One of the things that can be a struggle when reading a team specific blog, be it about the minors or majors, is trying to discern relative value. Especially when we lack definitive objective metrics and have highly volatile player projections, it’s dangerously easy to fall into the trap of overrating some of the players you’re watching on a daily basis.
Much like you see at VEB from time to time, my goal during this season is going to be to engage bloggers who follow other teams systems. Today we’ve got Doug Gray who does a tremendous job covering the Reds. Below are his answers to five questions I posed about the Reds’ minor league system.
1) The Cardinals have graduated a left handed pitcher to start this season (Jaime Garcia) and seen him have an unexpected level of success. What’s the word on the Reds’ prize lefty, Aroldis Chapman, and his ETA?
Chapman is consistently inconsistent. His strikeout to walk rate isn’t good and right now, he has dominated at times by simply being better than the competition. While the upside is giant, I don’t think he can be a legit starting pitcher in the major leagues for a while. He goes on prolonged stretches where he really struggles to hit the target put up by the catcher. He can get away with that in AAA, but I don’t see it working so much in the major leagues.
2) What are the Reds going to do with their abundance of 1B? Joey Votto seems like a terrific first baseman but Yonder Alonso is hitting very well in AA and was never considered to be that far off from the bigs when he was drafted.
Yonder Alonso has been playing in left field down in AA, and while the reports have been better than I had expected because I just didn’t think he could make the transition because of his poor speed. With that said, I still haven’t seen him in person, so I can’t verify how well or poor he actually has played out there. If he doesn’t have the ability to stick in left, he can’t be anything more than trade bait as the Reds simply can’t move Joey Votto.
3) One of the (speculated) reasons that Walt Jocketty was fired from the Cardinals organization was his unwillingness to get behind the process that Jeff Luhnow was establishing for the Cardinals’ minor league system. Jocketty had spent many years miraculously turning mediocre prospects into quality or all-star caliber major league players but depleting what little was in the minors as part of that process. What kind of attitude has he displayed with respect to the farm system since joining the Reds?
Jocketty has really seemed to stand pat so far. There was the trade for Scott Rolen that took away the Reds top starting pitching prospect at the time, but outside of that, Jocketty seems to have left things in the hands of those who were here before him. I will admit, it was one of my biggest concerns when he took over (along with his statistical issues and a seemingly unwillingness to put much faith into most sabermetric beliefs).
4) Got any wisdom with regards to the Reds and the draft this year? Are there any tendencies they’ve shown in drafting that we should be on the lookout for come June?
The Reds tend to draft safe with the first pick. They prefer college players early, especially ones that play up the middle. They have gone the high school route, as recently as 2007 (Devin Mesoraco, C), but that year they had 3 picks in the first 60 overall so I think they felt they could risk it.
5) What prospect should we be familiar with in the Reds’ system whose name we may not have heard much of yet?
As previously mention, Devin Mesoraco is a guy who is rocketing his stock right now. A former first rounder, but was named as BA’s Reds #30 prospect coming into the season (though I was quite a bit higher on him). He is still just 21 and OPS’ing 1.098 in High A right now. Matt Klinker continues to be one of the more underrated guys I have seen in a while, even by the Reds. He is back in AA this year despite utterly dominating in AAA at the end of last season as a starter. A guy who is further away, but has impressed me from what I have seen, though raw, is DiDi Gregorius, who plays for Dayton in the Midwest League. Shortstop with good defensive tools, solid plate discipline and a wiry frame that could develop some power in the future.
My thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer these questions. You can find more of his work at RedsMinorLeagues.com.