Cincinnati Reds make their mark on the MLB.com Top 100 prospects list Doug Gray January 23, 2014 37 Comments MLB.com released their Top 100 prospect list on Thursday night during a broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.com. You can view the entire list here. Topping the list for the Reds was right handed pitcher Robert Stephenson who was ranked 19th overall. That is a big jump for him on the list from last season. I still think he is underrated here. I have said it before and I will say it again, Robert Stephenson is better today as a prospect than Homer Bailey was when he was the top pitching prospect in the entire game and I really don’t think it is a tough decision to make. In his scouting report things get murky. A week ago in an article on the top 10 starting pitchers it gave grades on his pitches and those grades don’t match up with the ones given in this list, so that is awfully confusing. Stephenson was followed on the list by center fielder Billy Hamilton was came in ranked 37th overall. That is a drop from the list last year, but considering that by comparison he took a giant leap backwards offensively to what he did in 2012, he barely fell at all and is still considered to be an elite level prospect. Hamilton probably gained some value by switching positions to one where he can still be an elite defender with his range, but one where he will make fewer errors. Both Stephenson and Hamilton took home “Best tools” Awards handed out by Jim Callis. Robert Stephenson took home Best Curveball (wasn’t mentioned for best fastball) and Billy Hamilton, as I am sure you all guessed, took home Fastest Runner. I was thinking that Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker could sneak in the back half of the Top 100, but both guys missed out on making the list. 37 Responses wanderinredsfan January 24, 2014 Really surprised that Ervin didn’t crack the top-100. Many players on this list (Bonifacio, Hak- Ju Lee, Alcantara, etc.) should not be ranked ahead of him. It almost makes me think that it’s just an oversight. Stock January 24, 2014 I think that had he started at Dayton he would have been in the top 100. Such a small sample size in full season ball. It is hard to compare Ervin and Winker to other pitchers but sitting at 99 is Rosell Herrera. He is a 21 year old SS who played full season ball, hit .345 with 16 HR and 21 SB and won the league MVP honors. Sitting at 92 is 3B Joey Gallo. He hit only .251 but hit 40 HR and stole 15 bases. There are so many talented players to choose from that it is difficult to crack the top 100 unless you play full season ball. I think both Winker and Ervin crack the list next year but if Herrera is 99 with the stats he put up they are by no means a lock for top 100. That said I think both Ervin and Winker are in the top 125. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 Herrera probably doesn’t stick at SS. HE also plays in a launching pad in Asheville. He slugged .635 at home and .411 on the road. I don’t mind him at the back end though if he can stick at second base though, but his numbers are a bit of a mirage (not saying he isn’t a solid hitter – I think he very well could be). Stock January 24, 2014 I agree Stephenson is better than Bailey but unlike when Bailey was in the minors there are a lot of quality arms coming up through various systems right now. The game of 2020 will be quite different than the game was in 2008. Pitching and speed will diminish the role of the HR. Maybe I am wrong but I can’t remember a time when so many quality arms were in the minors. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 I will give you that. But here is where I get confused. They rated Stephenson as the best curveball in the minors. The dude throws 94-98 and hits 100. He throws strikes. You just can’t sit back and tell me there are 6 other pitchers better than that. I have read their reports. Something is off. Stock January 24, 2014 When they make their list I think they factor in fantasy value. Bradley and Walker are ML bound this year so they make the top 10. I am pretty sure 5 years from now Stephenson will be better than Walker. Not so sure on Bradley but I like Stephenson more than him long term. I like Gray, Stephenson and Bundy of the 11-20 pitchers. Bundy is coming off TJ surgery so is a wild card but I still like him. Syndergaard is on the list only because he is a Met. Appel is only on the list because he was the first pick in the draft. I personally would rank my top five as Gray, Zimmer, Stephenson, Bradley and Bundy. Because of Bradley proximity I can see why he tops the list though. Randy in Chatt January 24, 2014 You’re not wrong. 40+ year fan of MLB & the Reds and this is the only time I’ve ever seen something like this relating to pitching. It is a new era for sure. The game is changing and the quality of pitching has definitely changed (arms, knowledge, science, technology, etc.). Never seen anything like this. On another note, going to the Nasville Reds Caravan stop tomorrow. PUMPED! Bringing my Jamie Dismuke warm-up jersey (given by family friends of his who was a student of mine that I hang up in my classroom here in Chattanooga). He was a coach for the Lookouts and owned an indoor hitting facility here (now w/ the Braves) Going to have the guys sign it. I’ll take some pictures for you Doug. Can’t believe they are coming to Tennessee. sultan of swaff January 24, 2014 Even on a list of elites like the top 100, there are still significant gaps in talent. For example, I know we should all be worried that the Cubs have 7 players make the list, but guys like Soler and Baez have horrendous strikeout problems and will struggle mightily at the higher levels. I’d take Ervin over either of those guys. So I get what Doug is saying about Stephenson and agree 100%. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 No way i would take Ervin over Baez, if the cubs would trade Baez straight up for Hamilton today the Reds would jump all over that. Hes 20 and can absolutely rake. Hes a .280 hitter in the bigs with 30 homer power, and Solar doesnt strike out that much(55 game 38so 21bb). A player like Mason Williams on the other hand, Id take Ervin over him all day. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 Numbers wise, Baez reminds me of Jay Bruce. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 I’d take that in a heart beat at ss or 3b KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 I dont know if its just me, but with the Reds doing basically nothing to improve the team this offseason, i am becoming very pessimistic about next year and the future. With these big contracts being thrown around Bailey/Latos are both all but gone in 2 years with very little in the way of return(compensation pick). Cueto cant stay healthy. They have Votto Bruce Hamilton and Stephenson. If Ervin Yorman and Winker all pan out they can possibly move Bruce for a large prospect haul, or package them to get players. But it just seems like the Reds cant get better without having a “down year”, which would still be a .500 imo. Then you look at the other teams in the division and it looks even worse: The Pirates have Cole-Morton-Wandy already, with Tallion and Glasnow on the way, McCutchen Alverez and Walker, with Polanco Henson and Bell on the way. Talented youth everywhere, with Tabata-Marte-Sanchez-Pimentel-Mercer. The Cardinals have the best roster in the division and the best system(and more $$ to spend). The Cubs have tons of $$ and a great farm system to become competitive quickly(could sign Bailey after next year to go with Arrietta-Jackson-Wood-Samardzija) Rizzo and Castro are very talented, with solid roll players like Sweeney and Ruggiano. boiler January 24, 2014 Come on Debbie or Mr. Little, step away from the ledge. The outlook for next year is fine. In a couple of years, lots of things can happen, although I am not as optimistic. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 Not being a debbie downer, just looking at facts. And the fact is the Reds are hurting their future by being all in for a 1-2 year run. They gave a ton away to get Latos, and are going to get nothing back if they cant sign him. Another fact, the best team in the divison has not only more money to spend in the future(thanks to not overpaying their 1b), and the most talent on the way. The Reds window looks to be closing fast and if they dont make smart moves to better their future it could close for a while. terry m January 24, 2014 Nothing wrong with having a down year and still playing above five hundred as long as play hard and have emotion and passion. Not like the last 10 games last year. The REDS really need some of their international players to start producing. The Cubs,Pirates and Cards appear to have top line international players about to contribute. I think Mr. C has done a great job with respect to player development. He does tend to fall in love with managers and players which could hurt in the long run. It is a business… Doug Gray January 24, 2014 The Reds need to just continue what they have been doing for the last 7 years. Draft and develop well. That is what got them to the point they are at now and I don’t see any reason to think they are going to stop doing it. MK January 24, 2014 Hello Mister Wilson, The 2014 team, with the changes made, are better than the 2012 team that won the division. Replace Stubbs with Hamilton and the rest of the position players are the same. I think everyone feels catching will be an upgrade. Shumaker is an upgrade over Cairo and the bench as a whole is better. Starting staff should be comparable and bullpen better Looking at the wildcard 2013 winners Choo is a big loss, but catching will be better offensively, and with Hamilton, a healthy Ludwick and a return to form of Frazier and Phillips the offense will be different but just as good, if not better. Pitching should be better if healthy. So let’s have a little faith. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 Yes but the Pirates were not a contending team in 2012, and the Cardinals weren’t as good as the currently are(2nd best team in baseball), Cueto was considered an ace that year, now you just hope he can stay healthy. Phillips is continuing his decline, Ludwick is a huge if, Hamilton is a huge if, we hope more playing time leads to a break out from Mes offensively, and we have a 1st time head coach(biggest upgrade the Reds made). And I’m not just looking at it for this year. I hope they plan works and the Reds win this year, but what happens if and when Latos/Bailey/Leake are possibly gone in 2 years. Also love to see Bailey speak about the Reds the way Lester does the Red Sox. But the Nationals, Cards, and Dodgers appear to be the best teams in the NL. Arizona is only getting better, the Pirates will be there, San Fran should bounce back, Philly can be a threat if healthy, the Braves are strong, and the Brewers/Rockies could surprise. MK January 24, 2014 I guess I don’t get the Phillips decline talk. His average was down but he drove in 100 runs, a personal best, and returned to gold glove form. Where is the decline? If all go as planned and he hits in the 2 hole I suspect his approach will be different and his Avg and obp will go up but then the talk will be he declined because he didn’t drive in 100. I really don’t think Hamilton has to be huge but I think he will be better than Stubbs in’12. Ludwick needs to hit .260, 25 HR and 75 RBI., same for Frazier and Mesoraco . Really not a stretch. Cards pick up a .250 hitting CF and a lifetime .265 hitting age 32 shortstop with below avg defensive range and the pitching they had last year. I think the Beltran subtraction really hurts them. Just don’t see how the Pirates have improved at all. Cole replaces Burnett which might be a wash and Sanchez replaces Morneau. They really went by the Reds and stopped a second half swoon when they picked up Morneau and Byrd. Both are gone and neither spot on the roster they leave is an upgrade. Alan Horn January 26, 2014 Agree on all of that Mk. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 I think your worries are a bit overblown. What did the Cards do to improve their team? What have the Pirates done? The only team to really improve in the division is the Brewers. Our farm system is fine. Our big league roster is fine. We do need to find a way to keep one of Bailey/Latos, but I think we will. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 Peralta in place of Kozma is huge, and their d will be better with Carpenter at 3rd, Wong/Ellis at 2b, and Bourjos* in cf, which should in turn improve their pitching #s. They lost Beltran but have Oscar Taveras. The Pirates havent made moves to get better but they have more elite talent about to graduate to the bigs this year. I do think the Reds are a better team today than the Pirates but i also think that they are playing for a wild card. Washington-Atlanta- Arizona-Pittsburgh-Milwaukee Philly-San Fran will all be doing the same. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 I still don’t see where the Cardinals are improved. They lost one of their best hitters (granted they do have quite a few good ones) and an elite reliever in Mujica. Freese was moved for a glove first guy, but the offense loses something with that move. Taveras is good, but I doubt he replaces Beltran offensively, so they take another step back on offense there. Which Peralta shows up? The 2009/2010/2012 version or the 2011/2013 version? They made some moves, and switched some parts around in the lineup, but I still see a similar team. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 A similar team to the one that just won the division and fumbled the WS away. And their glove first cf wont produce much worse then their previous cfs. If their offense steps back at all i would be surprised. And any year Peralta is better then Kozma. Carpenter-Peralta-Holiday-Craig-Molina-Taveras-Wong/Ellis-Bourjos/Jay looks pretty good. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 I am with you that we need something else to catch the Cardinals (maybe someone takes a step forward that we already have – Mesoraco, Bruce takes that next step, Votto goes back to 2010?), but I don’t see them as an improved squad at this point over what they had last year. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 I believe they will compete this year, but the future looks a bit bleak. Hopefully Bruce is consistent all year, and everyone stay healthy. Also agree that the Reds need some internationals to pan out like everyone elses(Henson, Polanco, Baez, Solar, Casto, Taveras, Garcia, and Carlos Martinez). I just hate the dirty birds, and the Bucos and Cubs futures look bright. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 I think our future looks pretty good. Votto and Bruce are locked up long term. The farm has high upside talent in it, mostly that seems safe too (Stephenson, Hamilton, Winker, Ervin – all pretty safe bets to be quality guys) and plenty of guys with big upsides spread through the system to go along with solid types too. babull January 24, 2014 KyWilson, I read your post from earlier and agree completely. I, also, agree that our minor league system has been better in the last few years but, it likely ranks as the 4th best system in the division. I am not optimistic at all going forward. It still has to be played out but, my expectations have been dashed and appropriately lowered. Krozley January 24, 2014 The Cardinals are definitely the favorites in the NL Central. But they have questions. They will have only have 2 position players in the same positions as they had for the most part in 2013. It may take them some time to figure out how to play together. 1b Adams can’t hit lefties, was exposed in the playoffs, and may be closer to Juan Francisco than Albert Pujols. Wong and Taveras could be studs, but they haven’t done anything yet. Peralta is switching leagues and got his contract. I’m skeptical about his contribution without pharmaceuticals. Carpenter and Craig will not duplicate what they did last year. Bourjois will be an upgrade defensively, but he can’t hit. Holliday is on the other side of the hill. Molina, who I can’t stand, is great. They lost a lot of power in Beltran and Freese. To me, their pitching staff is over-hyped and they will have to prove their perceived greatness over 162 games (which only Wainwright has done). I think the Reds staff top to bottom is at least as good as the Cards, if not better. With all that said, the Cardinals always find a way to pull rabbits out of hats and they are the clear favorites. But, one of these years they will run into some bad luck and I’m not ready to hand them the trophy yet. KyWilson1 January 24, 2014 They ran into bad luck one of the years the Reds won the division and i think the Brewers were 2nd. Wacha-Wainright-Miller-Martinez-Lynn-Garcia is pretty good and very deep, but i agree a healthy Reds staff matches them. Carpenter returns to his best position and Adams wont start Craig will. Carpenter is a great hitter, i dont see his numbers dropping off, Craigs either. And if Wong isnt ready they have Ellis who is more then capable. They are deep and have players at every position. If Yadi gets hurt then things change fast for them though. Stock January 24, 2014 I am with Mr. Wilson on this one. The Cards are better than the Reds as is and have the firepower to make deals in July if need be because their farm is so deep. The Reds better avoid injuries this year. The Cards have a much better OF than the Reds. You say Bourjos can’t hit but his OBP last year was .330. I would be thrilled if any Red not named Votto matched that. Holliday and Craig/Taveras blow away Bruce and Ludwick. The infield is about the same (the advantage of Votto at 1B is erased at 3B with Carpenter). The Cards have much better Catching. SP is really good for both clubs but the Cards bullpen of Rosenthal, Motte, Siegrist, Manass, Chote and Martinez is loaded. That said the Reds bullpen is good if they stay healthy. In fact I think our weak link in a healthy bullpen is Broxton. You say the Cards have done nothing to improve but I disagree. Bourjos/Wong is better than Freeze/Jay offensively and much better defensively. Beltran is better than Adams/Taveras but not by a lot. Peralta is much better than Kozma. They get Wacha and Kelly for a full season in the majors. They get Motte back in the bullpen. That is a plus. Rosenthal is now their closer. That is an improvement from last year. Worse yet it is not like the Reds were close to the Cards last year. They finished 7 games back. I still am in the camp of they should have traded Bailey. Too many question marks on this team and none on the Cards. Doug Gray January 24, 2014 Bourjos missed plenty of time last year, but he has a career .306 OBP heading into his age 27 season. I remain very skeptical that he is going to hit much over the course of a full season. The Cardinals offense is better than the Reds, no question about it. Our pitching is better though and I don’t question that for a second. You are counting on Taveras to be awfully good as a 21-year-old rookie. I’m not there yet. I think eventually he will be a factor, but I am not counting on it for a 21-year-old. He is going to be going from launching pads where he has played the last two years in the minors (the PCL and Springfield in AA which is a hitters paradise) to one of the toughest places to hit for power in the Majors. Let them have Joe Kelly for a full season. No way he keeps up a low ERA with an iffy walk rate and a downright poor strikeout rate. The projection systems all have his ERA jumping up at least a full point (which in that park makes him a below-average pitcher). Wacha will be interesting to see. I don’t think he is nearly as good as he showed in 2013 at the MLB level (where he performed better than he did in AAA). Good? Yes. Elite, no. That team is good. I just think the Reds are close enough that if one thing goes our way and one thing goes against them, we are pretty much even. They have the better offense. We have the better pitching. One small swing draws us closer. Krozley January 25, 2014 In more at bats, Xavier Paul had a higher OBP and OPS than Bourjos last year and he couldn’t find a major league deal. Norwood Nate January 25, 2014 I will jump in on the Cards discussion. I think they are better, but only marginally so. And that’s if things go according to their expectations of their young guys. They will have as many hopes pinned on young players performing as we do on key players bouncing back (either from injury or regression). I think any incarnation of Peralta is better than Kozma. I think Ellis/Wong is a step up defensively for them at 2B. I was hoping we could nab Ellis if we traded Phillips, the Cards got another gamer. Carpenter is an upgrade at 3B over Freese who was downright dreadful at times last year. Craig, Molina and Holliday should all still be very good hitters (and Molina an elite C). Tavaras/Jay/Bourjos should make a good mix-and-match option in the OF, and Adams is a nice power bat to have on your bench. But they will certainly have to rely on Tavaras/Wong/Adams stepping up and being ready for extended big league action. They will certainly have to hope their young pitching core is ready to take on a full season and make adjustments as hitters start to see them regularly. There will be question marks with this team, and a lot of it has to do with youth and inexperience. They will also miss Beltran’s bat in their order, and I do believe we are going to start seeing some major decline in Holliday’s effectiveness. LF may be a real adventure for them when he’s out there. KyWilson1 January 26, 2014 The Reds are banking on comebacks from Ludwick and Phillips, as well as hoping Cingrani repeats and stays healthy, Cueto stays healthy, and they lose Arroyo innings. Also hoping for a young catcher to break out and a rookie CF whose bat has been questioned to preform, The Cards are relying on 2 rookies that everyone knows can rake. Our rotation is better, but not at the same level that their offense is better then ours. Doug Gray January 26, 2014 I really think that the only real questions are health and Hamilton. I have no concerns at all about Cingrani’s health. I have very, very small ones about Cueto’s health. Ludwick is going to perform better than the 2013 left field situation. Mesoraco/Pena are going to outperform the 2013 catchers (at least offensively). It just comes down to health and what exactly Billy Hamilton can do. Health is something that all teams need to wonder about though. You can’t predict injuries. Alan Horn January 26, 2014 I don’t understand the Phillips comeback. If he improves, great. I will take what he did last season all day long. Especially since he was injured.