Alright guy, Here is the Top 25 list with reports. Below is rankings as a whole. I was unable to find free chat software that looked good enough to use on the site, so I am going to have an all questions answered topic. Starting at 1pm, I will begin answering anything and everything asked. No limit on the number of questions you ask, but try to be reasonable with things too.
|RedsMinorLeagues.com Top 25 Prospect List|
|1||Billy Hamilton||6||Tony Cingrani||11||Tanner Rahier||16||Tucker Barnhart||21||Donald Lutz|
|2||Robert Stephenson||7||Didi Gregorius||12||Chad Rogers||17||Seth Mejias-Brean||22||Ryan Wright|
|3||Daniel Corcino||8||Kyle Lotzkar||13||Jeff Gelalich||18||Ryan LaMarre||23||Amir Garrett|
|4||Nick Travieso||9||Henry Rodriguez||14||Ismael Guillon||19||David Vidal||24||Bryson Smith|
|5||Jesse Winker||10||Yorman Rodriguez||15||Dan Langfield||20||Neftali Soto||25||Gabriel Rosa|
Unlike most AQA sessions, this one will be different. Submit your questions below as a comment. I am then going to Answer it in the page and delete your question from the comments section.
Scott from upstate NY
Thanks Doug. Looking forward to your next edition of your Book to see your extended list – that’s the part I like best. Remember my suggestion to add a devoted page near the back so we can write down the 2013 draftees.
When putting together your order, what is the single most element you struggle with? Upside vs. production, limited play, injury impacts, or something else?
The book is my favorite part too. I will begin working on getting it all together now that most of my research is done starting Monday. Hoping to have it printed in less than 6 weeks. More often than not, what I struggle with is generally upside versus production. Guys like Yorman Rodriguez who have all of the tools in the world, but have poor plate discipline that leads to questionable returns on production are guys I tend to really struggle the most with. As a sabermetric type of guy, plate discipline is really important. But as a prospect guy, tools are as well. It is a big struggle. Limited play is probably next, because while scouting reports are good, I feel a lot better once I can see a guy with my own eyes.
Is Stephenson our best pitching prospect since Homer?
It is funny that you bring that up.Last night as I was writing the blurbs for him, I thought about adding that. Yes, Stephenson is the best pitching prospect we have had since Homer Bailey was listed as the best or second best pitching prospect in the minor leagues. Right now, I would be comfortable placing Stephenson inside my Top 25-30 prospects in the minor leagues.
Doug, any idea what kind of foot speed Winkler has? Was it difficult for you to put Hamilton above Stephenson? I really like his arm. Billy is making huge strides but ACE stuff is very hard to pass up.
Winker right now is a slightly below average runner. I need to go back and review some times on him from home to first, but based on scouting reports from earlier this year he is a slightly below average runner right now.
With Hamilton above Stephenson, it was tough. I went back and forth on the two, but decided to go with Hamilton because he is more of a sure thing to be a Major Leaguer. Upside wise, I would still take Stephenson, but it would be close because if Hamilton reaches his true upside he could be an MVP caliber player. Stephenson needs to make some improvements in his control and still needs to really build up his innings. Hamilton needs to make fewer adjustments in his game. It simply came down to more certainty with Hamilton to at least be a Major Leaguer with two very high ceiling guys like those two.
Sultan of Swaff
I LOVE Hamilton, but Stephenson is special. It scares me to say it, but he reminds me of Verlander. You have to applaud the Reds for taking their time with him, only throwing him 65 innings. I would figure he’s on track to finish 2013 at Bakersfield, then hit AA as a 21 year old. I’ll be curious to hear what his innings limit will be next season. Say, 125-150 innings?
I can see that comparison. I didn’t see Verlander at the same age, so I can’t say for sure how comparable the two were at the same age, but I can see Stephenson being Verlander like because of the stuff being similar. I figure that Stephenson probably threw some between April and June when his season began, even if it was just 15 innings a month, that is a total of 110 innings on the year. So I figure he would probably be ok to throw in that 125-150 range. The Reds have been pretty good at keeping guys limits in check in the minor leagues, so I am sure that they have a plan in place already for him.
how does winker compare to some of our recent positional prospects (Alonso, Grandal, Mesoraco, maybe even Votto/ Bruce)just taking into consideration hitting. The numbers he put up are promising especially his OBP.
Hitting is a little different from batting. In terms of purely hitting the ball (which means not counting plate selection/discipline), Jay Bruce is and was the best of the group you mentioned. He doesn’t have the discipline of a Votto or Alonso to take more advantage of that tool though. Winker doesn’t have the upside of a Votto or Bruce offensively, I just don’t see 30+ home runs from him like those guys have the potential for. I could see him turning into a guy like what Alonso or Grandal could be though as a batter with a good average, strong OBP and moderate power (say 20-25 home runs with 30 doubles). As far as someone his age coming right into professional baseball, I don’t recall another guy in my time covering the system who was this good right out of the gate. Ronald Torreyes maybe, but they were two entirely different types of hitters too.
There are no relievers at all on the list. Do we have any that are going to help us out soon?
Generally speaking, relievers don’t have a high value because even the better relievers are only throwing 50-60 innings in a season. While they are valuable as a group of players, and you do need good ones to make your bullpen strong, as an individual they aren’t nearly that valuable. Plus, you should generally be able to produce several relievers from your farm system every single season. We have several guys who could help out soon though. Curtis Partch transitioned from a starter to a reliever and put up strong numbers out of the bullpen with a mid to upper 90’s fastball. Drew Hayes is probably the best pure relief prospect we have and could help out as early as next season. Keeping on from that Pensacola bullpen are two lefties with a chance to help out soon in Chris Manno and Wilkin De La Rosa. Mark Serrano is a little bit older, but he has the stuff to be a Major Leaguer. Josh Ravin spent most of the year on the DL, but he has hit 101 MPH in Arizona this fall. The relievers are there, I just don’t place high prospect value on them as individuals for the most part.
Doug,any early reports on how Hamilton is adjusting to CF in AFL.
Pretty much like you would expect. Every now and again you will see that he is new to the position. Late reads on the ball, routes that are a little off. At the same time he has been said to get good reads and track down balls deep in the gaps. Talking to a few scouts, generally speaking they figure he will probably need some time in the minor leagues next year to get more acclimated with the position. Anywhere from 50-100 games, it just all depends on how quickly he can pick things up.
Doug, what would classify as a good season at Dayton for Winker?
Expectations are going to be high, given what he just did in Billings, but if he can go .275/.340/.400 I would consider that a decent season for a 19-year-old. If he can go out there and OPS over .800, it would be quite impressive for his age. While the study is a few years old, BaseballAnalysts.com had up a study that showed that the average teenager in the Midwest League usually has a low .700’s OPS. So being better than that generally puts you ahead of the curve.
Should we and the Reds front office really be putting all of our chips on betting Hamilton is definitely going to make it as a major leaguer?? There is still a chance he isnt a very good major league player and it definitely seems like the top of the order and centerfield all revolve around him being a good MLB player in 2014. Why not get someone else with a track record to leadoff and play centerfield and then if Hamilton is everything we hope he is as a MLB player then trade the player we are using as a bridge. Because if we dont address centerfield/leadoff before 2014 because we are counting on Hamilton to be that guy then we will be in big trouble if he doesnt work out dont you think?? Thats why i would love to see us get a Span/Bourn/Victorino so we have them as a fall back in case the almighty Hamilton doesnt make it as a major leaguer.
All of our chips, no. Until he does it, it still remains a question. I don’t think the Reds plan on him for the first half of 2013, so they are probably looking for options outside of the organization for someone who could fill that gap for half of, or even all of the 2013 season to see how Hamilton progresses both defensively and offensively at the AAA level. The question, as usual, will be what exactly is the right price to pay for this insurance and for how long? Then of course it is finding those answers and then finding a player who fits that criteria who you can acquire or pay for.
Doug, does Y-Rod have the best tools of any of our position prospects in the system? If not who does?
Yes, he does. Yorman Rodriguez is a legit five-tool player. He has speed, he has power, he has the hit tool, he can play defense and he has a good arm. He isn’t a five skill player yet (most guys who have five tools don’t wind up as five skill players), but in terms of his raw tools, he has them all. I don’t think anyone else in the system can match him tool for tool.
Doug who are your untouchables in the reds minor leagues? if they want to make a trade to help the major league team who would you tell other teams are not available and why?
Technically, everyone is available. If the Angels called up and offered Mike Trout for someone, you pull the trigger. But generally speaking the only guy I wouldn’t be trading is Stephenson. I just see him as being a special type of arm that doesn’t come around much. Hamilton, for all of the things he can do, I could see him not reaching his ceiling as easily as I can with Stephenson. I wouldn’t be calling up teams trying to move Hamilton of course, but in the right deal, I would include him. Outside of those two guys (of the players that are eligible to be traded – no 2012 draft pick is eligible to be traded yet), anyone would be readily available without much real hesitation to a “what if” question. Obviously you don’t just give these guys away, but to fill your needs on the Major League level for more than a stop-gap player, anyone could be available outside of those two guys.
Watching opponents attack Hamilton last year, what did you pick up in terms of their game plan? Were they effective enough, but Hamilton overcame it? When control and/or talent isn’t an issue with opposing pitchers, would you expect Hamilton to do better or worse with attacking pitches in or near the zone?
Well, it isn’t always easy to pick up a game plan in the minor leagues because most of these guys simply aren’t good enough to execute it the way that it is called. Hamilton still struggles at times with offspeed pitches (who doesn’t?) . I do think that up in the zone, particularly from the left side, is a spot where you can get Hamilton out at if he swings. His swing isn’t nearly as fluid up in the zone from that side of the plate. The key though is to get him to swing and he showed improvements in holding back on that pitch more this season. With that said, he still posted a strikeout rate of 18%, so you clearly can get him out. He isn’t a high contact rate guy right now. If I were an opposing pitcher, I would try to pitch him up in the zone more than not. He doesn’t have the power to consistently hurt you when he puts the ball in the air (re: HR), so I would take my chances there rather than allowing him to try and swing at pitches lower in the zone with more often result in groundballs (which for Hamilton make everything close) or allow him from the left side to put a stronger swing on the ball. From the right side of the plate, I would try to pound him down and away. It will be interesting to see how he does in AAA next season where you have more veteran and savvy type pitchers who can better locate their stuff, even if as a whole it isn’t as good as the stuff you will see in AAA.
Doug why do you still project Lotzkar as a starter? From what I’ve read he’s fastball/curve with command/control issues.
I guess I can still see him being a starter. For his career, Lotzkar has thrown a total of 290 innings. Top that off with him having thrown under 200 innings in his entire life with his new mechanics. He has the stuff. Three pitches, all good enough to work in the Majors. The control is the real question. He was clearly wearing down in the second half of the season, he has never come close to having that kind of workload before. While there are still plenty of reasons to think he winds up as a reliever, I think there is enough there to believe he can start too.
How about Cingrani throwing a cutter? He seems like the ideal candidate. Wasn’t the cutter what pushed Travis Wood over the top?
It changed things for both Wood and Ondrusek. But, unlike those two guys, Cingrani’s fastball is just fine. His slider has some potential to it. The problem is that sometimes it is a truly poor pitch. Flat and straight. Other times though, its a Major League quality slider. I would just have him continue working on his slider rather than introduce an entirely new pitch that really wouldn’t change his role much, especially since he has a third pitch that at times is already showing something.
Does your ranking Seth Mejias-Brean at 17 project future 50 power? Also does H Rodriguez project to have 50 power or better at ML level?
I think that SMB could have 50 future power, placing him in that 20 home run territory. I would not put Henry Rodriguez there though. I think he is more of a 10-15 home run type of guy. His power is completely to the pull side no matter which side of the plate he is on. His value is going to come from his ability to hit for a good average.
When we signed Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez, we applauded the moves as these two looked primed for future success. Are they still?
I am a lot higher on Rodriguez than Duran. Duran simply strikes out too much and would literally have to improve his strikeout rate by 30% to even be considered poor at making contact. That simply isn’t likely. Rodriguez has some warts in his game still, and a rather long way to go, but the tools are unrivaled in the system still and the production, while it hasn’t been good overall, it hasn’t been bad either (except for his 100 at bats in High A). The moves, even if the two guys never play in the Majors, are of value. While we may not recoup the money spent on them if they never play in the Majors (though I still have faith in Rodriguez), it showed the buscones in those countries that the Reds were willing to spend big bucks for premium talents and makes it more likely that they will get a chance to see more talented guys now and in the future.
Doug what have you heard about Jonathan Perez Reds signed in 2011 from Venezuela, I believe he was 30 on last years BA list. Also whats your take on Sal Romano?
I haven’t heard a single thing on Jonathan Perez. Which is rather unfortunate. I don’t really know what is going on with him. With Romano, I like the kid. He held his own at a young age in the Pioneer League and showed off some skills. Big groundball rates, solid strikeout rate and for his age/level, a solid walk rate. As he moves up, if he can keep that strikeout rate and groundball rate if he were to lower the walk rate just a little bit, he could really be a solid starter.
Doug, who do you think the best comp is for Hamilton among current or recent major leaguers. Reyes? Borne? Ichiro? Obviously none of those are perfect…
You are right that none of them are perfect. I don’t see the power or contact ability to a Reyes comparison. Not the hitter that Ichiro is. Bourn seems like the best comparison for now. Bourn is a little shorter and thicker, but their games seem to be similar. Not much power, big time speed, some plate discipline that leads to both walks and strikeouts. Bourn has a career line of .272/.339/.365 and outside of one season, add about 10 points to the OBP and SLG and that is who he has been. I think Hamilton could follow that path as well, but with a few more steals. There is always the risk that he doesn’t become that, but I think projecting him to be Michael Bourn like would be fair and reasonable.
Assuming that Henry Rodriguez’s decreased batting statistics at the end of the year were due to him recovering from his hand fracture and he hits .320 during Spring Training or the first month or two in Louisville, do the Reds need to make a place for him in the starting lineup and hitting 2nd for 2013?
Well, that depends on who else is doing what? If Todd Frazier is playing third base and we have a left fielder who is doing well, then no, because there is nowhere for him to play.