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Thread: Under the radar players

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    Under the radar players

    Some under the radar players that I look forward to following in 2011:

    RHP Josh Smith. Very impressive in 2010. One of the best curves I saw all year. Big horse, durable. I think he had three straight 9-inning CGs in college in 2010. Good enough fastball.

    LHP Blaine Howell. Good stuff. Very underrated as a prospect in my opinion (maybe because people tend to rate relievers lower for some reason).

    LHP Tanner Robles. Slow start in Billings last season, then put up some sensational secondary numbers. Supposedly has very good stuff.

    1B/LF Donald Lutz. Improved dramatically from 2009 to 2010. Can he do it again? Must improve his defense.

    RHP Mark Serrano. 2010 was a bust, but I saw a healthy Serrano in 2009 and I am not ready to give up on him yet. He can pitch if he gets healthy and stays healthy.

    3B Carlos Mendez. Much better player than he gets credit for. Jumping back and forth between teams last year hurt him. If he hits .300 in Double-A this year, will people start to give him credit?

    LHP Jeremy Horst. Not exactly under the radar, but for some reason, the Reds have not warmed up to him. In two of the last three seasons, he has been one of the most effective pitchers in the organization. Now getting lefties out. Always tough on righties because of plus-plus change-up.

    1B Chris Richburg. A little over-aged, but seems to be improving rapidly. I saw clear improvement in 2010 in all areas. Better athlete and better player than he gets credit for. Excellent power.

    And last but not least, although he is no longer under the radar, he is still an unknown, 2B Ronald Torreyes. I have written about him before. What I saw from him in Dayton last year made a huge impression. Best defensive second baseman I have seen in the MWL in three years. Will he hit in the MWL? Will he even get the chance?
    Last edited by redsof72; 02-08-2011 at 09:29 PM.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    Some under the radar players that I look forward to following in 2011:

    RHP Josh Smith. Very impressive in 2010. One of the best curves I saw all year. Big horse, durable. I think he had three straight 9-inning CGs in college in 2010. Good enough fastball.

    LHP Blaine Howell. Good stuff. Very underrated as a prospect in my opinion (maybe because people tend to rate relievers lower for some reason).

    LHP Tanner Robles. Slow start in Billings last season, then put up some sensational secondary numbers. Supposedly has very good stuff.

    1B/LF Donald Lutz. Improved dramatically from 2009 to 2010. Can he do it again? Must improve his defense.

    RHP Mark Serrano. 2010 was a bust, but I saw a healthy Serrano in 2009 and I am not ready to give up on him yet. He can pitch if he gets healthy and stays healthy.

    3B Carlos Mendez. Much better player than he gets credit for. Jumping back and forth between teams last year hurt him. If he hits .300 in Double-A this year, will people start to give him credit?


    LHP Jeremy Horst. Not exactly under the radar, but for some reason, the Reds have not warmed up to him. In two of the last three seasons, he has been one of the most effective pitchers in the organization. Now getting lefties out. Always tough on righties because of plus-plus change-up.

    1B Chris Richburg. A little over-aged, but seems to be improving rapidly. I saw clear improvement in 2010 in all areas. Better athlete and better player than he gets credit for. Excellent power.

    And last but not least, although he is no longer under the radar, he is still an unknown, 2B Ronald Torreyes. I have written about him before. What I saw from him in Dayton last year made a huge impression. Best defensive second baseman I have seen in the MWL in three years. Will he hit in the MWL? Will he even get the chance?

    Ehhh. Dunno bout that one dude.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    Some under the radar players that I look forward to following in 2011:

    RHP Josh Smith. Very impressive in 2010. One of the best curves I saw all year. Big horse, durable. I think he had three straight 9-inning CGs in college in 2010. Good enough fastball.

    3B Carlos Mendez. Much better player than he gets credit for. Jumping back and forth between teams last year hurt him. If he hits .300 in Double-A this year, will people start to give him credit?

    1B Chris Richburg. A little over-aged, but seems to be improving rapidly. I saw clear improvement in 2010 in all areas. Better athlete and better player than he gets credit for. Excellent power.

    And last but not least, although he is no longer under the radar, he is still an unknown, 2B Ronald Torreyes. I have written about him before. What I saw from him in Dayton last year made a huge impression. Best defensive second baseman I have seen in the MWL in three years. Will he hit in the MWL? Will he even get the chance?
    Agree on Smith's curveball. Loved it. His mechanics are a little "stressful" IMO, but as long as he stays in the bullpen, it should help reduce the injury chance.

    With Mendez, the problem with him getting recognition is that he isn't hitting for power and he plays a corner position. He has the skills to hit for a solid average, but he isn't going to be a starter anywhere with his power so he is going to get looked at as the guy he is, a potential back up one day.

    Richburg has to show better plate discipline than he did in his initial exposure to A+. Love the power potential though. Could be a guy who puts up really big power numbers in Bakersfield, but I will pay more attention to his K/BB rates than his power because that is the area of concern for him.

    As for Torreyes, I would be a little surprised to see him in Dayton this year. With his age and the other guys the Reds have for the spots he plays, I just don't see them holding back someone else in favor of a guy who will be 18 years old and has plenty of time. With that said, I won't complain if he is there and I get to see him play all year.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Good info on Josh Smith. He's the one in the group who, to me, is really under the radar.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Good stuff, 72. With the exception of Torreyes (who I do think will be in Dayton), this is a legitimately under the radar group.

    Glad to hear about Josh Smith. 2010 draft may have a late-round arm or two that surprises, I think.
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    Re: Under the radar players

    All these guys are under the radar for various reasons. The odds are that Mendez will never see the majors due to lack of power. But lets face it, most of the guys in the minors will never play in the majors, and even fewer will ever be an everyday player in the big leagues. Of the guys under the radar, you can find obvious reasons why the odds are stacked against all of them. I will take Mendez and give you the Reds 2009 # 9 prospect Juan Duran and see who goes the farthest.

    Mendez hit .308 in '09, which was second best in the organization, and he followed that up with .295 at Lynchburg in 2010. He got bounced back and forth quite a bit between Lynchburg and Carolina, and I think that took a toll. He was hitting .300 at Carolina on July 28, which was about halfway through his stint there, and had a bad month of August to drop off considerably. In terms of home run power, true, the numbers are not there. But I do think he has the potential to hit some. I have watched him take BP about 100 times and he has the natural strength and bat speed to hit the ball out of the park. He is not a slap hitter. If he hits .320 with 8 home runs, and plays good defense, he is a poor man's Boggs. Boggs went to the hall of fame and generally hit 5-8 homers per year. Granted, he was hitting .330 or higher so he is a special case.

    My reason for including him on my list of players under the radar is pretty simple: the guy can hit. If you want some confirmation of that. look at where his managers placed him in the batting order. In 2009 at Dayton, he hit fourth. In 2010 at Lynchburg, Pat Kelly hit him either third or fourth all year. That tells you that he was the guy they wanted at the plate with men on base.

    I want to see what he hits in Carolina this season. Again, he is a longshot, I admit that.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    It's not just Mendez' lack of power that holds him back. He doesn't exactly wow you with his speed and defense either.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    1B Chris Richburg. A little over-aged, but seems to be improving rapidly. I saw clear improvement in 2010 in all areas. Better athlete and better player than he gets credit for. Excellent power.
    I might venture to say that Richburg is more than a 'little' over-aged. Developmentally, he's at least a year behind Neftali Soto despite being more than three years older. Journeyman minor leaguers aside (e.g. Chad Reineke, David Cook, etc.), Richburg is the oldest player in the Reds minors relative to his peers.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Richburg was 23 when they drafted him in 2009. In his first full year of pro ball in 2010, he finished in the top four in the entire organization in both home runs and RBI. If he makes the Double-A club this year at age 25, well, there are tons and tons of 25 year olds in Double-A.

    Most importantly, and the reason I put him on the list, was because I saw noticable improvement from Richburg over the course of 2010, and that is the most important quality in any minor league player. He came in with a reputation for being marginal defensively at first base and worked hard and became a good defensive first baseman. He improved at the plate week to week and hit .291 at Lynchburg and had 26 RBI in 37 games. He hit 19 homers for the year, trailing only Mesoraco, Soto, and Balentine in the org. He actually had more RBI than Mesoraco.

    As I said, a little over-aged because he was a fifth year senior when drafted due to some injuries at Texas Tech. But what is interesting about that to me is that older players usually improve less rapidly than younger players. Their age usually catches up with them when they start playing at higher levels. But he improved more than any player on the Dayton opening day roster with the possible exception of 19-year-old Jacob Johnson. Maybe that is an indication of a player on the rise.

    As far as the walks, that is not as much of an issue with me as it is for others, as I have said a few times. The Lynchburg club was dead last in their league in runs scored, and Richburg was one of their two real RBI men (along with Soto). Once the game starts, you are playing the game to win, not to accumulate stats. I am sure Pat Kelly wanted Richburg up there trying to drive in runs. He hit .362 with men on base. He hit .359 with men in scoring position. In 39 at-bats with men in scoring position, he walked a total of two times, but drove in 17 runs. When the team isn't scoring, and a guy like that comes up with men on base, do you want him hitting the ball in the gap, or walking? I am sure Pat Kelly prefered the RBI. I want my table-setters drawing a lot of walks. I want my RBI guys driving in runs. Eventually, yes, he needs to improve pitch recognition to cut down on the strikeouts and force pitchers to throw him some better stuff to hit. Hopefully, that will come.

    Good athlete (played football at Texas Tech), hard worker, let's see what he does. Maybe he will flop but I will be interested to see if he can keep improving.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Nice analysis of Richburg, 72.

    Curious to know what you think of Henry Rodriguez. He's had a good winter (again) down in Venezuela, playing mostly SS. Do you see him as a viable major leaguer down the road in a utility role? The guy's offensive numbers in Dayton were quite good for a 20-year-old.
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    Re: Under the radar players

    I am not as high on Henry as some others probably are. He did hit very well in 2010, make no mistake about that. He was the most consistent (and best) hitter on the club. Defensively, he was horrendous in April-May and he nearly made as many errors at second base in those two months alone as Miguel Rojas made at shortstop over the entire 2009 season. However, he was able to eliminate the careless errors and really cut down on the error total in the second half. He does not have great range but could be a Todd Walker type second baseman. He does not have the arm for shortstop but his arm is fine at second. His defense was acceptable in the second half and at times, pretty good. He is only an average runner despite a high stolen base total (many of the steals came at times when the opposition was not holding him or almost giving him the base. He will not be a base stealer at higher levels). Switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate. Tough to strike out.

    For me, Henry does not do the little things well. As J.J. Cooper noted in this year's handbook, there were too many mental mistakes or examples of lack of hustle. Benzinger removed him from multiple games for not running out balls. He had lapses defensively where he would forget to cover a base (there were cases where an opposing hitter would lay down a sacrifice and Henry would simply not cover first base, often in key, game-deciding moments). He did get better as the season went along. There was criticism for other on-field actions (he got thrown at a few times after long home run trots--"pimping it" as the players say). He has a lot of confidence, similar to Dave Sappelt in that respect but not as charismatic as Sappelt. I think some managers in the organization would have had a bigger problem with some of the things he did, but Benzinger believed that his production allowed for some overlooking of some of those things. Some managers will allow more crap than others. It would have been interesting to see how Pat Kelly (an old-school manager) would have dealt with that stuff (note that Kelly did not put up with much from a former Dragons outfielder who put up good numbers in 2009 with a questionable attitude and that player was released after issues with Kelly in 2010).

    I will mention one game. The team had lost 11 in a row. It is the top of the ninth and Dayton is leading by one run. Looks like the Dragons, who are dying just to win one game, might pull this one out. Henry is called out on strikes in the top of the ninth and starts barking at the umpire. I am saying to myself, Henry, just get back in the dugout. But Henry keeps yacking (he does not speak much English) and I am thinking someone will yell at him to get in the dugout. He keeps going and finally, there it is, he gets tossed. Now the team has no backup infielder and has to go out protect a one-run lead to end an 11 game losing streak. Fortunately, there was not a play in the bottom of the ninth at second base and the team held on, with Henry in the clubhouse. You just can't get ejected there. No excuse for it. These guys are battling their butts off to try to get one blessed win and a player gets himself ejected and leaves the team shorthanded to protect a one-run lead. Winners just don't do things like that.

    I think Henry will do well with Griffey in 2011 in Bakersfield and in that league, he might put up some excellent offensive numbers. To play in the big leagues, he needs to become more fundamentally sound, learn the game, hustle, and do the little things. He has some time to improve in those areas.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    72, IIRC you had some nice things to say about Josh Garton early in the season. It appears as if the power is there. After seeing him for the entire season what is your view of his potential as a corner OF?

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Very interesting stuff on HRod, 72. Thanks -- your insights are great.
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    Re: Under the radar players

    Garton, known as "Crash" because of his willingness to run full speed into walls to try to catch fly balls, looked great for a while but hit a slump and never really seemed to bounce out of it. He brings a hockey player mentality to the game but he appeared to fall out of favor and lost playing time to others. He is a very intense player and struggles to deal with the old adage that even the best players will fail 7 out of 10 times to the plate. He gets really down on himself and has to learn to put bad at-bats or bad games behind him. He has some tools. Good power, good athlete. You look at him on a good day and say he is the best player on the field and a couple of weeks later, he will look like his confidence is totally shot and he will be a strikeout victim even before he steps in the box. Pitchers made some adjustments too.

    He might have been a victim of the losing culture in terms of trying too hard to be the guy that turns everything around, all by himself, and then it just gets worse. Different guys have different reactions when playing on a team that is 53-85. H-Rod was able to totally detach himself from that and play for the name on the back of the jersey instead of the name on the front, but all guys can't do that when the team starts losing. Some take it too hard and start pressing. When a team loses 24 straight games at home, especially in a place like Dayton, it is as much a mental thing as anything. Logically, if you take the human element out of it, it should be impossible to lose that many games in a row. Garton probably let that effect him as much as anyone.

    He needs to come in with a fresh slate and show that he deserves to be an everyday player in 2011 and then stay consistent over the season.

    Edit: I looked up Garton's stats by half. His OPS in the first half was .904. In the second half, it was .601. He was hitting .299 on June 18 and then hit .204 the rest of the way. From July 10-August 13, Dayton's record was 3-28 and Garton hit .185 during that period with 24 strikeouts in 65 at-bats.
    Last edited by redsof72; 02-10-2011 at 09:48 AM.

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    Re: Under the radar players

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    From July 10-August 13, Dayton's record was 3-28 and Garton hit .185 during that period with 24 strikeouts in 65 at-bats.
    Slumps happen--a lot of times due to some bad luck--but 24 strikeouts in 65 at-bats screams 'pressing too hard'. I hope for his sake that he finds a way to relax and stick to what he's been taught.


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