View Full Version : Rotoworld Projections for Our Prospects (Long)

01-04-2008, 02:18 PM
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto was thought to be the safer bet (due to an open job) of the Reds position players coming into this season, until Cincinnati picked up their option on Scott Hatteberg. Votto will now compete for the first base job come spring training, and considering Hatteberg's poor defense (as evidenced by a .675 RZR rating and only twelve out-of-zone plays) might not be such a bad risk as one might assume considering Votto's so-so glove work.

Votto has above-average bat speed and strong wrists which allows him to hit for power to all fields. While he doesn't project as a .300 hitter, he also won't become Adam Dunn II, most likely hovering around .280 with extended at bats. He's much more patient at the plate than fellow teammate Jay Bruce, striking out 18.8% of the time while walking 12.8% (compared to Bruce's 23.5% and 7.8%) while also posting a slightly better contact rate (78% versus 74%), which also had been rising at every level. He's not much of an athlete, and while he did do a serviceable job when given time in left field last year, he still projects as somewhat of a defensive liability, meaning his bat has to produce for him to stick. Comparative bat-wise to Hatteberg, however, he's a huge upgrade despite whatever slumps may come.

While the likelihood of Votto starting the season in Louisville remains high because of the Hatteberg resigning, Wayne Krivsky knows he needs more impact bats in the Cincinnati's line-up if they are to compete. A platoon isn't likely as both players struggle against left-handers, meaning the writing is on the wall for Hatteberg. His bat is essentially empty outside of his high on base percentage, and his negligible speed negates much of that value, while Votto actually possesses solid enough base path instincts to have stolen 17 bags at Louisville last year.

Long term, Jay Bruce is the much better bet between the two prospects (and is number one in all of the minors in terms of keeper leagues), but for this season the likelihood that Votto eventually wins the first base job outright and gets 100-200 more at bats than Bruce, combined with his more advanced plate coverage and contact rate gains, makes him the top choice. He's a perfect candidate for a late-round flier when you also consider the park he'll call home.

465 AB, .280 BA, 20 HR, 64 R, 71 RBI, 12 SB

Jay Bruce, CF/RF, Cincinnati Reds
The consensus best hitter in the minor leagues last season and Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, Bruce heads a class of Cincinnati prospects ready for prime time. He will be as hyped in your coming drafts as Alex Gordon was last year and long-term projects as a perennial all-star and a top 20 player for years to come.

His similarities to Gordon unfortunately do not end with pedigree and hype, but also with him being drastically overvalued in redraft leagues. Cincinnati picked up Adam Dunn's option, and with all three Reds outfielders returning, it's not clear where Bruce fits in right now. Cincinnati could be content with Bruce delaying his service time and fine-tuning his game in Triple-A for at least the first few months, though he really has little to nothing left to prove in the minors.

Bruce rates as above average in all five tools, with his bat his calling card (and it's quite the calling card). He has the ability to hit for both a very high batting average (.310+) and power (20 HR), this year. He'll be able to play an average centerfield, but long term projects as a right fielder which will allow his body to fill out. His major problem thus far has been a rather high K rate (23.5% at Triple-A last year), which combined with his lucky BABIP rates (.351, .400, .429 and .359 at his four respective stops, though this could be a developing skill), low contact rate (74%) and high ground ball rate (39%) says he'll have a bit of trouble with more advanced pitching he'll be 21 at season's start after all. This is likely a temporary setback, and Cincinnati has proven time and time again that they'll promote (and stick with) pure power regardless of low average. But for 2008, what his production holds, overall, is still a major question. 204 plate appearances in Triple-A is not the same as a full year in the majors.

When you combine this with the lack of a clear spot for him to play, you'll be risking an awful lot with the high pick you'll have to use to grab him. Of course, if you're in a keeper league he'll be worth whatever you spend now at some point in the near future, but for those in one-year leagues, he's an extremely risky investment as he'll most likely be gone by the 7th to 10th rounds (and higher in NL-only). If he's there in the twelfth or lower rounds, by all means make the move, but this will be the exception, not the rule. If things change and he does get a starting job out of spring training, you can completely trash these numbers below.

315 AB's, .285 BA, 11 HR, 42 R, 45 RBI, 5 SB

Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
In the world of prospect projecting, a few bad circumstances sure can tarnish a player's outlook, despite all the gushing and fawning he received only months prior. Homer Bailey is the perfect example of this somewhat unfair devaluation. Less than a year ago I was reading comparisons to Nolan Ryan (how accurate this may be is certainly debatable), and now I'm seeing him valued lower than fellow Reds prospect Johnny Cueto on many expert's lists.

Bailey flashes a plus curveball that has the ability to absolutely embarrass hitters, mixed with deceptive drag-and-drop delivery and two above average fastballs. His arm slot and delivery both are extremely sustainable. He initially struggled at the major league level because he was attempting to incorporate his full arsenal, losing a bit of the bite on his fastball, and sacrificing his command. All he has to do is refine his command and control to become the true ace that he's been long projected to be. And despite the poor results last season, he's on the correct path.

Adding to Bailey's problems last year was the fact that he was injured for the majority of his call-up, straining his groin after his seven-inning, two-hit start against Oakland on June 19. He was shutdown shortly thereafter for two months, returning for three somewhat notable starts in September, winning two. The major knock on Bailey has always been his inefficiency; pitching deep into counts and tiring early, which clearly can be seen in his poor k/bb rates (both 13.7% in the majors).

Barring something miraculous, this is unlikely to change for 2008 (or unfortunately part of 2009). However, he's got a nice repeatable delivery and is a very good athlete, thus the injury tag should not be applied. Still, he's best to be avoided on draft day, as young pitchers usually take years to adjust to the major league level and his repertoire has already been exposed, not to mention pitching in Great American Ballpark. While there is a slight chance it will click for him this season, thus elevating the below numbers, neither he nor Cueto will likely provide substantial value, and staying away from Bailey for another year or so makes the most sense in redraft leagues. Those who own him in keeper leagues do not have much choice but to hold, and must continue to as the potential payoff still remains quite great.

130 IP, 7 W, 104 K, 87 BB, 4.65 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Small frame but has plus command. Though his stamina lacks, his light weight indicates this shouldn't be a future issue. Has impressive pitch movement which is his key to strike outs. Because he can succeed in a variety of roles, may see bullpen action or spot starts for 2008. Future is bright and has shot up many prospect lists. Do not discount because of size.

Vada Pinson Fan
01-04-2008, 07:56 PM
Overall I thought it was a nice article but a little too negative on Votto's and Bailey's abilities. As I recall, Joey Votto acquitted himself very well in his September callup and Homer Bailey, once settled down and rebounding from the groin strain, also did a very good job. Homer does need to master or at least improve his change-up. He has an unusual grip on the change and told Chris Welsh in "The Mechanics of the Game" b/c of his arm strength he has to hold the ball that way. It seemed to me he just loves the fastball so much that he doesn't really want to use a change-up in his arsenal. Just a fastball and a curveball thrown at different speeds.

If Jay Bruce does indeed hit like Larry Walker use to, then Bruce will have an All-star type career. Due to his limited time at Louisville, I'm hoping Wayne Krivsky signs FA Mike Cameron to ease the transition to the Majors for Jay Bruce, i.e. - put Bruce in, in the early part of the upcoming season, against other teams #3, 4, & 5 pitchers. Let the experienced Mike Cameron handle the top two guys of each staff and you'll have a very confident Jay Bruce, even more so than he was in the minors, I believe.

Regardless of what I think and what Rotoworld thinks, the bottom line is - we shall see!!!

01-05-2008, 02:03 AM
I think people attach too much attention to the Reds picking up Hatteberg's option. I also understand there is a center field vacancy, so the article is wrong there on Jay Bruce not having a place to play.