With the start of spring training only a few weeks away, numerous eyes will be dissecting the up-and-coming Cincinnati Reds prospects.
It's uncertain who will make the cut, since the remaining roster spots are becoming scarce, but the question is: which prospect will make the biggest impact on the Reds 2013 season?
Ranked from least to most contributing, here are the five Cincinnati Reds prospects that could play a major role in 2013.
While the odds are low that Henry Rodriguez gets much playing time in 2013, he could find himself fighting for a spot on the postseason roster if all goes well for the Reds.
The switch-hitting Rodriguez posted a respectable .282/.310/.370 slash line in the minors for 2012. He didn’t necessarily blow the Reds away in his Major League debut with the 2 RBI in 14 at-bats, but Rodriguez is known for his power.
Rodriguez’s ability to play around the infield certainly works as a plus. However, the newly acquired Jason Donald, Cesar Izturis and Jack Hannahan might limit Rodriguez’s value in the 2013 season.
He will need to compile similar, or better, numbers in the minors this season, but if he does, Henry Rodriguez will get the chance again to prove himself as a late September call-up.
2013 will have to be a year of resurgence for the 27-year-old Dominican native Denis Phipps. His 2011 minor league offensive numbers were impressive at .346/397/.527.
Phipps’ production declined in almost every category after a full year in Triple-A, but he was able to raise his home runs up to 15 for the year.
As a right-handed outfielder, Phipps will likely be forced to another season in Triple-A; the current Reds roster is stocked with righties Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey.
Walt Jocketty might wait on calling up their top prospect Billy Hamilton, which would give Phipps the nod.
His power could be helpful off the bench for the 2013 Reds, but Denis Phipps might have to wait until the 2014 season to make a serious impact on the club.
Although J.J. Hoover pitched in 28 games last season, and logged two appearances in the NLDS, he’s still eligible as a rookie prospect.
Hoover’s importance to the 2013 season could be monumental. With Aroldis Chapman transitioning to the rotation and Jonathan Broxton set to be the closer, Hoover could find himself being the Reds’ plan B backstop.
J.J. Hoover, ranked 7th on Baseball America's Top 10 Reds prospects, came into the organization through the Juan Francisco trade last season. Hoover excelled in Triple-A Louisville and managed a 1.22 ERA and 13 saves over 37 innings.
In 2012, the right-hander showed signs that he was ready for a permanent spot in the bullpen with a 2.05 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 30.2 innings of relief.
Hoover will fight for the closer’s spot if neither of the Broxton or Chapman experiments pan out, and he could end up being a huge addition to the already-stacked Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
Billy Hamilton’s role with the 2013 Cincinnati Reds could become the biggest argument throughout the season.
Hamilton is creating a mammoth reputation by breaking stolen base records and ranking as the 11th overall top prospect.
Redleg Nation waits anxiously to see the remarkable speed in his first invitation to spring training, but the biggest question is if Hamilton can make an impact on the 2013 season.
Yet to play a single Triple-A game, Hamilton did post a .311/.410/.420 slash line in 2012 with 22 doubles and his ridiculous 155 stolen bases.
Shin-Soo Choo’s ability to play center remains one of Cincinnati’s biggest question marks. Hamilton could get the call if Choo cannot grasp center field or if any of the Reds outfielders end up on the DL.
However, it’s unlikely Billy Hamilton makes the roster until later in the year.
By signing Choo to a one-year deal, the Reds have given the indication that center field is Hamilton’s to lose in 2014.
Although his tremendous speed and .410 on-base percentage could bolster the Reds lineup, Hamilton will likely be a September call-up as he gets used to the outfield.
The 2012 Reds rotation miraculously avoided any injuries until Johnny Cueto threw his sixth pitch in Game 1 of the NLDS.
It’s doubtful to count on another injury-free rotation and Tony Cingrani could fall into the most crucial role by contributing to uphold a solid pitching staff.
There’s not much to dislike about the 6’4” left-handed pitcher and it’s especially difficult when he posts minor league numbers like 172 strikeouts in 146 innings. Cingrani was able to showcase his talent in 2012 with a 1.80 ERA, and 9 strikeouts in 5 innings, while pitching in the Reds bullpen.
Even though Cingrani will start the season in Triple-A Louisville, his importance will be indispensable if called-up during the grueling last months of the season.
The Washington Nationals had to deal with a media circus revolving around Stephen Strasburg and his innings limit. The Reds will have to face a similar problem if Chapman stays in the rotation long enough and Cingrani could fit as the lefty replacement.
Tony Cingrani will be the most important rookie for the Reds 2013 season and if he’s able to shine in Louisville, Cingrani could find himself seriously contributing toward another Cincinnati Reds postseason.