GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Devin Mesoraco #65 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the ball down to second base against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on February 27, 2011 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
To mark the end of the minor league season, we're going to do something a bit different for the Farmer's Market today. Instead of 3 fresh and stale prospects, you'll get 1 of each, for each team in the system. Picking these was not about who was the best and worst player, but who improved or hurt their prospect stock the most. Since many guys switched levels at some point, players are considered for the team where they got the most IP or PAs. Also, it's late and I have school tomorrow, so no recap after the jump.
Louisville Bats (73-71)
Stock Up: Devin Mesoraco
This was a tough one, as Yonder Alonso and Dave Sappelt each improved their stock significantly. Still, even after Devin's monster 2010 many were questioning his legitimacy. You won't hear those questions now (except maybe from HLM). Devin is a consensus top 10-15 prospect and possibly the best catching prospect in baseball. At age 23 (and change) he became the youngest catcher to make a start for the Reds since 1991. And pretty much everyone expects him to anchor the position for the Reds for years to come. An excellent season for a future star.
Stock Down: Chris Valaika
This easily could've been Kris Negron as well, but since most prospect rankings never considered him much of a prospect, we'll go with Valaika. He's been on a steady downward trajectory since arriving in AAA in 2009, but before this season he might have had a future as a utility guy. Now, after hitting .261/.302/.355 in his third stint at Louisville, there's a very real chance the organization could let him go before next spring.
Carolina Mudcats (53-85)
Stock Up: Neftali Soto
Soto became the first Reds farmhand to hit 30 homers in a season since Adam Dunn did it in 2001. He hit 30 for the Mudcats, then hit another this weekend playing for Louisville. Because Soto missed significant time with injury, that meant that he clubbed those 31 homers in just 432 plate appearances, or a homer every 14 times to the plate. Soto is far from a perfect hitter, as he doesn't walk much and strikes out a lot, but 31 homers from a 22 year old is very, very impressive, and puts him right back in the mix of top Reds prospects.
Stock Down: Donnie Joseph
After dominating A ball last season and eliciting calls for him to be the team's future closer, Joseph consistently struggled in AA this year, to the tune of a 6.94 ERA and 30 walks in just 58 IP. He'll definitely get a chance to redeem himself in Louisville next season, but at age 24, and with the ceiling of a middle reliever, he'll be on the edge of non-prospect status.
Bakersfield Blaze (66-73)
Stock Up: Yasmani Grandal
Considering he ended the season going 6-12 for Louisville, it's easy to forget that Grandal spent the majority of his time this season in Bakersfield. But over the three levels (A+, AA, AAA), Grandal compiled a line of .305/.401/.500 with a ton of walks and doubles. He'll almost definitely start next year in Louisville, and will keep the pressure on Walt Jocketty to keep finding roster spots for the organization's talented young hitters.
Stock Down: Ryan LaMarre
He didn't have a terrible season, all told. His final line of .278/.350/.370 with 55 SB is nothing terrible, but for a 2nd round pick with supposedly good power potential, who also spent the year in the most hitter-friendly environment in baseball, it is a bit disappointing. Some lists had LaMarre listed as high as #11 in the system coming in to the year. It's a safe bet he won't be that high next time around.
Dayton Dragons (82-57)
Stock Up: David Vidal
Another tough one. Juan Duran raised his stock tremendously by cobbling together an OPS of .792 with 16 homers. But he also struck out a whopping 152 times in just 104 games. David Vidal was consistently one of Dayton's best hitters, and could be in the top 10 of the organization. He put up a .280/.350/.498 line with 20 home runs, and reports on his defense at third base were good. Still young, he could begin moving through the system quickly and be another option at a position of need.
Stock Down: Yorman Rodriguez
Billy Hamilton had perhaps the most disappointing season from a hitting standpoint. But he also stole 103 bases and was worlds better in the second half, offering hope moving forward. Yorman was not terrible, but he wasn't great either (.254/.318/.393 line). Most importantly, he was hurt....a lot. This is the second season in a row he has missed time with injuries, and despite the tools, a lack of on-field production and seeming fragility is hurting his prospect status...for now.
Stock Up: Sean Buckley
Buckley must have been very concerned about accusations of nepotism, because this year's 6th round pick, and son of scouting director Chris Buckley, hit like a man possessed. In 253 PAs he posted a line of .286/.372/.550. Age, sample size, and league caveats all apply, but this kid looks like he can hit...a lot. Expect to see him in Carolina before next season is out.
Stock Down: Ismael Guillon
One of last year's bright young Latin pitchers, Guillon struggled in Billings this year. He walked 45 in just 58 IP and stumbled to a 6.67 ERA. He's only 19, and Billings is tough on pitchers, but he needs a much better 2012 to stay in the prospect conversation.