From rotoworldJohnny Cueto Ė RHP Reds Ė One of the fastest rising prospects of the season, Cueto gives the Reds four legitimate top 20 prospects by teaming with Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, and Joey Votto. A diminutive right-hander signed out of the Dominican Republic, Cueto showed up on prospect radars after an encouraging 2006 campaign split between Single-A Dayton and High-A Sarasota. However, Cueto looked even better this season, getting off to a fast start for Sarasota and eventually moving to Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. The results were impressive throughout, as Cueto finished with a 3.07 ERA and 170/34 K/BB ratio in 161 1/3 innings. That he had little problem adjusting to new levels and was succeeding at Triple-A at the age of 21 made for quite the impression.
Cueto's impressive debut is fully backed by his repertoire of pitches. His fastball sits in the low-90s but can reach as high as 96 and he commands the pitch exceptionally well. Cueto also has a very good slider and a changeup that's already a plus pitch despite learning to throw it only two years ago. The right-hander is listed at just 5'10' and there are thus some concerns about his durability, but it hasn't been an issue thus far. Cueto should settle in as a fine No. 2 starter, and I wouldn't rule out a career as a true ace. His three-pitch repertoire is that impressive, and his command is also exceptional.
Holding Cueto back is that he's a flyball pitcher who gets punished hard when he makes a mistake. It's a style that could be ill-suited for Great American Ballpark, but that he'll be pitching in the National League should help even things out. Since he's had just four starts at the level, the Reds will likely send Cueto back to Triple-A Louisville to begin the 2008 campaign. However, the Reds lack depth in their rotation and a quick start should get Cueto promoted in short order. Based on his combination of talent, readiness for the majors, and proximity to a full-time gig, he's the NL's best pitching prospect for 2008.