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.

31 Responses

  1. Tim

    If Sappelt is the one to replace Stubbs then i would see no problem trying to offer the RAYS Grandal, Stubbs, and another prospect for Shields. Does Stubbs have much trade value????

    • Stock

      That would be a great trade for the Reds. The Rays would never agree to it however.

      • Doug Gray

        I think the Rays would be a lot more willing to listen on that trade than you are giving credit for. Clearly it matters who the third prospect is though.

      • Stock

        Everything I have read details that the Rays are all in for 2012. This trade makes them weaker in 2012. I have also read the Rays do not intend to trade Shields. This lends credibility to being all in this year.

        If I were the Reds I would have no problem offering Grandal, Alonso and Stubbs for Shields. Just don’t think it is enough for Shields from TB perspective. Stubbs might not even start for TB. Their OF last year of Jennings, Joyce and Upton returns. They did lose Damon at DH. Alonso would start at 1B. Grandal would be in the minors for another year.

        I do think TB would take Meso and Alonso for Shields. Helps their offense a lot more than losing Shields would hurt their pitching.

      • Tim

        The RAYS are always looking at the future. They cant really afford to go all in like the Brewers did. Besides have you seen their pitching depth??? WOW! They wont even miss Shields. One guy leaves and another stud is plugged in.

      • Tim

        Stubbs, Grandal, and Hamilton?? We need to win while Votto is here and Hamilton wont be here anytime soon.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t buy into the idea that the Reds have to win while Votto is here. In fact, I think that the Reds could trade Votto today and make themselves better for 2012 and the future in the right deal.

  2. DaveCT

    Hey Doug,

    Fellhauer had Lenny Dykstra comps coming out of Cal State Fulerton. Even if he is just a 4th OF type, I think he may still be on the chart, don’t you?

    Also, even though we may some day see Hamilton in CF, it doesn’t really change your grade much, does it? For different reasons, he may still be in the Lemarre range due to the amount of work to be done.

    Thanks.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t consider Hamilton as an outfielder, so it doesn’t change my mind much. With Fellhauer, I think he is more of a corner type than a center type. He is similar to Phipps in that he can play center if needed, but is more of a good corner outfielder.

  3. DaveCT

    Doug, another comment. I have always been hopeful for LeMarre. I have read where coaches say his make-up is off the charts. So, if this guy develops his hit tool, and adds some of the power expected of him — I am thinking this is a player who can make it easier to give up Hamilton in the right trade, especially if he can bat leadoff and when factoring in Torreyes, Didi, Cozart, HRod as infield depth. What do you think?

    • Doug Gray

      I think it would be easy to give up Hamilton in a trade right now. Let’s be honest, even with his upside, he is years away from helping the club and still has a ton of questions to answer along the way. Those aren’t guys you typically shy away from trading in the right deals. Don’t give him away, but I wouldn’t let him be a guy that is going to break down the trade for a quality Major Leaguer either.

  4. sultan of swaff

    Given LaMarre’s age, this is the year he needs to break out or else his stock will drop severely. I like the OBP, but gheesh, <30 extra base hits won't cut it….even with 55 steals.
    As for Sappelt, his plate approach during his callup was a bit disturbing. Far too many one and two pitch at-bats. There's way too much advanced scouting in the majors for him to get away with that long term. Hopefully he'll make the correction. Still, I have every confidence he can be a starter. His body type and minor league numbers compare favorably to Shane Victorino.
    Whether he knows it or not, Stubbs will be playing for his Cincinnati life the first two months next season. Not that he needs any more pressure. His inability to process stress was fairly evident last season.

    • MK

      Sultan I agree with you on Sappelt. In addition, defensively I wasn’t all that sold on his routes in the outfield or decisions once he got the ball. There is a world of difference between Stubbs and Sappelt defensively. Don’t think I want him in center.

      Comparing their Dayton time LaMarre is even much better defensively as a prospect that Sappelt.

      In the make-up of the team Stubbs reminds me alot of the role Cesar Geronimo played for the 70s Reds. Cesar wouldn’t have been a leadoff hitter either.

      • Doug Gray

        That is interesting MK. I talked to a scout the year after Sappelt was in Dayton and he was trying to convince me that range wise, Sappelt was every bit as good as Stubbs. He gave the overall edge to Stubbs because of his arm though.

  5. Alan Horn

    Doug or anyone. What is your take on the Rays locking up Matt Moore? Could that mean Shields is going to be traded?

    • Doug Gray

      I think they are just trying to “Evan Longoria” their situation and come out incredibly far ahead in terms of money if their player turns out to be what they believe he will be. To be honest, by the looks of the deal, short of a crazy injury, the deal looks to be amazing for the Rays.

      • Kevin

        The Rays also have 3 years of club options at the end of the contract, so they can extend it if he performs well.

        Can someone call Goldman Sachs to see if they have any other execs that would want to come and run the Reds?

      • boiler

        You need that level of prospect first. We did ok with Votto and Bruce as long as he improves.

        Mes – Grandal – ?? – Stephenson and Corino in a couple of years.

      • Doug Gray

        We did ok with Votto? We weren’t even able to buy out one of his free agent years.

        While I agree that you certainly need a certain level of player to make these kind of deals, the Reds had one with Jay Bruce. Other teams have also had them.

        I wouldn’t go there with anyone we currently have though.

      • boiler

        With the value that we currently have gotten out of Votto, I have no complaints with his contract, yes i would have preferred to sign him a couple of years earlier to get some free agebt years. No we didn’t get a Longoria deal, but he was kind of unknown with his father passing and his illness. And the Bruce deal is far from a cherry of a deal. He was one of the biggest disappointments last year until the reds were out of contention. Now is the time to decide, do you attempt to sign Leake to a deal or wait.

      • fromcubawithluv

        The other thing that I did not think of was that Moore did not receive a significant bonus when he was drafted. Guaranteed money matters more for him than it would have to other super prospects that have already gotten some kind of real payday. For all we know, the Reds may have offered Bruce something like this, and he turned it down.

  6. Krozley

    Reds sign former Braves first round pick Luis Atilano and former top 100 prospect Sean Gallagher to minor league deals. More pitching fill-ins for Louisville. Gallagher was supposed to be the next big Cubs pitcher, but never translated his success to the majors.

    • Patrick

      Gallagher is a good pick up. Still has good velocity. Control has limited his ability to stick in the majors. Probably could be a good pen arm if gets on the right track.

      • Doug Gray

        Agreed. I have always liked Gallagher. For the minor league depth he will provide, I like it. He has a good arm and at one point didn’t struggle with control, so perhaps the right pitching coach can help him out and he can find it.

  7. The Closer

    Sappelt went 1 for 4 tonight. (He is now batting .294)….But more importantly, he threw out a runner from LF who was trying to score from 2nd on a 2-out single. His arm can do the job from LF.

  8. KyWilson1

    The Reds refusal to make any big moves and go all in like other teams have is keeping them right in the middle of the pack. Last year the Brewers went out and made big moves and still have a better team then the Reds have currently. They obviously cant do what the Marlins and Angels have done, but they have the pieces to make huge additions via trade. Votto is the best trade chip in the league right now, the top of the farm is loaded as well. They should at least kick the tires on Hanley Ramirez who is said to be being shopped. The DBacks got Cahill for very little IMO. Parker is going to be very good but Cahill is a beast.

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds “refusal” has them in much better shape moving forward than anyone in the division over the next 5 years too.

      Cahill is not that good. He doesn’t strike anyone out. Doesn’t have a low walk rate. Get him out of large parks in the AL West and it isn’t likely to be pretty.

  9. DaveCT

    There are many things they can but shouldn’t necessarily do, as they do not have as much margin of error as other teams.

    I am sure there are also teams such as the Rays or Oakland doing solid due diligence on our trade chips (and the competition’s as well). Sure they go to the meetings prepared but still stuff can take more time.

  10. Jimmy

    Doug… I think LaMarre will be a career .300 hitter and with his defensive skills and speed, he will be a future leadoff guy for someone whether it’s the Reds or some other team. This guy does have all the tools for a center fielder but maybe not the power that you expect he should have.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think LaMarre is a .300 hitter. He hasn’t hit .300 yet in the minors and isn’t a high contact hitter either. His speed will help him carry 10-15 extra points on his average, but I still see him as a .270-.280 type of hitter if things go right with him over the next few years.