Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects

Cincinnati Reds

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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J.J. Cooper
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1. Yonder Alonso, 1b
2. Todd Frazier, ss/1b/3b
3. Drew Stubbs, of
4. Chris Valaika, ss
5. Yorman Rodriguez, of
6. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp
7. Neftali Soto, 3b
8. Juan Francisco, 3b
9. Juan Duran, of
10. Devin Mesoraco, c
Best Hitter for Average Yonder Alonso
Best Power Hitter Juan Francisco
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Yonder Alonso
Fastest Baserunner Theodis Bowe
Best Athlete Yorman Rodriguez
Best Fastball Josh Roenicke
Best Curveball Kyle Lotzkar
Best Slider Jordan Smith
Best Changeup Ramon Ramirez
Best Control Robert Manuel
Best Defensive Catcher Ryan Hannigan
Best Defensive Infielder Zach Cozart
Best Infield Arm Juan Francisco
Best Defensive Outfielder Drew Stubbs
Best Outfield Arm Yorman Rodriguez
Catcher Devin Mesoraco
First Base Yonder Alonso
Second Base Brandon Phillips
Third Base Todd Frazier
Shortstop Chris Valaika
Left Field Joey Votto
Center Field Drew Stubbs
Right Field Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Edinson Volquez
No. 2 Starter Johnny Cueto
No. 3 Starter Aaron Harang
No. 4 Starter Bronson Arroyo
No. 5 Starter Homer Bailey
Closer Francisco Cordero
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Rob Bell, rhp White Sox
2000 Gookie Dawkins, ss Royals
2001 Austin Kearns, of Nationals
2002 Austin Kearns, of Nationals
2003 Chris Gruler, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Ryan Wagner, rhp Nationals
2005 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2006 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2007 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2008 Jay Bruce, of Reds
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Ty Howington, lhp Out of baseball
2000 David Espinosa, ss Camden (Atlantic)
2001 *Jeremy Sowers, lhp Indians
2002 Chris Gruler, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Ryan Wagner, rhp Nationals
2004 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2005 Jay Bruce, of Reds
2006 Drew Stubbs, of Reds
2007 Devin Mesoraco, c Reds
2008 Yonder Alonso, 1b Reds
* Did not sign
Chris Gruler, 2002 $2,500,000
Yorman Rodriguez, 2008 $2,500,000
Homer Bailey, 2004 $2,300,000
Drew Stubbs, 2006 $2,000,000
Juan Duran, 2008 $2,000,000
Yonder Alonso, 2008 $2,000,000
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Cincinnati Reds

The minute Walt Jocketty was added as a special adviser to Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini in early 2008, the running assumption was that the former Cardinals general manager eventually would take over the same job in Cincinnati.

What was surprising was how quickly that happened.

Just 21 games into the season, Castellini pulled the trigger, firing Wayne Krivsky and turning the franchise over to Jocketty, who had won six division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series title in St. Louis. Krivsky could argue that he got dumped just when some of his handiwork was starting to pay off.

The Reds were a disappointing 9-12, but rookie Johnny Cueto had turned in three quality starts in four outings, an auspicious beginning for a team that had spent nearly a decade trying to produce a homegrown starting pitcher. Edinson Volquez, acquired by Krivsky in an offseason trade for Josh Hamilton, had allowed three runs in four starts. He finished the season with a 3.21 ERA—the best by a Cincinnati starter since Elmer Dessens in 2002. Joey Votto had taken over at first base and Jay Bruce could have done the same in right field but had to wait until late May for a callup.

The Reds finished the year at 74-88, a two-win improvement over 2007 but their eighth consecutive losing season and their 13th straight without reaching the playoffs. Jocketty traded away pending free agents Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr., who had been the cornerstones of the team for much of the decade. The youth movement continued with center fielder Chris Dickerson and catcher Ryan Hanigan making cases for everyday jobs by playing regularly and playing well down the stretch.

For a club that spent the early part of the decade getting little or no help from the farm, it was an encouraging sign. Partly in recognition of the system's success, Jocketty retained Krivsky's farm director, Terry Reynolds, and scouting director, Chris Buckley.

Cincinnati is in limbo as it prepares for 2009. On one hand, the development of Bruce, Cueto, Volquez and Votto gives the Reds a solid young nucleus to build around. But on the other hand, their offense ranked 12th and their pitching staff 13th in the National League last year.

Any significant improvements will have to come from within than from player acquisitions, as they're unlikely to make a big splash like Krivsky did the previous offseason when he signed Francisco Cordero to a $46 million contract.

One thing that would help is if righthander Homer Bailey made good on his potential. The seventh overall pick in 2004 has been bombed in five big league stints over the past two years, and his stuff, command and confidence all went backward last season. The Reds reportedly have shopped him to other clubs, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

The farm system won't be able to produce as much quality in 2009 as it did last year, when Bruce, Bailey, Votto and Cueto graduated to the majors from the first four spots on this list. But their Triple-A Louisville and Double-A Carolina affiliates should be stocked with potential big league contributors, giving the Reds improved depth if injuries crop up during the season.

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