Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Reds Named Among Top 50 Players Age 25 or Under

Chapman landed at #33 on the list

Keith Law of ESPN Insider released a list of his top 50 MLB players at or under the age of 25 earlier today.

The piece is intended to give a projected look at some of the stars of tomorrow, and in some cases, the stars of today.

Three key criteria were used when ranking these players: 1) The list only includes players who have lost their Rookie status, 2) The ranking takes in account their long-term value rather than their short-term, and 3) They must have been born on or after July 1, 1986.

Now that you have a little understanding in how the rankings were assembled, here are the three Reds who made the cut...along with their ranking, age and the short write-up that came along with it.

#22 Jay Bruce RF (24)
"Analysis: Bruce has substantial power, shows patience, and plays an above-average right field, so for him, the difference between being an above-average player and a star will come down to his contact rates and his batting average on balls in play.

He's very strong in both his upper and lower halves and gets good hip rotation, producing power to all fields, but his swing is so ferocious that the cost of his power is more swings and misses. Bruce has improved against left-handed pitchers but is still much weaker than he is against right-handers, which may limit his ceiling slightly. Still, he's a threat to hit 40 homers a year at his peak with enough walks to keep his OBP up even in the years when he hits .260."

#33 Aroldis Chapman LHP (23)
"Analysis: He's electric in relief but has a starter's repertoire and some history succeeding in that role before he defected. I've personally clocked Chapman up to 104 mph in one outing, and up to 101 in others, although as a starter he'd probably sit 94-97 or so with an upper-80s slider. I also saw him throw a changeup in spring training of 2010, but he was just fastball-slider in the regular season.

His arm might be the fastest I've ever seen, and he didn't look sharp in the Arizona Fall League before the Reds shut him down with a sore shoulder. If he's healthy enough to start -- a huge question right now -- it's ace stuff with an athletic frame that should hold up, but he's ranked down here because the probability of him reaching his ceiling got a lot lower this fall."

#48 Mike Leake RHP (24)
"Analysis: Leake is a great athlete with a kitchen-sink assortment of pitches led by an upper-80s two-seamer and a cutter at almost the same velocity, so the hitter doesn't know if the pitch is coming at him or tailing away. He throws strikes and gets ground balls while fielding his position well, but doesn't have a single pitch that will induce a ton of strikeouts, limiting his ceiling somewhat.

He was overworked in 2010, hurt his shoulder, and started horribly in 2011, but after a brief demotion was back to his old self, and should be an above-average starter going forward."

Other notables regarding the rankings:

-Arizona's Justin Upton topped the list at number one, followed by Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, Miami's Mike Stanton, San Francisco's Buster Posey, and Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw rounding out the top five.

-Cincinnati had as many players on the list as all other National League Central Division teams combined (3).

-Atlanta led the way among all teams with six representatives on the list.

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