Thursday, November 26, 2009

2010 Top Prospect List: #24 Josh Fellhauer, of

Josh Fellhauer
Height 5-11, Weight 180, B/T: L/L, DOB: 3/24/1988
2009 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: Not Ranked

After finding a sneaky good value from Cal State Fullerton in Danny Dorn, the Reds once again returned to the well in 2009 in hopes of finding another good value in Josh Fellhauer. The Reds selected Fellhauer with the 209th overall pick in the 7th round of the 2009 draft.

Fullerton is an elite college baseball program that produces polished, well-rounded players, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that players drafted in the mid-to-late rounds out of Fullerton more than hold their own in the professional ranks. These mid-to-later round CSF guys may not have the best tools or athleticism, but they certainly seem to know how to get the most out of their ability.


Fellhauer played three years for the Titans. He started out his collegiate career as a platoon outfielder, but emerged as the starting leftfielder and one of the better hitters on the team as a freshman. He ended up the season with a slash line of .304/.379/.429/.808, which is a solid debut season for a freshman.

As a sophomore, Fellhauer was the everyday centerfielder and was selected to the All Big-West Conference Second Team. He took his offensive game to another level in 2008 by adding more power, as he posted a .335/.392/.517/.909. He posted a 10 game hitting streak and two 6 game hitting streaks. He finished 2nd in the Big West Conference with 62 runs scored, 3rd in hits with 90, 3rd in doubles with 20, 6th in triples with 4, 2nd in total bases with 139, and 9th in stolen bases with 17.

In 2009, as a junior Fellhauer posted his best ever collegiate season. He flashed an intriguing, well rounded offensive game against top collegiate competition. On the season, he hit .396/.480/.529 with 6 homers, 18 stolen bases, and a 26/26 K/BB ratio. Obviously, there are some significant positives, but a few red flags as well. His 18 stolen bases come with 13 caught stealings. And, as impressive as his isolated on base percentage is, it was achieved in part by 16 hit by pitches. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with using the hit by pitch as an offensive weapon (Craig Biggio used it to great effect), but it remains to be seen whether he will continue to use it as a weapon in the professional ranks. It's one thing to leave your elbow out over the plate against a collegiate curveball, but it's something else entirely to do it against a big league caliber fastball.

Overall, Fellhauer has continued to improve his game as he has gained more experience. He doesn't seem to have any true standout tools, but his offensive game is well-rounded and he can certainly hit. In addition, he has baseball in the bloodlines, as his grandfather, Richard, played for the St. Louis Browns and his father, Robert, was a 6th round draft pick of the Oakland A's as a shortstop.


In 2008, Fellhauer was selected to play for Team USA in the FISU World Championship. The team went 24-0 to win the gold medal. He played all three outfield positions, hit .299 with two homers, 6 doubles, and stole two bases. He obviously built on that experience during his impressive junior campaign at Fullerton. It's always a good sign when a player has success at the international level, as well as in collegiate ranks.


After agreeing to terms, the Reds sent Fellhauer to low-A Dayton to begin his professional career. At Dayton, Fellhauer posted a slash line of .280/.351/.453 with a 34/19 K/BB ratio, 7 homers, and 7 steals in 264 plate appearances and 57 games. Solid production, but nothing really eye popping. Interestingly enough, Fellhauer DID continue to utilize the hit-by-pitch in his offensive arsenal, as he was plunked 7 times in 2009. He also demonstrated a fairly substantial platoon split, posting a .720 OPS against lefties and an .826 OPS against righties. Of course, that is fairly common among lefthanded hitters, as they simply don't see all that many quality southpaws in the amateur ranks. It typically takes time and experience to adjust to the better lefthanded pitching at the professional level.

For Dayton, Fellhauer hit line drives at only a 16% clip, which certainly leaves something to be desired. However, he made contact at a good rate and continued putting the ball in play with great frequency (12.9% K rate). Unfortunately, he struggled to drive the ball with authority when he did put it into play. It was a small sample size and his first taste of pro-ball, but if his performance at Dayton was indicative of his true baseline of performance, then he will need to continue improving his overall game as he climbs the ladder.


At the plate, Fellhauer uses a quiet approach. His stance is slightly open and a bit wider than shoulder width. He uses a very small stride to trigger the weight transfer and close up his stance. He maintains good balance and exhibits good body control throughout the swing. His hand position originates in front of his left shoulder and he brings them back into hitting position as the pitcher gets ready to deliver the ball. As his weight transfers, Fellhauer uses good hip rotation to clear them out of the way and generate bat speed. He keeps his head down on the ball and uses a compact, line drive swing that allows him to center the ball on the barrel of the bat. On his follow through, he keeps both hands on the bat, which arguably limits his extension and perhaps even saps his power, but increases his bat control and stability throughout the swing.

His swing caught the eye of Ken Griffey Sr., who is acting as an assistant to the minor league personnel director, who said “He reminds me a little of Chase — he has a swing like Utley’s. I watched Chase from AA until he got to the big leagues.” And, not surprisingly, Fellhauer didn't object to such an impressive comparison, stating with a laugh, “I’ll take that. (Utley) stays inside on the ball and sends it to all fields.” So, obviously I'm not the only one who is impressed with Fellhauer's swing.

Here is a look at his swing, courtesy of RedsMinorLeagues on YouTube:

Overall, Fellhauer has a nice, compact swing that enables him to be quick to the ball and make consistent contact. If you want to take a look at his throwing arm or see more of his swing in action, then definitely check out this scouting video from


On the defensive side, Fellhauer has a solid arm and runs fairly well. While playing for Fullerton and Team USA, Fellhauer spent time at all three outfield positions. Obviously, versatility is a good thing, but in this case it may be supportive of the premise that his range is stretched in center.

The Reds used him in centerfield 41 times in 2009 and in rightfield 12 times. rates him as having below average range in center and average range in rightfield. Obviously, it's a very small sample size and fielding metrics are not absolute, but proving to be able to competently handle a premier defensive position would allow him to get away with a lower level of offensive performance. Given his lack of impact power, the Reds are likely to leave him in center unless he proves that he can't handle it.


Fellhauer is an interesting prospect and one that I want to like even more than I do. He has the smooth swing, intangibles, and polish that I like to see in prospects, but I am finding it somewhat difficult to set forth reasons for true optimism about his prospects for a significant MLB career. Fellhauer is a polished college prospect who does everything well, but nothing great. He's a "jack of all trades, but master of none" type. He simply doesn't have a stand out tool that would help him progress up the ladder. Given his current baseline performance, Fellhauer is going to have improve in one or several areas to have a legitimate chance at carving out an MLB career. Ideally, the improvement would come in his speed, power, or on-base skills. Unfortunately, I'm struggling to find an area that he will be able to improve upon to any significant degree.

Fellhauer lasted until round 7 because of his lack of plus tools. His tools all grade out pretty average across the board. In addition, his smaller frame simply doesn't allow for a great deal of physical projection, so it's not easy to predict a significant spike in power as he continues to develop. His speed also isn't something that he's going to be able to improve upon in any meaningful way. Finally, his on-base skills are solid, but are currently being aided by the hit-by-pitch, so I'm not sure his ability to control the strike zone is even as strong as it may look at first blush and anyway that's an area where significant improvement is typically difficult, if not impossible.

So, where does the needed improvement come from?

Fellhauer has a nice, well-rounded game and he certainly knows how to hit. In addition, he strikes me as the kind of player whose overall game is something greater than merely the sum of the individual parts. Those are the types of players for whom it is always easy to root. However, despite his compact, fundamentally sound swing, things would seemingly have to break just right in order for him emerge as an every day MLB player. What he does, he certainly does well, but I'm just not sure how much projection he actually has left. He needs to take his baseline level of performance up a notch, but he may already be bumping his head on the ceiling.

For now, Fellhauer checks in at #24 on the list. He'll need to find and unlock some additional potential in order to climb up higher in the future. Hopefully, he'll be able to make some adjustments to do just that as he enters his second season of professional ball. He certainly has the swing to do so, but he'll need to pair it with some secondary skills to really increase his production and value.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2010 Top Prospect List: #20 Byron Wiley, of

Byron Wiley
Height 6-1, Weight 200, B/T: L/L, DOB: 12/12/1986
2009 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: Not Ranked

Byron Wiley is beginning to emerge as a legitimate prospect. His ascension up the ladder has been driven largely by his offensive game, which is defined by his ability to control the strike zone. While he has admittedly been somewhat old for his level of competition, his performance level is still strong. Wiley has the rare and potentially valuable combination of tools and skills. He provides good athleticism, but also understands how to translate his athleticism into offensive production. Wiley has a true understanding of how to hit, which led Dayton manager Todd Benzinger to call him a "flat out pure hitter." Wiley controls the strike zone well and maximizes the number of times he forces a consequence to the At Bat on a hitter's pitch.

While he's still raw and needs to prove himself against more advanced competition, Wiley is certainly trending in the right direction early in his professional career. If he continues to progress and develop, then he will prove to be a steal for the Reds, who selected him out of Kansas State in the 2008 draft.

Collegiate Career

Byron Wiley played for three years at Kansas State University. He joined K-State out of Tomball High School where he was a four year letterman, was first team all-state, and ranked as the third best player in Texas in 2005 by Texas Baseball News.

In 2006 as a freshman, Wiley started 44 out of 48 games and posted a slash line of .297/.425/.483/.908 with 5 homers and a 31/30 K/BB ratio. He also swiped 7 bases in 10 attempts. A stellar collegiate debut. His best game that season was his 3-for-6 performance against South Dakota which included 2 homeruns and 4 RBI. He finished up that season with 10 multi-hit games and 5 multi-RBI games.

He turned in quite an encore performance during his sophomore year, posting a .366/.494/.526/1.020 slash line with 7 homers and a 46/43 K/BB ratio. He was better across the board, including on the bases where he swiped 14 bases in 15 attempts. He played in 55 games, starting 54 of them in centerfield for the Wildcats. He led the team in hits (71), batting average (.366), RBI (44), runs (42), home runs (7), walks (43), and on-base percentage (.494). He ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 27th in the nation in walks, while his OBP of .494 was tops in the league. During the season, he had an 8-game hitting streak, 22 multi-hit games, and 12 multiple-RBI games. It was a tour de force type offensive performance for Wiley.

Unfortunately for Wiley, but perhaps fortunately for the Reds, his junior year was a complete disappointment. His level of performance dropped to .227/.342/.297/.639 with 1 homerun and a 51/20 K/BB ratio. He swiped 5 bases in 6 attempts.

Wiley credits his time at K-State with "helping him mature as a player and as a person." He continues to identify strongly with the school, even going so far as to have Wildcat slogans written on the knobs of his bats during his 2009 season in Dayton. The slogans include "Wiley the Wildcat" and "E.M.A.W." (Every Man a Wildcat).

Draft Position

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Wiley agreed to turn pro after the Reds selected him 659th overall in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft. Given his stellar first two collegiate seasons, it was realistic to expect him to return to K-State for his senior season in the hopes of rebuilding his draft value and improving his bargaining position.

Fortunately for the Reds, Wiley did decide to turn pro after his lackluster junior year. Upon doing so, he immediately set out to return to his previous level of performance and prove his worth to his new organization.

Professional Career

The Reds sent Wiley to the rookie Pioneer League after he agreed to terms in 2008. In what was remaining of the 2008 season, Wiley ripped the cover off the ball. He produced to a tune of .328/.427/.635/1.062 in 137 ABs. He swiped 3 bases in 4 attempts, put up 27 extra base hits (17 2b, 5 3b, and 5 HRs), and a 49/24 K/BB ratio. His BABIP was rather high at .476, but his line drive rate was a robust 22% so the luck component wasn't quite as significant a factor as it might appear at first blush. He was squaring the ball up well and driving it with authority.

For the 2009 season, the Reds moved Wiley up to low-A Dayton, where Wiley continued producing at a good clip. His power numbers decreased, but his .275/.395/.461 slash line once again demonstrated that he has some of the best on-base skills in the entire system. His BABIP (.363) and line drive (15%) rate both regressed, which resulted in the decrease in his batting average (.275).

Wiley's best game of the season took place in early July, when he cranked three home runs against West Michigan. He joined Wily Mo Pena and Juan Francisco in the record books as the only three Dayton Dragons to hit three homers in a single game. This type of big game performance from Wiley may speak to additional, untapped power potential.

Interestingly enough, Wiley scuffled a bit at home and performed very well on the road. For Dayton, he hit .233/353/.406, while on the road he hit .312/.430/.510. Dayton isn't known as a pitcher's park, so the disparity probably isn't indicative of anything truly noteworthy, but still warrants a mention.

From his first year to his second year, Wiley improved his BB% from 15.0% to 16.3% and cut his strike out rate down from 28.8% to 24.5% against a more advanced level of competition.

Wiley has performed well so far in his professional career, but the case could be made that a polished college hitter should be having success against rookie league and low-A ball pitching. And, that's certainly a valid point, but good production is still good production. At the very least, Wiley deserves a bit of credit for performing like he "should." The 2010 season should bring more advanced pitching and more of a challenge for Wiley, but so far he has more than held his own as a professional.

Swing Mechanics and Plate Approach

Wiley doesn't have a long and lean body type like so many young prospects, but rather he is solidly put together with a strong lower half. His body type could portend more power to come as he continues to mature physically and hone his swing, but it could also lead to reduced speed if he continues to add weight to his lower half.

At the plate, Wiley uses a quiet approach and slightly wider than shoulder width stance. His shoulders are level and his hand position is high. His hands start up by his left ear and he hits with a high back elbow. He uses a small bat waggle to keep loose while waiting for the pitch. When the pitch is delivered, Wiley utilizes a very small stride. He does more than just lift his front foot up and place it right back down, but he doesn't advance his lead foot forward very much. The stride is important for two reasons: 1) to "cock the hips" and 2) to transfer the weight forward to meet the pitch. The hips are a significant source of power in the baseball swing. Typically, they are cocked during the stride, as the front hip tends to rotate inwards to build up energy to unleash during the swing. In addition, the stride starts the weight transfer during the swing.

At times, a wide stance can limit a hitter's ability to cock his hips and generate power in his swing. However, it can certainly be done, as evidenced by two all time great hitters with very wide stances, namely Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols. At this point, it isn't looking like a concern for Wiley, but perhaps bears watching.

As Wiley makes his stride, his weight transfers forward and he draws his hands back into the hitting position. Once he front foot hits the ground, he begins to fire his hips, which both generates power and clears the way for his swing, allowing him to drop the head of the bat on the ball. Wiley has smooth, fluid swing that is fairly level, but has just a touch of uppercut. He generates good bat speed and gets good extension through the zone. He maintains good balance throughout the swing and hits off a solid foundation. He finishes his swing by letting his top hand come off the bat, utilizing a one-handed follow through. You can see that his swing has the potential to get too long at times, which could hinder his ability to make consistent contact. Overall, Wiley has a nice, advanced approach at the plate and a nice, smooth swing to go with it. This combination allows him to both work the pitcher for a pitch he likes and gives him the potential to actually do something with that pitch when he gets it.

Here is a look at Wiley in action for K-State:

One thing that Wiley will need to work on his two strike approach. As a late count hitter, Wiley will see far more 2-strike counts than those aggressive, early-count hitters like Juan Pierre or Willy Taveras. In a perfect world, Wiley will continue to work deep into the count, which will enable him to be selective and draw walks, but also improve his two strike approach to cut down on the strikeouts. If he can shorten up in two-strike situations, he might be able to get quicker to the ball and limit the times that he fails to put the ball in play.

Wiley isn't likely to develop into a true power hitter, so shortening up in 2-strike situations will likely provide more benefits (putting the ball in play to give himself a chance for a hit) than detriments (reducing his power and his chances for a homer). Wiley already reaps significant production benefits from his late count approach, but refining his 2-strike approach to cut down on strike outs would make him more effective at the plate and improve his chances for success against more advanced pitching.

Defense and Positional Value

At this point, Wiley's skills in the field lag behind his skills at the plate. The Reds have utilized Wiley primarily in the corner outfield spots. He spent a great deal of time in center at the collegiate level, but has played 93 games in right, 36 in left, and only 2 in center during his professional career. Given the number of quality centerfielders currently in the Reds system, Wiley's best chances are likely in a corner slot.

Despite his good over athleticism and speed, Wiley still hasn't managed to turn his defensive tools into above average defense. In 2009, rated him as 2 runs below average in left and 1 run above average in right. There is likely room for improvement, as Wiley's footspeed and athleticism give him the tools necessary to play a solid outfield. More experience should enable him to improve his positioning and reads on fly balls.


Overall, Wiley is an intriguing prospect. He's flashing the best on-base skills of anyone in the system outside of Yonder Alonso. When you pair his good athleticism with his plus on-base skills, you have the makings of a solid prospect. Questions still abound about Wiley, namely whether he can find success against more advanced pitching, increase his power output while maintaining a reasonable strikeout rate, and improve his defensive game. Even so, he possesses arguably the most important skill in baseball, the ability to get on base, and has the athletic skill to give him a relatively high development ceiling. Next year will be a big test for Wiley and will provide an important data point for his career trajectory, but for now he checks in at #20 on the list.



In a modern professional sports context, that's pretty much peanuts. Metaphorically speaking, MLB organizations have that much laying around between the cushions of their couch.

And, sadly, in this instance it represents a missed opportunity, as $3.5M is the difference between Ramon Hernandez's new $2M salary and the 2010 salary of Curtis Granderson ($5.5M). This meager difference in salary between the two is simply not reflective of the massive difference in ability and production.

Hernandez's new deal is listed at $3M for 2010 and a $3.25M vesting option for 2011. However, the $3M 2010 salary includes the $1M buyout of the $8.5M club option for 2010 from his last contract. So, $1M of it was a sunk cost and $2M is the actual salary for 2010.

The Reds have been crying poverty and doing everything they can to reduce fan expectations for this offseason. Even so, it's impossible to believe that the organization can't scrape together enough cash to make this move.

First, let's address the elephant in the room: the Scott Rolen trade. I am on record as being in favor of this deal. And, I still like it. In 2009, the Reds thirdbase troika of Edwin Encarnacion (2009 Wins Above Replacement: 0.0), Adam Rosales (2009 WAR: -0.1), and Jerry Hairston Jr. (2009 WAR: 1.0) provided essentially replacement level production.

This is just a rough and dirty look at their win impact, but it's a generally accurate view of their impact on the team's W/L total. I didn't break out the WAR figure to account for solely performance at the hot corner, so Hairston Jr.'s WAR is inflated by the time he spent at more valuable defensive positions. So, the Reds truly did receive replacement level production at third base.

So, the acquisition of Scott Rolen has the potential to have a significant impact on the Reds W/L record. In 2009, Rolen posted a 3.8 WAR for the Jays and Reds. If Rolen can stay healthy (yes, perhaps a big "IF"), then he could be in line to improve the Reds by 4+ wins. He should get the requisite bump from switching to Great American Ballpark, so the trade that everyone panned could improve the Reds significantly in 2010.

However, the latest news on the deal is that the Reds are on the hook for all of Rolen's 2010 salary. Of course, Rolen is set to make $11M in 2010, while Edwin is making $4.75M. So, without any money coming from the Great White North to cover the cost of Rolen's salary, the Reds increased their payroll by $6.25M with this deal. And, to be honest, it may well be worth it. Even so, if the Reds entered into that deal in the knowledge that they wouldn't be able to add salary to improve the team over the offseason, then it becomes a little less defensible. In a vacuum, it's a solid deal, but the Reds need to bite the bullet and make another move to improve the 2010 team.

Personally, I think it's a huge mistake not to aggressively pursue Curtis Granderson. The Tigers are widely reported to be looking to shave payroll, as Detroit is being hit hard by the recession. Obviously, in exchange for their veteran players the Tigers are looking for young, cost controlled players/prospects. And, what do the Reds have in surplus? Prospects!

I'd offer up Yonder Alonso and one of Juan Francisco/Chris Valaika/Chris Heisey. Is there any doubt that Granderson would provide more total value (offense + defense) than shifting Votto to left to accommodate Yonder at first?

Granderson is a plus defensive player who would be in the discussion for best defensive leftfielder in baseball. And, while he struggles with southpaws, Granderson has a great blend of power and speed. He also draws a significant number of walks and would immediately solve the Reds leadoff hitter dilemma. His addition would give the Reds three top notch lefties (Granderson, Votto, Bruce) to go with three top notch righties (Phillips, Rolen, Stubbs).

In Detroit he has produced WAR marks of 3.9, 7.4, 3.8, and 3.4 from 2006 to 2009. While he had a bit of down year last year, Granderson would get a boost from GABP. In addition, he's a "face of the franchise" type player who is a leader in the clubhouse and the community.

The Scott Rolen trade is solid in a vacuum, but it looks better if the Reds pair it with the acquisition of another 4-5 win player. If the Reds do that, then they could be looking at significant improvement. If the Reds were to get aggressive, then maybe a 78 win team in 2009 becomes an 85-88 win team in 2010.

The Reds need to have the foresight to position themselves to take advantage of the market. The nation wide recession has created significant bargains around the league, but only those teams who have positioned themselves to take advantage of them will benefit. If the Reds can afford to throw $2M at Ramon Hernandez, then they could have afforded to pay Curtis Granderson $3.5M more to play for the Reds. I don't think there is any question which player will provide more value and wins in 2010.

This is the type of move the Reds should be looking to make. Adding a young player who is under contract through 2013 and who can help the team!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Agent Compensation

Baseball America provides a nice breakdown of how free agent compensation works and also a list of type A and B free agents for the 2010 season.

"Starting with the 1980-83 Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB has determined which free agents require compensation by using Elias Sports Bureau calculations based on two years of performance. Players are sorted into position groups by league: catchers; designated hitters, first basemen and outfielders; second basemen, third basemen and shortstops; starting pitchers; and relief pitchers.

All hitters are graded on plate appearances, batting average, on-base percentage, home runs and RBIs. Fielding percentage and assists also are considered for catchers, and fielding percentage and total chances also matter for second basemen, third basemen and shortstops. The categories for pitchers are starts, innings, wins, winning percentage, ERA and strikeouts for starters; and relief appearances, innings, wins plus saves, ERA, hits per nine innings and strikeout/walk ratio for relievers.

Players who rate in the top 20 percent of their position group are designated as Type A free agents, and those in the 21-40 percent bracket are designated as Type B. To receive compensation for a Type A or B free agent, the player's former club must offer him arbitration.

Type A free agents yield the signing team's first-round choice and a supplemental first-rounder, while Type B free agents produce only the sandwich pick. Clubs that finished in the bottom half of the major league standings have their first-round selections protected from compensation, and consolation picks for failure to sign draftees from the previous year can't change hands either. If a team signs multiple Type A free agents, the club that lost the higher-ranking player gets the better pick.

Below are the potential Type A and B free agents by position, listed in order of Elias ranking. Not all of these players have filed for free agency yet, and some have 2010 options that may be picked up by their current teams."

Potential Type A Free Agents

Catchers: Bengie Molina (SF).
First Basemen: None.
Second Basemen: Orlando Hudson (LAD), Placido Polanco (Det).
Third Basemen: Chone Figgins (LAA).
Shortstops: Marco Scutaro (Tor), Miguel Tejada (Hou), Orlando Cabrera (Min).
Outfielders: Matt Holliday (StL), Jason Bay (Bos), Johnny Damon (NYY), Jermaine Dye (CWS).
Starting Pitchers: John Lackey (LAA), Randy Wolf (LAD).
Relief Pitchers: Jose Valverde (Hou), Mike Gonzalez (Atl), Rafael Soriano (Atl), Billy Wagner (Bos), LaTroy Hawkins (Hou), Rafael Betancourt (Col), Darren Oliver (LAA), Kevin Gregg (ChC), John Grabow (ChC), Octavio Dotel (CWS).

Potential Type B Free Agents

Catchers: Ramon Hernandez (Cin), Jason Varitek (Bos), Ivan Rodriguez (Tex), Jason Kendall (Mil), Rod Barajas (Tor), Yorvit Torrealba (Col), Miguel Olivo (KC), Gregg Zaun (TB).
First Basemen: Fernando Tatis (NYM), Carlos Delgado (NYM), Adam LaRoche (Atl), Nick Johnson (Fla).
Second Basemen: Felipe Lopez (Mil), Ronnie Belliard (LAD).
Third Basemen: Melvin Mora (Bal), Mark DeRosa (StL), Adrian Beltre (Sea), Troy Glaus (StL).
Shortstops: None.
Outfielders: Marlon Byrd (Tex), Vladimir Guerrero (LAA), Xavier Nady (NYY), Brian Giles (SD), Garret Anderson (Atl), Randy Winn (SF), Mike Cameron (Mil).
Starting Pitchers: Rich Harden (ChC), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Vicente Padilla (LAD), Erik Bedard (Sea), Joel Pineiro (StL), Braden Looper (Mil), Jon Garland (LAD), Doug Davis (Ari), Randy Johnson (SF), Jason Marquis (Col), Justin Duchscherer (Oak), Carl Pavano (Min).
Relief Pitchers: Scott Eyre (Phi), Brandon Lyon (Det), Kiko Calero (Fla), Guillermo Mota (LAD), Chan Ho Park (Phi), Bob Howry (SF), Joe Beimel (Col), Will Ohman (LAD), Doug Brocail (Hou), David Weathers (Mil), Russ Springer (TB), Fernando Rodney (Det), Brian Shouse (TB).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2009 Top 25 Reds Prospects and Review

Time to clean up the blog to get ready for the 2010 prospect list.

Alonso didn't set the world on fire, but he did enough to justify the #1 slot. Soto struggled against more advanced competition in a tough park for hitters. Stubbs and Frazier continued their steady progression up the ladder, while injuries derailed Lotzkar, Thompson, and Buck.

Two personal favorites (Ravin and Oliveras) took the steps forward that I wanted to see, while two others (Dorn and Dickerson) didn't exactly live up to expectations. Chris Heisey enjoyed a breakout season, flashing a well-rounded game that could see emerge at the big league level as an every day player, rather than a mere 4th outfielder.

One of the uber-prospects signed during the international free agency period thrived, while the other struggled. And, in something of a make or break year, Travis Wood broke through in a big way.

Overall, it was a rather interesting year down on the farm, but there was a great deal of turnover resulting from trades, injuries, and promotions to the majors. So, the 2010 list will welcome a significant number of new prospects into the fold.

Anyway, here is one last look at the 2009 list before turning the page to 2010.

1. Yonder Alonso, 1b
2. Neftali Soto, inf
3. Todd Frazier, inf/of
4. Drew Stubbs, cf
5. Chris Valaika, inf
6. Chris Dickerson, cf
7. Devin Mesoraco, c
8. Danny Dorn, 1b/lf
9. Juan Francisco, 3b
10. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp

11. Daryl Thompson, rhp
12. Dallas Buck, rhp
13. Josh Roenicke, rhp
14. Matt Maloney, lhp
15. Zach Stewart, rhp
16. Alex Buchholz, inf
17. Yorman Rodriguez, of
18. Juan Duran, of
19. Travis Wood, lhp
20. Zach Cozart, ss

21. Pedro Viola, lhp
22. Carlos Fisher, rhp
23. Adam Rosales, inf
24. Josh Ravin, rhp
25. Alexis Oliveras, of

xx) Other Notables

Sunday, November 8, 2009

First Item on the Offseason "To Do" List

With the World Series in the books, the Hot Stove is beginning to heat up.

After the Scott Rolen trade, the Reds may have used up any payroll flexibility they had for the 2010 season. In addition, the recession hasn't spared the Reds, as attendance fell from 2,058,632 in 2008 all the way down to 1,747,919 in 2009. That's a decrease of 310,713 tickets sold from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, the average ticket price for a Reds game was $19.41 and the organization decided to hold ticket prices steady for 2009. So, just for a rough estimate, the Reds saw their revenue decline by $6,030,939.33 ($19.41 x 310,713).

Obviously, the Reds will face fiscal constraints that other organizations will not. That leaves the Reds to sift through the bargain bin while other organizations kick the tires on the elite talent. While bargain bin shopping may not be as exciting, it's certainly much more interesting.

Given the fiscal constraints, the Reds will likely be targeting only undervalued players with upside. If that's the case, the first name on the list should be former Giant Noah Lowry. If southpaw Lowry is 100% healthy, then he could be the steal of the offseason.

Here is a blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle about his impending departure from the Giants organization:

"Noah Lowry, who last pitched in 2007, will become a free agent today when he is removed from the 40-man roster, not surprising given his arm saga and hard feelings over his care.

Lowry's agent, Damon Lapa, said he was informed of that by the Giants today and added in an e-mail, "Noah is completely healthy throwing three days a week on his normal offseason program without any restrictions. Lowry will be removed from the Giants' 40-man roster and become a free agent."

It was a given that his $6.25 million option for 2010 wouldn't be picked up. Lowry has missed the last two seasons because of elbow/forearm issues that he believes the Giants misdiasgnosed. He was 14-8 with a 3.92 ERA in his last healthy season in 2007."

Lowry is an intriguing pitcher. He's a power pitcher without the power stuff. His fastball only sits around 87-88 mph, but he his best pitch is a plus-plus change-up. Even without a dominating fastball, Lowry is fearless. He attacks hitters with the velocity differential between his fastball and change-up. He also utilizes both a curveball and a slider. His bulldog demeanor on the mound has allowed him to be truly dominant over significant stretches of time despite not having dominating power stuff.

From 2003-2005, Lowry averaged ~7 K/9 and ~3 BB/9. In July 2005, Lowry posted a 3.58 ERA and a 39/14 K/BB ratio in 37.2 innings. Not bad, but in August of 2005 Lowry blew the doors off everyone. He posted a 0.69 ERA with a 33/9 K/BB ratio in 39.1 innings.

A funny thing happened in 2006 and 2007. Lowry's strikeout rate began decreasing while his groundball rate began to increase. I suspect that it was the result of his forearm struggles, but at this point it would difficult to know for sure what type of pitcher Lowry will be upon his return to the show. So, there is a degree of risk, but that's why he comes at such a reduced cost.

The Reds could use another solid starter in the rotation, especially one who throws from the left side. Lowry wouldn't have to bounce back too far to be an asset at the back end of the rotation and he could bounce back much farther than the 5th spot.

I've always liked Lowry's game and if he finally is 100% healthy, then he could be a very nice addition to the team. At the very least, the price is likely to be right, as he will have little bargaining power and, regardless, is likely to value an opportunity to start at the big league level over maximizing his 2010 salary. A low base salary with some built-in incentives might be enough to get it done.