Prior to the release of my 2012 Reds rankings, the team flipped prospects like Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso to San Diego, dramatically altering the landscape of the list. As a result, last year’s list fell off quickly. The 2012 draft helped re-stock the system and represent seven of the 15 players on the list. The system still has talent on the way, but much of that talent has limited experience outside of the lower levels of organized ball, meaning it may take time to see the players at the big-league level.
1. Billy Hamilton – OF (Last Year’s Rank: 3)
The fastest player in baseball, Hamilton is more than just a burner. He is an old-school base stealing threat that could steal 100 bases a year in the Major Leagues. His speed is absolutely jaw dropping. Beyond his speed, Hamilton has improved his hitting approach and overall offensive ability, giving him an improved chance to actually utilize his speed on the bases. His move to the outfield prior to the AFL was a good one and could accelerate his arrival in the big leagues.
2. Robert Stephenson – RHP (6)
Stephenson represents a lottery ticket that the Reds could cash in as a frontline starter. The Reds first round pick in 2011, Stephenson blew through rookie ball in 2012 and survived a trial by fire in the Midwest League as a 19-year old. He has a mid-90s fastball that he can run up to triple digits at times, giving him at least one dominating pitch. Both his breaking ball and change-up, along with his command and control, need improvement, but the raw materials are there to craft a big time pitching prospect.
3. Daniel Corcino – RHP (2)
I ranked Corcino aggressively last year and he came through with quality development in 2012, giving credence to my belief in his raw tools. His mechanics still aren’t pretty and his control can be an issue at times, but he owns an easy plus fastball and two secondary pitches with a chance to become above-average offerings down the line. Corcino has the ceiling of a number three starter and he should be in the mix for a big-league job in 2014.
4. Nick Travieso – RHP (NR)
While some amateur scouts aren’t completely sold on Travieso’s long term starting potential, it is hard to ignore what he brings to the table with little pitching experience. His fastball gets up to 94-95 mph during his starts and his slider made significant improvements throughout his senior season. There is little in the way of a change-up at this time but given his inexperience, some scouts are willing to give him some time to show what he can develop.
5. Tony Cingrani – LHP (13)
I admit I was low on Cingrani heading into the 2012 season, and while I have moved him up in my rankings, I’m still not buying the long term profile as a starting pitcher. His fastball and change-up are both plus pitches and the change-up can be devastating at times, and he commands both pitches well. His profile as a starting pitcher falls apart when looking at his breaking ball; a below-average pitch that has made little progress. Cingrani can dominate in the late innings and the Reds may allow him to do just that in 2013.
6. Ismael Guillon – LHP (9)
Much like Stephenson, Guillon buzzed through the rookie-level Pioneer League before a promotion to Low-A Dayton where he also pitched well. Guillon made huge leaps forward with his command and control in 2012 and that, along with his deceptive delivery, allowed his average fastball to play up. He still owns a legit plus change-up that generates swings and misses, and he showed some modest improvement with his below-average curveball. Guillon won’t come quickly, but he does offer the potential of a number four starter.
7. Jesse Winker – OF (NR)
Winker has a tough profile for a high-school hitter, lacking the athleticism or speed to stay up the middle, but having a really promising bat. His approach is very advanced for his age and it allows his natural hitting ability and power to be on display at all times. Winker has the potential to hit, and hit a ton at every level of the minor leagues. He is likely destined for left field, meaning he will have to reach every bit of his offensive ceiling.
8. Dan Langfield – RHP (NR)
I like Langfield quite a bit. He has an unusual profile but one that I think can work at the big league level. He is a bit undersized – prototypically speaking – for a right-handed pitcher, but his high slot helps him gain additional leverage to the plate. He can reach 95-96 mph with his fastball, though it flattens out at times. Both his slider and curveball have plus potential, and both are thrown very hard. He lacks anything soft and some scouts believe his power approach to everything will lead to a bullpen role down the line. If he remains a starter, he fits in the 4/5 range of a rotation.
9. Jeff Gelalich – OF (NR)
Gelalich is the type of player that does a lot of things well, but lacks standout ability in any single area. He is a solid runner and thrower that profiles best in left field down the line. He also has a quality approach at the plate and solid hitting ability. From a power perspective, he has very good gap power and should pick up plenty of doubles and 10-15 home runs annually is a reasonable projection. He has to hit a bunch to avoid the “tweener” tag, but he should have a big league role in some capacity.
10. Yorman Rodriguez – OF (4)
Rodriguez’s development continued to be slow, but that slow pace of progress is mitigated by the fact that he played the entire year at just 19-years old. In 65 games with Low-A Dayton, Rodriguez hit .271/.307/.430 with tons of strikeout problems and promising power that was on display in batting practice. He struggled, hitting just .156 in 23 High-A games, and he should get another shot at the level in 2013. Rodriguez has a right-field profile with the potential for good defense and he already has huge arm strength.
11. Tanner Rahier – 3B (NR)
Rahier was a late riser as the draft approached and the Reds ended up popping him in the second round. An ultra-aggressive player, Rahier has an all-out, grinder style of player that is augmented by solid tools. He has good bat speed but his hitting ability is held back by his swing-at-everything approach. When he barrels the ball, he flashes above-average power to all fields. He won’t be a shortstop long term but he has the hands and arm strength to play at third base, a move that would also mitigate questions about his range in the field.
12. Seth Mejias-Brean – 3B (NR)
A physical guy with classic third-base size, Mejias-Brean has potential in all phases of the game. He is a quality hitter with doubles power and he could peak with 25+ two-baggers and 10-15 home runs a year. His approach is sound and it allows the rest of his offensive tools to play in games. Mejias-Brean stands out defensively, showing excellent actions at the hot corner and a strong arm.
13. Jeremy Kivel – RHP (NR)
The Reds paid $500,000 to sign Kivel after selecting him in the tenth round last summer. He missed a large chunk of his senior season with a torn ACL in his left knee, but when healthy, he flashes a fastball that can reach 95 mph. His prospect status is tied directly to his raw arm strength right now, but he shows the makings of a curveball and could develop into an intriguing workhorse starter.
14. Ryan LaMarre – OF (NR)
LaMarre is an excellent athlete with tools that scouts have long believed should play better in game situations. He is a well below-average hitter that has a ton of swing and miss in his game. While he has shown some willingness to work counts, he prefers to swing early and often. He has gap power and plus speed, giving him a solid offensive profile overall. Defensively, he has standout ability in center field and a plus arm. His problems making contact hold his overall projection down, but he should be a strong fourth outfielder and may turn in the occasional season better than that.
15. Henry Rodriguez – 3B/2B (10)
Still just 22-years old, Rodriguez remains mildly intriguing. A sound hitter, he can work the ball from line to line with enough juice in his stick to pick up some doubles by reaching the gaps. He is a decent runner that can take an extra base when the opportunity presents itself. Rodriguez is not a standout defender at any position, but has shown enough ability at both third base and second base, as well as some marginal ability at shortstop, that he could be a big-league utility player down the line.