Top 10 prospects for 2010: Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

1. Yonder Alonso / 1B / Alonso does a lot of the little, overlooked things that you expect in a future star. But his questionable home run power leaves me wondering how bright his star can be. He has a great shot to be an above-average first baseman, however, and still possesses strong upside.
2. Mike Leake / SP / Leake’s game is all about mixing his pitches to keep hitters off balance and using his sharp movement and command to his advantage. He doesn’t look like much, but he is a future No. 2 starter who should move quickly.
3. Aroldis Chapman / SP / Chapman gets immense hype with his plus fastball and advanced repertoire, but I have come away unimpressed after nearly every video I have seen of him. His command is awful at times and he gives off an immature vibe. And, remember, he is 21, not 17. The upside is undeniable, but he needs to grow up fast before I buy in.
4. Juan Francisco / 3B / Francisco carries a big stick to the ballpark, including legit above-average power potential for a third baseman. His athleticism has evened out at higher levels and his approach at the plate still needs a lot of work, but he continues to improve year after year.
5. Travis Wood / SP / I got caught up in Woods’ 2009 numbers, and, as a result, he is turning into the biggest over-rank on my current top-100 list. I have had an entire offseason to re-evaluate the list. Expect him to drop from the top 100 when my next update is released, but his control took a giant leap forward last year and his change-up is a true plus offering.
6. Todd Frazier / OF / Frazier’s gap power is impressive, and he uses his above-average speed very well when stretching singles into doubles. I question how far his home run power and base-stealing ability will carry him in the majors. He seems like an ordinary, average outfielder unless his home run power takes off.
7. Chris Heisey / OF / From a current skills and performance perspective, Heisey is a very similar prospect to Frazier. Heisey is nearing his prime, however, and doesn’t have much upside left. I think we’re looking at a prime of a .270 batting average and 15-20 home runs.
8. Matt Maloney / SP / Maloney continues to perform well level after level and has nothing left to prove in the minors. He has a nice repertoire but below-average velocity to work with. He should settle in nicely as a positive back-of-the-rotation presence.
9. Devin Mesoraco / C / Mesoraco’s athleticism has petered out as his body has filled out and he has adjusted to full-time catching. He has some power and plate discipline, but his bat has holes and, even though the journey of a high school catcher adjusting to pro ball is a long one, his bat has taken longer to develop than expected. His injury history is concerning as well. He’s still one to watch, but his stock continues to fade.
10. Brad Boxberger / SP/RP / Boxberger’s command is a head-scratcher of a question mark, as one expects college players to have more polish. It’s hard to tell whether his future lies in the rotation or out of the bullpen, but Boxberger has a strong three-pitch mix that will aid him as he feels out his role.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Pedro Alvarez / 3B/1B / Alvarez has the makeup of a middle-of-the-order mainstay, warts and all. His power potential is through the roof, and he’s patient enough at the plate to make it work in the majors. Like most big league sluggers, though, he has contact issues at times. So, we’re not dealing with the next Pujols here. His defensive position has turned into a question mark, although I think he can be average defensively at third base.
2. Tim Alderson / SP / With his peripheral numbers struggling as he ascends the minor league ladder, maybe I promote Alderson a bit too much. But he is just 21 years old, has a great frame and, despite lacking ace stuff, has the makeup of a No. 2 starter.
3. Tony Sanchez / C / Make no mistake, Sanchez was an overdraft at No. 4 overall in the 2009 draft. But his initial numbers have been very impressive, and he has the skills necessary, both at the plate and behind it, to be an above-average big league catcher.
4. Brad Lincoln / SP / Lincoln may finally be all the way back from his injury-plagued beginnings. He features a terrific fastball/curveball blend with improving command. Expect him to nail down a full-time big league rotational spot at some point in 2010.
5. Robbie Grossman / OF / Grossman is a five-tool talent, and his 2009 Sally League performance gave us glimpses. His speed is an asset, his power isn’t much now but has legitimate upside judging by his swing, and his patience is advanced. Holding him back, though, are the massive holes in his swing, which are even more concerning when you consider the lack of power he produced in 2009.
6. Brett Lorin / SP / Lorin has a mammoth presence on the mound and a plus curveball to back it up. At 22 years old in 2009 he didn’t advance beyond Single-A, however. Is something holding him back? I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t be put to the test in 2010.
7. Jose Tabata / OF / Am I the only one that is no longer impressed with Tabata’s upside? His Arizona Fall League performance was tremendous, but his home run power and base-stealing ability are ho-hum. Plus, I’m really starting to question whether he has the plate discipline for the big leagues.
8. Victor Black / SP/RP / Black’s slider has the makings of a plus offering to go with his mid-90s fastball. His command and endurance are two huge question marks on his resume, however. Pittsburgh will give him every opportunity to start.
9. Brooks Pounders / SP / For a high schooler, Pounders has a tremendously advanced arsenal at his disposal. He doesn’t have much velocity, and may never have anything more than average velocity when all is said and done, but he has the potential for a great change-up and plus command.
10. Daniel McCutchen / SP / Pittsburgh has put together a deep system, as Starling Marte and Rudy Owens were tough cuts to make. I have been a McCutchen fan for a few years now and felt obligated to include him, despite his advanced age. He has nothing left to prove and has the look of a strong back-of-the-rotation starter.

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Van Slick
13 years ago

Please do not feed the ignorant trolls … Huntington has done a nice job of reinvigorating the farm system from the depths of hell Littlefield left it. I’m not sure how you include Pounders, but not Van Rosenburg or Colton Cain. However, I am starting to have the same issues with Tabata. He battled a wrist injury last year, but doesn’t seem to show the power hoped.  With his age, I still think he’ll be a plus hitter in ML, but not sure what else he will bring.

Jean Ali
13 years ago

Googiebah – I thought we agree that this was a heterosexual forum?

13 years ago

The Pirates have NO talent of any kind. They never have and they never will. The fact you came up with 10 stiffs for them is stunning

13 years ago

Thanks for that insightful comment, googlewanker

13 years ago

you are a really dumb asshole to make such a broad statement, first of all obviously they have had talent at some point as they have won multiple world series’. And to say they never will is almost as stupid, clearly at some point in the decades the Pirates are likely to continue to exist in the future they will probably have talent.

13 years ago

To have Lorin on here, and not Rudy Owens is unreal.  Von Rosenberg needs to be on here, and Jeff Inmann gets a very serious look.

Gorkys Hernandez was a miss too, as was Chase d’Arnaud.

This was a lazy top 10.

Mike Rambo Diaz
13 years ago

Pirates have no talent? Alvarez is the best prospect in baseball. You must be sniffing Marge Schott’s old girdle.

Van Slick
13 years ago

Nice call on Inman. Not sure I would include him top 10, but that was a great pick up in the draft last year. If he’s healthy, he has some interesting potential.

13 years ago

Smokey- Gorky is fading fast.  He’s not even in the top 15 anymore.

buc thetrend
13 years ago

pirates finally starting to show a bit of promise down on the farm. huntington has done an admirable job so far.

13 years ago

Where are Rinku and Dinesh!?!?!?!?