Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top 100 MLB Prospects: Reds Analysis


MLB.com recently released its 2012 Prospect Watch Top 100 list, and after the recent trades, the Reds were able to claim just two of the players on the list, Devin Mesoraco at #14 and Billy Hamilton at #34. For what it's worth, having just two on the list does put them in the bottom third of the league in "top prospects." Some may hardly even count Mesoraco as a prospect since he is expected to spend the entire 2012 season in Cincinnati. Nonetheless, due to his relatively short major league experience so far, he keeps his prospect status, as do several others in a similar situation on the list.

How do the Reds stack up against their most common foes and the rest of the league?

-The Rays and Athletics each claimed six prospects on the list as tops in the American League.

-The Padres also had six on the list, including Yonder Alonso (#39) and Yasmani Grandal (#68), for the most in the National League.

-The Indians and White Sox had the fewest in all of MLB at just one each, with the White Sox having the very last, #100 rated prospect.

-The Orioles, Twins, Giants, Marlins, Brewers, and Cardinals also had just two prospects on the list.

NL Central (16)
Pirates (4), Astros (3), Cubs (3), Reds (2), Brewers (2), Cardinals (2)

NL East (17)
Braves (5), Nationals (4), Phillies (3), Mets (3), Marlins (2)

NL West (18)
Padres (6), Rockies (4), Diamondbacks (3), Dodgers (3), Giants (2)

AL Central (11)
Royals (4), Tigers (3), Twins (2), Indians (1), White Sox (1)

AL West (18)
Athletics (6), Mariners (5), Rangers (4), Angels (3)

AL East (20)
Rays (6), Blue Jays (4), Red Sox (4), Yankees (4), Orioles (2)

-The National League had 51 of the prospects, while the American League had 49.

-Additionally Mesoraco was rated the #2 catcher and Hamilton the #4 shortstop among prospects. Neftali Soto, who was not on the top 100 list, was rated the #7 prospect at first base.

*****

MLB.com did give a little analysis on each player including estimated times of arrival to the big leagues, scouting reports, and potential. The following is what was they had to say about the Reds' prospects.

On Mesoraco:

MLB ETA: 2012
Statistically speaking: After putting up relatively pedestrian on-base plus slugging numbers of .710 and .692 in his first two full seasons of pro ball, Mesoraco’s bat has taken off in the past two. In 2010, his breakout campaign, he finished with a .964 OPS across three levels. Last year, in Triple-A, he posted a .855 OPS, which would have put him second among all Major League catchers in 2011.

Scouting report: With good bat speed and excellent plate discipline, Mesoraco should be able to hit for average. He also has above-average power with the loft in his swing to hit the ball out of the park. He runs pretty well for a catcher and is fairly athletic and agile behind the plate. His defense is behind his bat, but he’s not one you have to worry about moving. He has a strong arm and continues to work hard to become a top-flight all-around catcher.

Upside potential: A very good everyday catcher who hits close to .300 with 20 or more homers annually.

On Hamilton:

MLB ETA: 2014
Statistically speaking: At the end of August last year, Hamilton had 95 stolen bases. After not stealing a base on Sept. 1, he swiped two on Sept. 2, three on Sept. 3 to get to 100 and then three more for good measure on the final day (Sept. 5) of the season.

Scouting report: Obviously, Hamilton’s plus plus speed stands out the most, and he should continue to wreak havoc on the basepaths as he moves up the ladder. He’s worked on switch-hitting, and he’s shown some acumen in hitting from both sides of the plate. He’ll need to improve his plate discipline and get on base more, so he can use that speed to his advantage. He has the range for shortstop, but his other tools may make it tougher for him to stay there long term, with a move to second or the outfield perhaps in his future.

Upside potential: A pure leadoff hitter who leads the league in stolen bases annually.

*****

Judging from this list, the Reds don't have a lot of depth in the "top prospects" category, but one must remember that having the best farm system doesn't translate into championships. Also, the Reds do have several great prospects who could have a shot in the big leagues, or with a really great 2012, could end up on the top 100 list next year. Plus the Reds have been drafting very well recently and will have plenty of opportunity to add to their minor league system through that avenue. They could also bolster their farm by collecting prospects via the trade of a certain player whom they may not be able to afford in the near future, although CEO Bob Castellini believes that signing said player to a long term deal is not out of the realm of possibility.

Hopefully the additions the Reds have made for 2012 lead to the kind of success that trumps having minor league depth.

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