2014 Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects

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3ds_reds82In the middle of the club's longest run of success since the Big Red Machine of the 1970s, Reds fans are still understandably asking, “Is that all there is?"

Cincinnati has built a consistent winner in a mid-revenue market. Largely thanks to developing talent through their farm system, the Reds have topped 90 wins in three of the past four seasons, after winning 90 or more games just three times in the previous 30 years.

1. Robert Stephenson, rhp
2. Billy Hamilton, of
3. Phillip Ervin, of
4. Jesse Winker, of
5. Yorman Rodriguez, of
6. Michael Lorenzen, rhp
7. Carlos Contreras, rhp
8. Nick Travieso, rhp
9. Ben Lively, rhp
10. Tucker Barnhart, c
Best Hitter for Average Phillip Ervin
Best Power Hitter Jesse Winker
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jesse Winker
Fastest Baserunner Billy Hamilton
Best Athlete Billy Hamilton
Best Fastball Robert Stephenson
Best Curveball Robert Stephenson
Best Slider Curtis Partch
Best Changeup Ismael Guillon
Best Control Drew Cisco
Best Defensive Catcher Tucker Barnhart
Best Defensive Infielder Tanner Rahier
Best Infield Arm Cory Thompson
Best Defensive Outfielder Ryan LaMarre
Best Outfield Arm Yorman Rodriguez
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1. Tony Cingrani, lhp (24) Majors
2. Robert Stephenson, rhp (21) Double-A
3. Billy Hamilton, of (23) Majors
4. Devin Mesoraco, c (25) Majors
5. Phillip Ervin, of (21) Low Class A
6. Jesse Winker, of (20) Low Class A
7. Yorman Rodriguez, of (21) Double-A
8. Michael Lorenzen, rhp (22) Double-A
9. Carlos Contreras, rhp (23) Double-A
10. Nick Travieso, rhp (20) Low Class A
11. Tucker Barnhart, c (23) Double-A
12. Ben Lively, rhp (22) Low Class A
13. Jeremy Kivel, rhp (20) Rookie
14. Ismael Guillon, lhp (22) Low Class A
15. Daniel Corcino, rhp (23) Triple-A
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Ryan Wagner, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2006 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2007 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2008 Jay Bruce, of Reds
2009 Yonder Alonso, 1b Padres
2010 Todd Frazier, 3b/of Reds
2011 Aroldis Chapman, lhp Reds
2012 Devin Mesoraco, c Reds
2013 Billy Hamilton, ss Reds
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2005 Jay Bruce, of Reds
2006 Drew Stubbs, of Indians
2007 Devin Mesoraco, c Reds
2008 Yonder Alonso, 1b Padres
2009 Mike Leake, rhp Reds
2010 Yasmani Grandal, c Padres
2011 Robert Stephenson, rhp Reds
2012 Nick Travieso, rhp Reds
2013 Phillip Ervin, of Reds
Aroldis Chapman, 2010 $16,250,000
Chris Gruler, 2002 $2,500,000
Yorman Rodriguez, 2008 $2,500,000
Homer Bailey, 2004 $2,300,000
Mike Leake, 2009 $2,270,000
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But what they don't have during this recent run of success is a playoff series victory. Cincinnati was swept by the Phillies in the National League Division Series in 2010, then lost the last three games of the NLDS to the Giants in 2012. The 2013 season ended poorly and abruptly with a five-game losing streak and a decisive loss to the Pirates in the winner-takes-all wild card game. That cost Dusty Baker his job after six years as the team's skipper, with pitching coach Bryan Price named as his replacement.

The firing of Baker fits into a larger theme for the Reds—the window of success may be closing quicker than they would like. As successful as Cincinnati has been recently, it plays in what suddenly has become baseball's best division

The Cardinals won the NL Central in 2013 and claimed their fourth pennant in a decade with a younger team (and deeper farm system) than the Reds. Cincinnati also now finds itself chasing the Pirates, who also have a deeper farm system, and at least for now, a younger, less expensive big league club. And while the Cubs have been a disaster at the big league level, they have financial resources and a farm system loaded with impact bats that could mark them as a contender in years to come.

While much of the rest of the division seems to be on the rise, Cincinnati is largely trying to hang on, maintaining success while the big league roster gets significantly more expensive. The Reds spent big to lock up first baseman Joey Votto (signed through 2023 with a team option for 2024), second baseman Brandon Phillips (signed through 2017), outfielder Jay Bruce (signed through 2016) and righthander Johnny Cueto (signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015). Those deals keep the core of the current team together but make it harder to re-sign free agents such as outfielder Shin-Shoo Choo or righthander Bronson Arroyo this offseason. Righthander Homer Bailey is set to hit free agency after the 2014 season.

The farm system has produced players commensurate with upcoming needs. Lefthander Tony Cingrani, a success as a fill-in starter in 2013, looks ready to replace Arroyo in the Reds rotation. If Choo leaves, speedster Billy Hamilton will be ready to replace him in center field as soon as Opening Day. If Phillips is traded as rumored, Hamilton could also step in at second base, a position he has played in the past. And No. 1 prospect Robert Stephenson should follow Bailey as the team's next homegrown frontline starter.

But beyond that group, the next wave of Reds prospects is significantly thinner than the group that preceded it, which is partly an artifact of picking later in recent drafts. One sign of the organization's waning farm talent: a .426 winning percentage for its domestic minor league affiliates, worst in baseball. Not one Reds' domestic minor league team finished the season with a winning reord.

When the Reds won 91 games in 2010, their young core made them a team on the rise in a downtrodden NL Central. Now they are fighting to keep the window of opportunity open in a division full of teams built for the long haul.