Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.
J.J. Cooper will answer questions about Reds prospects beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
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Morrie (Cincy): How far off from the show is Juan Duran, and did he stock slip any since last year?
He's a long ways away. The most important
thing for Duran is that he stayed relatively healthy in 2010, but he's
still rawer than sashimi. I would say his stock didn't improve any in
2010, which isn't a great thing when you've struggled for much of your
young minor league career.
Paul (PA): Could you give us the rundown on Drew Cisco, as well as his ranking?
Cisco is one of the most polished high
school pitchers to come out of the draft in a while, he's more like a
very young college pitcher than a high school arm. But there's also not a
whole lot of projection left. Expect to see him move pretty quickly.
Sorry you'll have to wait for the Prospect Handbook for his ranking.
Jake (Idaho): Yesterday, Jim Callis told us the
Cubs and Reds farm systems were neck-and-neck in the NL Central. That
said, did the Reds rank above the Cubs overall?
We have our initial rankings in the
Handbook (have to wait for it to come out to see those) and we haven't
set our final Organization talent rankings, but in my personal opinion,
the Reds are slightly better because of better depth.
Grant (Midwest): What's the skinny on newly drafted Kyle Waldrop? Top 30 guy?
Yeah he's in the top 30. Plenty of upside,
especially with his power potential. He's raw because injuries have
kept him off the field a lot during his high school career, but he has a
chance to be a solid corner outfielder.
Frank (Dallas, TX): What can you tell us about Ron Torreyes? thanks
One of my favorite prospects in the
system. He's short, but he can shows great glovework and has a lot of
offensive potential as well. I don't put too much stock in VSL stats for
predictive value, but the year he had there was amazing.
Ben (Leland Grove): Since you graded Chapman's fastball on the 20-80 scale for us, could you do likewise for his other offerings? Thanks.
Here you go. Fastball: 80. Slider: 70.
Changeup: 40. Command/Control: 45. Delivery: 50. He will likely never
have plus command, but then with his stuff, he just needs to have
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): After
other than glowing seasons in the Bosox organization,
lhp Tommy Cochran put up some good numbers as a starter in AA. Is he an
organization guy, or has he now moved on to the radar screen?
Org guy from the scouts I talked to. Good
numbers, but his stuff is well below-average. It's hard to break into
the big leagues with an 85-86 mph fastball. Most of the few guys in the
big leagues with an 85-86 mph fastball broke into the bigs with an 89-91
mph heater or better and made the transition to being crafty vets. Few
crafty minor leaguers ever get that chance.
Mike (Tampa, FL): Whose fastball would you say has the most life between these guys - Chapman, Feliz or Strasburg (pre-injury)?
As far as life, I'd say Strasburg. The
edge for velo obviously goes to Chapman. I think any team would have
happy to have any of the three.
Stephen Michaels (Houston, TX): I saw the
Cincinnati Reds Organizational Pitcher of the Year Jordan Hotchkiss not
on the list. Not real surprised but what is your take on him? See him as
a big league starter?
The scouts I talked to didn't think so.
He's a pitcher with good feel, but a below-average fastball and no real
plus pitch. Those kind of pitchers often succeed in A ball, but it
becomes quite tough to make it to the majors with that assortment.
Dave (CT): Many opinions have Mike Leake the
odd man out in this year's rotation — do the Reds hold onto him for the
future and why/why not?
I know he wore down as the season went
along, but it's hard to see why the Reds would dump a solid back-end of
the rotation starter who is very inexpensive. As the writeup last year
explained, Leake is unlikely to be a front-end starter, but there's no
reason to think he can't be a successful No. 4 starter for years to
come, and that has plenty of value. Last year the Reds ended up needing
seven different starters to make 10 or more starts, plus two more to
make spot starts. I'd imagine Leake will be sticking around.
Steve (Michigan): With Votto entrenched at 1B
and Alonso not being able to adapt to another position, does this make
him an easy trade candidate and does he have good value? Or are the Reds
going to give him another shot in the field, 3B or LF? Thanks!
I think long-term the Reds will trade him.
He's going to be too much of a liability defensively to stick in LF
over any length of time (3B is even more out of the question). Even if
the Reds can't get Votto signed to a long-term extension anytime soon,
he's still under their control for three more years. Juan Francisco and
Todd Frazier can serve as the backup plan for Votto in case of a serious
injury, and both of them can play elsewhere as well.
Mark (Fargo, Nd): If Cozart and Janish have
close to the same defensive ability and it sounds like they do why is
Cozart the front runner for the 2011 SS job?
From what I understand, Janish is the
front runner right now, which is largely because of incumbency. Teams,
understandably, generally go with the guy who has done it at the big
league level first. Janish has a better arm than Cozart, but Cozart has
more offensive ability.
Samuel (Minnesota): Hi J.J., thanks for the
chat. It seems to me that the Reds have a lot of solid pitchers, but
none with true ace potential, besides Chapman. My question is why would
they not at least try him in a starting role? If it doesn't work out,
then they can just move him to the bullpen, because they know that he
will be dynamite there. Isn't it at least worth finding out if he can
be a true top of the rotation starter?
All of your points are well made and
accurate, but development often gets shunted aside for the current needs
of the big league club. Chapman has almost no chance to make this team
as starter coming out of spring training in 2011—there are already six
established big league starters battling for five jobs and that's not
counting Matt Maloney or Sam Lecure. On the other hand, the team is in
need of a lefthanded setup man now that Arthur Rhodes is gone. While
Chapman may have more long-term value as a starter, the Reds want to win
now, after all they are the defending NL Central champs. It's hard to
tell the big league staff that they can't have a guy who can help them
win games now for the possibility he can help them more down the road.
So I would expect to see Chapman in the pen all year. They can
potentially revisit making him a starter in spring training in 2012, but
by then he could have had too much success relieving to make the move, a
la Neftali Feliz.
Keith (Memphis): How close were Juan Duran and Junior Arias to making the Top 10?
Neither is sitting at No. 11 but Arias was
much closer than Duran. I wouldn't be shocked to see Arias in the top
10 next year if he has a solid year.
Keith (Memphis): If you had a choice which farm system would you take, Reds 2008 or Reds 2011?
Reds 2008 and it's not even close. And
that's not a knock on this year's system which is pretty good. That 2008
Reds class is the best the Reds have had in decades and one of the
better talent hauls in the majors in the past decade. That group has
already produced an MVP (Votto), a very solid and still quite promising
RF (Bruce), two starting pitchers(Bailey and Cueto), a starting CF
(Stubbs) and a quite promising catcher (Mesoraco), and that's only the
guys who were ranked No. 1 through 6. Beyond that, Paul Janish (No. 19)
is the team's starting SS, Chris Dickerson (No. 27) is a big league
platoon outfielder and Travis Wood (No. 21) is a member of the Reds
rotation. That top 30 has produced 18 players who have played in the big
leagues, plus several more prospects who could be in the big leagues at
some point in 2011. If the Reds' current group can do half as well,
they'll be in great shape for the next five years.
Keith (Memphis): Is Juan Carlos Sulbaran still considered a prospect?
Still a prospect, but he has to show more
than he's shown. Punching a wall to break your hand and miss significant
time isn't a great way to clear up questions about your makeup. But he
apparently was pitching well in instructs, so maybe that will end up
being a turning point for him.
Kyle (Middletown): How far behind Zack Cozart are Kris Negron and Didi Gregorius as prospects?
Negron is good enough to handle SS
defensively in the majors, but he projects as more of a utility guy.
Gregorius has more potential upside than Cozart, but obviously he's a
lot riskier than a guy who is basically big league ready.
Zane (Columbus): Do you still believe in Todd
Frazier's bat or has his future become a lot more questionable? And
does Mark Derosa work as a decent comp for him?
I still believe in it, but the problem is
his bat looks a lot better if he's a third baseman or second baseman
than if he's a left fielder. Mark Derosa is a pretty good comp for his
potential career now as a guy who plays a little of everywhere, but
DeRosa was significantly better defensively when he came up—he was a
shortstop who played elsewhere, while Frazier is a third baseman who has
Kyle (Middletown): What are the odds that we
eventually see all seven of the Reds last 7 first round (not counting
comp rnd) picks together on the same big league roster? How often does
It's possible but unlikely as it's hard to
see Alonso being on this team long term unless something happens to
Votto, and eventually the Reds will likely have to decide between
Mesoraco and Grandal if everything works out perfectly. But that does
bring up an excellent point, the Reds have gotten to this point by
having a whole lot of hits in drafting and player development.
zack (Honolulu): How soon do you think Billy Hamilton will get his cup of coffee? And does he have significant game breaking speed?
I think he's probably still 2+ years away,
think late-2013 at the earliest, but yes, he absolutely has
game-breaking speed. If he stays healthy, I'll predict he wins the minor
league stolen base crown this year. Several managers in the PL
described him as being the fastest player they have seen in years.
Bryan (MA): Last month I traded Brandon Wood for Billy Hamilton in a Strat Dynasty League. A+ for me?
Yes. Definitely yes.
Ed (Redszone): Thoughts on Wes Mugarian?
Heard really good things on him from
instructs where there were reports he was touching 95 (although he sits
more 90-92). I've gotten several questions about deep sleepers. Count
Mugarian as one of those sleepers. I'll throw a couple of others in
later in the chat.
Steve (Bozeman, MT): Why has Donnie Joseph dropped from the list? He seemed to have a good year last year.
He wasn't dropped from the list. But the
upside as a probably big league setup man is lower than the guys in the
top 10. He's got two excellent pitches from a funky, deceptive (if not
pretty) delivery. I wouldn't be shocked to see him in Cincinnati late in
Zane (Columbus): What are your thoughts on Dave
Sappelt. Had a great year statistically but does he project as a major
league regular or more of a 4th outfielder?
If he hit lefty, I think there would be
more of a consensus belief among scouts that he could be a regular. But
as a short righthanded hitting OF, there's a lot of thought that he's a
potential solid fourth outfielder.
Zane (Columbus): Tucker Barnhart. Legitimate prospect, organizational guy or somewhere in between?
In between. He's not a blow-you-away
prospect, but there are some things to like and the Reds are pretty high
on him. Good makeup, solid tools.
Keith (NYC): Felix Perez is one of my personal cheeseballs where does he fit into the Reds future?
Considering his age, he's likely never
more than a backup outfielder, but he could fill that role tomorrow if
the Reds needed him to. The problem for him is that the Reds have a ton
of outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart, and it's hard to see
what he does that Chris Heisey doesn't already do for the big league
Harry (Trenton, NJ): No Ryan LaMarre? Please explain. Thanks.
I'll give one ranking from the Handbook
away. LaMarre was the No. 11 prospect. He's got plenty of potential and
will likely make the Top 10 next year with a solid year. Lotzkar just
edged him, but it was extremely close for the No. 10 spot.
ES (Washington): Hamilton is hugely promising,
but he's also very young. What's a realistic ETA in the majors for him?
If all goes well, does he profile as similar to Elvis Andrus
offensively, or will he add some power and hit some HRs?
He's got a lot more SB potential than
Andrus. In Andrus' best minor league season he stole 54 bases, Hamilton
stole 48 this year in a half season. And Hamilton has more potential to
be a top-of-the-order hitter who gets on base than Andrus does.
Defensively Andrus is better. I don't see power really being Hamilton's
game although he should fill out some, his upside is as an well-above
average leadoff hitter.
Antonio (MIAMI, FLORIDA): What are your
thoughts on the Reds having 2 solid catching prospects in Yasmany
Grandal and Devin Mesoraco? This will be a good example in the future to
compare the advantages and disadvantages of signing out of HS.
It will be a fascinating comparison as
both were high school catching prospects coming out the same year with
one going pro immediately and the other going the college route. It's a
good situation for the Reds—they are staggered enough developmentally
that they shouldn't have a problem with having them stack up at the same
level. Realistically the Reds should get a chance to take a look at
Mesoraco for a year or so in the big leagues before Grandal is ready,
then they can decide which one they see as their long-term catcher of
Gary27 (Des Moines): Seems like Mesoraco
exploded offensively, but regressed a bit defensively. Any concerns
about the defense moving forward and what kind of power/avg. numbers
should we expect?
There have to be some, as by the end of
the season with the finger injury and being worn down he had serious
trouble handling velocity. The Bats had to bench him for the final game
of their playoff series because he was clanking pitches off his mitt
repeatedly. But it was a long season for him, so there is some
explanation for his late-season (and AFL) struggles. The scouts I talk
to think he'll end up being a solid regular, although few think he has
much all-star potential. His 2010 numbers would seem to indicate
otherwise (no catcher had a better season around the minors), but the
general thought from the scouts I talked to is he could be a .270-.280
hitting catcher with 15 or so home runs in the big leagues.
Kyle (Middletown): How far behind Kyle Lotzkar
are Ismael Guillon and Jonathan Correa as prospects? Think we will see
any of the three get break out this year and turn into top 100
You just named the two pitchers in the
system who are next as far as upside. Lotzkar definitely could make next
year's top 100 if he can be healthy throughout 2011.
JAYPERS (IL): I find it almost incomprehensible
that the Reds would fork over in excess of $30M for Chapman only to
make him a reliever/closer down the road. If he can harness his control
and secondary stuff this season, how confident are you the Reds would
reconsider and plug him into the rotation?
I touched on this earlier, but I don't
think putting him in the pen this year eliminates all chance of moving
him into the rotation later. That being said, he's going to be a pretty
expensive setup man pretty quickly. If you include his spread-out bonus,
Chapman will make $2.5 million this year, $3.5 million in 2012
and $3.5 million in 2013 with a $3 million bonus payable if he qualifies
for arbitration after the 2013 season.
Disgruntled Reds Fan (CI, OH): Would you be so
bold as to say the Reds have mismanaged Todd Frazier's career by having
him play so many positions? Why won't they simply keep him in one place
for an entire season and see how he does?
I won't say it, but I'll say that I've
talked to people in the industry who say it. In the ideal situation,
Frazier becomes a Tony Phillips, Mark DeRosa type whose ability to play
multiple positions adds to his value, but his bat would probably look
more promising if he was projected as a third baseman—the problem in
Cincinnati is they have a veteran establish 3B (Rolen), and another
prospect (Juan Francisco) whose only real options are 3B and 1B (which
is filled by an MVP with a solid prospect behind him).
Dave (Deerfield, MA): Can you give us the names of 3 sleepers Reds prospect watchers should watch for?
I listed Wes Mugarian already. I'll throw
in Pedro Villareal as a deep, deep sleeper (he was up to 95 with a power
sinker and slider at his best). On a much closer to the majors note,
Darryl Thompson showed his old stuff in the AFL. If he can stay healthy
(big if), he could be helpful for the big league club at some point
before too long.
Keith (Memphis): Do the Reds have a chance to get 6 (Chapman,Hamilton,Alonso,Mesoraco,Rodriguez,Grandal) in the Top 100?
I'd say the first four are locks.
Rodriguez and Grandal are both likely to make it as well—I'd put all
six in my top 100. Hard to predict how it will all shape out, but yeah, I
think six seems about right.
Tony (Lakeland, FL): What is the deal with
Neftali Soto? Is he a utility guy now? What positions is he playing and
what do the Reds project as his future defensive home?
He looks like a first baseman now, which makes it tougher for him to make it obviously.
Matt (Scranton, PA): Can you tell us anything
about middle infield prospects Ronald Torreyes and Henry Rodriguez? Both
hit very well last year, but neither got much talk, even though
Torreyes continued to hit after leaving the DSL and Rodriguez showed
some power potential as a doubles machine.
Torreyes as I mentioned before is one of
my favorite prospects in the system. Rodriguez has some potential at the
plate, but there are some defensive concerns and more than anything he
needs to show better feel/instincts for the game. He made a lot of
mental errors last year. That being said, he was one of the few guys who
played well on a shockingly bad Dayton team.
Rick (Chapel Hill, NC): Who do you think is a better catching prospect: Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal?
Mesoraco, which is why we ranked him
higher. He has more upside and he's already produced in pro ball. But
Grandal is more polished behind the plate and isn't that far behind him.
mchaz12 (Ottawa, ON): Where would Philippe Valiquette rank outside the top ten?
He's still in the top 30, but if you took
my 2006 scouting report for him and reprinted it now, it would have many
of the same weaknesses. At some point, you have to do more than just
throw the ball really hard.
Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Would it make sense to
package Juan Francisco, Yasmani Grandal & Yonder Alonso next off
season to get some MLB talent and help keep them atop the NL Central?
If Mesoraco has a strong encore, all 3 players could be seen as
redundant. What kind of quality player do you think they could get for
The problem with that package is that
Francisco and Alonso are the kind of players who rarely net massive
hauls when you trade them as prospects. Rewinding a couple of years, the
Phillies had Ryan Howard available when he was coming up through the
minors and never had a team really offer then fair value for him.
Obviously Philadelphia is glad that they didn't trade him, but it was
yet another reminder that team's rarely trade for minor league first
baseman. Now obviously Justin Smoak was just dealt in a big deal last
year, and that's the best-case scenario for the Reds in an Alonso trade
(now they have to hope he gets off to a fast start), but I think most
teams view him as more of a solid 1B not an all-star. If that's the
case, him and Francisco are more solid pieces rather than cornerstones
of a trade (although maybe some team falls in love with Francisco's
power potential). Grandal's a little bit of a different story because
there is always a desire to find young catching. That being said, what
would the Reds trade for? Teams rarely deal away No. 1 starters, and
Cincinnati is already flush with middle of the rotation arms. They have a
slight hole in left field, but Gomes and Heisey are really fine for
that. I'm sure they've love to land a young, stud shortstop, but there
aren't many of those around the majors either.
Ron (Mobile AL): What is your view on Brad Boxberger long term?
2011 will be a very big year for him. He
seemed to get caught in a downward spiral once he got lit up a couple of
times in Double-A. The stuff is still there if he gets his mechanics
straightened out, but he needs to have some success to build on to get
2010 out of his head. Long-term I still think he could be a power arm in
the pen for them.
JD (AZ): Thanks for the chat JJ. Did Jeremy
Horst find his way into the Reds top 30, and do you expect to see him in
the big league pen at some point in 2011?
He's got a chance to be a sixth or
seventh-inning guy as a pitcher with fringy stuff and good feel for
pitching. But there's not a ton of upside there.
Kyle (Middletown): Do you expect any of the Reds rookie leaguers (outside of the top 10) to break out this year in full season ball?
Yeah, Daniel Corcino, Torreyes, Ismael
Guillon and maybe Junior Arias could all get noticed in Dayton this
year. Not sure if Arias or Jonathan Correa will move that quickly to
Dayton, but all of them are guys to keep an eye on.
Greg (Loveland, OH): How do Jonathan Correa & Daniel Corcino compare?
Corcino's more polished and has a better breaking ball now. They have two of the better fastballs in the system.
Zane (Columbus): Do you see Danny Dorn ever getting a shot in left field for the Reds? And if he does what do you expect out of him?
Realistically? No. To get a shot in left
field, he has to leapfrog over Johnny Gomes, Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier,
David Sappelt and Felix Perez. All but Gomes are better defensively in
left and Heisey, Sappelt and Perez offer more position flexibility in
the OF (which makes them more valuable as fourth OFs). Frazier can
handle first and left like Dorn, but he can also play third and even a
little second, while Dorn is limited to left and first. Dorn can hit,
but he needs to get into the right situation to ever get big league ABs,
and that situation doesn't seem to be happening in Cincinnati. It's
worth noting that he was available in the Rule 5 draft and no one took
him, and the same thing was true last year as well.
Jackson (dayton ohio): Is Brodie Green a sleeper? What position will he play?
Nice sleeper. Has some hitting ability and can play some second and short. His upside is as a solid utility player.
Tanner (Baltimore, MD): JJ - Enjoyed the
write-ups. Did you receive a comparison for Hamilton at all, or someone
you liken him to? Luis Castillo a good one?
We actually got some Luis Castillo comps.
And if Hamilton can end up being Castillo, that's a quite valuable
player, especially now that we are in an era where not everyone is check
swinging balls over the wall for home runs.
Kerm (Milwaukee, WI): I was a little surprised
to see Hamilton ahead of Mesoraco, as I view Mesoraco as the obvious #2
in this system. What was the rationale?
Understandably that is probably the one
"surprising" ranking in the Top 10. I can definitely see arguments for
Mesoraco at No. 2, after all, you're comparing a guy who slugged .600+
and made it to Triple-A versus a guy who's yet to play full-season ball.
But everyone I talked to couldn't stop raving about Hamilton and his
potential. Several scouts I talked to viewed Hamilton as having more
long-term potential than Mesoraco, and said they have Hamilton ranked
higher than Mesoraco. That's not meant as a rip on Mesoraco, but there
are some reasons to be concerned still with the catcher. Before his
outstanding 2010, Mesoraco had struggled at the plate for most of the
previous 2 1/2 seasons and he's had a series of injury problems. And as
mentioned before, there are scouts who think he still has some work to
do on his receiving before he's big league ready. Mesoraco is definitely
a safer pick as the No. 2 guy in the system, but this is more of a case
of Hamilton's significant potential more than a knock on Mesoraco. I'll
be the first to say I could be wrong, but I expect Hamilton to be one
of the breakout prospects of the 2011 season.
jackson (dayton OH): How good will the Dayton Dragons be this season? I'm pretty excited about the prospects coming to the gem city.
A whole lot better than they were in 2010, I can say without stretching my neck out at all.
Hey everyone thanks for the questions. I
have to wrap up so I can put the finishing touches on the Prospect Pulse
for this issue, which looks at the Reds' newfound ability to develop
pitching. Thanks for the time. John Manuel will be here on Friday to
chat about the Astros.