Billy Hamilton's speed certainly isn't underrated.
The organization also has its share of high-level pitching prospects in Robert Stephenson, Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino. And beyond the aforementioned players, the Reds’ system also has an impressive crop of undervalued talent.
In selecting players for this article, I targeted prospects who are behind the developmental curve relative to their age, have a concerning medical history, lack significant professional experience or are simply under-appreciated.
Here’s a look at the most underrated prospects in the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system.
After the Reds made him their second-round draft pick last June, Rahier struggled in the rookie-level Arizona League. He batted .192/.266/.311 with 14 extra-base hits and 43/21 K/BB in 51 games. However, he did drive in 30 runs in 193 at-bats.
At 6’2”, 205 pounds, Rahier possesses present physical strength with the ability to add more as he develops. Even though his tools are currently average across the board, they tend to play up due to his aggressive, hard-nosed style. At the same time, everything he does on the field seemingly involves effort, which can make it difficult to gauge his true ceiling at times.
As an amateur shortstop, the 19-year-old will have to work to stick at the position. Rahier has an above-average glove and plus arm strength that is ideal for the left side of the infield, but his defensive actions aren’t clean and he typically relies on his instincts to complete plays.
The right-handed hitter’s pitch recognition is advanced relative to his age, though he still tends to expand the zone and will attempt to drive anything around the plate. His bat-to-ball ability enables hard contact to all fields, while a majority of his present power comes from the pull side. However, Rahier is more likely to hit for average than power as he develops.
A third-round selection out of Memphis in 2012, Langfield was dominant in his professional debut for rookie-level Billings last summer. He registered a 2.68 ERA with 54/17 K/BB in 37 innings.
The 6’2” right-hander boasts a four-pitch mix that’s highlighted by a fastball that touches the mid-90s and a nasty slider that draws excessive swing-and-misses. Langfield, 22, also mixes in a changeup and curveball, though he has only a tentative feel for both pitches.
If Langfield can improve his command during his full-season debut this year without sacrificing his excellent strikeout rate, then he should be able remain a starter. However, his electric fastball-slider combination should always give him the chance to be a potential late-inning force out of the team’s bullpen if starting doesn't work out for him.
After signing with the Reds in October 2008, Guillon underwent Tommy John surgery that prevented him from making his professional debut until 2010. Kept on a short leash by the organization, the left-hander struggled for rookie-level Billings the following season, registering a 6.57 ERA with 61/46 K/BB and 11 home runs allowed in 63 innings.
However, the 20-year-old was exponentially better while playing at the same level last season, posting a 2.29 ERA with 63/24 K/BB in 51 innings. Guillon’s turnaround resulted in a late-season promotion to Low-A Dayton, where he continued to impress with a 2.55 ERA and 27/7 K/BB in 24.2 innings.
The 6’1”, 200-pound southpaw’s success at both levels in 2012 was a result of vastly improved command of his entire arsenal. Guillon’s fastball isn’t overpowering and it typically resides in the 88-92 mph range, though he’ll occasionally top-out at 94. His changeup is a plus pitch and it is easily his best offering, as it’s thrown with deceptive arm speed and features late fading action. Guillon’s curveball is raw and lags behind his other two pitches, though that also means that there is significant room for improvement.