Grant Freking is a Lantern (OSU Newspaper) sports writer. Ology magazine managing editor. OSU football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. High school football reporter for Newark Advocate. You can follow him on Twitter @GrantFreking.
Disclaimer 1: Technically, Aroldis Chapman is still considered a “prospect,” but in my book he’s not one anymore. Thus, he’s not on the list. Same with Juan Francisco, Chris Valaika and Jordan Smith, they’ve already seen extensive time in the big leagues. I’m also ranking the following five guys on a) how close they are to the majors and b) the potential impact said player will have upon arrival in the majors.
Disclaimer 2: Some advanced metric notes: An
average on-base percentage (OBP) is .330 to.350, an average slugging percentage (SLG) is .410 to.440 and an average on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) is .760 to .830.
5. Zack Cozart, middle infield. Cozart’s forte is shortstop but
he also has experience at second. His five-year minor league averages are a
.263 batting average, .327 on-base percentage, .411 slugging percentage and
.738 on-base plus slugging percentage. Pretty average offensive numbers and his
defensive is average with room to prove. He’ll grow into a Paul Janish type of
4. Dave Sappelt, outfielder. Sappelt was the talk of spring
training, where he nearly made the team as the fifth outfielder. Although small
in stature (5’9, 190), Sappelt’s slugging percentage was .588, indicating his
ability to drive the baseball. He went from Single-A Lynchburg, to Double-A
Carolina to Triple-A Louisville in 2010 and hit .342 with a .395 OBP. Sappelt
stole 25 bases but was also caught 18 times.
His hot 2010 and smoldering spring training translated into a volcanic start to 2011 in Louisville where in 23 games he was hitting .341 with an impressive OBP/SLG/OPS line of .417/.588/1.005 before going down with an oblique injury. Unfortunately, I think the No. 2 man on my list will get the call in front of
him if an outfielder goes down, but there remains an outside chance Sappelt
will get to the majors in 2011.
3. Todd Frazier, utility man. Frazier’s problem is that he’s almost
too versatile. He can play first, second, third and left field. Save the 2010
season at Louisville in which he put up pedestrian numbers across the board,
Frazier, who was on the 1998 Toms Rivers, New Jersey team that won the Little
League title, has been a consistent hitter in the minors with ordinary power
and an ability to hit for an average.
The 34th pick in the 2007 draft may or may not make the Reds this season. I’d lean toward no, especially since he’s behind Janish, Miguel Cairo and Juan Francisco in the third base depth chart and behind Cairo, Ramon Hernandez and my No.2 man at first. He has equal problems in the outfield. However, he should be in the bench mix next year, provides he continues his good start at the plate during this season.
2. Yonder Alonso, first base/left field. The slightly-hefty Havana
native was drafted as the 7th overall pick in the 2008 draft as a
first baseman. He will probably make the majors with the Reds as an outfielder,
but in the long run should be a designated hitter. Alonso has hit well at all
levels of the minors but his path has been blocked and will continue to be obstructed by the reigning NL MVP Joey Votto.
However, although fans fancy him more trade bait than Reds contributor, Alonso can do one thing very, very well: hit. In 34 games at Triple-A Louisville this season Alonso is hitting .331 with four homers and 18 RBIs while posting an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .385/.531/.916 and his hitting over .300 against both right and left-handed pitching. If a Reds outfielder goes down, he’ll likely get the
1. Devin Mesoraco, catcher. The 15th overall pick in the 2007 draft started slow his first three years in the minors and many analysts gave up on him as a bona fide major league catching prospect. That changed last year. The 22-year-old Du Bois, Pa. native hit a combined .302 with 26 home runs, 75 RBI’s with an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .377/.587/.964 at Class A, Double-A and Triple-A. Catchers with power are rare these days. Mesoraco has a good arm but is still working on correcting his passed-ball problem. Nevertheless, Reds fans will see him in 2011, probably as a September call-up.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.