Next week I will unveil the 2013 Cincinnati Reds top 25 prospect list, but today, I wanted to review my end of the season Top 25 from last year.
1. Devin Mesoraco
Was I right or wrong: I was right. Yes, the 2012 season in the Major Leagues didn’t go nearly as well as you would have hoped. Still, I believe all of the tools are there for him to be an All-Star level catcher and if he is given the majority of the playing time, they will come forward.
2. Daniel Corcino
Was I right or wrong: I was right. Corcino skipped entirely over High-A and put up good numbers in Double-A while showing off above-average stuff. His control waned a bit in 2012, but he stayed healthy and put up good numbers for a young pitcher.
3. Yorman Rodriguez
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. Despite outstanding tools, Rodriguez showed that his skills weren’t on par with the tools and he needed plenty of refinement. The 2012 season was a struggle and showed again that the tools are there, but they haven’t turned into good skills on the baseball field yet.
4. Robert Stephenson
Was I right or wrong: I was right. Stephenson didn’t begin his season until the short season leagues began, but he dominated the Pioneer League and earned a promotion to Dayton where he showed off plus to plus-plus stuff.
5. Billy Hamilton
Was I right or wrong: A little bit of both. I believed in the upside, but wasn’t sold as much on his second half turn around that carried over and then some into 2012. I am not sure I should have ranked him any higher than maybe one spot, but also should have had a little more faith in that second half turn around.
6. Zack Cozart
Was I right or wrong: I was right. I noted that he was a good defender with above-average power for his position, but he was pretty aggressive and could use more patience at the plate.
7. Neftali Soto
Was I right or wrong: A little bit of both. His power output last year was quite impressive and still remains strong on the raw side of things, but his noted aggressiveness led to struggles in AAA against more advanced pitching in 2012. The struggles were something that could have been foreseen a little bit better, though he did improve his plate discipline in 2012 despite the hitting struggles.
8. Didi Gregorius
Was I right or wrong: I was right. The only real concern was that he didn’t walk much and was reliant on a good average to get on base. That concern remains, but the rest of his game is beginning to round out quite well.
9. Henry Rodriguez
Was I right or wrong: I was right. Though his value took a bit of a hit as he was moved to 3B for 2012, he is still a switch hitter who has a very strong hit tool. He dealt with a hand injury early in the season and never rebounded once he came back, but I see it as just a blip on the radar.
10. Todd Frazier
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. He should have been higher, though he didn’t exactly have a strong 2011 season in Louisville. In 2012 he showed what he had shown in years before with good gap power, enough power to hit it over the fence and versatility at several positions where he plays at least average defense.
11. Gabriel Rosa
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. He struggled in 2011, although it was in a smaller sample size at age 17. In 2012 he tried to play through an injury and it failed horribly before he was shut down for the season.
12. Kyle Lotzkar
Was I right or wrong: I was right. The stuff is clearly there and he simply had no history of reliability to go on. He took a step forward this year in that regard, making him a significantly better prospect, but with what we knew at the time, I think his ranking was pretty accurate.
13. David Vidal
Was I right or wrong: I was right. I noted that his plate discipline was a bit of a question, but he has some pop and strong defense. Those things all remained true in 2012, though he saw struggles once he reached AA. He was perhaps promoted too quickly, seeing only 137 plate appearances in High-A.
14. Tony Cingrani
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. I still question whether or not he can be a starter at the Major League level, though much less so today than last October when the list was created. Still, his dominance was incredible and he showed two very raw offerings that he was working with. He should have been several places higher.
15. JC Sulbaran
Was I right or wrong: I was right. The pure stuff is there, he just needs to be more consistent with his control. That continued for 2012. He was traded during the 2012 season to the Royals.
16. Ryan LaMarre
Was I right or wrong: I was right. LaMarre still showed off good speed, plate discipline and defense in 2012 and his power remained a large question. He dealt with a foot injury during the season that should be noted as well.
17. Donald Lutz
Was I right or wrong: I was right. His power was shown in full force in 2012, but his plate discipline remains a big question to his development. He made a move, at least in part, to left field where he has more value but he needs to continue to work on his defense if he wants to remain at the position. The tools are there for him to do so.
18. Tucker Barnhart
Was I right or wrong: A little of both. Defense will get him into the Major Leagues at some point and keep him there for a while assuming he can remain healthy. Like Vidal, I think he was promoted to Double-A too quickly and struggled to make the adjustment. Still, I was perhaps lower on him than I should have been, though I still have the same questions about him today as I did last October: Will he hit enough to be more than a strong gloved backup catcher?
19. Sean Buckley
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. The strikeout rate was very high in Billings and despite the power output, I should have been more cautious. His 2012 season saw him strikeout at an even higher rate and saw his power drop off a cliff against more advanced pitching.
20. Amir Garrett
Was I right or wrong: I was right. Garrett still has an impressive arm, but he is still very, very raw as a baseball player. Despite that, in limited action this season he held his own against far more advanced players. He did struggle with his control at times though.
21. Donnie Joseph
Was I right or wrong: A little bit of both. Joseph saw his stuff get better, but he had big struggles with his control for the first time in his career. He rebounded quite well in 2012 before being traded to the Royals.
22. Junior Arias
Was I right or wrong: A little bit of both. At this point on the list, I rely a bit on tools over production. Arias has some strong tools, but was quite raw and has poor plate discipline. He struggled in all facets of the game in 2012, though he still flashed some of those tools.
23. Juan Duran
Was I right or wrong: A little bit of both. Much like with Arias, I relied on the tools here and Duran has power that is on a different level than most minor leagues. He is also on an entirely different level in terms of his inability to make contact. He cut down the strikeout rate in 2012, though it still remains far too high for any kind of success and saw his power numbers drop off despite a very power hitting friendly environment.
24. Pedro Villarreal
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. I should have ranked him a few spots higher. While he may only be a #5 starter or a solid reliever, he is a relatively safe bet to be that given his solid stuff and control.
25. Nick Christiani
Was I right or wrong: I was wrong. Christiani saw his strikeout rate fall apart when he reached AAA last year. This season it actually got a little bit worse. While his ERA improved dramatically, the drop in an already very low strikeout rate was not a good sign.
What was learned
Well, I think that at least higher up in the lists I may have favored tools over production with young players a little bit too much. Some guys second halves, either improvements or struggles should have been looked at a little deeper as that came back a time or three to get me as well. Ultimately though, it just reaffirms that this prospect game is incredibly tough. I continue to think that talented scouts and minor league development people are drastically underpaid (and I don’t even know what they make).