- Full name Joseph Daniel Votto
- Born 09/10/1983 in Toronto, ON, Canada
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Richview Collegiate Institute
- Debut 09/04/2007
Drafted in the 2nd round (44th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002 (signed for $600,000).
View Draft ReportC/3B Joey Votto is a solid hitter with a quick, smooth lefthanded stroke, plus bat speed, good extension and projectable power. He has a strong body, moves well in the field with fluid actions and shows a good glove and average arm strength.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Votto was the Double-A Southern League's MVP in 2006 and the Triple-A International League's rookie of the year in 2007. He didn't watch any Reds games or highlights in 2007 because he vowed to see the Great American Ballpark in person by earning a promotion, then went 3-for-3 with a homer in his first big league start in September. Votto has turned himself into a tough out. He uses the entire field, has natural power to both power alleys and has developed a feel for the strike zone that allows him to lay off pitches off the plate. He makes good adjustments, which allowed him to fix his swing after he hit .197 in April. He shortened his stroke and closed off some holes. He projects as a .270-280 hitter with 25 home runs. Votto does most of his damage against righthanders, but he has been decent against lefties. His speed is slightly below average. Though Votto has done everything he can in the minors, the Reds picked up the 2008 option on starting first baseman Scott Hatteberg. Votto will challenge for Hatteberg's job in spring training.
Votto bounced back from a difficult 2005 season to emerge as the Double-A Southern League's MVP last year. He led the SL in batting, onbase percentage and slugging, as well as runs, hits, total bases (278), extra-base hits (70), doubles and walks. Votto has the ability to drive the ball to all fields, especially to left-center when he's locked in. His hands are quick enough that he can punish pitchers if they try to bust him inside. A hard worker, Votto devoted time to his baserunning and stole 24 bases in 31 tries last year despite average speed. A catcher when he signed, Votto still is a little raw at first base. He sometimes goes too far into the hole on balls, leaving him out of position. He also can improve his footwork and throwing accuracy. Like many young lefthanded hitters, he struggles against southpaws. Votto is the Reds' first baseman of the future--and that future could begin as soon as this year. He'll head to Triple-A and be in line for a September callup, though he could accelerate that timetable with a strong start.
The Reds tried to cut costs in the 2002 draft with disastrous results, as Denorfia and Votto are the lone bright spots from that crop. After establishing himself as the system's best power prospect, Votto had a disappointing 2005 and continued to struggle in the Arizona Fall League. Votto can launch balls out of sight in batting practice. He drew 90 walks in 2004, showing a disciplined, mature approach. For a big man and former catcher, Votto runs the bases well, and he has grown into a solid defensive first baseman with an above-average arm for the position. Votto lacks plus bat speed and his swing lengthened in 2005. Perhaps too passive in the past, he seemed to start guessing, finding himself behind fastballs and ahead of offspeed offerings. He especially struggled against lefties, hitting .193 with a .315 slugging percentage. Votto's prospect stock has taken a hit, though he's still the top first-base prospect in the system. He needs to rediscover his short stroke and trust his natural hitting instincts in Double-A in 2006.
The Yankees had Votto fly in from Canada to work out before the 2002 draft. When the Reds found out, they asked him to work out for them first, and they picked him 44th overall after he put on an impressive display. Votto has excellent strength, discipline and savvy at the plate, a combination that makes him the best hitter in the system and gives him above-average power potential. He works hitter's counts and has a short, compact swing that he repeats well. His 90 walks ranked fifth in the minors in 2004. Votto's average bat speed prompted one scout to compare him to Brian Daubach. He can be patient to a fault, passing on pitches he can drive. He's still raw as a baserunner and defender. While Votto's upside is debatable, scouts agree he's a polished hitter who could rush through the minors. Sean Casey's contract has a club option for 2006, so Votto is a rare Reds prospect who could be pushed. He'll start this year back at high Class A, where he ended 2004.
Votto was a surprise second-rounder in 2002, in part because he signed for a below-market $600,000, but Cincinnati brass also fell in love with him after he put on an impressive power display at Cinergy Field. Drafted as a catcher, he primarily played third base in high school and now has moved to first base to expedite his development. He was one of several Reds prospects who had to be demoted after initially struggling in 2003. Reds scouts envision Votto as a middle-of-the-lineup force. He's short and direct to the ball with natural loft in his swing, which will lend itself to big-time power potential as he matures. A dead-pull hitter in 2002, he moved closer to the plate and started driving the ball to left field last season. Votto draws lots of walks but is often too patient at the plate, putting himself into poor hitting counts by taking a lot of borderline pitches. Defense will never be his strong suit. A coach's dream, Votto is a baseball rat who studies the art of hitting. He'll return to low Class A Dayton, but could emerge quickly without the rigors of catching holding him back.
The Reds signed Votto to a $600,000 deal on day two of the draft. He had a tremendous predraft workout in Cinergy Field, highlighted by catching advice from Johnny Bench and home runs into the second deck against 91 mph fastballs. His fluid lefthanded stroke with natural loft and raw power also garnered predraft looks from the Yankees and Angels. Votto moved to catcher in the summer of 2001 and caught just 15 games in high school. Primarily a third baseman as an amateur, he spent most of his time in his pro debut there. He led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with 25 extra-base hits in 50 games. Votto has outstanding bat speed and demonstrates good hitting instincts. He shows a feel for hitting the ball to all fields. Defensively, some scouts question if he'll be able to stay behind the plate. He has a good arm and receives the ball well, but has a lot of room for improvement on footwork and glove-to-hand transfer. He threw out four of 18 basestealers in the GCL. The Reds want him to concentrate on hitting adjustments before stressing his defensive development. A strong spring effort could propel him to low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
On the heels of his MVP season in the Double-A Southern League in 2006, Votto's campaign seemed like something of a letdown. The 23-year-old did the same things he's always done--hit for average, hit for some power and draw walks--and even added a new position, left field, to his resume. Along the way Votto ranked fourth in the league in home runs (22), second in RBIs (92) and compiled a 42-game on-base streak. Votto slumped through April (.192/.347/.346) as he got himself out swinging at offspeed pitches out of the zone. But as the season progressed, so did his approach. As he had in 2006, Votto began driving the ball from left-center to right field, making him difficult to defend and giving him above-average hitting and power tools. Because he's not afraid to work deep counts, Votto can rack up strikeouts when he's going bad. A below-average runner, he'll just be average at first base or in left field, though he does have an above-average outfield arm, and at least one scout liked him better in that role.
Votto chafed under the former Reds regime, which made him take the first pitch he saw in each of his plate appearances over the previous two seasons. When Wayne Krivsky took over as general manager, that plan was scrapped and Votto blossomed. He won league MVP honors after leading the SL in batting (.319), on-base percentage (.408), slugging (.547), runs (85), hits (162), doubles (46, tying for tops in the minors) and extra-base hits (70). Besides being allowed to go after hittable first pitches, Votto also tinkered with his stance. He crouched down with his feet spread wide apart and glided back, improving his balance and shortening his swing. He has good strike-zone discipline and understands the value of a walk. For a 6-foot-3, 200-pound former catcher, Votto has more athleticism than might be expected. He's a solid first baseman with good range and an above-average baserunner.
Votto wasn't ready for the MWL as a 19-year-old last year, batting .231 with one homer and 64 strikeouts in 195 at-bats. He returned with a vengeance in 2004 and continued to punish pitchers after an August promotion to high Class A. Like the players on the top of this list, Votto is a gifted hitter with both power and polish. He has nice loft in his lefthanded stroke and a knack for drawing walks. He's not fazed by lefties and shows a willingness to use the whole field. Votto can be a free swinger at times. He's also never going to be more than a below-average defender because he lacks instincts, agility and soft hands. But his production makes those acceptable tradeoffs.
Votto was part of a banner Canadian draft class in 2002. He didn't get the attention of first-round picks Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis, but he led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in extra-base hits in his pro debut. After struggling in the low Class A Midwest League to start 2003, he showed above-average power to all fields as Billings' No. 3 hitter. He also showed good patience, leading the league in walks. His defense is still a question. The Reds moved him from catcher to first base, and he made 12 errors in 64 games. But his glove won't be his ticket. "He's a special talent with the stick," Sorg said. "He's got a smooth stroke from the left side and an excellent feel for hitting. He's only going to get better the more he plays."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the National League in 2013
- Rated Best Defensive 1B in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive 1B in the National League in 2011
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the National League in 2011
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the International League in 2007
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the International League in 2007
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the Southern League in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive 1B in the Southern League in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Cincinnati Reds in 2005
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Cincinnati Reds in 2005
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Cincinnati Reds in 2005