With the lull off the all-star break upon us, 'credsie and I figured it was a good time to look at how the system looks at this point. It's clear that we have a pretty bottom-heavy system at this point, with most of the exciting talent at Bakersfield and Dayton, and the guys in the higher minors ready for the big leagues. Let's see how our guys are doing.
The Bats are 49-43 so far this year, and in second place in their division, 9.5 games back from the upstart Columbus Clippers. Jeremy Hermida has been the best bat there so far, leading the league in OPS at .911, the same category that Devin Mesoraco ranks in 7th place at .889. Their biggest power bat right now is surprisingly Todd Frazier, whose 15 homers put him in a tie for 6th in the league. His 16 SB are also 9th in the league. On the pitching side, Dontrelle Willis is 3rd in ERA at 2.63 and Chad Reineke is at 3.16 for 9th place.
Carolina are currently at 10-9 and in 2nd in the SL North, only 1.5 games back from Chattanooga right now. It's a good start to their 2nd half, as their 23-47 first half record and their 33-56 overall record so far are the worst in the league. After only 3 homers through April and May, Neftali Soto has 15 right now for 4th in the league, and Quintin Berry's 17 stolen bases are 5th in the SL. The pitching has been dismal enough here that nobody ranks high at all on any list, but Travis Webb is highest on the strikeouts list in 20th place.
The last time we checked in on the Blaze over a month ago, they were hitting the cover off the ball but not pitching, leading to a winning record. Since then, they’ve kept allowing runs at a Blaze-ing pace, but the loss of hitters like Yasmani Grandal, Henry Rodriguez, and Eric Campbell saw the offense take a major hit. The team has slipped to a 41-48 record and are now scoring the second fewest runs per game in the league. (5.28. That’s second worst. Seriously) No one currently with the team leads in any major offensive category. Ryan LaMarre is 4th in the league with 30 SB. On the pitching side, J.C. Sulbaran is 6th in the league in strikeouts, but also 12th in the league in walks.
The team has gone on a bit of a tear since we last checked in with them, running their record all the way to 48-40 on the season. The offense has improved a bit, but it’s the pitching, bolstered by new arrivals Kyle Lotzkar and Stalin Gerson, that has carried the team. Perhaps more importantly, the defense has improved by leaps. Previously leading the league in errors, the team now sits in the middle of the pack. Individually, Donald Lutz is 4th in the league with 13 HRs, David Vidal is 6th with 23 doubles, and of course, Billy Hamilton is 1st with 66 SB, 23 ahead of the next closest guy. Daniel Renken and Josh Smith are near the top in IP, and in an impressive showing, Renken, Smith, and Daniel Corcino are 1-3 in the league in strikeouts. All 3 are striking out over 10 batters per 9 IP.
The Mustangs are currently tied for 1st place (going into Wednesday's games) at 12-10, with Missoula posting the same record so far. Dayne Read is hitting .400 so far on the year (2nd in the league), and his 1.195 OPS leads the league. His 18 RBI are 3rd, and his .450 OPS is first. Sean Buckley leads the team with 5 homers, (3rd in the league), and Kurtis Muller is the 'Stangs speedster with 8 stolen bases. Wes Mugarian has been the best pitcher so far with 27 strikeouts, 4th in the league, and Brooks Pinckard has 3 saves which is tops.
Through 18 games, this team is looking thoroughly average, with a 9-9 record and being in the middle of the pack in both runs scored and allowed. Brennan May has been the star, knocking in 4 homers, while best-name candidate Eliezer Beard has racked up 25 Ks in just 17 IP.
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!
1. Aroldis Chapman - LHRP - 2-0, 4.57 ERA, 22 BB, 32 K (Louisville/Cincinnati)
Injury problems kept him out for a good portion of the year, but since coming back, we've seen a huge improvement. He went from being a guy who couldn't throw a strike to the shutdown reliever that the Reds expected at the beginning. Since coming off the DL, he's only given up 1 run in 8 innings, and has struck out 17 to only 2 walks. That's a good sign.
2. Devin Mesoraco - C - .303/.378/.510, 9 HR, 29 RBI (Louisville)
Continues to do what Devin do. Barring major injury, he should easily be a top 20 prospect this offseason, and should be the Reds primary starting catcher in 2012. If there is any area of concern, it’s that he has only thrown out 22% of attempted stealers in 2011, although he has also cut down on the passed balls allowed.
3. Yonder Alonso - 1B/LF - .298/.372/.490, 11 HR, 48 RBI (Louisville)
Very similar numbers to the last time we checked in on him. The AVG has dropped but he has made up for that by walking more and hitting for a bit more power. He says he’s feeling good in LF and enjoying it. He’d better either be playing it for the Reds or 1B for someone else by July 31. I’m just sayin’.
4. Billy Hamilton - SS/2B - .244/.297/.318, 1 HR, 32 RBI (Dayton)
Still a disappointing season, but also very much improved on the last time we checked in. He’s still a work in progress, and at age 20, he can afford to be. The 66 SB are indeed impressive, and his defense is reportedly smoothing out at SS. He will most definitely finish the year in Dayton, and could even start 2012 there as well.
5. Yorman Rodriguez - OF - .251/.311/.384, 6 HR, 35 RBI (Dayton)
Another somewhat disappointing season, but also another kid who has improved a great deal since our last look. The best thing about that line is the 60 point difference between his AVG and OBP. Yorman’s only 18 and it’s going to take his power a while to fully manifest, but showing an increased willingness to walk is a great sign. Now he just needs to cut down on the strikeouts.
6. Yasmani Grandal - C - .298/.398/.510, 11 HR, 51 RBI (Bakersfield/Carolina)
Since we last saw him, the Yasmanian Devil was promoted to Carolina, where he hasn’t missed a beat. A solid defensive catcher OPSing over .900 makes for a very valuable trade chip, should Walt choose to go that way. At this point, probably a top 50 prospect.
7. Todd Frazier - LF/3B/1B - .269/.350/.490, 15 HR, 42 RBI (Louisville)
Has cooled a bit in the last 6 weeks, possibly partly due to a slight injury. Continues to play all over the field, which doesn’t make him a utility player, but rather a player with a lot of utility. I still think he could hit 20 HR and play an average 3B in the majors right now.
8. Juan Francisco - 3B - .295/.325/.515, 2 HR, 12 RBI (Louisville)
The forgotten prospect. A leg injury has kept him out of action, and probably out of trade discussions, all month. The AAA numbers are still impressive, so hopefully Walt can dupe a team into taking him. It’s too bad Jim Bowden isn’t still a GM.
9. Zack Cozart - SS - .310/.357/.467, 7 HR, 32 RBI (Louisville)
I only listed his AAA numbers, but…ZACK COZART WAS FREED. Hopefully he earns the right to stay free, forever.
10. Dave Sappelt - OF - .301/.363/.481, 7 HR, 22 RBI (Louisville)
Has cooled considerably since coming back from injury. His best chance is probably to keep hitting and be given a shot at an OF job during the next ST.
11. Donnie Joseph - LHRP - 1-1, 8.68 ERA, 20 BB, 45 K (Carolina)
Growing pains. His walk rate went way up from the last time we checked in on him, and in that span, he's lost his job as Carolina's closer. He's pitched better against lefties than righties, but neither one are acceptable right now. If he keeps this up, he might want to start looking at real estate in Pensacola as he repeats the level next year.
12. Kyle Lotzkar - RHSP - 1-1, 5.74 ERA, 10 BB, 32 K (Dayton)
Not a great start, but there are things to like here. Strikeout rate is good as it usually is, and he's not allowing baserunners. He's not currently being counted on in the Dayton rotation, but that could change as their big 3 start to make moves out west.
13. Chris Valaika - 2B/3B - .237/.285/.290, 2 HR, 19 RBI (Louisville/Cincinnati)
Not a prospect anymore. Nothing to see here.
14. Brad Boxberger - RHRP - 1-3, 1.82 ERA, 16 BB, 63 K (Carolina/Louisville)
Boxy is thriving this year, but has stalled a bit after a well deserved promotion to Louisville. He's given up 3 runs in his first 5 1/3 innings there, but it's still early and there's every reason to be optimistic. It looks like he might get the chance to save games there as well.
15. Henry Rodriguez - 2B - .320/.358/.477, 10 HR, 53 RBI (Bakersfield/Carolina)
Has only OPSed .715 since being promoted to Carolina. Hopefully he has a strong finish and earns the right to start the year in Louisville.
16. Kris Negron - UT - .202/.262/.326, 6 HR, 26 RBI (Louisville)
Another complete non-prospect. I hope you people have learned your lesson.
17. Ryan LaMarre - OF - .286/.359/.372, 4 HR, 29 RBI (Bakersfield)
Looking like a no-power leadoff candidate, if he can stick in CF. The 30 SB indicate the speed is good, and he’s played CF the vast majority of the time, so hopefully he can keep walking and retain some prospect value.
18. Ismael Guillon - LHSP - 0-2, 7.47, 17 BB, 10 K (AZL Reds)
Control problems have plagued his season so far. Only 4 starts so far, but he walked 6 in each of his first 2. Let's just keep telling ourselves that he's still 19.
19. Ronald Torreyes - INF - .354/.414/.506 2 HR, 11 RBI (Dayton)
Love this kid. He never strikes out, walks just enough, and should develop very good gap power, although he’ll probably never hit double digit homers. If he can stick there defensively, he has the tools to be a very good 2B.
20. Sam LeCure - RHP - 0-1, 2.72 ERA, 9 BB, 41 K (Cincinnati)
Is it just me, or could he end up being the most underrated player on this list coming into the year? He's putting together a nice year here.
21. Junior Arias - INF - .169/.234/.271, 0 HR, 6 RBI (Billings)
A rough start. The kid has struck out 22 times in 16 games, so I think we’ve found his main area for improvement.
22. Jonathan Correa - RHSP (DSL Reds)
Currently on the "disqualified list" for violating his contract. He's not getting paid, but he's not pitching either, and there's been no explanation as to what happened to reach that conclusion. Your guess is as good as mine. Anyone seen this before?
23. Drew Cisco - RHSP (AZL Reds)
Tommy John, out for year.
24. Neftali Soto - 1B/3B - .279/.339/.582, 15 HR, 36 RBI (Carolina)
Has blown up since we last checked in, hitting 12 homers and raising his slugging almost 100 points. He’s even walking a bit more too, although that will never be a strength. Only 22, if he can keep this up, he’s back as a legit prospect to definitely keep an eye on moving forward.
25. Juan Duran - OF - .261/.348/.462, 8 HR, 37 RBI (Dayton)
A breakout year, of sorts. The power is emerging, and Duran is piling up the walks to go along with the copious Ks. I’ll say it again, this kid is looking like a potential Adam Dunn Lite, with less of everything: Walks, Homers, Ks, and Terrible Defense. (He’s not great in LF, but he should at least be faster than Dunner. Plus, I’ve heard he doesn’t hate baseball)
Top 5 pitchers (min 30 IP)
Drew Hayes (Dayton) - 0-1, 0.96 ERA, 60 K, 18 BB
Daniel Wolford (Dayton) - 4-1, 1.81 ERA, 51 K, 18 BB
Bradley Boxberger (Louisville) - 1-3, 1.82 ERA, 63 K, 16 BB
Blaine Howell (Dayton) - 2-0, 2.04 ERA, 38 K, 19 BB
Josh Smith (Dayton) - 8-4, 2.36 ERA, 112 K, 20 BB
Pitcher to watch:
J.C. Sulbaran (RHSP) - 5-2, 4.61 ERA, 97 K, 35 BB
Struck out last time with the Shunick pick, but I really like what Sulbaran's been able to do this year. He's putting himself gradually on the prospects list, after struggles last year took him off of it. He's struck out double digits twice this year, and his 10.6 K/9 is what we were hoping for all along.
Top 5 Hitters (min. 170 PAs)
Eric Campbell (Bakersfield/Carolina) .328/.417/.574, 13 HR, 53 RBI
Neftali Soto (Carolina) .281/.344/.588, 15 HR, 36 RBI
Jeremy Hermida (Louisville) .323/.409/.502, 9 HR, 37 RBI
Yasmani Grandal (Bakersfield/Carolina) .298/.399/.508, 11 HR, 51 RBI
Devin Mesoraco (Louisville) .303/.378/.510, 9 HR, 49 RBI
Hitter to Watch