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Hindsight confirms what scouts thought at the time--the 2011 class of high school righthanders was one of the best in years. Jose Fernandez pitched like an ace for the Marlins in 2013. The Orioles' Dylan Bundy had Tommy John surgery, but not before reaching the big leagues in 2012, and the Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley isn't far away. And then there's Stephenson, who fell to the 27th pick in part because of the large number of talented high school pitchers in his class. The righthander sometimes gets lost in the shuffle but has some of the best pure stuff in the minors. After a rocky April, Stephenson settled down to allow four earned runs in his next eight starts, including a May 30 gem where he carried a perfect game into the sixth inning with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty in attendance. A hamstring injury kept him out of the Midwest League all-star game and kept him off the mound for most of June, but he quickly recovered to earn a mid-July promotion to high Class A Bakersfield. Just four starts later, he was pitching for Double-A Pensacola. Stephenson's fastball seems to gain a tick each year, going from a 92-95 mph pitch fresh out of the draft to the 94-99 fireball he throws now. He's done it while toning down a delivery that had some effort in high school but is now relatively free and easy. He has a stab in the back of his delivery, but it has not interfered with his ability to throw strikes. Stephenson added a two-seamer back to his repertoire this year, though his season took off when he went back to pitching more off his four-seamer. His four-seam fastball lacks much life, but because he generally locates it well, it's still a plus-plus pitch. His 76-80 mph curveball gives Stephenson a second potential 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. He can bury it or throw it for strikes, and it is an excellent two-strike weapon with a big 12-to-6 break. Stephenson has improved his 86-88 mph changeup to the point where it's an average offering and could end up as a third plus pitch. Stephenson threw a split-finger fastball in high school, but the Reds shelved it. With the quality of his three present offerings, there's no real pressure to bring it back. He has present average control, but needs to improve his command to be ready for Cincinnati. Barring a trade, the Reds' rotation is set for 2014, but Stephenson could be ready to help as a midseason injury replacement. By 2015, the Reds will be making room for him at the front of its rotation if everything progresses as planned.
A year after he set the pro stolen base record with 155 steals, Hamilton finished second in the minors with 75 (nine behind leader Micah Johnson of the White Sox). Hamilton made his big league debut as a September callup and quickly became the story of baseball with 13 steals in just 13 games. Hamilton's speed is the stuff of legend. Multiple scouts describe him as the fastest player they've ever seen, with one noting that he and others have timed Hamilton at just under three seconds from first to second base on steals, faster than Rickey Henderson was in his prime. Hamilton made a quick transition from shortstop to center field. While his jumps and routes can continue to improve, he has the speed to outrun mistakes. He has an average arm. The questions about Hamilton revolve around his hitting. He will never have more than 30-grade power. Hamilton's game centers on slapping line drives and dropping bunts, though Triple-A pitchers were able to overpower him at times last year, especially when he hit lefthanded. If Shin-Soo Choo doesn't re-sign with the Reds, Hamilton is the heir apparent in center field. He's ready for the job defensively and on the basepaths, but his bat has not convinced scouts he is ready for the leadoff spot.
Ervin has hit .300 everywhere he's played. He did it in in college at Samford (.344 career mark) and with wood bats in the summer collegiate Northwoods (2011) and Cape Cod (2012) leagues. And he did it with the Reds, hitting .331 between stops at Rookie-level Billings and low Class A Dayton. Ervin may not have a plus-plus tool, but his scouting report has plenty of 60s on the 20-80 scale. He's an above-average hitter thanks to a simple short stroke that allows him to square up pitches consistently. He has 60 raw power and is translating that into productive power already. He's a 60 runner when healthy. Ervin has battled minor injuries since high school, starting with a knee injury as a prep senior. He's had hand and hamstring injuries (summer after freshman year), a sprained ankle (junior year) and a wrist injury that cut his pro debut short. He has enough speed to play center, but his routes aren't ideal. He has plenty of arm (he was clocked at 92 mph off the mound at Samford) to play right. Ervin was one of the safer bats in the 2013 draft. He may lack star potential, but he should advance quickly. High Class A Bakersfield is a likely starting point, but he could reach Double-A Pensacola in 2014.
Winker joined his older brother Joey, who plays in the Dodgers organization, in the low Class A Midwest League this season. The Winkers helped add to a recent run for the baseball program at Olympia High, the Orlando school that also produced Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, Yankees outfield prospect Mason Williams and Padres righthander Walker Wieckel. Winker pitched and played center field for Olympia as it won 29 straight at in his senior season, then signed for $1 million. Winker is a pure hitter with a short, simple stroke. He's toned down what was once a picturesque, one-handed, high finish to a more conventional two-handed finish. He projects as a potential plus hitter with plus power. Winker works counts into his favor and uses the whole field. He pulled 10 of his 16 home runs, but hit four the other way and two to straight center field. His modest athleticism, below-average speed, range and arm strength limits him to left field defensively and he projects as likely below-average there. In a different organization, Winker would potentially end up as a first baseman, but with Joey Votto in Cincinnati, he'll stay in left. Scouts are sold on Winker's hitting ability but question about how athletic he'll be by the time he reaches the big leagues. He's ready for the offensive environment of high Class A Bakersfield.
It's been a wild ride for Rodriguez, who set a then-Venezuelan amateur record with a $2.5 million bonus in 2008. Since then, he's had to grow up on and off the field. He disappointed scouts with inconsistent effort through the first few years of his career. When the Reds sent him back to low Class A Dayton from high Class A Bakersfield in 2012, it served as a wakeup call. Now married and a father, Rodriguez appears to have turned a corner in his maturity. Rodriguez remains still somewhat raw, but he has two present plus tools and three others that project as potentially average. Rodriguez is a 60 runner, has a 60-65 arm that is the system's best and has improved into an average defender in right field. He's not as comfortable in center. Rodriguez has above-average raw power, but his difficulties making contact have limited his production. The biggest question facing him is how much contact he will make. Rodriguez uses the whole field well, but he doesn't barrel the ball consistently, and his pitch recognition needs to improve. Rodriguez justified his place on the 40-man roster with his improvement in 2013. Still just 21, he likely will return to Pensacola, but he could be ready for a September callup. He projects as at least a useful fourth outfielder with the potential to be much more.
Lorenzen threw just 45 innings in college, mainly because he was also a center fielder. But whenever he did pitch the game was likely on the line. Lorenzen appeared as a pitcher 42 times, recording 35 saves (a school record) while going 5-0. Lorenzen was draftable as a center fielder, but he faced concerns about his ability to hit for average, which made him more appealing as a strong-armed righthander. A $1.5 million signing bonus persuaded him to give up hitting. Lorenzen is understandably raw on the mound, but he could move very quickly as a reliever. His 95-99 mph fastball has surprising life considering its velocity. It's a plus-plus pitch, and his 80-83 mph slurve projects as plus as well. While that repertoire has served him well in a relief role, Lorenzen has athleticism, competitiveness and a fresh arm, so the Reds want to see if he can start. For the switch to take, he must improve his below-average changeup, the consistency of his slurve and his command. Lorenzen never threw more than two innings in a game in college, so developing stamina is another issue The Reds sent Lorenzen to the Arizona Fall League to get more innings as a starter. If they stick with the plan to start him, he'll likely need to drop back down to high Class A. Long-term, his most likely role is late-game reliever, potentially as a closer.
Another of a growing line of intriguing short Dominican righthanders the Reds have signed in Johnny Cueto's wake, Contreras' ERA stood at 5.98 four years into his pro career. He's a reminder that it pays to be patient with pitchers with good stuff and poor results, as he's jumped four levels the last two years while posting a 3.36 ERA. He successfully transitioned back to starting this year, allowing two runs or less while working at least five innings in his last seven starts for Double-A Pensacola. Contreras has a plus fastball that generally sits at 92-93 mph as a starter. He's complemented that with a plus changeup for several years, but this year, he also significantly sharpened his breaking ball, which enabled him to finally neutralize righthanded hitters, who had previously had their way with him. Like several other Reds starters, Contreras' arm travels a long way to get to the release point, which has hindered his control. Contreras' future is perched precariously on the edge between the rotation and the bullpen. His improved breaking ball makes a case for a future as a starter, but his shaky control makes it more likely he ends up as a power reliever, albeit one with a brighter future now that his slider is sharper.
As a high school junior, Travieso threw 18 innings as a middle reliever as Archbishop McCarthy High finished No. 1 in the nation. He stepped into the rotation as a senior, helping his team to a fifth-place national finish. The Reds signed him for $2 million, which was $375,000 under the recommended slot. When high school or college pitchers transition to the five-man rotation, the quality of their stuff can suffer under the increased workload, and that has happened to Travieso. He generally has shown solid but unspectacular stuff as a pro. After touching 98 mph and sitting 92-95 in high school, he sat at 92 in 2013, pitching anywhere from 89-95 depending on the day. His slider, which pushed the mid-80s in high school, has suffered a little as well. It's a potentially average pitch, but it sometimes flattens out and lacks the depth it needs. His changeup has improved but still is below-average. His command is advanced for his age, and he does a good job of pitching up and down in the zone to change hitters' eye levels. Though he won't get to make use of his bat for a few years, Travieso is an excellent hitter for a pitcher with surprising power. Unless his stuff picks back up, Travieso is on a trajectory to be a back-end starter or a reliever. He should be ready for high Class A Bakersfield in 2014.
Lively turned down a six-figure bonus as an Indians 26th-round pick in 2010. That was Central Florida's gain, for Lively was a key member of the Knights' rotation all three years. It worked out for Lively as well, when he signed in 2013 for $350,000 as a fourth-round pick. Lively's ability to mix and locate four average or better pitches simply overmatched hitters in the short stints he threw in his first pro season at Rookie-level Billings. The Reds generally limited him to three innings, allowing Lively's 90-95 mph fastball to sit 92-93 with good movement. He keeps the ball down in the zone and keeps hitters off-balance, using an average changeup and curveball and a potentially above-average slider. Part of Lively's success comes from his delivery, which also concerns some scouts. He hides the ball until late in his delivery, but he does so with a long arm stroke and some effort. While Lively had control issues early in his college career, he's thrown strikes consistently as a pro. The Reds found a steal in Tony Cingrani, a lefthander whose less-than-ideal delivery caused him to fall in the 2011 draft but hasn't affected him as a pro. If Lively charts a similar path, the Reds will be thrilled. He's advanced enough to potentially jump to high Class A Bakersfield.
Barnhart's defensive prowess has been noted for years. Scouts first noticed him when he caught Nationals righthander Drew Storen during Barnhart's sophomore year. He developed into one of the nation's best prep defensive catchers thanks in part to his high school coach Patrick O'Neil, a former Rays scout. Barnhart's defense is big league caliber right now. He blocks pitches well, calls a good game and has excellent agility. Thanks to a quick release and a strong arm, he turns in sub-1.9-seconds pop times regularly. He threw out 37 percent of basestealers this year at Double-A Pensacola, which actually is a dip from the 41 percent he has thrown out in his career. At the plate, Barnhart showed better bat control after switching to a shorter, lighter bat, but he's a bottom-of-the-order spray hitter with well-below-average power. Unlike many switch-hitters, Barnhart is a natural lefthanded hitter, and it shows. He's never hit well from the right side, and his career average as a lefthanded hitter is more than 100 points higher. He has yet to hit a hit a home run batting righty. Barnhart is ready for Triple-A Louisville and is a likely candidate to be added to the 40-man roster this winter. His catch-and-throw skills and contact bat profile him as a second-division regular who could have a long career at a valuable defensive spot.
Hitters need to think twice before rushing the mound against Kivel. A mixed-martial arts aficionado in high school, he had much more mat time than mound time when the Reds went well above slot to sign him for $500,000 in 2012, using money they had saved by signing first-rounder Nick Travieso to a discounted deal. Kivel blew out his knee as a high school senior, his first year playing baseball, so he had just six innings of experience when he signed. Not surprisingly, the Reds had plenty of work to do to refine his delivery. He had a tendency to drop his arm slot, but he's now throwing more consistently from a three-quarters delivery. Kivel's stuff ranks among the best in the organization. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph and touches 99. His 80-82 mph slider projects as an average pitch. His changeup has improved, but it's still a long way from being even average. An intriguing lottery ticket, Kivel has the arm to be a front-end starter or a late-inning power reliever. He could begin 2014 in extended spring training or possibly jump to low Class A Dayton.
The Reds added Guillon to the 40-man roster following the 2012 season after he lit up instructional league with a plus fastball and changeup. At the time, they feared some team might take a Rule 5 chance on the southpaw despite his inexperience (just 25 innings in full-season ball). Fast-forward a year and Guillon is the same baffling combination of promise and pratfalls. In one early-season start, he threw 12 balls in his first 13 pitches, bouncing four of them. In another stretch, he walked 15 batters in five innings, showing 20 command and a below-average, mid-80s fastball. Guillon, however, closed the season by going 3-1, 1.34 over his last six starts with vastly improved control, and when he's maintaining his delivery, he works with a 91-96 mph fastball. Guillon's changeup is the best in the system with excellent deception and good late fade. His 11-to-5 curveball improved significantly this year to flash average. His control problems stem in part from a long arm action and a wrap in his takeaway. Guillon will advance to the high Class A Bakersfield rotation in 2014, though ultimately he may settle as a power reliever, where his fastball will play up and his poor control will be mitigated.
Heading into the 2013 season, Corcino appeared to be just a call away at Triple-A Louisville. The Reds thought he might be able to help as a power reliever or emergency starter, thanks to a plus fastball he could cut, run or sink as well as an average slider and changeup. But that possibility seemed to weigh on Corcino. He had a terrible spring as he consistently overthrew and saw his velocity dip from the low 90s to 88-91 mph. That carried over to the season, where Corcino eventually lost his spot in the Louisville rotation. He tinkered with his arm slot, dropping down from the low three-quarters he had used at his best, before eventually bringing his arm back up. That helped his slider regain some depth. Late in the season Corcino started relying more on his sinker than the four-seamer. He at times seemed to forget about using his average changeup as he struggled to throw strikes. Based solely on what he showed in 2013, Corcino is barely a prospect, but pitchers can reverse their fortunes in a hurry with slight changes. The Reds believe Corcino still could be a useful mid-rotation starter or power reliever, though to do so he must demonstrate better control, better velocity and better secondary stuff in his return to Louisville in 2014.
When the Reds moved Arias from third base to center field in 2013, everybody benefitted, from Arias to Reds pitchers to fans sitting behind first base at low Class A Dayton games. That's because he committed 36 errors in 95 games at the hot corner in 2012, 20 of which came on errant throws. Arias never was comfortable in the dirt, and his speed fits much better in the outfield. He's a solid defender in center with a chance to be above-average as he gets more fly balls under his belt. His arm is a tick above-average. Tools-wise, few in the organization can compare with Arias. A 70 runner, he has the ability to turn ground balls into infield hits. At the plate, he has above-average raw power, but he expands his zone too often and can look helpless against a pitcher who can locate his secondary stuff. Even though the move to the outfield jumpstarted Arias' development, the Reds left him off the 40-man roster and thus eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft. Thanks to an elevated strikeout rate, his most likely role may be reserve outfielder with the arm for right and the speed for center.
Bitten by a shark while surfing off the coast of Galveston, Texas, just before he was supposed to sign his contract with the Reds, Rogers has paid back the organization's decision to sign him while he recovered from the 60-stitch wound to his foot. Much like fellow Texas righthander Sam LeCure before him, Rogers has steadily climbed the ladder with solid but unspectacular stuff and plus command. Like LeCure, Rogers' ultimate destination likely is low-leverage relief, in part because his stuff will play up in shorter stints but also because he lacks a quality changeup. He pitches at 88-92 mph, sitting 91 with an average fastball that he can sink, cut or run. He also can manipulate an average slider, throwing it harder or softer depending on the situation. Rogers' changeup clearly is his third-best pitch, a below-average offering he doesn't trust, which makes him vulnerable to lefthanders. Rogers will return to Triple-A Louisville to begin 2014, but he ought to make his big league debut at some point during the season.
Thanks in part to the fact that he was already on the 40-man roster, Lutz made it to Cincinnati in 2013, becoming one of the first German citizens to make it to the big leagues. Lutz's swing, like that of many power hitters, is somewhat high-maintenance. After playing sparingly with the Reds, the rust showed upon his return to Double-A Pensacola, and he missed further time with a broken finger. Lutz's swing has a pronounced waggle as he prepares for the load, but he generates excellent bat speed, which helps make up for the mechanical flaw. He's turned high-90s fastballs into home runs with plus raw power. Lutz always has struggled to hit lefthanders and projects as a slightly below-average hitter at best. He's an average runner even at 250 pounds but below-average in left field and at first base, with a below-average arm. He's ready for Triple-A Louisville but would be better off not spending too much of 2014 on the Cincinnati bench.
Signed for $730,000 after he impressed scouts at the International Prospect League all-star game in January 2013, Constante isn't the typical big-money Dominican signee, namely because he was about to turn 19 at the time he signed. By signing in February, Constante didn't count against the Reds' tiny international bonus-pool allocation for 2013. Constante's contract carried an assurance that he would spend the season in the Dominican Summer League, so he spent his time toying with younger, less advanced hitters. With a 91-94 mph fastball with excellent life and a biting slider that could end up as a plus pitch, Constante rarely was squared up in the DSL. He throws a rudimentary, low-80s changeup that he doesn't locate yet, partly because he hasn't had a need to use it much. Constante struggled to throw strikes in 2013 in part because of the life on his fastball, though his loose, quick arm and clean delivery don't foretell significant control problems. He'll be ready to make his U.S. debut in 2014.
The scouting report on Garrett hasn't changed much since he signed for $1 million out of high school in 2011. He's a long-limbed lefty with a great arm who needs a lot of innings. Garrett didn't even play baseball as a senior, as he focused primarily on his basketball career, which has taken him to Cal State Northridge after two years at St. John's. His hoops career has limited his time on the mound to short bursts, which is evident in Garrett's inconsistent control. He'll paint the corner on one pitch, then bounce his next two fastballs. His velocity also wavers as he struggles to repeat his delivery. His fastball ranges from 89-95 mph and plays as plus when he locates it. His breaking ball has morphed from a slider into a curveball. It can be an average pitch when he throws it for strikes, but he doesn't control it well. Garrett's changeup has promise as he throws it with good arm speed, but he has no feel for locating it yet. His chance to advance depends on him giving up his basketball career, but until he does that, he'll be on the slow track through Class A.
A fine high school quarterback, Stephens led the Oxford High baseball team to the Alabama 6A state title with his bat as much as his pitching. He decided to put away his third baseman's mitt after being drafted, turning down a scholarship to play both ways at Alabama to sign with the Reds for $100,000. Held back in extended spring until June, Stephens quickly has established himself as one of the more polished young pitchers in the organization, but one who also has solid stuff. His fastball has gained a tick since he signed. He now sits 91-92 mph and touches 95, pairing his fastball with an average curveball and slider. He can throw all three for strikes, though sometimes he catches more of the zone than he should. Stephens' biggest weakness is a below-average changeup, which explains why he struggles mightily against lefties--they hit .379/.434/.558 at low Class A Dayton in 2013. If Stephens can improve his changeup, he projects as a useful No. 4 or 5 starter. He'll try to earn a trip to Bakersfield in 2014.
One of the toolsier players in the Reds system, Reynoso appeared set to leap into prospect prominence after a solid season in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2012. Instead, he struggled at the plate in an injury-shortened stint with Rookie-level Billings before being shut down to have minor knee surgery to repair cartilage damage. Reynoso still has very loud tools. He's a plus runner who showed off his speed in 2013 with a sub-15-seconds inside-the-park home run. He's quickened his release, allowing his above-average arm to become more of a factor in the outfield. Defensively, he's solid in center field or right, though his ultimate position likely will depend on how much more weight he adds to his large frame. Reynoso has a picture-perfect swing that is simple and direct to the ball, but it hasn't mattered because he consistently sets his hands to hit too late. In instructional league, the Reds tweaked Reynoso's flat-footed stance, opening him up so he has to incorporate a small step as part of his setup. He will head to low Class A Dayton in 2014.
One of the stars of Arizona's 2012 College World Series championship team, Mejias-Brean always has impressed with his defense at third base and his ability to hit. Scouts, however, were turned off by his lack of power production in college; he hit two home runs in three seasons. That hasn't been a problem as a pro. Mejias-Brean is now taller at the plate than he was in college, and as a result he uses his legs more, turning from a spray hitter into someone who can drive the ball to all fields. Some scouts still worry that his rock-lean-and-waggle set-up won't allow him to hit for average. Because he played at low Class A Dayton with Tanner Rahier, Mejias-Brean played a good bit of first base, but he's solid-average at third with a solid-average arm. Cincinnati tried him behind the plate in instructional league, but they quickly scrapped that plan. With Rahier ticketed to return to Dayton, Mejias-Brean ought to play third more consistently at high Class A Bakersfield in 2014. In the long term, he projects as a useful backup corner infielder who provides solid defense.
With power becoming harder and harder to find, the Reds were willing to pay a premium to land Franklin, one of the better prep power hitters in the 2013 draft. Despite hitting only one home run in his pro debut, Franklin has above-average power potential thanks to strength in his swing. AZL pitchers quickly discovered that he was helpless against fastballs just off the outer half or any breaking ball. Defensively, he moves pretty well for a 220-pounder, but he will have to work hard if he wants to stay at third. His hands are soft on the balls he gets to and his arm has above-average strength, though it lacks accuracy. He had 20 errors in 46 games. In another organization, Franklin most likely would end up at first base, but Joey Votto's presence means that, despite below-average speed, a corner-outfield position is the fallback option. Franklin probably will stay back in extended spring training before heading to Rookie-level Billings in 2014.
If one sought the unluckiest pitcher in the minors in 2013, Moscot would have a compelling case. Pitching for a woeful high Class A Bakersfield team, he earned an 0-3 start with a 7.36 ERA in April. But from the start of May to the end of July, Moscot was very reliable, posting a 4.27 ERA while working at least five innings in 15 of 18 starts. His reward: A 2-14 record at the time of his promotion to Double-A Pensacola. Moscot improved his pitch sequences as the season progressed, learning when to double up on his breaking ball and when to mix his pitches. He works with three average pitches--a 91-93 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. Moscot finishes his delivery with an arm recoil, but he's proven to be durable. Even if he returns to Pensacola in April, Moscot could reach Triple-A Louisville at some point this year.
Signed for $110,000 in January 2011, Aquino was the story of extended spring training last year as he launched home run after home run. The same power didn't show didn't show up in games at first, but after a slow start, Aquino wound up leading the Rookie-level Arizona League with 25 extra-base hits. At the plate, he has significant power potential. He chases too many breaking balls, but the Reds are impressed with how he studies the game. He analyzes not only his own at-bats, showing the ability to make in-game adjustments, but also those of his teammates. A long-legged outfielder who has the frame to carry plenty of good weight once he matures, Aquino is an average defender in right field with a well above-average arm. He led the AZL with 10 assists. He's an average runner who likely will slow as he gets bigger. Aquino likely will return to Rookie-level Billings in 2014, though a jump to low Class A Dayton isn't out of the question.
Romano has spent his pro career trying to catch up. The Connecticut native, like many Northeastern pitchers, had fewer innings under his belt when he signed with the Reds for $450,000. His delivery also has him playing catch up, as Romano's tendency to break his hands late leaves his arm trailing behind his lower half, forcing him to hurry his arm to get it to his release point on time. That has led to problems locating his stuff. Romano needs to firm up his big frame and clean up his delivery, but at his best he can pound the zone with a 90-93 mph fastball that has excellent downhill plane and good life. He also throws a promising curveball that could end up as an average pitch. His changeup is much too firm currently, which helps explain why lefties hit .318/.397/.453 against him at low Class A Dayton in 2013. Romano's big frame and strong legs are what scouts look for in a durable pitcher who can eat innings. He made every scheduled start in 2013, and he will look to do the same at high Class A Bakersfield in 2014.
As an organization that generally has stuck to slot recommendations for first-round picks, the Reds have been willing to get creative to acquire talent. That includes trading for Rule 5 pick Josh Hamilton in 2006, spending big for Cuban flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman in 2010 and taking a flier on former New York Giants safety Chad Jones in the 2013 draft. The Reds opened up another avenue by going south of the border to sign Elizalde, whom they spotted during a summer scouting trip to Mexico. He had little trouble keeping his head above water in the Mexican League, as the 22-year-old had played parts of four seasons with Monterrey, hitting .301 as a part-timer. Soon after signing, though, he had Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for 2013. Elizalde is a plus runner (6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash) and solid center fielder. It's hard to project his arm until he's throwing again post-surgery. He projects as a lefty-hitting leadoff hitter with an average or better feel to hit and below-average power, though like many young players, he'll need to improve his plate discipline. Elizalde will start his Reds career at Class A, either at Dayton or Bakersfield.
A 2013 season that began poorly ended in equally awful form for Rahier. He posted a sub-.200 on-base percentage in both April and August, ruining a season where he showed flashes of competence at the plate and plenty of promise in the field. A high school shortstop, Rahier is an above-average defender with excellent range at third base and an accurate arm with above-average arm strength. The Reds felt comfortable enough with his defense to slide him back to shortstop as an emergency fill-in. A tick-below-average runner, Rahier has much more work to do at the plate. He has yet to tone down a pull-happy approach that leaves him vulnerable to pitches away. Only one extra-base hit in 2013--and zero of seven homers--went to right field. Rahier also struggles with his timing, which leads to difficulty squaring up the ball. He has average power potential with leverage in his swing, but he needs a better plan at the plate to have a chance to unlock it. Rahier needs to repeat low Class A Dayton to prove he can hit.
Yet another example of a starter who turned into a prospect after a move to the bullpen, Partch, along with fellow hard-throwing righthander Josh Ravin, earned himself a spot on the 40-man roster following the 2012 season after showcasing a plus-plus fastball in the Arizona Fall League. Ravin's control problems led the Reds to waive him during the 2013 season, but Partch parlayed his new status into his big league debut, though a lack of command led to some rough mop-up outings. With a 94-97 mph fastball, Partch doesn't have to paint the black, but he'll have to improve his ability to work down in the zone. He gave up six home runs over the course of four straight big league outings because he kept missing up in the zone. Considering his 6-foot-2 height, he needs to get more downhill plane on his fastball. At his best, Partch mixes a plus fastball and slider that flashes plus. When he stays on top of his slider, it shows good tilt and bite, handcuffing hitters. He has toyed with adding a cutter, because his changeup isn't good enough to keep lefthanders honest. Partch has the stuff to pitch the seventh or eighth inning in the big leagues, but he'll need to fine-tune his command at Triple-A Louisville first.
The Reds have scouted the Cuban-defector market extensively, signing Aroldis Chapman to a massive deal and landing complementary pieces such as outfielder Felix Perez, who finished 2013 at Triple-A Louisville. Medina more resembles Perez than Chapman in both the size of his deal ($400,000) and his impact potential. Before leaving Cuba in 2011, he played for the Cuba youth national team, including the 16U squad that went to the World Championships in Taiwan in 2009. Medina performed well there, hitting .444/.516/.852. If it all comes together, he's an above-average runner with above-average power from the left side of the plate. His swing is simple and leveraged, featuring a quiet setup and a closed front foot, but it also has some length to go with solid bat speed. Like many young hitters, Medina must improve his pitch selection. Defensively, he has the tools to be a solid-average corner outfielder, though his average arm always will be stretched in right. He could join a crowded outfield rotation at low Class A Dayton in 2014.
A year ago, Langfield seemed to be following a somewhat similar trajectory as lefthander Tony Cingrani. Like Cingrani, he was a college pitcher the Reds drafted in the third round after falling because of concerns about his delivery. Langfield had a loud pro debut, going 3-0, 2.68 with 54 strikeouts in 37 innings while showing plus stuff at Rookie-level Billing in 2012. The similarities with Cingrani ended in 2013 when Langfield battled a shoulder injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the entire season. He had not recovered enough to pitch in instructional league, so the Reds won't really know until 2014 if he can regain his pre-surgery stuff. Before the injury, Langfield had a 93-97 mph fastball, a hard slider that could end up as a second plus pitch and a fringy changeup and curveball that flash average at times. His delivery through college involved effort and recoil, and while he had toned down his motion with the Reds, it will remain a concern until he once again throws free and easy off the mound.