2012 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. Devin Mesoraco, c
2. Billy Hamilton, ss
3. Yonder Alonso, 1b/of
4. Yasmani Grandal, c
5. Zack Cozart, ss
6. Daniel Corcino, rhp
7. Robert Stephenson, rhp
8. DiDi Gregorius, ss
9. Todd Frazier, 3b/1b/of
10. Brad Boxberger, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Yonder Alonso
Best Power Hitter Neftali Soto
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Yonder Alonso
Fastest Baserunner Billy Hamilton
Best Athlete Billy Hamilton
Best Fastball Daniel Corcino
Best Curveball J.C. Sulbaran
Best Slider Tim Crabbe
Best Changeup Daniel Renken
Best Control Justice French
Best Defensive Catcher Tucker Barnhart
Best Defensive Infielder Didi Gregorius
Best Infield Arm Didi Gregorius
Best Defensive Outfielder Ryan LaMarre
Best Outfield Arm Yorman Rodriguez
Catcher Devin Mesoraco
First Base Joey Votto
Second Base Billy Hamilton
Third Base Todd Frazier
Shortstop Zack Cozart
Left Field Yonder Alonso
Center Field Drew Stubbs
Right Field Jay Bruce
No. 1 Starter Johnny Cueto
No. 2 Starter Aroldis Chapman
No. 3 Starter Homer Bailey
No. 4 Starter Daniel Corcino
No. 5 Starter Mike Leake
Closer Brad Boxberger
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Austin Kearns, of Indians
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
2011 Aroldis Chapman, lhp Reds
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Chris Gruler, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Ryan Wagner, rhp Out of baseball
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
2010 Yasmani Grandal, c Reds
2011 Robert Stephenson, rhp 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

In 2010, the Reds took advantage of one of the weakest divisions in baseball to earn their first playoff appearance in 15 years. But after an offseason in which it stood pat and their two top competitors improved, Cincinnati found itself back in a familiar position—third place, with a record four games under .500.

For the 10th time in 11 years, the Reds finished with a losing record. That disappointing performance left Cincinnati with a difficult question to ponder throughout the winter:

Was it just a setback, or is this a team that's best work already is behind it?

The Reds have little choice but to believe that 2011 was the fluke. The core of their team is under contract for 2012 and they once again will have little salary flexibility to make significant additions. If they're to compete with the Brewers and Cardinals, they'll have to make trades or improve from within.

The main culprit for the downturn was the pitching staff. Cincinnati finished second in the National League in scoring but dropped to 12th in runs allowed after ranking seventh in 2010. Bronson Arroyo allowed a club-record 46 homers, while Edinson Volquez (acquired in a 2009 trade for Josh Hamilton) ranked last among NL pitchers with at least 100 innings with a 5.71 ERA.

While the Reds have one of baseball's better farm systems, they don't have pitching reinforcements available to step in. Their best mound prospect, Daniel Corcino, hasn't pitched above low Class A. Their second-best, 2011 first-round choice Robert Stephenson, is a teenager who has yet to make his pro debut.

By contrast, Cincinnati has more big league-ready position prospects than it has open spots in the lineup. Devin Mesoraco is ready to take over as the team's primary catcher with Ramon Hernandez departing via free agency, but Yonder Alonso may still be on the outside looking in despite posting a .943 OPS in 88 late-season at-bats. His best position is first base, currently occupied by 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto, and Alonso has yet to prove he could handle left field or third base.

If Zack Cozart is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow, he should be the Reds' starting shortstop—though they waited three months to call him up in 2011 despite having problems at the position. Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco have nothing left to prove in Triple-A but once again will serve as backups to oft-injured Scott Rolen at third base, with Frazier possibly getting time in left field as well.

Mesoraco (2007) and Alonso (2008) continue a strong run of Cincinnati first-round picks that's even more impressive considering the team usually heeds MLB's bonus recommendations. The Reds' other first-rounders form 2004 through 2009 (Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Mike Leake) already are fixtures on the big league club, and catcher Yasmani Grandal (2010) is progressing nicely in the minors.

Cincinnati has been more aggressive in the last two drafts, further fortifying its strong system. The Reds gave Grandal a $3.2 million major league contract as the No. 12 pick and Stephenson a $2 million bonus at No. 27. They also went over slot for several intriguing later-round selections, most notably third baseman Gabriel Rosa, lefthander Amir Garrett and outfielder Kyle Waldrop.

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