From the Louisville Courier Journal:

    “It’s going to be fun,” said Sweet, who guided the team to 84 victories last year and 88 in 2008. “In the six years I’ve been here this will probably be the youngest club but it also will be the most talented. … Scouts around baseball all they care about is how fast they can run, how hard they can throw. We’re going to have a scout’s dream this year. We’re going to have tremendous players.”

This is going to be the youngest and most talented team in Louisville since the Reds moved their AAA team there, IMO.

    One of those talented players could eventually be Aroldis Chapman, the $30-million man. Shockingly, Cincinnati won a bidding war for the services of the hard-throwing, left-handed Cuban. Even Sweet said he was stunned. He expects Chapman to start in Double-A Carolina, but the 21-year-old could move through the system quickly. That would mean a stop in Louisville this summer.

    snip..

    “We don’t know where he’s going to start,” Sweet said. “We’ll get him into spring training and see where he’s at. He could start anywhere from A ball to Triple A. He could come into camp and start blowing them away and start in the big leagues. It will all be determined by how many strikes he throws.”

If it were me, I’d start Chapman in High A, let him have a month or 6 weeks of success there, then move him to AA. That could get him to AAA (if he fast tracks) by the end of the season.

    The Bats should have a strong lineup with top prospects like Yonder Alonso, Juan Francisco, Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier and Chris Valaika. Two players to watch could be Alonso and Francisco, who both joined the team late last year. Alonso played only in the first round of the playoffs; Francisco played in 22 games.

    Francisco had five home runs and 22 RBIs with 55 total bases in those games. Injuries limited Alonso to 84 games while playing for Single-A Sarasota (.303 batting average with seven home runs and 38 RBIs in 49 games) and Carolina (.287, two home runs and 14 RBIs in 29 games). He also played six rehabilitation games in the Gulf Coast League because of a broken bone in his right hand. Much is expected from the 2008 first-round draft choice.

    There could be some position changes. Sweet said Frazier and Francisco might move to the outfield and Valaika could switch from shortstop to second base. Sweet said these changes are necessary in order to give the prospects the best opportunity to play in the majors.

My guess at the Bats lineup? C – Corky Miller 1B – Dorn, Frazier Alonso  2B – Valaika SS – Cozart 3B – Frazier, Francisco LF – Frazier, Francisco CF – Heisey RF – J. Anderson Dorn

But this depends…that RF spot could be Nix or Gomes or someone that falls from the Reds roster. Looks like a lineup that can put up some runs though.

25 Responses

  1. Beroader

    Cool article. I’m definitely going to see the Bats when they come up to Columbus.

    Also, shouldn’t Yonder Alonso be at first base in your projected lineup.

  2. Bill Lack

    Good point, forgot about him. That would probably put Dorn in LF or RF (with Frazier/Fransisco playing the other). Course…maybe he’s going to be the catcher. 😆

    • david

      Bill Lack: Good point, forgot about him. That would probably put Dorn in LF or RF (with Frazier/Fransisco playing the other). Course…maybe he’s going to be the catcher.

      I posted in another thread a June, 2008 article by Mark Sheldon which states Alonso can play 1B, 3B and C. Since he started and played every game at Miami at 1B, it isn’t unreasonable to think someone within the organization saw him as a catcher.

      • Bill Lack

        david:
        I posted in another thread a June, 2008 article by Mark Sheldon which states Alonso can play 1B, 3B and C.Since he started and played every game at Miami at 1B, it isn’t unreasonable to think someone within the organization saw him as a catcher.

        From everyone I’ve spoken to, there is zero chance he plays anything but 1B. I haven’t seen him play myself, but the people that I spoke to in Sarasota last summer that did see him said he was not good defensively at 1B, so I can’t imagine he’d be playing else where.

        I feel the same about Soto, he’s not a good 3B, I’ll be surprised if he can handle the transition to catcher.

  3. RiverCity Redleg

    You gotta love Rick Sweet. He just wins, regardless of the situation in Cincy. The last couple of years, his teams have been ravaged by the big league team and he doesn’t miss a beat, posting the IL’s best record two years in a row.

  4. hoosierdad

    I’ll be catching several Bats games this year (live in New Albany, right across the river) and will gladly give updates on the players. Gotta love that AAA line-up. I’m hoping Chapman either starts in or gets to Louisville quickly. The one big hole they have is catcher. Wouldn’t mind the Reds trading a prospect (or even a major league player) for a catching prospect – even at the AA level.

  5. Bill Lack

    The Reds have invested a #1 and a #4 pick in recent years on catchers. Devin Mesoraco (see our upcoming interview with Devin on RN Radio) is only 21 and has advanced a level every season. Marc Fleury had a lot of success at North Carolina (though he struggled last year in Billings).

    Neither are sure fire “can’t miss” guys…but the team has money invested in them, so they’ll be given multiple chances to succeed.

  6. hoosierdad

    @Bill Lack: So far, what I’ve seen from Mesoraco and Fleury has not been that impressive. Mesoraco will turn 22 in June. Used to be the fastest way to the majors (other than a 100mph fastball) was to be a good catcher. The fact that the Reds had to go out and get Corky Miller last year shows how bad the overall catching position is in the organization. When’s the last time a catcher moved all the way through the Reds’ farm system and became a decent to good MLB catcher?

    • Bill Lack

      hoosierdad: @Bill Lack: So far, what I’ve seen from Mesoraco and Fleury has not been that impressive.Mesoraco will turn 22 in June.Used to be the fastest way to the majors (other than a 100mph fastball) was to be a good catcher.The fact that the Reds had to go out and get Corky Miller last year shows how bad the overall catching position is in the organization.When’s the last time a catcher moved all the way through the Reds’ farm system and became a decent to good MLB catcher?

      Devin’s advanced one level per year, seems ok to me for a HS catcher. Fleury’s had one year of professional baseball (and a lot of players struggle in rookie ball)…

  7. GregD

    And 10th round pick Barnhart is a high school catcher, started one level behind Fleury. He was rated as 4th round talent, got 4th round bonus money, but scared some teams off with his GA Tech committment.

  8. hoosierdad

    @GregD: Forgot all about Barnhart. Thanks! You’d think me being hoosierdad and him coming from Brownsburg that I wouldn’t forget about him! I’ve seen height and weight on him anywhere from 5’8″ and 175 to 5′-10″ and 182. Any idea as to his true height and weight? Also, if memory serves me he’s a switch-hitter.

  9. nllspc

    There have been reports by Doug Gray that Neftali Soto could be moving to catcher and has been going through catcher drills in Arizona.

  10. GRF

    Are we sure Alonso is in AAA? He was there in the playoffs, and given he is on the 40 man it would be nice, but my very hazy memory is the numbers suggested at leat a little AA time might not be out of order…

  11. GRF

    I will be following Mesoraco’s progress closely, only because he turned into a monster in my OOTP league. 😀

  12. RedinFla

    @Bill Lack:

    Sheldon commented today that “teaching (Alonzo) the hardest position in the field” wouldn’t be as simple as, say, a move to the outfield…

    😯 ❓

  13. Mark in CC

    Wilkin Castillo will be the starting catcher in AAA not Miller, if WC isn’t in the big leagues.

    • Bill Lack

      Mark in CC: Wilkin Castillo will be the starting catcher in AAA not Miller, if WC isn’t in the big leagues.

      Mark, I’m curious as to why you think he has any shot at the ML club?

    • Bill Lack

      Greg Dafler: They acquired Jocketty draftee Brandon Yarbrough as a minor league free agent this offseason.I’d imagine he’s in line for some AAA at-bats behind the plate.

      I don’t know anything about this guy, but if he’s decent defensively, he might be the starting catcher at AAA.

  14. david

    The first base situation is such a quagmire. If Alonso blows up AAA pitching then what?

    • hoosierdad

      david: The first base situation is such a quagmire. If Alonso blows up AAA pitching then what?

      I guess you figure out then who is a better left fielder, Votto or Alonso. Or, you trade Alonso to another team who is looking to build for the future and get an established player with a big contract that can help you this year (too bad they are saddled with Cabrera’s and Lincoln’s contracts this year).

      • david

        hoosierdad: I guess you figure out then who is a better left fielder, Votto or Alonso. Or, you trade Alonso to another team who is looking to build for the future and get an established player with a big contract that can help you this year (too bad they are saddled with Cabrera’s and Lincoln’s contracts this year).

        Can Votto play LF? Does moving Votto cause him to be a malcontent? Although I hate to say it, what does a move do to Votto’s panic disorder? What makes you think Alonso can play LF? If we move Alonso or Votto to LF, what becomes of Heisey/Frazier/Francisco?

        Moving either guy to LF almost creates more questions than answers. While it’s a good problem to have, it’s a big problem. With the questions surrounding Votto, is it better to trade Votto, whose value will be higher than Alonso’s? They can’t trade Votto can they?

  15. JasonL

    @david: I can’t see Votto as a malcontent. HE just doesn’t seem the type. Of course, I don’t actually know anything.

  16. hoosierdad

    @david: Given a choice between the two, I would keep Votto hands down. He has proven what he can do against MLB pitching the last couple of years. I would prefer to keep Votto at first. I think he does a reliable job with the glove and his hitting is lights out.

  17. TC

    @Greg Dafler: Yarbrough actually intrigues me. It’s understandable how he never got a chance in the Cardinals organization so I wouldn’t hold that against him.