Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects
1. Aroldis Chapman / SP/RP / Chapman’s fastball is already legendary. Combine it with his slider and he has the makings of an elite closer. The polish on his change-up in 2010 was surprising and may be the deciding factor between bullpen and rotation. I like him a lot, but the indecision regarding his role leaves me cold.
2. Devin Mesoraco / C / Mesoraco had a dynamite season thanks mainly to a shorter, quicker swing than he has shown in the past. His defensive potential is nothing to sneeze at, either, offering Cincinnati an all-around potential future asset at a premier position.
3. Yasmani Grandal / C / Despite what some are saying, Grandal is a solid defender in my book. From a catching perspective, he has power and plate discipline to spare, but I have my doubts as to whether he can make enough consistent contact to hit for a respectable average.
4. Yonder Alonso / 1B/OF / Alonso’s stock has dipped this year. The home run power simply isn’t where it needs to be. It’s now safe to question his All-Star potential, but he does many things well and looks the part of an above-average first baseman.
5. Yorman Rodriguez / OF / It’s rare to see a hyped, athletic teenager put his tools to work and immediately produce results. He literally has everything you want in an outfield prospect. We’ll just have to wait and see how his pitch recognition and plate discipline translate to full-season ball.
6. Billy Hamilton / 2B/SS / Hamilton is an athletic young infielder who showed a better plate approach than anyone expected for his age. He has speed to burn and some power upside that hasn’t presented itself yet.
7. Kyle Lotzkar / SP/RP / Cincinnati continues to be cautious with Lotzkar. Once turned loose, he has above-average velocity on his fastball and two promising secondary pitches.
8. Cody Puckett / 2B / Second base looks like Puckett’s permanent home, and the power he showed in 2010 could turn him into a solid asset for Cincinnati. Whether or not his power or speed will show up as he advances through the farm system remains to be seen.
9. Todd Frazier / OF/3B/1B / Frazier’s power and speed continue to play and could aid him on his way to becoming an average outfielder. But his strikeout rate spiked to scary levels in 2010. Trend or learning experience?
10. Juan Francisco / 3B / I thought about handing Juan Duran the No. 10 spot, Brad Boxberger has a lively arm, and Neftali Soto showed signs of life, but I finally decided on Francisco. Francisco’s walk rate could destroy him, and his defense is shaky to say the least, but his power is an asset that separates him from the rest.
Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Jay Bruce / OF
2. Aroldis Chapman / SP/RP
3. Homer Bailey / SP
4. Johnny Cueto / SP
5. Mike Leake / SP
6. Devin Mesoraco / C
7. Yasmani Grandal / C
8. Yonder Alonso / 1B/OF
9. Travis Wood / SP
10. Yorman Rodriguez / OF
Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 10 Prospects
1. Jameson Taillon / SP / Taillon is the best high school arm I’ve seen in awhile. He has everything going for him, including size, athleticism, velocity, poise, and the makings of an outstanding arsenal.
2. Tony Sanchez / C / Injuries derailed Sanchez’s promising 2010 campaign. His upside is somewhat limited, but he has the intangibles and on-base ability, and he does all the little things you look for in a strong catcher.
3. Stetson Allie / SP / Allie had perhaps the best pure power arm of any high school hurler in the 2010 draft. But that’s where the comparisons to Taillon stop. For now. He has huge upside but a long way to go to get there.
4. Rudy Owens / SP / A left-handed starter with plus command of an average repertoire is a tough asset to come by. He doesn’t have an out pitch, but is a strike thrower who has a chance to settle into the middle of Pittsburgh’s rotation one day soon.
5. Luis Heredia / SP / Pittsburgh has done a marvelous job of adding some premium young ace-caliber pitchers to their system. Heredia fits the mold due to his tender age, exciting fastball, and feel for his secondary offerings.
6. Jeff Locke / SP / Locke brings a similar profile to the mound as Owens. Locke doesn’t have quite the velocity or strikeout track record, but he does know how to pump the strike zone and has a solid shot to be a successful big leaguer.
7. Andrew Lambo / OF / It is becoming harder and harder to believe in Lambo’s upside, as his power numbers continue to go backward and his plate approach remains a negative. But I have been a Lambo supporter for awhile now, and I’m not completely giving up yet.
8. Robbie Grossman / OF / Grossman was one of my favorite sleepers of the 2008 draft, but his pitch recognition is holding him back. He is hacking way too much, which is even more concerning due to his minimal power numbers. The immense talent is still present, but I’m itching for better results.
9. Justin Wilson / SP/RP / Wilson opened some eyes by consistently sitting in the 93-95 mph range during the Arizona Fall League. His curveball is inconsistent but could become a plus offering down the road. His command is holding him back at this point and may relegate him to the bullpen soon.
10. Chase D’Arnaud / SS / Bryan Morris, Tim Alderson, Victor Black, and Brooks Pounders should not be forgotten, but I like D’Arnaud at No. 10. He plays strong defense, has a decent approach at the plate, a bit of power, and good speed. He has a shot to be an average major league regular.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Pedro Alvarez / 3B
2. Andrew McCutchen / OF
3. Jameson Taillon / SP
4. Neil Walker / 2B
5. Tony Sanchez / C
6. Jose Tabata / OF
7. Stetson Allie / SP
8. Rudy Owens / SP
9. Luis Heredia / SP
10. Jeff Locke / SP