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