2013 Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

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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.

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Cincinnati Reds

For a team on a budget, this is how you're supposed to get things done.

With a largely homegrown lineup and pitching staff, the Reds rolled to 97 wins and a National League Central title in 2012, the second-best record in the majors and the club's most wins since the Big Red Machine won 102 games and a World Series in 1976.

Cincinnati didn't have the money to make a big splash on the free-agent market, and it didn't need to. At $2 million, Ryan Ludwick was the most expensive free-agent acquisition to make the 25-man roster.

After cultivating a talented farm system, the Reds are reaping the dividends, with homegrown players like Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto serving as franchise cornerstones. Before the season, they traded prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger to the Padres to acquire Mat Latos, adding another frontline starter to pair with Cueto. Rookies played key roles in Cincinnati as well, with Zack Cozart holding down the everyday shortstop job and Todd Frazier hitting 19 homers while playing first base, third base and left field.

It all culminated in the Reds' second division title in three years, after what had been a 15-year playoff drought. While the NL Division Series against the Giants ended in disappointment, as Cincinnati won the first two games in San Francisco before losing the last three, the team is positioned for long-term success and was recognized as Baseball America's Organization of the Year.

The revitalization has been slow and steady. The Reds had one of the least-talented systems in baseball for most of the late 1990s and much of the early 2000s, largely because of poor drafts. From 1992-2003, outfielder Austin Kearns was their only first-round pick who became a multiyear regular in Cincinnati.

Since then, the Reds have rarely missed on their top picks. In fact, every first-rounder from 2004-10 has become a big league regular, with the exception of Devin Mesoraco, who's still expected to after ranking No. 1 on this list a year ago. Former scouting director Terry Reynolds (2004-05) and successor Chris Buckley (2006-present) have produced a series of productive drafts while rarely stretching the budget.

A franchise that had also been unable to develop starting pitchers for more than a decade had three homegrown arms who made 30 or more starts in 2012 in Cueto and former first-round picks Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. Cincinnati's $30.25 million investment in Aroldis Chapman has paid off, as he earned all-star recognition while saving 38 games. He'll get an opportunity to join the rotation in 2013.

Through trades and promotions, 12 members of last year's Reds Top 30 Prospects list no longer qualify, so the system's depth has understandably taken a hit. There's still elite talent at the top with outfielder/shortstop Billy Hamilton, who created perhaps the biggest story of the 2012 minor league season by stealing a professional-record 155 bases.

Cincinnati won't be counting on many prospects to make the jump to the majors in the next couple of years, but it also doesn't have many holes at the big league level. Among the Reds' projected regulars, all but Bronson Arroyo, Bailey and Shin-Soo Choo are under team control through the 2015 season.

1. Billy Hamilton, ss/of Born: Sep 9, 1990 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 160
Drafted: Taylorsville (Miss.) HS, 2009 (2nd round).  Signed by: Tyler Jennings
Billy HamiltonBackground: A few years ago, the Internet spawned a meme called Matt Wieters facts, where impossible feats were attributed to baseball's top prospect. (One sample: Matt Wieters draws intentional walks in batting practice.) Billy Hamilton facts seem equally overblown—except they're true. When a left fielder lost sight of a fly ball, he ran out from his shortstop position to catch it near the warning track. He scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly that didn't leave the infield. He scored from second on an infield grounder. And along the way, he set the professional baseball single-season stolen base record last year with 155, eclipsing Vince Coleman's 30-year-old mark of 145. After Hamilton had played shortstop and second base throughout his pro career, the Reds moved him to center field in the Arizona Fall League. The position change should speed his arrival to the big leagues, as concerns about his arm and hands at shortstop were the biggest knocks on him. The 57th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he turned down the chance to play wide receiver at Mississippi State for a $623,600 bonus.

Scouting Report: Every scouting report ever written about Hamilton has to start with his speed. There may be current players who can run a faster 60-yard dash, but no one is faster on a diamond. He turns in hard-to-comprehend 3.35-3.4 second times to first base on bunts from the left side. His aggressiveness makes his speed play up, if that's even possible. His ability to turn routine plays into nail-biters forces infielders to hurry, and he's a threat to take an extra base on any ball to the outfield. Hamilton has made more use of his speed as he has improved at the plate. A switch-hitter, he has smoothed out his less-natural lefthanded swing, which has left him less vulnerable to high fastballs that he used to chase and pop up. Pitchers with good fastballs can still bust him up and in at times. He's rail-thin and never will have home run power, but he does show some gap pop, especially from the right side. His speed also means that singles sometimes turn into doubles. He has improved his pitch recognition and selectivity, with his 86 walks in 2012 nearly matching his previous career total from three pro seasons. The move to center field should fit Hamilton's aggressive approach. He still has some work to do on jumps and routes, but his quickness allows him to outrun mistakes and play shallower than most. He projects as a plus defender, perhaps even a Gold Glover, with an average arm. Hamilton is as durable as he is fast. Despite taking the pounding of countless steal attempts, he never has spent a day on the disabled list.

The Future: Hamilton's speed ensures him some sort of big league job, and his continued development at the plate will determine whether he ends up being an all-star or a bottom-of-the-order speedster. Cincinnati's trade for Shin-Soo Choo ended any chance Hamilton had of winning the center-field job in spring training, and he could use some time at Triple-A Louisville to refine his game. When he arrives in the big leagues, his style of play will draw immediate attention.

'09 Reds (R) 166 19 34 6 3 0 11 11 47 14 3 .205 .253 .277
'10 Billings (R) 283 61 90 13 10 2 24 28 56 48 9 .318 .383 .456
'11 Dayton (LoA) 550 99 153 18 9 3 50 52 133 103 20 .278 .340 .360
'12 Bakersfield (HiA) 337 79 109 18 9 1 30 50 70 104 21 .323 .413 .439
'12 Pensacola (AA) 175 33 50 4 5 1 15 36 43 51 16 .286 .406 .383
Minor League Totals 1511 291 436 59 36 7 130 177 349 320 69 .289 .364 .389

2. Robert Stephenson, rhp Born: Feb 24, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Alhambra HS, Martinez, Calif., 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Rich Bordi
Robert StephensonBackground: He has pitched just 65 pro innings, but Stephenson already has shown the best pure stuff of any Reds draftee dating back to at least 2004 first-rounder Homer Bailey. Signed for $2 million as the 27th overall pick in 2011, he ranked as the Rookie-level Pioneer League's top pitching prospect in his pro debut last summer and was equally impressive in his best starts after a promotion to low Class A Dayton.

Scouting Report: Stephenson's fastball velocity has improved in pro ball, rising from 92-95 in his draft year to 93-97 in 2012, and he touched 100 mph at low Class A Dayton. His heater has excellent life as well. What makes him stand out from the average prep flamethrower is that he also has a good feel for his secondary pitches. His changeup also has gotten better since his high school days, and some scouts project it as a plus pitch. His curveball has similar potential. Stephenson can get too intense at times—he sometimes throws in the mid-90s warming up in the bullpen—and needs to avoid rushing his delivery, which detracts from his control.

The Future: Cincinnati kept a tight leash on Stephenson and will turn him loose in 2013, when he'll open back in low Class A. He has all of the ingredients to become a frontline starter.

'12 Billings (R) 1 0 2.05 7 7 0 31 22 11 7 2 8 37 .193
'12 Dayton (LoA) 2 4 4.19 8 8 0 34 32 23 16 4 15 35 .237
Minor League Totals 3 4 3.18 15 15 0 65 54 54 23 6 23 72 .217

3. Tony Cingrani, lhp Born: Jul 5, 1989 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Rice, 2011 (3rd round).  Signed by: Jerry Flowers
Tony CingraniBackground: Cingrani was so bad as a Rice junior that he asked his coaches if they wanted him to come back for his senior season. The Owls simplified his delivery and fixed a timing issue in which his arm lagged behind his lower half, and the results were immediate. He improved his fastball velocity and control, pitched his way into the third round of the 2011 draft and led the minors with a 1.73 ERA last year before joining the Reds in September.

Scouting Report: Cingrani's success begins with his fastball, which generates plenty of swings and misses thanks to excellent life and some deception in his delivery. He adds and subtracts from his fastball, varying it from 88-95 mph, and locates it to both sides of the plate. It looks even quicker because he pairs it with a plus change with good fade that gives him a weapon against righthanders. His slider is fringy, as it is too often flat and it lacks bite. He generally throws strikes, though his control slipped at Double-A Pensacola.

The Future: Cingrani's slider will determine his future role. He can thrive in the bullpen with two pitches, but needs a better breaking ball to succeed as a starter. With a full rotation in Cincinnati, he'll head to Triple-A to begin 2013.

'11 Billings (R) 3 2 1.75 13 13 0 51 35 11 10 1 6 80 .185
'12 Bakersfield (HiA) 5 1 1.11 10 10 0 57 39 13 7 2 13 71 .187
'12 Pensacola (AA) 5 3 2.12 16 15 0 89 59 24 21 7 39 101 .180
'12 Cincinnati (MAJ) 0 0 1.80 3 0 0 5 4 1 1 1 2 9 .211
Major League Totals 0 0 1.80 3 0 0 5 4 4 1 1 2 9 .211
Minor League Totals 13 6 1.74 39 38 0 197 133 133 38 10 58 252 .184

4. Daniel Corcino, rhp Born: Aug 26, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 205
Signed: Dominican Republic '08 Signed by: Richard Jimenez
Daniel CorcinoBackground: Even before he arrived in the United States, Corcino has been known as the Reds' "next Cueto." He draws comparisons to Cincinnati's ace because he's a short but powerfully built Dominican righthander with a low three-quarters arm slot. And like Cueto, he has had success wherever he goes. In 2012, he pitched the first eight innings of the first no-hitter in Pensacola franchise history and ranked second in the Southern League with a 3.01 ERA.

Scouting Report: Because of his arm slot, cross-fire delivery and understanding of how to manipulate the baseball, Corcino throws 91-94 mph fastballs with either cutting action or armside run. His slider shows flashes of being a plus pitch, though it needs more consistency. His changeup has good sink at the plate, giving him the potential for three solid or better pitches. Corcino has some effort to his delivery. His control wasn't as sharp in Double-A, with his walk rate (4.1 per nine innings) nearly doubling from the year before (2.2).

The Future: If the Reds need a power arm out of the pen, Corcino is ready right now. Because he'll have more value as a starter, he'll head to Triple-A to continue to refine his secondary stuff and control. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, much like Cueto did as he climbed the minor league ladder.

'08 Reds (R) 6 2 5.29 23 0 0 34 37 28 20 2 14 26 .266
'09 Reds (R) 0 1 0.00 2 0 0 3 5 2 0 0 1 2 .385
'09 Billings (R) 1 4 4.91 20 0 3 26 23 16 14 2 15 30 .230
'10 Billings (R) 1 3 3.40 9 9 0 40 38 18 15 2 17 31 .242
'10 Dayton (LoA) 1 1 4.31 6 6 0 31 31 16 15 1 15 29 .248
'11 Dayton (LoA) 11 7 3.42 26 26 0 139 128 61 53 10 34 156 .234
'12 Pensacola (AA) 8 8 3.01 26 26 0 143 111 61 48 9 65 126 .205
Minor League Totals 28 26 3.57 112 67 3 416 373 373 165 26 161 400 .230

5. Nick Travieso, rhp Born: Jan 31, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla., 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Tony Arias
Nick TraviesoBackground: In the final month before the 2012 draft, Travieso's velocity ticked up as he helped Archbishop McCarthy High (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) win its third straight 6-A state title. He pitched just 15 innings as a junior because the team was stacked. The Reds had plenty of history with him because international scouting director Tony Arias has a son on the team, and they selected Travieso 14th overall and signed him for $2 million—$375,000 less than the assigned pick value.

Scouting Report: While Travieso's fastball touched 98 mph in high school, he sat at 90-93 mph and peaked at 96 as pro as Cincinnati worked on getting him to repeat his delivery and avoid opening up too early. Some scouts think his fastball lacks life and deception. He shows the ability to spin a tight slider in the mid-80s, but he doesn't stay on top of it or command it consistently. His changeup is a long ways away, which isn't surprising considering his limited innings.

The Future: The Reds will give Travieso plenty of chances to start, but many observers see him ending up as a power reliever. Cincinnati probably will put him on the same path as 2011 first-rounder Robert Stephenson, sending Travieso to extended spring training and then on to Rookie-level Billings or Dayton.

'12 Reds (R) 0 2 4.71 8 8 0 21 20 11 11 3 5 14 .241
Minor League Totals 0 2 4.71 8 8 0 21 20 20 11 3 5 14 .241

6. Jesse Winker, of Born: Aug 17, 1993 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Olympia HS, Orlando, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Greg Zunino
Jesse WinkerBackground: When he was a sophomore, Winker watched Olympia High (Orlando) teammate Mason Williams hit his way to a $1.45 million signing bonus as a fourth-round pick. Two years later, Winker and righthander Walker Weickel gave Olympia a pair of 2012 supplemental first-round picks. After signing for $1 million, Winker led the Pioneer League in on-base percentage (.443) and ranked third in hitting (.338) and OPS (.993).

Scouting Report: Winker has a sweet lefthanded swing and keeps his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. He's an extremely disciplined hitter who isn't afraid to work counts, though he'll have to cut down his strikeouts as he advances. His stroke generates natural loft that could produce 20 homers annually as he adds further muscle. He has strong legs that he uses well in his swing. Reds coaches compare his stroke to Jay Bruce's, though Winker isn't nearly as athletic. He's a below-average runner now and will get slower as he fills out. He's most likely a left fielder in the long term, though he has enough arm to handle right.

The Future: Following a fabulous pro debut, Winker is more than ready to move up for low Class A. His big league future depends on his bat, but it looks like it will be up to the challenge. He's a potential No. 3 hitter in a contender's lineup.

'12 Billings (R) 228 42 77 16 3 5 35 40 50 1 3 .338 .443 .500
Minor League Totals 228 42 77 16 3 5 35 40 50 1 3 .338 .443 .500

7. J.J. Hoover, rhp Born: Aug 13, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Calhoun (Ala.) CC, 2008 (10th round).  Signed by: Brian Bridges
J.J. HooverBackground: The Braves drafted 11 pitchers in the first 12 rounds of the 2008 draft. They have already released three of their first six choices, but they did get Craig Kimbrel (third round) and Hoover. Traded to Cincinnati for Juan Francisco at the end of spring training in 2012, he impressed the Reds so much during a September callup that they added him to their playoff roster ahead of more veteran relievers. He made two scoreless appearances in the National League Division Series.

Scouting Report: The thick-bodied Hoover has been dominant ever since he moved to the bullpen early in 2011. His fastball velocity increased with the move, now sitting at 92-93 mph with plenty of sink. Because of his background as a starter, he has a varied repertoire. Hoover junked his slider last year in favor of a slow curveball that he can command better. His curve can handcuff hitters who are gearing up to catch up to his fastball. He also throws a usable changeup and has average control.

The Future: Hoover already has demonstrated that he can pitch in a big league bullpen. He'll serve as a set-up man for Jonathan Broxton in 2013, and he could grow into the closer role if needed down the road.

'08 Danville (R) 1 0 0.00 2 0 0 5 4 0 0 0 1 6 .222
'09 Myrtle Beach (HiA) 0 0 9.00 1 1 0 3 3 3 3 1 5 2 .250
'09 Rome (LoA) 7 6 3.35 25 18 1 134 135 58 50 9 25 148 .251
'10 Myrtle Beach (HiA) 11 6 3.26 24 24 0 133 126 56 48 7 35 118 .240
'10 Mississippi (AA) 3 1 3.48 4 4 0 21 15 8 8 1 15 34 .195
'11 Mississippi (AA) 2 5 2.48 31 12 1 87 65 30 24 5 28 86 .199
'11 Gwinnett (AAA) 1 1 3.38 12 2 1 19 12 8 7 0 12 31 .176
'12 Louisville (AAA) 4 0 1.22 30 0 13 37 15 9 5 1 12 55 .119
'12 Cincinnati (MAJ) 1 0 2.05 28 0 1 31 17 7 7 2 13 31 .156
Major League Totals 1 0 2.03 28 0 1 31 17 17 7 2 13 31 .155
Minor League Totals 29 19 2.97 129 61 16 439 375 375 145 24 133 480 .222

8. Ismael Guillon, lhp Born: Feb 13, 1992 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200
Signed: Venezuela '09 Signed by: Tony Arias
Ismael GuillonBackground: Other teams scouted Guillon more as a hitter, but the Reds signed him for $220,000 as a pitcher in 2008. When he was found to need Tommy John surgery, they voided his original deal and re-signed him at a significantly reduced rate. The renegotiation made him eligible for the Rule 5 draft if he wasn't on the 40-man roster, and while he went unpicked in 2010 and 2011, Cincinnati protected him this offseason.

Scouting Report: Guillon's changeup is a true plus pitch. He throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball and is willing to double up on it, baffling even hitters who are looking for the pitch. The quality of his changeup helps his fastball play up. He usually works at 89-92 mph, touching 94 on some nights but struggling to top 90 on others. His curveball is well below average, but Guillon's biggest weakness is his control. He has smoothed out his delivery, reducing a pronounced wrap in the back, but he still needs to repeat his mechanics better. His delivery does give him some deception.

The Future: While Guillon's 40-man roster spot means he'll head to big league spring training, he has a lot of development ahead of him. He'll open 2013 in low Class A after making four strong starts there to conclude last season.

'10 Reds (R) 3 3 3.32 12 10 0 57 39 26 21 1 23 73 .186
'11 Billings (R) 3 6 6.57 15 15 0 63 78 57 46 11 46 61 .292
'12 Billings (R) 4 1 2.29 11 10 0 51 39 16 13 1 24 63 .203
'12 Dayton (LoA) 2 0 2.55 4 4 0 25 22 8 7 2 7 27 .229
Minor League Totals 12 10 3.99 42 39 0 196 178 178 87 15 100 224 .232

9. Jonathan Reynoso, of Born: Jan 7, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 177
Signed: Dominican Republic '10 Signed by: Richard Jimenez
Jonathan ReynosoBackground: In a system thinned out by big league promotions and trades, Reynoso is one of the toolsiest players. Signed for only $45,000, he batted .223 in two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before taking a big step forward in his 2012 U.S. debut. He hit .311 and led the Rookie-level Arizona League with 30 steals.

Scouting Report: Only Yorman Rodriguez can match Reynoso's all-around physicality among Reds farmhands. His best present tool is his plus speed, though he's still learning to use it. He led the AZL by getting caught stealing nine times and doesn't take good routes in center field. His 6-foot-3 frame has room to add strength, which means he could end up as a power-hitting right fielder, though his high-waisted build leads observers to believe he'll retain most of his speed as he matures. Reynoso has solid hand-eye coordination and squares up pitches over the plate. He's comfortable lining pitches off the plate to the opposite field, but he does have trouble turning on inside offerings. He has well above-average arm strength, though he's not always accurate with his throws and he needs to speed up his release.

The Future: The jump from the AZL to full-season ball is steep, but Reynoso might be ready for low Class A after some time in extended spring training. The Reds are anxious to see how he'll handle better competition.

'10 Reds (R) 104 16 21 3 2 0 7 9 20 9 0 .202 .272 .269
'11 Reds (R) 178 27 42 8 4 0 24 19 38 22 5 .236 .340 .326
'12 Reds (R) 190 37 59 7 3 2 16 6 23 30 9 .311 .328 .411
Minor League Totals 472 80 122 18 9 2 47 34 81 61 14 .258 .321 .347

10. Dan Langfield, rhp Born: Jan 21, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 196
Drafted: Memphis, 2012 (3rd round).  Signed by: Joe Katuska
Dan LangfieldBackground: In 2011, the Reds spent a third-round pick on Tony Cingrani, a college pitcher most scouts projected as a reliever. Cincinnati let him start, and Cingrani looks like he has a future in the rotation after leading the minors in ERA last season. The Reds may have made a similar third-round discovery with Langfield. After signing him for $436,800 last June, Cincinnati helped him smooth out his mechanics without losing anything off his fastball. His father Paul was a 10th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 1980.

Scouting Report: In college, Langfield's 93-97 mph fastball was his calling card, but he pitched to the radar gun too often. The Reds slowed down his delivery, toned down some arm-jarring recoil and were rewarded with a strong pro debut. His fastball and hard slider both could be plus pitches and allowed him to lead Conference USA with 111 strikeouts in 94 innings last spring. His curveball and changeup show flashes of becoming solid offerings as well. Langfield's control improved after he cleaned up his mechanics, but it still needs further refinement. He has been durable throughout his amateur career.

The Future: Langfield's ability to make adjustments to his delivery has shelved efforts to move him to the bullpen for now. He heads to full-season ball with a chance to anchor the Dayton rotation.

'12 Billings (R) 3 0 2.68 15 5 0 37 27 12 11 1 17 54 .196
Minor League Totals 3 0 2.68 15 5 0 37 27 27 11 1 17 54 .196