MILB.com reviews the Reds 2009 draft
Poised, polished batteries in '09 class
Pitchers, catchers abound in talented Reds system
By Lisa Winston / MLB.com
12/02/09 10:00 AM EST
With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 First-Year Player Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.
If the 2009 Draft is any indication, the Reds are apparently looking to recharge their batteries, as 13 of their first 17 picks were pitchers or catchers.
Of that group, the Reds signed their first 16 picks, including 10 pitchers, a crop that included nine right-handers and seven college products.
Though they didn't get to see their top two picks in action until the Arizona Fall League, as they both signed late, the showings of right-handers Mike Leake, taken out of Arizona State in the first round, and Brad Boxberger, a Southern Cal product taken in the supplemental first round, were both encouraging there as they impressed the Reds' front office with their maturity.
"It's a tough place to start your career," said Reds farm director Terry Reynolds. "Both had impressive debuts and we just wish we could have had them all summer."
Four of the club's first five picks were polished college players, with the exception coming in the form of shortstop Billy Hamilton, a raw but toolsy player out of high school in Mississippi.
Top five picks
1. Mike Leake, RHP: Drafted out of Arizona State with the eighth overall pick, Leake signed at the deadline and made his unofficial pro debut in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a 1.37 ERA and saved his best for last with a four-inning, two-hit shutout performance. Not a big guy, he has a repertoire of five pitches including a lively fastball and deceptive changeup and has the polish and poise to move quickly. The Reds love his baseball smarts and command.
1S. Brad Boxberger, RHP: Taken with the 43rd overall pick, Boxberger's dad Rod was MVP of the 1977 College World Series and a first-round pick by the Astros in 1978, so the bloodlines are there. So is the size and stuff, namely a mid-90s fastball and solid slider, to which he is adding a curveball and changeup. A late sign who was inconsistent in Arizona Fall League action (11.37 ERA in eight games, 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings), he was a starter in college but more likely projects in the back end of the bullpen.
2. Billy Hamilton, SS: A football recruit by Mississippi State, the 19-year-old Hamilton doesn't have a lot of baseball experience but what he does have makes up for it and can't be taught: game-changing top of the order speed, an 80 on the scout scale of 20-80. He also has the natural tools to be a fine shortstop (or, possibly, a center fielder) with agility, soft hands, a strong arm and good range. A natural right-handed hitter, he's just learning to switch-hit to take advantage of that speed. He batted .205 with 14 steals in 43 games in the Gulf Coast League, leading league shortstops with a .955 fielding percentage, and continued his baseball schooling in the instructional league.
3. Donnie Joseph, LHP : Back to college pitchers, the Reds took the University of Houston product with the plus slider and moved him quickly, as he combined for a 3.06 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings between short-season Billings and Class A Dayton. Joseph, a reliever, walked just 14 and limited batters to a .165 average.
4. Mark Fleury, C: The members of the North Carolina Tarheels went early and often in the Draft, including Fleury, who began his pro career hitting .198 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games at Billings.
5. Dan Tuttle, RHP: Tuttle was considered by many to be the top high school pitcher in North Carolina, has solid potential pitches in his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup despite an unorthodox delivery. In the Arizona League he posted a 1.67 ERA and fanned 30 in 32 1.3 innings, walking 10.
Best of the Rest
Right-hander and sixth-round pick Mark Serrano, a 24-year-old out of Oral Roberts, moved up quickly, combining between Billings and Dayton for a 2.11 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 55 innings and limiting hitters to a .198 average. ... Outfielder Juan Silva is an excellent athlete from Puerto Rico who hit .280 in Arizona League action and was an eighth-round selection. ... Righty Brian Pearl, selected out of Washington in the ninth round, fanned 43 in 29 innings with eight saves at Billings. ... Jacob Johnson, a right-handed high school pick taken in the 11th round out of Florida, had a 2.83 ERA, third in the organization, in 47 2/3 innings of work in the Arizona League where hitters managed just a .212 average against him. ... First baseman Dave Stewart is a power prospect out of St. Louis who missed time with a wrist injury, causing him to be a 22nd round selection. The 6-foot-6 230-pounder hit .158 in seven games in the Arizona League.
Keep an eye on the college pitchers who will be looked to soon, namely first-rounders Leake and Boxberger, but also reliever Joseph and later-round pick Serrano who, at 24, will dictate his own timetable with his performance.
With their first 16 picks signed and 34 overall out of 51, there were only a few who "got away," with the key three coming all in a row in the mid-teens. Catcher Chase Fowler (16th round), a Georgia prep, heads to Southern Misssissippi. The Reds also lost a pair of Florida shortstops whom they selected with back-to-back picks, as Deven Marrero (17th round), the cousin of Nationals former first-rounder Chris Marrero and MLB.com's White Sox Co-Hitter of the Year Christian Marrero, goes west from American Heritage High School to Arizona State, while Gulliver Prep (Miami) product Steven Perez (18th round) stays at home to play for the University of Miami. Second baseman Matt Valaika (20th round), who plays the same position as his older brother Chris, one of the Reds' top middle infield prospects, will stay at his current school (and his brother's alma mater), UC-Santa Barbara.
Re: MILB.com reviews the Reds 2009 draft
The Reds played in the Arizona League last year? Hmmm.
Re: MILB.com reviews the Reds 2009 draft
Well, at least we have connections with Marrero and Perez still, as they are attending the colleges of our last two first round picks.
Re: MILB.com reviews the Reds 2009 draft
Cincinnati Reds: Draft Review
by Marc Hulet - December 2, 2009 - Share this Article
General Manager: Walt Jocketty
Farm Director: Terry Reynolds
Scouting Director: Chris Buckley
2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-draft signees ($200,000+ signing bonus)
2009 1st Round: Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State
1S. Brad Boxberger, RHP, Southern California
2. Billy Hamilton, SS, Mississippi HS
3. Donnie Joseph, LHP, Houston
5x- Daniel Tuttle, RHP, North Carolina HS
10x- Tucker Barnhart, C, Indiana HS
37x- Dayne Read, OF, Florida JC
The ‘09 draft infused some talent into the Reds system, as a number of the players listed above have shown enough to be considered amongst the organization’s top prospects. Leake did not appear in a game during the regular season, but he made six appearances (five starts) in the Arizona Fall League and had nice results. He was a little too hittable with 20 base-knocks allowed in 19.2 innings, but he showed solid control with just three walks. He also struck out 15 batters and showed a nice ground-ball rate. In a small-sample size, Leake struggled a bit more against left-handed batters, than those who swing from the right side, by allowing 12 hits in 9.2 innings of work. However, he induced more than twice the number of ground balls off the bats of lefties than off righties, so there could have been some bad luck involved.
Boxberger also appeared in the AFL, but with less successful results. The right-hander allowed a .333 batting average, along with seven walks in 12.2 innings of work. Two balls also left the yard against him. Right-handed batters hit .360 against him in limited at-bats. Hamilton actually appeared in some regular season games… 42 to be exact. He struggled with his bat and hit just .209/.257/.282 in 163 at-bats. He showed some impatience at the plate with a walk rate of 6.3% and Hamilton struck out far too much (28.8%) for someone that posted a .074 ISO. On the positive side, he showed good speed with 14 steals in 17 attempts.
Joseph had a very nice debut in both rookie ball (2.34 FIP) and low-A ball (1.80 FIP). Working out of the bullpen in low-A, the southpaw posted a walk rate of 4.35 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 13.50 K/9. Overall, he allowed just 19 hits in 32.1 innings. Joseph did not allow a home run. Tuttle had excellent results for a prep player receiving his first taste of pro ball. In rookie ball, the right-hander posted a 2.86 FIP during 32.1 innings of work. He allowed 32 hits and kept the walks to a minimum with a rate of 2.78 BB/9. His strikeout rate was solid at 8.35 K/9 and he has an outside shot of opening 2010 in low-A ball.
Barnhart appeared in just 14 games after signing and posted a .541 OPS in rookie ball. The switch-hitter did show some patience with a walk rate of 11.1% but he was hurt by a .256 BABIP and a small sample size. Read has yet to play a pro game. Outfielder Josh Fellhauer (7th round) also had a nice debut in low-A ball despite a .303 BABIP.
2008 1st Round: Yonder Alonso, 1B, U of Miami
3. Zach Stewart, RHP, Texas (Traded to TOR)
11x – Andrew Means, OF, Indiana
30x – Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RHP, Florida HS
35x – Matt Fairel, LHP, Florida State
Alonso was a solid No. 1 pick, although he had a modest ‘09 season… mainly due to injuries. He’s in the discussion for the Reds’ top prospect. The club forfeited its second-round pick due after dabbling in the free agent market, but it got excellent value in the third round with Stewart. The right-hander was flipped to Toronto in the puzzling Scott Rolen trade. Fairel had a solid first pro season in ‘09 and he ended the year by making eight starts in high-A ball where he posted a 3.26 FIP. The club has yet to see much return on its investment in Means, but Sulbaran has shown flashes of brilliance. The right-hander posted a strikeout rate of 9.71 in low-A ball, but he posted a 5.88 FIP and struggled with the long-ball (1.85 HR/9).
2007 1st Round: Devin Mesoraco, C, Pennsylvania HS
1S. Todd Frazier, 3B/OF, Rutgers
1S. Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, B.C. HS
2. Zack Cozart, SS, Mississippi
3. Scott Carroll, RHP, Missouri State
3. Neftali Soto, 3B, Puerto Rico HS
The club received a number of compensatory picks in ‘07 and it had a solid haul overall. However, the first pick of the draft for the Reds has not had much success, with Mesoraco’s bat having gone backwards since signing. In ‘09, the backstop hit just .228/.311/.381 in 312 high-A at-bats. He’s suffered from a chronically-low BABIP (which tends to plague slow-footed catchers) but he did show a 4% improvement (10.1%) in his walk rate over ‘08. He also saw his ISO increase over the past three seasons to .154. Mesoraco is still just 21. He’s bounced all over the field, but Frazier is on the cusp of making the Majors and he’s at the top of the Reds prospect list. Lotzkar has shown a lot of potential with a nice fastball, but he’s had those pesky injury problems that tend to haunt Canadian pitchers.
Cozart is another farmhand that has struggled with low BABIPs in his career, despite better speed, but he had a nice year in double-A and saw his walk rate increase almost 7% over ‘08 to 12.0%. He also stole double-digit bases for the first time with 10 in 12 attempts. Carroll’s career was slowed by a suspension and he came back to post a strikeout rate of just 3.12 K/9 in 40.1 high-A ball innings. He also received a two-game trial in double-A that did not go well. Soto’s ‘09 season was a bit of a step back but he is still loaded with potential and is just 20 years old. A .286 BABIP did him no favors; his ISO also dropped off to .114 and he has yet to show a willingness to take a walk.
Brandon Waring was an astute pick in the seventh round, but the corner infielder was packaged to Baltimore in the Ramon Hernandez trade.
2006 1st Round: Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas
2. Sean Watson, RHP, Tennessee
3. Chris Valaika, SS, UC Santa Barbara
16x – Jamie Arneson, LHP, California CC
Stubbs took a little while to turn his raw athleticism into baseball talent, but he graduated to the big leagues in ‘09 and should not return to the minors unless he struggles mightily with the strikeouts. Watson has been a disappointing pick in the second round with inconsistent performances, as well as control and weight problems. Valaika’s progression was halted this season with a bleak performance in triple-A. Arneson struggled to find the plate in his first three pro seasons and he did not play in ‘09.
Josh Roenicke (10th round) was a great fifth-year senior choice but he was sent to Toronto along with Stewart in the Rolen deal. Outfielder Chris Heisey (17th round) was another key choice in this draft and has made himself into a solid prospect.
Up Next: The Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects