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Jeremy Sowers

Best Pro Debut: C/1B Jesse Gutierrez (20) batted .294-16-61 at Billings, tying for the Rookie-level Pioneer League home run crown. RHP Justin Gillman (2) went 4-2, 1.75 with 38 strikeouts in 36 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Best Athlete: OF Alan Moye (3) is built like Mike Cameron and offers similar power and speed. He was considered a tough sign because both of his parents are teachers and he was committed to Baylor, but the Reds got him under contract with a minimum of effort.

Best Hitter: Gutierrez or Moye. Moye had been a switch-hitter, though Cincinnati is having him focus on batting from the right side for now.

Best Raw Power: Gutierrez led NCAA Division I with an .855 slugging percentage in 2000 at Texas-Pan American and Division II with 28 homers in 2001. He hit two homers in his final college game, helping St. Mary’s (Texas) win the Division II College World Series and earning Series MVP honors. Gutierrez caught some in college and the Reds will use him at that position in the future.

Fastest Runner: Moye gets from the right side of the plate to first base in a consistent 4.1-4.2 seconds. 2B Domonique Lewis (34) has similar speed.

Best Defensive Player: SS Jeff Bannon (18) is a solid glove man.

Best Fastball: RHP Joe Powers (23) worked just 26 innings and had an 8.42 ERA as a Wright State junior, so he didn’t get a lot of attention. But he throws 93-94 mph consistently, and with some mechanical adjustments that will incorporate his legs more into his delivery, Cincinnati believes he might get as high as 97. He already has made some strides, going 3-1, 2.70 with 30 strikeouts in as many innings at Rookie-level Billings. RHP Scott Light (6) tops out at 96 mph, and RHP Bobby Basham (7) is right behind at 95.

Most Intriguing Background: Basham was a backup quarterback at the University of Richmond. Unsigned RHP John Palmer’s (21) father David pitched in the majors.

Closest To The Majors: RHP Steve Kelly (4) has an 88-92 mph fastball and plus curveball. He’s polished and comes from a big-time program at Georgia Tech. Gillman is advanced for a high school pitcher and is reminiscent of 2000 Reds first-rounder Dustin Moseley.

Best Late-Round Pick: Gutierrez or Powers. Another to watch is 3B Ryan Fry (22), who’s converting to catcher. He has above-average arm strength and power potential.

The One Who Got Away: LHP Jeremy Sowers (1) has a lot going for him–great command, a 90-91 mph fastball and a stunning curveball. He also had a $3 million price tag, and the Reds offered him less than half of that to sign. He decided to attend Vanderbilt instead. The last first-rounder to turn down the pros for the Commodores was Mark Prior.

Assessment: Not signing Sowers allowed Cincinnati to stop borrowing from the following year’s signing budget, ending a cycle that dates back to 1999. Some clubs believe that was the logic behind taking Sowers, though the Reds say they were interested in trying to sign him. In any case, his loss meant Cincinnati didn’t land an obvious impact player.

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