Cincinnati Reds

Original Published Date: Sept. 30, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds minor league system took a significant hit in quality in 2012, but for good reasons.  The Reds cashed in on a surplus of high-end but blocked prospects, and traded Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger to San Diego for Mat Latos.  To round out their major league roster, they then promoted shortstop Zack Cozart, catcher Devin Mesoraco, and third baseman Todd Frazier.  Ironically, Cozart and Frazier played very well and the much more heralded prospect, Mesoraco, struggled.

Even with all of the promotions, the Reds still have quality in their system, particularly at the top.  Billy Hamilton, now the holder of the single season stolen base record in the minors, leads the parade, followed by a number of intriguing pitching prospects.  Robert Stephenson is a young projectable right-hander with top of the rotation potential and Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino continue to improve and impress.

1. Billy Hamilton (SS/CF)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Mississippi
Ht:6-1  Weight: 160
Bats: Both Throws: Right ETA: 2013
2012 A+-AA 537 112 2 45 156 .311 .410 77.9 17.0 .394

Any stat that you throw out on Billy Hamilton seems ridiculous.  Here’s just a few: He had only three more hits than stolen bases.  He had 46 more stolen bases than strikeouts.  He led the California league in stolen bases and then he led the Southern league in stolen bases – where he only played in 50 games.    He had 23 more stolen bases then games played.

The calculus with Hamilton is simple.  Will he hit enough to find a job in the majors?

If you were to ask me that question in 2011, I might have said no, but the development process really benefited him in 2012 as his contact rate improved and he actually hit with slightly more authority.  His walk rate of nearly 18% is also very encouraging.  If you combine his ability to take a walk with his improved contact rate, and the ability to leg out base hits, he just might have enough to bat leadoff at the highest level.  I doubt his BABIP will remain at .394, but with his speed, it should be well above average, which should help drive batting average upside.

Billy Hamilton is also not a shortstop and this fall, he’ll be moved to centerfield in the Arizona Fall League.  Given his speed, this should be a fairly easy transition for him.

In summary, Billy Hamilton is a real prospect, in fact, given his speed and base stealing ability, I would call him an elite game changing prospect.  If he continues to hit, even if it’s relatively weak contact, he could become a faster and more disruptive base runner than Juan Pierre, who carved out a nice major league career.

Fantasy Impact:  Imagine a single player stealing 80-100 bases per year on your fantasy team.  If you had this, you could load up on power and a handful of 20 stolen base players and dominate the offensive categories.  In a dynasty draft, he’s worth a selection early in the draft, shortly after Profar, Myers, and Bundy.

2. Robert Stephenson (RHP)

2013 Age: 20 BP: California
Ht: 6-2 Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 R-LowA 65.0 54 23 6 3.18 9.97 3.18 1.18

Selected in the first round of the very deep 2011 draft, Robert Stephenson is athletic with a great projectable pitcher’s body at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds.  In 2012, he pitched very well in the college heavy Northwest league with a 10.86 K/9 in 30.2 IP with a ridiculous 4.15 ground ball to fly ball ratio.  He was then promoted in late July to the Midwest League, where he also pitched well with a 9.17 K/9, but walked a few too many.

Stephenson has really good stuff with his fastball sitting 93-95 and touching higher.  He also has an above average curve that scouts label as a potential plus offering.  His change-up is already considered a plus pitch with a great deal of deception.  If you add it all up, you have an athletic pitcher, who should be able to have a consistent delivery with great balance coupled with potential elite stuff.  That’s the definition of a front-line starter.

Stephenson was held back in the complex league in 2012 before being deployed to the Northwest and Midwest leagues later in the summer. In 2013, he should split his time between the Midwest and California Leagues, which should set himself up for the upper minors in 2014.

Fantasy Impact: Stephenson has the ceiling of a front of the rotation starter with the potential for high strikeouts.  He’ll be in the back-end of my top 100 list and should be targeted late in Dynasty League drafts.

3. Tony Cingrani (LHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: Illinois
Ht: 6-4 Weight:200
Bats: Left Throws:Left ETA: 2012
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 A+-AA 132.0 113 41 7 3.07 9.27 1.72 1.03

Tony Cingrani was one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues in 2012.  After taming hitters in the ultra-hitter friendly California league to the tune of a 1.11 ERA and 71K/13BB in 10 starts, Cingrani was promoted to Double-AA and continued to dominate.  In September, Cingrani was promoted to the Majors and has continued to pitch well.  So, why isn’t Cingrani the number one prospect for the Reds, or at least higher than Robert Stephenson?

The dilemma with Cingrani is whether he ultimately profiles to be a starter or reliever.  First Cingrani has a plus fastball that sits 92-93 when he starts but can hit in the upper 90’s in shorter burst.  His delivery is very deceptive because it’s all arms and legs at the moment.  With his nice arm action, he also has a plus change-up.  The problem is his breaking ball pitch, which comes in the form of an average slider.  It’s very difficult to be a starting pitcher at the highest level with only two pitches and until Cingrani adds an above average slider, he profiles better as a late inning reliever that can dial it up to 98 mph with, which will just make his change-up look even better.

Fantasy Impact: If he remains a starter, Cingrani has a chance to profile as a number two fantasy pitcher, however, if he does not develop the slider and is relegated to the bullpen, he could become a lefty specialist and have very little fantasy value.  He should be rostered in dynasty leagues, but it might be wise to sell high on his success to-date.

4. Daniel Corcino (RHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: D.R.
Ht: 5-11 Weight:205
Bats: Right Throws:Right ETA: 2013
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA 143.1 111 48 9 4.08 7.91 3.01 1.23

At 5-foot-11 and an easy 205 pounds, Daniel Corcino is not your modern day looking starting pitcher.  However, with a fastball that sits 92-93 with decent, but not spectacular secondary pitches, Corcino stuff should play at the highest level.    However, there are warning signs that have me put his ceiling at a number three starter at best.

One of the physical advantages that a taller pitcher has is the downward plane that is created when the ball approaches the batter.  Logically, anything coming in at an angle will be significantly harder to make contact with than something coming straight at a batter.  Since Corcino is only 5-foot-11, his pitches will naturally come in fairly straight making them much more hittable.  Secondly, he also pitches from a three quarter delivery that will further straighten his pitches.  Not only is the delivery flat, but it’s also very messy as he pitches across his body causing a lot of stress on his elbow and shoulder and making it very difficult to maintain a consistent release point.  Without a consistent release point, it’s very difficult to maintain any level of control.

In looking at the stat line in Double-AA, the two numbers that jump out at you are the 4.08 walks per nine and the 1.93 strikeouts-per-walk ratio.  This is the profile of a below league average pitcher and why I have placed his celing at a number three.

Fantasy Impact: Corcino has gotten a lot of prospect push this year and many consider him a top prospect to own.  While I believe he’s a major leaguer with some value, I don’t think he’s a “must own” player.

5. Nick Travieso (RHP)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Florida
Ht: 6-2 Weight:215
Bats: Right Throws:Right
ETA: 2016
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 R 21.0 20 11 3 2.14 6.00 4.71 1.19

Nick Tavieso was the number one pick for the Reds in the 2012 draft (#14 overall).  His fastball sits in the mid 90’s with a lot of natural life.  He complements the fastball with a hard slider that he can’t yet control, but has a chance to be an above average offering.

Tavieso’s pitching mechanics are pretty good with nice balance while throwing from a high three quarters delivery.  His delivery looks fairly smooth which should bode well for his ability to throw strikes.  However, I did find his delivery from a wind-up to be rather slow and deliberate, which might result in giving batters a slightly longer look at the ball.

Fantasy Impact: Travieso is very young and should be ignored for the moment in all but the deepest Dynasty Leagues.  However, there is talent here that should be monitored very closely.

6. Tanner Rahier (3B)

2013 Age: 19 BP: California
Ht:6-2  Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right
ETA: 2015-16
2012 R 193 21 4 30 5 .192 .266 77.9 10.9 .224

Taken in the second round of the 2012 draft, Tanner Rahier is not blessed with a ton of tools, but is a hard worker and gets a lot out of the those limited tools.  While it’s an overused term, the word “scrappy” comes to mind when talking about Rahier.

The stat line in 193 at-bats in the AZL was not very impressive, but he did have a contact rate of 78%, a walk rate of 11% and hit into a lot of gloves as his BABIP was a very unlucky .224.  While he’s very young, with proper development, Rahier could grow into a second division starter or a utility player with ten home run power and a .270-.280 batting average with a .350 OBP.

Fantasy Impact: Rahier can be ignored for the moment in all but the deepest of Dynasty Leagues.

7. Ryan LaMarre (OF)

Drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, Ryan LaMarre has a lot of tools including plus-plus speed (52 stolen bases in 2011 and 30 in 2012 in Double-AA) but his raw power has yet to surface.  The reason for this is his inability to get on base with a 75% contact rate.  He could repeat Double-AA or move to Triple-AAA in 2013.  He is definitely somebody to monitor as he has the perfect profile as a late bloomer that can surprise people in his mid 20’s.

8. Jesse Winker (OF)

Signed in the supplemental round of the 2012 draft, Winker has a decent approach at the plate as is evident by his 17.5% walk rate and his 78% contact rate in 228 at-bats in the Pioneer League.  Scouts believe he will develop some power but for now, he’s a gap-to-gap hitter.

9. Yorman Rodriguez (OF)

Rodriguez is a tool-shed player that has an incredibly high ceiling with a very low likelihood of every achieving it.  He started off 2012 in the hitter friendly California league and batted .156 in 90 at-bats and was demoted back to the Midwest league where he played ok with a slash line of .271/.307/.430.  He’s only 19 years-old and there’s still time for him to realize his potential, but there’s a long way to go.

2 comments on “Cincinnati Reds

  1. Another exciting thing about Billy Hamilton is the impact he will have on the Reds depth chart. Will the move to centerfield create a platoon in right between Drew Stubbs and Ryan Ludwick? Where does that leave Chris Heisey? Hamilton gives fantasy owners several questions to ponder, during the off season.

    Nice job, Rich. This is a great site, with information and analysis I cannot find anywhere else. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Brad Dengler

    • I’m not sure where all the chairs will land. Stubbs is a great center fielder and defensively, I can’t imagine Hamilton coming anywhere near his ability. Plus, Stubbs is now just Arb eligible. Ludwick has a mutual option in 2013, so he’ll be back. 2014 – you could see either Stubbs moving to a corner or more likely, assuming Hamilton develops, Stubbs being moved.

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