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:
1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
2. Mike Leake, RHP
3. Todd Frazier, INF
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
11. Miguel Rojas, SS
12. Matt Maloney, LHP
13. Zach Cozart, SS
14. Mariek Gregorius, SS
15. Juan Duran, OF
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