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Red Reporter 40: 21-30

30. Steve Kelly, 26, SP
Last year's ranking: 6
2005 stats:
Louisville, 104.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, 67/41 K/BB

Kelly started out the year pretty strong, but got progressively worse before finally shutting things down with an injury.  Assuming he's healthy I'm still pretty high on him, but it looks like the Reds aren't. Kelly's had success at every level of the minor leagues now (if you count his early season success last season at Louisville), and if he can put together a full season at Louisville then there's no reason he can't start for the Reds.  His stuff might make him a back of the rotation kind of guy, but the Reds need competent 4 and 5 starters just as much as they need competent 1 and 2 guys.

29. Richie Gardner, 24, SP
Last year's ranking: 3
2005 stats:
Chattanooga, 66 IP, 5.73 ERA, 47/24 K/BB

I can't remember being this excited about a Reds pitching prospect since .... well ... I'm only 24, so this was probably the first time I was ever excited about a Reds pitching prospect.  I was too young to see Jose Rijo or Tom Browning as prospects. And then it all ended with an injury.  Gardner is clearly a gamer because he battled through injury for the first couple of months, but it finally caught up to him and he had to shut it down. He tore his labrum, which is usually a kiss of death for pitchers.  He's still only 24 so I have hope that he can recover, but it's not likely. Really a huge shame.

28. Allan Simpson, 28, RP
Last year's ranking: NR
2005 stats:
Colorado, .2 IP, 67.50 ERA, 3/0 K/BB
Louisville, 64.1 IP, 4.06 ERA, 89/38 K/BB
Cincinnati, 6.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 6/5 K/BB

He wasn't very good in a really short stint with Cincinnati, but those AAA numbers are very solid.  89 strikeouts in 64 innings? I'll take that. Control, as it so often is with this type of thrower, is a huge issue, but he really probably ought to be in the Reds bullpen pretty soon. He deserves more than 6 innings in Cincinnati this season.

27. Jimmy Journell, 28, RP
Last year's ranking: NR
2005 stats:
Memphis, 42.1 IP, 4.68 ERA, 49/38 K/BB
St. Louis, 4.1 IP, 10.38 ERA, 5/5 K/BB

This guy used to be a top prospect for the Cardinals, but that clearly didn't work out for him. He missed most of 2004 with a shoulder surgery and had a rough 2005 recovering.  Journell has always struck out a batter an inning (or more) so if he's healed then I think he could contribute right now. For some odd reason the Reds seemingly have a crowded bullpen at the moment, but I think that'll sort itself out by May, and I think Journell will be one of the first guys called up.

26. Tonys Gutierrez, 22, 1B
Last year's ranking: NR
2005 stats:
Dayton, 410 AB, .324/.396/.451, 7 HR

What a year for Gutierrez as he seemingly really started to figure things out.  He's still somewhat young, but he's got to move up a couple of levels this season to be taken seriously. He only hit 7 home runs in 2005, but he also smacked 21 doubles, leading one to hope that his power is still developing. If those doubles start turning into home runs then look out.

25. BJ Szymanski, 23, OF
Last year's ranking: 16
2005 stats:
Dayton, 191 AB, .262/.332/.471, 10 HR

All the promise in the world, but very little performance thus far.  If Szymanski could stay healthy for a year we might know what we have here, but he hasn't been able to manage that yet in two seasons as a pro. In his two seasons since being drafted BJ's only managed 272 at bats, and he's shown some promising power in that time, but that's about it. This is kind of a make or break year for Szymanski. Remember that Adam Dunna and Austin Kearns were both in the major leagues and producing at Szmanski's age, while he hasn't managed to make it out of Dayton yet.  That's not a good sign.

24. Junior Ruiz, 25, OF
Last year's ranking: 14
2005 stats:
Sarasota, 186 AB, .312/.419/.435, 33/20 BB/K, 17 SB
Chattanooga, 272 AB, .287/.359/.342, 29/28 BB/K, 14 SB

I was pretty high on Ruiz last year, but I've tempered that enthusiasm somewhat.  I was disappointed with the power drop off that came with the move to Chattanooga (.342 SLG).  The brighter side is that Ruiz continued to show excellent control of the strike zone, and continued to walk more than he struck out. I can't find anything anywhere that talks about Ruiz's defense, but it seems to me that he should be a utility candidate in the next two years if his defense is average. If not then I could see him having a pretty Ryan Freel type career, not getting his chance until pretty late in the game and playing a multitude of positions. As long as the Reds feature players like Pena, Dunn, KGJ, Felipe, and Jason LaRue players like Ruiz who don't strike out alot but put up great on base percentage numbers will have a lot of value.

23. Ryan Hanigan, 25, C
Last year's ranking: NR
2005 stats:
Chattanooga, 333 AB, .321/.418/.405, 50/41 BB/K

I don't know where that came from, but I'm impressed. The Reds have a serious weakness at the catcher position, so if Hanigan can continue to hit then he'll jump to the head of the class. Realistically he might be a backup one of these days, which is still pretty darn good for someone who wasn't even drafted.

22. Carlos Guevara, 24, RP
Last year's ranking: 19
2005 stats:
Sarasota, 51.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 65/14 K/BB

I've read that scouts think that Guevara's screwball won't fool hitters as he continues to move up the ladder. That remains to be seen, but he's done fantastically everywhere he's been so far. This is a guy who's crying for some agressive promotion.

21. Ben Kozlowski, 25, SP
Last year's ranking: 17
2005 stats:
Chattanooga, 111.1 IP, 4.04 ERA, 82/31 K/BB
Louisville, 44.2 IP, 4.63 ERA, 30/18 K/BB

Kozlowski was once a top prospect in the Rangers organization, but then came the arm injury and the Tommy John surgery.  He bounced back pretty well last year, putting up fairly average numbers, but the real test will be this year.  They say it takes two full seasons to fully recover, so it's really now or never, at least when it comes to Kozlowski's prospect status.

Postscript: Halfway through writing this I read that the Reds had released Allan Simpson.  I'm leaving him in because to remove him would screw up the entire list (everyone behind him would move up one, etc.), and because this sort of thing happens with prospect lists.  I had Dustin Moseley ranked last season, but then he was traded to the Angels.  It happens.

Tomorrow: 11-20