LHP Jesus Martinez, LHP Ted Lilly Ready Now:
RHP Keith Glauber, C Jason LaRue No Place to Play:
OF Mike Frank Long Shots to Stick:
RHP Robbie Bell, LHP Jim Crowell Best Bets For Future:
OF Austin Kearns, 3B Brandon Laron, RHP Scott Williamson
How Rookies Will Help:
Years from now historians might conclude that the Reds ripped off the Braves by insisting that Bell be included in the deal that sent Bret Boone and Mike Remlinger to Atlanta for Denny Neagle and Michael Tucker.
The 6-foot-5 Carolina League strikeout king is a 21-year-old right-hander projected as a future 20-game winner. His curveball is already major-league caliber. A 1995 third-round pikc, he turned the corner in 1997 when he went 14-7 with a 3.68 ERA in the Class-A South Atlantic League.
Martinez and Lilly, lefties with Los Angeles roots, might make their marks sooner since both pitched in AAA last year. The former is the youngest brother in a chain that began with Ramon and Pedro, while the latter moved up the ladder after pitching well with the Dodger's AA San Antonio affiliate.
The right-handed Glauber also worked his way up from A-ball to the majors, one step at a time. He's a potential starter. So is Crowell, a 6-4 southpaw restricted to two innings last summer because of rotator cuff problems. The four-year pro is still only 25. [Manuel] Barrios averages nearly a strikeout an inning when healthy.
Look for LaRue, 24, to be Cincinnati's starting catcher before the end of this year. He not only led the AA Southern League with a .365 average, but also hit 14 homers with 82 RBI. He's already had two cups of coffee in Triple-A.
Frank, 23, also had a fine year in the minors (.329) but, frankly speaking, may not produce the power the Reds covet. The 1997 seventh-round pick also had a cup of coffee in Cincinnati last season, making it to the big leagues faster than any player in Reds history. He hit .225 in 28 games before succumbing to a rib injury