Hey dudes and dudettes, remember me? After overheating in the Utah high desert and the Mojave Desert driving a '92 Volvo stationwagon overloaded with all my crap (BrianB can commiserate) I'm back from my nomadic wanderings to write about the Reds having settled in my new home of San Diego (a good NL town).
But enough about your Uncle. I wanted to gauge the enthusiasm waters on a few of the more divisive, enigmatic, and just plain baffling prospects in the Reds' system. There's plenty to be excited about—Zack Cozart coming back from a wicked elbow injury with the inside track on the starting SS job next spring, Aroldis Chapman building up arm strength to transition back to a starter (apologies to jch), Yonder Alonso eating rabbit food all offseason in order to maybe play a Gomesian LF in order to get his obviously-ML-ready bat in the lineup, among others—but we also have a few in the pipeline with no obvious role or easily predictable track. Here's a quick look at some of them after the jump, and then let's hear your thoughts. Special thanks to 'creds for making sure I didn't say anything stupid about the prospects!
Lotzkar is frustrating. He's got a power curve with good, late break on it, and a low-90s fastball that can theoretically touch 96. He stayed relatively healthy (for him) this season, posting a K/9 of 9.72 in 66.2 innings. He was a bit more susceptible to the long ball in his first season out of the rookie league, but still, a 1.08 HR/9 is far from homer-prone. I've tempered my expectations on Lotzkar to the point where if he makes it, I'll be pleasantly surprised, but if he does make it, watch out.
Despite carving up hitters as a starter in his brief appearance in rookie ball after signing with the Reds, Cingrani is almost certainly destined for the bullpen, as he really only has one pitch--a power fastball with good movement that touches 97. He shows a changeup and slider as well, but many scouts seem to think that the fastball is his only plus or even serviceable pitch at this point. His coaches at Billings saw room for improvement, and I'm certainly encouraged by his early success, but he has a long way to go if he wants to stick as a starter. If he can refine his secondary pitches to even an average level, there's a lot of potential there, but if not, and the starting is just due diligence, was a 3rd-round pick worth it for a reliever?
It seems as though Frazier's stock is dropping like the temperature in Cincinnati (Since I now live in San Diego, I will henceforth be unfamiliar with this whole "cold" phenomenon). After being consistently ranked among the Reds' top prospects the past few years, Frazier was inexplicably overlooked despite openings at 3B and LF, and then didn't hit much when he finally got in the lineup. He's getting old for a prospect, so his time may be running out. He's still got positional versatility and a track record of offensive success going for him, so I'm not writing him off yet, but his rope is considerably shorter than it has been.
The human tool shed known (to me) as Home Depot is still very, very young for his level, and still has a wealth of tools that continue to make scouts like Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law drool over their organic snark smoothies. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in-game power from Our-Man this season, but again, he's still really young and raw.
I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by El Ni ño Destructor's apparent competence at the plate during his time in the bigs last year. I've long been skeptical of Francisco's future as a major leaguer with a strikeout-to-walk ratio that resembles the age of a 6.5 year old, but he held his own despite striking out almost 28% of the time during the 2011 season. I'm far from sold on him going forward, but he's certainly intriguing, as is his minor league career .216 ISO.
If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these guys. I chose a really random assortment of guys from the low levels all the way on up to near-or-already ML-ready guys, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.