There’s been much debate around the ‘Nation about where the Reds’ top-level prospects will be to start the upcoming season. Based upon some recent comments by Reds Director of Player Development Terry Reynolds and how the outfield situation pans out, the starting lineup for the Louisville Bats could be a very strong prospect-filled one.

Reynolds was quoted in an article by MLB’s Lisa Winston in late November:

“At this point, Reynolds said, he sees Frazier opening the season as Louisville’s left fielder and Valaika as their second baseman, with Cozart at shortstop.”

Reynolds added recently, in a Mark Sheldon article on Juan Francisco, “Our plan is to start Francisco at third base in Louisville, unless something happens during Spring Training with the big league club.”

Now consider how the OF could possibly play out. Drew Stubbs could easily find himself back in AAA next April with a poor Spring Training at the plate, especially with Willy Taveras and his $4M contract still in the fold. Wladimir Balentien has put up some great minor league numbers, had a decent late season showing last year, and is out of options. It’s very feasible that as of right now he could be the RH power portion of a platoon in LF with either Dickerson or Nix. Nix, with his excellent defense at all three OF positions and his ability to hit with pop from the left side of the plate, has a good shot at sticking as the 5th OF. That gives us a pretty realistic shot right now of having Bruce, Taveras, Dickerson, Balentien, and Nix as the OFs on the opening day roster.

So where does all this leave the opening day Louisville lineup? Well, it could look something like this.

C Miller
1B Alonso
2B Valaika
3B Francisco
SS Cozart
LF Frazier
CF Stubbs
RF Heisey
DH Dorn

It’s likely that Alonso could start the season at AA instead of AAA Louisville which would move Dorn to 1B. There is admittedly a lot of variables involved, but it’s not much of a reach to imagine the above as the opening day AAA Louisville Bats lineup. It will be interesting to see if the Reds make any moves between now and then to pave the way for any of these prospects to open the season on the Reds 25 man roster.

48 Responses

  1. RedBlooded

    I think that is a very likely scenario and a hell of lineup for the Bats. they will be very much fun to watch. Of course, we still have to have Spring Training and some interesting things could happen. If Stubbs does well in the spring, it will put pressure on the Reds to do something, anything with Taveras. Especially if out of options Balentien does well. We saw last year how much Dusty is influenced by early spring performance, a la MacDonald. On the other hand, Willy could be hot. He must know he is fighting for his professional life. He should be coming to ST ready battle and play all out from the get go.

    If I had to bet, I would say the opening day outfield roster would be Bruce, Stubbs, Dickerson, Balentien and Nix. But that may be wishful thinking, hoping Willy has found a new home. Heisey is less likely to be on the roster opening day because he has options and Balentien does not. Frazier is further hampered by not being on the the 40 man. I do think Heisey and Frazier will be in the mix before the year is out.

  2. Redsrock

    That’s a nice lineup. I’m so glad the Reds are stacked prospect-wise. It’s great to be a Reds fan. Let’s just hope that with the hype comes success as well.

  3. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    That team, good sir, could easily finish 4th in the NL Central.

    Question is, will the Reds?

  4. BJ Ruble

    If that is the case, I will be going to watch the team in Louisville. I really don’t know if I can watch another season with WT leading off playing CF when he is the worst option possible.

  5. Doug Gray

    Alonso was in the AAA playoffs. He won’t be going back to AA.

    That team is going to be STACKED though. Of course that is without even mentioning the rotation which could be pretty good as well.

    • Tom Diesman

      Doug Gray: Alonso was in the AAA playoffs. He won’t be going back to AA.

      He’s since put up some pretty disappointing Fall/Winter league numbers though. Showed no power in the Arizona Fall league and his Puerto Rican Winter League numbers are just bad. Not sure if he’s still dealing with the aftermath of the wrist injury, and if so, why was he not taking time off to let it heal. He’s not exactly upped his stock this fall and winter. Despite his AAA playoffs appearance in Sep., I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he started out the season in AA and got moved up quickly after showing some more success there.

      Alonso 2009 AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
      A+ 175 .303 .383 .497 .880
      AA 105 .295 .372 .457 .829
      AFL 86 .267 .353 .395 .748
      PWL 61 .213 .304 .377 .681

  6. RedBlooded

    An interesting DP combination. It could be the one of the future for the Reds.

  7. RedBlooded

    By the way, is Frazier totally out of consideration as a second baseman? Was he that bad? Have they given him enough time there to know for sure?

  8. Travis G.

    Stubbs has earned a chance to start the season on the 25-man roster and play his way off it in Cincinnati, no matter what he does in spring training.

    • RedinFla

      Travis G.: Stubbs has earned a chance to start the season on the 25-man roster and play his way off it in Cincinnati, no matter what he does in spring training.

      I sure do agree on this – but I guess it’s not that simple.
      At any rate, Springtime in Arizona should be interesting.

  9. John

    Agreed, Travis. We’ll know pretty quickly how serious this organization is about winning if Willy is the opening day CF.

  10. Redsrock

    Good thing I live about ten minutes north of Louisville. I’ll be going to as many games as I can.

  11. hoosierdad

    Selfishly speaking, I would love that Bats lineup. Living just across the river, I’m about 10 minutes from Slugger Field. Also, the tickets are cheaper and can sit closer to the action. As a Reds fan, if they keep and start WT over Stubbs, it must mean they no longer care about 2010 and are only looking to 2011. That, my friends, is not a good way to sell tickets.

  12. Glenn

    I haven’t seen anything that gives me confidence in the Reds outfield for 2010.

  13. David Kaiser

    again if these prospects are the real deal then why stick them in louisville until june when the reds are out of contention?stubbs desreves the right to be the centerfielder no matter what he does in spring taining.he did more in his limited time than taveras did the whole year!so because balintine is out of options heisey has to start in louisville?what has he done in the majors to impede the younger guys progress?I am not trying to be negative just a realist.and I want the reds to contenders for years to come not just this year.and the best way in my opinion is to to play the kids now and get thier expierance so that they can have have a young yalented team for years to come.if taveras is the starter in cf then the reds are toast and it will say they are not serious about building a winner.

  14. Jello

    I’ll have to catch some games when the bats come to Rochester.

  15. Travis G.

    @David Kaiser: Space bar, man. Seriously.

    The only way Taveras starts is if he earns the job. So, in other words, we don’t need to worry about him. I can see why they wouldn’t cut him now, because they’re already paying him and you never know what might happen with injuries to other players, but he won’t break camp if they don’t think he can help them.

  16. RedBlooded

    I hate to be the one to break it to you guys, but the Reds are not serious about 2010. That ship has sailed. The Chapman signing was a clear indication of that. Everything points to 2011. If WT comes out of the Spring hot it may be in the best interest of the Reds to showcase him at the beginning of the season to set up a trade. If WT doesn’t rise to the occasion in the spring then I agree with you. Time to cut your losses. In terms of Balentien, he played pretty well after he came to the Reds. I think it is the smart thing to see if he can keep that up or even build on it. If you can keep him to see if he keeps that up, that’s a plus for the Reds. I like Heisey a lot. It is not going to hurt him to spend some time at AAA. If Heisey is kept and someone gets injured, you don’t have the option of plugging in Balentien. He will be gone.

  17. andre3www

    Will the reds ever win with the pro team they have now?The answer is No. The reds fans should just wait til 2011

  18. catcard202

    @David Kaiser:

    The Reds are a small market team…They need to take advantage of the farm…and sometimes that means holding a prospect until JUN, just in case they go all super2 & price themselves out of CIN before they should.

    IMO, This plays a HUGE part of Walt’s plan w/ Guys like Stubbs, Heisey, Cozart & MANY Arms.

    As far as Balentein is concerned…Wlad was as highly rated in the SEA system as Heisey is (if not higher) w/ the REDS…I truly believe w/ steady playing time & AB’s…He could blossom into a real asset in CIN…(His MiLB stats aren’t that bad!!!)…and I could easily see him doing as well in 2010, as Gomes did in 2009…(W/ much better LF D).

    CHONE is very opportunistic about Wlad’s potential in 2010…Maybe we should, too.

  19. JustTheFacts

    I go out of town a few days and have come back to an alternate nation. Gracious. If you think that potential Bats lineup would beat the Reds in a 3 game set, I suppose it’s possible, but bloody unlikely. I strongly disagree that 2010 doesn’t matter to the front office. If you don’t want to go to games, that’s fine. We’ll save you a seat on the bandwagon for when they’re winning.

    I get many fans are frustrated, I am too. I think the frustration is exacerbated further by having another underachieving team in town. But what the heck happened since Wednesday? Did I miss something? I mean no disrespect, but Cincinnati fans are skitzo. Are the disappointed football fans coming in here and blowing off some steam?

    Frankly WT comes up in just about every thread. I think we are all tired of talking about Willy. So would we all like to see Stubbs over WT (probably including the Front Office, I might add)? Certainly! WT is due 4 huge and even though Staton was cut with 3 million left, it was a major factor in why WK lost his job. I think it is a bridge too far to expect WT to get released. WJ will have to wait out the contract or dispose of him another way.

    I’ve been a Stubbs fan since I saw him break a window with a 500 foot HR in Dayton. But I don’t think his offense showed him worthy of a ML spot dispite what he does in ST.

    All that said, that is a GREAT roster in Louisville if it does happen. Do you realize it is possible that 4 first round picks will all be together on that team (Stubbs ’06, Frazier ’07-sup, Alonzo ’08, and Leake ’09)? With the pitching that will be there, good gracious that’s going to be a great AAA team. And who’s to say many of those guys won’t be up even before the break. They need to play together and get used to winning. Winning is a habit. So is loosing.

    • Travis G.

      Getting four first-rou

      JustTheFacts:
      Do you realize it is possible that 4 first round picks will all be together on that team (Stubbs ‘06, Frazier ‘07-sup, Alonzo ‘08, and Leake ‘09)?

      Getting four first-round picks to AAA is an accomplishment in itself, considering the volatility of prospects.

      Look, the Reds have a good team as currently constructed. They’ve got outstanding defense at every position save 1B and LF (Votto’s still learning and we don’t know who’s playing left yet). The offense has a chance to be greatly improved over last year, assuming everyone stays healthy, no one endures a season-long funk like Bruce in ’09, Willy T. isn’t our everyday CF and Janish hits at the bottom of the order. Those aren’t big “ifs,” really, because every team has to worry about injuries and slumps, and player usage problems are easily correctable. Our pitching is as good as it’s been in years, with the biggest question mark being the fifth starter. Again, almost every team’s worried about that!

      The Reds aren’t likely to win a world championship this year, but they’ve got a solid mix of veterans and young guys who should challenge for a playoff spot. Some of their biggest contracts are due to expire in the next year or two, with some exciting prospects ready to step in at those spots. We’ve got an owner willing to spend $30 million on one of the best pitching prospects in the world. Seriously, what’s not to like about all this?

  20. Redsrock

    @hoosierdad: Yeah, I live in Jeffersonville. I guess that means I’m supposed to hate you now. 😛

  21. hoosierdad

    @Redsrock: Nope. Born in Jeff, moved to New Albany after living out-of-state for a few years. Had to find a big old house for my 5 sons!

  22. hoosierdad

    @JustTheFacts: RE: Bats beat Reds in 3 game series. Seriously, I could see that happenig. Not saying they would have a better record over a 162 game schedule. But in a 3 games series which Bailey, Arroyo and Harang shows up? Don’t forget Rick Sweet vs. Dusty. WT leading off and PJ batting 2nd. All we’re really saying is the future looks very bright with a lot of talent down on the farm and fairly ready to help the big league club. And in a pennant race, you could always trade away one or two youngters for an established veteran to possibly push you over the top.

  23. Glenn

    Stubbs has a great deal more upside than Willy T. WT’s salary probably keeps him on the team. Bruce has got to step it up this year and I’m not sold on Ballentin at all. Dickerson showed enough last year to show that he is a bona fide major leaguer. Nix is a career .240 hitter with some pop. He’s a role player, not the type of player you win divisional titles with. IMO the talent is just middle of the road and there’s no room for someone to have a down year or injuries with the OF crew and the Reds to have a chance at a winning season.

  24. The Mad Hatter

    Just my opinion but if Dusty has his way, it will be more entertaining to watch the Bats than the Reds. Still though, I can’t argue with keeping Heisey, Frazier, Alonzo, et. al. in the minors this season. More experience in dealing with better and better pitcher will only help with all their development.

  25. nick in va

    That looks like a solid team. Too bad Richmond doesn’t have a AAA team anymore that plays the Bats.

  26. RedinFla

    @Travis G.:

    Thanks for the perspective, Travis G. Reds fans have reason to feel pretty good about 2010 at least showing some real progress.

    The only part that worries me is the
    “player usage problems are easily correctable” part… but I’m not going to let that get to me today. :mrgreen:

  27. vince

    I’d rather watch Louisville games this year than Cincinnati games, especially if Taveras sees more than 10 at-bats per week.

  28. JustTheFacts

    @Glenn: Good points, but I think the Reds offense will show an improve this year. I would refer you to GregD’s thread a few days ago regarding An Optimistic Look at the Reds Offense in 2010. There are more than a few notions to assuage your apprehension 😉 .

  29. david

    The Reds are not going to destroy the goodwill that the team developed in signing Chapman by naming Taveras the opening day CF. It’s just not going to happen.

    Taveras will be moved off this team. He was awful during the year. He wasn’t around at all at the end of last season. He wasn’t at Redsfest and no explanation was given as to his absence.

    If you think the town is a buzz about the Reds after signing Chapman, just think what would happen if the team dropped Taveras. My bet is that ticket sales would jump enough to cover the $4 million owed to Taveras.

    • Travis G.

      david: just think what would happen if the team dropped Taveras. My bet is that ticket sales would jump enough to cover the $4 million owed to Taveras.

      Paying money to not watch a player. Now there’s a novel idea!

  30. GregD

    Early odds on the Reds outfield is Dickerson, Stubbs, Bruce, Balentien, Nix, IMHO.

    Taveras doesn’t make the club.

    Since Nix is on a minor league deal, that does leave open the opportunity for Francisco, Heisey or Frazier to make the opening day roster in LF over a currently expected Dickerson/Balentien platoon. Francisco and Heisey are already on the 40-man roster, and Frazier could easily be added in the spot vacated by Taveras.

    Then, the opening day OF would be Prospect, Stubbs, Bruce with Dickerson & Balentien on the bench.

  31. GregD

    @david: I still like the math the Cardinals did last season to trade for Holliday. They didn’t have room in their budget for him last year, but they figured that trading for Holliday would increase ticket sales and increase their likelihood of retaining the division lead and making the playoffs (more money.)

    I wonder if there is anyone like that the Reds could sign or trade for that would boost ticket sales enough to warrant an increase in payroll to cover the acquisition?

    • david

      GregD: @david: I still like the math the Cardinals did last season to trade for Holliday. They didn’t have room in their budget for him last year, but they figured that trading for Holliday would increase ticket sales and increase their likelihood of retaining the division lead and making the playoffs (more money.) I wonder if there is anyone like that the Reds could sign or trade for that would boost ticket sales enough to warrant an increase in payroll to cover the acquisition?

      My thought is that the Reds would have to look long and hard this summer if they are in contention. They have the propsects to pull off a deadline deal. Potential targets that make sense to me are Joe Mauer (if he isn’t extended), Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Webb, Carl Crawford and Brad Hawpe.

      Mauer likely won’t be dealt and the only guy I could see Cincy having a chance to re-sign is Webb. That said, the Reds have a strong rotation in 2011 without Arroyo and Harang. Without Taveras you have $25 million off the books. That enables the Reds to do a lot more than just extend guys like Cueto, Volquez, Votto and Bruce.

    • Travis G.

      GregD: @david: I wonder if there is anyone like that the Reds could sign or trade for that would boost ticket sales enough to warrant an increase in payroll to cover the acquisition?

      Johnny Damon. His defense is pretty lousy, but he can still hit, get on base and run well enough to lead off or hit second, which they need, and he’s got star power.

      Case in point: My mom is more of a basketball fan, but she watches TV enough to know who the stars are. She heard me mention to my dad that the Reds should sign Damon if his price drops any further, and she said, “Oooh, Johnny Damon. I’d go to a game to watch him play.” I don’t recall my mom ever going to a Major League baseball game, or even expressing interest in one.

  32. Luke Price

    I think that is a good lineup,and plus I live in Louisville. I live 15 minutes to Louisville Slugger Field.

  33. Bill Lack

    Plus, I wonder if he was called up to AAA to fill out roster needs, rather than on his merits. I’m not saying he won’t start the season in AAA, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he started it in AA.

  34. RiverCity Redleg

    My guess is that Francisco and Stubbs will both make the Big Club from that list. Either way, the Bats should be very good again this year. As good as Louisville has been this decade, you would think it would translate to Cincinnati just once.

  35. preach

    “As good as Louisville has been this decade, you would think it would translate to Cincinnati just once.”

    Amen.

  36. Travis G.

    I think that just goes to show how big the gulf is between AAA and the Major Leagues.

  37. david

    @Travis G.: Or just how well the Bats are managed in comparison to the big league club.

  38. GregD

    I think the Reds also make an effort to bring in talented minor league free agents to fill-in where the prospects don’t exist. The Kevin Barker’s and Justin Lehr’s (both of which actually got MLB time this year) of baseball are very talented professional players that they bring in to help the AAA team succeed. Going for former major leaguer Lew Ford at the end of the season to help the team in the playoffs. They always seem to sign a couple of guys like that to bolster the AAA roster.

    The signings of guys like Josh Anderson and Luis Terrero are most recent examples of this.

    Terrero enjoyed a huge year in the Mexican League last season, batting .345/.440/.603 with 21 home runs in 103 games for Laguna. Of course, the run-scoring environment in Mexico is elevated, but Terrero still ranked fifth in the ML in slugging (Ruben Rivera finished on top), third with 54 extra-base hits and fourth with 90 RBIs. At the conclusion of the Mexican League season, Terrero played indy ball with Kansas City of the Northern League for 10 games.