Sunday, May 30, 2010

2010 Draft: Austin Wilson, of

Well, Chris Sale was the first pitcher to catch my eye, but now it's time to take a look at a position player who has impressed me. Austin Wilson is a top high school prospect out of Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, California. He stands 6-4 and tips the scales at 200 lbs. He both bats and throws from the right side.

Wilson has tools that rival anyone in the draft, but, not unexpectedly for a high school player, he's a bit raw. As a result, he still struggles to efficiently translate his tools into maximum, tangible baseball production. Even so, his tools give him a ceiling that matches or exceeds that of any prospect in the draft this side of Bryce Harper.

Wilson has plus power, good speed, a plus arm, and enough range to competently handle all the outfield spots. His speed is above average when he gets underway, but his first step quickness isn't strong. Wilson's arm makes him a very good candidate for rightfield, which seems a likely destination for him, especially as he is likely to lose a bit of range when he continues to mature and fill out physically. However, he still has the long, lean body type and strong frame that should easily handle additionally weight. He shouldn't lose much athleticism with the addition of more muscle.

Wilson also has very good make-up and intelligence. His mother went to Stanford, while his father went to MIT. Austin has a good feel for the game and a very strong work ethic, which when coupled with his drive to succeed should help him make the most of his impressive physical gifts. Demonstrating a mature approach and an advanced understanding of the game, Wilson has spent the last year focusing on becoming a more complete hitter by working on keeping his hands inside the ball and driving it to rightfield.

At the plate, Wilson uses a fairly quiet setup and hits out of a bit of a crouch with a high back elbow. His stance is wide spread, which limits the length of his stride. Wilson uses a very small stride, essentially picking up his front foot slightly and setting it back down. While the stride is short, it still operates to transfer his weight and load up for the swing. However, the minimal stride and wide spread stance does limit his ability to cock his hips and incorporate his lower body into his swing. The inefficiency in incorporating the lower body leaves his swing with a deficit of power to be made up by the upper body. Fortunately, Wilson still generates plus power, as his upper body rotation is more than sufficient to offset the lack of lower body power production.

Wilson relies more on upper body rotation to power his swing than lower body and hip action. Fortunately, his upper body action is strong enough to generate substantial rotational energy, which allows him to generate very good bat speed, despite the lack of lower body drive. Wilson has a smooth, fluid swing that generates plus power, as evidenced by the bomb he hit at Wrigley field in the video clip below. He has power to all fields, though he still needs to refine his approach to better harness it. If he reaches his development ceiling, then he could be a 30+ homerun hitter on an annual basis at the MLB level, but continued refinement of his already strong swing mechanics could make a very well-rounded hitter as well.

In addition to his limited lower body action, Wilson also struggles with length in his swing. As a taller player, he has longer levers which take a bit longer to get started. He also uses a small bat waggle to keep loose while waiting for the pitch, which is rather normal. But, as he strides to meet the pitch, he tips the bat towards the pitcher. As a result, when he fires the swing, his bat his roughly at a 45 degree angle towards the pitcher, which is somewhat reminiscent of Gary Sheffield, though a bit less extreme. Sheffield was able to thrive with such a setup because of his absurd bat speed and very strong, quick hands and wrists. Still, too much bat tilt towards the pitcher can increase the distance the barrel of the bat has to travel to meet the pitch.

When you have longer levers, a high back elbow, and a bat pointed towards the pitcher when the swing is fired, then you are going to struggle with the length of your swing. All of those components can add length, so Wilson will need to continue tightening up his swing as he moves along the development curve. If not, he could be susceptible to good fastballs on the hands and good offspeed pitches on the outer half of the plate, though he seems to already understand the importance of working on problem areas to become a more complete hitter.

Here are a couple of looks at Austin Wilson in action:

Wilson's physical gifts would likely secure him a spot in the first 10 picks and preclude the Reds from getting a shot at him, but Wilson also comes with a high degree of signability risk. Wilson has committed to the University of Stanford and is widely considered to be one of the toughest signs in the 2010 draft class. That may result in him slipping down in the first round, which could make him available when the Reds pick 12th, but whether the Reds would be willing to pay what it takes to convince him to sign is a legitimate question.

Overall, Austin Wilson seems to be just about everything you'd like to see in a prospect. If he is available and the Reds are willing to go above slot to sign him, then he could be a very intriguing option for the Reds. He has the potential to be a true impact bat at the MLB level and his well-rounded game could make a very valuable player.

As of now, he certainly sits near the top of my wish list for the Reds.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Byron Wiley has been released

Well, time to play a bit of catch-up on a few topics that have escaped mention on this blog.

I've been holding off a bit on writing about this particular topic in hopes of getting a bit more information that might serve as an explanation. Unfortunately, no such information has been forthcoming. In fact, it's barely been mentioned at all. So, let's just dive right in:

The Reds have released Byron Wiley.

Now, as I have previously written, I'm a fan of Byron Wiley, probably more so than most. I like his well-rounded hitting skills. He controlled the strikezone better than the vast majority of the prospects in the system and (I suspect) he has additional power projection to his game.

Admittedly, he was limited defensively and was likely to be relegated to leftfield. As a result, he would have to make it as an offense-first type prospect, if he was to make it at all. And, while there were legitimate questions revolving around whether his bat could bear that particular burden, there seems to be no obvious rationale for not letting him prove it one way or the other.

Nevertheless, the Reds elected to cut ties with Wiley just a short time after he was promoted to high-A Lynchburg. To start off the 2010 season, perhaps in a sign of his tenuous standing in the organization, the Reds made the decision to send Wiley back to Dayton for another unnecessary go around with low-A competition.

He had yet to really find his stride in 2010, but still managed to post an OPS of .787 for Dayton. He was promoted to Lynchburg where he racked up a grand total of 13 lackluster games played and 44 uninspiring at bats before he was handed his walking papers. Obviously, his OPS of .558 indicates that he wasn't producing at the necessary level, but the sample size was so small as to be essentially meaningless.

At this point, it's difficult to believe that the decision was based solely on performance, as the sample size is simply too small to be meaningful. If so, then it would be reasonable to infer that the Reds simply do not value on-base skills very highly. They would be rejecting the player profile that Wiley represents, rather than the player himself. And, quite obviously, you never want an organization to reject something as fundamentally important as "out avoidance" (aka: on-base percentage).

On the other hand, if the decision was not based on performance, then it is difficult to imagine what rationale could be underpinning the decision. You simply don't let value leave the organization without getting something in return. So, either the Reds simply don't view Wiley as having any value (which seems a troubling conclusion) or something else was driving the decision. Either way, it's a move I don't understand.

A bit more information and a bit more clarity might make the decision a bit more palatable, but regardless I am sorry to see Wiley leave the organization.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2010 Draft: Chris Sale, lhp

Chris Sale is one of the top southpaw pitching prospects in the 2010 draft and one who has definitely caught my eye as an intriguing prospect. He is currently a college junior and pitches for Florida Gulf Coast, where he has posted dominating numbers this year.

Sale stands 6-5 and tips the scales at 175 lbs. He's got a tall, lean, lanky body type that brings to mind former UNC Tarheel and current Florida Marlin farmhand Andrew Miller. Of course, the very use of Andrew Miller as a comparable has some negative connotations, but while they have similar body types, they are different pitchers. Sale has very good command, a problem which has plagued Miller throughout his career. Additionally, Sale has a very good mound presence and feel for pitching, which should help his offerings play up. Like Miller, Sale's long limbs and height give him the potential to throw on a downward plane, though Sale's low three-quarter arm slot limits his ability to do so. Sale's height and build also give him room for additional physical projection, which could result in increased velocity when he adds more muscle to his frame.

As a junior at FGC, Sale has pitched 96 innings over 16 appearances, including 14 starts, during which he has posted a 1.97 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, a masterful 135/12 K/BB ratio, and a .217 batting average against. In his 96 innings, Sale has allowed only 14 extra base hits.

Sale sits in the 90-93 range with the fastball and gets a nice sinking action that induces groundballs at a very good rate. His lower arm slot gives his breaking ball more of a sweeping action to it, which could make it tough on lefties. Still, his curveball needs work to become an effective pitch in the professional ranks. Perhaps his best pitch is his changeup, which ranks as one of the best in the draft. And, I do so love a plus changeup.

Here is a look at him in action:

As for Sale's mechanics, I find them to be fundamentally sound. Some question his arm action and find it to have a bit too much snap to it, but I don't see any significant red-flags. He keeps his pitching elbow in fairly good position relative to the shoulder. His elbow does get a tick higher than his shoulder, which isn't normally ideal, but I don't view it as being a problem simply because his arm slot is so much lower. The problem with the high back elbow is that it results in a stressful lasso like motion to get the arm up in a position to throw. However, with the lower arm slot, Sale doesn't need or use a lasso like motion to get into throwing position. So, I would argue that his lower arm slot effectively offsets the higher back elbow.

Additionally, from purely a pitching mechanics point of view, the lower arm slot is a bit more natural than a traditional over the top motion. It also gives him a bit more natural movement on his pitches. Also, despite his height, the timing on his pitching arm is good, as it's up in throwing position at the proper time and doesn't lag behind in his delivery. Sale also maintains good body control throughout the delivery and stays in balance on his follow-through.

While I don't dislike the arm action, I would like to see him incorporate more of his lower body into his delivery by improving his push off the rubber and drive to the plate. As of now, he is a bit inefficient, as he doesn't effectively harness the potential energy created by his leg kick. He unpacks his leg kick a bit prematurely before driving to the plate, costing him additional energy that could be imparted on the ball and forcing his arm to work a bit harder to generate the velocity. If he can throw more effectively with his entire body, he'll reduce additional stress on his pitching arm.

As for performance questions, the lower arm slot and questionable breaking ball raise questions about his ability to work effectively to righthanded hitters. Right now, his two best pitches are his his sinking fastball and plus change-up, despite good movement both are still straight pitches. He'll need a true breaking pitch to keep the hitters honest by changing the eye level.

Overall, Sale is a very impressive pitching prospect and would likely be a steal for the Reds with the 12th overall pick. If he maxes out on his projection, then he could have 3 plus pitches, good command, and a good feel for pitching. Unfortunately, he is likely to be off the board by the time the Reds are on the board, but he's definitely a prospect on my radar. Hopefully, he's on the Reds' radar as well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2010 Top Prospect List: #0 Aroldis Chapman, lhp

Aroldis Chapman
Height 6-4, Weight 185, B/T: L/L, DOB: 2/28/1988
2009 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: NA

Chapman is the type of player who could completely change the fortunes of an organization. These types of players are obviously few and far between. The Reds squandered their last opportunity to acquire the services of such a player. The organization passed on Tim Lincecum in favor of Drew Stubbs in the 2005 draft. And, quite seriously, I'm not sure any draft pick in MLB history has ever come with a higher opportunity cost.

Stubbs is undoubtedly intriguing, but he's still struggling to establish himself at the MLB level, while Lincecum has already run out of shelf space for all his Cy Young awards. I can't recall any prospect having such an immediate impact and performing at such an elite level. Not only did Lincecum pay off almost immediately, but he completely changed the fortunes of the San Francisco Giants organization. In baseball, it is a rare talent who can almost single-handedly advance an organization forward on the win curve.

Lincecum is that kind of talent. So is Chapman. Of course, Chapman has a long way to go to reach that ceiling, but the ability is certainly there.


Chapman was slated to be the next ace pitcher on the Cuban national team. However, Aroldis had a different idea. He first attempted to defect in 2008, but was unsuccessful. The attempt resulted in Chapman being left off the 2008 Cuban team for the Beijing Olympics. He worked his way back into the good graces of the Castro brothers in time for the World Baseball Classic.

In the WBC, Chapman made two starts and went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA. He lost to the Japanese team, lasting only 2 innings, which probably wasn't surprising. In some respects, the Japanese team is the worst possible matchup for Chapman. The Japanese teams are always extremely fundamentally sound. They may not have the best tools, but they will not do anything to beat themselves. When facing a pitcher like Chapman, who is equal parts erratic and electric, it is a big advantage when you force him to beat you. If you aren't willing to expand the zone and help him out by chasing pitches, then you increase your chances of exploiting the weaknesses of his game. If you don't give away outs needlessly on the bases, then you force him to earn everything he gets.

Shortly after the WBC, Chapman again tried to defect, but with drastically different results. He successfully defected, set up residency in Andorra, and became an international free agent under MLB rules. In one of the biggest surprises of recent memory, the Reds flew in under the radar and signed Chapman to a 6-year, $30.25M contract. The Reds acted decisively and outbid both the Red Sox and Yankees.


Chapman stands 6-4 and weighs in at 190 pounds. He has a tall, lean, lanky frame that allows him to throw on a significant downward plane. He also has long limbs and fingers. These longer levers give him greater leverage and arm speed to impart on the ball. Chapman has a very quick pitching arm in his delivery, which is part of the reason why he has one of the best arms in the world. Chapman generates some of the best and easiest velocity I've ever seen. It's really remarkable to see a pitcher reach triple digit velocity with such an easy delivery. Typically when a pitcher can throw that fast, it's the result of a lot of labor and effort. Not so with Chapman.

Chapman features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 101 mph. It grades out as a true 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His secondary offerings are not comparable to his plus-plus fastball, but include a curveball, slider, and changeup. At this point, Chapman remains more of a thrower than a pitcher, but his upside rivals that of just about anyone, anywhere.


Chapman stands tall on the rubber with his hands in front of his chest and his glove-side foot positioned down in front of the rubber. From that position, he strides directly towards third base. Once his stride foot lands, he un-weights his left foot and rotates it down on the rubber. At this point, he has a slight pause in his delivery. After the hesitation, Chapman continues his delivery and brings his glove-side leg up into his leg kick.

The apex of Chapman's leg kick exceeds parallel to the ground and he points his toe down towards the ground. The height on Chapman's leg kick creates significant potential energy in his delivery. Additionally, when his leg kick begins to approach its apex, Chapman begins to rotate his lead hip inward. Chapman incorporates such significant hip rotation into his delivery that he almost shows his back to the hitters.

By wrapping his leg kick and coiling his body, Chapman creates even more potential energy. By rotating his hips against his stationary plant leg, Chapman creates tension that he can release as he unpacks his leg kick and drives towards the plate.

Chapman gets good push off the rubber and utilizes good lower body drive towards the plate. As he unpacks his leg kick and drives to the plate, Chapman utilizes a very long stride. In fact, the aggressiveness and sheer length of his stride reminds me a bit of Tim Lincecum. Both seem to almost leap up off the rubber towards the plate.

Due to his height and longer stride, Chapman actually releases the ball a bit closer to the plate than other pitchers. As a result, the pitch gets on hitters a bit quicker, which makes it seem even faster.

As for his arm action, it's pretty clean. He uses more of a three-quarter arm slot instead of a pure over the top arm slot. He keeps his elbow in good position relative to his shoulder. The timing on his arm action is also good, as his arm is up in proper throwing position when his plant foot lands. Chapman's longer levers give his arm action a bit of a whip-like action.

So, Chapman has several key components necessary for generating plus velocity. He is tall and has long arms, so he releases the ball closer to the plate. He has a well above average body coil and a high leg kick. And, most importantly, he simply has a very strong, quick arm.

Here are a few looks at Aroldis in action:

As for potential issues, after reaching the apex of his leg kick, Chapman has a tendency to break down his back leg. He flexes his knee a bit more than normal, which could lead to inconsistency.

In light of his height and longer arms, it's more of a challenge for Chapman to keep all the parts of his delivery in sync. The whip action created by his longer levers also brings struggles to maintain a consistent arm slot.

In addition, Chapman has a tendency to land on his heel more than the ball of his foot. The heel does not absorb and distribute the shock of impact as well as the ball of the foot. When the foundation is unsteady, a pitcher's command can be inconsistent.

He will need to tighten up his delivery and refine his mechanics to be more repeatable in order to improve his ability to locate the ball inside the strikezone.


Chapman has upside that rivals that of just about anyone in baseball. His live arm and massive velocity gives him a sky high ceiling, but the lack of polish on his secondary pitches and inconsistent command means he still has work to do to reach his ceiling. He is also a prime example of the benefits to be gleaned from using international free agents to bolster a farm system.

Chapman is widely regarded as having the talent of a #1 overall pick in the draft, so the fact that the Reds were able to sign him away from the larger revenue teams could be a massive turning point for the organization. In a perfect world, the Reds will be able to give Chapman some significant innings in the minor leagues. He was electric in spring training, but he never dominated in Cuba or on the international stage, so it's rather unrealistic for Chapman to step right in and dominate at the MLB level.

Chapman has the upside to completely alter the fortunes of the Reds organization. Of course, he still has significant work to do, but his pure stuff not only gives him a massively high ceiling, but also a fairly high floor. Even if he can't refine his mechanics and improve his command, he could still be a middle of the rotation pitcher.

The Reds paid a hefty price to acquire Chapman's services, but the massive upside makes it well worth it. For now, Chapman checks in as the best prospect in the system and lands at #0 on the list.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Top Prospect List: "Other Notables"

Time for a quick spin around the farm system to highlight a few guys who, for one reason or other, missed out on the top 25. Even though they didn't crack the top 25, there are some players of interest here and guys who could move well up on the 2011 list with a strong performance this year.


The Reds selected Fairel with the 1049th overall pick in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. Fairel was drafted out of Florida State University as a draft eligible junior.

In his professional career, Fairel has a career 3.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 during his stints in low-A and high-A. Overall, solid production, but he has yet to face a level of competition that is appreciably better than what he faced in his Florida State days.

Fairel has good polish, but questionable stuff. As of now, the comparison for Fairel that continues to leap to mind is Sam LeCure. A polished college hurler with fundamentally sound mechanics, but also short on pure stuff.

Fairel's mechanics are solid, but with a few interesting components. Fairel, much like LeCure, seems to unpack his leg kick prematurely. He builds up good potential energy with a leg kick that comes up past parallel, but he drops the knee before he begins to drive towards the plate. As a result, his delivery bleeds energy, which makes it less efficient than it could be. In addition, Fairel also has a unique arm action. His arm action is free and fluid, but his arm swing after breaking his hands is more circular than is typical. He drops his pitching hand down and brings it up with a circular motion towards third base.

Fairel is intriguing, but he needs to prove that he has enough pure stuff or guile to succeed against advanced competition.


It begins and ends with health. Stress fractures are troubling for pitchers, as throwing a baseball is an unnatural motion to begin with. Add in a flaw in his pitching mechanics and it could be a consistent, lingering problem. On the plus side, Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson is back and pitching very well after sliding down the first round of the 2009 draft due to a stress fracture in his pitching arm. So, there is hope for Lotzkar and he's young enough to bounce back. Still, he has to get healthy first.


The Reds selected Serrano as a draft eligible junior out of Oral Roberts University in the 6th round of the 2009 draft with the 179th overall pick. As a junior, he ranked sixth in Division 1 baseball with 132 strikeouts.

Serrano features an 89-91 mph fastball, a potentially plus slider, and an average change-up. He used his arsenal to completely dominate the Pioneer League and Midwest League. For Billings, he posted a 1.42 ERA, 0.947 WHIP, and an 8/0 K/BB ratio in 6.1 innings. He quickly earned a promotion to Dayton where he posted a 2.20 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a 57/12 K/BB ratio in 49.0 innings. For Dayton, he split time between the bullpen and the rotation, but he ultimately profiles better in a relief role.

Here's a quick look at Serrano in action, courtesy of RedsMinorLeagues on YouTube:

As you can see, he features fairly clean mechanics with no obvious red-flags. However, the main drawback on Serrano is his age, as he is already 24 and will be 25 in September. So, while his performance in 2009 was dominant, he had a significant age v. level advantage.


An intriguing shortstop prospect from the Netherlands Antilles. He's one of the better defensive infield prospects in the system and has a very strong arm. Also working in his favor is that he comes from a baseball family.

In 2009, he played in 50 games for Billings where he hit .314/.363/.387. Right now, he lacks the necessary power to drive the ball, but he has physical projection left to his game. He stands 6-1 and tips the scales at 152, so he'll fill out as he matures physically.

His career is still in its infancy, but the potential is undeniable.


In 2009, Del Rosario quickly climbed the organizational ladder, making stops at three different levels. For high-A, he pitched 50 innings and posted a 1.98 ERA. For double-A, he pitched 6 innings and posted a 1.59 ERA. For triple-A, he pitched 25 innings and posted a 1.09 ERA. He throws a 90-92 mph fastball with very good sink, a slider, and a changeup. His repertoire is conducive to generating groundballs at a very good clip, which should play well in Great American Ballpark.

Del Rosario had a pretty pedestrian career going before the Reds altered his arm-slot. By lowering his arm-slot, Del Rosario was able to add velocity and movement. Obviously, if Del Rosario can sustain his 2009 level of performance, then he could be on the fast track to the MLB bullpen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010 Top Prospect List: #5 Chris Heisey, of

Chris Heisey
Height 6-0, Weight 215, B/T: L/R, DOB: 12/14/1984
2009 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: "Other Notables"

Chris Heisey has consistently managed to exceed expectations in the professional ranks. It seems the better the competition, the better he performs. In fact, he has managed to improve his OPS every year he has been in the farm system (.762 to .791 to .822 to .900), which is a rather remarkable accomplishment.

Heisey is one of the more well-rounded prospects in the system and has a baseball IQ that allows him to effectively utilize his tools.


Heisey attended Division III Messiah College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania. During his collegiate career Heisey set many school records, including the single season marks for total bases (106), hits (63), home runs (9), and longest hitting streak (14 games). He also has several career marks, including batting average (.405), total bases (294), doubles (41), and home runs (23).

Despite the lower level of competition, Heisey performed well enough to catch the eye of the Reds, who selected Heisey as a junior in the 17th round of the 2006 draft.


Heisey spent 2009 splitting time between the two highest levels of the minor leagues.

For double-A Carolina, Heisey broke through to a previously unattained level of performance. In 71 games and 314 plate appearances Heisey posted a slash line of .347/.426/.572/.998 with 13 homeruns and a 34/34 K/BB ratio. He actually earned the breakout, as evidenced by a robust 20% line drive rate, which supports his higher than usual .362 BABIP. His approach at the plate was impressive, as he managed to walk as often as he whiffed while still slugging .572. Typically, hitters have to sell out to generate good power production, which results in an increased number of strikeouts. Heisey, however, managed to limit his strikeouts while still generating substantial power.

His performance earned him a promotion to triple-A Louisville. The tougher level of competition slowed him down a bit, but he still managed to post a respectable slash line of .278/.322/.465/.787 in 270 plate appearances. The more advanced pitchers attacked him differently and found weaknesses to exploit, as evidenced by his 23/7 K/BB ratio. He still posted a strong line drive rate of 19%, which means his BABIP of .306 was probably a bit lower than it should have been. Ultimately, Heisey had some growing pains as he adjusted to the more advanced competition, but his play was solid and with the wisdom from his new found experience he should be fine.

Heisey's season didn't end there, as he continued his impressive performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a stellar slash line of .297/.370/.593/.963 with a 27/10 K/BB ratio in 91 At Bats. He also hit 5 homers and swiped 5 bags in 7 attempts. His performance put him right in the mix for a job with the big club for the 2010 season.


Heisey has a well-rounded game and possesses 5 legitimate tools. While he doesn't have one standout tool, he does everything rather well. His tools also play up a notch due to his baseball savvy and instincts. He has a good feel for the game and it shows up in his production.

In his setup, Heisey uses a slightly wider than shoulder width, but stands up quite tall. He holds his hands up high, by his right ear, and uses a high back elbow and a small bat waggle to keep his body loose and free of tension while waiting for the pitcher. As the pitcher delivers the ball, Heisey takes a small stride forward to transfer his weight to meet the pitch. His stride also helps cock the hips and generate load to power the swing. However, before he can fire the swing, he has to drop the back elbow down into hitting position.

Heisey has a fairly uncomplicated, fundamentally sound swing, but it's not the most aesthetically pleasing swing in the system. At times, his swing is a bit top-hand heavy and he uses a bit more upper body rotation than usual to compensate and pull the swing through the hitting zone. This action gives his swing more of a rotational look than a strong drive forward directly towards the pitcher. In essence, Heisey seems to transfer some of the energy generated by his swing around his body, rather than directly towards the pitcher. Regardless, he still manages to generate solid bat speed and work effectively from gap to gap.

Heisey's swing path involves a slight uppercut and he gets good extension out and through the ball. On his follow-through, Heisey keeps both hands on the bat. His more active top hand and added rotational action can result in a somewhat lower than normal finishing hand position and bat wrap.

Here are a couple of different angles of Heisey in action:


Heisey has above average speed that enables him to cover quite a bit of ground in the outfield. He also has average arm strength and good accuracy to his throws. While Heisey can capably handle all three outfield spots, he profiles better in the corners. His range is stretched in center, which makes him average at best out there. However, he projects as a potential plus defensive outfielder in left and right.

In 2009, Heisey played exclusively centerfield for double-A Carolina. In 68 games, Heisey made 142 outs, had 3 assists, and 4 errors. His Runs/150 mark was a 0, which grades out as an average fielder.

After his promotion to triple-A Louisville Heisey split time between all three outfield spots. In 22 games in leftfield, Heisey posted -3 Runs relative to league average. In 28 games in center, he posted a 0 Runs mark relative to league average. In 13 games in right, he posted a 0 Runs mark relative to league average.

Ultimately, the sample sizes are too small to reveal much, but he has the tools to be a solid defensive outfielder. Unfortunately, he seems a bit stretched in center, as he has less positional value in center and his bat won't play quite as well in a corner spot.


Heisey is an intriguing, well-rounded prospect. In a farm system that is loaded with interesting talent, Heisey is one of the rare prospects who is greater than the sum of his individual parts. In recent memory, it seems that the vast majority of Reds prospects promoted to the majors underwhelm and looked overmatched, but Heisey could be the type of prospect who performs up to his projection. He won't ever have the highest ceiling, but Heisey could be an intriguing value at the major league level. His max projection is probably that of a league average outfielder, and it remains to be seen if he'll ever reach it, but if the right opportunity presents itself he could carve out a few years as a starting outfielder in the majors. For now, his combination of well-rounded skills and baseball instincts is enough to land him at #5 on the list.