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Reds Prospects

Moderator: Josh Boyd compiled the Reds top 10 prospects list and will field all questions about the organization.

 Q:  Joe from Raleigh, NC asks:
I played against Bobby Basham in college, and watched him struggle immensly his junior year. It seemed wierd to us that a team would keep running a pitcher out there who couldn't get anyone out, and it was clear his aptitude for pitching just wasn't there. What could have possibly happened to him that he went from a winless high ERA guy in college to the amazing prospect he is today, and how does a scout see this in advance?

Josh Boyd: What's up everyone? Thanks for stopping by, let's get rolling. Basham is a really intriguing story. It's funny that you mention his aptitude not being there in college, because that's one of the things the Reds rave about now, and clearly one of the reasons he's been able to develop so rapidly. He stopped trying to throw the ball through the catcher every time and started locating his stuff. He really took to some mechanical tinkering last spring, too. I don't think you'll find many pitchers who struggle like that in college and turn it into the type of success he had last year for the Reds.

 Q:  NWPADRE from Vancouver, WA asks:
What is your take on Ty Howington? Will he be pitching for the Reds by seasons end?

Josh Boyd: This is a big spring for Ty. He was never fully heatlhy last year and just made it worse by trying to pitch through shoulder tendinitis. He is slated to participate in the Reds accelerated pitching program this month. If he stays healthy and gets back to his 2001 form when he was consistently in the low- to mid-90s, then I think he will be in a Reds uni this year. Big ups Vancouver.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Did Ricardo Aramboles really pack on 60 pounds over the past year and, if so, shouldn't that be cause for concern? Also, what exactly went wrong with his elbow last year and should it be taken as a particularly bad sign that guy who's already had TJ surgery is having further elbow complications?

Josh Boyd: I think his weight gain was over the past few years. Often the height and weights of players aren't updated as they should be, but Aramboles was one I had to specifically call and check on. Scouts talk about his body as a big league frame, more than a cause for alarm. He is a solid guy, and from what I can tell not a Ruben Quevedo waiting to happen. He is 100 percent healthy last year--the thumb injury kept him out of action moreso than the tendinitis. There has to be some concerns over his ability to hold up though.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Dane Sardinha barely touched the baseball in his first two minor league seasons, but hit all right in the Arizona Fall League. Do you view that recent success as a sign of things to come or an anomaly likley to become a distant memory once the season starts?

Josh Boyd: You have to put more weight on the two full seasons which have resulted in a .221 average in 816 ABs than 100 ABs in the AFL. There are some positives you can derive from his AFL success, however, and Reds officials claim Sardinha started to apply the adjustments he's been learning over the last couple years. I could see a slight improvement next season, but his catch and throw ability is clearly his ticket, and always will be.

 Q:  Jeff Darnell from Cincinnati, Ohio asks:
I've heard Reds' brass mention Alex Farfan, a 20-year-old with a so-so record in the GCL, on their short list of top prospects who could make an impact soon. Is he for real, or just another kid who throws hard?

Josh Boyd: At this point, Farfan is a hard-thrower who has had mild success--most out of the pen where he topped out at 96-97. There are some signs to get excited about, but I was surprised to see Jim Bowden bring his name up with the Bashams, Howingtons, Moseley, Halls, et al.

 Q:  jim from white plains asks:
Hi Jim, What's the story with Mark Schramek? It seems he has all the tools to be a star at third, defense, hitting, or does his line drive stroke produce little power?

Josh Boyd: You're right. After all the trouble it took to get Schramek signed, it might be worth it in the long run. He's already 22 and doesn't have a pro AB to his credit yet, but he has the type of hitting approach that should be able to make up for lost time. He is more of a pure line-drive hitter than a power hitter, but scouts will tell you that they'd rather have that first and let the power develop in time. That could be the case with Schramek. Conservatively, he projects with average power, but that could be a nice package when you consider he's a plus defender with high average and on-base skills.

 Q:  Brian from Illinois asks:
Hey JBO What's up with Brandon Larson? It looks like lasek may have turned him into the real deal. Is he capable of becoming a big time 3b? Keep up the good work.

Josh Boyd: Howdy Brian. The eye surgery certainly deserves a lot of credit for Larson's surge in Triple-A last year. He is also working out hard this offseason in Texas, with Mark Schramek, by the way. Larson has plus power potential, and the obvious concern there is plate discipline and strikeouts.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
The Reds have gained a reputation as an organization flush with OFs, but Wily Mo Pena is the only one who made your top 10. Are there any guys in the pipeline you think have a chance to surprise? Alan Moye? Steve Smitherman? Chris Denorfia? Michael Bassett?

Josh Boyd: Since Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn graduated, the outfield picture is a little more bleak beyond Wily Mo. In fact, Smitherman and Moye are the only two other outfielders in the top 30. One of the new features of this year's Prospect Handbook is a Minor League Depth Chart for each organization. The list goes 45-60 deep for each org.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
When we knew him as Danny Mateo, BA ranked the SS as one of the better prospects in the Pioneer League. Now that he's Hector Tiburcio has his stock dropped?

Josh Boyd: Well, his stock didn't drop just because his name changed. He also aged, and while scouts and managers loved his glove and actions in the PL, he has a long way to go with the bat to fit a major league profile.

 Q:  Adam B. from Oxford, Ohio asks:
Brandon Larson was perhaps the best and most polished hitter coming out of college. The question is why has it taken him 6 years to get a chance?

Josh Boyd: Adam, Larson struggled to get past a variety of injuries, and that didn't even include his vision which was improved with surgery last year.

 Q:  Brian Blackbird from Indianapolis asks:
Do you see any Third base prospects who have the potential for a Chris Sabo like impact in the next few years for the Reds? (assume no goggles in the age of lasik's surgery).

Josh Boyd: Brian, four third basemen made the Reds top 30 including three in the top 10 plus Tony Blanco. Larson will get the first chance to pull a Sabo, but Edwin Encarnacion has the tools to be the long-term answer.

 Q:  DBaron from Clifton asks:
Did Gillman have Tommy John surgery? Is he expected to pitch this year?

Josh Boyd: Justin Gillman had TJ after seven starts last year. He is reportedly making solid progress during his rehab, but it will difficult to project him pitching many significant innings this year. He is still one of their better prospects.

 Q:  Dave from Fairfax asks:
Is Moye still a prospect?

Josh Boyd: Still? Yes. He's only had 328 career ABs, so I'm not sure why you're asking if he is still is. Moye is one of the best athletes in the organization and has impressive raw tools. He'll make his full-season debut this year. His plate discipline needs major work. His development will be interesting to watch this year.

 Q:  Mr. Reds from dc asks:
Can prospects like Hall and Moseley do anything to add MPH to the pitches raise their ceilings?

Josh Boyd: Yes and Moseley gets 92-93 mph when he wants. He is more comfortable pitching around 89-91, hitting his spots and mixing in his plus curveball. Hall is similar to Moseley in stuff and makeup. Both righties throw free from effort and could settle into the low-90s as they mature.

 Q:  Trick Daddy from Los Angeles asks:
Where do you rate the Reds minors compared to the rest of the MLB, specifically pitching and hitting? Ive been looking forward to this!!!

Josh Boyd: We rated the Reds system among the lower echelon in baseball for a lack of overall depth. They are strong in righthanded pitching, but only one lefty cracked the top 30. The outfield is thin, and while there are plenty of middle infielders creating some excitement in the system, few have stepped up at the plate.

 Q:  Aaron Friesen from Gretna, Manitoba, Canada asks:
Where do you see Joey Votto starting the upcoming season? And what do you feel his peak Major League role could be?

Josh Boyd: In Votto, the Reds believe they landed one of the top HS bats on the board. He has tremendous power potential. The question surrounds his defense. He'll stay behind the plate until he proves he can't handle the catching duties. They'd like to see him go to Dayton with emerging prospect Miguel Perez, who will carry the bulk of the catching duties.

 Q:  Nick from Blacksburg, Va asks:
What is a timetable for Toe Nash for the next few years. A in 03. AA 04. And majors in 05 or 06? How has he looked in the Instructional league this winter? Where will he start the season at this year?

Josh Boyd: It's really tough to put a timetable on Toe. I have to say I'd be surprised if he makes it though the season.

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
Good afternoon, The Reds are touting Aramboles, Howington, Hall, Basham, Moseley, Gruler and Thigpen as their version of the Magnificent Seven. Which, if any, of these pitchers do you rate as the best bet(s) to help the Reds in 2003? Thanks.

Josh Boyd: Hey Erick. Basham and Aramboles are closest to helping in the big leagues, then Howington if he stays healthy. Hall and Moseley are another year away from contributing. Gruler is a few years away and needs to prove his shoulder is sound.

 Q:  Jay David from Boston asks:
How was the reds draft this year, was Gruler a bad choice over Scott Kazmir? Did they get any good prospects, specifically pitching? Love these chats.

Josh Boyd: They got quality in their top three picks--Gruler, Schramek and Votto--though they overdrafted the latter of the two. They landed some potential in their next group of college seniors, and I think Kyle Edens could move quickly, especially if they get him some innings as a starter before moving him back to the pen ultimately.

 Q:  Richardo Cambus from San Diego, CA asks:
How good is Chris Gruler? Is he a top prospect? I remember the Reds couldnt decide between him and Kazmir, and they took Gruler and paid him more. Using 2020 was that a good choice, who will be better? I only hear how good Kazmir can be, what about Gruler?

Josh Boyd: We rated Gruler as the organization's No. 1 prospect, so I would say he is a top prospect. The Gruler-Kazmir predraft decision was more hype and most of the Reds officials were leaning to Gruler the whole time. There might be a lot of teams second guessing themselves for passing on Kazmir in a few years, but Gruler was not strictly a signability pick. He likely would have gone in the top 10 if he weren't nabbed by the Reds.

 Q:  RedFan from Cincinnati, Oh asks:
Where do u see the reds 2001 4th round pick, Steve Kelly, beginning this year, as he was successfull at high A Stockton last year. What are your opinions on him?? With him going to HS in Cincinnati, it would be nice to see a hometown prospect in the Reds rotation.

Josh Boyd: Let's try to speed this up a little bit before we finish up here... Kelly is not rated among the Reds top 30 prospects, but he does have a chance to move up the ladder because he has a knack for pitching. He doesn't seem to miss many bats and has to be careful without overpowering stuff.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Josh, Do you see Encarnacion being able to play shortstop for the Reds? This would allow Schramek to play 3rd and allow for a pretty good infield. Where are the Reds going to play Kevin Howard and Joey Votto? Seems like the Reds are higher on Schramek than Howard.

Josh Boyd: I think Encarnacion will eventually end up back at third, but they seem intent on keeping him at short for now. They are definitely higher on Schramek than Howard, who projects as a second baseman. Votto will play for Dayton, splitting time behind the plate at first and DH, maybe some third.

 Q:  Joey Bagwell from Greenwood SC asks:
What is your opinion of Steve Smitherman? I realize he is a little old to be in starting in AA, but he seems to be progressing really well and quickly over the last 3 years. He should have gone to AA last year but didn't.

Josh Boyd: He has been a little old for each level, but I like the offensive potential Smitherman has. He'll get a look in Double-A and Triple-A this year.

 Q:  Tom from Philly asks:
Do you think the Reds' Rule 5 pickups, Luke Prokopec, Blake Williams and Jerome Gamble, will stay with the organization? Will John Koronka and Michael Neu, selected from the Reds, be returned?

Josh Boyd: I think they'll get Koronka back, possibly Neu because there is so much competition in the A's pen. I like Williams' chances of staying on, as reports in the offseason have been encouraging.

 Q:  Joey Bagwell from Greenwood SC asks:
I certainly hope that Gruler will be a solid major league starter one day, but I can't understand why these guys drafted right out of college can seriously be placed ahead of players who have proven that they can succeed in pro ball. Espinosa and Sardinha were both placed in the top 10 right out of HS and both have fallen badly. I just think a player must prove himself before being given such a high label.

Josh Boyd: I don't agree with your philosophy, but I wanted to post your thoughts. I'm sure many agree with you, but we are trying to project major league potential, and if a player hasn't played yet that's not going to stop us from putting him ahead of a player with a lower ceiling at a higher level.

 Q:  Jeremy Harrell from Cincinnati asks:
Do you feel Joey Votto is better suited for 3B or catcher what type of offensive ceiling does he have?

Josh Boyd: Probably an infield corner, but the Reds don't need him at third.

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Hi Josh. How high of a ceiling do the following players have: Edwin Encarnacion, Wily Mo Pena, and Dustin Moseley? Thanks Josh B.A. Is the Best!

Josh Boyd: Wily Mo's ceiling is off the charts, but their is major risk involved there. Moseley is a solid No. 3 starter and I think Encarnacion could be an above-average bat with good defensive skills.

 Q:  Jeremy from Harrell asks:
Bob Boone is having trouble finding a lead off hitter and has even mentioned having Dunn hit leadoff. Does anyone in the organization project to fill that need eventually or are they going to have to look outside of the organization the next few years to fill the hole?

Josh Boyd: This organization needs to address some strike zone judgement issues in many of their top prospects. The type of players they've brought into the system since Dunn and Kearns don't fit that mold. So the answer is no.

 Q:  Joey Bagwell from Greenwood SC asks:
Childress and Mottl have had 2 solid years and yet they are rarely mentioned in prospect news. What is there problem? Also, Boutwell had arguably a better year than Basham and sends heat. What is your opinion of him?

Josh Boyd: No problem, they just aren't dominating guys. I do think Childress is a potential sleeper to track this year.

 Q:  BA old-timer from Alexandria, VA asks:
How do you think Bobby Basham will fare in Double-A? Is it a definite that he'll skip high Class A?

Josh Boyd: I think he will post numbers similar to what he did between Dayton, the Cal League playoffs and the AFL and solidify his status as one of the best pitching prospects.

 Q:  Eddie from Pensacola, Florida asks:
It seems a lot of people have given up on Ken Griffey Jr. I believe they are sadly mistaken. Do you think this is the beginning premium years of Griffey as a hitter? Such as Sosa and McGwire in when they reach their mid to late 30's?

Josh Boyd: Easy to give up on him now, right? I think his premium years are behind him, but I do see him returning to a high-level of production.

 Q:  Dave from New Hartford, CT asks:
Josh, I have more than a few questions so take your pick. Looking past Gruler, Howington, Aramboles, Mosely, and Hall, who are discussed in the Top Ten, what is your opinion of the arms at or near the AA level such as Mottl, Gil, Dunn, Kelley, Gray, Dehart, Thigpen, Boutwell, Culp, as well as 2002 draftee Kyle Edens? Any hope for a 2 or 3 starter? The Reds' promote Aramboles, Howington, Gruler, and Gilman as their pitchers with the highest ceiling, however all are injured to some degree going into the season. Can any of these guys now be looked at realistically to head a ML staff? Gruler's status has to hurt, especially after passing on Kazmir. I was surprised that so few of the Reds' rookies at Sarasota were mentioned by BA in the league Top Tens. What is known about players such as Joey Votto, Damaso Espino, Chris DeNorphia, Jarrod Schmidt, and Miguel Perez, as well as pitchers Jan Granado, Alexander Farfan, and Jon George? What do you think of some of the players at Billings and Dayton such as Will Bergolla, Jason Vavao, Daniel Mateo, Randy Ruiz, Jesse Gutierrez, and pitchers, OJ King, Brad George, and Mayque Quintero? Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns have been worth the wait. The Reds would like us to believe the same is true of Wily Mo Pena. Jose Rijo has, in fact, stated that Pena is the most talented of the young outfielders. Positive and negative hype aside, does Wily Mo have a chance to force the Reds' hand at some point? There are still believers in Travis Dawkins' offensive potential. Common wisdom says let the potential Gold Gloveers among us hone their offensive skills, even at the cost of an extra year or two. How much time does Dawkins have left? Or Ranier Olmedo for that matter? During the 2000 and 2001 purges of expensive ML players, the Reds picked up Justin Carter, Cary Aammons, Clayton Andrews and Rob Pugmire. Do any of these guys have the talent to pitch in the ML's or the Scott WilliamsonJohn Riedling drive to make it back? What about the Rule V pick-up's, Blake Williams, Luke Prokopec, and Jerome Gamble? Any sleepers have a chance, such as Andrew Beattie, Scott Dunn, Travis Thompson, or even Alejnadro Diaz? What is the status of Justin Gilman? The Reds were quite excited about him after his rookie year. I've read about moving Tony Blanco to the outfield. Any thoughts?

Josh Boyd: Wow. That's a lot of questions. E-mail me and I'll try to help you out! I will say one thing in response, though: I am not a believe in Dawkins' offensive potential. The Reds are high on Olmedo, but I think this is an importante development year for him.

 Q:  Rick from Boise asks:
Can't wait for this chat - woo-hoo! Who are the best southpaws (beyond Howington) in the pipeline? Seems the GABP would be good for lefties... THANKS!

Josh Boyd: Cleris Severino and Jan Granado. Also keep an eye on Nick Brannon as a reliever.

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
Josh - Since Wily Mo Pena desperately needs more minor league time that he's not going to get because of his contract situation, how long can the Reds "hide" him in AAA on a rehab assignment this year? Is there a limit to how long a player can be rehabbing an injury? Thanks.

Josh Boyd: Hey Bill, hope you're doing well. I'll see you in AZ soon, when I'll start writing my daily spring training diaries. I saved all the Wily Mo questions for last. He is not going to be ready for spring training after having hamstring surgery last fall. Everyone wants to know if the Reds can buy a year of rehab to avoid placing him on the 25-man roster, but there is simply no way around the rules on this one. When Pena is deemed ready to play, he has 20 days of rehab in the minors before the Reds have to make a call. At that time he'll have to join the 25-man, or clear waivers.

 Q:  Phil from Louisville, KY asks:
Which outfield do you think will have more impact: KearnsPenaDunn or CrawfordBaldelliHamilton?

Josh Boyd: I'll take the Reds bunch.

Moderator: That's all for today. Great questions today; it's nice to see so much interest in the Reds. I'm off to my imaginary Pick Up Stix.

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