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).

34 Responses

  1. jim t

    Doug, nice list and write ups. You have enhanced my baseball experience with all the info on young potential reds. I will be following these prospects again this year. Hope A-rod gets it together. Lots of ability. Same with Mez. Can’t agree with your assesment of his ability because he is not ML ready defensively and as a catcher that is a huge issue. I do think he will hit but he needs to have the faith of the staff to garner more time. Right now he doesn’t. Its his job to earn it. Hanigan has earned his PT with overall performance.

    • wanderinredsfan

      Where are you getting the opinion that Mesoraco isn’t ready defensively for the bigs? Why are you perpetuating this false hood? I just don’t get it, and I would argue that most baseball scouts wouldn’t agree with you.

      Personally, I get to watch every single game of the Reds, and I couldn’t disagree more. He has some improvement to do (as do all catchers not named Molina), but he is more than adequate behind the plate if you look across the spectrum of baseball receivers.

      Mesoraco has a hell of an arm and decent receiving skills. He might not be able to call a game yet, but young catchers take time to hone this skill. Hell, take a look at Posey this world series; he is still taking almost all of his pitch and play calls from Bochy on the bench.

      I do think Hanigan is a notch above Mesoraco defesively at this point, but Mesoraco has the potential to blow by Hanigan defensively over the next couple of seasons. Plus, Mesoraco has the ability to put up all-star quality offensive numbers on a regular basis.

      It is time to let Mesoraco play with regularity to allow his potential to emerge.

      • jim t

        wanderin, hate to disagree with you but Mez isn’t even close to Hanigan in the art of catching. If he was he would have gotten more playing time. Hanigan completely outplayed him in every aspect. I hope Mez gets it figured out but right now the job belongs to Hanigan and that is not a bad thing.

  2. Krozley

    Bryan Price is apparently a candidate for the Marlins manager opening.

    • jim t

      Kroz, would hate to hold anyone back but Part of me says I hope he is our pitching coach next year.

  3. MK

    Good list. With some minor adjustments for guys no longer prospects (Frazier, Mesoraco, Cozart), and guys traded (Joseph, Sulbaran), and the addition of some new draftees, the remaining players might be there again.

  4. Scott R

    Doug – A job well done. I’m looking forward to your list for next year.

    I think its always been an interesting discussion whether to put emphaisis on tools vs. production. Doug, we know you love the tools. Sometimes you just got to give props to those that manage to produce even if their tools aren’t off the charts.

    • Doug Gray

      Generally speaking, the reason I take tools > production with less tools is because the production guys may be safer, but generally turn into 25 man roster guys but not often All Stars. Those guys are easier to find than the ones with the All Star potential. It does create more misses, but the hits on those guys pay off a whole lot bigger.

  5. RobL

    Doug, I really enjoyed this post.

    Just a couple comments. On Lutz, you continue to say that Lutz has big issues with plate discipline. But, at Pensacola, he got his K% to 19.5 and his walk rate to 8%. While not great, they are not bad. Hopefully, it is something that will carry over to next year. He was also hurt by a low babip.

    And on Junior Arias, I think he is very interesting. I thought with his sky high K rate that he should’ve stayed in Billings. In Dayton, he actually got his K% to a more manageable sub-25%. However, his walk rate did dip below 6%. His babip was also horrible. He also has issues with defense. I hope he repeats low A and SMB goes to Bakersfield.

    • Doug Gray

      With Lutz, he did improve his K/BB rates, but watching him, he is still incredibly aggressive and swings at bad balls, which is why despite Pensacola being home run friendly to all fields, his power dropped off of the map like a middle infielder. Yeah, his BABIP was low, but part of that was because he was consistently swinging and hitting pitchers pitches.

      • RobL

        I understand exactly what you mean by hitting pitchers’ pitches. I saw Mesoraco do that a lot this season.

  6. Little Earl

    I don’t think you can say you were right at listing Mesoraco as the #1 prospect. His numbers this year did not give any indication that he will be a solid major leaguer. You are basing your opinion solely on prior seasons. I would say a little of both.

    Here’s hoping that you are 100% right!

    • Doug Gray

      The thing is, Mesoraco didn’t really show me a reason that I felt like made me wrong. He had a solid walk rate. He had a solid strikeout rate. He didn’t hit much, but he had a low BABIP and infrequent playing time while also being told not to worry about his hitting. I do question whether he ever becomes what I think he can, but not because he can’t, but because I am not sure he will be given the chance to play 75% of the time here.

  7. Norwood Nate

    Frazier, Cozart, and Mesoraco are no longer prospects. Sulbaran and Joseph are no longer with the organization. Arias, Duran, Christiani, Buckley, Rosa, and YRod all had pretty bad years and either should fall off the prospect list or at the very least fall down toward the bottom.

    That’s nine to eleven guys that might not be on the next list. Pretty dramatic change up. Obviously some new guys will be added from this past year’s draft. Winker, Travieso, Gellalich, Rahier. Although, only Winker really showed much of anything in the small sample size. Mejias-Brean may make the list also though with a strong performance.

    Others who performed well who could be prospects would be Chad Rogers, Ryan Wright, Bryson Smith, Felix Perez, Ishmael Guillon, Travis Mattair, and a handful of relievers. Is Hoover eligible for prospect status?

    Interested in seeing the next list.

    • Doug Gray

      Hoover is not eligible. He didn’t reach 50 innings, but he did spend more than 45 days on the active (non September) roster, which makes him ineligible for the 2013 ROY Award and thus, not a prospect.

    • MK

      Yorman Rodriguez is getting a bad rap. For the last month and a half of the season he was the players we all hope he will be in the big leagues. I was hard on him last year but he really turned things around.

      • Norwood Nate

        Yeah, I would think he’d still be one of the top 25 prospects on talent alone. And probably Rosa too. But the others will likely drop off the list.

        I would guess Stephenson, Hamilton, Corcino, Cingrani, Gregorius, Winker, Travieso, HRod, Lotzkar and Lutz would make up the top 10. Maybe on potential someone like Garrett or Rahier, maybe even Guillon. But like someone else said after the top 8 it’s really a crap shoot.

  8. Stock

    I think your picks were pretty much on target. You could have rated Hamilton a little higher and Yorman a little lower. You should have rated Rosa much lower (your only mistake). Looking back it is easy to say Cingrani should have been higher but he was old for Billings so difficult to judge. Cingrani not making your midseason top ten prospects was without a doubt a mistake. These picks were really solid.

    Am looking forward to this year’s top 25. Your top 7 are easy but after that it gets interesting.

  9. peppy

    didnt baker say at the beginning of the year he did not worry about mez hitting when was he going to worry i will bet you money the reds will not win a world series in the next 2 years

  10. MikeD

    Totally agree on the Mez, watching him play as infrequently as he did was rediculous. This team needs his bat in the middle a majority of the time and he will make a difference. His defense is fine, but he has to play. This team can’t afford not to have your best option sit around. If the Reds want to compete for more than the division title they need to get more production out of other hitters not named Joey, Jay and Brandon. Trade Hanigan along with Stubbs for a decent left fielder who’s not over paid.

    • RobL

      Not saying that you are wrong about Mez, but….

      Seeing how he lost out on catching Latos, then later getting removed from games at the end so Hanigan could catch Chapman, and also Mez being pinch hit for late in those games. On top of that, he was benched at the end of the year. I would say that Dusty has lost faith in Mez. And since Dusty and Walt aren’t getting any younger, don’t be surprised if Mez is moved this offseason. I can say with certainty that Hanigan isn’t going anywhere. And they took a shine to Navarro.

      • MK

        I’m with you Rob there wasn’t much I saw there that said middle of the line-up.

  11. Joered

    Doug your thoughts on dexter fowler. Reports are he is available through trade. He could be what the reds are looking for. What would you be willing give up for him. Corcino, Stubbs and another prospect maybe Rodriguez or another pitching prospect.

    • Doug Gray

      I would be for acquiring him, but I honestly don’t know what it would take to get him.

  12. KyWilson1

    Two outfield options the Reds could look to sign on incentive based deals, Grady Sizemore and Melky Cabrera. Thoughts on either of them?

    • RobL

      Sizemore would have to be a minor league deal. I think Melky may be too expensive. And I am wary that before ’11 he couldn’t hit. In ’11 he is spraying the ball all over the field, and continues in ’12. But he was busted for steroids sometime early in ’12. So now, will you get the guy spraying the ball all over, or the guy who can’t hit? I just feel like somebody will give him a short contract based on him in ’11 and ’12.

    • MK

      I think these are two PHD players. Cabrera was a .250 hitting journeyman with a questionable attitude prior to using. Sizemore has had all the systematic ailments of post PHD player and has had since testing started. Don’t want either because you have no idea what you are going to get.

      • KyWilson1

        Whatever you get from both cant be worse then whatever Stubbs is going to ptoduce, and the upside you get from either is way above any level Stubbs will produce. The Sizemore phd comments are different, he has always been hampered by injuries and never been the type of player that would lead one to believe he was using.

  13. mortboy

    I have to admit that this was my favorite read on here in a while. I really enjoy the site and all write-up and comments, but I like the look backs and self critiques.