The 2012 season was a brutal one for Bats fans. With the stars of the 2011 season called up to the majors, and most of the organizational talent in the lower levels, the Bats put up a 51-93 record, scoring only 552 runs while giving up a whopping 725. This season should be a little brighter with six members of our Community Prospect Rankings Top 25 starting the year in Louisville.
Lots of new faces from top to bottom, as Jim Riggleman will take over managerial duties this season with the departure of David Bell, who left to become the third base coach for the Cubs.
Starting Pitchers: Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, Armando Gallaraga, Greg Reynolds, Pedro Villarreal
The rotation should be much better this year with Corcino and Cingrani getting promoted from Pensacola. Pedro Villarreal returns, looking to improve on his 2012 season, where he went 4-14 with a 4.36 ERA across two levels. Armando Gallaraga and former 2nd overall pick from the 2006 draft, Greg Reynolds, fill out the back end of the rotation. Reynolds, who was drafted ahead of Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum (whoops), is a cautionary tale of how shoulder injuries can derail a pitching career.
Relief Pitchers: Jose Arredondo, Nick Christiani, Wilkin De La Rosa, Justin Freeman, Clay Hensley, Mark Prior, Chad Reineke, Kevin Whalen
Jose Arredondo squeaked through the waiver wire and ends up in Louisville. He is likely the first one to be called up due to injury or suckitude to someone in the big league pen. Mark Prior in the Reds organization is still weird to me. Chad Reineke looks like he's lost his rotation spot for now, but I'm sure he'll end up with around 20 starts when all is said and done.
Nevin Ashley, Corky Miller, Konrad Schmidt
There is nothing to say about Corky that we don't already know. He's just the best and we all love him dearly. Konrad Schmidt signed a minor league deal on March 27th after being release by the Rangers. He has a Corkyesque stache, but it needs some serious filling out. Nevin Ashley is a seven year minor leaguer from the Rays organization. He has not yet seen any MLB playing time, but does have an above average arm.
Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Hessman, Kris Negron, Henry Rodriguez, Neftali Soto
Mike Hessman and his 370 career MiLB wangers should help the offense, as he will likely split time at DH and 1B. Neftali Soto is apparently going to get a look at third base from time to time this year, which seems like a good idea to me. Negron will probably continue to bounce back and forth between the infield and the outfield, which is something I'd like to see happen with Hank-Rod.
Josh Fellhauer, Billy Hamilton, Felix Perez, Denis Phipps, Derrick Robinson
The outfield situation is interesting, as everyone except Felix Perez are true center fielders. Hamilton will be the everyday centerfielder, as the organization wants to get him as many reps as they can before his eventual call-up, so I imagine there will be a lot of mixing and matching with the rest of the outfield. With the Ludwick injury, one of these guys will likely be called up tomorrow, and there is an outside chance that Donald Lutz will get the call to take their place.
Manager Jim Riggleman, Batting Coach Tony Jaramillo, Pitching Coach Ted Power
Guys to Watch
All eyes will be on Hamilton this season as the are Reds banking on Cool Papa Bill being ready for prime time come Opening Day 2014. We all know about the record breaking stolen base totals from last year but what Billy did at the plate was almost more impressive to me. His plate discipline improved tremendously, as his walks went up and his strikeouts went down, and he finished the year with a .410 OBP. He also added some power to his game, bringing his slugging percentage over .400 for the first time in his career. Some of these numbers were inflated by the high run scoring environment in Bakersfield, but even if he could get close to his Pensacola line of .286/.406/.383, I think everyone would be satisfied. We should see Billy get a taste of the majors at some point this season, but just when that is remains to be seen.
The Two C's:
The big league rotation might have a Saturn Nuts sized hole come 2014. Daniel Corcino and Tony Cingrani will look to see if they can fill it. They are both exciting prospects, but they both have their flaws. For Corcino, it's the command. After improving his K/BB to 4.59 in 2011, he regressed last year posting a 1.9 K/BB. For Cingrani, the questions about his secondary stuff are still there. He's pitched well at every level, but many scouts feel it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.
Hank-Rod is the best pure hitter in Louisville, and possibly the entire farm system. On the surface, his numbers last year don't look good, but he was raking in Pensacola before an injury sunk his season. He's not a masher, but he can hit for average, with fringey power and has the ability to get on base at an above average clip. I'd like to see him get some time in the outfield to improve his positional versatility, especially since all four infield spots are blocked for the foreseeable future.
B.A. Best Tools
Fastest Baserunner - Billy Hamilton
Best Athelete - Billy Hamilton
Best Slider - Daniel Corcino