Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
The strength of the Reds system coming into the year was really up the middle of the diamond, with catchers Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal, along with shortstop prospects Zack Cozart, Billy Hamilton, and DiDi Gregorius. A year later, we've seen Mesoraco and Cozart move to the big club, albeit in very different roles, along with Grandal with the Padres. The system is much heavier with pitching now than it was before, and now has Billy Hamilton leading the system among position players.
Graduates in 2012
Devin Mesoraco (C), Zack Cozart (SS), Todd Frazier (IF)
AAA or Higher in 2012
These are prospects who either reached the Majors, or the Reds' International League affiliate in Louisville. These players are likely to see time at some point during the 2013 season, although it may not be until the end.
Tony Cingrani (BBRef Statistics)
It was Cingrani's first full professional season, and he moved very quickly through the system. Given an Opening Day assignment in High-A, Cingrani pitched well despite being in the Cal League, with 71 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched along with a 1.11 ERA in 10 starts. He was quickly moved up to AA Pensacola, where he kept up the strikeouts (101 in 89+ innings), but saw a slight increase in his walk rate (From 2.1/9 in High-A to 3.9 in AA). This didn't keep him from being effective, as his two most ineffective outings might have been his last in the minors. He even had 3 different games this year with double-digit strikeouts, including 15 in 8 innings on June 27th.
Cingrani received a call up to the Majors for September, striking out 9 in 5 innings of relief. I would have to imagine that he will start next season in AAA Louisville, and could be one of the first in line for a shot should the need arise in the Majors.
AA or Higher in 2012
These are prospects who reached AA during the 2012 season, playing for the Reds' Southern League affiliate in Pensacola. These players could see time in Chicago in 2013, but generally will be more likely to appear in 2014.
What exactly should be said that you probably haven't already heard? Hamilton led the minors, and set a new single season record with 155 stolen bases between High-A and AA. He has game changing speed, and frankly category winning speed potential for fantasy owners. He showed a better ability this season to make consistent contact, which honestly may be all he needs to do to have a high fantasy value. He is playing in the AFL this year, and is being converted to center field with the hope that it will move him to the Majors even faster. For pure fantasy purposes, he could very well be a top 10 prospect based on the potential for him to steal 80+ bases a season.
Low-A in 2012
These are prospects who reached Low-A during the 2012 season, playing for the Reds' Midwest League affiliate in Dayton. These players are likely at least 3 seasons away from reaching the Majors.
Robert Stephenson (BBRef Statistics)
Stephenson was the Reds' top draft pick a year ago, but did not debut until 2012. He started the season in extended spring training until the Pioneer league got going, and made 7 starts there. He finished up in full season Low-A Dayton, and with a combined line of 72 K/23 BB in 65 IP.
It is good to see the high school draftee reach full season ball before the end of his first pro season, and seems likely to at least start the season back there in 2013. John Sickels ranked him at #15 in his preliminary top 50 pitching prospects he released earlier in October, and the highest ranked of the Reds' pitching prospects. It's still early, but Stephenson seems like he could be a high riser on the list come this time next year.
Short Season in 2012
These are prospects who reached Short Season Ball during the 2012 season, playing for either of the Reds' short season affiliates in the Arizona and Pioneer Leagues. These players are likely at least 3 full seasons away from reaching the Majors.
Nick Travieso (BBRef Statistics)
Travieso was the Reds' top draft pick this year, and threw just 21 innings this year in the Arizona League. According to Baseball America, there were concerns prior to the draft that he may only be a reliever long term. The Reds clearly didn't think so, taking him with the #14 pick and giving him a $2 million signing bonus. The key with Travieso seems to be whether or not he can harness his raw talent towards starting pitching. If he can't, the Reds may have another potential power arm down the road. At this point he is really a wait-and-see type of fantasy prospect.
Others of Note
Daniel Corcino (SP) - Corcino was skipped past the High-A nightmare that pitching in Bakersfield usually ends up, and more than held his own in AA. He struck out nearly 8 batters per 9 innings, but his walk rate ballooned back over 4, which had happened in 2009 and 2010 as well. He should be in AAA most likely to start the 2013 season, and could see time in the Majors at some point.
DiDi Gregorius (SS) - Gregorius received a cup of coffee at the end of the season this year, and while he looks like a decent prospect, I'm not sure if he will have a lot of value for fantasy owners. He has shown decent speed and power in the minors, but rarely more than double digit steals and no more than 7 home runs in a season. Probably worth a look in very deep leagues, as he will likely see time as a utility player for the Reds next season, but not a lot to see here unfortunately.
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