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. Todd Frazier, of/2b/3b
2. Yonder Alonso, 1b
3. Mike Leake, rhp
4. Chris Heisey, of
5. Juan Francisco, 3b
6. Yorman Rodriguez, of
7. Travis Wood, lhp
8. Matt Maloney, lhp
9. Brad Boxberger, rhp
10. Zack Cozart, ss
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 Brad Boxberger
Best Curveball Mike Leake
Best Slider Mark Serrano
Best Changeup Travis Wood
Best Control Matt Maloney
Best Defensive Catcher Chris McMurray
Best Defensive Infielder Miguel Rojas
Best Infield Arm Juan Francisco
Best Defensive Outfielder David Sappelt
Best Outfield Arm Yorman Rodriguez
Catcher Ryan Hannigan
First Base Yonder Alonso
Second Base Brandon Phillips
Third Base Todd Frazier
Shortstop Zack Cozart
Left Field Joey Votto
Center Field Drew Stubbs
Right Field Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Johnny Cueto
No. 2 Starter Homer Bailey
No. 3 Starter Mike Leake
No. 4 Starter Aaron Harang
No. 5 Starter Bronson Arroyo
Closer Brad Boxberger
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Gookie Dawkins, ss Marlins
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
2009 Yonder Alonso, 1b Reds
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 David Espinosa, ss Mariners
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
2009 Mike Leake, rhp Reds
Chris Gruler, 2002 $2,500,000
Yorman Rodriguez, 2008 $2,500,000
Homer Bailey, 2004 $2,300,000
Mike Leake, 2009 $2,270,000
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 Reds have been in rebuilding mode for a decade, even if they didn't always realize it.

Cincinnati hasn't finished with a winning record since 2000, though it's hard to pinpoint a time at which the club truly cashed in and planned for tomorrow. A fallow farm system in the first half of the decade made it almost impossible to build from within. Even now that the system has started to produce players, the Reds have continued to teeter in the no-man's land between being competitive and building for the future.

It was much the same story in 2009. On July 4, the Reds sat a game above .500 and two games out of first place in the National League Central. For a moment, it appeared the Reds would be a part of a pennant race for the first time since Barry Larkin was their shortstop.

But it was just a mirage. Edinson Volquez went down in early July with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Jay Bruce broke his wrist in the middle of the month, and Chris Dickerson was lost soon afterward with back spasms. The team quickly fell apart, going 8-19 in July to drop to 10 games out of first place.

Owner Bob Castellini wants to see a winner sooner than later, so instead of being sellers at the trade deadline, Cincinnati decided to buy. The Reds traded their top pitching prospect (Zach Stewart) and their best relief pitching prospect (Josh Roenicke) to upgrade from 26-year-old Edwin Encarnacion to 34-year-old Scott Rolen at third base. The move was intended to bring a veteran bat and leadership, but it required a steep price in prospects to bring in Rolen and get the Blue Jays to pay the remainder of his 2009 salary.

Predictably, the trade did nothing to turn around Cincinnati's season. The Reds finished 13 games behind the Cardinals, something they could have done without Rolen.

But more importantly, the addition of the veteran third baseman strained the team's already tight budget. Cincinnati has $59.25 million committed to seven players (including Rolen's $11 million) for 2010—even though the team was expected to cut up to $5 million from its $71 million payroll.

That means that there is little choice but to look to the farm system to fill several glaring holes.

While they weren't rebuilding, the Reds did try out 17 rookies in 2009 thanks to injuries and necessity. Veterans Ramon Hernandez and Willy Tavares were expensive busts, so Ryan Hanigan and Drew Stubbs had displaced them by season's end. Paul Janish and Adam Rosales got most of the playing time on the left side of the infield, with less success. Despite that, Janish headed into the offseason as the favorite to be the team's 2010 shortstop because of his steady glove.

The most important development was the apparent breakthrough of Homer Bailey, who ranked No. 1 on this list in 2005-07 but had trouble making the jump to the majors. He went 4-1, 2.08 over his final seven big league starts to secure a spot in the Reds' 2010 rotation.

With Bruce, Stubbs and Joey Votto forming the core of the lineup, and Bailey and Johnny Cueto headlining the pitching staff, Cincinnati has a good nucleus to build around. But with an owner and a fan base itching to move past a decade of losing and a surplus of prospects at already-occupied positions, the Reds seemed poised to dispense their prospects in trades to make a push in 2010 rather than build a long-term foundation from within.

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