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Thread: Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?

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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?

    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
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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  3. #2
    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    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.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    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?
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?

    Originally posted by M2
    And stick a fork into -

    Alejandro Diaz
    Dane Sardinha
    Ty Howington
    What's up (or down!) with these guys, M2?

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    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.

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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?

    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).
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    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.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    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

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    Re: Re: Re: Who are the Reds' top prospects these days?

    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!

  11. #10
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    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.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    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.

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    I would still have pulled the trigger to a Hudson/Howington for Penny deal.
    If you think small, you'll go nowhere in life.

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    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    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?

  15. #14
    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    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.
    Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!

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    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.
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