Four days worth of prospects and we finally get to the cream of the crop guys here in the Top 10. I think everyone knows the names of the guys that are here by elimination now, but its the order that makes it fun.
10. Billy Hamilton – Shortstop
Background: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 Draft by the Reds.
The Good: Hamilton was arguably the best athlete in the 2009 Draft and passed up a chance to play college football at Mississippi State. Tools. Hamilton has outstanding speed, a strong arm and good power potential at the plate. Also projects to stick at shortstop with good range and a strong arm.
Needs to work on: Hamilton took up switch hitting in 2009 once he was drafted by the Reds in order to help take advantage of his speed. Getting experience with that will be good. Outside of that Hamilton is still a raw hitter. Experience overall will be a good thing for Hamilton who was a 3 sport star in high school.
9. Zack Cozart – Shortstop
Background: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 Draft out of Ole Miss.
The Good: Cozart is an above average shortstop defensively with solid range, a sure glove and a good arm. At the plate Cozart has a little bit of pop but really improved his plate discipline this season where he more than doubled his previous walk rate while slightly lowering his strikeout rate.
Needs to work on: Cozart showed some good pop early in the season but over the last two months saw the power dry up. Despite Carolina’s infield having a bad reputation Cozart needs to show the errors weren’t all on him.
8. Travis Wood – Left Handed Pitcher
Background: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 Draft.
The Good: Wood has perhaps the best change up in the minor leagues to match with an 88-91 MPH fastball. He also has added a cut fastball in the mid 80’s that has been pretty successful for him. 2009 saw him put up perhaps the best numbers in the minor leagues for any starting pitcher.
Needs to work on: Wood has a small frame at 5’11” and 165 pounds. Adding 10 pounds could go a long way to helping his durability. Wood throws a curveball, but its well behind his other three pitches in terms of effectiveness.
7. Brad Boxberger – Right Handed Pitcher
Background: Drafted in the supplemental 1st Round by the Reds in 2009.
The Good: Boxberger has a fastball that sits 89-93 MPH and hit 97 MPH earlier this week out in Arizona. Has an above average slider, slightly above average curveball and an average change up. Has solid size at 6’2″ and 200 lbs.
Needs to work on: The rub on Boxberger has been that he isn’t conditioned well as his velocity tends to dip from inning to inning and from start to start. He also had control problems in college where his walk rates were higher than you would like.
6. Chris Heisey – Outfielder
Background: Drafted in the 17th round of the 2006 Draft out of Messiah College.
The Good: Heisey does just about everything well. He has speed, a good contact rate, solid walk rate, good defense and a strong arm. In 2009 he really showed he had some good pop in his bat as well as he tore through the Southern League and continued to show power in Louisville. He can play all of the outfield positions well, but the fact that he can play in center boosts his value even more.
Needs to work on: Heisey isn’t a spring chicken and saw his production slow down some upon his arrival in AAA. Returning to form next season could put him on the Reds watch list early in the season for a call up. With a well rounded game there isn’t much to think he needs to work on other than getting back to what he has been doing.
5. Juan Francisco – Third Base/Left Field
Background: Signed as an international free agent in May 2004 out of the Dominican Republic.
The Good: The players in the minor leagues with more raw power than Juan Francisco can be counted on 1 or 2 fingers. On top of that he has excellent hand eye coordination that allows him to drive balls that other hitters couldn’t do much with. Francisco also has a plus arm.
Needs to work on: The biggest concern with Francisco is his plate discipline. He simply must improve it before he will be ready to be a starter in the major leagues, but there have been signs of improvement over the last year. The other concern with Francisco is his defense. At third base Francisco was inconsistent where he would show flashes of being both a very good and a very bad defender. The Reds have talked about him getting time in left field as well, a new position to him.
4. Yorman Rodriguez – Centerfield
Background: Signed by the Reds as an international free agent in August 2008 out of Venezuela.
The Good: Yorman Rodriguez has been compared to guys like Eric Davis and Carlos Beltran for the range of tools that he has. Defensively Rodriguez is considered to have plus range and an above average arm to go with plus speed. At the plate he also has plus bat speed. He was also the youngest player playing professionally in the US this year at 16.
Needs to work on: Just about everything. He is a now 17 year old, so its expected that he has a long way to go. Rodriguez saw his walk rate go down and his strikeout rate go up with a promotion to Billings, finding a better ratio like he showed in the GCL would be a good start to see next season. There are some concerns that he will continue to struggle with offspeed pitches as well.
3. Mike Leake – Right Handed Pitcher
Background: Drafted by the Reds in the 1st round of the 2009 Draft out of Arizona State.
The Good: Leake throws a fastball in the 88-91 range and can get it up to 94 MPH with very good movement, an above average to plus slider, above average change up and a curveball. Leake has good control and throws lots of strikes while walking few batters. He should be able to move quickly through the system.
Needs to work on: Leake has very little pro experience right now as he has thrown under 10 innings in the Arizona Fall League. His size is a concern for some, so getting through a seasons workload would ease those concerns some.
2. Todd Frazier – Wherever you want to play him
Background: Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2007 Draft out of Rutgers.
The Good: Frazier can play first base, third base and left field well enough to be in the majors right now. He came up as a shortstop and could play there in a pinch if needed and is also learning to play second base currently. Offensively he has a very good approach at the plate, spreads the ball to all fields and has good pop in his bat.
Needs to work on: Defensively Frazier is still pretty raw at second base where the Reds have him playing right now. He spent instructional league time getting more experience there.
1. Yonder Alonso – First Base
Background: Drafted in the 1st Round of the 2008 draft by the Reds out of Miami.
The Good: Alonso has an incredible ability to judge the strikezone. As a pro he has 5 more strikeouts than walks. Alonso spreads the ball to all fields well with power and projects to hit for a high avearge.
Needs to work on: Alonso shows a solid plate approach against left handers, but in his 71 at bats as a pro against them he hasn’t hit them well. I am not as concerned as some, but hitting well against lefties would go a long way to quiet the concerns.
There we go guys (and gals). That is the Top 40 for 2009. Chat will be tomorrow for the whole thing, but I will answer questions in the comments section as well.