Cream Of The Crop
1 Alonso - I've seen a bit but not enough to anoint him yet. Enough, though to rank him at the top.
2 Frazier - The position thing is overblown, imo, it boils down to can he hit like he has in the minors? If he does they'll find him a position. Bat projects decently for left field but is special if he plays 2nd or 3rd. Of the big 4 I think he might be the surest bet to hit, albeit with the lowest ceiling of the four, he has the highest floor along with Yonder.
3 Francisco - Plate discipline is the biggest issue for me but this guy has special tools - humungous power, cat quick reflexes and a rifle arm. He is the third baseman of the future. IF he makes the necessary progress at the plate EE, Soto and Frazier will need to look for a different position or a different team.
4 Soto - Oh my. The way the ball jumps off his bat. Great contact skills. With Alonso, Frazier and Francisco and Soto the Reds have 4 guys with a chance to be special hitters. Fourth simply because he's the youngest and farthest away of the "Fantastic Four" but he could end up the best of them all.
5 Stubbs - The Great Divider. Defense alone makes him valuable in CF but to avoid being a role player he has to hit. I think he will. Enough for a great defensive CFer anyway. And I think he'll get better right into his prime years before leveling off. He could play Cesar Geronimo to the Bruce/ Votto/ Alonso/ Frazier/ Soto/ Francisco/ Duran bunch. Sad, but he'll also probably always be "Lincecumed" as long as he's a Red.
6 Bailey. No he hasn't disappeared. He's 22. The Homer Train has slowed down but it hasn't derailed just yet and there's plenty of life in his young arm. I'm not ready to jump Thompson, Lotzkar or any other arm in the system ahead of him just yet.
7 Dorn. Darn is this guy a platoon waiting to happen? He just kills righties but struggles mightily with lefties. I think he'll overcome that to some extent, though he will never hit lefties as well as righthanders. Besides, young lefty hitters often struggle with lefties early on because they aren't used to seeing quality off arm pitchers. As they move up and gain more experience they usually improve. Have you seen this guy's swing? Oh can you say sweet? I've mentioned maybe four impact bats? Well, make it 5. He really could be that good a hitter. Let's just say his numbers justify being a left fielder where the bat is practically everything. He's a no doubter, imo, the only question is platoon player or full timer?
8 Valaika - He's only this high if he can stick at SS for his first few seasons before moving over to 2nd. Bat ranks solid in the MI and increases his overall value considerably. If he has to move elsewhere his value drops dramatically.
9 Duran - Risky to rank a teenager with little experience this high but there's a couple million reasons to be hopeful. Even though I'm jumping the gun here, I might still be short shrifting the guy if the scouting reports are remotely accurate. Could he be the sixth potentially impact quality bat in the system?
10 Roenicke - Fastballs like his don't come along every day. Can he control it? September showed he may not be quite ready yet but the shrinking list of relievers on the roster may push him into a job anyway.
11 Lotzkar - 19. 50 Ks and 29 hits in 37.2 innings. Can you say special, special arm? Health is the only concern- he'd rank a lot higher on my list if I was comfortable with that aspect.
12 Cozart - I like his bat better than most, I guess. Really good defensive SS, he showed some pop last year and has contact skills. He needs to improve his discipline and draw a few more walks. 1 additional walk a week and he'd be OBPing in the .380 range and OPSing in the mid .800s and everyone would be talking him up. May have made the greatest stride of any prospect last year in terms of outlook. He crowds the plate and has no fear of getting hit - I like that. Now - if he repeats this kind of performance in high A a lot more people will be joining his parade because he has a major league caliber glove already. A couple years of Valiaka at SS then Cozart moves him over. Could happen.
13 Y Rodriguez - Another rushed to the list prospect who probably doesn't even shave yet, I'm putting him up this high because of scouting reports, the huge bonus, and well, he's the last hitter who has true impact potential, imo.
14 Stewart. I'm not sure if he's a closer but he sure as heck looks like a quality set up man. Will move fast and could even be in Cincy at end of year.
And the rest:
A pack of starter candidates
Close to making it:
Maloney Should be up soon or his day is likely done. Mediocre stuff with a high K rate. Go figure.
Thompson Not as high on him as some but may be decent MOR starter once he learns to cover first.
Jukich Lefty will get a shot before long. Because he's lefty? Partly. But he's also surprised. MOR maybe. BOR? Likely.
Lecure I like him as an eventual MOR starter better than most of this bunch. Will be better than Thompson, imo. Might be faint praise.
Viola Was his breakthrough as a starter a fluke? We'll see but like Jukich, being a lefty will get him a lot of chances.
Farther, some a lot farther away:Smith If I have a sleeper from this bunch it's Jordan Smith.
Buck If he's 100% healthy he could jump to the big list, then again everyone else could as easily "pass the Buck".
Klinker Only a vowel removed from being a Klunker, he was solid for Dayton and not so for Sarasota. Give the kid a monocle, Colonel. If only we had a catcher named Hogan.
Wood Likely a bubble year for Pretzel. When he's good he's very, very good but when he's bad he's awful. Health is always a concern with him.
Hildenbrandt A good year could vault Evan into the top group of prospects. Only a year older than Lotzkar he's a bit behind him on the talent curve but not much.
Sulbaran Paid over slot to keep him from college, JC could jump way up. Talent supposedly as good as anyone on this second list. Who says not going to college never pays?
Ravin The Unguided Missile. Will he ever harness his stuff? Doubtful, but you don't give up on 20 year olds with his electric arm. Really - as bad as his numbers look this kid has gold locked up somewhere between his arm and his head. If he finds the key he's raw talent on par with Lotzkar. I Josh you not.
Smit The Pride of Holland is still around isn't he? Outrighted to Sarasota in March of 08 he had an okay year. Only a consonant removed from....and he's pretty much looked like it.
Snowden Few mention this kid but he may emerge in 2009 as one of the Reds best pitching prospects, Very good GCL intro.
Cline Mentioned because of his high draft he had a very rough intro. Scouts say the talent is there, however, so I'll wait for 2009's results. Not to be snide (okay it IS snide) but his head may be the problem. I've heard thick and brick mentioned in the same breath.
Shunick Solid enough premiere year now he gets his chance to move up everyone's list. Initially I rank him in the LeCure/Jukich range talent wise which may be too much benefit of doubt.
Bullpen: Some in order that I like them and partly how far away they are
Manuel Workmanlike pitcher who just gets the job done, possibly overlooked because he's not flashy or smack your face talented
Fisher Frustrating to grade as he looks terrfic then looks horrible. He's a ML quality middle reliever if he finds consistency.
Geronimo 24 but the numbers are mind boggling. 65 IP 43H 22BB 1.00WHIP 75Ks and he was just as good when he got to Chatt as he was at Sarasota. Another year of that and he'll jump to the main list - heck he may jump to the majors by years end if he keeps that up
Jeffords For a 589th overall pick this kid really brought it last season. 77 IP 86 Ks .227 BAA. Moving on up
Horst Could be a closer, could be a setup guy - definitely has good raw stuff
Carroll Scott could be a surprise and really climb the prospect ladder. Okay not a big surprise since he's already highly thought of. Too highly. Minor league starter heading for middle relief, imo. But he's got the perfect starter's body, Jake! Yeah, maybe. I just wish we could screw Ravin's arm onto his shoulder.
Young Terrell shouldn't be forgotten. Likely a middle reliever but he holds his own with most of this group.
Krebs Citric-Acid-Cycle is working quietly behind the scenes to assemble a decent record, as a lefty he's got a better than average chance at a shot
Otterness Another lefty reliever, he needs better command to really move up, but he's not like Ravin wild or anything. Probably a leg up (or arm)on Krebs talent wise but both are fairly equal sleepers in the reliever department.
Thurman Young lefty could really jump up the list with a good 2009 following. I think he could top the reliever list by next summer's end. Sportswriter's dream reliever - "Reds win! Cards get Maced!"
LinebaughRandall had a good year at Billings but college kids have an age advantage there. RH bookend for Thurman? Could be. Lets see how 2009 looks.
Watson The Ravin of relievers. Great stuff. Lousy command.
Valiquette Quickly reaching the no mas point despite being just 21. All too hittable for his stuff plus poor control.
Ondrusek He did nothing to impress, really. Does showing up every day count? Being taller than everyone else?
Pizziconi 19 y/o with good numerical results in the GCL but troubling low K ratio. Will he make the leap? Cool name - I hope so. It's PIZZA Time!!
Catchers: After Devin, its gets bleak. Or, it may be just bleak.
Mesoraco Bat seems like it might play IF he learns to catch. Scouts say his body is growing - the wrong way. We'll see. I thought he was supposed to be a pretty good receiver already when drafted but it seems not to be the case. Plenty of time although the dearth of catching makes many want to push him too fast or write him off already. Besides, there's already been one good catcher named Pudge. Not that far from Pudgy, is it?
Tatum He can catch but his bat is not making anyone say "We can get along with his glove"
Cech/Day Neither one jumps out, but both have some talent, either could push their way onto the chart in 2009 mostly because there is nothing ahead of them. Too bad there's not a kicker in baseball.
Outfielders: These guys fight for 4th and 5th spots. One might surprise.
Oliveras 19 y/o is really, really raw but has intriguing tools at CF. A definite longshot he does have the talent to be an immense surprise.
Heisey May be underrated by many but that's beginning to change. Good defense in CF makes an average to iffy bat okay. IMO, better chance to be an everyday ML than Cumberland or Henry
Cumberland Likely a 4th/5th OFer
Henry Might lose him but likely a 4th/5th OFer rather than a starter.
Sappelt Good year at Billings. A start. He deserves to be mentioned but no idea how he projects just yet. I'd love it if he became the next Jimmy Wynn, the "Toy Cannon". He reminds me of him. At least physically. Now if it becomes production wise we have something.
Pretty good group of "second level" infielders - all of them have a good chance of making it someday, imo, except for the last two.
Turner Chance to be an average ML 2nd sacker with okay bat and decent glove. Nothing jumps out you - no huge strengths, no huge weaknesses.
Buchholz Tremendous Billings year. Now he has to prove it in a full season league. Good be a Valaika type prospect, not really a SS but with a really good bat for a MI.
Waring Definite power but defense is poor, contact challenged, but at 22 has plenty of time. Biggest problem may be playing in the same system with Francisco, Soto and Frazier.
Parker Makes decent contact. Will draw a walk. Has power. Good OBP, SLg and OPS. Why don't you hear of him? He plays first base where his numbers are more okay than wow! and he's a 12th round pick who doesn't start out with any expectation or attention. Like Waring, his problem may be playing in a system with Votto and Alonso ahead of him.
Wen-Kuo Young Taiwanese SS who intro-ed in the GCL with okay results. Makes contact, patient - will walk, little power, he could climb the prospect list rapidly in a vacuum position like SS. I like him as most likely position player to really jump into everyone's list in 2009 from relative obscurity of the training leagues.
Castro Man he looks like he's 12 in his picture. A switch hitter who can't from either side. Another J Castro to drive the 'Zone nuts if he ever makes it, which is only possible if the Reds never find a SS anywhere else including Cozart and Wen-Kuo. Only Brodie Pullen makes his bat look good by comparison.
Hale A SS who OPS'd .804!? Oh, that's in 7 At Bats. Darnnit. Cal State grad could emerge in '09 if he can hit. Nothing so far says he can, really but I'm reaching for SS prospects here. I'm trying. Flipping every rock. Darrick..could..he..be....well, the answer is he just might. Not sure why he slipped through the draft because he had solid enough college numbers and is considered a good glove at SS. Signed out an indy league where he was hitting well. Intriguing story if nothing else. I'm nicknaming him Underdog. UNDER DOG! Roar of Thunder....
Off my prospect list and onto Roster Ready Rookie.
Nothing left to learn or prove - make it or lets move on.Dickerson Not on my prospect list. Reason? Old - if he isn't on the ML team to stay this year then he's a career AAAer. For me this is the signal that the "prospect road" is done. He is simply a ML player or he's not. Ever.
Ramirez I expect him to make the team, either starter or pen and keep it. After his call-up performance his value is fairly high so he could be trade material, too.
Hanigan Age says,like Dickerson, if he doesn't stick now he'll ever be a AAA catcher.
Herrera As a LOOGY type with a slightly expanded role, maybe - an inning at a time basically he could be valuable. We know what we know about him at this point and he either makes it or probably never will. I maybe rushing him onto this list but I think he's a guy who doesn't get much better except what experience teaches him and the ML is where he'll get that.
Rosales IMO he's a good solid utility guy who can hit a bit. I think he sticks this year.
Pelland Is he gone? Will he sign a minor league deal? Such high hopes at one time.