To see the other parts of the Top 25 Prospect List, click here.

20. Neftali Soto – 1B – 23 Years Old – AAA

Acquired: 3rd Round, 2007 Draft

The Good: Soto has above-average to plus raw power and has shown above-average in game power at times in his career.

Needs to work on: Plate discipline. While he improved his Strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2012, he is still very aggressive at the plate that has led to struggles in using his power and his hit tool.

2012 Stats

Tm PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Louisville 512 30 0 14 59 2 1 41 116 .245 .313 .400

Video

19. David Vidal – 3B – 22 Years Old – AA

Acquired: 8th Round, 2010 Draft

The Good: Just about every time I have seen Vidal he has made an impressive defensive play. The guy can play defense. Despite his size, he has a decent amount of pop in his bat.

Needs to work on: His plate discipline was solid in a limited time in High-A, but was poor in Double-A. If he can improve in that regard, he could be a solid Major Leaguer.

2012 Stats

Tm PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Bakersfield 137 7 0 7 21 3 0 13 26 .281 .358 .512
Pensacola 377 21 1 11 39 0 2 28 90 .230 .294 .397
Total 514 28 1 18 60 3 2 41 116 .243 .311 .428

Video

18. Ryan LaMarre – CF – 23 Years Old – AA

Acquired: 2nd Round, 2010 Draft

The Good: LaMarre is a very strong defensive center fielder who also uses his speed well on the base paths.

Needs to work on: His offense, particularly hitting wise, could use some work. For his size, he shows very little power that he may need to develop to become a starter at the Major League level.

2012 Stats

Tm PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Pensacola 558 22 3 5 32 30 10 60 119 .263 .356 .353

Video

17. Seth Mejias-Brean – 3B – 21 Years Old – RK+

Acquired: 8th Round, 2012 Draft

The Good: Mejias-Brean is a very good athlete with tools to become a very strong defender at third base. He began to show some of his previously untapped power potential in his debut while also showing good plate discipline.

Needs to work on: Taking those defensive tools and turning them into skills on the field. Continuing to develop his bat after his tools not playing up during college.

2012 Stats

Tm PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Billings 203 12 2 8 40 6 0 21 29 .313 .389 .536

Video – Not Available

16. Tucker Barnhart – C – 21 Years Old – AA

Acquired: 10th Round, 2009 Draft

The Good: Barnhart, short of a major injury, is going to at the very worst be a defensive first catcher in the Major Leagues. He has an above-average to plus arm that is quite accurate. Offensively he has solid plate discipline and a decent contact ability.

Needs to work on: Offensively Barnhart gets most of his current value from his ability to draw walks and make contact. Improving things on the offensive side where he struggled in 2012, particularly in Double-A, could improve his chances to be more than a back up Major League catcher.

2012 Stats

Tm PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Bakersfield 231 12 1 4 22 0 2 29 45 .278 .371 .409
Pensacola 142 4 1 2 12 1 1 11 22 .200 .262 .292
Total 373 16 2 6 34 1 3 40 67 .247 .330 .363

Video

43 Responses

    • Doug Gray

      I think that could be what he becomes if things go right for him. But that he could be that guy before he was 28 or 29 like Hanigan was.

  1. jim t

    Doug, Vidal sounds like a young Ron Cey. Very interested in Brean. he really took off at Billings. I live in West Chester so I’m very happy a lot of the kids from Billings will be there this season.

    • The Duke

      SMB showed a lot of potential and he is a plus athlete, but he was also a 4 year college guy in rookie ball who faded down the stretch. How he performs in A ball this year will likely show us what his future is.

      • RobL

        SMB had a really long year since Arizona won the CWS. So he played from March to September. But you are right, he was old for the league. I think that will be fixed, and they send him to Bakersfield. Thanks to Doug for the tidbit that he made an adjustment to his swing for more power. Arizona has a big field, and those new bats just sap power, so I think a lot of players adjusted by focusing on contact.

      • Norwood Nate

        If I recall correctly, he also dealt with an injury at the end of the year.

      • ron

        Yep. He got injured and missed some time and wasnt healthy when he came back. His batting avg dropped some 50 points after he came back from injury.

  2. Sultan of Swaff

    I really like what Barnhart brings to the table. The defense at this point is a given, but the ability to switch hit and carry a good OBP makes him a rare commodity as far as catchers go. It’s no suprise the hitting is lagging. I mean, his first priority is making sure his pitchers are prepared, and only after that can he work on his hitting–made more difficult by being a switch hitter. He’s made very good progress to be a catcher in AA at his age.
    Even if his ceiling is backup catcher, that’s pretty good drafting by the Reds to get him in the 10th round.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think his ceiling is as a back up of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have rated him so highly. He was drafted in the 10th round, but he signed for well over slot money, so it isn’t like he was a true 10th rounder. I think most places had him in the 3rd-5th rounds pre-draft and that is what he signed for I believe.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    Doug, Soto/LaMarre/Vidal all seemed to be plagued by the same issues w/ the strikeouts being a tad high, and the walks/slugging being a tad low relative to their positions. Is there something consistent between the 3 with their contact rates or BABIP that can explain this away?

    • Norwood Nate

      I don’t think grouping LaMarre in this group is fair to the numbers he put up. He carried a 356 OBP which is almost a 100 pts higher than his average. His strike out to walks was also 2:1. In my opinion if his average could go up a bit, he’d be a good top of the order batter. Decent speed and good OBP will make up for the lack of power.

      • RobL

        You are right in that if his batting average goes up, he would be a solid top of the order guy. But to do that, he has to cut down on those strikeouts while maintaining the walk rate. His babip is already a little above normal.

        His swing just doesn’t seem to be geared for power. He has plenty of bat speed, but there seems to be little to no weight shift. He just sort of spins. If he could adjust that swing and get more power, he would be a good player.

    • Doug Gray

      As noted below, LaMarre really doesn’t fit with that group. He is a lot more patient than the other two guys and doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the other two. He has a very armsy swing.

      I think Vidal could have average-ish power for third base if he develops his hit tool. Same for Soto, who in 2011 hit 31 bombs in under 400 at bats. Their issue isn’t so much the power as it is their hit tools not allowing their power to play. Most of that is because of their aggressiveness.

  4. mace

    It means nothing, but the similarities between Vidal’s numbers last year and Soto’s are almost eerie. I mean, both guys with 41 walks and 116 strikeouts? Come on. OBP within 2 points; BA within 2; PA within 2; doubles within 2? Sheesh.

  5. The Duke

    My 16-25

    16) Donald Lutz, LF/1B
    17) Jeff Gelalich, OF
    18) Chad Rogers, P
    19) Dan Langfield, P
    20) Drew Cisco, P
    21) Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B
    22) Ryan Wright, 2B
    23) Bryson Smith, OF
    24) Pedro Villareal, P
    25) Theo Bowe, OF

    • RobL

      The next 5 for Doug should be interesting. I think Yorman, Gelalich, Guillon, and Waldrop have to be locks. So that leaves Rogers and Villareal. Does Doug go for the well rounded pitcher, or the guy with two good pitches. My guess is Rogers, but I can see Doug leaving him out because he looks at him as more reliever.

      I am enjoying this too much. Not cool, man.

      • Stock

        I love this too. I am thinking that Guillen survives until Thursday. My best guess is that Rogers, Langfield, Waldrop, Villareal and Yorman show up tomorrow. That said Doug really likes Yorman so Lotzkar or Guillen could be on tomorrow’s list. Either Villareal or Gelalich do not make Doug’s top 25.

  6. RobL

    Doug, could we get a season breakdown for Vidal? His K rate jumped going to Pensacola, but it seemed like his first week or so were just terrible. To finish with 21 doubles and 11 hrs shows that power is still there. His walk rate was still solid at about 7.5. The real problem was a spike in K’s (I say pressing due to a poor start), and a low babip. Raise his babip 30 points to get it to .300 and his line is solid. I think you are dinging him way too much (like Lutz). As you said, his defense is strong and he hit in Dayton and Bakersfield. While some players washout in AA, I like Vidal’s swing too much for that.

      • RobL

        Thanks Stock. I actually did come across it a little earlier. Like I thought, Vidal did nothing his first 15 games. He did a solid job the next month. The following two months his power amped up, but his batting avg dropped despite the same amt of K’s. I think that corresponds to a drop in babip. If his average stayed the same in July in August as it did in June (with more power) his numbers would be solid.

        His K rate needs to come down, but he was also rushed up to AA to cover for H-Rod’s injury.

        Doug stated that he want to add more weight to 2nd half performance, but I think that should only happen if a player stays at the same level. And people say the biggest jump is high A to AA. If a player holds his own, that is a positive.

    • Doug Gray

      I will certainly have him in the Season in Review articles at some point during the offseason.

      With Vidal, his AA time (re: far too aggressive at the plate) showed me that he still has a ways to go in that department and it was a question last season as well as it bordered on the line of questionable for me.

  7. RobL

    One last thing on Vidal (maybe), in your 2012 top 25 review, you accurately stated that both Vidal and Barnhardt were promoted too early to cover for injuries. But Barnhardt moves up in the rankings and Vidal drops? Let’s face it, as a player Barnhardt’s ceiling in Ryan Hanigan (and that’s a solid player), but Vidal has the potential to be a middle of the order bat with strong defense at third.

    Prospect wise, if you asked me, who would I rather have in my system, give me Vidal.

    And just a note. The Southern League was absolutely stacked with premium pitching talent. Arizona and Seattle’s teams were rated as the top two rotations in all of the minors. And the Reds were pretty good too. Plus the Braves always have good pitching. Seeing depressed numbers for this league should be taken with a grain of salt.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think Vidal is a future middle of the order bat though. If everything goes right, maybe he is a .280/.335/.475 hitter. That is good, especially with his defense, but that isn’t really a middle of the order hitter, at least ideally.

      With Barnhart, his ceiling is Ryan Hanigan like, but as a guy who can play 75% of the time. Taking what Hanigan was worth this year (which isn’t even his best on a per game basis), and giving him 75% playing time, that would be a player worth more than Brandon Phillips was this year in 147 games. There is a whole lot of value to be had in a Ryan Hanigan like ceiling as a 75% of the time catcher.

  8. Norwood Nate

    Initially I forgot about Soto as a prospect. But this is probably a good range for him. I think I would have had Vidal and LaMarre higher on the list. I fully expected to see YRod and Chad Rogers in this section.

    • Doug Gray

      To be honest, for me prospects 8-20 were nearly interchangeable. There is a pretty small gap between the guys. All of them have significant questions about them, be it they need to really develop on one side of the ball, have a limited ceiling or something.

    • jimmy

      I had heard Lamare was really hurting the last month of the season with his plantar fasciitis and could have sat out for the rest of the season but didn’t want to come out of the lineup. Before that period, he was batting close to .290 with a very good OBP and BABIP in the .350’s. If anyone of you have ever had this you will know its one of the most painful things to have especially if you’re an athlete. I’m sure he was over compensating at the plate some having to put less weight on the foot he was having problem with.
      Another thing that gets overlooked defensively is the 20 outfield assists he had for the season, which was tied for the second most in all minors! I watched him play college baseball and the guy has a rocket for an arm!

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah, he was playing hurt all season. He should be back to full health next year.

  9. Doug Gray

    Guys, I am real busy today. I will be back around 4:30 and get to all of the questions, so keep them coming if you want. Just expect to wait a little bit for some answers.

  10. Rick in Boise

    BTW, Houston just DFA’ed an old name…

    Designated RHP Enerio Del Rosario for assignment. [10/26]

    Should we be interested in a waiver claim?

  11. Stock

    Another good list. I think 8 – 20 are all so close. I would be very surprised if my top 7 differed from yours because of the gap between 7 and 8. I also think there is a gap between 5 and 6. Fast riser in this group is Mejias=Brean. Interested in where you think he starts next year. I am hoping Bakersfield with a possible promotion to AA at midseason. May be wishful thinking though.

    My list is as follows:

    16 Lotzkar
    17 Barnhart
    18 Mejias-Brean
    19 Waldrop
    20 Wright

    • Doug Gray

      I would be surprised if SMB isn’t in Bakersfield to start. There wasn’t anyone in Dayton who showed anything remotely close at third to warrant a promotion up there.

  12. RobL

    Mel put things in the right perspective yesterday. It doesn’t matter where a player is ranked on a list. It has no bearing on their actual future and holds no tangible value.

    But it is a fun exercise, and hopefully I learn more about the players in the process.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, everyone I will list has something of value that could put them in the Majors. Plenty of guys that I won’t be listing do too. Heck, Josh Ravin isn’t in my Top 30 and he recently threw 101 MPH. There are plenty of guys who are talented enough to be MLB contributors who didn’t even enter the conversation for this Top 25.

  13. Justin

    Doug where is this Farm system ranked in the MLB? i would imagine it still has to be in the top half bc of the depth we still could use another top 2 or 3 prospects to enter the top 5!

    • Doug Gray

      I honestly haven’t gone through and done the rankings for all of the teams, but yeah, I imagine they are in the Top half simply because you could argue that the Top 7 guys are all Top 100 prospects for at least one major publication or another.

      • foxred

        I disagree. I would have them just out of the top half. Despite the good 2012 draft, the system is depleted.

      • Doug Gray

        The Reds have two ELITE level prospects with Hamilton and Stephenson. After that, there are five other guys who will find their way into Top 100 lists. That isn’t depleted at all.

  14. MK

    See that Travis Mattair played his first game in the Arizona Fall League. Did he replace one of our guys? Does this change his status as a prospect?

    • Doug Gray

      He replaced Lutz, who broke a finger. I am a Mattair fan, but unfortunately I haven’t really seen him play other than a few brief clips on video. so I have to be a little cautious with him in my rankings given his past and my lack of seeing him. With that said, he is a solid prospect at the very least.