The new year is just around the corner, and at Red Reporter that means it's just about time to put your prospect undies on, grab your beanbag and a tub of ice cream, and sift through the best and brightest prospects in the Cincinnati Reds system with us for the 77th-ish annual Community Prospect Rankings. For the first time since the December 2011 trade that liquidated the farm for Mat Latos, the minors seem both deep and talented, and the recent flipping of Latos and Alfredo Simon has served to augment the pool of guys that are sure to feature heavily in this ranking process.
So familiarize yourself with Chad Wallach and Anthony DeSclafani, brush up on the ridiculous season just completed by Kyle Waldrop, bet the over on how often Aaron thinks about a dinger derby between Kevin Franklin and Gavin LaValley, and try to figure out which of the numerous talented arms slated to be in Pensacola and Louisville are about to break out in big ways. Yell at Weez as loud as you possibly can that Ryan LaMarre shouldn't crack the list, remember that Amir Garrett has chosen to drop basketball and focus on his baseball career, and that Zach Stewart still might win that pair of Cy Young Awards.
Last year, Robert Stephenson took the top spot honors, but both he and #3 prospect Philip Ervin struggled through much of the 2014 season, meaning there very well could be some shuffling at the top of the rankings. #2 ranked Billy Hamilton obviously graduated to the big leagues, and #5 guy Jesse Winker put worries of his wrist injury to rest by absolutely mashing his way through the Arizona Fall League, very well vaulting himself all the way to the top of many folks' lists. Don't forget that #4 Yorman Rodriguez rebounded to have a solid 2014, too, slashing .286/.368/.438 over the final 324 PA of his season after returning a bit prematurely from an early-season oblique injury.
Bryan, Weez, and Aaron have spent the last two weeks spurning their families for holidays in order to huddle up at RR headquarters to sift through all of the film, notes, Polaroids, and bar tabs they picked up on their 2014 scouting trips. While most of that was because their RR expense reports are due by Wednesday, rest assured that a big chunk of it was because they're about to get the CPR data machine up and rolling. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming week, and come ready to analyze, argue, and post GIFs about what projects to be the best system this franchise has had in the last four seasons.