Baseball Prospectus has published their rankings of our Reds’ prospects. With the info being on their paysite, I can’t tell you everything, but I can give you an overall view.

Before I list them here, though, a couple of personal observations. Every site/book/writer has their own way of ranking and rating players. In my view….

5 stars–this player can be an impact player or has star potential with likelihood of very good success
4 stars–this player should be a regular player, possibly with some all-star appearances
3 stars–this is an average prospect; could develop into a regular, but probably won’t be a star
2 stars–luster has left the prospect; best hope is that of a role player or fringe player
1 star–not likely, but stranger things have happened; needs a big step in development to have much chance

Now players can travel up and down this star system. For example, last year I probably would have placed Chris Valaika as a three-star prospect; this year, after a year of injury and poor performance, he’s probably a two-star prospect. With each additional a year, a prospect can lose luster and the future payoff may diminish. On the other hand, a pitcher who develops a new out pitch, or suddenly finds the plate, may jump a star or two in a hurry for their effectiveness may drastically change.

Having said all that…here’s BP’s list….the details are on their website:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
2. Mike Leake, RHP
3. Todd Frazier, INF
Three-Star Prospects
4. Yonder Alonso, 1B
5. Travis Wood, LHP
6. Chris Heisey, OF
7. Brad Boxberger, RHP
8. Juan Francisco, 3B
9. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
10. Billy Hamilton, SS
Two-Star Prospects
11. Miguel Rojas, SS
Four More
12. Matt Maloney, LHP
13. Zach Cozart, SS
14. Mariek Gregorius, SS
15. Juan Duran, OF
Sleeper
Donnie Joseph, LHP

It’s important to note here that Rodrigurez, Hamilton, and Duran are all still in their teens, and that Leake and Boxberger have only pitched in the Arizona Fall League. On the other hand, Heisey and Maloney are entering their “prime” or “peak” seasons. There’s nothing wroing with their ages; and it isn’t crazy, but those thoughts need to be kept in mind when analyzing a team’s future.

Also, keep in mind, it’s not right to expect a team’s prospects to all be four and five-star rated. After all, there’s typically only a limited number of future Hall of Famers working in baseball at a time…remember about three get elected per year. However, I do think we should note that BP is suggesting we do have three consistent future regulars on our team. Chapman has star potential; Frazier should be solid, and Leake is projected as a #3 starter.

The surprising thing to most of us would be that Alonso’s value has been dropping. BP says he should be a regular first baseman, but he may be in need of a platoon partner since he’s continued to struggle against lefties. This is probably an important year to see if he’s recovered from the hamate injury. For those curious, it’s thought Boxberger may be more of a reliever, Heisey is a fourth outfielder prospect on a good team (starter on a bad team) and Wood is a potential fourth starter talent. For all the shortstops listed (as the Reds have trumpeted with pride), there’s no real studs or projected regulars in the group at this time. It’s thought that Hamilton may need to change to CF; Rojas has the glove.

A positive is that some of our prospects are already in the majors. Very good players make the majors early, and we have representation by name of Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto. Bruce and Bailey still have the most upside; Stubbs is compared to Mike Cameron, and there’s a still a real chance that Cueto belongs in the bullpen.

BP also lists the ten best Reds talents under the age of 25, and this may be more indicative of the Reds’ future than their prospect list. Note that Homer Bailey has passed Jay Bruce:

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (Born 4/1/84 or later)

1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
2. Homer Bailey, RHP
3. Jay Bruce, OF
4. Drew Stubbs, CF
5. Johnny Cueto, RHP
6. Mike Leake, RHP
7. Todd Frazier, INF
8. Yonder Alonso, 1B
9. Travis Wood, LHP
10. Wladimir Balentien, OF

12 Responses

  1. Sultan of Swaff

    With Boxberger, is seeing him as a starting pitcher in college enough for you to project him as a reliever going forward? It seems everyone has this guy pegged as a reliever, myself included, but do you use him as a starter until he proves he can’t do the job? Doing so would keep off the fast track to the bigs, but maybe he becomes a workhorse, Brad Penny-type in the process. Very tough decision for management.
    Good list overall. If Francisco tightens up his BB/K ratio, he easily slides into the 4 star category.

  2. Sultan of Swaff

    There’s still a real chance Cueto wins 18 games.

  3. hoosierdad

    Don’t know much about Donnie Joseph. Anybody seen him pitch at Dayton?

  4. david

    Cueto turned 24 yesterday. If Cueto’s floor is the 170 IP, 4.50 ERA, and a 2.5:1 K:BB ratio, we’ve seen, then by all accounts he’s an above-average 4th starter. That said, how many people think that Cueto stops improving?

    I’m not going to bite on the Alonso is dropping nonsense. He had a good but not great first year. My worst case scenario, he’s another Sean Casey. Considering we have “one of the game’s best young hitters”** at 1B already, is anyone concerned?

    Interesting to see Wladimir Balentien on the list of top 10 under 25.

    ** http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/joey-vottos-opposite-field-power-and-amazing-fly-ball-babip,

  5. al

    i agree that it is ridiculous after what we’ve seen to state that there’s a good chance cueto belongs in the pen. if that’s true for him, then it’s true for bailey, volquez, and any other starting pitching prospect we have, unless you are going strictly by height.

    can someone tell me why we care about strikeout to walk ratios? everyone seems to be tossing them around, and i can’t tell if they’re just trying to use the chic stats of the day or if it really matters.

    to me, i don’t care how juan fransico gets out. what i want him to do is get out less. if he walks more, great. one way of saying that is ‘tighten up is BB:K ratio” but really i just care about the walks. so why not just say, i hope he walks more? if he’s like adam dunn, k’s 200 times a year but has a high obp and slg, that’s great with me.

    just curious.

    • mike

      Steve Price: because k/w ratios for a hitter are an indication of how the batter’s controlling the pitch count. If the K/W rate is high (As Jay bruce’s has been) the pitchers don’t have to pitch to the strike zone and the hitters chase the bad pitch just off the plate, and rarely get “hitter’s” counts when the pitcher has to come to the hitter with a good pitch to hit.

      read an interesting paper from Bill James recently that showed (absolutely proved!) that BB rate for a minor league hitter was NOT an indicator of future performance in the big leagues. It wasn’t questionable in any way. Looking at BB rate for a minor league hitter told nothing of future major league performance. I know it’s only slightly related but I thought I’d toss that out there.

      but my feeling is that K/BB rate for hitters is a crappy stat…it’s like OPS…it’s just an OK and easily available ESTIMATE of the REAL stat. OBP is just an OK estimation of RC just like K/BB rate is an OK ESTIMATION of contact rate. I think when people throw out K/BB rate for a hitter what they really want is contact rate.

      Pitchers on the other hand are a completely different story. K/BB rate is a huge indicator of future performance.

  6. mike

    I think the list of top 10 under 25 REALLY stood out
    Why? Because now that Bailey, Bruce, Cueto and Stubbs have a little experience in the bigs they could have a major impact on the Reds season. And #10 is the Reds biggest wildcard. If he can get it going and become the Reds LF the Reds would have the best young OF in the bigs.

    It’s one thing to have great talent under 25 but it’s another thing to have half of them already be starting in the bigs.

    and a full season of Votto?

    and a bounce-back season from Harang?

    and no Taveras????

    this team could very well end up over .500 for the 1st time in 10 years

  7. mike

    Steve Price: There’s questions about his stamina, and it is related to his size.

    interesting and confusing guess

    what do stamina and size have to do with each other?

    I think a better guess would be his obvious over use by Baker. It was talked about for more than a month in the game threads here. He was obviously toast and burnt out and Baker left him out there too long and he should have been given a week off and wasn’t.

  8. david

    Steve Price: Cueto career first half of season: 15-15, 4.15 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2.34 k/bb ratio, .251 opp BACueto career second half of season: 5-10, 5.43 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, 2.12 k/bb ratio, .284 opp BAIt was a two-run differential this past year; it was a half-run the previous year.There’s questions about his stamina, and it is related to his size.

    Why don’t you ask Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux what they think about size?

  9. david

    @Steve Price: Those were the guys that immediately came to mind.

    BTW, the difference isn’t stamina, it’s veloicty.

    “Size usually goes hand in hand with velocity, and most of us are infatuated with velocity,” Hunsicker said. “When we think of pitchers being able to dominate, we think of the 95 mph fastball.”

    “Scouting is like going to Vegas,” McIlvaine said. “When you throw the dice, you want to feel the odds are in your favor. And the odds are a little more in your favor if the guy is 6-3 or 6-4.”

    “Gary Larocque, Roman’s boss and the Mets’ director of amateur scouting, said he had no hesitation selecting 5-10, 180-pounder Jayson Weir, an 18-year-old from Boone High School in Florida, with the club’s ninth pick … Larocque says a scout uses a yardstick at his own peril, and McIlvaine and Hunsicker agree.”

    I also don’t agree that these are the exceptions. Pitchers are naturally getting bigger, but heck, everybody all players are getting bigger. There aren’t too many Pedroias or Victorinos out there either.

    I just think it is silly to label Cueto as “destined for the pen” based on his current body of work, if size alone is your only barometer.

  10. David

    @Steve Price: It’s definitely possible the guy doesn’t throw more than 170 innings in any given year, but there’s no reason I can see to reduce his role to a middle reliever simply because he’s “only” going to give you 170 IP, 4.50 ERA, 2:1 BB:K ratio, and double digit wins. So what if he doesn’t blossom into a staff ace, he’ll still be a very good no. 4.