Billy Hamilton (right) during the MLB Futures Game
The season has reached its midway point, and the MLB prospect watch is on. We're just over a month and a half away from September call-ups, and some prospects are making a strong case for a one way ticket to Cincinnati.
Everyone knows about star prospect Billy Hamilton's meteoric rise through the system, but it's important to familiarize one's self with the other players who will undoubtedly have an impact on the future of this great organization.
Moving from Single-A ball to Triple-A, here are the top 10 performers thus far in the Reds' minor league system.
Donald Lutz is one of my favorite players in the minor league system.
Between A+ Bakersfield and a short rehab assignment in the Arizona League, Lutz has played very well.
In 62 games, Lutz is batting .297/.357/.607 with 16 HR, 53 RBI, 42 runs scored and 7 steals.
Lutz was named a mid-season all-star in the California League due to his impressive first half.
The 23-year-old first baseman seems to have found his stride and it looks like he may join an already loaded Pensacola team in the near future.
Theo Bowe, a 22-year-old left fielder, has been tearing up A+ Bakersfield this season.
Between A Dayton and A+ Bakersfield, Bowe has played 73 games with a triple slash of .317/.402/.408 three HR, 28 RBI, 39 runs and 45 steals.
Bowe is a relative unknown, but that won't last long if he continues to play like this.
It's hard to say anything about Billy Hamilton that I, or someone else, hasn't already, so I'm going to let the numbers speak for themselves.
82 G, .323/.413/.439 with 1 HR, 18 2B, 9 3B, 30 RBI, 79 runs and 104 steals.
Those aren't video game numbers either. Like teammate Donald Lutz, Hamilton too was a mid-season all-star in the California League.
Look for Billy Hamilton in Pensacola very soon.
Ryan LaMarre is a vastly underrated prospect in the Reds' farm system.
LaMarre doesn't really do anything at the plate that's going to wow scouts or fans, but he'll certainly catch your attention on the base paths. LaMarre has stolen 50-plus bases in each of his first two seasons and is on his way to 50 again this year.
Through 86 games, 24-year-old LaMarre is batting .276/.365/.373 with three HR, 20 RBI, 51 runs and 22 steals. LaMarre's midseason stats were good enough to earn a midseason All-Star nomination in the Southern League
Though LaMarre is likely to spend the rest of the season in AA, he could find himself in Cincinnati sooner than expected if Drew Stubbs continues to struggle this season.
A 2014 starting outfield of Billy Hamilton, Ryan LaMarre and Jay Bruce is looking more and more like a sure thing.
Didi Gregorius is an intriguing prospect for the Reds. He doesn't have the flash or speed that Billy Hamilton possesses, nor does he have the power that Zack Cozart does.
What Gregorius is, though, is dependable. He rarely makes errors, and at the plate, he's been right around .280 and.300 this year and the three previous years.
Through 80 games, Gregorius is batting .282/.348/.378 with one HR, 31 RBIs, 45 runs scored and three steals.
Like many of his other teammates, Gregorius was a 2012 midseason All-Star in the Southern League
Gregorius may never surpass Zack Cozart, or even Billy Hamilton, but he'll be very consistent for the Reds and at the very least, could work as a valuable trading chip in the future.
Kyle Lotzkar is another young Reds starter having a standout season in the minors.
In 15 starts between A+ Bakersfield and AA Pensacola, Lotzkar has a 7-3 record, 3.97 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 39 walks in 81.2 innings pitched.
With ratios like a 2.44 K/BB and 10.5 K/9, it's easy to see why Lotzkar was selected to represent the World Team in the MLB Futures game this past Sunday.
Last Start: (vs. Birmingham) W, 6 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 0 ER, 6 K
Daniel Corcino is a name a lot of Reds fans should be getting familiar with. He's arguably the most Major League ready pitcher in the Reds farm system and he's been incredibly consistent as he's moved through the organization.
In 16 starts Daniel Corcino has compiled a 5-4 record with a 3.17 ERA, 83 K and 41 walks in 88 innings. Corcino is averaging 8.5 K/9 with a 2.0 K/BB ratio. Corcino's performance through his first 16 starts was good enough to earn a spot in the 2012 Southern League All-Star game.
Corcino's best start of the season came on June 16 where he went 8 innings with 0 hits, 2 BB and 8 strikeouts for his fourth win of the season.
Corcino is unlikely to fit into the Reds plans this season, but 2014 is very likely for the young righty.
Last Start: (vs. Mississippi) ND, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 6 K
Tony Cingrani has been the most effective pitcher in the farm system. Cingrani has made 17 starts between A+ Bakersfield and AA Pensacola, and he looks like a man on a mission.
In said 17 starts, Cingrani is 9-2 with a 1.28 ERA, 121 strikeouts and 28 walks in 98.2 innings pitched. Cingrani is averaging 11.1 K/9 and has a K/BB ratio of 4.32.
Cingrani is exhibiting brilliant control of his pitches and is racking up the strikeouts. His early season starts with the Bakersfield Blaze earned him a bid to the 2012 California League All-Star game.
Don't be surprised if Cingrani is pitching in Louisville when September rolls around as he continues to build upon his second straight impressive season.
Last Start: (vs. Jacksonville) 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 5 K
Henry Rodriguez may not be the biggest prospect in the Reds organization (5'10" 150 lbs.), but he sure can hit.
Rodriguez has made a name for himself in the organization by smacking the cover off the ball. In the previous four seasons, Rodriguez has hit .316, .322, .305 and .320 respectively. Additionally, Rodriguez has stolen 30-plus bases in each of the last two seasons.
Through his first 43 games, split between the Arizona Rookie League, AA and AAA, Rodriguez has a triple slash of .325/.363/.422 with three home runs, 19 RBIs, 23 runs and three stolen bases.
Rodriguez's first 43 games earned him a spot in the Southern League All-Star game in 2012.
Rodriguez could challenge the major league roster in 2013 but it's likely the 22-year-old will require at least one more year's seasoning.
Louisville, on the whole, is wildly underwhelming this season. However, there are two bright spots on the current roster, one being reliever Donnie Joseph.
Donnie Joseph is a name you'll be seeing in Cincinnati by the end of this season. If the plan remains to try All-Star Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation next year, you could very well see Joseph closing out games for the Reds.
Joseph was dominant in AA Pensacola with a 0.89 ERA, 14 saves, 46 strikeouts, 5.75 K/BB ratio and a .129 BAA in 30.1 innings.
That performance earned Joseph a promotion to AAA and a spot in the Southern League All-Star game.
Whoever told you the Reds gutted the farm system for Mat Latos had no idea what they're talking about.
The Reds have a ton of speed in the minors, between Bowe, Hamilton and LaMarre, the Reds have three players who have combined for 171 steals. That's almost 100 more than any entire team in Major League Baseball (Miami Marlins 79).
The system is as strong as ever and is producing players who are going to have a major impact on the future of the Cincinnati Reds.
For more in-depth information on these and other Reds prospects, check out my ongoing look at the Reds farm system: