I mentioned in yesterday's Reposter that blog amigo Dan Szymborski didn't sound too terribly optimistic about the Cincinnati Reds chances of turning their franchise fortunes around in the near term. Well, today we pretty much found out why that's the case. It's behind ESPN's Insider paywall, but Dan released ZiPS' list of the Top 100 prospects in the minor leagues (ranked by projected career WAR), and only Jesse Winker made the cut, checking in at an inauspicious 50th. Nowhere to be found was Robert Stephenson, and if nary a Reds RHP prospect looks promising in the eyes of ZiPS, what had appeared to us to be a strength of the system suddenly doesn't seem to stack up so well against the other 29 franchises in the game. Dan later clarified on Twitter that Stephenson just missed the cut at #113, and mentioned that ZiPs was skeptical of Bob's .265 BABIP in 2014 based on his other peripherals. Dang!
Speaking of which, that led me to look closer at Bob Steve's 2014 splits, where I noticed for the first time that it was right-handed hitters - not lefties, as I'd suspected - that really did most of the damage against him last season. You'll also notice that's likely the BABIP issue about which ZiPS is skeptical, since it's hard to really believe in Bob's stuff when his overall numbers were sketchy while lefties had an unsustainably low .228 BABIP against him. I've hoped ZiPS would end up being wrong as much as right now.
Want more prospect gloom and doom? MLB.com's Jim Callis included an addendum to the Top 100 prospect lists they released Friday (that I also mentioned in yesterday's Reposter), adding in an additional 20 youngsters about whom he thinks highly. Spoiler alert: no Reds prospects made that cut, either.
Switching gears, we learned from Reds.com reporter Mark Sheldon this morning that Billy Hamilton has been working out in Atlanta this winter with Delino DeShields, Mike Cameron, and their sons, and that he's doing his best to get stronger and to be a better bunter. Despite Billy's profound ability to befuddle defenses and reach base often on bunts, I'm still not a fan of using that as the primary weapon in his arsenal since I'm of the opinion that it hinders other parts of his game (like walking, for one), but that's much more a hunch of mine than it is any sort of scientific worry. (Also, I just hate bunts and everything they stand for.) It is, however, exactly what Bryan Price wants him to do, which means you should get your bunty popcorn ready for the start of the 2015 season.
I love what Devin Mesoraco has turned into for the Reds, and I'm excited as can be about how he emerges as a team leader going forward. You also know I've long thought that former Reds farmhand Yasmani Grandal has the same kind of All Star potential, if not more. I'll let him tell you why that's the case.
For a bit more on Mes, David Golebiewski took a closer look at what helped the now established catcher-of-the-present during his standout 2014 campaign over at Just A Bit Outside. The gist: pitch recognition, pull power in a pull-friendly ballpark, and finally getting the chance to be the go-to starter.
Finally, here's a cool graphic (with some very historic names) listing the all-time leaders in FIP-ERA difference (by percentage), a concept most Johnny Cueto supporters are quite familiar with:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>All-time leaders (on a percentage basis) of FIP higher than career ERA. Doesn't like closers much. <a href="http://t.co/h6eHeFeLye">pic.twitter.com/h6eHeFeLye</a></p>— High Heat Stats MLB (@HighHeatStats) <a href="https://twitter.com/HighHeatStats/status/562683374092156928">February 3, 2015</a></blockquote>
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For the record, Cueto just missed the cut at 18.3%, though his career FIP (3.87) clearly dwarfs his career ERA (3.27). Since 2011, though, he's mostly been in rarefied all-time company, checking in at 49.4% in that year, 35.1% in 2013, and 46.7% in 2014. Of course, regular RR readers are already well aware of this.