Today I wanted to look at the some of the biggest drops from last years Top 40 prospects list and try to figure out what happened and if there were any reasons to see it coming.

Coming into the season Junior Arias was ranked 12th and coming off of a season where he hit .287/.336/.482 for the Arizona League Reds. Arias has some tools, particularly with the bat. He moved from shortstop to third base in 2011, which may have had a little bit to do with his drop off in production as he was attempting to concentrate more on his defense at a new home. However, by looking at the stats, we can see two larger reasons for the fall in production. His average on balls in play dropped from .379 to .343 while coinciding with his already high strikeout rate of 27.4% jumping to 30.5%. Both the high BABIP and high strikeout rate should have been warning signs that there was a chance for a step backward. I noted in the 2011 Prospect Guide that his plate discipline was a concern and while his strikeout-to-walk ratio did improve rather significantly, it still remained well below average despite the improvements. There are reasons to expect a rebound though. There were improvements made with his plate discipline in 2011 and if similar improvements can be made in 2012, Arias will move himself into an average range. His power also took a step forward. The strikeout rate remains the largest concern moving forward.

Ismael Guillon was rated as the 13th best prospect coming into the 2011 season after a strong season with the Arizona League Reds. He had 73 strikeouts and 23 walks in 57 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.32 as an 18 year old. However in 2011 he moved up to Billings and saw his ERA balloon to 6.57 with 46 walks and 61 strikeouts in 63 innings. The two biggest issues were his home runs allowed going from 1 to 11 and his walk rate going up nearly 50%. Statistically, there was nothing to suggest this was coming. His control was a little below average in 2010, but it dropped off considerably in 2011. Clearly, there were struggles for Guillon with his control that really led to most of his issues (more home runs allowed, more walks and fewer strikeouts). There are some reasons that a rebound could happen though. Through his first 10 starts of the season, Guillon had 37 walks and 37 strikeouts in 40 innings (that is an 18% rate for each stat) to go along with an ERA of 7.65. In his next (and final) 5 starts the lefty had just 9 walks and 24 strikeouts in 23 innings (9% walk rate and a 23.3% strikeout rate) to go along with a 4.70 ERA. The improved control was a big step forward. He has the stuff to be successful when he can throw strikes. If he can hone in the control he showed over the final third of his season, he should be able to return to a strong prospect.

Cody Puckett came into the 2011 season ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the system. He hit .282/.353/.497 in 2010, showing off strong power but had some plate discipline issues with 45 walks and 125 strikeouts. While he did spend time on the disabled list in 2011 with a fractured wrist, his season was struggling before the injury occurred as he was hitting just .247 with 23 walks and 61 strikeouts in 267 plate appearances. In 2011, his walk rate dropped off slightly, but his strikeout rate also dropped off some. His power remained strong, even with the wrist injury. Perhaps the largest reason his production saw some decline was his batting average on balls in play dropping from .343 in 2010 to .276 in 2011. His rate stats were all pretty similar from one year to the next, so there is a reason to believe his production could improve for 2012 if he stays on the same path he has been on over the last two seasons.

37 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Guillon still has solid stuff, he just needs to get his control tightened up and was still just a teenager last year.

  2. MDRon

    Do we know when Puckett’s injury actually occured? Could it have been a nagging thing that sapped production before he went down?

  3. Terry M

    Seems to still be a lot of chatter on Oswalt..Could it be possible??

    • Foxred

      While I would love to have Oswalt in the fold, I would want him only through stretching the payroll, not eliminating Bailey. Now if we could turn Bailey into a solid LF then maybe.

      • Tim

        We definitely should not trade Bailey to sign Oswalt. I really want Oswalt and think the Reds need to go “all in” and add a little payroll to get him. Then worry about who pitches after Latos, Cueto, and Oswalt later. Bailey has the potential to put up better numbers then Oswalt but if we are going for it we cant rely on potential. “IF” Oswalt is healthy then u can pencil in around a 3.50 ERA. Which could even make him our #2 over Cueto because i dont think anyone is expecting Cueto to repeat his ERA from 2011. Bronson is the BIG issue. We cant just stand on the fact that he makes so much money he has to stay in the rotation.

      • Doug Gray

        If healthy, I would pencil Oswalt in at a 4.00 ERA or so. Good control, but he doesn’t miss bats anymore and a low HR rate is the only thing keeping his ERA down.

        I would take Oswalt in the rotation, but only at the expense of Arroyo being moved (bullpen, traded, something else). I wouldn’t acquire Oswalt at the expense of Bailey or Leake.

      • Alan Horn

        I agree Doug. Oswalt has had a noticeable drop off. Plus, we have to see if Chapman can pan out as a starter. If Bailey produces, Chapman produces and Arroyo bounces back, all of a sudden you have an expensive glut of starters. I agree you can never have enough pitching, but you can have too much expensive pitching.

      • jim t

        Alan based on Chapmans track record as a starter with the Reds we are very thin at Starting pitching without Oswalt. If Chapman struggles with the transition and someone gets hurt which will and always does happen who is next in line Francis? Not many alternatives.

      • Tim

        2012 ZIPS PROJECTION for Oswalt with the Phillies
        i’m sure it would change a little with the Reds.

        Roy Oswalt ERA/3.68 W/10 L/7 G/25 GS/25 IP/154.0 H/150 ER/63 HR/14 W/39 K/114 ERA+/108

      • Alan Horn

        I agree on Chapman. We spent a lot of money and have gotten minimal return thus far in my opinion. I agree that we could be thin on SP with any injuries or non performance. That said, I wouldn’t trade Bailey(yet) to make room for Oswalt. If we can hang onto Bailey and still afford Oswalt, then I’m more on board. Still, expensive insurance. I might add that Lecure may be a decent candidate to start if needed(certainly cost effective).

      • jim t

        Doug I essentially agree with what your saying but I have to add that I think Arroyo if healthy this year will bounce back and have a good year. Of cource that is by his standards. 15-17 wins,200 innings, above 4.00 era,gold glove fielder,good hitting pitcher and probably overpaid a touch. He will take the ball every fifth day and most days keep you in the game with a ocassional clunker along the way. He has alot more value then the stats will tell you. Arroyo and Stubbs need to have bounce back years for the reds to be serious contenders.

      • MK

        If Arroyo bounces back I really like him starting between a couple of the hard throwers.

      • Beard

        If Oswalt is signed to a one year deal and the Reds move Bailey to offset this move I will be disappointed (assuming the return in the Bailey trade matches his past production and not his future promise). With that being said there will come a time when the Reds have to do something with Bailey if he continues to have minor injuries that cause him to miss starts — especially if his numbers don’t start to reach his talent level. Right now his numbers are fine for a 4th or 5th starter, but he really should be able to put up #2 or #3 type starter stats within the next year or two. If not I think at that point the Reds need to move him.

        After saying all of that, what is the realistic return the Reds could expect to get for Bailey if they traded him straight up for an established player or for a prospect or package of prospects?

  4. MK

    Watching Puckett in Dayton I always thought his confidence was larger than his ability. Have thought of him as a tweener. Too much of an outfielder for the infield and too much infield for the outfield.

    On the Latin guys I think we at times access them too quickly. They play a much more competitive game which stresses more development than the mainland kids so that when they get into a AZL level situation they can dominate. When forced to move up and play with young men on a more equal experience footing they take a step back. Sometimes the backstep is just a year and they start improving again, sometimes it is their true value and they go home. I see both Arias and Guillon this way.2012 is a big year for them.

  5. jim t

    Foxred, I couldn’t agree with your more on keeping Bailey. I don’t think we should turn him into a Lf’er though. I believe the reds will score enough to win. They need pitching. The starting rotation is very thin. The top 5 are Arroyo,BaileyCueto,Latos and Leake. In AAA you have Chapman and Francis. Francis has a opt out clause if he doesn’t make the team I think. Without knowing what we will get from Chapman we are very thin.

    • Foxred

      We are thin everywhere, pithcing and elsewhere. I am most woried about the offense. This team as constructed as a serious OBP problem. While plays well for GAB, I don’t think it matches up well against above average starters. Specifically, I think this line up will struggle getting good starters out of games (ie pitch count).

      I guess I am worried about Mes and Cozart over a full season, Stubbs not bouncing back, and Rolen fading away to non-competitiveness. Heisey has holes in his game, Bruce does get the ball in paly enough. I just don’t think it is a given this team will score. They were streaky last year despite their overaall numbers being at the top of the league.

      • Alan Horn

        Those are all valid concerns. The success of the team will depend largely if most of those step(I would add Francisco and possibly Frazier) up their hitting. I believe most will do just that. It’s a concern with every rookie on every team. You just have to believe in your decision makers and development folks and have faith. These young players mentioned have earned a chance. Every top young prospect has to cross that bridge(or not). Let’s have a fun season and see what happens. Walt and company have executed about as good a plan as could be hoped for with the trades and FA
        additions.

  6. poorolddad

    If signing Oswalt means selling low on Homer I hope Walt doesn’t do it.Homer hasn’t made the kind of impact I’d hoped for at this point in his career,but he’s improving….when he’s healthy. Oswalt is expensive and there is concern about his back issues.On the other hand,if Walt knows he can trade Homer for,say,Logan Morrison..I’m in.

  7. Terry M

    Doug,

    I want to buy the prospect guide but I don’t like to use my credit card numbers on the computer and not sure of pay pal.. Any other way I can go as I do wan’t to support you..

    • Doug Gray

      Shoot me an email. Use the contact page to grab my email address.

  8. jim t

    Question if the reds would need to trade Homer Bailey to make room for Roy O that cost swing would be 2.4 mil. That is what Homer makes. Massett makes essencially the same amount. Why not trade him and keep Homer being we are well stocked in pen and thin on starters? Like Massett’s arm but he really hasn’t performed as well as I thought he might. If he had we wouldn’t have had to sign Madson.

    • MK

      Not knowing whether we have Marshall and Madson for more than one year not sure I would get rid of Masset.

      I would keep Homer as well. Only reason I would try for Oswalt is to keep him away from St.Louis.

  9. bj

    suprise retirement announcement coming in the next couple weeks for one of our minor league guys, cant give any more info

  10. Rick in Boise

    Harry Tuttle? From Brazil?? [sorry, couldn't help it... ;) ]