Time to spice up the Minor League Forum for the last couple weeks of the calendar year. Here is my offseason version of the Reds Top Prospects, complete with estimated starting level in 2013 and major league ETA.
GRADE A = top 25 prospect and potential All-Star
GRADE B = top 100 prospect and future major league starter
GRADE C = should likely reach the major leagues someday, although impact remains to be seen
1. Billy Hamilton CF AAA 2013 Will likely be in Cincy at some point in 2013, ready for full time duties in 2014.
2. Robert Stephenson RHP A 2016 The crown jewel arm in the system, should be ready for AA by 2014 although there is no rush at all.
3. Tony Cingrani LHP AAA 2013 Impressed in Cincy in September, could see more time there as a complement to Chapman or in the bullpen.
4. Daniel Corcino RHP AAA 2014 Likely won't see much time in Cincy until 2014 unless there is an injury or two to the rotation.
5. Jesse Winker OF A 2016 Leading candidate for breakout prospect of the year could profile as a future Jay Bruce minus the defense.
GRADE C (Admittedly, you could argue these next 10 guys in any order and I wouldn't have a problem)
6. Nick Travieso RHP R 2017 lot of time but could project as TOR arm.
7. Ismael Guillon LHP A 2016 highly touted international signee looks like he could be the best of the class of '08.
8. Henry Rodriguez 3B AAA 2014 profiles to a pinch hitter and utility infielder in the major leagues, which he could reach at some point this year, but likely next year.
9. Yorman Rodriguez OF A+ 2015 still has a ton of talent but a ton of questions. 2013 could be a make or break year for his prospect status.
10. Tanner Rahier 3B R 2017 didn't dazzle in his professional debut, but still has the top 40 pedigree from last year's draft.
11. Kyle Lotzkar RHP AA 2015 appears that his injuries have him destined for the bullpen, where he could be effective but will likely have less of an impact.
12. Jeff Gelalich OF A 2016 Last year's other sandwich pick had a disappointing professional debut.
13. David Vidal 3B AA 2015 could be a solid backup 3B if he can continue to hit
14. Donald Lutz 1B/OF AA 2015 biggest question of value will lie in whether he can play OF. As a 1B he doesn't have much of a future in this organization despite his hitting talents.
15. Tucker Barnhart C AA 2014 will be a major league backup catcher. Nothing wrong with that.
ON THE RADAR
Ryan LaMarre OF AAA 2014 profiles to a poor man's Chris Heisey
Chad Rogers RHP AA 2016 profiles to a poor man's Mike Leake
Kyle Waldrop OF A+ 2016 profiles to a poor man's Jay Bruce
Ryan Wright 3B A+ 2017 will be interesting to see how he handles the switch to 3B, an already loaded position in the org
Seth Mejias-Brean 3B A/A+ 2017 amazing debut, let's see if he can carry it over to full season ball in either Dayton or Bakersfield
KEEP AN EYE ON (lottery tickets too far off to tell but they've got a glimmer of hope)
Amir Garrett LHP
Pedro Diaz LHP
Jonathan Reynoso CF
SP Drew Cisco, SP Jon Moscot, SP Dan Langfield, RP Josh Ravin, and 3B/OF Gabe Rosa are five other guys who could crack this list with strong debuts in ST and the 2013 season.
So, where are we? Fortunately, the very strong position of the major league club doesn't call for a lot of reinforcements anytime in the near future. In fact, from this list, only Hamilton, Cingrani and possibly Corcino even remotely figure into the plans over the next two years (maybe Henry Rodriguez also). It's not until 2015 at the earliest that the Reds appear to need any sort of minor league reinforcements. One thing that is curiously under-represented in the system is Buckley's favorite targets in the draft: players up the middle. Look for the Reds to bring in middle-of-the-diamond talent in the 2013 draft and signing period. Specifically some middle infielders would be welcome, as with the departure of DiDi, the Reds don't appear to have any that profile to major league starting caliber in the entire minor league system. Cozart and Phillips appear to be locked and loaded for the next four years, but by then it may be time to think about their eventual replacements. Drafting or signing some HS SS would be consistent with that timeframe. Ditto for catcher, where Tucker Barnhart stands as the only projectable major leaguer in the minors, and he projects to a backup. Granted Hanigan and Mesoraco should be able to hold it down for the next few years, but wouldn't hurt to bring in some amateur talent at the position in the next year or two. Other than that, I'm very happy with where the big club sits, and fairly happy as well with the farm system. If we can add some middle-of-the-diamond players (as well as boppers and top-shelf arms which you can never get enough of), the future looks bright for years to come.