The Reds a wild card team last year and the outright division champions two years ago are in a surprisingly good position with their prospects. Their top ten prospects lack a power bat of the future, which they don’t really need with Joey Votto at first for the next decade and Jay Bruce in their outfield for the foreseeable future. What the team is rich in, though, is pitching.
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1. Billy Hamilton – OF
The undisputed number one prospect in the Reds system is the speedster Billy Hamilton, who set a steals record in the minor leagues with 155 stolen bases in 2012 at AA. Everything but his speed and fielding leaves something to be desired from a dynasty stand point, and unless you really need the stolen bases he may be a pass entirely as his average, despite being .368 in his 2013 September cup of tea, should be expected to drop closer to his minor league averages in the .270′s-.280′s. All that said though, he will be competing for a starting spot this year from the onset of spring training.
2. Robert Stephenson – RHP
The Reds 2011 first round pick, the RHP straight out of high school will finally be in AAA this year after the Reds were cautious with him in his first two minor league seasons. While his fastball has always been a plus pitch for him, he has shown glimpses that his curve and change-up are developing into solid secondary pitches and may end up being the front line starter they thought they drafted. He may get a September cup of tea unless injuries dictate his MLB arrival earlier in the 2014 season.
3. Nicholas Travieso – RHP
I could really copy and past everything from my previous paragraph, as the 2012 first round pick out of high school has developed nicely in low and high A ball for the Reds and is a couple years away. His slider and fastball are both plus pitches and he is developing a change-up to try and avoid the bullpen. With his consistent delivery and mound presence though, he will probably stay as a starter. Best case expect him in the majors in mid-2015, worst case early 2016 call up.
4. Phil Ervin – OF
Ervin is another speedy outfielder who has been hampered in the minors by injuries and has only played as high as High-A ball. Ervin’s bat and power potential are greater than the aforementioned Hamilton, even if he isn’t the track start that Hamilton is. If he stays on track and healthy, he could be the future of right field for the Reds as early as 2015.
5. Jesse Winker – OF
The third outfielder on the list is the best pure hitter the Reds have and while he doesn’t have the pure speed of Hamilton or Ervin, his bat and fielding may carry him over Ervin in the fight for a starter’s spot for the Reds in 2015.
6. Michael Lorenzen – RHP
A two way player who played OF as well as pitching at Cal State-Fullerton, Lorenzen is a 2013 draft pick who could easily fill a bullpen spot this year with his dominant fastball and a hard curve. Although there is still some work to be done with his curve and control, if he does not appear in 2014 he should be on the fast track to lock in a bullpen spot for the Reds in 2015.
7. Daniel Corcino – RHP
Although some consider him to be the most unfinished product in the Reds top 10 prospects, he also draws the best MLB comparison in the Reds’ own Johnny Cueto, a smaller but thicker body type whose stuff is similar. He still needs to work on his slider, which can look like a curve sometimes, and round out his control, but he could be the next Cueto for the Reds or he could be a very very good bullpen guy. Best case scenario he makes his first starts sometime in ’15, while the worst case he is in the pen for ’16.
8. David Holmberg – LHP
David Holmberg is the only LHP to crack the Reds top 10 prospects this year. Holmberg, who has been traded twice and actually made his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks, is a prime middle of the rotation starter with four good pitches and not above average stuff. He may be one of the first starters called up this season should there be an injury in their rotation.
9. Ryan Wright – 2B
Wright has an average bat with above average feel for the game with solid defense. The only infielder in the Reds top 10 is the prime candidate to replace Brandon Phillips whenever he decides to retire. Until then though, Wright will need to have more consistent power in the minors and work on his defense before the Reds will fully trust him as their everyday second baseman. Look for Wright late 2016 and or even 2017 before he gets everyday playing time, barring any major injuries or the retirement of Phillips before his contract is up.
10. Sean Buckley – OF
Sometimes drafting what you know works out very well, and by drafting the son of Reds scouting director Chris Buckley they made a move that while hampered by injuries will look to pan out for them. Their future left fielder shows an ability to drive the ball and with a backup position of first base may even crack the bench and in turn the major league roster earlier than some prospects higher ranked on this list. However, I think the best bet for him to crack the roster full time in left field is sometime after 2016.