With the prospect list now complete, it is time to answer a bunch of questions. Just leave your questions in the comments section and I will add them to this post and delete it from the comments once I have answered it. I will be around to answer questions until this evening, so leave as many as you would like.

Chat

Bill: Billy Hamilton: Will the speed make up for the lack of hitting?

Doug Gray: I think Hamilton is a little better of a hitter than he showed in 2013. There are still areas where he needs to continue to progress, and he did that in the second half of the season. Still, his speed is game changing both on the bases and in the field and the amount that he hits will need to be minimal for him to provide value.

The Duke: Will the ever elusive Jonathan Perez finally play state side next year? Didn’t we give him $825,000?

Doug Gray: Yes, he had surgery and missed this season but is on schedule to be ready for the 2014 season.

Nick: Any chance that Rodriguez, Winker, or Ervin is the 2015 left fielder? If so, which one?

Doug Gray: I think there is a chance. I would lean more towards Rodriguez given his closer proximity and his already being on the 40-man roster. But, it wouldn’t shock me to see Winker or Ervin rocket up the system in 2014 and be ready at some point in 2015.

Nick: Is Stephenson a better prospect than Bailey was at a similar time?

Doug Gray: Yes, in my opinion he is. I think his stuff is simply better. Bailey had shown he could go through a season better at this point, but other than that I think Stephenson has a better fastball, breaking ball and change up than Bailey had at the same stage of their careers.

David: How close was Jackson Stephens? What kept him off?

Doug Gray: He was close-ish. I considered him among a handful of guys. It is tough to say why he was kept off exactly. I like him and his stuff. Just some other guys that I had a little bit higher.

David: Who on this list do you think could make the biggest leap, from beyond the top 10 or so?

Doug Gray: Probably one of the international guys who just haven’t had a chance to make their debut yet. From the guys on the top 25, maybe a guy like Junior Arias if he can figure out some better plate discipline or a guy with lots of tools like Gabriel Rosa or Aristides Aquino.

David: Where would you expect Carlton Daal to start out at in 2014?

Doug Gray: I could see him beginning in either Billings or in Dayton.

David: Do you think Winker/Ervin could both take the Bruce leap next season? Go from Hi-A to AAA in one season.

Doug Gray: Could they? Sure. Both are very good hitters. But I don’t think it is likely and to be honest, I believe Ervin will begin his season in Dayton next season.

RedsfanMike: When will Robert Stephenson be ready to start in the Majors?

Doug Gray: I think that he will be ready much sooner than he will likely be given a chance. There were times last season that I thought he would have had success against Major Leaguers with the exact same games he was throwing in Dayton. After he returned from his hamstring injury, his command wasn’t the same, but if he gets back to the point of commanding his fastball, it will not be much longer until he is ready.

Nick: Should we be holding out hope that Corcino can be a productive major league starter? Or has his control problems likely relegated him to a reliever.

Doug Gray: I believe there is some hope there. He has shown the ability in the past to throw strikes, so it is in there for him to do again. The 2013 season was very,very rough for him and it likely has tempered some expectations because of how it went and even the Reds placed him in the bullpen for a few appearances at the end of the season. With that all said, he absolutely must improve his control significantly to be a starter.

Uncleweez: Hey Doug, you like what you’ve seen from Jose Ortiz? What kind of prospect are we looking at with him?

Doug Gray: I ranked Ortiz 16th and had serious debates with myself about ranking him higher. I love the tools he has. The power is a loud tool. Toss in that he is a catcher and yeah, as I type this I am back to thinking I should have ranked him higher again. There is a lot of upside there.

Kevin: ETAs for your top 5? Could you give two estimates: most optimistic and conservative.

Doug Gray: Stephenson, June 2014/June 2015. Hamilton, April 2014/April 2015. Ervin, June 2015/September 2016. Winker, June 2015/June 2016. Rodriguez, August 2014/April 2016.

Uncleweez: So should we be excited about Yorman Rodriguez again? I have tempered my expectations for years now, but last season was at least encouraging. Are there very real improvements being made? Is his ceiling still outrageously high?

Doug Gray: I am excited again. I saw real, big steps forward improvements in several aspects of his game this season compared to last year. His ceiling is still rather high, but I do think there is a reason to think his average won’t be as high as his ceiling once would have suggested.

Adam: Where does Lively start this year? Update on Langefield? I think I saw a tweet indicating he was healthy and ready…

Doug Gray: Lively could probably start in Bakersfield, but he may wind up in Dayton instead. I think it will all depend on how the Reds want to handle promotions. There will be more than 5 guys battling in the spring for the Blaze rotation as long as no injuries spring up, meaning Lively may be back in Dayton to start the year if some others get promoted instead. With Langfield, I don’t know where he is in his rehab, but I do know that he began throwing in early October, so I doubt he is fully healthy and ready right now, but it probably puts him on target to be ready to begin 2014 on time.

Bob: One of the comments from the prospect threads really struck a cord with me. I think there is truth that Chapman’s fastball and Hamilton’s speed sells tickets. It seems that the Reds have them as untouchables as such, but what if they did decide to trade them. Are they more valuable as trading chips than they are as players because of their marketability?

I could make an argument that if you were to trade them, this is the absolute best time to do it, before Chapman becomes a starter or Hamilton becomes an everyday center fielder. While I think both of them would bring any team value, I don’t think either could out perform the current high expectation. What type of package could the Reds get for Chapman and Hamilton in combination?

Doug Gray: Yes, both guys are worth more than their on field contributions because of the marketing types of things that you can do with them. For a package of Chapman and Hamilton I believe you could get a #2 starting pitcher or an All-Star caliber position player.

Wanderinredsfan: Where art thou Constante?
I’d take Constante and Guillon over Garret at this point, let alone thinking that Kivel or Corcino are better bets going forward.
Is their a concern, other than control, with Constante or Guillon that worries you going forward?
Lefties with their arsenal don’t come along very often, especially when control through repetition should/could improve. Tony Cingrani says hello.

Doug Gray: I didn’t know TC read the site. Awesome. Constante was left off for me because he didn’t pitch in the US this year and struggled with his control in a league full of unrefined teenagers, most of whom will never step foot on a professional baseball field in this country. That is a big red flag for me. I like the stuff, but it says a lot to me that his season played out that way. Guillon and Constante both impress with their stuff, so it is mostly the control. Cingrani is on a different level than those guys IMO. Better velocity and control of the fastball.

stock: Yesterday I think it was wonderin who asked why Constante didn’t crack your top 25 when Medina did. Him and Luis Gonzalez looked really good at the end of the year. You said you would comment on that here.

Doug Gray: He literally beat you to the punch with his question by seconds. For me, as noted above, Constante showed a wart in his game, while Medina hasn’t yet. Not that it may not be there, but he hasn’t shown it yet. From what I have heard on Medina, I also expect him to be more advanced than Constante when the 2014 season begins.

stock: Billy Hamilton’s BABIP prior to last year was in the .360 – .380 range. Last year it dropped to .300. If you take away bunt attempts and bunt hits his BABIP dips to about .270. If he is at his career norms in BABIP then he hits over .300 last year with an OBP north of .350 and everyone is singing his praises.

Now people say that over time everyone has a BABIP of about .300 so the last year would be more indicative of Hamilton’s norm. I do not believe that however. Joey Votto’s BABIP for his career is .359.

The best comp in the majors to Hamilton is Bourn who over the last 5 years has a BABIP north of .350 himself and sits at .349 if you take away bunt hits and bunt attempts. Hamilton is faster than Bourn so his BABIP should be higher. Hamilton is a much more effective bunter than Bourn so that gives us 2 more reasons his BABIP should be higher. (more bunt hits, more hits through a drawn in infield).

So at long last my question. Was Hamilton unlucky last year with BABIP or do you think he was lucky in prior years?

Doug Gray: Hitters tend to have control over their BABIP. .300 is a baseline to start from until someone goes a prolonged period of time showing they are on one side of that mark or the other. Pop Up (infield fly) rate, speed and ability to use the entire field are big factors. Last season I think Hamilton was right on target with his BABIP. Especially in the first half, he simply wasn’t making hard contact, making it easier to turn the ball into outs. In the past, he was on target. He hit the ball harder and we all know he can use the speed. I think a realistic baseline for Hamilton’s BABIP is .330 at the MLB level. It certainly could be higher or lower than that, but that is about where I am expecting him to be at until he shows otherwise given his speed and hitting abilities.

Doug Gray: Well guys, that is all I can do for the day. Thanks for stopping by and chatting.