After surprisingly making the playoffs in 2010, the Reds slipped in 2011, primarily due to a starting staff that declined rapidly, and it didn’t help that top prospect Aroldis Chapman had a really rough start to the season. Other than Chapman, few other Reds prospects spent major time in the majors, though several of them made an appearance in the majors. That’s not too bad though, considering that they’ve promoted several players over the past few years and have several good prospects near the majors.
The top prospect is clearly Devin Mesoraco, but the Reds have several other really good ones as well. Mesoraco is the heir apparent behind the plate, but just behind him, Yasmani Grandal will force a trade of one or the other if Mesoraco proves capable of holding down the starting gig. Yonder Alonso may also force a trade as he needs a spot, but he doesn’t have one due to the presence of Joey Votto. There is certainly no shortage of talent at the upper levels of this system.
After that, the Reds system is full of intriguing tools players that scouts like but have some reservations about. Billy Hamilton sure has the speed, but does he have anything else? Is Robert Stephenson more than just another high school flame-out? Can Yorman Rodriguez put it all together? What about Henry Rodriguez and/or Ronald Torreyes? While the system certainly has some talent at the top, they also have some at the lower levels.
Although the Reds certainly took a step back this season, their situation isn’t too bad. The pitching was bad, but with a few bounce backs that are certainly possible, they’ll be a contender again. The farm system, then, looks to add new reinforcements, especially with Mesoraco adding All-Star potential behind the plate. The only weakness in the system is the pitching, as they’ve added several guys in recent years such as Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Chapman, but they haven’t added much to the system, with new addition Stephenson the only one on this list.
Devin Mesoraco C
Age/Level (as of 4/2012): 23/MLB
Projection: 4+ WAR
Mesoraco’s first three seasons in the minors were pretty bad compared to the expectations given to the 15th pick of the draft, but after recommitting himself to getting in shape, Mesoraco turned things around in a drastic fashion in 2010. Mesoraco followed with a stellar 2011, and he’s now one of the best, if not the best, catching prospects in baseball. He does this by being such a good offensive asset with above-average hit and power tools as well as an advanced approach. Defensively, he won’t win any Gold Gloves, but he’s a solid backstop with a strong arm and decent receiving skills that improved over the past year. It looks like Mesoraco will be the starting catcher next season, and he’ll have Ryan Hanigan around to make sure he doesn’t get abused too much.