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Friday, December 07, 2007

John Sickels on the Reds

Note: I bumped this up from Tuesday after today's release of his top-20 list. -j

Reading through bloglines today, and came upon this post by John Sickels:
Working on the Reds farm system today.

Good Lord.

This system is loaded. You have the top quartet of Bruce/Cueto/Votto/Bailey, but even beyond them there is a good combination of performance guys and projection guys. My initial run through came up with 49 names worth writing about. I have narrowed that down to 39, which is the most I can put into the book. Even that, some of the guys I cut I wish I could put in.

Take heart, Reds fans. You have a lot to look forward to.

Ok, I've read that three times, and it really does say what I think it says. It does, doesn't it?

How long has it been since someone outside of the Reds' organization has said something like that? Much less a respected talent evaluator like Sickels? The guy isn't perfect, but he's about as good a resource as we non-baseball folks have available to us when it comes to minor league prospects...

Update: Here's his top 20 list:
  1. Jay Bruce, OF, Grade A (I'm not worried about the strikeouts given his age and performance)
  2. Johnny Cueto, RHP, Grade A-
  3. Joey Votto, 1B, Grade A-
  4. Homer Bailey, RHP, Grade B+
  5. Todd Frazier, SS-3B, Grade B+
  6. Matthew Maloney, LHP, Grade B (I have always liked him, has component marks of a power pitcher not a finesse guy even though he doesn't throw hard)
  7. Devin Mesoraco, C, Grade B
  8. Drew Stubbs, OF, Grade B-
  9. Neftali Soto, SS-3B, Grade B-
  10. Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, Grade B- (a long way off but a good intuitive feeling)
  11. Daniel Dorn, OF, Grade B- (major sleeper)
  12. Jared Burton, RHP, Grade C+
  13. Tyler Pelland, LHP, Grade C+
  14. Pedro Viola, LHP, Grade C+ (sleeper!)
  15. Travis Wood, LHP, Grade C+ (health??)
  16. Josh Roenicke, RHP, Grade C+
  17. Scott Carroll, RHP, Grade C+
  18. Chris Valaika, INF, Grade C+
  19. Adam Rosales, 1B, Grade C+
  20. Sean Watson, RHP, Grade C+
  21. Brandon Waring, 3B, Grade C+ (the strikeouts scare me)
Pretty exciting. To show how ignorant I am about the Reds' system, I had absolutely no clue who Daniel Dorn was. That power surge in Chattanooga last year was kinda neat, but low sample sizes, ya know? Still, the kid could arrive in Louisville next year, so it's time to start watching him.

I also have to say that the '07 draft class is looking mighty good. It's too early to know much about Mesoraco's outcome, which is no surprise for a high school catcher. But Frazier is looking like a steal, and it's great to see guys like Lotzkar and Soto being ranked so favorably. Unfortunately, the class of '06 isn't doing quite as well...though I tend to think that Watson, at least, is a bit better than his rating would indicate. But what do I know? :)


  1. Don't feel too bad about not knowing who Danny Dorn is; he's still off a lot of people's radar because of his original draft status. If memory serves he was a 32nd-round pick, so it's not like he was a scout's dream. But he's gained big-time 'sleeper' status because he's done pretty much nothing but hit since becoming a pro, and has advanced more quickly than higher-profile guys. I haven't any idea what he looks like, but I've been envisioning him as a Moneyball pick who doesn't sell jeans but can really play the game.

    Doug over at redsminorleagues has been pretty enthusiastic about Dorn for the last year: here's a post he wrote a few months ago analyzing his 2007 season to that point. He was tearing the FSL a new one by the time he was promoted to Chattanooga.

  2. Thanks for that. I have to say, it's pretty neat to learn, out of the blue, that there's a B- ranked prospect in the upper part of the Reds system that I'd never heard of--or, at least, never paid attention to. Just a few years ago, a player like that would have been in the top 5 in this organization.

  3. Why is Jared Burton still on this type of list? He clearly lost his rookie status. (Bailey I guess pitched few enough innings to retain his status.)

    I LIKE Jared, but he no longer a prospect.

  4. Yeah, I'm sure that's an error. Doc Scott (I think) mentioned as much in the comments on Sickels' page. But hey, we got a list of 21 prospects, it all evens out! :)

  5. I think that Sickels uses 50 innings as a hard-line cutoff for pitchers. Burton threw only 43 last year, due to a number of rule 5 injuries and rehabs. So even though he spent too much time on the Reds' roster to retain his rookie status, he does technically fit as a prospect under Sickels' guidleines.

    However, pretty sure Sickels recognized the oddity of that, which is why he made it a top-21 list as you noted.

  6. Justin,
    I am with you on Watson. I don't know if you have ever seen him pitch or not, but his knuckle curve is pretty disgusting with some hard downward bite on it. His fastball can get into the mid 90s as well.

    As for Stubbs, I am pretty high on the guy, probably higher than most anyone that actually talks about prospects on websites anyways. I just really think he can be a force next year with his turf toe surgery that should have him healthy next season for the first time since signing with the Reds.

    As for Dorn.... The guy is just a professional hitter. He has not hit lefties well at all in his career, but the guy absolutely destroys right handed pitching. I think he went a little crazy in Chattanooga upon his promotion, but I am sure the hitting environment was a nice change compared to the FSL.

  7. It is times like this that I regret only getting one season out of the Reds' affiliation with the Potomac Cannons before the team switched to the Nationals. Chattanooga and Dayton are a much tougher commute.

    I am a little concerned regarding the growing trend of people assigning Bailey a lower grade this year than last. I can only assume that concerns regarding his command (especially during his few big league starts) are becoming harder to ignore. Back during the Hughes/Bailey debates last year, it was argued that Bailey had the better stuff and the higher ceiling, but far worse command and the lower floor. I'd like to see him come back this spring with a better understanding of how to reign his stuff in.

  8. godlycynic,
    I think Homers command has a little to do with it, but I think people are forgetting a lot of what he brings to the table becuase he isn't the newest shiny toy around anymore. I would be willing to wager he puts up very similar, if not better peripherals than Bronson Arroyo does next season (he won't get nearly the innings as Bronson, but his peripherals will be as good if not better). Walk rate will likely be a little higher, but I bet his hit rate and strikeout rate are both quite a bit better.

  9. Doug,

    I could see that happening or at least see Bailey trending towards those numbers by the second half.

    Having never seen Cueto pitch, is there a pitcher archetype he compares best to?

    Also, I deserve lots of praise for gamely refusing to make Corbin Bernsen jokes in this posting.

  10. Also, I deserve lots of praise for gamely refusing to make Corbin Bernsen jokes in this posting.


  11. Uh, Justin...

    That would be *Roger* Dorn (character in Major League)

    Ah, hats for bats....