Last year BK and I issued our 10 most pressing questions for the 2010 minor league season. This week, before spring training kicks in to full gear, we'd like to recap last year's questions and then ask a new crop for this year. This morning I'll be discussing individual players, and this afternoon BeeKer will take on larger organizational questions.
Here were last year's player questions:
1. Where will Aroldis Chapman begin his American professional career? Will the organization take an aggressive or conservative approach with him?
2. Will the team find a place for Yonder Alonso? Where?
3. Will Todd Frazier find a permanent position? Where?
4. Will Juan Francisco learn enough plate discipline to avoid being the next Wily Mo Pena?
5. How much impact will rookies have on the 2010 campaign? Who will contribute, and when?
So, not a great deal of success in answering these. Questions #2-4 are still very much up in the air. #1 was largely answered, but there are a whole mess of new questions surrounding Chappie. If you don't know what they are, welcome to RR. Clearly this is your first time here.
Question 5 is the most compelling. I asked it thinking primarily of Chris Heisey, and the only potential rookie I gave a shot of making the team out of ST was Matt Maloney. Mike Leake proceeded to kick me in the shin, steal my girlfriend, and laugh in my face on the way to earning the #5 rotation spot. Still, Heisey, LeCure, Chapman, Maloney, (esp) Wood, Smith, Ondrusek, et al, were crucial to last year's club. (Rumor is there is a really truly fascinating article about the importance of homegrown talent on successful Reds teams in the Annual. You should buy it!) This is probably a cop out, but I think this should always be question 5, because it will always be an important and interesting question for the mid-market Reds.
After the jump, find this year's burning questions.
1. Aroldis Chapman, starter or reliever?
I'm really not interested in starting the 4,354th discussion on this. But it is probably the most pressing question facing any prospect in the system. He'll almost certainly start the year in the 'pen, but will that be a permanent move?
2. Does Yonder Alonso have a future on this team?
Last year we wondered if they'd find a place for him. Well, they haven't, but they still don't seem to want to trade him. My guess is he rakes in April and May and is gone by the trading deadline, but if they are serious about keeping him, it's going to be really interesting to see how they make it happen.
3. Is Todd Frazier still a prospect?
My guess is this question is answered by the end of May. If he's raking, he'll be the first guy called up in case of injury. If he's struggling, this might be the end of the line for Todd's chances as a starter. (Unless, of course, Scott Rolen turns into a pumpkin. Then all bets are off.)
4. Who is this year's Billy Hamilton?
Last year no one was paying much attention to him, but this year he made some top 50 prospect lists and is probably the most anticipated full-season debut in the organization. Who breaks out this year? It could be a 2010 draftee, like Ryan LaMarre, or a young latin player, like Juan Duran. Either way, you can bet that someone currently on the fringes will play his way squarely into the team's future plans.
5. What impact will rookies have on the 2011 campaign?
Last year the main candidates were Heisey, Leake, and Wood. This year there are even more candidates for rookie contributions. Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart, Juan Francisco, Todd Frazier, Dave Sappelt, Yonder Alonso, and of course, Chapman could all make a contribution to this year's team. But who will be this year's Jordan Smith? Will it be Phillippe Valiquette? Donnie Joseph?