Farmers Only: And the Farmies Roll On


Congratulations are in order for Devin Mesoraco, who saw his stock jump the most out of all Reds prospects this season.  Along with the coveted American Gothic inspired trophy, Devin wins 100 shares of Red Reporter stock (symbol: POS), which my Uncle Slyde assures me is ready to blow up any day now.  Dave Sappelt was the runner up.  When reached for comment, he responded, "I've got your rising stock right here."  Apparently he also made a gesture that can't be shown on network TV. 

Today we get to my favorite award, because it involves what most of us do around here all the time:  Blindy opine about matters we don't have the faintest clue about.  Today's award is the
Proactiv Breakout Candidate for 2011.  The presenters of this year's award are Mandy Moore and Avril Lavigne.  Katy Perry wasn't available, as she is too busy being weird somewhere. 

 Here are your nominees:

Jaren Matthews

Matthews was drafted by Boston in the 17th round in 2007 out of high school, declined the generous signing bonus, and chose instead to go to Rutgers.  After 3 very mediocre years in college the Reds nabbed him in the 32nd round this year. (bet he's regretting that decision)  The knock on Matthews is that he isn't coachable and didn't make necessary adjustments in college, but he did something right, as in 125 PAs in Arizona he hit .290/.427/.590, including 7 homers.  That's a pretty small sample, but it's also pretty impressive, and might be a sign of a late round steal.

Aroldis Chapman

No need for introductions here.  This is a bit of a cheap inclusion, but you are only allowed to vote for him if you think he'll stay a starter and achieve significant improvement as one in 2011.

Henry Rodriguez

H-Rod has been on the radar as a middle infield prospect with pop for some time now, but he made significant strides in that department this year.  As a guy who makes very good contact, doesn't walk much, and has very good power despite his size (14 HR this year, is listed at 5'10", 150), he reminds me a fair bit of Brandon Phillips.  He'll be 21 this year, and will probably spend most of the year in hitter-friendly Bakersfield (high A), so a significant improvement on his .810 OPS is quite possible.

Zack Cozart

At first glance, the Coz seems like he might be getting worse.  Here are his OPS totals from the last three years: .787, .758, .726.  Still, his K rate didn't jump with the promotion to AAA, and although the walk rate did, it showed signs of improving as the year progressed.  The biggest reason to be optimistic is the power.  Cozart hit 17 homers this year and 51 XBH in total, en route to a .161 ISO.  That's above average for any player, but for a slick fielding SS it's excellent.  It's entirely possible that, as he enters his age 25 season, you'll see a significant jump in power and fewer Ks as he adjusts further to AAA pitching.

Tucker Barnhart

Some of you might remember this name, as Barnhart was drafted in the 10th round out of high school in last year's draft.  He signed late and didn't play much last year, but this year he showed a lot of the tools that convinced the Reds to go over slot to sign him.  Playing catcher for Billings, he hit .306/.412/.387.  Yeah, no power, but look at the OBP.  Tucker walks almost as much as he strikes out, and he caught 23 of 45 attempted base stealers (51%).  He's small (5'8", 175), but he's also very young (turns 20 in January), and as he ages and fills out, this could be yet another legit catching prospect to add to what is suddenly a tremendous organizational strength.  If this happens sooner rather than later, 2011 could be a big year for him.

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