Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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J.J. Cooper
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1. Aroldis Chapman, lhp
2. Billy Hamilton, ss/2b
3. Devin Mesoraco, c
4. Yonder Alonso, 1b/of
5. Yorman Rodriguez, of
6. Yasmani Grandal, c
7. Juan Francisco, 3b
8. Zack Cozart, ss
9. Todd Frazier, of/3b/1b
10. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Yonder Alonso
Best Power Hitter Juan Francisco
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Yonder Alonso
Fastest Baserunner Billy Hamilton
Best Athlete Billy Hamilton
Best Fastball Aroldis Chapman
Best Curveball Kyle Lotzkar
Best Slider Aroldis Chapman
Best Changeup Ismael Guillon
Best Control Kyle Lotzkar
Best Defensive Catcher Yasmani Grandal
Best Defensive Infielder Miguel Rojas
Best Infield Arm Juan Francisco
Best Defensive Outfielder Ryan LaMarre
Best Outfield Arm Yorman Rodriguez
Catcher Devin Mesoraco
First Base Joey Votto
Second Base Billy Hamilton
Third Base Juan Francisco
Shortstop Zack Cozart
Left Field Yorman Rodriguez
Center Field Drew Stubbs
Right Field Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Johnny Cueto
No. 2 Starter Edinson Volquez
No. 3 Starter Homer Bailey
No. 4 Starter Mike Leake
No. 5 Starter Travis Wood
Closer Aroldis Chapman
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Austin Kearns, of Yankees
2002 Austin Kearns, of Yankees
2003 Chris Gruler, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Ryan Wagner, rhp Out of baseball
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
2010 Todd Frazier, 3b/of Reds
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 *Jeremy Sowers, lhp Indians
2002 Chris Gruler, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Ryan Wagner, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Homer Bailey, rhp Reds
2005 Jay Bruce, of
2006 Drew Stubbs, of Reds
2007 Devin Mesoraco, c Reds
2008 Yonder Alonso, 1b Reds
2009 Mike Leake, rhp Reds
2010 Yasmani Grandal, c Reds
Aroldis Chapman, 2010 $16,250,000
Chris Gruler, 2002 $2,500,000
Yorman Rodriguez, 2008 $2,500,000
Homer Bailey, 2004 $2,300,000
Mike Leake, 2009 $2,270,000
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Cincinnati Reds

The future finally arrived.

After nine years of losing records, the youth movement that had been building in Cincinnati paid off in 2010. Despite an Opening Day payroll of $71.8 million that put them near the bottom of baseball's middle class, the Reds returned to the playoffs by winning the National League Central. The Phillies swept them in the Division Series, but simply making the postseason was an accomplishment for a team that has made only three playoff trips since 1980.

Like the rest of baseball's middle class, Cincinnati's hopes rest on its ability to develop homegrown talent. Before the 2007 season, Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Drew Stubbs and Travis Wood occupied the first six spots on our Reds' prospect list. In 2010, Votto became the NL MVP; Bailey, Cueto and Wood all pitched in the major league rotation; and Bruce and Stubbs formed two-thirds of the starting outfield as the Reds won 91 games.

Now Cincinnati has to prove it can build on success. The team appears to be built to remain in playoff contention, and it goes into 2011 with a surplus of starting pitching, a lineup relatively set at six positions and plenty of candidates for the other two spots.

The Reds also will head into the upcoming season with Aroldis Chapman poised as a top rookie-of-the-year candidate, either as the hardest-throwing reliever in baseball or as a fireballing starter. Signed to a $30.25 million contract, the Cuban defector took the baseball world by storm when he made his major league debut last August. In September, he threw the fastest pitch ever recorded, at 105.1 mph.

Behind its stars, Cincinnati also has developed solid depth. Its Triple-A Louisville affiliate, for example, fielded solid prospects at most every position by the end of 2010. The newfound pitching depth is especially good news for an organization that went more than a decade without developing a reliable starter. The Reds got 97 starts from homegrown pitchers in 2010, and four of them—Bailey, Cueto, Wood and Mike Leake—were 24 or younger.

Cincinnati further added to its stock of prospects with a solid 2010 draft in which it was more aggressive than usual. The Reds gave catcher Yasmani Grandal, their first-round pick, a major league contract worth $3.2 million and also went over slot to sign high schoolers Drew Cisco and Kyle Waldrop.

At the minor league level, not all the news was good. When the Myrtle Beach Pelicans swapped their high Class A affiliation from the Braves to the Rangers, it led Lynchburg to shift from the Reds to the Braves. With no other options, Cincinnati was left with Bakersfield in the California League. Many teams try to avoid the Cal League because it's a difficult one for pitchers, and Eastern teams in particular prefer to be closer to their affiliates.

The Bakersfield situation is particularly bad. The stadium is considered by many to be the worst in the minors and doesn't meet Minor League Baseball's facility standards. Several Cal League managers have called the park's infield unfit for professional baseball, and league officials have said publicly that they're trying to get the team moved elsewhere.

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