Farmers Only: Futures Games preview

With the Reds Futures Games happening in Zebulon tonight and Dayton tomorrow, we at Red Reporter decided to take a look at the roster for the futures team to kick off the Farmers Only reports for this season.  For those of you not familiar with our Farmers Only feature, it's basically a nightly recap of the minor league action by the Reds farm system (hence, the name "Farmers Only").  Those of you in the Cincinnati area are probably familiar with the origin of the name, but for those who aren't, here's a local commercial that plays pretty frequently during Reds broadcasts:

 

So, yeah.  Now that that's out of the way, let's run down the roster, along with brief introductions, John Sickels' letter grade (available in his excellent Baseball Prospect Book), and projected level to start the season:

  • Yonder Alonso, 1B - Top prospect in the system, being the 7th overall pick in 2008.  Should be on the fast track to the majors, and has the best plate discipline in the system.  Sickels grade: B+  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Dallas Buck, RHP - Buck came over from Arizona as the main prospect in the Adam Dunn deal, but has battled injury problems (Tommy John surgery in 2007).  He had a solid season last year coming off his surgery in South Bend (A) and Sarasota (A+), and is expected to be even better this year.  Sickels grade: C+  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Zach Cozart, SS - Zach is known as one of the few defensive wizards in the system, which is a breath of fresh air in a system that has recently drafted a lot of shortstops and converted them to corner infielders and outfielders.  He's not known as a great offensive force, but had a solid year in Dayton last year.  Sickels grade:Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Misael DeJesus, RHP - DeJesus had a solid year last year, except for one dreadful spot start in Chattanooga.  In Sarasota, he had 110 Ks in 99 innings, but he'll probably come out of the bullpen this season.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Chris Denove, C - Denove's name may be familiar from Spring Training this year.  He didn't do much there, going 1 for 6 with a double.  He's a former 32nd round pick who was medoicre at the plate last season.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Danny Dorn, OF - Another 32nd round pick, but had a much better season at the plate.  Dorn's name is becoming one of the most talked about sleepers in the Reds system.  He's not known as a defensive whiz, but his bat could be a force to be reckoned with if he can keep up his current level of production.    Oh yeah, and he has his own blog, which is pretty interesting.  Sickels grade: C+  Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Carlos Fisher, RHP - Carlos pitched pretty well in his 5 innings of spring training ball this year, giving up 2 runs and striking out 7.  Also, he's a sinkerballer, which could come in handy in GABP someday.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Juan Francisco, 3B - El Nino Destructor!  Only 21, he feasted on Florida State League pitching last year, hitting 23 bombs.  Look for him to keep that up in AA this year, and could be future at 3B if he keeps hitting.  He's also known for dominating the Dominican Winter League and eating children. Sickels grade: C+  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Todd Frazier, SS/IF/OF - Voted the Red Reporter #3 prospect, he already has the bat to hit in the big leagues.  However, his range at SS leaves something to be desired, and a switch to 3B or OF seems likely.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Ramon Geronimo, RHP - An under-the-radar guy to be sure, in his two minor league seasons has posted an ERA of 2.19 in A+ and AA.  It's never a bad thing to have a surplus of solid bullpen arms.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Aguido Gonzalez, LHP - In his first year in the minors last year, Aguido went 4-0 with an 0.98 ERA between 3 levels.  If he can pick up right where he left off, he could be an interesting guy to watch.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Chris Heisey, OF - Put up strong offensive numbers last year between A+ and AA, but needs to do something to separate himself from the pack of guys ahead of him at this point (Dorn, Stubbs, Cumberland).  Sickels grade: C+ Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Sean Henry, OF - Another solid minor league outfielder.  He put up an .816 OPS in Chattanooga last year, making me think that he's earned a shot at AA. Sickels grade: C+  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Danny Ray Herrera, LHP - Lefty Smurf had a hell of a spring, retiring 26 of the 30 batters he faced.  His story is pretty well-known by now; 5'6" left-hander who throws an 85mph fastball, great changeup, and a screwball.  We like him a lot hereSickels grade:Projected level: MLB (Cincinnati)
  • Robert Manuel, RHP - Ultimately, to most Reds fans, he's "the guy we got for Sean Casey".  He had a great year at Chattanooga though, putting up a 1.40 ERA (!) in 77 innings.  he had a terrible spring with the big club, giving up 8 ER in 2 innings.  Sickels grade: C+  Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Devin Mesoraco, C - First rounder in 2007. Disappointing so far, although last year in Dayton, coined a new term for Farmers Only by going 1-for-4 so many times, it's called "pulling a Mesoraco".  The Reds have a lot invested in this kid, so they're going to need to keep pushing him up the system.  Sickels grade:Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Curtis Partsch, RHP - A tall starter at 6'5", pitched well out of the bullpen last year, but struggled as a starter.  Hasn't done much to establish himself as a legit MLB prospect, but may get that chance this year.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Yorman Rodriguez, OF - A 16 year old signing from Venezuela, he signed for $2.5M, the largest signing bonus ever given to a Venezuelan player.  Along with Juan Duran, he's living evidence to the Reds commitment to find international talent, especially in Latin America.  Prototypical 5-tool guy, it'll be interesting to watch this guy develop.  Sickels grade:Projected level: Rookie (GCL Reds)
  • Josh Roenicke, RHP - Josh has closer stuff, but hasn't been able to put it together at the big league level yet.  After a great season in AAA last year, he came up and didn't impress.  Still, he's got the stuff to be a force in the Cincinnati bullpen for a long time, and will definitely get more chances to prove himself this year.  Sickels grade: B-  Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Jordan Smith, RHP - After a stellar 2007 in Dayton, picked up right where he left off in Sarasota last season, earning a midseason callup to AA.  Should get another chance to prove himself there this year, and will be starting Saturday's game in Dayton.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Neftali Soto, 3B - Neftali is the #2 rated prospect in the Reds system, according to RR.  Makes a lot of contact, but hasn't hit for much power, but that should come.  Sickels grade:Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Zach Stewart, RHP - Another future closer.  As a 3rd round pick last year, put up a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings between Dayton and Sarasota. Only 16.2 innings in Sarasota last year leads me to believe he'll probably start the season there, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him move up the system pretty quickly. Sickels grade: B-  Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Drew Stubbs, CF - As obc will tell you, he'll never be as good to some Reds fans as Tim Lincecum, who the Reds passed on to get him, but that doesn't mean Stubbs won't become a great everyday outfielder for the Reds.  He doesn't hit for much power, but he can provide a high average and speed on the basepaths with Gold Glove caliber defense in CF.  Sickels grade: B-  Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Craig Tatum, C - He'll be Louisville's starting catcher, replacing Hanigan in that role this season.  He doesn't have much of a bat, but is an excellent defensive catcher.  He actually had a nice spring, contrary to his minor league offensive numbers, posting a 1.240 OPS (!) and driving in 8 runs in 14 ABs.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Mace Thurman, LHP - To be honest, I don't know much about Mace, other than he throws left-handed and he has a cool name.  In his rookie season last year, posted a 2.97 ERA between Billings and Dayton, and will probably get a shot in the Sarasota bullpen this year.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: A+ (Sarasota)
  • Chris Valaika, IF - A shortstop by trade, Chris is another guy who isn't projected to stick there, instead being better suited for 2B or 3B.  Wherever he plays, however, his bat is legit.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette, LHP - Canadian left-handed reliever.  Did okay in Sarasota last year, but not spectacular, and has been in the system since 2004.  Sickels grade: NR  Projected level: AA (Carolina)
  • Pedro Viola, LHP - Has the stuff, but hasn't put up the numbers.  There's been talk of him making the big-league club out of Spring Training, but he's the biggest longshot at this point, and will probably report to AAA.  He's a name we'll be hearing about soon enough if he keeps producing in Louisville, and didn't give up a run in the 5.2 innings he pitched in Spring Training this year.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AAA (Louisville)
  • Sean Watson, RHP - Converted to the bullpen last year, with mixed results.  He's still a guy to keep an eye on, as he'll probably close in Carolina this year.  Sickels grade:Projected level: AA (Carolina)

So there you have it, your Reds Futures team.  Lots to be excited about, I think.  A reminder about the games:

Tonight, Apr. 3 (Zebulon, NC): Arroyo v. Buck (6:05 PM)
Tomorrow, Apr. 4 (Dayton, OH): Cueto v. Smith (3:05 PM)


Who are you guys looking forward to seeing in these games?

 

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