State of the Farm – Centerfield

Dave Sappelt leads the way in center on my depth chart. He is a strong ranged center fielder who takes good routes, has tons of speed and reads the ball quickly off the bat. His arm is a bit below average, but his range more than makes up for it. He may not get a chance to play center because the Reds have Drew Stubbs and are likely to stick with him in center. Offensively, especially for center, Sappelt would be an above average hitter. He is going to hit for a good average, make tons of contact and show off some pop that is capable of 50 extra-base hits in a season.  To top it off, he is Major League ready right now and due to his skillset, is likely to need very little time to adjust to the Majors.

Yorman Rodriguez is the best prospect among this group, but there is still a concern that he may not stick in center if he continues to grow and add a little bit of weight to his frame that will slow him down some. Right now, he has the ability to show off good range and has a cannon for an arm, but there have been some effort concerns that ultimately got him moved to a corner position this season in Dayton. On offense, he has all of the tools that you would like to see in a player with a good hit tool and plenty of power potential. He is still far from helping at the Major League level though.

Ryan LaMarre is a defensive first player in center, where he has above-average range and a strong arm that had 19 assists during the 2011 season. Overall he could arguably be the best defensive centerfielder  in the system when combining his glove, range and arm. On offense, there is a little bit of potential there, but so far he has not done much with his bat.  He has shown some solid on-base skills, but coming out of college he was said to have some solid power potential, but has yet to show that in games to this point in his career with a career .380 slugging percentage, including his time in the hitter friendly California League.

Denis Phipps is coming off of a monster season where he hit .346/.397/.527 between AA and AAA. While that season was insanely high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) fueled, he did show some slight improvements in his peripherals across the board, though they were slight improvements. Defensively Phipps is more of a solid centerfielder than an above average one, but he has one of the best arms in all of the minor leagues (not just the Reds) that is a difference maker. While he may make a better defender in a corner, he can get it done in center and not hurt you.

Overall Thoughts

The Reds have several good options to choose from if Stubbs falters at some point moving forward. There is a sure guy with some upside in Dave Sappelt, a plus defender with LaMarre and a toolshed with Yorman Rodriguez. Behind that there is a likely back up guy with Denis Phipps. With two top 10 prospects and two other good defenders to choose from, the Reds centerfield group gets a B grade here. I went with the B because Sappelt is the only one who is a good bet to be a starter at this point, even with Rodriguez having all of the potential in the world.

About Doug Gray

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