Top prospect Billy Hamilton swiped 155 bags in 132 games last season.
The Cincinnati Reds’ top 10 prospects list headed into the 2013 season actually looks similar to how it did one year ago, with the exception of the team’s 2012 draft picks. While that may seem like a knock on their system, it’s actually a testament to the progress made by their top prospects last season.
After stealing 103 bases in 2011, the organization’s top prospect, shortstop-turned-center fielder Billy Hamilton, exploded for a record-setting 155 steals in 132 games while making substantial strides in his plate discipline and on-base skills.
Beyond Hamilton, the organization has two other prospects in Prospect Pipeline’s top 100 in right-hander Robert Stephenson and southpaw Tony Cingrani, the latter having reached the major leagues as a September call-up last season. Meanwhile, Stephenson—the Reds’ first-round draft pick in 2011—was exceptional in his professional debut in the Pioneer League and has the potential to shoot up the rankings with a strong follow-up campaign.
The organization also landed four of its current top 10 prospects in the 2012 draft: right-hander Nick Travieso, outfielder Jesse Winker, infielder Tanner Rahier and right-hander Dan Langfield.
Although they have a solid crop of young players both on the mound and at premium positions, the Reds' system still lacks overall depth. But at the same time, with only a few holes to fill at the major league level, it’s more or less a non-issue headed into the 2013 season.
Here’s a look at the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospects headed into the 2013 season.
DOB: 01/21/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 196
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Memphis)
Scouting Notes: 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; nasty slider draws excessive swing-and-misses; mixes in a changeup and curveball; has only a tentative feel for both pitches; needs to improve his command without sacrificing his excellent strikeout rate; development of secondary offerings should help him remain a starter; electric fastball-slider combination should always give him the chance to be a potential late-inning force out of the team’s bullpen.
Spring Training Forecast: In his first spring with the Reds, Langfield will participate in minor league camp where he’ll work on the development of his secondary pitches.
2013 Outlook: Langfield is ready to be challenged at a full-season level, likely Low-A, but could open the year in extended spring training as a way of monitoring his workload.
DOB: 11/21/1988 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 205
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (Michigan)
Scouting Notes: Batted .263/.356/.353 with 30 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases last season in 133 games for Double-A Pensacola; once again struggled to make consistent contact as he tallied a career-high 119 strikeouts; at the same time, he also notched a new personal best with 60 walks in his first full season at Double-A; bats right-handed, throws left-handed a la Ricky Henderson, Ryan Ludwick and Cody Ross.
LaMarre has solid gap power, and his above-average speed makes him a consistent extra-base threat; advanced approach and patience at the plate has led to consistently high on-base percentages; mediocre hit tool lacks top-of-the-order potential; has battled hamstring injuries in the past but remains an above-average base stealer who is capable of swiping at least 25 bags over a full season; he’s physically strong with raw power, but has never applied it during games.
Suffices in center field, though his defensive skill set is a cleaner fit at a corner spot; however, given his speed and ability to reach base, it’s easy to see him spending some time as a fourth outfielder in the major leagues.
Spring Training Forecast: As one of the more advanced position players in the Reds’ system, LaMarre will receive his share of looks in the outfield early in the spring.
2013 Outlook: Likely ticketed for Triple-A to open the 2013 season, LaMarre’s speed could help him reach the major leagues as a fourth outfielder—until the arrival of Billy Hamilton, that is.
DOB: 8/15/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185
Drafted/Signed: Aug. 2008 (Venezuela)
Scouting Notes: Rodriguez, a 6’2”, 185-pound outfielder, has all the tools and athleticism to be an impact player; twenty-year-old is still a raw work in progress; has developed a reputation as a head case after multiple scuffles with his teammates, and he’s been criticized for rarely giving an all-out effort on the field; opened the 2012 season at High-A Bakersfield, but was demoted back to Low-A Dayton after batting .156/.181/.200 in 23 games; bat was more explosive following the move (as it should have been), as the right-handed hitter batted .271/.307/.430 over 65 games.
Possesses both the speed and range to remain in center field, but he chooses not to attack catchable balls and demonstrates poor on-field body language; may only see time at a corner outfield position until he matures; has plenty of raw power, though he struggles to tap into it in games; plate discipline is lacking, as he struggles to pick up spin out of the pitcher’s hand; strikeout rate isn’t terrible, but he needs to work deeper counts with more consistency and coax more walks; doesn’t utilize speed on the basepaths and needs to understand when to pick his spots to steal.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in his first major league camp, Rodriguez should see some playing time early in the spring before the arrival of their everyday outfielders.
2013 Outlook: After struggling at High-A in 2012, Rodriguez will presumably get another crack at the level to open the upcoming season.
DOB: 10/12/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 205
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012
Scouting Notes: At 6’2”, 205 pounds, Rahier possesses present physical strength with the ability to add more as he develops; all his tools are only average at the moment, though they tend to play up due to his aggressive, hard-nosed style; everything he does on the field seemingly involves effort, which can makes it difficult to gauge his true ceiling at times; his struggles in the Arizona League were surprising, as he batted .192/.266/.311 with 14 extra-base hits and 43/21 K/BB in 51 games; despite the poor average and strikeout rate, Rahier did manage to drive in 30 runs in 193 at-bats.
A shortstop as an amateur, the 19-year-old will have to work to remain at the position; has an above-average glove and plus arm strength ideal for left side of the infield; his defensive actions aren’t clean, and he typically relies on his instincts to complete the play; his speed is merely average which, in turn, impedes his range; some believe he’ll offer more value as a third baseman, but I’d rather see the Reds develop him at second base.
The right-handed hitter employs a hyper-aggressive approach, and he certainly takes his hacks; his pitch recognition is advanced relative to his age, though it doesn’t always prevent him from expanding his strike zone; will need to develop a more consistent approach at the plate rather than attempting to drive anything around the plate; bat-to-ball ability enables loud contact to all fields, though a majority of his present power comes to the pull side; hit tool will likely out-grade his power by the time he reaches the major leagues.
Spring Training Forecast: Rahier will continue to iron out some mechanical issues this spring in minor league camp.
2013 Outlook: Depending on the adjustments he makes this spring, Rahier is a candidate to be held in extended spring training in anticipation of an assignment to Low-A in June.
DOB: 8/17/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Olympia HS, Fla.)
Scouting Notes: A common name on the amateur showcase circuit for seemingly forever, I certainly didn’t expect Winker to go off in his professional debut as he did last season; batted .338/.443/.500 with 77 hits, 24 extra-base hits (five home runs) and 50/40 K/BB in 62 games with rookie-level Billings; ranked towards the top of the league in most offensive categories; lacks a true plus tool, but is at least average across the board.
A left-handed hitter, Winker’s hit tool is definitely his loudest; understands his limitations and demonstrates a feel for the strike zone well beyond his years; direct line-drive bat path that features plenty of extension after contact; there’s already some leverage to his swing, but he’d likely benefit in the power department with a bit more; tracks the ball deep into the zone and is comfortable driving the ball from line to line.
Winker isn’t particularly fast and doesn’t project to be a threat on the basepaths; however, he does have slightly above-average range in the outfield once he hits full stride; not enough speed for center field and not enough arm strength for right field projects him to be a big-league left fielder; his reads and first step were both shaky in his pro debut, though both should improve with experience; given his advanced bat and plate discipline, Winker should be ready for a full-season assignment to open the 2013 season.
Spring Training Forecast: Winker will participate in minor league spring training as he prepares for his full-season debut.
2013 Outlook: The more advanced of the Reds’ 2012 draft picks, Winker’s bat and plate discipline should allow him to hold his own at Low-A to open the season.
DOB: 1/31/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Archbishop McCarthy HS, Fla.)
Scouting Notes: 6’2” right-hander came from an elite high school program where he was used sparingly on the mound; doesn’t require much physical projection given his thick build; have never been a fan of mechanics, more specifically, his arm action and release point; incredibly raw prospect who has good stuff, but it may take him several years to truly gain a feel for it.
Travieso was a mid-90s guy during the high school season, though that can be attributed to his use; sat in the low-90s this past summer in his professional debut in the rookie-level Arizona League; more of a thrower than pitcher at the moment and will need to incorporate more lower-body explosiveness and leg drive moving forward; curveball is a nascent pitch, but is thrown with velocity and sharp break; his release point may prevent him from ever throwing the pitch with consistency; changeup is presently an average offering, though it should be more effective with improved command of his fastball; refined overall command of his three-pitch mix and the development of breaking ball will seemingly dictate whether he sticks as a starter.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor league spring training, Travieso will likely work with the organization’s pitching coaches as he attempts to clean up his mechanics and develop a usable secondary arsenal.
2013 Outlook: Depending on his development this spring, Travieso will likely be held in extended spring training before heading to one of the complex leagues.
DOB: 7/5/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2011 (Rice)
Scouting Notes: A closer at Rice, the Reds opted to develop Cingrani as a starter upon selecting him in the third round of the 2011 draft; 6’4” left-hander breezed through the minor leagues in his full-season debut, opening the year with High-A Bakersfield and finishing in the Reds’ big-league bullpen; led all minor-league pitchers with a 1.73 ERA in 146 innings, while his 172 strikeouts were the second-highest total; appeared in three games out of the Reds’ bullpen in September and fanned nine batters in five innings.
Cingrani’s best pitch is his above-average low-90s fastball that plays up a grade to his deceptive arm action and release point; pitch seemingly jumps out of his hand with late, explosive action to his arm side; complements heater with an average changeup that looks nearly identical to his fastball upon release and has a similar fading action away from right-handed hitters; slider is a solid-average offering and more of a show-me pitch at the moment, though it was improved relative to his 2011 season; if it can evolve into a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch, then Cingrani should have no problem remaining a starter; if he remains a two-pitch guy, then he should still enjoy plenty of success in a bullpen role.
Spring Training Forecast: After reaching the major leagues last season, Cingrani will audition as both a starter and reliever this spring.
2013 Outlook: Depending on the Reds’ needs at the major-league level, the left-hander could potentially break camp as a reliever. However, it’s more likely that Cingrani will open the year in either the Double or Triple-A starting rotation.
DOB: 8/26/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 205
Drafted/Signed: Jan. 2008 (Dominican Republic)
Scouting Notes: Corcino made the jump directly from Low-A Dayton in 2011 to Double-A Pensacola in 2012; an undersized right-hander at 5’11”, 205 pounds, he registered a 3.01 ERA and .216 BAA in 143.1 innings; his strikeout rate dipped while walk rate shot up, but it’s not concerning considering that he skipped High-A.
What I really like about Corcino is that nothing he throws is straight, as each of his offerings just seem difficult for the hitter to barrel; whip-like arm action and cross-body delivery makes it hard to pick up the ball out of his hand; fastball typically works in the low-90s with late action to the arm side, and he’s adept to manipulating the pitch for additional movement; his slider projects to be an above-average offering with nice tilt and break, while his changeup flashes late fade and average potential; he should be able to stick as a No. 3 or 4 starter in the major leagues, though it may take some time for the Reds to make room for him.
Spring Training Forecast: Invited to big league camp, Corcino will have an opportunity to test his impressive arsenal against advanced hitters this spring before the Reds deploy their starters.
2013 Outlook: After an impressive showing at Double-A last season, Corcino will head to Triple-A to begin the year. He’ll likely serve as the first pitcher recalled in the event of an opening in the major league rotation.
DOB: 2/24/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Alhambra HS, Calif.)
Scouting Notes: Stephenson enjoyed an excellent professional debut in the Pioneer League, as he registered a 2.05 ERA, 10.86 K/9 and 2.35 BB/9 over seven starts; was later promoted to Low-A Dayton, where he posted a 4.19 ERA over eight starts; 6’2” right-hander is advanced for his age with a distinct feel for both his arsenal and strike zone.
His fastball is a plus pitch with effortless 94-96 mph velocity, sometimes even more; commands it well to both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to aggressively attack opposing hitters; has an advanced feel for fading changeup and sells it with a similar arm speed; his breaking ball will need to be cleaned up, but its present pace and shape suggests it’ll be at least an above-average pitch; with more experience and ongoing development of his secondary pitches, Stephenson should have no problem reaching his ceiling as a front-line starter.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed to minor league spring training, Stephenson will use the spring to further develop his secondary pitches.
2013 Outlook: With a power arm and high ceiling, Stephenson has the potential to shoot up the ranks this season at High-A, and maybe even Double-A.
DOB: 9/9/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 160
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009 (Taylorsville HS, Miss.)
Scouting Notes: Hamilton’s prospect stock shot up this past season thanks to a vastly improved contact rate and approach from both sides of the plate. He batted .311/.410/.420 with 48 extra-base hits, 112 runs scored and 113/86 K/BB between High-A and Double-A. Oh yeah, he also shattered the professional stolen base record with 155 in 132 games. What?
Did a much better job putting the ball in play; always puts pressure on opposing defense; feet never stop moving on the baseball field—especially on the basepaths; more of a slap hitter from natural right side; more extra-base power from left side; more leveraged swing; without a doubt the fastest player I’ve ever seen on a baseball field; best home-to-first time I’ve ever recorded or heard of; legitimate top-of-the-order potential; legendary, game-changing speed; vastly improved secondary skills
Was developed as a shortstop up until this fall; Reds moved him to center field in the Arizona Fall League; showed speed and range to handle shortstop; arm strength was always lacking with an awkward stroke; actually plays well in center field given his length on the backside; speed should allow him to compensate for poor reads; has all of the tools to be a top-of-the-line defensive center fielder; he’ll get to even more balls as his jumps and instincts improve; will learn to sprint to spots rather than track balls.
Spring Training Forecast: Hamilton should see extensive playing time this spring as the organization evaluates his baseball skills relative to other major leagues.
2013 Outlook: Ticketed for Triple-A, Hamilton’s speed should get him to the major leagues, even if only as a pinch-runner or bench player, during the second half of the season.