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Cincinnati Reds Top-15 Prospects of 2009, No’s 6 – 15

March 5, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG One Comment

For an overview of the process used to grade players, the factors used to determine where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the start of the season. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me or you can make a comment below at the bottom of the page.

You can find a full listing of each team’s top prospect list in the Top Prospect List Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team’s best fan sites. Continuing on with the Cincinnati Reds

Also See: Cincinnati Reds, Prospects 1 – 5

*Take Note – Chris Dickerson did not qualify for this list because he was over my maximum number of major league ABs to be included (100)

6. Kyle Lotzkar | RHP | Single-A Dayton | Age – 19 | Drafted – Round 1A (53), 2007

Player Grades
Fastball – 60 Now | 65 Future
Curveball – 50 | 60
Change-Up – 40 | 45
Control – 35 | 45
Command – 35 | 50
Pitchability – 40 | 50
ETA – 2012
Final Grade – B-

Body Type – Projectable and athletic

Stuff

Fastball – Mid-90′s rising heater with life

Curveball – Potential plus pitch of the power variety and looks harder than it really is (mid-70′s)

Change-Up – Developing, but very inconsistent…pitch moves a lot

Scouting Report

Lotzkar struggles to control all his pitches because they have such good movement. He throws with intent and there are a lot of moving parts that can be difficult to coordinate. As a result, Lotzkar struggles mightily with his control even though he racks up the strikeouts.

Injury Risk

kyle-lotzkar
MLB Scouting Bureau

Lotzkar has battled injuries in the past including a small hairline fraction in his elbow that limited him to just under 40 innings last season. Lotzkar can certainly be looked at as a risk mechanically. His arm action potentially leads to more stress on his shoulder simply because it leads to a more aggressive, more violent external rotation of the shoulder. Keep in mind that this is a theory and it’s important to not use absolutes when talking about injuries. Lotzkar’s arm action might also lead to higher velocities, but that doesn’t come without potential consequences.

Besides the arm action, Lotzkar also lands stiffly on his front leg, which cuts his finish short. He’s not using his lower body as efficiently as possible and he makes up for this inefficiency by relying mostly on his arm to produce the desired velocity. Lotzkar’s young enough where the Reds can work on making his mechanics more efficient without lessening the quality of his stuff. He’ll also need to work on his conditioning and arm strength and should certainly be monitored very carefully by the Reds organization.

While he has the highest upside as a pitcher in the Reds’ farm system, he’s a long shot to reach it.

Best Case Outcome – Front of the rotation type starter, but this is a long shot

More Likely Outcome – Power arm out of the bullpen


7. Daryl Thompson | RHP | Triple-A Louisville | Age – 23 | Drafted – Round 8, 2003

Player Grades
Fastball – 50 Now | 50/55 Future
Curveball – 55 | 55
Slider – 50 | 55
Change-Up – 40 | 45
Control – 50 | 55
Command – 45 | 50
Pitchability – 55 | 55
ETA – 2009
Final Grade – B-

Body Type – A skinny frame, but a very good athlete

Stuff

Fastball – It’s usually in the 92 – 94 range, but there is a tendency for his velocity to drop down to the 89 – 91 range, which is where it was in the start I watched of him late in the season…has some movement, but can straighten out at times

Curveball – Big breaking, 12-to-6 version…ball acts like it’s on a string being pulled once it breaks…it’s not the sharpest break, but it keeps hitters off balance and in the start I saw, he got his share of swings-and-misses on the pitch.

Below is Thompson vs. top Pirates prospect Andrew McCutchen…on the left, Thompson looks to beat McCutchen with a fastball up and away, but McCutchen is able to catch up with the pitch and line it to right for a single. This start was made when Thompson was experiencing a decline in his stuff. However, his curveball gave McCutchen fits all game long (right).

daryl-thompson-curvedaryl-thompson-fastball
*Credit to Minor League Baseball

A quick note…I thought the chess match between Thompson and McCutchen was a fascinating thing to watch and I have more on their dual in the Pirates top prospect list.

Slider – More like another curve with a similar break except that he cuts it away from right handers.

Change-Up – Below average pitch because it’s so inconsistent…will occasionally show good tumble.

Scouting Report

Thompson has good stuff when he’s healthy, but he’s battled injuries in the past. In 2005 he had surgery to repair a torn labrum and he experienced periods of shoulder discomfort this past year. As the year wound down, Thompson saw his stuff somewhat diminish.

He controls all his pitches well, and can spot them to each quadrant of the strike zone, but he’ll get too much of the plate with his fastball at times.

Thompson is also a fly ball pitcher and because of his aggressive mentality, he’s prone to giving up the long ball.

daryl-thompson
*Credit to MLB Advanced Media

Mechanically, Thompson uses an athletic set-up, staying compact. His tempo is solid, but not super-quick, coming out around 23 frames. He does an excellent job of firming up his front side, keeping his front shoulder closed. He looks like he’s pitching uphill somewhat, which can cut short one’s finish/follow through. From an injury prevention standpoint, you want to give your arm as much room as possible to decelerate.

Best Case Outcome – No. 4 starter…maybe he could push himself to a borderline No. 3, but he needs to maintain his stuff the entire year.

More Likely Outcome – No. 5 starter though considering his injury history and problems retaining his stuff over a sustained period of time, the bullpen seems to be the most appropriate spot for the young pitcher.


8. Zach Stewart | RHP | A+ Sarasota | Age – 22 | Drafted – Round 3 (84), 2008

Player Grades
Fastball – 55 Now | 60 Future
Slider – 55 | 60
Change-Up – 35 | 40
Control – 45 | 50
Command – 45 | 55
Pitchability – 55 | 55
ETA – Early 2010
Final Grade – B-

Really like Stewart. He should move quickly through the Reds system. I compiled a scouting report on Stewart this past Summer and you can read it by clicking here. A preview graphic:

zach-stewart

Best Case Outcome – Top level set-up man

More Likely Outcome – Good set-up man…possible right handed specialist


9. Juan Francisco | 3b | B – L | A+ Sarasota | Age – 21 | Signed – Dominican Republic, 2004

Player Grades
Contact – 35 Now | 40/45 Future
Power – 55 Now | 65 Future
Discipline – 35 Now | 40 Future
Speed – 35 | 30
Defense – 40 | 45
Arm -60 | 60
Instincts – 40 | 45
ETA – Early 2011
Final Grade – C+

Body Type – Big body, not a great athlete, will need to watch his conditioning…

Scouting Report

I haven’t seen Francisco first-hand, so we’re using outside reports and going by the numbers.

To start, Francisco has big-time power, but uses a long swing to produce some of the bat speed needed to produce his power. Because his swing takes longer to get into its hitting zone, Francisco is forced to start his bat just a bit earlier, meaning he ends up chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

Francisco did manage to cut down on his strike outs by 6% this past year, but he still suffers from very poor plate discipline. He walked in a paltry 3.5% of his plate appearances. He’s relatively young for his level, so there is time to improve.

Francisco is viewed as a potential candidate to move from third base to first base because he’s expected to outgrow the position and he already has below average range.

One thing worth noting, Francisco had an extremely strong Winter, setting a Dominican League, 33-year record, with 13 home runs, the most ever for a left handed hitter. His plate discipline was still mostly poor, however. It’s also good to take Winter League stats with a big grain of salt.

Best Case Outcome – Average everyday third baseman or below average everyday first baseman.

More Likely Outcome – A role off the bench as a back-up corner infielder.


10. Josh Roenicke | RHP | MLB | Age – 26 | Drafted – Round 10, 2006

Player Grades
Fastball – 60 Now | 60 Future
Curveball – 50 | 55
Control – 45 | 50
Command – 45 | 50
Pitchability – 40 | 50
ETA – 2009
Final Grade – C+

Body Type – Tall, lean, and athletic

Stuff

Fastball – Clocked in the mid-90′s, with a little bit of tailing action late…controls the pitch pretty well.

Curveball – 12-to-7 variety with solid bite…above average in terms of quality, but he needs to throw it more often for strikes.

Scouting Report

Roenicke certainly carries a presence with him on the mound. He’s aggressive in nature and goes right after hitters. He’s been playing catch-up as a pitcher ever since he was converted from the outfield in terms of learning how to pitch and setting hitters up among other things. But his arm is excellent…very short arm action with plus arm speed. He could see time as early as next year.

Best Case Outcome – Power set-up man out of the bullpen

More Likely Outcome – Solid middle reliever


11. Matt Maloney | LHP | Triple-A Louisville | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 3, 2005

Maloney’s fastball sits in the 87 – 91 range with some sink, though for a guy who generates sink on his fastball, he doesn’t produce many ground balls. He also has a slurvy curveball, which profiles as an average pitch. It’s effective against lefties, but he gets hurt when he leaves it up in the zone, which he does too often. His change-up is his best pitch; it doesn’t have a big break, but rather, it’s small and late and he seems to do good job of fooling hitters because he gets them to swing and miss often at the pitch. I’m not sure that will completely translate to the MLB level, but it should carry over enough.

Mechanically, Maloney is mostly of the tall-and-fall sort, which is one reason you have a big bodied pitcher throwing for a relatively soft velocity. His tempo is extremely slow, but he does generate pretty solid arm speed. He should ultimately end up as a solid No. 5 starter or solid reliever should he be moved to the pen.

Grade – C+
ETA – 2009

12. Ramon Ramirez | RHP | Triple-A Louisville | Age – 26 | Signed – Venezuela, 2000

Ramirez, physically and mechanically, reminds of Bartolo Colon (despite a couple key differences that allow Colon to better maximize the velocity of his pitches). However, they are completely different pitchers. Colon was a power guy, while Ramirez gets by on deception as he fools hitters with his plus change-up. He also does a good job of pitching to both sides of the plate and making it difficult for hitters to pick up his pitching patterns.

The change-up, Ramirez manipulates well. He’ll throw it to hitters from both sides of the plate and he’ll throw it any count. Some mistake his change-up for a splitter. See the pitch below:

ramon-ramirez
*Credit to Minor League Baseball

His curveball is an average breaker that he can throw for strikes and his fastball has good tailing action, but features just average velocity. He sometimes loses the feel of his fastball, causing it to sail high and wide. He can be used as both a starter and reliever and is a candidate to make the big league club coming out of spring training this year.

Grade – C+
ETA – 2009

13. Danny Dorn | OF | B – L | Double-A Chattanooga | Age – 24 | Drafted – Round 32, 2006

Dorn is an undervalued guy in the Reds system because his tools don’t grade out well across the board. The one thing he can do is hit, however. Some scouts expected Dorn to fizzle out in Double-A, but he continued to hit.

Dorn is an extreme fly ball hitter, which really plays well in Cincinnati’s park. He’s not going to hit for a high average because of his fly ball tendencies and his propensity to strike out, but his power is real. Dorn makes for an excellent platoon candidate because of his extreme lefty/right splits (mashes right handed pitching, struggles vs. lefties). Still, that leaves Dorn with around 500 plate appearances in a platoon role should the Reds choose to go that route. He’s an adequate fielder with decent arm, but he’s limited athletically and he’s injury prone. He should start next year in Triple-A Louisville.

Grade – C+
ETA – Late 2009

14. Chris Heisey | CF | B – R | Double-A Chattanooga | Age – 24 | Drafted – Round 17, 2006

A nice find for the Reds in the 2006 draft, Heisey has shown improvement in each year he’s been with the organization, improving his OBP skills and power output. He’s an excellent base runner as evidenced by his 27 steals in 29 attempts.

Interestingly enough, like Dorn, Heisey shows an extreme lefty/right split. Historically, Heisey has hit lefties much better than righties. A right hand side of a platoon doesn’t have as much value as the left hand side, but Heisey also has the benefit of being able to play a solid center field. He’s likely a 4th outfielder at the major league level.

Grade – C+
ETA – 2010

15. Carlos Fisher | RHP | Triple-A Louisville | Age – 26 | Drafted – Round 11, 2005

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*Something to Take Note of: Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran–two very young, very raw, and very talented International players signed by Cincinnati were not included in this list because I simply don’t have enough data on them.

Other C+ Prospects (in no particular order): Robert Manuel (strong peripherals, great command, but only one truly good pitch)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Devin Mesoraco, Alex Buchholz, Travis Wood, Pedro Viola, Dallas Buck, Sean Watson, Sean Henry, Zach Cozart, Adam Rosales, Danny Ray Herrera

Also See: Cincinnati Reds Team Page

Up Next: Houston Astros, Prospects 1 – 5

Other references used for this article: First Inning and Minor League Splits

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