"Get over there with the rest of the former #1s" - Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
Let the wildly unscientific voting begin!
In a bit of a departure from rankings past, the 2013 CPR's top spot isn't quite the sure thing it's been in previous years. Last go-round saw Devin Mesoraco take home the top spot with a whopping 72% of the vote. Though he didn't have quite the breakout season many had hoped, the hype was warranted. This year, it looks to be a two-horse race between base-stealer extraordinaire Billy Hamilton and fireballing right-hander Robert Stephenson (but not a literal race, because Billy would win that by a lot). Daniel Corcino and Tony Cingrani round out the candidate pool, if you're into floors. Let's meet our nominees, shall we?
BILLY HAMILTON, CF, 22
Highest 2012 Level: AA (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 152 stolen bases, a minor league record
Most Worrisome Fact: K-rate of 20.2% in 213 AA plate appearances
Aliases: Snax; Sir Quix-a-Lot
What more is there to write about everyone's favorite bandit that hasn't already been said? Hamilton's transcendent speed is a thrill to behold. The legs are a given, but the plate discipline is not. It'd make me feel a whole lot better if he dropped his K-rate a bit, as strikeouts remain his biggest problem. Without an elite hit tool, Hamilton will be forced to rely on other aspects of his game. A 16.9% walk rate over those same 213 PAs in Pensacola is a pretty awesome start. If he continues to cut down his strikeouts while maintaining a solid walk rate, improving from the left side, and getting more comfortable defensively in center (where I have no qualms in saying he'll eventually be above-average), the loss of Choo won't matter.
Best Case Scenario: 2014 starting CF, game-changing leadoff man.
ROBERT STEPHENSON, RHP, 19
Highest 2012 Level: Low-A (Dayton Dragons)
Eye-Poppingest Fact: 72 K in 65 IP
Most Worrisome Fact: Volatility of young pitchers...and I guess a 3.93 BB/9 in 34.1 Low-A innings
Aliases: Bob(by) Steve(s); Treasure Island
With a high-90s fastball that is a legitimate plus pitch, and a timber-shivering high-70s curveball that will most likely join the fastball as a plus, there's a lot to like about this kid. Add in a raw but potentially plus changeup, and us Reds fans have ourselves a bona fide #1 SP prospect on our hands. Bobby Steves blew away rookie league hitters in just under 31 innings in Billings, striking out almost 11 batters per nine while limiting homers and walks. His K/9 dipped a smidge after the promotion to Dayton (to 9.17), but that's still really good. The only concern were the walks, but Stephenson is 19 and in his first year of baseball where his competition isn't spending their off days taking PSAT courses. Weez likey.
Best Case Scenario: Ace. Stephenson has the building blocks, it's a matter of development, patience, and luck.
DANIEL CORCINO, RHP, 22
Highest 2012 Level: AA (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
Eye Poppingest Fact: 1.23 WHIP
Most Worrisome Fact: 4.1 BB/9
Aliases: Lil Cueto; Cuetinho; Corcinogen
Corcino's 2012 was a bit underwhelming, at least on the surface. His strikeouts were down, his walks were up, and he just didn't dominate AA like he did in 2011. But fret not, Red Reporters. Corcino skipped high-A altogether, and managed a 3.01 ERA (3.74 FIP). He threw a career-high 143.1 innings and had stretches of dominance. Corcino has a deceptive fastball that sits in the low 90s, and solid to above-average secondary offerings (the slider is a bit ahead of the change). If he can cut down on his walks and get through another year healthy, things are looking good.
Best Case Scenario: Diet Johnny Cueto
TONY CINGRANI, LHP, 23
Highest 2012 Level: MLB (Cincinnati Reds...duh)
Eye Poppingest Fact: No professional K/9 below 10
Most Worrisome Fact: Lack of a third pitch
Aliases: The Strikeout Swami; Tony the Cingrificent; I made those two up because he doesn't have a good nickname yet
All Tony Cingrani has done in his professional career is succeed. A lefty with a sneaky-good fastball, Cingrani shot through the minors and finished his season by striking out 9 batters in 5 big-league innings. Right now, Cingrani could be a solid contributor to a major-league bullpen, but the Reds org has bigger dreams for him as he continues to work as a starter. His fastball is plus, and his changeup is solid, if inconsistent. And then we run into trouble. Cingrani throws a slider that has pretty good break, but he has no clue where he's throwing it. Controlling the slider will ultimately control Cingrani's destiny, but if he can get it up even to league-average, he will do some damage as a starter.
Best Case Scenario: #3 starter with flashes of brilliance
So there you have it, folks. Vote away!
Who is the Reds #1 prospect?
Billy Hamilton (106 votes)
Robert Stephenson (28 votes)
Daniel Corcino (2 votes)
Tony Cingrani (7 votes)
143 total votes