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2005 Red Reporter Top 40 Prospects: A Look Back, Part IV

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10.) Todd Coffey, 25, RP, 8.2 IP, 5.19 ERA, 5/2 K/BB, Louisville; 58 IP, 4.50 ERA, 26/11 K/BB, Cincinnati

A solid rookie season, and I think we'll see a lot better out of Todd in 2006.  His K rate really dropped when he made the leap to the majors, which suggests some increased nibbling.  Hopefully he'll get back to challenging hitters more as his confidence increases.  Dan O'Brien just recently said that Coffey was a future closer candidate, and I don't think that's a bad idea at all.  I will say that it would be nice if he could have another year as a setup guy, just so that he can experience an entire year of success without being tossed into the ring as closer.  Coffey had a pretty solid year, but there were still some bumpy spots which would have looked much worse had they come in the ninth inning.  Get him an entire year with a sub 4.00 ERA and he'll be good to go.

9.) Bubba Nelson, 24, RP, 68.1 IP, 4.61 ERA, 70/27 K/BB, Chattanooga

Nelson is still pretty young, so there's time to get things figured out, but it's becoming clearer all the time that the Chris Reitsma deal was a bust.  It looked good at the time, and I don't fault Dan O'Brien for making it a bit, but wow.  Bubba has gone from a top starting pitching prospect to a fringe relief guy in no time at all.

The DUI didn't help matters.

But there are some encouraging signs.  Nelson's K rate skyrocketed with the move to relief, all the way to 9.22 per 9 IP.  His previous best over an extended period was 6.97 back in A ball.  He also kept the ball in the park a little better this season, surrendering 5 HR for the Lookouts.  

In retrospect, it was foolish to place him as high as 9, but his pedigree was outstanding until 2004. However, he's now put up two poor seasons in a row which changes his outlook considerably.  If he can get it together a bit I'm sure the Reds will be able to find a place for him in their bullpen in a year or two, but if he keeps having years like 2004 and 2005 then he's simply not going to get anywhere.

8.) Thomas Pauly, 24, SP

Injured, with a torn labrum.  Didn't pitch.  Sucks, especially the labrum part.  He'll pitch for awhile longer, but his career is probably over, at least when it comes to him ever doing anything meaningful for the Reds.

7.) Homer Bailey, 19, SP, 103.2 IP, 4.43 ERA, 125/62 K/BB, Dayton

Please, don't let this kid get injured.  That's exactly the kind of season you want your 19 year old number one draft pick to have.

Don't fret about the ERA.  Worry about the walks, but just a little.  Mostly look at those strikeouts. Bailey is going to be a fun one.

Well, as long as his labrum holds up.

6.) Steve Kelly, 26, SP, 104.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, 67/41 K/BB, Louisville

Kelly got hurt in July, and missed the rest of the season.  I don't have splits to back this up, but Kelly pitched pretty well for the first couple of months of the season.  My theory is that he pitched with the pain for awhile, which led to the inflated ERA.

If he returns fully healthy then I'm just as high on Steve Kelly as ever.  He's performed at every level, and the Reds would be foolish not to give him a shot at some point.  I know he doesn't have the stuff that scouts drool over, but at some point you have to start looking at performance and stop looking at the tools.  I don't think Kelly is ever going to be an ace, and he might not even have the stuff to be a rotation regular.  BUt I'll bet he could be a pretty good long reliever / spot starter in a couple of years. There are worse fates.

5.) William Bergolla, 22, 2B, 400 AB, .292/.329/.390, Louisville; 38 AB, .132/.132/.132, Cincinnati

If he could just take a walk.  Bergolla will be 23 next season, and could probably use another year at Louisville.  I don't think he'd be terrible as the Reds starting second baseman, and the Reds offense could certainly carry him if he underperformed.  As long as DanO is the GM there isn't a chance of this happening.  Got to go with a vet'ren.

4.) Anderson Machado, 24, SS

Out of the organization after being carried for a comical length of time on the Reds roster, despite not being allowed to ever actually, ya know, play.  I obviously had him way too high on the list, and was simply blinded by his on base skills.  I do think there's an interesting player here if he can ever learn to hit even a little bit.  A .260 average would probably be good for a .400 OBP, which I'd take out of a middle infielder any day.  Not much evidence that he'll ever be able to hit even that well though, so we'll see.

3.) Richie Gardner, 23, SP, 66 IP, 5.73 ERA, 47/24 K/BB, Chattanooga

Was probably pitching injured all year, before finally being put on the DL.  

How depressing is it that both Gardner and Pauly, two of the better Reds pitching prospects of the past ten years, were both injured in 2005?  And yet, how utterly predictable was it?  Ugh.

2.) Joey Votto, 22, 1B, 464 AB, .256/.330/.425, Sarasota

What the hell happened here?  I have absolutely no idea myself.  I'm not sure how you go from a terrific year at Dayton and Potomac to a thoroughly mediocre one at Sarasota, unless the level jump is simply too much to handle.  And that's not really something I want to consider, because man did I ever have high hopes for Votto.  It also doesn't make sense because he mashed at the same level in 2004, albeit in just 84 at bats.

Votto had trouble with the jump to Dayton in 2003, so I'm just going to hope that he's a slow adjuster. He's nowhere near a top prospect now, but he's still someone to keep an eye on.

1.) Edwin Encarnacion, 22, 3B, 290 AB, .314/.388/.548, Louisville; 211 AB, .232/.308/.436, Cincinnati

That Louisville line is a thing of beauty.

And the Cincinnati one isn't too bad either.  He certainly struggled a bit, but he maintained his plate discipline, and still displayed some decent power.  Once he gets more comfortable he's going to be a terror.  Can you imagine the Reds offense with a force at third base?  The weakest spot on the field will be the right side of the infield, with literally every other position having the potential to hit over 20 HR a year.  God if Cincinnati just had some pitching.  

One of the things I'm looking forward to the most in 2006 will be watching the development of Encarnacion.  He's going to be a good one, and his departure from the minor league system now leaves a gaping hole where top prospects should be.  This list will be a bit harder to put together next spring now that there's no clear number one.

Coming Monday:  2005 breakouts - players that should have made the list and '05 draft picks