in no particular order)-

Scott Dunn (AA) - great arm, but falls apart too often.
Chris Denorfia (high A) - BA has fallen off in recent weeks, but still shows promise of being an OB/SB player.
Steve Kelly (high A) - improving after slow start.
Mike Bassett (low A) - Just returned from what I assume was an injury and, surprise, he's hitting.
Kevin Howard (low A) - Neither fast nor strong nor a great hitter, but steady.
Juan Frias (low A) - Old for his level, but nice numbers (2.89 ERA).
Jan Granado (low A) - Another guy improving after a slow start.

And stick a fork into -

Alejandro Diaz
Dane Sardinha
Ty Howington

BuckeyeRedleg
06-05-2003, 02:50 PM
Good post, M2. I love the threads following the prospects.

Gotta question for you or for anyone else that follows stuff regarding the 40-man roster. I was wondering when guys that were not drafted by the Reds, such as Bergolla, Encarnacion, etc were signed. I was just making a list of guys that will be eligible to make the 40 man roster based on the rule 5 draft at the end of the season. I have a list of all the Reds draft picks going back to '97, but don't know when the others entered into the pros.

According to Jax's website:

"A player not on a team's Major League 40-man roster is eligible (for the rule 5 draft) if: the player was 18 or younger when he first signed a pro contract and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft since he signed, OR if he was 19 or older when he first signed a pro contract and this is the third Rule 5 draft since he signed."

Last year I think they protected Josh Hall, Steve Smitherman, Ricardo Aramboles, and Ray Olmedo.

What about Ryan Mottl?

He was drafted out of Clemson in 2000. So, unless he didn't play until 2001, last year was his 3rd season in the system (2000, 2001, and 2002) and he should have been eligible for the 40-man roster last December, right? Was he left unprotected like Koronka and Neu? Same for Boutwell (Valdosta St.-2000), Gil (Miami-2000), and Scott Dunn (Texas-1999). Were they all left unprotected and which one's look like locks to be protected this year?

I would say Mottl, Dunn, Koronka, and Gil. Boutwell put up some sick numbers last year, but is out this year with an injury. That may explain why he wasn't protected, but what about the others?

2001 college draftees that should be eligible for prtection at the end of this year are:

Jesse Gutierrez (St. Mary's)
Steve Kelly (Georgia Tech)
Jeff Bannon (UCSB)
Daylan Childress (juco)
Bobby Basham (Richmond)
Domonique Lewis (SW Tex. St.)

One more question. If a guys misses a whole season with an injury, does that year still count?

Example. Justin Gillman was drafted 2001 out of high school, so his 4th year would have been 2004. Let's say he misses this whole year (he may/not sure what is wrong with him) would his protection year then be moved back to 2005?

Appreciate any answers to these questions.

Thanks.

Johnny Footstool
06-05-2003, 02:52 PM
Man, wasn't it just last year that folks here were outraged at the thought of including Howington in any deal for a decent SP?

TheBurn
06-05-2003, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by M2
And stick a fork into -

Alejandro Diaz
Dane Sardinha
Ty Howington

What's up (or down!) with these guys, M2?

Bill
06-05-2003, 02:57 PM
I brought up the progress of the Reds' prospects the other day and no one was interested in discussing them much either then. Smitherman is the only one whom has really established himself and has progressed as one could hope this year. The aspect of his season I like best is he came out hot early and at AA ball much less. Usually he struggles a bit at the beginning of a season. Olmedo is showing some onbase skills which will be a necessity to go with his weak bat.

One player I would add would be Valdez at Dayton whom was Rafael German last year. He pitched well last year including one start at AA and does not give up a lot of BB. I also like Gemmell in the pen but he has been on the DL. So far Howard has not been as impressive as a college senior should be in low a ball. His OPS of .730 is ok at 2B but how has his range been at 2B?

Lefty Brannon has been pitching well and has good stuff. I expect a promotion for him. Childress has also been steady as last year though he his W-L record does not show it. Bergolla is encouraging as noted. Denorfia has been a little disappointing as another college senior. Perhaps his success last year was due to level of competition. I do think you have Guiterrez too high. I expect they were trying him at 1B because his defense was lacking behind hte plate. He did not hit enough to stay at 1B however and thus the return to catching.

To beef up the top 10 I expected you would have thrown in a pick or two from the draft (assuming they are signed). Wagner would be top 5. Does Gruler still merit top 10 consideration?

There are some nice players but it is hardly an impressive list. Many of these players would not crack a top 15-20 for several organizations. The system seems very lacking in any impact players.

M2
06-05-2003, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by TheBurn
What's up (or down!) with these guys, M2?

The first two can't hit, at all, and Howington can't get anyone out despite a demotion. Ty needs to go to the bullpen pronto. It may be his only hope of resurrection. Though, since he's left-handed, the patience of job wouldn't be inappropriate.

And yes Johnny, that was just a year ago. It boggles the mind to think of what Ty Howington could have fetched in the winter of 2001/2.

BR, I believe Olmedo, Bergolla and Encarnacion were all signed prior to age 18.

Off the top of my head, this is Olmedo's fourth year, Bergolla's third and I'm not 100% sure about Encarnacion (I'd guess fourth, but I don't know where the Rangers had him in 2000).

Johnny Footstool
06-05-2003, 03:01 PM
I also recall much shirt-tearing and teeth-gnashing when BJ Ryan was included in the Juan Guzman deal.

It all just serves as a reminder that most prospects don't pan out. I have a stack of Joe Charbonneau rookie cards to prove it.

SYCMiniBus
06-05-2003, 03:01 PM
I am not ready to say stick a fork in Howington. He is a 22 year old lefty who has great stuff. Lets not forget he is only a year removed from a major surgery. I think he will have a big second half. Dont forget Austin Kearns had a miserable year when he was injured/came off of the hand injury. I think he turned out ok. As for Sardinha and Diaz I agree with you on Diaz, he has shown nothing, but Sardinha is still as good as a defnesive catcher as anyone. If he can hit .250 he is fine. He might be able to do that so I am not going to give up on him yet

TheBurn
06-05-2003, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by M2
The first two can't hit, at all, and Howington can't get anyone out despite a demotion. Ty needs to go to the bullpen pronto. It may be his only hope of resurrection. Though, since he's left-handed, the patience of job wouldn't be inappropriate.
Thanks M2!

M2
06-05-2003, 03:14 PM
Originally posted by Bill
I brought up the progress of the Reds' prospects the other day and no one was interested in discussing them much either then. Smitherman is the only one whom has really established himself and has progressed as one could hope this year. The aspect of his season I like best is he came out hot early and at AA ball much less. Usually he struggles a bit at the beginning of a season. Olmedo is showing some onbase skills which will be a necessity to go with his weak bat.

One player I would add would be Valdez at Dayton whom was Rafael German last year. He pitched well last year including one start at AA and does not give up a lot of BB. I also like Gemmell in the pen but he has been on the DL. So far Howard has not been as impressive as a college senior should be in low a ball. His OPS of .730 is ok at 2B but how has his range been at 2B?

Lefty Brannon has been pitching well and has good stuff. I expect a promotion for him. Childress has also been steady as last year though he his W-L record does not show it. Bergolla is encouraging as noted. Denorfia has been a little disappointing as another college senior. Perhaps his success last year was due to level of competition. I do think you have Guiterrez too high. I expect they were trying him at 1B because his defense was lacking behind hte plate. He did not hit enough to stay at 1B however and thus the return to catching.

To beef up the top 10 I expected you would have thrown in a pick or two from the draft (assuming they are signed). Wagner would be top 5. Does Gruler still merit top 10 consideration?

There are some nice players but it is hardly an impressive list. Many of these players would not crack a top 15-20 for several organizations. The system seems very lacking in any impact players.

You hit the nail on the head with that last point. Not a lot impact down on the farm.

I think you're right about Gutierrez's bat. If he's a 1B, he'd excite no one. My take has always been that he should be put at catched and left there. He's got plenty of bat for the position and isn't the point of the minors to teach?

I didn't list new draftees because we don't who'll sign or how they'll fare once they start playing pro baseball. I also didn't list any injured players. IMO, we'll see when they come back. Though at no point during his short span of health would I have listed Gruler in a top 10 list. He never did anything to warrant it outside of getting drafted.

Brian Prince, Joel Barreto and Joe Daws probably deserved honorable mention as well as Valdez. Hopefully O.J. King comes up big now that he's back in Dayton. Brannon's gotten worse at every level, so I'm wary of him. I wouldn't be surprised to see him hit his ceiling in AA. If I had to pluck a LH reliever from this system it would be John Bale.

princeton
06-05-2003, 04:36 PM
as I mentioned when they drafted Howie, I think that his future is in the bullpen. Probably as a lefty setup man

Which means that he's definitely not "done." Never give up on a lefty. Ever.

Krusty
06-05-2003, 04:39 PM
I would still have pulled the trigger to a Hudson/Howington for Penny deal.

BuckeyeRedleg
06-05-2003, 05:08 PM
Will he be on the 40-man this winter?

I guess with what they have invested in him, he should be given a chance next spring, right?

REDREAD
06-05-2003, 05:47 PM
Originally posted by BuckeyeRedleg
Will he be on the 40-man this winter?

I guess with what they have invested in him, he should be given a chance next spring, right?

Actually, that's a good question.. The Reds were brave enough to leave Larson off the 40 man roster when his performance warranted it..

Would someone take Howington as a rule V pick? I kind of doubt it. Surely, there'd be better arms available to go fishing with.

ForLoveOfTheGame
06-06-2003, 02:47 AM
Great thread M2, and FWIW I really enjoy reading both yours and Princeton's insights into the Reds farm system. It is obvious that you guys are much more informed than the average fan, and I am able to glean all kinds of interesting information from your posts.

I too am baffled by Howington's struggles, but still have high hopes that the Reds will be patient with him and give him every opportunity to develop his talent. There is no way that I would leave him off the 40 man next year unless he proves to be injured again by the end of this season.

Interestingly, Larson did not even make your honorable mention list, and I am very curious as to why? If the rumor was true in the offseason that we could have had Shawn Chacon from Colorado for Larson, we seem to have really blown a great opportunity to add a very good young starting pitcher. Larson's clock is ticking fast, and once again the injury bug has bitten him while he was playing great ball at AAA. Surely some team will see his potential as a LF or DH and part with a pitching or MI prospect of similar ceiling sometime before now and the trade deadline. He would also be a good guy to use as trade bait for veteran starting pitching help for a pennant race IMO.

I agree with Olmedo's place on your list and am fully convinced that he could very well end up being Naehring's 2003 farm system contribution to the big league club. He really looks to have improved his hitting enough to warrant at least a shot at a 2b/SS platoon with Lopez being sent to AAA to regain his confidence. It is hard to believe that he is only 22 since it seems he has been at SS forever. Between he and Lopez, I am confident that we will find a very capable replacement for Barry Larkin by the end of the year. In a perfect scenario, Olmedo plays great defense and hits at least .280 with a .320+ obp for the rest of the year and begins a long stay as 1/2 of the Reds future double play combo. Imagine how good this team could be if Lopez is able to turn his season around as well, preferrably at AAA if Larkin or Freel returns to the team and stays off the DL.

I would also rank Smitherman a close second behind Olmedo, and he really looks to have the potential to be a starting caliber ML OF by next season. I could easily see Smitherman being very highly sought after in any trade Bowden may pursue to shore up the starting pitching. Between him, Mateo, Larson, and Guillen the Reds should be the first call for any team looking for high ceiling, low salaried OF help for this year or next year.

Mosely has been solid, as has Hall, and to a lesser extent Basham. These guys are the key to next year's pitching staff IMO as far as the farm system goes. If just one of them could turn the corner at AA and begin to dominate that level, we may have a good shot at delivering a top of the rotation caliber starting pitcher to the ML club for next year.

Edwin E and Mark Schramek have been a study in opposites this year and the Reds seem to have a bright future as an organization at this position. Schramek seems to be hitting a lot of doubles this year and that is a very good indicator of future power numbers for young players. He is also said to have a gun at 3b, and if he can become a ML average fielder, we may have a future replacement for Boone if he is traded within the next season or two. Edwin won't be ready for the ML until 2005 at the soonest IMO, with a likely arrival date of sometime in 2006 if he turns his offensive production around.

I think that when you look at the whole picture of the Reds farm system, the future is pretty bright. I don't really see any can't miss blue chip prospects, but between the players we may get back from surgery next year (Aramboles, Hudson, Pineda, and Gruler), this year's draft (Wagner, Cornell, Pauly, and D'Alesio), and currently producing healthy prospects, our farm system could take a huge leap over the next year from below average to very good. The Reds have a huge pool of talented arms and bats with very high ceilings, now the onus falls on player development to turn them into ML players.

Bill
06-06-2003, 03:34 AM
"Huge pool of talented arms and bats"?

There are a few AA squads that have more talent than the Reds farm teams combined. You have to scratch to find two real position prospects at each level. There are some talented arms, but Chattanooga has become the ceiling for Reds pitching prospects where they either land on the surgery table or the plateauof development. To overcome this, the Reds continue to draft heavily pitching, leaving position prospects to come from the later rounds. The few higher position players they have drafted recently have been overdrafts.

Money or lack of has led to some poor drafts. Right now it appears they have little to show from last year's top 10 draftees. Investing less in Gruler than Kazmir now seems very foolish with Gruler undergoing surgery and Kazmir doing well. Votto is looking like he was a large reach. Schramek is striking out an awful lot for a doubles hitter and Edens has been having trouble getting outs in Potomac. Olmstead, Keller ? where are they even?

This year's approach to the draft is much more encouraging but let's see who they sign first and then more importantly see if any changes are made within the developmental staff/philosophy.

REDREAD
06-06-2003, 03:45 AM
I agree with you Bill.. I think our farm is pretty empty.. particularly for position players.

The fact that Olmedo is probably our top prospect now says volumes about the depth of the system.

Hopefully they can get the guys they drafted this year signed.. they desparately need a talent infusion.
Even if the finances do not allow them to sign as many of the people as we'd like, at least Bowden and the scouts did a good job picking them. (Assuming at least a few do get signed :) )

gonelong
06-06-2003, 01:18 PM
None of these guys feel like "my guy" so to speak. I had a real interest in Kearns, Dunn, and Broussard over the last few years.

Kearns & Dunn came through Dayton and were obvious talents.

Broussard was a solution to bolster the pitching staff. (IMO save $5M a year by trading Casey, apply to pitching staff. The team loses production at 1B but more than makes up for it in pitching. Worst case scenario is Dunn at 1B and another OF playing every day).

Nobody in Dayton last year (outside of EE) really tickled my fancy. I didn't really believe in anyone we had in AA/AAA either.

Schramek passed through Dayton too quickly for me to get firmly on board. From what I have seen I think he has a chance to be a productive MLB player, but I don't have enough ABs to say it with absolute conviction.

Right now the only guy I have my eyes on is Edwin Encarnacion, being an original member of his bandwagon. Problem is, I have no doubts he will succeed in time, so I have nobody to pine for.

Pitching is such a crap-shoot that I don't follow them like I do the position players.

I might have to check out Smitherman in more detail. He was a nice OFer in Dayton, but he didn't really exude the type of talent that Kearns/Dunn did at that level. I guess I have to temper my judgement of the players I see now, they don't have to be Kearns/Dunn level talents to be productive MLB players.

GL

RedsDude
06-06-2003, 01:41 PM
smitherman is a good player, but he's not a top prospect. he's 25 and tearing up AA. austin kearns and adam dunn (although he's struggling) are establishing themselves as major leaguers as 23 yr olds. smitherman might be a good role player for the reds, but i dont think he's a part of the reds future, at least as a starter.

KittyDuran
06-06-2003, 01:44 PM
smitherman is a good player, but he's not a top prospect. he's 25 and tearing up AA. austin kearns and adam dunn (although he's struggling) are establishing themselves as major leaguers as 23 yr olds. smitherman might be a good role player for the reds, but i dont think he's a part of the reds future, at least as a starter. Neither Kearns or Dunn went to college - basically starting in the system as 18/19 year olds.

creek14
06-06-2003, 01:47 PM
Originally posted by KittyDuran
Neither Kearns or Dunn went to college - basically starting in the system as 18/19 year olds.

Dunn put in a short time at Texas.

Bigg Red Smokey
06-06-2003, 01:49 PM
The farm is weak, thanks to the trades last year,and injuries to almost ALL of the good arms in the system have gone down in the last 2 seasons. The big club also has needed alot of help from the young guys for a few seasons, and once the kids are up it kinda ruins the perception that they are prospects. I believe the farm will be back on track this time next season.:smokin:

Scrap Irony
06-07-2003, 12:51 AM
Sure, the farm system is in a bit of a downturn, but it couldn't help but pale in comparison to the past two or three years. Players the caliber of Dunn and Kearns don't come along very often-- perhaps once in a generation.

But to say that it is completely barren is overstating it a bit, IMO. I like a few of the prospects Cincinnati has in its system and my Top Ten is quite a bit different than the list from the esteemed poster from Bah-stan.

1. Moseley
Young, talented and successful in every level he's pitched in the Red minor league system. His frame suggests he may grab another two or three mph on his fastball as he matures. If so, he's the top prospect in the system.
Ceiling of: NY Met Rick Reed
Probably will be like: Cincinnati Red Rick Reed

2. Basham
Not a great year so far, but the arm questions seem behind him and he's been very good for a month and a half now. His BB:K ratio is still excellent, though not as awesome as last seasons. Still young and, assuming he can rediscover the rest of his fastball, he's a solid bet for a starting berth as early as June, 2004.
Ceiling of: Wade Miller
Probably will be like: a young Pedro Astacio

3. Smitherman
He's thrid in BA, second in HR, and third in RBI in AA. That's a phenomenal year and a clear indication that Smitherman is a man among boys in AA. If he can survive with a promotion to AAA, he can be a fourth OF/ part-time starter in 2004 and a nice cog to have off the Red bench. Not a superstar, but valuable nonetheless.
Ceiling of: Chris Sabo
Probably will be like: Chris Sabo

4. Olmedo
Always had great hands, but his bat has been questioned at all levels. If he can use his speed (and all indications are that he will), he's a top of the order slap hitter in the mold of Wilton Guerrero with a Gold Glove. Certainly a very god prospect and one many teams would envy.
Ceiling of: Omar Visquel
Probably will be like: Toronto Blue Jay Tony Fernandez

5. Hall
Has had the best year of the AA pitchers to date, though his ceiling is not quite as high as that of Moseley or Basham. Ninth in AA in ERA and has the best K/IP ratio of the starting quartet in Chattanooga. Perhaps a promotion to AAA will better gauge his possible effectiveness in the majors, but I question whether his curve will be as good against guys used to hitting good curves every day.
Ceiling of: KC Tom Gordon
Probably will be like: Joe Borowski

6. Koronka
Solid LH that looks to be a year or two away. Has done nothing to indicate he's overmatched in AA; in fact, has been a bit above average in the league. I'd like to see him domanate like Moseley and Basham have in the past before picking him higher, but should be a solid LH reliever even if he can't.
Ceiling of: LH Kurt Rueter
Probably will be like: Kent Merker

7. Encarnacion
He's still a baby and, though he's been sent down to High A, that's nothing to worry about, as his patience while at the plate has improved greatly and his defense has also improved. If he can get straightened out in Potomac, he can climb higher than all, as his ceiling is that of a perrenial All Star at 3B.
Ceiling of: Scott Rolen
Probably will be like: Aaron Boone

8. Mark Schramek
The promotion to AA is great and well-deserved, but he should have been there from the start of the season. Solid bat and a reputation of a great glove at the hot corner, he's displayed a doubles bat and a ton of plate patience and OBP.
Ceiling of: Corey Koskie
Probably will be like: Kevin Seitzer

9. Bergolla
Really like William Bergolla, the speedy 2B in Potomac. If he can continue to hit like he has in May and June, he's a fast riser and a great prospect in the mold of Luis Castillo. Phenomenal speed and could be an outstanding leadoff hitter for Cincinnati as early as 2005.
Ceiling of: Luis Castillo
Probably will be like: Tony Womack

10. Frias
The pitcher formerly known as Cleris Servino has put up great numbers at low A Dayton and I am very surprised he hasn't been promoted to Potomac by now. Considering his age, he should be pitching well and he is. Let's see what he can do in AA before we get excited, though, shall we?
Ceiling of: NY Yankee Luis Tiant
Probably will be like: Joe Sambito

All in all, Cincinnati has some decent, underrated talent in the pipeline. All ten of these guys have a great shot at playing in the majors at some time over the next four years. While none of them will be in the superstar class of Dunn and Kearns, they should be solid, dependable players that can help a team compete year in and year out.

Of the above, only Moseley, Bergolla, and Encarnacion have decent chances at All Star berths, though Basham (if he rediscovers his fastball) and possibly Smitherman have outside shots.

TeamSelig
06-07-2003, 12:55 AM
Before being promoted to the majors this year, was Olmedo ever even top 15?

M2
06-07-2003, 02:33 AM
FLOTG, I didn't list Larson for two reasons.

One, I think he's passed the rookie qualification mark (<120 PAs).

Two, I've seen enough of Brandon Larson to consider him a non-prospect. I hope he can get healthy and perhaps become a usable bench player for his own sake, but it would take multiple acts of God for me to consider starting him on a regular basis.

J "Cooper"
06-07-2003, 12:05 PM
The farm system is Marge Schott bad. Our best everyday player prospect is a 25 year old in AA. That's kind of scary.

We've got 4-6 pitchers at AA who are considered prospects. Even so none of their numbers jump out at you save for Mottl. He has a good K/Inn ratio. If you have 4-6 pitching prospects, you may get 1-2 that make it to the major leagues. There's an outside chance that one becomes an avg. major league starter.
We are in bad shape.

As for everyday players. I like Smitherman-he's hit everywhere he's played and he's got a good eye at the plate. He could be an above average hitter. Does anyone know if he can field?

Olmedo's approach at he plate is looks better than I imagined.

Ed E. has gone way backwards -is he hurt?

Schramek needs to have a good 2nd half. I do like the plate discipline and he doubles power. Will it turn into home run power?

Our minor leagues has gotta be in the bottom 5. How could anyone rate it higher?