The hot-stove league gives way to prospect lists and the Reds Caravan.
The leading scouting publication is in lockstep with the Red Reporter community when sifting through the organization's top farmhands. To the surprise of no one whatsoever, shortstop-turned-centerfielder Billy Hamilton earned the top spot in the rankings while right-hander Robert Stephenson reprised his role as the Reds' number two prospect.
1. Billy Hamilton, ss/of
2. Robert Stephenson, rhp
3. Tony Cingrani, lhp
4. Daniel Corcino, rhp
5. Nick Travieso, rhp
6. Jesse Winker, of
7. J.J. Hoover, rhp
8. Ismael Guillon, lhp
9. Jonathan Reynoso, of
10. Dan Langfield, rhp
I found Henry Rodriguez's absence interesting, but the infielder was not on last year's list either. J.J. Cooper's accompanying article recounts how Cincinnati's front office has revitalized the franchise with excellent first round draft selections over the past eight years. Of the Reds' last nine draft picks, seven are in the major leagues. The other two players are Stephenson and Nick Travieso. Baseball America also projects Shin-Soo Choo as the everyday leftfielder for the 2016 Reds. I am not sure what the organization's methodology is for determining long-term lineup projections, but that seems unlikely to me.
FOX News' Greta Van Susteren interviews the Hit King about his upcoming reality show on TLC. He actually comes off pretty well in the video. Rose claims that he wants the public to see a softer side of him. He wants us to see that Charlie Hustle is also a family man. Van Susteren was also sure to follow the cardinal rule of Pete Rose interviews: Ask him about his standing with the Hall of Fame. Seriously, when are writers and talk show hosts going to learn to ignore this issue around Rose? We have heard the man's take on the subject about 4,256 times. Pete Rose loves to talk about Pete Rose, and the question gives him the perfect opportunity to do so in a moderately uncomfortable manner.
If the Reds Caravan is in your neighborhood, then I recommend a visit with some friends and a new baseball. I had a great time at the Lexington appearance in both 2010 and 2011. I plan on attending again this year. If anyone else is going to the Lexington stop and is interested in meeting up, then drop me a line in the comments.
Mark Sheldon starts a position-by-position breakdown of the 2013 Reds by looking at the team's backstops. As usual, Ryan Hanigan earns high praise with his patient productivity at the plate and sharp defense. Sheldon also makes a good point concerning Cincinnati's depth at catcher: The Reds no longer have Dioner Navarro as insurance in the event that Devin Mesoraco has another disappointing season. I am not worried about Mesoraco, but if he struggles, then the team will have to make do with Corky Miller until Walt Jocketty is able to find another replacement.
Hal McCoy praises the BBWAA for not electing Barry Bonds and/or Roger Clemens, calling the two players "selfish". He later expresses sadness that the voters selected neither Craig Biggio nor Jack Morris for induction. While I am not surprised that McCoy supports Morris, I am glad to learn that he thinks Biggio deserves the honor.
I want to draw attention to Rose's reasoned take on Roger Clemens' qualifications for the Hall of Fame.
"The only person I'm going to defend (from) yesterday ... I've got to give Roger Clemens some slack," Rose said. "Here's a guy that says to this day that he didn't take steroids. He's never flunked a drug test, and he went to two courts and they both ruled in his favor. So I don't know. And I know there's suspicion, but you don't not vote for a guy because of suspicion."
Now, I am aware that Clemens' story is more complicated than this summary, but I love Rose's line about suspicion. Maybe Charlie Hustle is trying to make a statement about his own troubles. I would not be surprised if that was Rose's motivation, but the point stands. The fact probably applies more to Mike Piazza than Clemens, and to his credit, Rose expresses his admiration for Piazza in the article.
The Seattle Mariners dodged a bullet when Upton exercised his no-trade clause to stay in Arizona. Seattle reportedly offered a massive package for the outfielder, including Arizona's choice of the Mariners top pitching prospects: Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton. The Mariners also included infielder Nick Franklin, pitcher Charlie Furbush, and another player (possibly pitcher Stephen Pryor) in their bid for Upton's services. Is Kevin Towers ever going to find a trading partner to take Upton? I feel like Towers has been shopping the outfielder for a couple of years now.
Francisco Liriano joins Mike Napoli in contract purgatory. The Pirates have not disclosed any specifics concerning the injury, which is to Liriano's non-throwing arm.
I hate to link this article as the piece is behind ESPN's paywall, but Aroldis Chapman does make the list. Keith Law explains that players who have not exhausted their rookie status are not eligible, which explains the absence of prospects like Billy Hamilton.
Law's comments on Chapman:
We've seen what he can do in relief -- sitting 98-100, hitting 104, with a wipeout slider and a changeup that was almost doing hitters a favor because it arrived at a hittable velocity. He'll need to dial it down a notch to start, but his delivery should support 100 pitches per game if he does so, and I think his changeup, one which he has shown good arm speed with, will become a more effective weapon with increased use.