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Thread: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

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    Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Its time for the first regular season update of the Reds top prospects. Note that the rankings of players 2-6 are all extremely close and really could be laid out in any order without much of an argument from me. Without further ado...

    GRADE A

    1. Devin Mesoraco C AAA

    GRADE B

    2. Dave Sappelt OF AAA
    (tie). Yonder Alonso 1B/OF AAA
    4. Yasmani Grandal C A+
    5. Yorman Rodriguez OF A
    6. Billy Hamilton SS A

    GRADE C

    7. Zack Cozart SS AAA
    8. Ismael Guillon LHP R
    9. Kyle Lotzkar RHP A
    10. Brad Boxberger RHP AA

    KEEP AN EYE ON

    Josh Smith RHP A
    Daniel Corcino RHP A
    Ryan LaMarre OF A+
    Juan Duran OF A
    Ronald Torreyes 2B R
    Junior Arias SS/3B R

    PROMOTIONS ON THE HORIZON

    Yasmani Grandal should be in AA by the end of the month

    COMMENTARY

    Sappelt vs. Alonso is a tough one for me. Sappelt has cleary outproduced him over the last two years, and he has a much better all-around game (speed and defense). However, I still believe Alonso's bat projects better at the next level. The question will be whether or not he can be good enough defensively to handle LF, and not just because of Joey Votto and the Reds situation. I'm not sure if Alonso's bat will be strong enough to make him better than league average at 1B. So if he wants to be an impact player at the next level, he either needs to start hitting or start fielding a lot better. Sappelt has been crushing the ball for over a year now, but I'm still not completely convinced he will be much better than a Chris Heisey-type at the next level (which is not a terrible thing). I hope I'm wrong, but I would look to sell high on Sappelt for the right return.

    As I mentioned above but it's worth repeating, all of the Grade B prospects are very close to each other in overall value IMO. You could completely reverse their order and not get much of an argument from me.

    Cozart needs to start hitting as he is 25 in AAA. While he'll never be a real offensive SS at the next level (he's never OPS'd .800 in his professional career), he has to do better than he did in the first month of the season, or he could risk turning into fringe obscurity. He'll likely get his shot next season to compete with Janish if no outside help is brought in, but he's not doing himself any favors with the month that he just completed.

    Frazier and Valaika are off the prospect radar for me at this point. I believe they both will have major league careers, but likely not as anything more than backup/utility players. Danny Dorn has been debated ad nauseum on this board so I won't go there, other than to say he's old enough now to have earned some kind of opportunity (which has never been given to him). Another guy who didn't make the list that might raise some eyebrows is Miguel Rojas. Despite his hot start and his even hotter glove, Rojas has never OPS'd .700 in his professional career, and I've never heard of a scout who expects him to. While he might be slick with the glove, I'm not sure how much slicker he is than Janish or Cozart, who both have better offensive tools. With those two in front of him and Hamilton behind him, I'm not sure he'll ever earn the opportunity to make an impact at the big league level, at least not in Cincinnati.

    I'd like to see Grandal promoted to AA sometime this month and I'm interested to see how he does there. Mesoraco continues to mash and is starting to get into Top 10 Prospect in all of baseball territory IMO, or at least he will if he keeps this pace up from now until midseason. Ironic that we used to pine for Saltalamacchia, and now the Red Sox would LOVE to replace him with Mez. I'd like to see Guillon and Lotzkar get some innings in Dayton. Josh Smith has been very impressive there so far, and Corcino is not far behind. Boxberger has come out of purgatory to start the year strong. He needs to either get a shot at closing or consider coming back to start. There is no glory for middle relievers in AA, and I really hope he's not the next Sean Watson. With a few bad outings, he could easily fall of this list, much like Donnie Joseph has.

    Taking stock of the system, I'd love to get an impact corner bat (especially at 3B) and/or a high upside HS arm in the draft next month.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Benihana; 05-05-2011 at 02:33 PM.
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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Now that he is playing the outfield and is no longer a defensive liability (as he was at second base), you have to start thinking about Cody Puckett.

    If Sappelt knew how to run the bases and could throw at all, he would be in the big leagues by now. As one scout said to me the other day, "his game ends when he steps out of the batter's box." Still too many stories of things like Sappelt trying to steal second on a 3-0 pitch.

    Yorman is a hard player to rank as a prospect. His high ranking is all based on tools right now that people hope will eventually translate into baseball skills.

    Hamilton is the biggest wildcard that the Reds have had in years. If he hits, he is going to be a special player as a middle infielder. He has a long way to go (currently hitting .220 with a lot of infield hits that will be outs when he plays against better defenses) but he brings something to the game that you just can't measure. He has an impact on every game he plays in. There is no guarantee he is going to ever hit well enough to play in the big leagues. There are speed guys who got to Triple-A and that was as high as their skills would allow them to go. But he is the most intriguing player the Reds have had as a position player since Josh Hamilton as a Rule V pickup.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    Now that he is playing the outfield and is no longer a defensive liability (as he was at second base), you have to start thinking about Cody Puckett.

    If Sappelt knew how to run the bases and could throw at all, he would be in the big leagues by now. As one scout said to me the other day, "his game ends when he steps out of the batter's box." Still too many stories of things like Sappelt trying to steal second on a 3-0 pitch.

    Yorman is a hard player to rank as a prospect. His high ranking is all based on tools right now that people hope will eventually translate into baseball skills.

    Hamilton is the biggest wildcard that the Reds have had in years. If he hits, he is going to be a special player as a middle infielder. He has a long way to go (currently hitting .220 with a lot of infield hits that will be outs when he plays against better defenses) but he brings something to the game that you just can't measure. He has an impact on every game he plays in. There is no guarantee he is going to ever hit well enough to play in the big leagues. There are speed guys who got to Triple-A and that was as high as their skills would allow them to go. But he is the most intriguing player the Reds have had as a position player since Josh Hamilton as a Rule V pickup.
    Wow. I knew Puckett was hitting well, but didn't realize he was hitting this well. He is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see who is playing LF for the Reds alongside Stubbs and Bruce three years from now. There certainly will be no shortage of candidates from inside the organization (Alonso, Sappelt, Puckett, Frazier, Francisco, LaMarre, Rodriguez, Duran).

    As an aside, would it make sense to try Alonso at 3B? Seems like he might be as likely to succeed there as LF, although the last think we want is another Dmitri Young/Austin Kearns-like debacle. I know his mobility isn't great, but does anyone know how his arm is?
    Last edited by Benihana; 05-05-2011 at 01:43 PM.
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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    It would seem that scouts still aren't buying into Cody Puckett all that much. At least the ones I have talked to. I like his bat, but I can't say I love it. I haven't seen him this season, but last year there were still quite a few holes in his swing. I wouldn't have him in the top 10 yet.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    The Alonso situation is a tough one. I believe that most observers think the best thing they could have done was to try to make him as good as possible as a first baseman, which is the only position he can play, and then trade him. Instead, they have actually lowered his trade value by demonstrating to everyone that he can't play left field, and if you trade for him, you are getting a guy that can only play a position that he is not currently playing.

    I think there were plenty of people that knew that trying to play Alonso in left field was a waste of time, but I am guessing that orders came down from the top to try to make him into a marginally-acceptable left fielder since the Reds had no spot for him at the position he plays.

    There was a long line of people who had seen Alonso play that were pretty set in the idea that there was no way he was ever going to be able to play any position other than first base at a level acceptable for a contending big league club, and that he had a ways to go even to get there at first base.

    All the people who were screaming for the Reds to make Alonso into a left fielder were buying into the same false hope.

    A guy whose opinion I trust told me all this a year ago, and the whole thing has played out pretty much how he expected. Alonso will catch balls he gets to, but he will give up way more runs on balls he doesn't get to than he will ever drive in. How many times this season after losses has Rick Sweet said in the newspaper that "some balls were not caught that should have been?" I am guessing they will pull the plug on this eventually.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    Now that he is playing the outfield and is no longer a defensive liability (as he was at second base), you have to start thinking about Cody Puckett.

    If Sappelt knew how to run the bases and could throw at all, he would be in the big leagues by now. As one scout said to me the other day, "his game ends when he steps out of the batter's box." Still too many stories of things like Sappelt trying to steal second on a 3-0 pitch.

    Yorman is a hard player to rank as a prospect. His high ranking is all based on tools right now that people hope will eventually translate into baseball skills.

    Hamilton is the biggest wildcard that the Reds have had in years. If he hits, he is going to be a special player as a middle infielder. He has a long way to go (currently hitting .220 with a lot of infield hits that will be outs when he plays against better defenses) but he brings something to the game that you just can't measure. He has an impact on every game he plays in. There is no guarantee he is going to ever hit well enough to play in the big leagues. There are speed guys who got to Triple-A and that was as high as their skills would allow them to go. But he is the most intriguing player the Reds have had as a position player since Josh Hamilton as a Rule V pickup.

    He hasn't played the outfield yet in Carolina.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    A guy I am curious about is Stephen Hunt at Bakerfield.

    I know it is really early but his slash line is a mind boggling .582/.896/1.478. 11 of his 25 hits are extra bases and he seems to control the strikezone with a 7/4 BB/K ratio in 55 plate appearance.

    Thow in the fact he just turned 22 and is not considered old for the age level and he becomes a pretty intriguing guy.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    How many times this season after losses has Rick Sweet said in the newspaper that "some balls were not caught that should have been?" I am guessing they will pull the plug on this eventually.
    To be fair, I know for a fact that Yonder wasn't the singular object of that statement. But Yonder can't play outfield at the major league level. That is beyond question at this point. I was thinking the other day that if I was Sweet, I'd be calling the Reds' brass and asking if I could end this charade. I would imagine it is killing morale on his team. But again to be fair, there are other problems with the defense at Louisville right now. And Sweet HATES bad defense.

    Beyond Yonder in left, it really is amazing that he has a good knack for stealing bases. He is a very slow baserunner. Sometimes you see him hit a grounder, the ball is bobbled and you think, "Hey, he may beat this out". Then you look over and see Yonder about halfway between home and first base.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    You mentioned Sean Watson, but one thing that's interesting is that he's been in A-ball all year and has yet to give up a run.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    I'm not in favor of the experiment with Alonso in LF, but that's not what diminishes his trade value. What diminishes his trade value is the fact he's blocked in Cinti. Other teams know this and they won't offer the value for him that they would have to if we could play him. It'd be interesting to hear what people think we could get for him in a trade right now.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    You mentioned Sean Watson, but one thing that's interesting is that he's been in A-ball all year and has yet to give up a run.
    And he'll be 26 in July. Amazing!
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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Benihana View Post
    And he'll be 26 in July. Amazing!
    He's about two weeks older than Eric Campbell, who people around here seem to be excited about. Just sayin'.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    I am Cody Puckett's biggest fan, it seems. Love the power potential at a middle infield spot. And he can play 2B acceptably well to be left there, IMO. At least according to the numbers.

    Range factor across players at Carolina so far this year says Puckett gets to more balls than do either Jose Castro or Jake Kahaulelio by a wide margin. (SSS, so beware.) In 2010, he was only outplayed by Brodie Greene (a shortstop with 8 GP at the position) and Shane Carlson (another SS with SSS of 7 GP); his range factor was better than Henry Rodriguez (SSS) or Alex Bucholz (another converted SS) too.

    It's been this way his entire career. He has consistently exhibited more range than any other true 2B on the roster.

    To say he can't play the position is a misnomer. He plays it fairly effectively at the minor league level. Now, perhaps his lack of tools (a poor arm and awkward footwork occasionally) equate to a poor defensive player going forward, but, so far (at least at 2B), he's been quite serviceable to above average.

    Sometimes, one person says something and every other talking head in the game parrots the line without thinking. This, IMO, is what's being done with Puckett. This isn't to say he's great around the 2B bag. He's not. But if he can OPS around 850 (and I think he may just be able to do that and more), he can play at the keystone spot really, really well despite not being able to play the position really, really well.

    My Top Ten (So Far), with A grades reserved for "no-doubters" and future All-Stars, B's as solidly above average major leaguers, and C's as below average major league starters or decent reserves):
    1. Devin Mesoraco, C AAA (B+)
    He's a solid to above average hitter with the ability to play catcher at least serviceably. His power numbers should transfer fairly easily, though I question his hitting tool. Still, a 270/330/500 hitting catcher is absolutely nothing to worry about.
    2. Dave Sappelt, LF AAA (B+)
    All he's done is hit for two years. Dusty Baker said he reminds him of Bill Madlock. I'd definitely take that line (305/365/400) in LF for the next decade. Questions about his speed means he has some. Good. His defense matters much less in LF than in center, but, by all accounts, should be above average at that position. What's not to like?
    3. Yasmani Grandal, C A+ (B+)
    As well as Mesoraco has played over the past year and a month, he's overshadowed last season's 1st round pick a bit. He shouldn't. Grandal has flashed good leather, a phenomenal eye, and outstanding power in his Bakersfield debut. If he continues to hit well (a 900+ OPS) as he moves up to AA, he'll move up the list quickly.

    4. Billy Hamilton, SS A (B)
    Tough to rank. His speed and range are game-changing. (He'll at least be Rey Ordonez Lite, IMO, at SS. Assuming he progresses.) The question is his hitting tool. He has time enough to improve.
    5. Yorman Rodriguez, OF A (B)
    Again, all about the tools. I'm expecting both he and Hamilton to hit better the longer they stay at Dayton. The second half of the season should be fun.

    6. Yonder Alonso, 1B AAA (B-)
    He can't play LF. He's barely serviceable at 1B. He has power questions and a long swing. Lots of questions for a guy with so high a ceiling. At least he's heating up now. Perhaps the power will blossom. But when I see him, all I see is the poor choice between he and Justin Smoak.
    7. Cody Puckett, 2B AA (B-)
    Scouts question his glove. They shouldn't question his bat. Think of replacing Brandon Phillips in a year or two with a poor man's Dan Uggla.

    8. Ronald Torreyes, 2B Rookie (C+)
    Questions about his size and his long, long road keep him this low. If he moves onto Dayton sometime this year (or dominates Billings), this grade goes way up.
    9. Todd Frazier, IF/OF AAA (C+)
    Like the power so far and I love the ability to play different positions. He's got some Mark DeRosa in him, but it took DeRosa some time (and the Texas heat) before really hitting his stride.
    10. Zach Cozart, SS AAA (C+)
    He had a really poor beginning to the season, but he's hitting better now. His glove is solidly above average to exceptional and his power looks legitimate. If he can hit 250, his grade would rise a bunch. I question whether he can do that.
    Last edited by Scrap Irony; 05-10-2011 at 05:34 PM.
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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    I wouldn't write off Frazier or Valaika yet. Valaika has performed well since being called up to the majors, and Frazier has a higher OPS than Mesoraco right now, easily leading the Bats with 7 HR. The power is still there, and apparently much less raw than Francisco's.

    Sappelt needs to stay in AAA until he can get his baserunning and fielding straightened out. Otherwise, he'll just be Chris Heisey pt 2, a good 4th outfielder with holes in his game that prevent him from being a regular starter. Those fundamentals need to be the #1 priority for him when he returns.

    Important Mes stat: 0 errors on the year so far. To me, he appears ready but blocked.

    Agree with the Hamilton and Yorman ranking. They have ultra-high ceilings and ultra-low floors; we'll be lucky if one of them reaches anything close to their potential, let alone both. Can't rank that kind of risk at the top of the list.

    Yonder is also an enigma. If he can't play a decent LF, then it's tough to look at him as anything other than trade bait. To everyone else, he's a useful league-average first baseman; to us, he's a bench bat that can only play first base and a bad left field for 2 3/4 more years, and that's assuming we can't keep Votto. It's a bit unreasonable to have him taking up a 25-man position for that long, given all our graduating prospects.

    Dunno what to do about Lotzkar. If this injury persists, it may be time to call him too fragile for the majors.

    Finally, some may disagree, but so far I'm sold on Yasmani. Great plate patience, switch hitter with power, solid numbers all around. Not a final product behind the plate, but expected to remain at catcher. While everyone here is high on Mesoraco, it may be time to admit that Yasmani isn't far behind, and will be an important major league catcher in his own right.

    My list:

    1. Devin Mesoraco: A
    2. Yasmani Grandal: A-
    3. Yonder Alonso: B+
    4. Dave Sappelt: B+
    5. Billy Hamilton: B
    6. Yorman Rodriguez: B
    7. Zack Cozart: B-
    8. Ismael Guillon: C+
    9. Todd Frazier: C+
    10. Ronald Torreyes: C+

    Honorable mentions (all C grades)
    Juan Duran- Great potential, but faces the same issues as Rodriguez and Hamilton.
    Josh Smith- Great year so far, need to see it continue and hear more details before I rank him higher.
    Drew Cisco- I love the background; interested to see him perform.
    Brad Boxberger- Love how he's bounced back, but unless he converts back into a starter, I can only get so excited about him.
    Chris Valaika- Still a solid utility player that will help out in the major leagues.
    Ryan LaMarre- Tough season so far, but the tools are still there.
    Henry Rodriguez- Still performing in AA after an excellent season last year. Dunno about his defense, but the bat is worthy.

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    Re: Reds Top Prospects - May 2011 Edition

    Scrap,
    I consider myself Cody Puckett's biggest fan, so you'll have to be number 2.


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