Reds Top 5 Prospects

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If you have been following us along here, you’re in the know. For those that haven’t been, we can catch up.

BRM has been taking the top 10 prospects list from three different sites: Baseball Almanac, The Hardball Times and Minor League Ball. All have released their top 10 prospects list for the Cincinnati Reds organization. The fist day we briefly talked about the lists and covered the three players that one list had, but the other two didn’t. That post is here.

The second part covered the “bottom four” according to average placement using these three as a guide. That post can be found here.

Today, it’s time for the top 5. After the jump, the complete list will be shown and we’ll get into each of the top five players.

Here’s the lists:

Rk Baseball America Hardball Times Minor League Ball
10 Kyle Lotzkar Juan Francisco Yorman Rodriguez
9 Todd Frazier Todd Frazier Kyle Lotzkar
8 Zack Cozart Cody Puckett Donnie Joseph
7 Juan Francisco Kyle Lotzkar Todd Frazier
6 Yasmani Grandal Billy Hamilton Juan Francisco
5 Yorman Rodriguez Yorman Rodriguez Yasmani Grandal
4 Yonder Alonso Yonder Alonso Billy Hamilton
3 Devin Mesoraco Yasmani Grandal Yonder Alonso
2 Billy Hamilton Devin Mesoraco Devin Mesoraco
1 Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman
Brewster at Y-D - July 31, 2008 073

Grandal in Cape Cod League in 2008. (Image by CapeHomepage.com via Flickr)

The #5 player is last year’s first round pick (12th overall), Yasmani Grandal. Grandal’s accomplishments while he attended the University of Miami is a pretty distinguished one. Preseason All-American for 2010 and he was a member of USA Baseball National Team in 2009. Grandal was also runner-up fir the 2010 Golden Spikes Award (Bryce Harper was the winner) and he transferred his preseason All-American selection into being named to the 2010 NCBWA All-American team.

Some have said you don’t take a catcher that high.

But there is a possible plus, Grandal is a switch hitter with some pop…from both sides according to Reds scouting director Chris Buckley. The swing is long, considered a tad below average in bat speed and a bit off balance, but coaches should be able to correct those. Grandal hasn’t been able to show a lot thus far as he’s got a week of pro ball under his belt.

The biggest issue surrounding Grandal was his defense as a catcher. Scouts wondered about his feet from behind the plate. There were concerns about his arm from behind the plate but the Reds scouts see it differently. From Mark Sheldon’s blog on MLB.com:

“He’s very polished,” Buckley said. “He’s a plus thrower. He threw out 40 percent of runners this year at the University of Miami. He’s well above [average] defensive player, a switch-hitter with power from both sides.”

Only time will tell on any defensive concerns as Grandal has only just begun his pro career. There aren’t the concerns regarding his bat.

Appearing at #4 is Billy Hamilton. Just a couple of days ago, Mark Sheldon penned a cloumn regarding Hamilton and his future as a leadoff guy.

“Hamilton struggled during his first year of pro ball, but returned in 2010 with Rookie-level Billings to bat .318 with a .383 on-base percentage and an organization-leading 48 stolen bases in 57 tries — all numbers that indicate a guy who can lead off a lineup.”

Although Hamilton played the majority of his games as a second baseman, he is projected at shortstop. He possesses excellent range, so the obvious question will be does he have the arm to play short. According to the Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations Bill Bavasi, Hamilton has the arm.

Hamilton was recently named the #3 prospect among second basemen on MLB.com. No shame in that as Seattle’s Dustin Ackley and Toronto’s Brett Lawrie were the top 2. A little weird, really. The Reds project him at short, but he makes a list at another position. Maybe not so weird. Things change as a kid is coming up through a system and Hamilton will most likely be no different. Still, MLB.com believes Hamilton is “better suited for second base”.

Dayton seems the destination for Hamilton to begin 2011.

The top three will should surprise no one.

At #3 is first baseman Yonder Alonso. He and Grandal were teammates at Miami. We all know the road for Alonso to make the big club may be at another position considering there’s this guy named Votto occupying that spot for another three years. And there’s where all the trade talk comes into play. But Reds GM Walt Jocketty has steadfastly refused to include Alonso in any potential deal…that we know of.

After starting 2010 on a slow note due to injury, Alonso became healthy and showed of glimpses of why he was a first round selection in 2008. After last year’s All-Star break, Alonso put things together for splits of .335/.415/.561. Another thing. Alonso is disciplined at the plate. For his 2+ seasons in the minors, Alonso has struck out 143 times in 931 plate appearances. While that runs out to a 15.4%, that’s pretty good for a guy that’s still labeled as a power hitter.

But we have to revert back to position. Alonso is considered to slow afoot to play outfield. And that continually brings Alonso into those nasty rumors.

After seemingly being behind the 8-ball, #2 prospect Devin Mesoraco broke out in 2010.

Year Tm Lev G PA AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
2007 Reds Rk 40 155 137 16 30 1 8 15 26 .219 .310 .270
2008 Dayton A 83 334 306 29 80 9 42 20 64 .261 .311 .399
2009 Sarasota A+ 92 357 312 32 71 8 37 35 76 .228 .311 .381
2010 3 Teams AA-A+-AAA 113 451 397 71 120 26 75 43 80 .302 .377 .587
2010 Lynchburg A+ 43 181 158 24 53 10 31 19 29 .335 .414 .620
2010 Carolina AA 56 212 187 42 55 13 31 18 37 .294 .363 .594
2010 Louisville AAA 14 58 52 5 12 3 13 6 14 .231 .310 .462
4 Seasons 328 1297 1152 148 301 44 162 113 246 .261 .334 .444
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/21/2011.

The bat was thing about Mesoraco and it woke up in 2010. More pop, better average. The defense we all figured would evolve. It did. Mesoraco threw out 41% of would-be base runners last year.

The only issue will continue to be his health. It appears he’s healthy after his first couple of years in the system. A healthy Mesoraco could mean a call-up in 2011, but he will begin the year in Louisville. The situation could very well be along the lines of Buster Posey and the Giants. The Giants brought back Benjie Molina while Posey continued his development. Could this be equated to the Reds bringing back Ramon Hernandez? Hmm…

I’m not saying Mesoraco is Buster Posey, but wouldn’t that be something if he could be.

The obvious #1 is Aroldis Chapman. I’m going to let FanSided’s prospect guy Nathaniel Stoltz take over from here. For the record, Stoltz has Chapman rated #26 overall:

“What am I supposed to do with Chapman? The guy threw a baseball 105 miles per hour in a big league game, and it’s not even his best pitch. That’s obviously great, but there are some caveats here:

1.) Chapman’s minor league numbers, especially as a starter, weren’t that great, and he walked far too many.

2.) There’s a lot of injury concern here, mainly because seemingly everyone who throws this hard blows out his arm (see Zumaya, Joel and Strasburg, Stephen).

3.) Is Chapman going to become a reliever a la Joba Chamberlain/Neftali Feliz? If so, his value takes a huge hit.”

Aroldis Chapman

Image by SD Dirk via Flickr

While Stoltz has been into rating prospects for a while and I haven’t, I completely agree with him to the letter. While the Reds envision Chapman being a starter, I get the feeling the pen could well be his future, drop in stock or not. I know Reds fans would like to hear otherwise (that money thing for starters) and maybe it’s just me, but I feel if he were really to be a starter, he would start in Louisville (like last season) and he be worked exclusively as a starter. No pen.

And here’s where a caveat by BRM’s John Bell works into this:

“Pitchers who have spent time in the starting rotation have worked for years to refine four or more pitches, build the stamina to throw at 85-90% for an extended period of time and learned the entire game of baseball including how a hitter’s mentality changes from one inning to the next.”

What’s the possibility of Chapman seeing that 105 as a starter? John explains that.

“Chapman will obviously not be able to throw greater than 100mph for 8 innings. If he does, we can put his arm in gold right now and carry him around Cincinnati.”

None of us our scouts. We know we aren’t and we’re not in that business, but all of this that Nathaniel, John and myself have laid out here scream of making a decision on Chapman and sticking to it. It scares me to see the words “Joba Chamberlain” in reference to Chapman. Another set of rules?

No question he’s in Cincinnati for 2011 and he could be slated as a reliever.

But one can only wonder…

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball Billy Hamilton Cincinnati Reds Devin Mesoraco Reds Prospects Yasmani Grandal Yonder Alonso

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