Time for the midseason update. A new change for these rankings is that while AZL players are still not eligible, I decided to include Billings prospects in the rankings. Stephenson and Winker in particular are too strong (and advanced enough) of prospects that it would be disingenuous not to include them in a ranking of Reds Top Prospects. However, Travieso and the other key names that are in the AZL or have yet to make their professional debut can still be found under “Keep An Eye On”.
1. Billy Hamilton SS/CF AA – I am excited about Hamilton’s game changing speed and what he could eventually bring to the top of the Reds lineup. However, I am not as high on him as some are, as I wonder how high his offensive ceiling can be with no power. I do think he could be a gold glove CF and major league table setter. As much as I’d like to see him at the top of the order as the starting CF come Opening Day 2014, don’t be surprised if he is not ready until midseason that year.
2. Daniel Corcino RHP AA – I still see him as the best pitching prospect in the system with the best blend of consistency and projection, although Cingrani is certainly making it a lot closer than I expected at the beginning of the season. Cueto comps abound, although to manage expectations I’d think of him more like Cueto the prospect and/or rookie, not necessarily the TOR pitcher Cueto has become in the last couple years.
3. Tony Cingrani LHP AA – All he has done is dominate since being drafted, and this year in particular has been impressive (and surprising to most). If he develops that secondary stuff, he could skyrocket up prospect rankings and become one of the better pitching prospects in the game. That said, if a team was willing to overpay for him, I’d pounce (think Justin Upton or even Dexter Fowler).
4. Robert Stephenson RHP R – Probably the highest upside of any arm in the system, but he’s still not likely to see Cincinnati for at least 3-4 years, when the big league rotation will start getting a serious makeover. I’d like to see him get at least a few starts in Dayton this year, as that would hardly be rushing a guy who was drafted in the first round over a year ago. The 2011 draft’s early results suggest it could be the best pitching draft in decades, and Stephenson is one of the (many) headliners of the class.
5. Kyle Lotzkar RHP AA – His early career injury troubles have him underrated by many around here. Fact is, if he remains healthy, he could be as good of a pitching prospect as those listed above him. As a 22 year old, he has shown flashes of dominance in AA. He still may need more time than Corcino or Cingrani before he’s big league ready as he missed a lot of development time because of injuries. Still, keep an eye on him.
6. Henry Rodriguez 3B AAA – Underrated and unappreciated by almost everyone including both people inside and followers of the Reds organization, the 22 year old switch hitter has hit at every level and should be at least average defensively at 3B. With he and Vidal waiting in the wings, I wouldn’t hesitate to sell high on Frazier in a deal for Justin Upton. Should stick with the big club by early next season if not sooner, unless (and don’t be surprised if) he’s traded instead of Frazier.
7. Jesse Winker OF R – Reports from the draft raved about his bat, and he has had by far the most impressive debut of any of this year’s draftees. Winker is looking like Donald Lutz with more upside and better defense. Although it’s early, he could compete to be the best hitting prospect in the system as early as next year.
8. Donald Lutz OF A+ – Impressive offensive potential, his defense has him limited to a below average LF, as in any organization other than Cincinnati, he’d probably be playing 1B. I’d promote him to Pensacola right away, as outside of his plate discipline, he’s proven everything he needs to in Bakersfield. I’m curious to see what he can do outside of a hitters’ league. I might even consider promoting Silva to take his place in the Bakersfield OF, with Winker moving up to Dayton if he continues to rake.
9. Yorman Rodriguez OF A – The biggest riser with previous eligibility in this edition of RTP, Yorman is looking in the last couple weeks like he may have finally figured something out, and is teasing us with what his tools could eventually provide. While it’s only a 10 day performance that has earned him this bump, his suite of tools and upside are greater than almost any other hitter in the organization. Probably the highest volatility prospect in the system. I’d let him enjoy success the rest of this season in Dayton, and start him alongside his buddy Duran (who should repeat) in High A next year, as they’re both only 20 years old (both younger than recent draftees Gelalich and Amaral currently in Billings.)
10. DiDi Gregorius SS AAA – I’m not as high on him as most, as I’m not a huge fan of very light hitting prospects. Gregorius will almost certainly be a big leaguer, and could very well even become a starting SS in the major leagues, so he cannot be ignored on prospect lists. However, while his floor is fairly high thanks to his defense, his upside is limited IMO. At best, he’s a lighter hitting Cozart or a better hitting Janish. Given the presence of those two, Gregorius would be one of the first guys I’d be using as trade bait in the next couple weeks.
ON THE RADAR (Honorable Mention)
Donnie Joseph LHP AAA– Top reliever in the system should get a call to Cincy at some point this year.
Tucker Barnhart C AA– Looks like a big leaguer and future backup to Mesoraco once Hanigan’s contract expires after 2014.
David Vidal 3B AA– Has started to come around after struggling early after his promotion to Pensacola. Sandwiched in the system between Frazier, H-Rod, Rosa and Rahier.
Ryan LaMarre OF AA– A solid major league 4th OF IMO.
Jeff Gelalich OF R– Puzzling why they started a sandwich round college hitter from a big time program in Rookie League.
JC Sulbaran RHP AA– Overshadowed and outperformed by his Pensacola rotation mates, still has the talent to eventually become a big leaguer but must gain consistency.
Bryson Smith OF AA– Has popped up on the radar as he has been raking in both Bakersfield and Pensacola. He’s likely not a top prospect, but he has earned his way on the radar.
KEEP AN EYE ON (Too Early To Tell)
Nick Travieso – Everyone’s anxiously awaiting the 2012 1st rounder’s debut. Could form a powerful 1-2 with Stephenson through the minors in the upcoming years. Could be top 5 on this list by this time next year.
Tanner Rahier – Has struggled a bit in his professional debut in the AZL, but lots and lots of upside to like here.
Jonathan Perez – The most intriguing international signee since Chapman is still waiting to make his US debut.
PROMOTIONS ON THE HORIZON
Donnie Joseph to Cincinnati
Donald Lutz to Pensacola
Robert Stephenson to Dayton