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Because he turned 21 within 45 days of the draft, Wagner was eligible following his sophomore season at Houston. Undrafted out of high school partly because he asked for $500,000 to sign, he became last spring's most pleasant draft surprise. He went from being an unheralded freshman to an All-American to a first-rounder to a major leaguer by the middle of July. He needed just 46 days and all of nine innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville to earn a promotion to Cincinnati after signing for $1.4 million. His rapid trek to the big leagues was the fastest since Athletics 1995 first-rounder Ariel Prieto needed just 28 days in the minors. Wagner broke a 39-year-old NCAA Division I record by fanning 16.8 hitters per nine innings, while limiting college opponents to a .147 average. He held big leaguers to a meager .173 clip, but was shut down as a precaution after shouldering a heavy workload: 79 innings for Houston and 31 more after signing. It was nothing more than a precaution, as Wagner was exhausted and the Reds didn't want to risk taxing his arm. Wagner's 84-87 mph slider is downright unhittable and grades as a top-of-the-scouting-scale 80 pitch at times. It features sharp, late tilt in the zone and darts away from the barrel of the bat. Hitters have a difficult time identifying his slider, and often think it's a splitter or true curveball because of its depth. Wagner isn't a one-trick pony, however. His fastball sits at 91-94 mph and features hard sink and boring action to induce ground balls. His fastball movement is so good that hitters will have a tough time laying off his slider and sitting on his fastball. He showed enough resiliency and durability to work multiple-inning stints for Houston. Though he rarely needs it, Wagner shows a feel for an average changeup, leading some scouts to think he could hold down a rotation spot. Not many scouts project Wagner as a starter, however, because his delivery and arm action might not be conducive to a rotation workload. While he'll drop his arm slot at times to create more movement on his fastball, that also causes additional stress on his shoulder--even more than when he relies heavily on his slider. The Reds would like him to become more consistent with his slot and repeating his delivery. Following Wagner's promotion to the majors, the Reds discussed moving him to the rotation in 2004, but they now seem content to groom him as their future closer. College closers don't often duplicate their success in the majors, but there's little doubt Wagner can overmatch hitters at any level. If he's not Cincinnati's closer coming out of spring training, he'll be one of the better set-up men in the National League.
Former Reds special assistant Al Goldis was scouting Hank Blalock in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2000 when he came across Encarnacion, who was playing shortstop. Cincinnati acquired him the following year in the Ruben Mateo-Rob Bell trade with Texas. A two-level jump to Double-A last spring proved to be a tad overzealous, and he was forced to step back and make adjustments. Encarnacion has special bat speed and plus-plus power potential. He's advanced at recognizing pitches early. He still shows middle-of-the-diamond actions, along with above-average strength. During his struggles in Double-A, Encarnacion's attitude and work ethic were concerns. He needs to use the opposite field more effectively by allowing outside pitches to get deeper. He has the bat quickness to do so. Like many developing hitters, he needs to lay off breaking balls down and away. Encarnacion made encouraging strides with both his hitting approach and his demeanor after being sent to high Class A Potomac. He's better prepared for a second tour of Double-A in 2004.
The top pitcher in the Yankees system, Claussen went to the Reds at last year's trade deadline in a deal for Aaron Boone. Though he returned ahead of schedule from Tommy John surgery in June 2002, Claussen was shut down with a tired arm for precautionary reasons after three starts in August. Claussen topped out at 94 mph before the operation, and pitched from 87-92 in 2003. He fires slightly across his body, creating good arm-side tail on his fastball and adding tilt and depth to his plus 78 mph slider. His changeup is an average big league pitch. He has good command and can work both sides of the plate. The good news is the Reds sidelined Claussen before he reinjured his arm. The red flag is that healthy pitchers usually don't need to be shut down and his velocity isn't all the way back. Provided there aren't further setbacks, Claussen will get every opportunity to win a job in the Reds' revamped rotation in spring training. He profiles as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Moseley signed late in 2000 for $930,000 and has advanced rapidly, earning midseason promotions during each of the last two seasons and reaching Triple-A at age 21. Moseley's mature knack for pitching has enabled him to move swiftly up the ladder. While he's not overpowering with his 88-92 mph fastball, he has plus movement and manipulates the ball to both sides of the plate with a cutter and two-seamer. His 77-81 mph curveball with 12-to-6 break and his deceptive sinking changeup are among the best in the organization. His delivery is clean and effortless, potentially allowing him to add to his fastball. Because he doesn't have plus velocity, Moseley has to rely on location and setting up hitters. Scouts say he doesn't have a true out pitch, so he won't be able to carry a pitching staff. Though his ceiling is limited, Moseley is a good bet to enjoy a long and productive career in the majors. He reminds scouts of control artists like Rick Reed and Bob Tewksbury. He'll start 2004 in Triple-A and could help the Reds rotation before the all-star break.
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.
Undrafted out of high school, Dumatrait blossomed into a first-rounder at Bakersfield JC thanks to a spike in velocity. Regarded as the Red Sox' best pitching prospect heading into last spring, Dumatrait was dealt with Tyler Pelland for closer Scott Williamson in July. Dumatrait's curveball is the best in the organization. He adds and subtracts from the pitch, using a slower curve to get ahead in the count and a sharper hammer to finish hitters. His fastball sits at 88-90 and features outstanding late life that makes it difficult to command, but he has learned to harness it. He's athletic and operates with a free and easy delivery. Dumatrait needs to incorporate his changeup into his mix more often. His command isn't always sharp and is the key to him achieving his ceiling as a major league starter. The Reds say Dumatrait has good enough stuff to succeed as a situational reliever in the majors right now. While that could ultimately be his role, his stuff is good enough to start and he'll continue to do so in Double-A.
Smitherman followed up a breakthrough 2002 campaign by leading the Double-A Southern League in on-base percentage and finishing second in slugging. He also hit the game-winning homer for the U.S. in the Futures Game. Unlike most aggressive power hitters, Smitherman has become more selective at the plate while maintaining his ability to drive the ball. His natural prowess to put the barrel on the ball has been consistently underrated. He runs well for a big man. Though he learned to lay off some balls out of the strike zone, Smitherman still has holes and can get tied up with hard stuff inside. He's also susceptible to breaking balls down and away, but he can punish fastballs. A diabetic, he suffered a scary episode in June when he had to be helped off the field. But he didn't miss any time. Smitherman struggled during a brief trip to the majors and never got back into a groove afterward. He'll have to prove himself in Triple-A in 2004, but already has exceeded expectations.
Former Reds special assistant Al Goldis' work in the Gulf Coast League also paid off with Pelland. Goldis recommended that the Reds acquire him from the Red Sox last July, and they did later that month in the Scott Williamson deal. Pelland would have gone in the first five rounds in 2002 if not for his commitment to Clemson, and he got fourth-round money ($240,000) as a ninth-rounder. Pelland has a 90-95 mph fastball with good late life in the strike zone. He's mechanically sound, drawing comparisons to Mike Hampton. His changeup has good action and deception. He shows a good feel for setting up hitters. He has made significant strides with his stuff in just one season as a pro. Because of his stocky build, Pelland isn't projectable, though he already flashes plus velocity. He has a feel for a power breaking ball, but it's inconsistent at this point. Reds officials say Pelland will be able to handle a jump to low Class A, coming off an impressive showing in instructional league. He probably won't surface in Cincinnati until 2007.
Rated as the Reds' top prospect entering 2003, Gruler never got the chance to build on that status. He was shut down with a sore shoulder during instructional league in 2002, but after an offseason of rest and rehab was pronounced ready for Dayton's rotation. After three disastrous starts, he had season-ending shoulder surgery. Reds special adviser Johnny Bench compared Gruler's stuff to Tom Seaver's after a predraft workout in 2002. He worked with a free and easy arm action and polished delivery, making his shoulder injury all the more surprising and frustrating. He generates 89-95 mph heat when healthy, and his hard curveball ranked among the best in the system. He's a hard worker, which will help in his comeback. Gruler has been healthy enough to tally just 50 pro innings. He's had little time to work on his changeup. When he returns, it may take time before he's as sharp as he was during his debut. Gruler has to prove his arm is sound. He has had only one minor setback with tendinitis, though his rehab will continue into the 2004 season. He should take the mound in low Class A by May.
Howington appeared on the cusp of the big leagues after reaching Double-A before his 21st birthday. But he has battled elbow and shoulder problems for much of the last two seasons and posted a 5.45 ERA in Double-A in that span. At his best--and he was close to it in the second half of 2003--Howington can pour 89-93 mph heat with above-average life in the strike zone. He has developed a good cutter to complement one of the most effective changeups in the system, and his curveball will be at least average. Howington hasn't gotten back to 94 mph, which he hit regularly in 2001, and his arm troubles are a concern. His velocity was in the mid-80s in early 2003. The injuries limited his range of motion, which affected his mechanics and arm action and ultimately his command. Coming off another encouraging showing in instructional league, Howington is ready for a fourth shot at Double-A at age 23. The Reds surprised many people by leaving him off their 40-man roster, but he was not taken in the Rule 5 draft. He has the potential to be a workhorse in the Andy Pettitte mold if he can stay healthy.
Perez passed Dane Sardinha on the organization's catching depth chart despite a midseason demotion to Rookie-level Billings. One Reds official said Perez could be the best catching prospect to come through the organization in recent years. His defense is ahead of his offense at this point, and he has room for improvement in both areas. While he's not as refined defensively as Sardinha, Perez projects to be a frontline defender in time. He has a plus arm and is working on speeding up his release. He committed 17 errors and permitted 16 passed balls, while throwing out 34 percent of basestealers in Billings. He was overmatched at low Class A, where he fell into the habit of cheating with his hands and continually got off balance at the plate. Nevertheless, Reds minor league hitting instructor Leon Roberts was impressed with Perez' ability to use his hands in spite of his mechanical flaws. He has the potential to drive the ball for power when he stays loaded and keeps both halves of his body in sync. He's a bit of a project and will get another shot at low Class A in 2004.
Bergolla first caught the attention of special assistant to the GM Johnny Almaraz with his quick hands and natural righthanded stroke during a tryout camp in Venezuela in 1999. Last year, Bergolla was hitting .209 and bothered by an injured thumb in early May, but bounced back to lead the high Class A Carolina League in hits. He has a simple approach with a sound, mechanical stroke. He exhibits excellent bat control, putting the ball in play with regularity, and stays inside the ball well. His ability to make contact works against him in that he rarely draws walks. Bergolla's strength is hitting line drives, and he shows occasional pop to the alleys. He stole a system-best 52 bases in 2003, more a testament to his instincts and quickness than his pure speed. Bergolla moved across the bag to second base full-time after spending portions of the previous two seasons at shortstop. The Reds want him to improve his strength and conditioning to hold up better over the course of a season. He broke his left hamate bone during a practice after the season in Venezuela, but the injury won't require surgery and he'll open the year in Double-A.
Hall's approach on the mound mirrors Dustin Moseley's. He uses his headiness to set up hitters more than trying to blow them away. After emerging as one of the Reds' best prospects in 2002, he made his major league debut last August following another solid season in Double-A. Though he shut out the Cubs for seven innings in one start, Hall mostly struggled in Cincinnati before his season ended with a torn labrum. His second reconstructive shoulder surgery--the first cost him all of 1999 and much of 2000--is expected to keep him out for six to nine months. Hall's fastball is average, sitting around 89-91 mph, but like Moseley he moves it around, keeps the ball down and changes speeds efficiently. Hall's plus curveball, a 12-to-6 downer, might be a touch better than Moseley's, and he also offers a plus changeup. When Hall rebounded from his first shoulder surgery, he impressed Reds brass so much they wanted to use his rehab as a blueprint for injured pitchers. His work ethic is beyond reproach, which will benefit him, but this setback is potentially devastating.
Drafted in the 24th round by the Rangers out of high school, Gardner went to Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC. After missing most of his sophomore season with mononucleosis and a concussion (he got hit in the head during batting practice), he transferred to Arizona. He emerged as the Wildcats' ace in his lone season in Tucson, then was the talk of the Reds' instructional league camp after signing late for $160,000. Gardner dialed his fastball up to 94 mph, sitting comfortably between 90-93 with sink and tail. His changeup, which features splitter tumble, already rates as one of the best offspeed pitches in the system, and he flashed an above-average breaking ball during the fall. He has an ideal pitcher's frame and sound mechanics. His pro debut may come in high Class A and he could move quickly.
Thanks to injuries, the system lacks projectable power arms. While righthander Alex Farfan has the best velocity now, Feliz has the potential for more. The velocity on his 90-92 mph fastball is likely to increase, considering his loose arm and immature, wiry build. Feliz already demonstrates an advanced feel for pitching for his age. He was throwing 84-87 when the Reds signed him out of a tryout camp at their academy in the Dominican Republic. Feliz throws a quality slider with tight rotation and good velocity, and he has the makings of a good changeup. While he has good control, he'll face the challenge to maintain sound mechanics as his body changes. Feliz and Richie Gardner were the most impressive Reds prospects in instructional league, and one scout said Feliz could be the best pitching prospect in the system in a year. He's slated to make his full-season debut in low Class A.
Valentine has seen his name on the transaction wire more than most minor leaguers, but he soon may find a home in the Cincinnati bullpen. After nearly making the Tigers bullpen in 2002 as a major league Rule 5 selection, he's been involved in deadline deals in each of the last two seasons. He made his major league debut for the Reds in August. Valentine's fastball tops out at 96 mph with good life, and his slider features hard, late biting action. Command always has been an issue, as he works with a long arm action and full-effort delivery. He needs to work on his path to the plate because he tends to over-rotate and fall off toward first base. Some scouts would like to see more separation in velocity between his two pitches. Valentine profiles as a closer but could be relegated to a lesser role if his control doesn't improve. He'll have a shot to make the big league bullpen in spring training.
After Basham capped a 2002 breakout campaign with a shutout in the California League playoffs and a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League, many Reds officials said he was the system's top prospect. The former Richmond backup quarterback did nothing to dissuade them by tossing 41⁄3 scoreless innings in big league camp last spring. But by May, Basham's velocity was down and he was getting hit hard. His fastball dipped from 90-93 mph to as low as 83, and his slider--his out pitch--lost its sharpness. Basham was shut down with a tired arm in July. Doctors didn't discover any structural damage but also couldn't find an answer for the lack of life in his arm. Scouts saw a change in his mechanics, especially his arm action, which wasn't working as fluidly. When he's right, Basham shows a lively fastball with sink and tail, plus a hard slider with depth. He did manage to develop a decent changeup. Cincinnati expects him to return to the mound in spring training, and he'll likely repeat Double-A before advancing cautiously.
In high school, Pauly hardly seemed destined for professional baseball. He was a better swimmer than pitcher, and his 82 mph fastball didn't get scouts' attention. Things started to come together for him at Princeton, though he was so frustrated after his collegiate debut he popped a blood vessel in his right hand when he punched a bathroom door. As his velocity soared into the 90s, Pauly developed into a closer and set Princeton's career record for saves. He maintained his 92-94 mph fastball with late sinking action even after moving into the rotation in low Class A, and the Reds plan on developing him as a starter. Pauly's slider can be nasty. He has tinkered with different grips on his changeup, a pitch he'll need to make a successful transition to the rotation. He shows the potential to have three above-average major league offerings, which has Reds officials projecting Pauly as a No. 2 starter. He spent one week in instructional league before returning to Princeton to complete his sociology degree. High Class A is the logical next step in 2004.
Of all the pitchers taken in the 2003 major league Rule 5 draft, Mattox has the best chance of becoming a major league starter, and the Reds will give him every chance to make their rotation. A college shortstop who converted to the mound as a senior, Mattox has shown flashes of being a solid No. 3 starter in the majors but still has plenty of kinks to get out of his mechanics before he puts it all together. He struggles at times with his command, largely because he never has settled on a consistent arm slot. He also has had problems with rotating his shoulder too early. However, Mattox does throw with a free and easy motion. His changeup is a potentially dominant pitch, as he throws it with excellent arm speed and it has good sink. He also has a 90-91 mph fastball with above-average life. Mattox throws a curveball and slider, but both breaking pitches are inconsistent. He's working on developing his slider to bust batters inside, but he hasn't gained a consistent feel for it yet.
Unlike many of the infielders the Reds have signed out of Latin America, Hernandez has serious sock in his bat, though he doesn't possess the defensive gifts of some others. At the plate, Hernandez employs an overly aggressive approach but has tremendous bat speed and hand-eye coordination. The Reds tried to tone him down by telling him he couldn't swing until he got ahead in the count, and he still finished with two walks last year. Hernandez is a dead-red fastball hitter with plus power to all fields. He was sidelined for three weeks after he dislocated his right shoulder on a collision at third base, and his arm hadn't bounced back by instructional league. While he didn't show the quickness needed at second base, he demonstrated better reactions and average arm strength at the hot corner. Hernandez finished the season at high Class A, but he'll likely start 2004 in low Class A. If he learns to work counts better, he could return to high Class A by the end of the year.
Three years removed from back surgery that cost him the entire 2001 season, Belisle was acquired from the Braves in August. Once considered one of the brightest pitching prospects in the Atlanta system, Belisle hasn't been quite the same since the ruptured disc. Still, one scout calls him a lock to pitch in the majors as a No. 4 or 5 starter. Belisle is a hard worker with competitive makeup and three solid-average pitches and good command. No longer capable of cranking his fastball up to 94 mph, he fills the strike zone with an average 88-91 mph heater. His curveball is average and has depth, though he needs to develop more deception with the pitch. That would help him fare better against lefthanders, who batted .303 against him in the minors last year. Belisle's arm action is somewhat stiff, and Braves pitching coaches were working with him to shorten his arm swing in the back. Cincinnati's rotation is unsettled, so Belisle will get a long look in spring training.
Blanco was Boston's top position-player prospect for two years running, but fell out of favor when he failed to show the ability to adjust. Upon joining Cincinnati, he was hampered by the after-effects of elbow surgery, which forced him to play first base and DH in 2003. He's shaking several bad habits, including changing his style and approach from atbat to at-bat. Blanco also gets beat with fastballs when he's worrying about breaking balls. He has the best raw power and bat speed in the system. When healthy, he also has a cannon for an arm. The Reds saw him make progress during the final week of instructional league. His opportunity to finally make his Double-A debut is complicated by Edwin Encarnacion's presence at third base, though Blanco could get a look at first base or left field.
Farfan has bulked up his frame since signing as a wiry 6-foot-3, 175-pounder. With more muscle, better conditioning and a permanent move to the bullpen, he added velocity to his fastball. Farfan now touches 97 mph and is regularly timed at 93-96 mph. He also features a hard slider, which is occasionally a plus pitch. But for all his stuff, he hasn't missed many bats because his command and control need to improve. The Reds are fine-tuning his delivery to address those weaknesses. Farfan, who has a full arm swing in the back, tends to throw across his body. He also must learn to use his front side better in his delivery to create leverage and improve his downhill plane. Farfan has the best arm in the system and the stuff to close games but is learning how to harness it. He'll pitch at high Class A this year.
After being limited to just 23 innings with a tender elbow in 2002, Aramboles was throwing the ball as well as anyone in Reds camp last spring when he had another setback. Already a survivor of Tommy John surgery in 1999, he had a season-ending operation to repair a torn labrum in April. He attended instructional league for one week following the season, throwing on flat ground. The Reds expect him to be ready to throw off a mound by spring training. The question is whether Aramboles will regain his clean arm action, 92-94 mph fastball, power curveball and devastating changeup. If all goes well, he could get a taste of the big leagues in September and hope for a 2005 arrival in their bullpen. He'd still be just 23. But the list of recoveries from labrum surgeries is much shorter than those from Tommy John surgery, so the odds are stacked against Aramboles.
The 2003 Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference player of the year, Paduch was primarily a shortstop in his first two years of college, pitching only in relief. The Reds credit area scout Mike Keenan for identifying Paduch as a sleeper. While not overpowering, he has the ability to locate his 87-91 mph fastball. He also varies speeds with a changeup and two types of breaking balls. He was invited to throw out the first pitch before a game at Great American Ball Park after clinching the Pioneer League championship with a no-hitter. Paduch's poise and advanced feel for pitching might earn him a quick promotion to high Class A to start 2004.
A two-way player in college, Shackelford saw more time in the outfield than on the mound and the Royals drafted him as a position player. He hit .241 as an outfielder before shifting to the mound midway through 2002. His stock soared in the Arizona Fall League in 2002, prompting the Reds to seek him in a minor league trade. He has made tremendous progress on the mound, reaching Triple-A within a year of switching positions. Shackelford has the makings of four major league pitches, including an 88-92 mph tailing fastball, a cutter, a slider and a changeup. After a demotion to high Class A last year, he settled on a comfortable arm slot. His new high three-quarters release helped him find the strike zone more frequently. Shackelford just needs innings to hone his repertoire. His future role will depend upon his ability to get lefthanders out. He'll probably start the year in Triple-A.
Manning put his name on the prospect radar after striking out 146 in 163 innings between high Class A and Double-A in 2002. He struggled to duplicate that success when a triceps strain robbed him of his effectiveness early in 2003 at Double-A. He was shipped to the bullpen and demoted to high Class A before he was traded for Gabe White. Manning's velocity dropped from its usual 87-89 mph range and bottomed out at 83. By season's end, however, he was back to normal and peaking at 93 mph. He developed a cut fastball that helped him against righthanders. Manning worked with Reds pitching instructor Sammy Ellis on commanding his two-seamer to improve his effectiveness against lefties. He does a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone. He also has a sharp slider and good changeup. Drafted as a college senior, he has to prove himself in Double-A before moving on.
Sardinha hit .256 in Double-A last year, raising his minor league average to .229--not what the Reds envisioned when they gave him a $1.75 million major league contract three years earlier. He began last year on the disabled list after tearing a ligament in his left knee during spring training, and he ended it by being removed from Cincinnati's 40-man roster for the second time. His development was accelerated by his big league deal, which meant he would have been out of options in 2004, and the Reds say he'll make more progress without that pressure. Sardinha made his second consecutive trip to the Arizona Fall League, where he worked on his hitting mechanics. He hasn't shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate and too often chases bad pitches. He hasn't been able to shake his bad habit of pulling off the ball because his hips and legs don't work in sync with his hands and upper body. He's a potential defensive stalwart with advanced receiving and throwing skills. The Reds have asked him to be more assertive in handling pitchers, a key ingredient to his future as a backup catcher. Sardinha likely will be the everyday catcher in Triple-A this year.
The Reds were high on several of Puerto Rico's top prospects after seeing them in a predraft showcase on the island, and Ronda's offensive upside in the middle of the diamond helped him emerge as their favorite. Then-scouting director Leland Maddox fell in love with Ronda's makeup after visiting with him and watching his brother throw batting practice to him every night at a field across the street from his house. A switch-hitter, Ronda is more comfortable from the left side and often neglects his righthanded stroke. He uses his hands well at the plate, which enables him to center the ball consistently and make solid contact. He has a natural uppercut which should lead to more home run power as he develops. He also starts his hip before his hands, causing his front side to fly off the ball. Defensively, he might not have the speed to stay at shortstop. Depending on how he develops at the plate, he could move to second or third base. Catching is also a long-term possibility because of his plus arm strength and strong lower half. If he doesn't start 2004 at low Class A, he could get there by the end of the season.
Lewis didn't play baseball in high school until his junior year, and even then football commanded much of his attention. It's a testament to his natural athleticism that he was attracting crosscheckers and scouting directors by the dozens last spring. His father Kenny Sr. spent four years in the NFL as a running back for the Jets. He was going to follow in his father's footsteps at Virginia Tech before deciding to sign for $300,000. The fastest player in the 2003 draft, Lewis was clocked at 6.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash in a May workout. He led the Gulf Coast League in steals with his speed and tools recalling those of Deion Sanders. But Lewis is very raw. The Reds will have to mold Lewis into a slap-and-run contact hitter who can shoot grounders through the left side of the infield. He tends to drop his hands and swings uphill, resulting in too many fly balls and strikeouts. His stroke is also geared to pull everything. Lewis worked on bunting for hits during instructional league. In center field, he needs to improving his reads and routes on fly balls. After playing Rookie ball, Lewis was thrust into the Southern League playoff race to provide speed off the bench, but he was overmatched at the plate. It should give him an idea of what he needs to do to get back to that level. He'll start working on those things in low Class A this year.
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