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Farmers Only: State of the Farm, 5/7/10.

All we can do is hope and believe in the farm.
All we can do is hope and believe in the farm.

We here at Red Reporter Farmers Only headquarters understand that, in these tough times, many of you have concerns about your future.  Many of you are struggling to put reliable closers on the table for your family, and others are wondering where the next shortstop will come from.  That's why we're here.  Brought to you by your FO Presidents, BK and nycredsfan, we present the first State of the Farm Address for 2010--change you can believe in.


LOUISVILLE BATS (AAA) - The Bats are stuck at 8-18 right now, and that's dead last in the International League, and 8.5 back behind Columbus in their division.  Chris Valaika is their best hitter so far, with a .337 average, which is 11th in the league.  Unfortunately, that's about all their vaunted lineup of elite prospects has to show for itself so far.  The pitching has been better, with Sam LeCure leading the ERA race, 8th in the league at a 2.67 ERA.  They're striking guys out, too, with both Travis Wood and Aroldis Chapman making the top 10 in 5th and 7th in the league at 32 and 30 strikeouts respectively.  At a .238 team average, they're the 2nd worst in the league, and their 99 runs scored is 70 less than the leader at this point.  Their 3.46 staff ERA is second in the league.

CAROLINA MUDCATS (AA)-Carolina is 8-18 and in last place in the Southern League North Division, already 11.5 games out of first place.  To give you an idea of how bad this team has been, the only Mudcat in the top 10 of any offensive category is Denis Phipps, who is tied for first with 10 doubles.  On the pitching side, Matt Klinker is the clear star, being in the league top 10 in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts, and walks allowed.  Daryl Thompson has also performed well.  Right now the team batting average is only .239 and the team OPS a mere .648.  Aside from Alonso and Sean Henry there isn't a lot of major prospect talent in the lineup, but they shouldn't continue to struggle this badly.  The pitching has been about as expected, with Klinker leading the rotation, and Thompson, Dallas Buck, and Tom Cochran also performing well, if less consistently.  Don't expect this team to challenge for first place, (especially once Alonso and Klinker get their inevitable promotions) but they won't be this bad all year.

LYNCHBURG HILLCATS (A+) - The Hillcats are the Reds newest affiliate, but through 26 games, have the same record as their parent club.  That's good for 2nd place in the Carolina League Northern Division, 2.5 games back from the Frederick Keys.  Devin Mesoraco is their best hitter right now, with a 1.004 OPS so far, which is good for 4th in the league so far, and his 6 HR are tied for 3rd in the league.  Speedster Dave Sappelt is tied for 5th in the league in SB, with Miguel Rojas one behind him to round out the top 10 in the league.  On the pitching end, the Reds other 1st round pick in 2009, supplemental round pick Brad Boxbeger is the star, 3-1 so far with a 1.44 ERA, 2nd in the league.  His 27 strikeouts are 7th in the league, and his 0.96 WHIP is good for 4th.  His 3 wins are tied for the team league with Matt Fairel, who is 3-0 and both are one win behind the league lead.

DAYTON DRAGONS (A)-Dayton has had a bit of an up and down start to the year, and currently find themselves at 13-12, good for 4th place, 4.5 games out of first in the Midwest League's Eastern division.  This has been a fairly balanced offensive team, with no superstars but no liabilities either.  Their six players with the most plate appearances all have an OPS between .675 and .806.  As such, there aren't many league leaders on the team.  Henry Rodriguez is second in doubles with 11.  This team boasts a lot of good defenders, specifically outfielder Andrew Means and middle infielders Mariekson "DiDi" Gregorius and Rodriguez.  On the pitching side, Josh Ravin has been the star, with a 1.82 ERA through 5 starts.  JC Sulbaran and Brian Pearl have done fairly well also.  Pearl in particular is one to watch going forward.  He doesn't strike out too many, but his groundout/air out ratio is 3.5/1, which bodes well for his future.  Then, of course, there's Donnie Joseph, who has a 0.73 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 12 innings of work.  He's only allowed 9 batters to reach base in those innings, and to top it off, he's gotten more than twice as many groundouts as air outs.  This kid should be in Lynchburg now, and should be in Carolina by the end of the season.  Overall, look for this team to hover around .500 all year, unless promotions or an influx of post-draft talent drastically alter the roster.

Continue reading for updates on your top 25 prospects, the best hitters and pitchers in the organization, and players to watch moving forward.

Top 25 prospects

#1 Aroldis Chapman - LHSP - 2-1, 3.12 ERA, 30 K, 13 BB (Louisville)
Chapmania has had some control problems so far, but has still shown flashes of brilliance while adjusting to his new country.  It's hard to be disappointed with his numbers so far, and he'll be in Cincinnati before long.

#2. Todd Frazier-LF-.185/.308/.292  1 HR 7 RBI (Louisville)
It's still early, but Todd is really struggling right now.  He's been a bit unlucky, but he's also striking out way more than usual.

#3. Yonder Alonso-LF/1B-.237/.356/.368 2 HR 8 RBI (Carolina)
On base skills are as good as ever.  Power is down, but that's to be expected with the wrist injury.  Not striking out much, so expect the average to rise as some of his balls start dropping :-)

#4 Mike Leake - RHSP - 2-0, 2.94 ERA, 22 K, 16 BB (Cincinnati)
That K/BB ratio is rough, but Leake has been very impassive so far.  He's had trouble starting off games, giving up first inning runs, but has shown that he can battle back against hitters under pressure.  Great start so far.

#5. Chris Heisey-OF-.241/.307/.430  4 HR 13 RBI (Louisville)
Also 0-6 with the big club.  Wasn't exactly raking when he was called up, and strikeouts are a bit concerning.  Hopefully he can have some success (and get some playing time) with the Reds.

#6 Juan Francisco-3B/LF-.205/.222/.385  2 HR 11 RBI (Louisville)
Struck out 4 times in 6 at bats with the Reds before being sent to AAA.  Has struggled in AAA too, but showing some signs lately.  Still needs major work on his plate discipline, as he has walked just twice but struck out 22 times so far.

#7 Travis Wood - LHSP - 0-3, 3.77 ERA, 32 K, 8 BB (Louisville)
Comparing Wood to this time last year, there's a lot of similarities.  His record was the same 0-3 despite a good ERA, and his strikeout numbers have been better than where he was last year.  Things should even out as the Bats offense starts waking up, but this is definitely a solid start.

#8 Yorman Rodriguez-CF
Still in extended spring training.  Will probably join the Billings Mustangs when their season starts in June.

#9 Zack Cozart-SS-.240/.319/.420  3 HR  11 RBI (Louisville)
Zack has had a decent start to the season.  He's continuing to hit for some power and walk at a decent rate.  Cutting down the strikeouts a bit will help the average go up, but expect that to happen anyway as he has been a bit unlucky so far.

#10 Matt Maloney - LHSP - 3-1, 3.05 ERA, 28 K, 2 BB (Louisville)
Look at that strikeout/walk ratio.  Matty is the third solid arm down in the Ville, and rounds out a tough group of guys in consideration when a rotation spot opens up.

#11 Chris Valaika-2B-.337/.376/.453  0 HR 7 RBI (Louisville)
Having one of the best starts of any Reds prospect, and justifying his ranking.  The average is driven by a low strikeout rate and unsustainable BABIP (.400) so expect these numbers to regress as the year goes on.  Still, it's good to see him back to raking like he did in ‘06-‘08.

#12 Brad Boxberger - RHSP - 3-1, 1.44 ERA, 27 K, 7 BB (Lynchburg)
Leake's counterpart at draft time is putting up similar production at a lower level.  He's the best starting pitcher in the organization numbers-wise, and deserves a promotion ASAP.

#13 Neftali Soto-3B/C-.306/.343/.500  5 HR 17 RBI (Lynchburg)
Started very slow but is absolutely crushing the ball right now.  Playing about 3 times a week at catcher, making him one of the more interesting prospects in the system right now. 

#14 Devin Mesoraco-C-.312/.407/.597  6 HR 17 RBI (Lynchburg)
Soto's catching buddy is definitely displaying the best performance so far by any Reds prospect.  Has maintained a good walk rate while cutting down on his strikeouts tremendously, and is also hitting for a ton of power.  Don't expect to see 30 homers and a 1.004 OPS in September, but he's clearly making great strides as a hitter.  Also is throwing out 41% of attempted base stealers.

#15 Billy Hamilton-SS/CF
Still in extended spring training, and will likely start the year with the ASL Reds.

#16 J.C. Sulbaran - RHSP - 2-0, 3.94 ERA, 16 K, 5 BB (Dayton)
Solid numbers so far, and better than the start he had at this level last season.  Encouraging so far, and he's still only 20 so he's at about the right level.  As long as he keeps this up he'll be in Lynchburg in no time.

#17 Enerio Del Rosario - RHRP - 1-1, 2.16 ERA, 10 K, 2 BB (Louisville)
Good numbers from the anchor of the Louisville bullpen thus far.  His consistency at this level is a good sign that he could be next in line to make the trip up to Cincinnati if the club has bullpen trouble again.  

#18 Matt Klinker - RHSP - 1-3, 2.76 ERA, 29 K, 6 BB (Carolina)
The best player stuck on an awful team.  The brass needs to recognize this and promote him so he can get challenged a bit, because he's proven himself at this level thus far.

#19 Daniel Tuttle - RHSP  (AZL Reds)
Tuttle still hasn't pitched this year, and likely won't until the rookie ball season starts in August.

#20 Juan Duran-OF
Also still in Arizona, could start either in the ASL or in Billings.

#21 Donnie Joseph - LHRP - 2-1, 0.73 ERA, 21 K, 4 BB (Dayton)
DoJo has been lights out so far this year.  He's putting up the best relief pitching numbers in the organization, and should get a promotion soon.

#22 Logan Ondrusek - RHRP - 0-0, 7.07 ERA, 7 K, 5 BB (Cincinnati/Louisville)
Lurch had a tough start in his first go at big league hitters, with an ERA over 11 at the ML level, but has bounced back huge since going back to AAA to work with Rick Sweet.  He has a 1.50 ERA there so far in 6 innings, and could be back soon if he's able to keep that up.

#23 Daniel Dorn-1B/RF-.291/.371/.500 4 HR 11 RBI (Louisville)
One of the only Bats hitting right now, and if the organization valued him at all he would've gotten called up instead of Heisey, which would've made sense anyway since, like Dickerson, he's a lefty who feasts on right-handed pitching.

#24 Josh Fellhauer-OF-.250/.299/.410  3 HR  13 RBI (Lynchburg)
Hasn't hit great, but is showing signs.  Needs to improve his walk rate.  Also, has been caught stealing on 4 of his 5 attempts so far.

#25 Sam LeCure - RHSP - 2-2, 2.67 ERA, 25 K, 10 BB (Louisville)
LeCure continues to deal in Louisville, as he has the last few years.  He's still the go-to guy there, and could earn himself a September callup if he's able to continue dominating.



Top 5 Hitters (min. 70 PAs)
1. Devin Mesoraco (C, Lynchburg)- .312/.407/.597 1.004 OPS
2. Cody Puckett (2B, Lynchburg)- .286/.359/.557 .916 OPS
3. Daniel Dorn (1B/OF Louisville)- .291/.371/.500 .871 OPS
4. Neftali Soto (3B/C Lynchburg)- .306/.343/.500 .843 OPS
5. Chris Valaika (2B Louisville)- .337/.376/.453 .830 OPS


Hitter to watch: Cody Puckett-
Obviously, he’s off to a great start in Lynchburg (.916 OPS). There are some questions whether he can stick at 2B, but if he can he definitely has the bat to be a prospect. Drafted in the 8th round in the 2008 draft, Puckett put up an .823 OPS over three levels last season.


Top 5 pitchers:

Jordan Hotchkiss (Lynchburg) - 2-0, 0.63 ERA, 5 K, 5 BB
Donnie Joseph (Dayton) 2-1, 0.73 ERA, 21 K, 4 BB
Brad Boxberger (Lynchburg) - 3-1, 1.44 ERA 27 K, 7 BB
Jesus Delgado (Louisville) - 0-1, 1.64 ERA, 6 K, 6 BB
Josh Ravin (Dayton) - 1-1, 1.82 ERA, 24 K, 13 BB

Pitcher to watch: Matt Fairel (LHSP) - 3-0, 3.48 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB
Had a 6-inning no-hitter before being pulled, and has generally owned the Midwest league.  If he can get the walks under control, he could be dominant.