Checking on Some Infielders

Update: Yesterday, John Fay listed on his blog the top 30 Reds prospects according to Baseball America. Of those, Soto was #24, Rodriguez was #23 and Torreyes was #22. Barnhart was not among the top 30.

A week ago, I started a three-part series on some of the Reds top prospects according to Baseball America, The Hardball Times and Minor League Ball. Before I go on with this series of the players that didn’t make those particular lists, I wish to bring something else to your attention.

Last night, the MLB Network aired a show listing its top 50 prospects throughout all the minors. The Reds managed to have three prospects on that list: #6 was pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Catcher Devin Mesoraco was in the #45 and first baseman Yonder Alonso was at #49. Clips of each can be found at The link directs to a piece written by Mark Sheldon but still has links to the clips.

Now, on with our look at four infielders…

I’ll start with catcher. You see, the Reds have more than just Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal in their system. They also have Tucker Barnhart. Barnhart was selected by the Reds in the 10th round in the 2009 June amateur draft.

You first look at his offensive numbers and you think that the catching position is supposed to have some pop. That would be true. Barnhart is only 20 so the power could still develop power. What makes Barnhart a bit special is his arm. During his brief 43 game minor league career, he’s managed to throw out 28 of 56 would be thefts. Yes, 50%.

Last December. Doug Gray of has Barnhart as the third catcher within the organization behind Mesoraco and Grandal. Yes, there’s a gap between #2 and #3 as far as levels go. If Barnhart’s offense can pick up, it won’t seem so vast.

Over at first base is Neftali Soto. First base marks the fourth different position the 21 year old has played since being selected in the third round of 2007’s draft. He’s been tried at third, short and even catcher. Maybe first base is his position. I know what you’re thinking aobut that…Votto. And another tohught…Alonso.

You can gather why Soto is around, his bat. And does that bat ever belt a ball and not just home runs. In 134 games for Lynchburg last year, Soto had 21 HR and 33 2B to go along with his 73 RBI.

There is a drawback to Soto. Being a perceived power guy, he does strikeout occasionally. Like 105 times in 565 PA last season. You would also like to see him walk a bit more. In those same 565 PA, only 32 BB. Granted, a power guy should be swinging, so the SO count can be a bit overlooked and even somewhat overblown. The lack of walks does concern me a little. It’s not necessarily a matter of lack of discipline, but recognition. That will come in time as Soto appears to now “get it”.

One of my favorites in the Reds organization is second baseman Henry Rodriguez. There’s a lot to like about this guy.

My favorite attribute is he’s a switch hitter, something not seen too much anymore. What’s even better about that is Rodriguez can hit from both sides of the plate. The issue is the noticeable difference in his swings. From the right, his power is a dead pull to left field with virtually no power to center or right. He does exhibit pull power as a lefty, but he has shown power to all fields.

2010 marked the first full season the soon-to-be 21 year old has played in the organization. 124 of his 130 games were played in Dayton, the Single-A affiliate. His splits from last season are .305/.333/.463 and are telling. Yes, he didn’t walk much as in only 22 times in 571 PA. That’s an even lower BB rate than Soto. But Rodriguez also struck out at a lower rate than Soto, 74 SO.

The glove? Maybe not what we’re used to with a Gold Glover in Brandon Phillips, but Rodriguez did improve a little over 2010. The only issue about him playing second may be his slight frame. Baseball Reference has listed at 5-10, 150 pounds. How can this sprightly guy avoid oncoming base runners? Sprightly may be an understatement, but he still looks like a solid prospect.

Another second baseman graces us in the name of Ronald Torreyes. Or is he a shortstop? Or maybe a third baseman? He played all three last season with stops in the Venezuelan Summer League, Arizona League and a cup of coffee in Dayton. Most of what to like about Torreyes comes at the plate. Isn’t that usually the case?

Torreyes completely tore up the VSL to the tune of .370/.434/.564. Eye bulging numbers to say the least. You see that SLG of .564 and think this kid sure has pop. He only hit 5 HR. His speed actually inflates his SLG. 12 triples and 29 doubles will add to that SLG number just as much as HR when you post that many extra base hits. Think about that for a minute. In only 91 games, Torreyes had 46 extra base hits and 197 total bases.

Something you don’t see a lot from the young guys is an excellent SO/BB ration. Torreyes is different, 19 BB/24 SO.

But with all that speed could be a slight downside. While Torreyes swiped 25 bases, he was caught 17 times. All a matter of technique to help with that. And if Torreyes begins 2011 in Dayton, Delino DeShields will be more than willing to show this kid how to do so. One other thing, the Venezuelan is only 18. Raw speed that can only develop into pure speed.

He could clean up the fielding a bit, but I think that could come under control once a true position is found for him. As I said, he played second (26 games), third (29 games) and short (27 games) last season. It may take another season of playing all three before one true position is defined for him. I see him more as a middle infielder with second being a likely destination.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a glimpse at some of the Reds future outfielders.