The Reds Future?

The interwebs are stuffed full of sites that provide information regarding baseball’s prospects. The FanSided Sports Network is no different. As a site on FanSided, you might think that I’m doing nothing more than giving our site that is exclusively for baseball’s prospects, Seedlings to Stars, nothing more than a shameless plug here.

Well…yes and no.

It is a plug, but not for the reason(s) you think. Senior Editor Nathaniel Stoltz is currently in the midst of listing his top 100 prospects for 2012. This marks the fourth year Stoltz has undertaken the arduous task of compiling such a list. If you are familiar with another FanSided site, Call to the Pen, you may recall his list from last year. (While the posts show 2010 as the year, that was compiled after the 2010 season, same as the one currently on S2S.)

If you go to the link which is for last year’s list, you will notice that the prospects are listed in groups of ten. A lot of info in those posts, too. This year, Stoltz has devoted a dedicated post to each of his top 100. That’s good news as we are now able to obtain even more details on prospects we may have on our minds.

With that backdrop now in place, Stoltz has covered his first 25 (and a few more since). This post will reflect Reds prospects that are in that first 25, nos. 76-100.

The first Reds prospect to hit the “countdown” is at #99, Henry Rodriguez. Here’s a small sample from S2S and part of Stoltz’s conclusion in regards to Rodriguez.

Conclusions: Rodriguez has a complete offensive game, which is a rarity for a 21-year-old middle infielder. The lack of projectability in his body does give him a fairly low ceiling, and concerns over his defense and lefthanded hitting mechanics are legitimate if fairly minor quibbles.

I believe this is a fair, objectionable view. If you look at anything relating to Rodriguez and his size, the basics slap you in the face: 5-10, 150. Who knows if he can “fill out” as he matures and it does present a bit of a conundrum. If he does add bulk, will that project into more power, thereby curtailing his speed? Rodriguex was 30 for 40 his swipes while hitting 13 home runs. Would more weight translate into more pop than he already possesses?

You can draw your own comparisons, but Stoltz believes he could (I stress, could) evolve into a player similar to Neil Walker. If Rodriguez does, I’ll take it.

The next Reds farmhand to hit the list is at #97, Yonder Alonso. Alonso was a Stoltz honorable mention last year. For the last three years, Alonso was a mention on Baseball America’s top 100 sheet as well (#35 for 2009, #45 for 2010, #73 for 2011), but his “ranking” fell each of those three years. There are a few reasons for that: defensive question in regards to position other than his primary position, not showing enough power in the minds of some.

But I like Stoltz’s take on Alonso here…

As a player who is just about a dozen at-bats away from losing his rookie eligibility, Alonso’s proven himself in nearly the largest sample possible for somebody still considered a “prospect,” and thus has arguably the highest floor of anyone on the entire list. I suppose you could argue somebody like Matt Moore, who’s been dominant in his time in the majors, would have a higher floor, but then again, pitchers are more likely to suffer career-altering injuries.

Perhaps this is one reason we will hear chatter of Alonso either being dealt, or if it’s #19 going elsewhere (I hope neither if Alonso can adapt and play left field). Alonso’s bat has really not a lot more to prove to the baseball world. He can hit. He does possibly possess more pop that we had initially thought, too.

I do believe if first base was available, Alonso would still be higher on each and every list of prospects. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he’d already have a full year under his belt and not even be on any prospect list.

Next up is Ronald Torreyes at #93. When I first saw that Torreyes made this year’s list, I was excited to read it for a couple of reasons. I knew he had some skills and I knew Stoltz was high on him last year despite not be on the list. He still is high on Torreyes, too. It didn’t stop the Dragons second baseman from hitting the list this time.

It’s hard not to like this kid. I say kid because he’s only 18. Stoltz, in his wrap-up about Torreyes, explains why.

Conclusions: Torreyes’ ability to make contact is truly special, and what makes it even more incredible is how young he was for the Midwest League when he posted that great statline. He adds to his value with excellent defense at second base, and projects to be at least a Jeff Keppinger-type player.

Reds fans are familiar with Kepp, but again, I stress the point about Kepp being the lowest Torreyes currently projects. His diminutive size (5-9, 140 and this might be a stretch) will never strike fear in an opposing pitcher, but he simply makes contact.

His speed is ample, but I cannot envision Torreyes having a season where he he will be able to own a “steal-at-will” mentality. He was only 12 of 19 this year for Dayton. Torreyes also displayed stellar defense as well in that he only committed 3 errors in 263 chances.

The last of the Reds to appear in Stoltz’s first 25 is Yorman Rodriguez who find his place at #79. While last year was a first season of full-year baseball for the Venezuelan, he showed both pluses and minuses. Higher walk rate (8.1%), but also a higher whiff rate (27.1%, more than 1 per game). The main plus about Rodriguez is his athletic ability. Maybe still a little raw for his age (he’s 19), but one hope is that he continues to grow into his 6-3 body (a point Stotz mentions in his post).

Rodriguez can do a little of everything, but the question going forward is will he improve on that “everything”? He has tools, but how will he use them?

That seems to be a bit of a question Stoltz has as well…

Overall, he epitomizes the “prospect to watch.” Rodriguez is very, very far from a sure thing, but if he makes further improvements with a promotion to High-A next year (and yes, I know the California League awaits), he’s going to be moving more and more toward a top-tier hitting prospect. His ceiling is quite high, and if he continues to stride toward it, his ranking will rise as his downside lessens

I’d go so far to say that Rodriguez’s projections and athleticism are cause for being rated above the other three Reds. Having a plus outfield arm doesn’t hurt either.

That’s a wrap…for now. Once #51 is in the books, we’ll be back to look at any Reds between nos. 51-75. (Hint: one Red is already there…)