Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. To-mor-row. There will be Cincinnati Reds players, Cincinnati Reds coaches, Cincinnati Reds farmhands, and Cincinnati Reds baseballs on hand in Goodyear, AZ for the first official time in 2015 in some 24 hours, and that's more than enough to get Charlie Scrabbles' sugars up. It's the dawn of the new season, the first on-field chance for the Reds to flush that awful, awful 2014 down the yadi and start anew, the first chance for them to prove the mounting pile of doubters wrong. The last time these events occurred, the Reds were a team fresh off back to back 90 win seasons with a core intact and expectations through the roof, yet just 12 months of injuries and minor turnover has them relegated to the bottom of most every expert's NL Central predictions.
Tomorrow is day one of proving that's not the case, and if that's not enough to get you excited, this should be:
FanGraphs took on the the gargantuan task of ranking not just the Top 100 prospects in baseball, but the Top 200 prospects in baseball, and for the first time in these types of exercises by various sites, the Reds actually came out looking pretty good. Yesterday, Kiley McDaniel released a primer that noted that the Reds - with 10 prospects included - actually tied for having the 3rd most prospects on the list, which is a testament to what others have said on their editions (which is that the Reds have a lot of toolsy, low minors talent that may vault their overall rankings up next year). Today, the list was actually released, and the Reds were quite well accounted for. Each of Robert Stephenson (25), Jesse Winker (39), Raisel Iglesias (62), and Michael Lorenzen (88) cracked the Top 100, while Alex Blandino (122), Nick Howard (128), and Nick Travieso (141) were each graded well enough in the tiered system to have scouting blurbs included. The Top 200 devolved shortly after Travieso's inclusion into a "Top 142 with a lengthy honorable mention section" thereafter, but each of Yorman Rodriguez, Aristides Aquino, and Amir Garrett were included there, too. Of all the prospect rankings done so far this winter, I believe this is the one that's highest on the franchise's depth.
Speaking of farm rankings, Baseball Prospectus released their organizational rankings yesterday, and the Reds came in a fairly predictable 15th for 2015. Read the summary of the organization, though, and you'll see that BP has them there due to lofty talent at the top and big gaps thereafter, which isn't nearly the system endorsement that FanGraphs gave. I always find it entertaining to note when experts have such widely varying opinions on these sorts of things.
Switching gears a bit, Paul Casella listed Todd Frazier as one of his Top 10 candidates for regression in 2015 over at Sports on Earth, and while I'm not about to disagree that Todd may not quite produce at the level he did in 2014, the argument presented leaves me scratching my head a bit. Casella notes that Todd may be unlikely to replicate many of the counting stats from 2014's breakout in part because he "did not exceed 20 homers or 6 stolen bases in either of his previous two full seasons," but that's a statement that dropped the truth in a blender and hit mince. First and foremost, 2012 was nowhere close to a full season, as one needs 502 PA to qualify for a batting title (according to none other than this Sports On Earth article), and Frazier reached just 468. Had Frazier reached that threshold in 2012, his production suggest that he'd have easily cleared 20 dingers AND posted better rate stats in that year than he did in 2014. As for the steals, well, I don't expect him to reach 20 again, but considering the vast difference between Bryan Price's baserunning philosophy and that of Dusty Baker (who was in charge when Todd stole just 3 in 2012), I do expect to see him keep running. Steamer projects Todd to play in just 127 games in 2015, and that's basically all this says. I disagree.
Finally, The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans listed 5 questions facing the team as they near pitchers & catchers reporting to Goodyear. He'd have answered them if they were easier and much less open-ended, but such is the state of the team following the disappointment of 2014 and the turnover in the rotation since that time. If anything, there's a certain level of intrigue and excitement entering into this March that hasn't been around in a few years, as that's borne from the crumbling campaign just finished and the heads that rolled in its wake. Question 5 is the one that keeps me thinking, though, as Iglesias seems to be the one wild card in this that may be able to blow the doors off things. I'm as excited to watch him develop as I've been with any player in the last four years.