View Full Version : Depth in the minors
10-19-2008, 12:28 PM
i was just curious what some of the more knowledgeable people around here think of the depth/quality of our minors now. are there positions that you think we have alot of good depth at? one of the reasons i ask is just to get a better idea of where we stand with our minors but also i'm curious what positions we have extra depth at for possible trades. thanks
10-19-2008, 07:33 PM
I think we've got a strong depth of hitters. This is the deepest I can remember the system being in bats a while. Just look at the depth: Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Neftali Soto, Juan Francisco, Yorman Rodriguez, Juan Duran, Chris Valaika, Drew Stubbs, Danny Dorn, Chris Dickerson, Adam Rosales, and Alex Buchholz. Of course some of those guys are raw and may never reach the majors, but that's a lot of talent. Then you toss in some of the lesser guys like Zach Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, Sean Henry, Justin Turner, Chris Heisey, Shaun Cumberland, Brandon Waring, and the two unknowns Junior Arias and Anyelo Polanco.
We're also pretty strong in the relief pitching department with Josh Roenicke, Zach Stewart, Carlos Fisher, Sean Watson (talented but needs to work on control), Philippe Valiquette, Robert Manuel, Pedro Viola, Mace Thurman, and Aguido Gonzalez.
The starting pitching depth is where we're lacking. In the upper minors all we have is Ramon Ramirez, Daryl Thompson, Matt Maloney, Travis Wood, and Sam Lecure. Ramirez and Thompson have the stuff to be middle-of-rotation starters but the best project as back end starters at best, except for maybe Wood. He's got a plus-plus changeup but his control has been his downfall so far. Jordan Smith throws a sinker in the mid-90's but may profile best as a setup man. I nearly forgot Homer Bailey because he's no longer considered a prospect, but he should still be mentioned. He's still got a high ceiling IMO. His last start of the season was his best of the year...hopefully that is a sign of things to come.
In the lower minors we have Kyle Lotzkar (true ACE potential), Juan Carlos Sulbaran, who is very young and talented. Jeremy Horst is a solid lefty. Evan Hildenbrandt looks like a good prospect. Dallas Buck is very intriguing. He's coming off Tommy John surgery but he's got a heavy sinker that allows him to roll up groundballs, a nice slider, and a changeup. If he regains his pre-TJ surgery velocity then he could develop into a top of rotation starter.
Starting pitching is the weakness of the minor league system but there's some hope in the lower levels. But I love the depth of bats. Overall, the system seems to be in solid shape but there's always room for improvement.
10-19-2008, 08:02 PM
My opinion. Some of the recent draftees or international guys may be omitted, but most of the potential prospects are probably listed below. Of course, many will flame out long before reaching the majors.
Corner guys: Alonso 1B, Frazier 3B/1B/LF/RF??, Soto 3B, Dorn 1B/LF, Francisco 3B, Parker 1B, Waring 3B, Duran RF
CF: Dickerson, Stubbs, Heisey, Sappelt, Yo. Rodriguez
Near Ready SP: Bailey, Maloney, Ramirez, Thompson
Bullpen Guys: Roenicke, Stewart, Fisher, Manuel, Valiquette, Herrera, Thurman, Watson
4th OF: Henry, Cumberland
Interesting but flawed or far away Pitchers: Viola, Pelland, Lecure, Wood, Jukich, Ravin, Horst, Carroll, Hildenbrandt, Smit, Smith, Lotzkar, Klinker
2B if they stick on D or Supersubs otherwise: Valaika, Rosales, Turner, Buchholz (Valaika and Buchholz may have enough bat for a corner spot, still TBD), Richar.
TOR Potential Starters: Only Bailey and Lotzkar
SS (and MI with good defense in general): Zach Cozart and he's far away, Paul Janish as a Juan Castro type, Jose Castro in an Anderson Machado type way.
C: Hanigan, Mesoraco if he sticks on D, Tatum as a Chad Moeller type emergency guy, Castillo in a Chris Coste type of mold.
10-19-2008, 08:51 PM
I agree somewhat with OBM, but would point out the lack of solid ss prospects. Only Cozart in Dayton has shown both a solid bat and an above average glove and he's 23 and in Low A. This is his year to either shine or become a De la Hozian sidenote to Cincinnati farm minutia.
Chris Valaika looks promising as a middle infielder, but many suggest his true position is keystone and not at short. If so, he's behind both the 8-ball and Brandon Phillips, because there's no way Dusty drops Brandon. In fact, all those 2B in the pipeline showing solid numbers and little in the farm toolbox (e.g., Justin Turner, Alex Bucholz, not to mention the recently promoted Adam Rosales and Danny Richar) may need to insist they can play other positions just as well. Then do it.
One position they likely won't play is OF. The Cincinnati minor league pipeline is stacked with solid prospects. However, none of them jump off the page and scream Superstar (or even All Star, for that matter). A quick glance through my personal Top 40 include nine OFs (and an incredible five that would be at least solid with the leather in CF at the major league level), plus three others that will either eventually have to move or, IMO, will move to at least a corner OF spot as they mature (or as others nail down their natural position spot in the majors).
Of those players, Todd Frazier looks to have the best bat, but he may not have a spot, as the parent club is looking for a corner OF now and Frazier is still at least a half season away. Still, he's hit well and a mid 800 OPS is valuable to another team is trade, if not in Cincinnati.
My favorite sleeper pick and one who could be exceptional with the lumber in the Big Show is Danny Dorn. While not great with the glove, he won't embarrass himself and has okay speed at this point. Dorn has really good power and he's improving each year. I'd love to see a Frazier/ Dorn platoon in 09 and beyond, with both having a chance to flank Bruce as the Red OF for the next decade or so.
Third base (and, by extension, 1B) seem to be the consensus pick as the spot most covered in the Red pipeline. The top prospect, at least IMO, in the system is Neftali Solo, a very young, very talented slugger with okay wheels, and a frame to add 50 pounds or so as he matures. If he continues to pound the ball as he did this year, none of us would care if he was 1oo lbs. The kid hit 340 between Dayton and Billings and had 30+ extra base hits in a short season. Next season should be a challenge as he's slated for High A Sarasota (AKA, where hype goes to die).
Not only is Soto ensconsed at third, others who may fit the position include top three prospect Frazier and the top slugger in the Red pipeline, Juan Francisco. Francisco is, IMO, the most likely to get dealt, but his power is tempting. Another slugger, Brandon Waring, rounds out a really solid position from AA down. Couple that with EdE in the majors and the hot corner looks good.
Across the diamond, 1B is manned by Joey Votto in the bigs and another top prospect, Yonder Alonso. Alonso has tools, but has only played a handsful of games above college level. Still, if his Hawaiian League numbers are any indication (and I'm not certain they are, mind you), Alonso has power and patience, both welcome additions in a Red lineup lacking both. Beyond Alonso, spare OFs (like Dorn) are options, as are Tonys Guttierrez and Logan Parker, a couple of long in the tooth minor leaguers. While neither is particularly awe-inspiring, they could PH and spot start for a couple of years. Time was, that's the type of bat at the lower end of the Red Top Ten. Now, it's at the low end of the Top 40.
That, friends and neighbors, is progress.
As for pitching, there's little in the upper minor leagues to get excited about. Homer Bailey is still only 22 and seemingly limiless potential is still fun to project. But he's not done much over the past year and a half. Matt Maloney, Daryl Thompson, and Ramon Ramirez are all BOR arms but two of them look intriguing as bullpenners. As for other arms, Jeremy Horst looked great in limited starts. He's a lefty and his numbers were all outstanding, but he only started 10 games, so tempering the expectations might be in order. Couple that with tempered expectations for Hillenbrandt and Lotzkar (too young) and Wood (lack of stuff, consistency) and the starting pitching looks questionable.
The good news is that it need not be great. For the first time in more than 25 years, the Reds have a rotation that is the equal of almost all in the league. If Jocketty can find one arm for the #5 starting position between the minors, the majors, and free agency, the Red rotation might be the best in the National League.
The bullpen arms in the minors are stocked. Many of them also look ready to perform at the major league level. Unfortunately, most of those arms are RH, so re-signing Affeldt or another FA is a probability. Still, between Roenicke and Fisher, at least one should be league average and supply middle relief innings. The two losers in the BOR candidacy might also make good pen arms (especially Ramirez, though he could be AAA depth). I'd love to see what Bailey could do as a closer, but Cordero and his $12 million salary are going to be pretty hard to move. Beyond Codero, Bray and Burton are above average and injury concerns. Between them, they should be able to deliver in the 8th inning as set-up guys. Pelland could be an interesting LOOGY, as his stuff is very good, but his injury makes him tough to project as well.
In AA or lower, I really like Mace Thurman and Stewart. Both could be fast risers and help out this year in Cincinnati. Both should be above average out of the pen as well.
10-19-2008, 10:48 PM
Good depth at OF, 3B and 2B.
Inadequate depth at SS, C and 1B (this could change if the two Domincan signees are as good as expected) - and Alonso could make 1B depth moot if he stays healthy.
Meagre depth at starting pitching.
Improving depth at relief pitcher.
10-20-2008, 12:09 AM
An awful lot of prospects who are currently playing positions that may well be suited for elsewhere on the field, clogging certain positions, (3rd, and 1st, OF corners). The good side of this is, tons of good trade bait to close a truly helpful deal. I like where the Reds are at in that regard.
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