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A few years ago, the Internet spawned a meme called Matt Wieters facts, where impossible feats were attributed to baseball's top prospect. (One sample: Matt Wieters draws intentional walks in batting practice.) Billy Hamilton facts seem equally overblown--except they're true. When a left fielder lost sight of a fly ball, Hamilton ran out from his shortstop position to catch it near the warning track. He scored a game-winning run on a sacrifice fly that didn't leave the infield. He scored from second on an infield grounder. And along the way, he set the professional baseball single-season stolen base record last year with 155, eclipsing Vince Coleman's 30-year-old mark of 145. After Hamilton had played shortstop and second base throughout his pro career, the Reds moved him to center field in the Arizona Fall League. The position change should speed his arrival to the big leagues, as concerns about his arm and hands at shortstop were the biggest knocks on him. The 57th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he turned down the chance to play wide receiver at Mississippi State for a $623,600 bonus. Every scouting report ever written about Hamilton has to start with his speed. There may be current players who can run a faster 60-yard dash, but no one is faster on a diamond. He turns in hard-to-comprehend 3.35-3.4 second times to first base on bunts from the left side. His aggressiveness makes his speed play up, if that's even possible. His ability to turn routine plays into nail-biters forces infielders to hurry, and he's a threat to take an extra base on any ball to the outfield. Hamilton has made more use of his speed as he has improved at the plate. A switch-hitter, he has smoothed out his less-natural lefthanded swing, which has left him less vulnerable to high fastballs that he used to chase and pop up. Pitchers with good fastballs can still bust him up and in at times. He's rail-thin and never will have home run power, but he does show some gap pop, especially from the right side. His speed also means that singles sometimes turn into doubles, while doubles can become triples or more. He has improved his pitch recognition and selectivity, with his 86 walks in 2012 nearly matching his previous career total from three pro seasons. The move to center field should fit Hamilton's aggressive approach. He still has some work to do on jumps and routes, but his quickness allows him to outrun mistakes and play shallower than most center fielders. He projects as a plus defender, perhaps even a Gold Glover, with an average arm. Hamilton is as durable as he is fast. Despite taking the pounding of countless steal attempts and dives back to the base on pickoffs, he never has spent a day on the disabled list. Hamilton's speed ensures him some sort of big league job, and his continued development at the plate will determine whether he ends up being an all-star or a bottom-of-the-order speedster. He might get a chance to unseat Drew Stubbs as Cincinnati's center fielder in spring training, but Hamilton could use some time at Triple-A Louisville to refine his game. When he arrives in the big leagues, he'll spur ticket sales with his style of play.
He has pitched just 65 pro innings, but Stephenson already has shown the best pure stuff of any Reds draftee back to at least 2004 first-rounder Homer Bailey. Signed for $2 million as the 27th overall pick in 2011, he ranked as the Rookie-level Pioneer League's top pitching prospect in his pro debut last summer. Stephenson's fastball velocity has improved in pro ball, rising from 92-95 in his draft year to 93-97 in 2012, and he touched 100 mph at low Class A Dayton. His heater has excellent life as well. What makes him stand out from the average prep flamethrower is that he also has a good feel for his secondary pitches. His changeup also has gotten better since his high school days, and some scouts project it as a plus pitch. His curveball has similar potential. Stephenson can get too intense at times--he sometimes throws in the mid-90s warming up in the bullpen--and needs to avoid rushing his delivery, which detracts from his control. Cincinnati kept a tight leash on Stephenson and will turn him loose in 2013, when he'll open back in low Class A. He has all of the ingredients to become a frontline starter.
Cingrani was so bad as a Rice junior that he asked his coaches if they wanted him to come back for his senior season. The Owls simplified his delivery and fixed a timing issue in which his arm lagged behind his lower half, and the results were immediate. He improved his fastball velocity and control, pitched his way into the third round of the 2011 draft and led the minors with a 1.73 ERA last year before joining the Reds in September. Cingrani's success begins with his fastball, which generates plenty of swings and misses thanks to excellent life and some deception in his delivery. He adds and subtracts from his fastball, varying it from 88-95 mph, and locates it to both sides of the plate. It looks even quicker because he pairs it with a plus change with good fade that gives him a weapon against righthanders. His slider is fringy, as it is too often flat and it lacks bite. He generally throws strikes, though his control slipped at Double-A Pensacola. Cingrani's slider will determine his future role. He can thrive in the bullpen with two pitches, but needs a better breaking ball to succeed as a starter. With a full starting rotation in Cincinnati, he'll head to Triple-A to begin 2013.
Even before he arrived in the United States, Corcino has been known as the Reds' 'next Cueto." He draws comparisons to Cincinnati's ace because he's a short but powerfully built Dominican righthander with a low three-quarters arm slot. And like Cueto, he has had success wherever he goes. In 2012, he pitched the first eight innings of the first no-hitter in Pensacola franchise history and ranked second in the Southern League with a 3.01 ERA. Because of his arm slot, cross-fire delivery and understanding of how to manipulate the baseball, Corcino throw 91-94 mph fastballs with either cutting action or armside run. His slider shows flashes of being a plus pitch, though it needs more consistency. His changeup has good sink at the plate, giving him the potential for three solid or better pitches. Corcino has some effort to his delivery. His control wasn't as sharp in Double-A, with his walk rate (4.1 per nine innings) nearly doubling from the year before (2.2). If the Reds needed a power arm out of the pen, Corcino is ready right now. Because he'll have more value as a starter, he'll head to Triple-A to continue to refine his secondary stuff and control. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, much like Cueto did as he climbed the minor league ladder.
Even when he hit .155 with zero extra base hits as an overmatched 18-year-old in his 2008 pro debut, the Reds felt that they might have something special in Gregorius. He held his own in an emergency stint at high Class A the next year and has made steady progress every since, debuting in the big leagues last September. Gregorius is the Reds' best defensive shortstop. He has smooth actions, plus range and a sniper rifle of an arm. His arm rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, allowing him to make plays from deep in the hole that other shortstops can't. He showed improved consistency in 2012, making just 18 errors in 128 games after committing 21 in 80 contests the year before. Scouts are divided on Gregorius' bat. Some think he could end up as a No. 2 hitter, while others think he'll fit at the bottom of a lineup. He's too aggressive and needs to use the whole field more, but he does have gap power. He's an average runner. He doesn't have to worry about Billy Hamilton now that the speedster is moving to center field, but Gregorius still is blocked by Zack Cozart in Cincinnati. Gregorius could use more Triple-A time to work on his offense, and he ultimately may end up as a trade chip.
In the final month before the 2012 draft, Travieso's velocity ticked up as he helped Archbishop McCarthy High (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) win its third straight 6-A state title. He pitched just 15 innings as a junior because the team was stacked and he was still raw on the mound. The Reds had plenty of history with him because international scouting director Tony Arias has a son on the team, and they selected Travieso 14th overall and signed him for $2 million--$375,000 less than the assigned pick value. While Travieso's fastball touched 98 mph in high school, he sat at 90-93 mph and peaked at 96 as pro as Cincinnati worked on getting him to repeat his delivery and avoid opening up too early. Some scouts think his fastball lacks life and deception. He shows the ability to spin a tight slider in the mid-80s, but he doesn't stay on top of it or command it consistently. His changeup is a long ways away, which isn't surprising considering his limited innings. The Reds will give Travieso plenty of chances to start, but many observers see him ending up as a power reliever. Cincinnati probably will put him on the same path as 2011 first-rounder Robert Stephenson, sending Travieso to extended spring training and then on to Rookie-level Billings or Dayton.
When he was a sophomore, Winker watched Olympia High (Orlando) teammate Mason Williams hit his way to a $1.45 million signing bonus as a fourth-round pick. Two years later, Winker and righthander Walker Weickel gave Olympia a pair of 2012 supplemental first-round picks. After signing for $1 million, Winker led the Pioneer League in on-base percentage (.443) and ranked third in hitting (.338) and OPS (.993). Winker has a sweet lefthanded swing and keeps his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. He's an extremely disciplined hitter who isn't afraid to work counts, though he'll have to cut down his strikeouts as he advances. His stroke generates natural loft that could produce 20 homers annually as he adds further muscle. He has strong legs that he uses well in his swing. Reds coaches compare his stroke to Jay Bruce's, though Winker isn't nearly as athletic. He's a below-average runner now and will get slower as he fills out. He's most likely a left fielder in the long term, though he has enough arm to handle right. Following a fabulous pro debut, Winker is more than ready to move up for low Class A. His big league future depends on his bat, but it looks like it will be up to the challenge. He's a potential No. 3 hitter in a contender's lineup.
The Braves drafted 11 pitchers in the first 12 rounds of the 2008 draft. They have already released three of their first six choices, but they did get Craig Kimbrel (third round) and Hoover. Traded to Cincinnati for Juan Francisco at the end of spring training in 2012, he impressed the Reds so much during a September callup that they added him to their playoff roster. He made two scoreless appearances in the National League Division Series. The thick-bodied Hoover has been dominant ever since he moved to the bullpen early in 2011. His fastball velocity increased with the move, now sitting at 92-93 mph with plenty of sink. Because of his background as a starter, he has a varied repertoire. Hoover junked his slider last year in favor of a slow curveball that he can command better. His curve can handcuff hitters who are gearing up to catch up to his fastball. He also throws a useable changeup and has average control. Hoover already has demonstrated that he can pitch in a big league bullpen. He'll serve as a set-up man for Jonathan Broxton in 2013, and he could grow into the closer role if needed down the road.
Other teams scouted Guillon more as a hitter, but the Reds signed him for $220,000 as a pitcher in 2008. When he was found to need Tommy John surgery, they voided his original deal and re-signed him at a significantly reduced rate. The renegotiation made him eligible for the Rule 5 draft if he wasn't on the 40-man roster, and while he went unpicked in 2010 and 2011, Cincinnati protected him this offseason. Guillon's changeup is a true plus pitch. He throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball and is willing to double up on it, baffling even hitters who are looking for the pitch. The quality of his changeup helps his fastball play up. He usually works at 89-92 mph, touching 94 on some nights but struggling to top 90 on others. His curveball is well below average, but Guillon's biggest weakness is his control. He has smoothed out his delivery, reducing a pronounced wrap in the back, but he still needs to repeat his mechanics better. His delivery does give him some deception. While Guillon's 40-man roster spot means he'll head to big league spring training, he has a lot of development ahead of him. He'll open 2013 in low Class A after making four strong starts there to conclude last season.
In a system thinned out by big league promotions and trades, Reynoso is one of the toolsiest players. Signed for only $45,000, he batted .223 in two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before taking a big step forward in his 2012 U.S. debut. He hit .311 and led the Rookie-level Arizona League with 30 steals. Only Yorman Rodriguez can match Reynoso's all-around physicality among Reds farmhands. His best present tool is his plus speed, though he's still learning to use it. He led the AZL by getting caught stealing nine times and doesn't take good routes in center field. His 6-foot-3 frame has plenty of room to add strength, which means he could end up as a power-hitting right fielder, though his high-waisted build leads observers to believe he'll retain most of his speed as he matures. Reynoso has solid hand-eye coordination and squares up pitches over the plate. He's comfortable lining pitches off the plate to the opposite field, but he does have trouble turning on inside offerings. He has well above-average arm strength, though he's not always accurate with his throws and he needs to speed up his release. The jump from the AZL to full-season ball is steep, but Reynoso might be ready for low Class A after some time in extended spring training. The Reds are anxious to see how he'll handle better competition.
In 2011, the Reds drafted Tony Cingrani, a pitcher projected by most scouts to end up in the bullpen, and let him start, and by the end of 2012 they were encouraged that Cingrani had a chance to stick there. They may have made a similar discovery in Langfield, whose father Paul was a 10th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 1980 and peaked in Class A ball. After signing him for $436,800 as a third-round pick last June, Cincinnati smoothed out a delivery that had a lot of effort in college, making his approach much cleaner, freer and easier without losing anything off his fastball. In college Langfield seemed to be pitching to the radar gun too often, as his 93-97 mph fastball was his calling card. The Reds slowed down his delivery, toned down the arm-jarring recoil and were rewarded with a strong pro debut. His fastball and hard slider both could be plus pitches and allowed him to lead Conference USA in strikeouts last year, and his changeup and curveball show flashes of being solid offerings as well. His control improved as his delivery cleaned up, but it still needs further refinement. He has been durable throughout his amateur career. Langfield's ability to tone down his delivery has shelved efforts to move him to the bullpen for now. He heads to full-season ball with a chance to anchor the Dayton rotation.
Lotzkar's to-do list for 2012 had one big item at the top: Stay healthy. He has endured a stress fracture in his elbow followed by Tommy John surgery, as well as a strained hamstring, and never had topped 67 innings in a season. He finally reached that threshold last year, but even then the Reds were cautious with him. He was pulled at 80 pitches or less in seven of his last nine starts as his stuff backed up, and he went 1-4, 7.25 in the second half with 31 walks and 10 homers allowed in 45 innings. At his best, Lotzkar has some of the best stuff in the system and is one of the few pitchers who can generate swings and misses with his curveball. It's harder than the average curveball and can be almost described as a slurve. His 90-94 mph fastball is a tick above average as well. He also throws a fringy, firm changeup but locates it well; it just doesn't offer much deception. Health concerns still cloud Lotzkar's potential. Although many of the worst aspects of his delivery have been cleaned up, the team still hasn't felt comfortable letting him just go out and pitch. His stuff will work as a power reliever, which may save some wear and tear. For now, he'll stay a starter and return to Double-A.
The Reds have had to be patient with Contreras, but after struggling for most of his career, his results started to catch up to his stuff. He needed two years in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the United States, and he spent two further years in Rookie ball before making his full-season debut in 2012. He earned a late-season promotion to high Class A Bakersfield and was added to Cincinnati's 40-man roster after the season. Contreras' stuff is among the best in the system, and his 20 saves last season led the system. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph and touches 98. His changeup shows good late fade. It is a plus pitch that he trusts to throw early and late in counts. His breaking ball is much less consistent, which helps explain why he consistently puts up reverse splits--.656 career OPS against lefthanders compared to a .750 career OPS against righthanders. Contreras' delivery is long in the back, which has led to control issues and limits him to a bullpen role. He projects as a big league set-up man and will return to high Class A to open 2013.
A high school teammate of Astros 2009 first-rounder Jio Mier, Gelalich is part of a baseball family. His younger brother Matt is a starting outfielder for Pepperdine, while his younger brother Danny is a high school center fielder. Jeff had an All-America season at UCLA in 2012, helping the team to the College World Series for the second time in his career, playing his way into the supplemental first round and an $825,000 bonus. He didn't get to show much as a pro as a hand injury limited his effectiveness. When healthy, Gelalich is an above-average runner with a knack for getting good jumps on the basepaths. He's a tick above average defensively in right or left field, though his average arm makes him a better fit for left, and he can play center field for a game if needed. At the plate, Gelalich projects as an average to solid hitter with average power. He was a patient hitter in college, unafraid to go deep in counts, but that didn't show in his pro debut. Gelalich never really got a chance to get going as a pro in 2012, but now healthy, he'll get a shot at low Class A in 2013.
Cincinnati has been willing to get creative to bring in premium talent, from signing Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman to a $30 million contract to signing Garrett for $1 million even though Garrett hadn't played high school baseball as a senior, focusing instead on basketball. Teams including the Reds saw intriguing talent when Garrett lit up radar guns in predraft workouts in 2011, and they signed him while still allowing him to play basketball at St. John's, where he was starting as a sophomore. Understandably, Garrett showed how raw he was in his pro debut. But he also showed himself to be a quick learner, as his breaking ball and changeup improved dramatically. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph, touching 96, and it's easily his best pitch for now. He flashed a plus slider and average changeup by late in the season. Garrett showed significant improvement as the season went on and impressed in his brief stay during instructional league. The Reds hope that at some point he'll focus on baseball, but with the opportunity to develop a lefthander with plus stuff they're willing to share him for now. Garrett should be slated for a return to Billings in 2013 once he finishes his sophomore basketball season.
Signed for what was then a Venezuelan amateur record $2.5 million signing bonus, Rodriguez has had a rocky couple of seasons. He carried bad at-bats into the field and did not fit in well with his teammates in Dayton in 2011. He showed similar problems while struggling at the plate in high Class A early in 2012, but after a demotion back to low Class A, he was more receptive to coaching and gave more consistent effort. Rodriguez still has some of the best tools in the system. His throwing arm and speed both rate as plus, and his raw power earns plus-plus grades. Poor pitch recognition short-circuits his power, though he still led the Dragons in slugging last season. He chases too many fastballs up and out of the zone and tries to pull everything. He has to show a better feel for making adjustments at the plate. Defensively, Rodriguez is average in right field, and his tools should work in center, although he doesn't look as comfortable there. If the light bulb goes on, Rodriguez is a potential all-star outfielder, but he'll have to make a lot of progress with the bat. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he'll give Bakersfield a second chance in 2013.
The Reds have ignored the adage that short righthanders can't succeed, signing Johnny Cueto and seeing him develop into an ace, and getting Daniel Corcino to the brink of the majors. They now have Diaz in the pipeline, drawing Cueto and Corcino comparisons last season as he made his U.S. debut. Like Cueto and Corcino before him, Diaz wasn't a big name on the international scouting circuit--he signed for $30,000. He throws a little harder than either Cueto or Corcino did at the same age, sitting around 92-94 mph and touching 98 in the Arizona League, with a promising changeup and a hard slider. His delivery has no obvious flaws and his control is advanced for his age. Cueto made the jump from complex ball to low Class A, but Diaz is more likely to head to Billings to start 2013. Long-term, he has given no indication he can't remain a starter, other than his size. He projects as a potential frontline starter if he can survive the long trip from Arizona's complexes to the big leagues.
The best German hockey player in the minors, Lutz didn't pick up a baseball bat until he was a teenager. He ended up hitting lefthanded because of his hockey background--it felt more natural even though he's usually righthanded. Signed out of MLB's European academy, Lutz is a dual German/American citizen who was born in the United States but has lived most of his life in Germany. He is a better athlete than his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame would suggest. He's an average runner who turns in 4.2-second times to first. Lutz is still raw defensively, especially at first base. His best hope to make the big leagues with the Reds is as an outfielder. He has enough athleticism to play in left field, but he's currently well below average there thanks to inexperience, modest instincts and below-average arm. At the plate, Lutz is more promising. He has well above-average power with the potential to be an average hitter, though he needs to improve his selectivity at the plate. His numbers dropped off significantly after a midseason promotion to Double-A, in part because he was recovering from an oblique injury. Lutz remains raw for his age thanks to his unusual background. He'll have to improve defensively and prove he can hit advanced pitching to make the big leagues. He'll return to Pensacola to try to do that.
Mejias-Brean finished his college career in style, helping Arizona win the 2012 College World Series title. Scouts loved his defense and his athleticism but were concerned that a hitter with two homers in three college seasons may not have enough pop to stick in pro ball. The Reds signed him for $125,000 in the eighth round, taking a chance that they could tweak his swing for more power while reaping the benefits of his glove. The early returns were promising, as he was a Pioneer League all-star in his pro debut. Mejias-Brean's calling card is polished defense that fits the third-base profile thanks to agility, plus range and plenty of arm strength. At the plate, he focused on being more pull-conscious, which paid off in significantly improved power numbers. He has always hit for average and has solid hand-eye coordination. He still projects to have no more than average power, but that's a big step up for him, and his glove is good enough that even average power to go with his feel for hitting gives him a prospective path to the big leagues. He's a solid runner. Mejias-Brean will head to low Class A in 2013.
Rahier has been focused on becoming a pro baseball player for years. His father owns a chain of workout facilities, and he built a facility at their house and designed a special workout regime for his son. Rahier also decided not to play his 2012 senior season at Palm Desert (Calif.) High, choosing instead to play for a spring showcase team. For a relatively polished Southern California hitter who had spent plenty of time on the showcase circuit, Rahier had a surprisingly difficult adjustment to pro ball after signing for $649,700 in the second round. He got caught up in overswinging and trying to pull everything, and the Arizona League's more advanced pitchers found they could get him to chase out of the zone. His swing also has a bit of funk to it that needs to be cleaned up. Long-term he projects to have average power, although he needs to fill out and get stronger. A high school shortstop, Rahier had limited range there but made a relatively easy transition to third base, where his good hands and plus arm are a good fit. He's a fringy runner and may slow down as he matures physically. If Rahier doesn't fit at third base, he also could be an intriguing prospect to convert to catching. He's likely to open in extended spring training before moving up to Billings for 2013.
A four-year starter in hockey, football and baseball in high school in Jackson, Mich., LaMarre wasn't drafted out of high school and went to Michigan to play baseball. He didn't let a broken thumb ruin his draft status as a junior, hitting .419 upon his return and climbing into the second round. LaMarre is one of the safer bets to be a big leaguer in the system because he has a pair of big league skills. He's a 65 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, and a 65 defender in center field, where his average arm is more than enough. On the basepaths, he reads pitchers well, though after stealing 52 bases in 2011 he slowed down last year thanks to plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Because he couldn't injure it further, he decided to play through the injury and had surgery after the season. LaMarre strikes out a lot, but he also shows the ability to draw walks, which is important considering he profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter. His power is limited to hitting doubles to the gaps. He's expected to be healthy for spring training, and if so LaMarre is nearly ready for a major league backup role. He'll probably open the season in Triple-A, just a phone call away.
When Joey Votto came to Dayton for an injury rehab assignment last August, he joined Waldrop's batting practice group. With a big crowd gathered to see Votto, Waldrop put on a show, hitting long homer after long homer. That power doesn't always show up in games much yet, but it's a reason the Reds have high hopes for the former South Florida football commitment. He hit eight homers in 2012 but projects to have above-average power once he figures out how to translate it into game production. He generally has a fluid swing, though he will get caught sometimes trying too hard to muscle the ball out of the park. He hit .301 the second half of the season and projects to be a solid hitter. His below-average arm will limit him to left field, but as with many former football players, it has improved as he has focused on baseball. He's a solid defender, though he's a below-average runner who likely will slow down. He needs to improve his baserunning. Waldrop will head to high Class A in 2013. As a bat-first left fielder, he knows he'll have to keep hitting to get to the big leagues.
Barnhart may never hit .250 in the big leagues, yet he could still have a major league career as a backup catcher because of his glove. The best defensive catcher in the system, he has a heady approach behind the plate. He calls a good game, blocks pitches well and does a good job of pitch framing. His arm isn't especially strong, but his good footwork and quick release generate 1.95-second pop times, allowing him to throw out 38 percent of basestealers in 2012. At the plate, the switch-hitting Barnhart has a better swing from the left side. All six of his homers and both of his triples last year came against righthanders, while lefties held him to a .168 average. He has a short stroke from the left side and tries to spray line drives. From the right side, the swing is a little sweepier with less power. His hitting ability is ahead of his power, but both tools grade below average if not worse, so his glove will have to get him to the big leagues. Barnhart struggled in his first exposure to Double-A pitchers, he'll continue grinding by returning there to start the 2013 season.
A thumb injury, a pair of promotions and a lack of plate discipline exploited by Triple-A pitchers helped end what had been an impressive streak for Rodriguez. For the first time in five years he failed to hit .300, putting up a combined line of .282/.310/.370 last season. He still carries a .303 career minor league average, and he made his big league debut as a September callup. In recent years Rodriguez has had a run of bad luck with injuries. He broke his ankle in late August 2011, then missed six weeks with a broken thumb last year. His biggest liability, however, is his defensive limitations. He's a tick below-average third baseman with an average arm for the position. He's well below average at second base because of his limited range and his difficulty with the pivot on double plays. He has played shortstop at times, but no scouts project him as anything more than an emergency fill-in there. Rodriguez has the look of a utilityman, but he'll have to polish his defense across the infield to do that. He's likely to spend some more time with Louisville in 2013.
The best thing that ever happened to Lohman was to get away from Billy Hamilton. He's a better shortstop than second baseman, and as long as Hamilton was in Bakersfield, Lohman's games at shortstop were going to be few and far between. He returned to short after Hamilton moved up to Double-A last year, and re-energized his career. He struggled offensively in the first half of the season, then posted an OPS 70 points higher when playing shortstop rather than second base. Defensively, he showed similar improvement. His plus arm is his best tool, and it was somewhat wasted at second. He shows average range with good hands and easy infield actions. He's an average runner, and while he's no Hamilton, he ranked third in the system with 34 steals. At the plate, he handles the bat well enough to hit for average. Reds officials think he will one day hit for average power, though opposing scouts see that as a longshot. He projects as a useful backup middle infield, and the Cincinnati sees enough similarities to Zack Cozart to think he could be a little more than that.
Part of the 2007 Reds draft class that produced Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart, Soto has had a much slower climb to the big leagues, and he took a step back in 2012. Drafted as a shortstop, he has moved from third base to catcher to first base as a pro, slowing his progress. He's entrenched as a first baseman now, which is bad news when you play in an system where Joey Votto is signed through 2023. After hitting 31 homers in 2011, Soto regressed significantly, getting too pull-happy and dealing with a midseason stint on the disabled list with a back injury, which hurt his chances to get out of his slump. Soto doesn't need to sell out to hit the ball over the fence, as his above-average raw power gives him the ability to hit the ball out to all fields. Power is his calling card, as he's a below-average hitter overall, a well below-average runner and an average defender at first base. Soto is unlikely to get a full-time big league shot until the Reds either trade him or drop him from their 40-man roster and someone else claims him, so he'll head back to Triple-A and try to improve his performance.
Originally drafted by the Giants in 2005, Partch instead headed to Merced (Calif.) JC and signed with Cincinnati after two seasons there. One of two Reds relief prospects who pitched their way onto the 40-man roster in part because of their Arizona Fall League performance, Partch doesn't throw quite as hard as Josh Ravin, but he's a better prospect because he has better idea of what he's doing on the mound. Partch isn't one to paint the corners himself, but he does find the strike zone enough to make hitters respect his 94-97 mph fastball. His fastball has good armside run and is tough to lift. His slider and changeup are fringy, though at times the breaking ball flashes low-80s power and bite. The lack of a consistently effective second pitch helps explain why he struggled against lefties, who posted a .922 OPS against Partch in Double-A last year, while he held righties to a .692 OPS. Primarily a starter prior to 2012, Partch took to the bullpen and will head to Triple-A for 2013.
Unless he has a lengthy big league career or cures cancer, the first line of Rogers' bio will likely always include the words "bitten by a shark." Rogers was surfing in waters off Galveston, Texas, when a shark took a bite out of his foot. The injury occurred after Cincinnati drafted him but before he signed a contract, and he was happy the club still wanted to sign him after he demonstrated that despite 60 stitches, he had no permanent damage. To his credit, he has started to do enough as a prospect to prove he's more than just a human interest story. Another of the Reds' short righthanders, Rogers has thrived with average stuff. His fastball is effective despite its 88-92 mph velocity because it has plenty of sink. His slider is a hard pitch that can almost be confused for a cutter. If he's going to remain a starter, Rogers will need to improve his below-average changeup, which is too firm to get proper separation from his fastball. His assortment may work better out of the bullpen long-term, where his velocity could gain a tick--he has touched 94 mph in short stretches. Rogers has repaid Cincinnati's faith in him by showing more success than the average late-round pick. After an impressive finish in Double-A last year, he could make it to Triple-A at some point in 2013.
After a promising pro debut, Rosa endured a lost year in 2012. A torn labrum in his hip forced him to shut it down after just 21 games, and he wasn't healthy in time for instructional league and may not be ready for spring training. When healthy, Rosa has shown promising tools, but his approach at the plate needs work. His leg kick is too pronounced to survive against pro pitchers, as it forces him to commit too early. It makes him vulnerable to offspeed pitches and makes it hard to lay off pitches out of the zone. With his 6-foot-4 frame, he has plenty of power potential if he can make enough contact. Rosa could be average defensively at third base, and he played shortstop well enough that the Reds may let him stay there in the short-term. With above-average speed, he could play outfield as well. He played one game in left field last year and could even be a center fielder if he doesn't fill out too much. His plus arm would also work in right field. Rosa has to show he's healthy before Cincinnati can assess where he'll play in 2013, but Billings seems a likely spot for a return trip.
In most years, scouts don't have a lot of reasons to scour Connecticut high schools for talent. Romano, a Tennessee signee who was flashing a low-90s fastball as a 17-year-old senior, brought them to Southington in 2011, however. He had missed much of the high school showcase circuit after his jaw was broken on a comebacker to the mound, but Cincinnati saw enough during his senior year to sign him for $450,000. As would be expected with a 6-foot-5 Northeast pitcher, Romano is quite raw. Like many tall pitchers, his coordination hasn't caught up to his height yet. He doesn't always repeat his delivery, and he has to work on getting his upper half and lower half to work together, but he fires 92-94 mph fastballs with sink that are hard to get into the air. He gave up one homer in 286 plate appearances last season. His curveball and changeup both project to be average pitches or better. Despite his delivery issues, Romano throws enough strikes; he just needs to continue to improve his command. Depending on how he pitches in spring training he could make his full-season debut in low Class A in 2013.