Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects

1. Homer Bailey, rhp
2. Jay Bruce, of
3. Joey Votto, 1b
4. Johnny Cueto, rhp
5. Drew Stubbs, of
6. Travis Woods, lhp
7. Sean Watson, rhp
8. Milton Loo, ss
9. Paul Janish, ss
10. Chris Valaika, ss
Best Hitter for Average Jay Bruce
Best Power Hitter Joey Votto
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Joey Votto
Fastest Baserunner Chris Dickerson
Best Athlete Chris Dickerson
Best Fastball Homer Bailey
Best Curveball Homer Bailey
Best Slider Johnny Cueto
Best Changeup Travis Wood
Best Control Johnny Cueto
Best Defensive Catcher Miguel Perez
Best Defensive Infielder Paul Janish
Best Infield Arm Juan Francisco
Best Defensive Outfielder Chris Dickerson
Best Outfield Arm Jerry Gil
Catcher Miguel Perez
First Base Joey Votto
Second Base Brandon Phillips
Third Base Edwin Encarnacion
Shortstop Milton Loo
Left Field Adam Dunn
Center Field Drew Stubbs
Right Field Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Homer Bailey
No. 2 Starter Aaron Harang
No. 3 Starter Bronson Arroyo
No. 4 Starter Johnny Cueto
No. 5 Starter Travis Wood
Closer Sean Watson
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Aaron Boone, 3b Indians
1998 Damian Jackson, ss/2b Nationals
1999 Rob Bell, rhp Indians
2000 Gookie Dawkins, ss Pirates
2001 Austin Kearns, of Reds
2002 Austin Kearns, of Reds
2003 Chris Gruler, rhp Reds
2004 Ryan Wagner, rhp Nationals
2005 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2006 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Brandon Larson, 3b Nationals
1998 Austin Kearns, of Nationals
1999 Ty Howington, lhp Out of baseball
2000 David Espinosa, ss Tigers
2001 *Jeremy Sowers, lhp Indians
2002 Chris Gruler, rhp Reds
2003 Ryan Wagner, rhp Nationals
2004 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2005 Jay Bruce, of Reds
2006 Drew Stubbs, of Reds
* Did not sign
Chris Gruler, 2002 $2,500,000
Homer Bailey, 2004 $2,300,000
Drew Stubbs, 2006 $2,000,000
Austin Kearns, 1998 $1,950,000
Jay Bruce, 2005 $1,800,000
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Cincinnati Reds

The final result wasn’t what they wanted, but the 2006 season gave Cincinnati fans a feeling they were unaccustomed to: hope.

The Reds stayed in the thick of the National League Central and wild card playoff races until September, the first time they contended for the postseason this decade. At the same time, the farm system features their best group of impact prospects since Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns were climbing through the system.

Cincinnati fans can thank new ownership for lifting much of the doom and gloom that had hung over the team for most of this decade. The group, led by Bob Castellini, took over just before spring training. Castellini quickly fired general manager Dan O’Brien and replaced him with longtime Twins assistant GM Wayne Krivsky.

Hired in early February, Krivsky had little time to remake the team, but he didn’t let the late start get in the way. Within two months he had made a trio of deals that improved the Reds. He added an all-star starter (Bronson Arroyo) by trading from his outfield surplus (Wily Mo Pena). Krivsky picked up two regulars, Brandon Phillips and David Ross, for even less.

Not every move Krivsky made paid off. The midseason eight-player swap that sent Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner to Washington for Bill Bray, Gary Majewski, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson was supposed to bulk up a sagging bullpen. The plan fell apart when Majewski was sidelined for most of the second half with shoulder problems, and the Reds later filed a grievance saying that the Nationals weren’t forthcoming about his health.

Cincinnati’s offense collapsed in September, but even an 80-82 finish–the franchise’s sixth straight losing year–couldn’t dim all the optimism. New farm director Johnny Almaraz, whom Krivsky promoted from director of international scouting and player development, quickly scrapped O’Brien policies such as the tandem-starter system and a requirement that hitters take at least one pitch before they swung.

Several of the Reds’ top prospects seemed energized by the change. Righthander Homer Bailey had a breakthrough season as his performance caught up to his exceptional stuff, while first baseman Joey Votto bounced back from a bad 2005 season to finish among the Double-A Southern League leaders in nearly every category.

Outfielder Jay Bruce, Cincinnati’s 2005 first-round pick, built on a strong debut by ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the low Class A Midwest League. The Reds also managed to get through the season without any significant injuries to their top pitching prospects, a problem that had plagued the system for years.

In his first draft as Reds scouting director, Chris Buckley brought in a number of polished college draftees. Players such as outfielder Drew Stubbs (first round), righthander Sean Watson (second) and shortstop Chris Valaika (third) helped to bulk up the bottom levels of the system.

The team did suffer some turmoil after the season, as Almaraz and special assistant to the GM Larry Barton Jr. both resigned in December. Though Almaraz didn’t give a reason for his departure before leaving, both had said they were unhappy at being left out of discussions between Krivsky and other lieutenants. Almaraz’ departure ensures the Reds will have their third farm director in three years in 2007.