Now that you all have picked our top 25 prospects and the pre-season is underway, we'd like to highlight some prospects on the hot seat for 2010. These guys make the list for very different reasons, but the common denominator is that they all have a fair amount of pressure on them to perform this season.
Feel free to add anyone else you think belongs on this list in the comments, and vote for the prospect you feel is under the most pressure to perform this season.
In no particular order, your Red Hot (seat) prospects for 2010:
1) Devin Mesoraco
The term "bust" may be a bit premature for a 21 year old catcher, but there is no denying this is a very important year for the Reds 2007 #1 draft pick. Unlike many fans, the organization certainly hasn't given up on him, but another poor offensive showing will push him dangerously close to the precipice of non-prospect status.
2) Chris Valaika
Valaika was considered a top prospect before last season, but a losing bout with a water cooler that caused him to miss significant time, and struggles at the plate resulted in a massive drop in his stock. He's been passed on the SS depth chart by Zach Cozart, and is blocked by Brandon Phillips and maybe even Todd Frazier at 2B. This season is crucial if Chris wants to stay in the organization's plans for the future. A good showing at Louisville puts him in line for a possible mid-season callup, but another bad season and he's going to struggle to secure a utility role moving forward.
3) Yonder Alonso
Under most normal circumstances this wouldn't be a make or break season for Alonso, and it probably isn't anyway. Still, withthe organization's recent comments that they don't plan to trade Joey Votto or move him from 1B, Alonso currently stands as a man with nowhere to go. There are significant questions about his defensive ability anywhere other than 1B, and his other two possible positions, 3B and LF, are currently chock full of other young players trying to make it onto the club. Alonso really needs to show why he was drafted so high (his bat) and force the team's hand this season.
4) Matt Maloney
Certainly, Matt Maloney has done nothing wrong in his time with the Reds. Still, at age 26, Matt really needs to stick on the big club this season or he'll risk becoming obsolete. There are enough young stud pitchers in the organization that he needs to prove his worth, so at the very least he can be traded to a team that really needs him. Otherwise, he'll be that much closer to Justin Lehr and Kip Wells territory.
5) Aroldis Chapman
Speaking of young stud pitchers...Chapman isn't on this list because he risks losing favor with the organization or losing prospect status. He is on this list for two reasons: money and hype, and for this he has no one to blame but himself. He has created so much anticipation and expectation with his contract and spring training performance that anything less than a dominant minors stint followed by a brilliant MLB debut will be considered a disappointment. Unfair? Probably, but such is the life of a worldwide phenom.
6) Kyle Lotzkar
Remember him? Lotzkar struck out 50 batters in 39.3 innings in Dayton as an 18 year old in 2008. Unfortunately, multiple arm and elbow injuries that required numerous surgeries meant that he missed all of last season. He will only be 20 this season, but he at least needs to start pitching again and avoid any further injuries. Otherwise he stands a good chance of never pitching again.
7) Daniel Dorn
The prospect who can't get any love. He has pretty serious career platoon splits, (.948 OPS against RH, .666 against LH, evil!), but his versatility and his absolute destroying of RH pitching should have earned him at least a chance at a roster spot this season, yet he's already been sent to minor leage camp. He'll turn 26 in July, and despite being left unprotected in the last rule 5 draft, wasn't selected. He'll likely never be an everday player, but he can play either corner OF spot and 1B and profiles as a pretty good 4th or 5th OF. This season seems like his last chance to prove to the Reds that he deserves a roster spot at some point.