You are staring at the future. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Your first FO:SOTF comes to you a little later this year. I blame BK. Actually, I blame a relevant big league team as well as one of the most volatile 40 man roster situations of recent memory. Now that the roster shenanigans are (mostly, hopefully) behind us, we are ready to update you on the current state of the farm system.
In a word? Solid. In another word? Predictable. In a phrase? Unfortunately, the pitching. Juan Francisco still isn't walking, Yasoraco still looks like a catching monster you saw in B movies from the 80s, and I'm still overly anxious for guys in AAA to get their shot. Most guys who were expected to perform have, with few notable exceptions (*cough*BillyHamilton*cough*). We know the weakness to this system is a lack of high ceiling arms, a problem reflected in the fact that most of these staffs are well below average for their league. Still, there is still time for a starter or two to emerge and surprise us, like Jeremy Horst and Nick Christiani have done from the 'pen.
The Bats are 30-23 on the year so far, which is good for 2nd in the IL West, just 6 games back from Columbus. Their .788 OPS is 2nd in the IL, they've scored the 2nd most number of runs, and their 55 homers is tied for the league lead. On the mound, their staff ERA is 4.17, which is 6th in the league, but their 333 strikeouts are 2nd to last. 3 Bats make the list in the top 10 in hitting, as and his .352 lead the way in the entire IL. Daniel Dorn is 8th at .313, and is right behind him at .312 in 10th place. Todd Frazier's 11 homers are 4th in the league to go with his 33 RBI where he places 7th. On the mound, is the staff leader with a 2.52 ERA (5th in the league), and Dontrelle Willis checks in at 2.72 for 8th in the league. Not a whole lot else to note on the pitching staff, but Carlos Fisher's 6 saves have him tied for 7th in the league.
The Mudcats are 16-37 on the year so far, which is a dismal 17.5 games back in the SL North. They're hitting .243 on the year with a .672 OPS, both dead last in the league, as are their 24 homers, and 216 runs scored so far. On the bright side, they've stolen 50 bases, which is 2nd in the league. Their staff ERA is 5.44, which is once again dead last in the league, and they've given up the most homers and walked the third most batters. Cody Puckett checks into the leaderboard at 8th in the league in homers with 8 and 4th in the league with 39 RBI. He's also stolen 10 bases for 5th in the league, but Quintin Berry edges him out with 12 swipes for 4th. Our pitchers aren't doing anything well enough to register on any leaderboards, but Boxberger would if he had more innings.
The first season in Bakersfield has gone pretty much as we would've expected thus far. The team has scored the most runs in the league and has the highest team OPS (a ridiculous .831). Unfortunately, the pitching. The team has the 3rd worst ERA and has allowed the 3rd most runs in the league. All of that adds up to a respectable 28-25 record. Blaze hitters aren't as prominent on the leaderboards as you would expect given such a prolific offense. The team has a very balanced attack, with 7 different players currently OPSing over .800. Eric Campbell is the clear star so far, showing up in the top 10 in OPS, SLG, HR, and 2B. Yasman Grandal's 34 walks are good for 3rd in the league. Predictably, the team has very few league pitching leaders. JC Sulbaran is 6th in the league in strikeouts, with 60. Oh, and Curtis Partch has allowed the most hits in the league, by far. (90 in just 63.1 IP)
These guys win the award for most disappointing team so far. Featuring some of the most exciting young talent in the system, the team has hobbled to a 26-27 record so far. The offense has been average, falling right in the middle of the league in both OPS and runs scored. The pitching has been decent as well, sporting a 4th best 3.49 ERA. It has been the team fielding that has let the team down the most. The team has committed 71 errors, good for 3rd most in the league. Hopefully that improves as these young guys get more comfortable at their positions. Billy Hamilton leads the world in stolen bases with 42. A pretty amazing feat for a guy with a .288 OBP. Donald Lutz is tied for 3rd with 8 homers. On the pitching side, Josh Smith is 7th with a 1.78 ERA, 4th with a .90 WHIP, and is 1st with 71 strikeouts. Teammate Daniel Renken is 2nd with 68.
Follow the jump for an update on all of your preseason top 25 prospects, as well as top hitters, top pitchers, and guys to definitely keep an eye on moving forward!
Like you don't already know. His struggles have been well documented so far this year, and he's currently on a "rehab" assignment at AAA Louisville. Hopefully he'll be able to work and get his command right, he needs to be contributing here as soon as possible.
2. Devin Mesoraco - C - .308/.387/.497, 5 HR, 25 RBI (Louisville)
A very solid follow up to his 2010 breakout season. If there is any nit to pick, it is the less than impressive power he has displayed so far. But with the terrible weather throughout baseball land this season, I'm not too worried. On the defensive side, he has cut down on the passed balls, but has only thrown out 21% of base stealers.
3. Yonder Alonso - 1B/LF - .321/.375/.497, 5 HR, 28 RBI (Louisville)
This is the hitter the Reds thought they were getting when they drafted Alonso in 2008. He's also not hitting for too much power, but I expect that to get better as the weather heats up. I'd also like to see him walk more, and play a better LF, but....Oh, who am I kidding? As long as he brings back Jose Reyes or a top pitcher in July I'll be happy.
4. Billy Hamilton - SS/2B - .211/.288/.300, 1 HR, 19 RBI (Dayton)
Easily the most disappointing season of any Reds prospect. He's struggling to hit left handed, struggling to make contact, and struggling in the field (20 errors so far). Hopefully in a few years we all look back at 2011 as the year Snax fought through adversity and learned some valuable lessons on his way to the majors.
5. Yorman Rodriguez - OF - .228/.290/.333, 3 HR, 22 RBI (Dayton)
Another disappointing season. Your Man has struggled to make contact and the power hasn't shown up yet. Of course, he's also only 18 in a league full of 20-21 year olds, so I'm not too worried. On the bright side, he has walked almost twice as much this year as he did last year in the same number of PAs.
6. Yasmani Grandal - C - .285/.410/.500, 8 HR, 31 RBI (Bakersfield)
A very promising beginning for last year's top pick. We all know about the extreme hitter's environment he's playing in, but you can't fake all those walks. He has already allowed 9 passed balls, but has caught a respectable 32% of base stealers. Look for him in Carolina before the year is over.
7. Todd Frazier - LF/3B/1B - .277/.358/.527, 11 HR, 33 RBI (Louisville)
A very nice bounce back season after a somewhat difficult 2010. Frazier has been discussed at great length already, so I won't bore you. Suffice it to say, he is almost certainly better right now than Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cairo, and Jonny Gomes.
8. Juan Francisco - 3B - .311/.333/.467, 2 HR, 12 RBI (Louisville)
Those stats are only from AAA, and confirm what we've always known about END. Dude HATES walking. I would love to see him get packaged in a deal this summer too, if for no other reason than to remove the temptation for Walt to put him on the team over Frazier.
9. Zack Cozart - SS - .281/.325/.438, 4 HR, 16 RBI (Louisville)
Probably the best overall SS in the organization right now. Unfortunately, he wasn't given over $2 million in the offseason. The homers aren't super impressive, but he has 17 doubles. Hopefully he gets a shot sooner rather than later.
10. Dave Sappelt - OF - .341/.417/.588, 4 HR, 11 RBI (Louisville)
A really unfortunate time to be injured, with his position a current mess on the big club. He should be back soon, and hopefully he can keep up this torrid pace. Regardless, I think he has an inside track on an OF job on the 2012 club.
11. Donnie Joseph - LHRP - 0-1, 10.03 ERA, 9 BB, 29 K (Carolina)
I'm as confused as you are about this one. His K rate is about as good as years past, but the bad outings are killing him. He's usually hit or miss with a clean inning or two in an appearance, but he mixes 4-5 run blowups in with them and that explains his high ERA. The next step for DoJo is to find some consistency, fast.
12. Kyle Lotzkar - RHSP (Billings)
Nothing from him yet, he's still at extended spring.
13. Chris Valaika - 2B/3B - .281/.336/.368, 2 HR, 12 RBI (Louisville/Cincinnati)
Again, these stats are only from AAA, but I think it's about what you could probably espect from him in the majors too. Likely a career utility guy. I'd still rather have him than Cairo or Renteria.
14. Brad Boxberger - RHRP - 0-1, 1.44 ERA, 10 BB, 41 K (Carolina)
Coming into the year, we were unsure if he'd be in the rotation or the bullpen, but in the bullpen he's thrived this year. Maybe a change of approach or repeating the level, but there's a lot to like here. Expect to see him in Louisville soon.
15. Henry Rodriguez - 2B - .340/.378/.498, 6 HR, 40 RBI (Bakersfield)
Clearly the kid can hit. He still has shown an unwillingness to walk, and I question if his power will be much outside of Bakersfield, but it's hard to complain too much about this line. His age (21), combined with the fact that they have been trying him at 3B recently, means he'll likely stay there the rest of the season.
16. Kris Negron - UT - .205/.273/.364, 5 HR, 20 RBI (Louisville)
I told y'all you voted him too high. He's basically Chris Valiaka with a lot less bat and slightly more defensive versatility.
17. Ryan LaMarre - OF - .285/.373/.375, 3 HR, 16 RBI (Bakersfield)
The question was always about LaMarre's power, and at this point you might have to conclude that it may never be much. A .90 ISO in Bakersfield is less than impressive, although the good OBP and 13 SB indicate he could be a leadoff type down the road.
18. Ismael Guillon - LHSP (AZL Reds)
Hasn't debuted yet, still at extended spring.
19. Ronald Torreyes - INF - (Billings)
No stats yet. Still at extended spring.
20. Sam LeCure - RHP - 0-1, 3.18 ERA, 8 BB, 30 K
Whether it's been starting or in relief, Sam is getting the job done on the big stage. Not sure if we can call him a "prospect" anymore, but he's holding his own so far this year. Currently on the DL with an overextended tweet finger.
21. Junior Arias - INF - (Billings)
Another extended ST guy.
22. Jonathan Correa - RHSP (DSL Reds)
Hasn't pitched yet this year, but is curiously on the roster of the Reds' Dominican Summer League affiliate. We'll see if he ends up starting his year there. but I'd imagine we'll see him at Dayton soon enough.
23. Drew Cisco - RHSP (AZL Reds)
Still yet to make his debut, which won't happen this year, as he had last week. It's disappointing to see one of our best pitching prospects on the shelf, but I suppose it's better he's having this procedure done sooner rather than later.
24. Neftali Soto - 1B/3B - .297/.329/.554, 3 HR, 10 RBI (Carolina)
A nice, if injury shortened, season so far from Soto. I'm still isting him as a 3B/1B even though he's only played first so far this year. The power is good to see, and it's important to remember he is still just 22.
25. Juan Duran - OF - .227/.338/.432, 4 HR, 22 RBI (Dayton)
That line represents significant improvement from the young giant. I feel confident that the power will continue to manifest as he gets older, so what is most encouaraging to me are the walks. It looks like Duran's ceiling could be Dunn lite. Low average, lots of Ks, but hopefully lots of walks and homers too. (And better LF defense!)
Top 5 pitchers (min 20 IP)
Brad Boxberger (Carolina) - 0-1, 1.44 ERA, 40 K, 10 BB
Drew Hayes (Dayton) - 0-1, 1.64 ERA, 31 K, 12 BB
Jeremy Horst (Louisville) - 0-1, 1.69 ERA, 23 K, 9 BB
Nick Christiani (Carolina) - 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 23 K, 5 BB
Josh Smith (Dayton) - 4-3, 1.78 ERA, 72 K, 11 BB
Pitcher to watch:
Clayton Shunick (RHRP) - 2-1, 2.17 ERA, 27 K, 15 BB
Shunick made the move from the rotation to the bullpen this season and has been lights out so far this year, holding opposing runners to a .213 average. He's an older prospect at 24, and has already made the move from Bakersfield to Dayton this year, but since he has the extra experience at college under his belt we might see him progress even further and could be in the Louisville mix by the time the playoffs roll around.
Top 5 Hitters (min. 110 PAs)
1. Eric Campbell (Bakersfield) .364/.460/.636
2. Stephen Hunt (Bakersfield) .385/.450/.632
3. Jeremy Hermida (Louisville) .352/.430/.544
4. Yasmani Grandal (Bakersfield) .285/.410/.500
5. Todd Frazier (Louisville) .277/.358/.527
Hitter to Watch
Tucker Barnhart - C - Dayton- .310/.386/.457
It's easy to forget about Barnhart in favor of the 2 star catchers the Reds have, but Barnhart is quietly leading the Dragons in hitting. He makes excellent contact, is willing to take a walk, and is showing good doubles power. Still only 20, Barnhart is young for the league and has more than held his own. Perhaps most impressively, 60 fools have attempted to steal on him this season and he has thrown out 29 of them. (48%). He's small (5'8") so he may never develop great power, but he looks like he could be another Ryan Hanigan type. If his development continues at this pace it would make it much easier to trade away one of the big 2 catchers for a needed piece on the big club.