Today kicks off the 2014 Top 25 Prospect List. Each day I will have five prospects listed each day to work through the list all week. On Friday there will also be a chat to discuss the list, though I will also answer some questions each day in the comments section. All listed ages are the official age during the season, which is calculated by their age as of June 30th of the playing year. Subscribers will get to see the best tool for each player.

25. Ryan LaMarre | Outfielder | 2013 teams: Pensacola Blue Wahoos & Louisville Bats

Acquired: 2nd Round, 2010 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 205 lbs. | Age: 24

LaMarre seemed to struggle during the 2013 season, but his season was essentially night and day between the first and second halves. From April-June the outfielder hit .220/.311/.307 with 13 steals for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. However once July began he turned the season around and hit .281/.351/.459 with 10 steals, mostly with Pensacola and with a small amount of time with Louisville.

Pensacola 515 451 55 111 19 4 10 39 22 13 44 93 .246 .326 .373
Louisville 14 11 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 .182 .357 .182
Total 529 462 59 113 19 4 10 39 23 13 45 94 .245 .327 .368


24. Sal Romano | Right Handed Pitcher | 2013 Teams: Dayton Dragons

Acquired: 23rd Round, 2011 Draft | Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 250 lbs. | Age: 19

Romano struggled with consistency during the 2013 season where he led all Midwest League teenagers in innings pitched with 120.1 innings. He was just one of a handful of teenagers who threw 100 innings in the league this season. The right handers strikeout rate picked up in the second half of the season,though his walk rate also went up.

Dayton 7 11 4.86 0 120.1 134 10 57 89 1.59 10.6% 16.6% 1.6


23. Neftali Soto | First & Third Base | 2013 Teams: Louisville Bats & Cincinnati Reds

Acquired: 3rd Round, 2007 Draft | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 215 lbs. | Age: 24

Soto rebounded some in 2013 with Louisville as he hit .271, but his walk rate dropped off from a career best 8% in 2012 to 5.3% this past season. His power output also dropped off some. On the good side of things, he made a transition back to third base defensively after past struggles at the position and more than held his own at the position.

Louisville 495 461 54 125 21 0 15 61 3 1 26 103 .271 .313 .414
Cincinnati 13 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .077 .000


photounavailable22. Reydel Medina | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Did Not Play

Acquired: International Free Agent, 2013 | Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 200 lbs. | Age: 20

The Reds signed Reydel Medina out of the Dominican Prospect League where played in 2012 and 2013 after defecting from Cuba in 2011 and establishing himself in Haiti to become eligible to sign. He showed off strong bat speed and above-average power potential in workouts and also showed off good speed in workouts. He will make his debut in 2014.

Did Not Play in 2013 | Will make his professional debut in 2014


21. Junior Arias | Outfielder | 2013 Teams: Dayton Dragons & Bakersfield Blaze

Acquired: International Free Agent, 2008 | Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 200 lbs. | Age: 21

After a few years of flashing big power potential, 2013 was the year where Arias began to translate it to games a little more often as he hit 24 doubles, 6 triples and 15 home runs. He performed better with Dayton than in Bakersfield, but it was a large step forward.

Dayton 290 271 45 77 12 4 10 33 40 10 13 72 .284 .323 .469
Bakersfield 230 222 30 57 12 2 5 20 20 10 5 60 .257 .283 .396
Total 520 493 75 134 24 6 15 53 60 20 18 132 .272 .305 .436


Scouting Notes


25. Ryan LaMarre

Best tool: Defense. LaMarre could make the argument as the best overall defensive outfielder in the system. He has above-average speed that he uses very well in center field. The speed plays up at the position because of good reads off of the bat and because of outstanding routes to the ball.

24. Sal Romano

Best tool: Fastball. Romano brings a 91-94 MPH sinking fastball that generates a lot of groundballs. The pitch features good sinking action as well as some armside run.

23. Neftali Soto

Best tool: Power. While Soto hasn’t had the power output that he showed in 2011 when he hit 31 home runs, the power potential is still there. He has plus power potential.

22. Reydel Medina

Best tool: Power. Medina hasn’t been in any games as a professional yet, so all of his tools are based off of workouts and games against lesser competition, but his bat speed shows up and projects good power in the future.

21. Junior Arias

Best tool: Speed. While we talked above about his power potential, Arias has plus-plus speed that rates out as an 80-grade tool that helped him steal 60 bases in 2013.



26 Responses

  1. Zirkle

    Great start of the list Doug! Thanks to you for compiling this!

  2. David

    I am most interested in Medina out of this group. The guy from BA seemed to think he might start out at Dayton next season, which would be good to see.

    Thanks for putting together these lists, I have been looking forward to them.

  3. MK

    Has something happened in Bakersfield to curb home runs? I would have expected Junior’s power home run numbers to have been better and I haven’t seen larger than expected numbers from anyone last year.

    • Doug Gray

      Nope. With Arias I believe that he simply ran into better pitching and struggled to make good contact as often.

  4. sultan of swaff

    So disappointing to see LaMarre fall so far down this list. I’m not a Heisey fan at all, even more so now that he’s into arbitration and will be getting paid handsomely for his all or nothing plate approach. Would’ve been nice to see LaMarre reach the majors this year with some hope of being that grindy, jack-of-all-trades player we need as a backup outfielder, but I’m just not seeing it.

    • David

      It would help if his second half numbers carry over into 2014, but I still think he would be fine as a 4th/5th OF for the Reds. He can handle CF, and has a decent to good OBP.

      The Reds also seem to be hoping he comes around, and see something in him. Between having him on the caravan the last couple of seasons, to sending him to the AFL, they have showed some faith in him.

      • Doug Gray

        If you watch LaMarre, he passes the eye test. It makes all kinds of sense as to why scouts like him and why the Reds have shown plenty of faith in him. As I noted, he really hit well in the second half. He changed his swing from where it finished last year, so perhaps it just took him some time to get things working in sync and he kin of took off after that.

    • Doug Gray

      I think LaMarre is going to be a Major Leaguer, but it won’t be as soon as you were hoping.

      • jimmy

        Doug, I still think he’s one of the best if not the best defensive outfielders in the Reds system at least from what I’ve seen. I heard he’s been sidelined in Arizona with a pulled abdominal muscle and that’s why he hasn’t played much recently. I’m still optimistic that he will be a productive offensive player and will be playing for Reds sometime in the future!

  5. sultan of swaff

    Arias is a perfect example of the system-wide issue with plate discipline.

    I wonder what you guys think about a top to bottom policy about not letting guys with extremely high K rates or extremely low BB rates move up the ladder. An intervention, if you will. In other words, until they can make the adjustment to become more disciplined they won’t be permitted to move up to the next level. To me it seems like the Reds are rewarding free-swinging bahaviors knowing full well that these approaches fail at the major league level.

    • MK

      I believe it is an organizational philosophy to swing the bat. Hearing Nieves speak, I got the idea that at Dayton at least there were not a lot of adjustments suggested the first half.

      I have been critical of the organizational hitting philosophies in the past and I think this free swinging is exactly one of the issues. It is no wonder when they get to the big leagues they can’t bunt or move a runner.

    • Doug Gray

      In theory, your plan makes sense. In practice though I don’t think it would work. You would get guys who would just swing less in the hopes of drawing more walks and would not develop their hitting skills.

      Think of a guy like Yorman Rodriguez. He had always been a free swinger. He struggled reading offspeed stuff. This year, he showed big steps forward in his pitch recognition skills. I have long been of the idea that you can’t really teach those skills, it is either something a guy can or can’t do and is something that they need to be able to do on their own. I mean you can tell a guy to look for the dot on the slider but even though we all know that, you still need to be able to spot it early enough to not swing. I think that the idea is to get the hitting stuff down and hope that they can figure out the pitch recognition at some point along the way.

      • sultan of swaff

        I agree that it would be difficult to put into practice because pitch recognition is in many ways a natural gift. That said, having a walk rate that’s not abysmal is as much of a hitting skill as, you know, hitting the ball.

        There are a finite number of at-bats at each level in a given season. It irritates me when those at-bats are be used on players who haven’t shown the inclination to correct an approach that has been proven beyond doubt not to be successful at the highest levels. That’s why I think there could be some minimum thresholds in place, a red flag if you will. Currently, the motivations for a free swinging approach far outweigh the punishments for a more balanced approach.

    • stock

      I agree. The strikeout rate of several of our prospects is concerning. If you strike out more than 25% of you AB in the minors that does not fare well for when you have to face Clayton Kershaw.

      Arias’ K rate is the reason I left him off my top 25. Luckily he is still young and has time. I guess this discussion will work on Friday (possibly Thursday at #6) when Yorman’s name pops up. If Yorman’s K/AB ratio were less than 20% he might be the second best prospect in the system.

  6. Norwood Nate

    I love this time of year. We can all sit back and think/hope about the day that these players will make a future impact on the Reds. I always like to compile my own list, which will surely pale in comparison since my watching/observing of these players is extremely limited to the internet discussions, videos, and the stats I can gather. I made a list last year and had fun with it.

    Unfortunately I found it was a bit harder this year to get past about #14. Cingrani, Didi, and Lutz are no longer prospects from last year. Lotzkar and Gelalich were major disappointments this past year and Langfield didn’t pitch at all. Selsky, Wright, Vidal, Fellhauer, B. Smith etc didn’t do enough this past year for me to really view them as prospects. With that said…

    25. Ronald Bueno – I like him because he showed an ability to hit at a decent clip and he can play both middle infield spots. So far, to me, he shows the most potential of the bunch of middle infielders in short season ball. (Washington, Rachal, Thompson, etc).
    24. Ryan LaMarre – I had him much higher last year (top 15) but at this point I’m hoping for someone who can put it together enough to be a solid 4th OF type. With other OF’s coming on strong (Hamilton, YRod, Winker, Ervin) LaMarre’s chances of making a ML impact are running short on time. I still like his defense and OBP.
    23. Jose Ortiz – An offensive C that has put together two solid seasons. With the lack of depth in the system behind Barnhart it’s nice to see a promising option down the line, even if he is still pretty raw.
    22. Drew Cisco – I had him as my #25 guy last year. And I think he put together a solid season at Dayton. He had an ERA under 4 and only 16 walks compared to 99 K’s while leading Dayton in IP.
    21. Sal Romano – His age gives him the advantage for me over Cisco, but he’ll need to get the BB’s under control moving forward.

    I did not consider any international guys as I don’t hardly anything to go on with them. Soto did not make the cut for me this year. He looked completely over-matched at the plate in his few AB’s and lacks a real position to play for the Reds as he’s not displacing either Votto or Frazier.

    • Doug Gray

      For me, once I reached the #7 spot in the rankings it was very difficult for me to truly say “this guy is clearly better than the next 5 guys behind him”.

      I don’t think it is a big issue, as there is some decent depth in this middle section here. Perhaps the Reds are just missing that second tier of top end guys, but that middle section that would follow that is pretty deep in my opinion.

      • Norwood Nate

        Yes, I agree that I have clear top 6. Then #7-14 could fall anywhere in that range after. After that it is pretty much a crapshoot. A lot of tools and upside more than actual production.

  7. Dick

    As everyone puts their top 25 together, a great question is “where is your gap” If I remember properly, Dougs gap last year was after 6 prospects, this year, its after 7. Last year BA’s JJ Cooper had a gap after 4 for his Reds 25 best prospects. As you formulate a top 25, let us know where your gap is.

    • stock

      It will be interesting how people perceive their gap. Now that Doug has stated his gap is after 7 it will be interesting to see who slides in with that last spot. Lorenzen would be a logical guess. My biggest gap is after the top 4. I have a second gap after my top 15.

    • Krozley

      I have a gap after 5, then a cliff after number 10. After 10, the next 20 or so are almost interchangeable.

  8. stock

    Interesting 21-25. The only real surprise on here is LaMarre. I wasn’t expecting to see his name until Wednesday. He was injured in 2012 and I am giving him a pass on his first couple months this year as time spent finding his swing after making adjustment to deal with the injury last year.

    My 21-25 are all young (except Lorenzen) and maybe it is just me hoping the Reds drafted well. They really do seem to have the ability to find players in rounds 5-10.

    25. Ty Boyles – He was 17 and did well in AZ. He is even LH. He wasn’t starting but he was throwing multiple innings every time he went out there. I think he will start next year at Billings.

    24. Tyler Mahle – His line was similar to Boyles. I put him ahead of Boyles only because he was drafted earlier.

    23. Jeremy Kivel – He struggled with control a little but that was probably expected after sitting out a year.

    22. Michael Lorenzen – Great fastball but it seems to lack movement and therefore as he moves up he won’t miss the bats necessary to succeed. I think ML hitters will eat him alive. He made this list exclusively because the Reds invested so much in him. Unfortunately, I think we will have to add him to the list of early round misses by the Reds drafting team.

    21. Cory Thompson – Another 2013 draft pick. I don’t know if he can stick at SS but I like the .341 OBP in his debut season.

    • Norwood Nate

      I like Thompson too. I was very close to including him on my list. But I usually need to see a little bit more out of a prospect before I really start to pay attention to him. He’s definitely on the radar.

      • stock

        Thompson and Kivel are the only two here I feel have a chance of making anyone elses list at this point. Lorenzen will be much higher on other lists. Boyles and Mahle won’t be on anyone’s list other than mine.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, I could have ranked LaMarre higher without much hesitation. Like I said, there are a lot of guys really grouped together in this range.