First, let me start this by stating that Josh Hamilton would most likely be my number one prospect and possibly the best in all of baseball if he were eligible (I know, I know but he won't be eligible in about two more weeks). His start has been nothing short of incredible and is deserving enough to warrant the top spot but won't due to the reasons I mentioned above. Enough of that and on to my revised top ten list.
1. Jay Bruce, of, age: 20
Jay Bruce was second to Homer Bailey on my first prospect list which I did back in March. Homer Bailey has did nothing wrong to drop from one to two, it's just Jay Bruce is so damn good that I couldn't resist bumping him to number one. In fact, I believe Jay Bruce is the best prospect in all of baseball. This is a kid who just turned 20 years old last month and is hitting .336/.383/.629 - 1.012 OPS with 21 extra-base hits in 140 atbats in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. That is incredible.
2. Homer Bailey, rhp, age: 21
Homer is starting off similarly to what he did last season - low hit totals, fairly high walk totals, and average strikeout rates, though his ERA is better this year. And it was somewhere around this time last year that Homer kicked it into a higher gear and finished with a dominant season. I expect to see the same thing this season, and if that happens, then expect to see him pitching in the Great American Ballpark shortly.
3. Joey Votto, 1b, age: 23
Unlike the first two, Joey Votto remains in the same position as he was back in March. Some people may question why I left Votto at number three after such a poor start and my answer is this: He hasn't been as bad as you may think. The guy is drawing walks at an Adam Dunn like pace, he's hitting a ton of line drives, and he's hitting the ball to all fields. Don't worry, those line drives will start falling and it seems that most of them have lately - he's hitting .343/.452/.486 in May. And despite hitting just .239 on the season, Joey has managed to post a very respectable .379 OBP this season, which is a huge testament to how good his plate discipline is. He'll be fine. I bet he ends the season with an OPS around the .900 mark.
4. Johnny Cueto, rhp, age: 21
Here is another guy who got off to a slow start due in part to a blister he developed on his index finger around the time of his first start. Johnny struggled with command through his first few starts but still managed to post a solid ERA and keep the ball in the yard. To this day he still hasn't allowed a homerun in 38 innings while posting a solid 7.81 k/9 (12 k/9 over his last two starts). Cueto has pitched more like the 2006 Cueto in his last two starts. Expect him to continue that trend and eventually end up in Chattanooga to end the season.
5. Sean Watson, rhp, age: 21
Here is my first big drastic change in the top ten. Travis Wood was my previous fifth best Reds prospect but that has changed due to his injury plus the sudden dominiance of Mr. Sean Watson. Sean worked hard in the offseason to trim off roughly 20 pounds in order to get into better shape to become a starter. So far, that has paid off tremendously. Blessed with a mid 90's fastball, a nasty knuckle curve, a solid circle changeup, and a slider he is still working on, Watson has all the stuff to be a stud pitcher. His control has been incredible as evidenced by his 3 bb/47 k ratio in 37.1 innings this season. Sean will probably draw a promotion to Sarasota by July if not sooner. Either way, he is a guy with an extremely high ceiling who could move quickly through the system.
6. Carlos Fisher, rhp, age: 24
Like Watson above him, Fisher just missed reaching my top ten in March. As I stated in another thread, I have always been a fan of Fisher's, but I never expected him to be this good. I thought he would profile as a reliever but instead he has developed four usable pitches to go along with his consistent low 90's fastball. Fisher keeps the ball on the ground and and has a very good strikeout rate, a great recipe for future success. Between two different levels he has allowed only 37 hits in 47 innings pitched, has allowed only one homerun, and has a 9 bb/49 k rate while allowing 2.13 groundballs per every flyout. On top of that the guy has only been pitching for about four or five years, so his arm is fresh. Keep an eye on Carlos Fisher, he has a chance to be a good one.
7. Chris Valaika, ss, age: 21
Valaika moved up one spot from number eight to seven in two months. He probably deserves to be higher but who do you push back? Anyway, a middle infielder who is hitting .352/.404/.516 despite a recent slump is big prospect. Chris is starting to remind me more and more of Ian Kinsler due to his solid power and size. Chris will probably eventually move to second base like Kinsler but that doesn't chance a thing about where I rank him. The kid can flat out hit and his right-handed bat is something the Reds need.
8. Juan Francisco, 3b, age: 19
A few people chose Juan Francisco as their breakout player for 2007 but I don't think anyone could have guessed he would have been this good this quick. After hitting .289/.310/.408 with 20 XBH in 218 atbats between the GCL Reds and Billings last season, Francisco is hitting .288/.336/.552 this year with 16 XBH in 125 atbats, including eight homeruns. He is a LH hitter and is actually hitting better against lefties (.917 OPS) than against righties (.878 OPS). While he is still a bit raw in the field and with his plate discipline, Francisco is definitely a prospect and someone worth keeping a very close eye on.
9. Drew Stubbs, of, age: 22
Stubbs fell two spots from seven to nine not because he has been bad or anything, but because the guys in front of him have simply crushed the ball. Stubbs began the season hitting very well over the first two weeks or so and then went in a horrible slump in mid-to-late April. Since then he has hit like he did in college to the tune of .283/.400/.609 in May. Overall he has a .812 OPS on the season. If Stubbs can OPS at .800 at the major league level, then he would be more than worth taking with the number eight pick considering how good his defense is.
10. Travis Wood, lhp, age: 20
This spot was a tough one for me. It came down to a few guys: Sam Lecure, Travis Wood, Calvin Medlock, Josh Ravin, and Milton Loo. I then narrowed it down to two: Lecure and Wood. In the end I chose Wood because his ceiling is higher than Lecure's. Lecure will probably reach the majors quicker but he only projects as maybe an innings eating #4 starter or reliever, and there is value in that. But Travis, if healthy, has a chance to be much more than that. We're talking about a lefty that throws in the low 90's and what some would say could be the best changeup in the minor leagues. He's still working on his curveball and if he can develop that into just an average pitch then the Reds have themselves a stud.
Just missing the cut: Daryl Thompson, Marcus McBeth, Sam Lecure, Milton Loo, Calvin Medlock, Brad Salmon, Phil Dumatrait, Josh Ravin, Logan Parker, and Rafael Gonzalez.