Billy (Brandywine, MD): All four Reds minor league teams are currently in last place. Mesoraco hasn't exactly shined since his promotion to AA, and other than a few fringe prospects (Sappelt and Valaika come to mind) none of the hitters have shown much this season. The pitching prospects have been better, but there doesn't appear to be a much talent at the lower levels. Should the Reds be "betting the farm" that this is their year? Is the future as bleak as it appears, or are there good prospects having bad years?
J.J. Cooper: The Reds' farm system talent takes a significant drop once you get below Triple-A. But there is a reasonable explanation for that. Last year's No. 1 pick, Mike Leake, is starring in the big leagues—it won't help their farm system ranking, but it's helping them win games. Their 2008 third-rounder Zach Stewart, was traded away to get Scott Rolen (they didn't have a second-round pick that year).Two of their top three picks in the 2007 draft are in Triple-A. So if you look at the top talents in the Reds' system from the past three drafts, most of them are either in the big leagues, have been traded away or are in Triple-A. The big league club now has young home-grown players at C, 1B, RF, CF and LF (at times) as well as three-fifths of the rotation, so while there isn't much help at Class A or Double-A, there also aren't a whole lot of upcoming needs. The Reds have no reason not to dangle Yonder Alonso/Juan Francisco/Todd Frazier if they can swing a deal to help their playoff chances this year, especially because the majority of players on the big league club will be back next year already, which means those guys are likely blocked anyway.