I was curious to look back at Baseball America’s Top 10 Reds prospects coming into 2011. I remembered that Aroldis Chapman topped the list and was followed by Billy Hamilton, but some of the others have seen their status change dramatically since March and April.
So let’s go through the top 10 and see whether they have risen or fallen
1. Aroldis Chapman-I guess that he is no longer considered a prospect, but he has been what Reds fans expected. You have seen the good and the bad of Aroldis this season, and you have likely seen the last of him in a setup role. This offseason the Reds and Walt Jocketty will have a very interesting decision on their hands about whether to make Chapman a starter or the closer. Chapman sports a 3.86 ERA with 61 strikeouts in a little over 39 innings. Despite giving up 17 runs, Chapman has given up just 19 hits all season.
2. Billy Hamilton-The beginning of 2011 was a disaster for Hamilton who hit around .220 for the better part of two months. However, Hamilton, best known for his speed, has picked up his average and run wild in single A. He is currently batting .274 with 93 runs scored and 95 stolen bases. Hamilton must lower his strikeout rate if he has a future as the Reds leadoff man. 127 strikeouts compared to just 50 walks is not great, but Hamilton should be back up near the top of the Reds prospect list in 2012.
3. Devin Mesoraco-I am counting down the days until he makes his debut in Cincinnati. At age 23, Mesoraco has mashed AAA pitching this year batting .289 with 15 HR and 71 RBI. Mesoraco also has an impressive .372 OBP. He is still improving his defense, but Mesoraco is now the Reds most anticipated prospect, and he will be a likely September callup as long as he is added to the Reds 40 man roster.
4. Yonder Alonso-2011 was Alonso’s third year ranked in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in baseball. He hit .296 with 12 home runs before being called up to the major leagues in July. Since coming to the Major Leagues, he is hitting .412 with 3 bombs and 9 RBI. The question of where Alonso will play is now perhaps the biggest question on the minds of Reds fans. In his first start at 3B, Alonso did not have a ball hit his way. Even if Alonso can play third, the position is not exactly wide open. Rolen, Francisco, and Frazier as well as Cairo all have claims to playing time there as well.
5. Yorman Rodriguez-He is only 19 years old, but he may have taken a step backwards in 2011. At single A Dayton, Rodriguez has hit just .254 with 7 home runs and 20 SB. Rodriguez athletic ability and solid defense will likely keep him in the Reds top ten prospects in 2012, but he may not be as low as 5. Rodriguez will have a full year under his belt at single A, and hopefully, he can make great strides in 2012.
6. Yasmani Grandal-Grandal is the second catcher in the Reds top 10 prospects, and since he signed a major league deal when he was drafted, he could be a September callup for the Reds as well although that is somewhat unlikely. This season at high A ball and AA, Grandal has combined to hit .296 with 14 HR and 66 RBI. He has also looked impressive behind the plate by throwing out 36% of runners stealing. Grandal and Mesoraco are like Votto and Alonso. Eventually only one of them will really be able to be your catcher of the future, so it is a race to the big leagues for these promising youngsters. I expect him to rise up the Reds top 10 prospects list in 2012.
7. Juan Francisco-2011 has been a lost season for Francisco who broke camp with the big league club, but was injured and never returned. With all the injuries that Scott Rolen has dealt with, Francisco could have taken a strong hold on the 3B job, but instead the Reds have seen good things from both Todd Frazier and Yonder Alonso, making Francisco almost an after thought now. Francisco may not crack the top ten Reds prospects in 2012. He hit just .211 in 9 games at the Major League level this season.
8. Zack Cozart-He may have only gotten in 11 games at the big league level before suffering a season-ending elbow injury, but Cozart was impressive enough that he is the likely starting SS for the Reds in 2012. The Paul Janish experiment is not working out, and Edgar Renteria is getting so old that he swings like a rusty gate. Cozart hit .324 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in 11 games at the majors where he hit mainly in the two hole. He did not make an error in 63 chances at SS. Expect a rise up the charts for Cozart as well in 2012.
9. Todd Frazier-After a disappointing 2010, Frazier has put himself back in the conversation as one of the Reds promising young players. He hit just .260 before getting the call to the major leagues, but he also showed solid power with 15 HR. Now in 26 games at the major league level, Frazier has shown that pop by blasting 5 HR and 12 RBI in 78 AB. Hitting just .231 is not going to keep Frazier in the majors though as he must improve his contact rate. I am unsure what to expect from Frazier in 2012.
10. Kyle Lotzkar-The lone pitcher on in the top ten other than Aroldis Chapman has battled injuries, managing to pitch in only 12 games this season at single A. The good news is that Lotzkar is still only 21 years old and still seems destined to be a solid professional pitcher. Lotzkar has a 4.13 ERA but has struck out over a batter per inning. Daniel Corcino may very well join Lotzkar in the top ten next year, or he may even replace the 2007 first round draft pick. Lotzkar’s curveball was listed as best in the Reds system prior to 2011, and he still has impressive control for a 21 year old.
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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball America Top Prospects Billy Hamilton Carolina Mudcats Cincinnati Reds Daniel Corcino Dayton Dragons Edgar Renteria Joey Votto Juan Francisco Kyle Lotzkar Louisville Bats Paul Janish Reds Future Todd Frazier Top Prospects Yasmani Grandal Yonder Alonso Yorman Rodriguez Zack Cozart