Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: Considering the trades made for a 2012 run at the National Leaugue Central, there is still some strength in the system.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Billy Hamilton, SS
2. Devin Mesoraco, C
Three-Star Prospects
3. Zack Cozart, SS
4. Robert Stephenson, RHP
5. Daniel Corcino, RHP
6. J.C. Sulbaran, RHP
7. Didi Gregorius, SS
8. Todd Frazier, UT
9. Neftali Soto, 1B
10. Henry Rodriguez, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
11. Yorman Rodriguez, OF

Nine More:
12. Kyle Lotzkar, RHP: Can't stay healthy, but continues to tease with some of the best stuff in the system.
13. Kyle Waldrop, OF: Athletic outfielder impressed Pioneer League scouts in 2011, has excellent chance to move up.
14. Donnie Joseph, LHP: Lefty reliever has bat-missing arsenal; could reach big leagues in 2012 with more strikes.
15. Gabriel Rosa, 3B: 2011 second-round pick is raw, but has the potential for plus power and defense.
16. Tony Cingrani, LHP: 2011 third-rounder has crazy number in pro debut, but projects for many as reliever.
17. Ryan LaMarre, OF: 2010 second-rounder has speed and contact ability, but leaves scouts underwhelmed with overall hitting.
18. Tucker Barnhart, C: Will get to the big leagues on defensive chops alone, but backup bat.
19. Juan Duran, OF: Finally began to untap the power in 2011, but is still uncoordinated after growing to six-foot-seven.
20. Ryan Wright, 2B: Overachiever with more skills than tools, but hard not to like.

1. Billy Hamilton, SS
: 9/9/90
Height/Weight: 6'1/160
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2009, Taylorsville HS (MS)
2011 Stats: .278/.340/.360 at A (135 G)
Tools Profile: The fastest player in baseball, and learning how to hit.

Year in Review: Most exciting player in the minors reached triple-digits in stolen bases while making advancements throughout the year in other facets of the game.
The Good: To say Hamilton is an 80 runner does not do justice to the impact his speed has on the game. He has been known to go from first to third on singles to left field, has scored from second on sacrifice flies, and is a threat to steal both second and third whenever he reaches base. Beyond the wheels, he gets excellent jumps and has been successful in 84 percent of his attempts. He improved his approach and simplified his swing as the season wore on and hit .318/.382/.387 after the All-Star break. He has plenty of range at shortstop.
The Bad: Range is really Hamilton's only plus ability defensively. His footwork gets sloppy and scouts debate whether he has the arm for the left side of the infield, with most wanting to see him end up in centerfield. He has well below-average power, with many of his mere 30 extra-base hits in 2011 coming when he ran singles into doubles.
Ephemera: Hamilton looked like he'd fall just short of the century mark in stolen bases before swiping eight in his final three games.
Perfect World Projection: Leadoff man who gets on-base and wins stolen base titles annually.
Fantasy Impact: Potentially massive, as he could bring back the days of the 70-plus stolen base man.
Path to the Big Leagues: Hamilton could be in line for a big season in the California League in 2012.
ETA: 2014

2. Devin Mesoraco, C
: 6/19/88
Height/Weight: 6'1/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2007, Punxsutawney Area HS (PA)
2011 Stats: .289/.371/.484 at AAA (120 G), .180/.226/.360 at MLB (18 G)
Tools Profile: Outstanding offense for the position and steady defense.

Year in Review: Proved that 2010's breakout was for real while making his big league debut.
The Good: Mesoraco has the potential to hit in the middle of the order. He's developed good plate discipline to go with his outstanding hand/eye coordination, and he makes enough contact to hit .280-plus annually with enough strength to hit 20-25 home runs. He moves well behind the plate and is an average receiver with an arm that borders on plus.
The Bad: Mesoraco needs to improve his footwork behind the plate and his ability to deal with pitches in the dirt. His arm is strong, but he can get a bit wild with his throws. He's a well below-average runner.
Ephemera: Mesoraco isn't the only first-round catcher from Punxsutawney, as former big leaguer John Mizerock was the eighth overall pick of the 1979 draft. The two are the only players ever drafted out of Punxsutawney High.
Perfect World Projection: Above-average catcher with the ceiling of an occasional All-Star.
Fantasy Impact: Catchers who produce are always valuable.
Path to the Big Leagues: Mesoraco will go to spring training with the expectations of sharing big league catching duties with Ryan Hanigan.
ETA: 2012

3. Zack Cozart, SS
: 8/12/85
Height/Weight: 6'0/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2007, Mississippi
2011 Stats: .310/.357/.467 at AAA (77 G), .324/.324/.486 at MLB (11 G)
Tools Profile: Few strengths, fewer weaknesses.

Year in Review: Finally tired of Paul Janish's ineptitude at the plate, the Reds handed Cozart the shortstop job in the big leagues, but he lasted just 11 games before injuring his non-throwing elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery.
The Good: Cozart has always been seen as a glove-first shortstop, but he's developed into a solid hitter with enough leverage in his swing to hit 30 doubles and 15 home runs annually. His fundamentals in the field are outstanding, as he has great instincts, soft hands, and a solid arm.
The Bad: Cozart is more solid than spectacular. He's not especially flashy at shortstop, but he does make all the plays he gets to. He could use a more patient approach at the plate, and his ceiling is probably as a .275 hitter.
Ephemera: Six of Cozart's seven Triple-A home runs in 2011 came in the first inning, as he hit .384/.416/.726 in 73 at-bats.
Perfect World Projection: Not a star, but a good every day shortstop in a world where less than 30 exist.
Fantasy Impact: Cozart could reach double-digits in both home runs and stolen bases and is more a nice sleeper than someone who wins you a title.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cozart will be the Reds everyday shortstop in 2012.
ETA: 2012

4. Robert Stephenson, RHP
: 2/24/93
Height/Weight: 6'2/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2011, Alhambra HS (CA)
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: High-ceiling righty with big league velocity.

Year in Review: Among the best high school pitchers in the draft, signability dropped him towards the end of the first round, where he signed for a $2 million bonus.
The Good: Stephenson has what scouts look for in a future starting pitcher. He makes his velocity look easy with simple mechanics and clean arm action, which allows him to not only throw his fastball at 92-96 mph but to throw it with the command and control rarely seen in teenagers. He'll flash a plus curveball and earns high marks for his makeup.
The Bad: Like many young pitchers, Stephenson can be too dependent on his fastball. He can be guilty of over-relying on his fastball and over-throwing his curveball, forcing it to flatten out. His changeup is very much a work in progress. More than anything, he just needs innings and repetition.
Ephemera: While none of the eight players drafted out of Alhambra High School have reached the big leagues, the school does have a Hall of Fame alum from before the draft era in outfielder Ralph Kiner.
Perfect World Projection: Star-level starting pitcher, but he's far from it.
Fantasy Impact: For now, he's a risky pick, but a good player to store away in deep leagues.
Path to the Big Leagues: Stephenson will likely make his pro debut at Low-A Dayton in 2012.
ETA: 2015

5. Daniel Corcino, RHP
: 8/26/90
Height/Weight: 5'11/165
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2009
2011 Stats: 3.42 ERA (139.1-128-34-156) at A (26 G)
Tools Profile: Small frame, big stuff.

Year in Review: After scuffling in the Midwest League in 2010, Corcino returned to the level and finished second in the circuit in strikeouts.
The Good: Corcino belies his small frame with a lightning-fast arm that is capable of producing low-to-mid 90s fastballs, and he effectively works both sides of the plate with the pitch. His primary breaking pitch is a solid slider, but he also flashed a solid changeup that scouts wish he'd throw more.
The Bad: Corcino doesn't make it look easy. There is violence in his mechanics, which when combined with his size, has many wondering if he can handle a starting workload. His slider can get slurvy at times, and he can end up scrapping his secondary pitches and just trying to blow away hitters with his heat.
Ephemera: Corcino allowed just one first-inning run in his 26 starts for Low-A Dayton, giving up just 13 hits.
Perfect World Projection: Solid starter, but late-inning relief is a distinct possibility in the end.
Fantasy Impact: It will all depend on role.
Path to the Big Leagues: Corcino's game will be challenged by the high-octane environment of the California League in 2012
ETA: 2014

6. J.C. Sulbaran, RHP
: 11/9/89
Height/Weight: 6'2/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 30th round, 2008, American Heritage HS (FL)
2011 Stats: 4.60 ERA (137.0-140-50-155) at High A (26 G)
Tools Profile:
Two plus pitches,

Year in Review: Once a high-profile over-slot pick, Sulbaran finally stayed healthy and had a breakout year.
The Good: The Reds always saw plenty of potential in Sulbaran, and he began to put things together in 2011. He's a beefy power arm with a low-90s fastball than can touch 94. His hard curveball earns plus grades from most scouts, and his changeup is average.
The Bad: Sulbaran has more control than command right now, as he has an upright delivery and difficulty spotting his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone. His changeup has potential but is still below average due to visually different arm action. He'd inspire more confidence from scouts with a second straight healthy season.
Ephemera: Sulbaran was one of four players drafted out of American Heritage High in 2008, including Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The following year, the Reds selected shortstop Deven Marrero out of the school in the 17th round. Marrero did not sign and will likely be a single-digit pick in this year's draft.
Perfect World Projection: Middle-rotation starter.
Fantasy Impact: He could be good in every category and above-average in strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: Sulbaran will face a big test in 2012 with his first season at the upper levels
ETA: 2014

7. Didi Gregorius, SS
: 2/18/90
Height/Weight: 6'1/175
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Curacao, 2007
2011 Stats: .303/.333/.457 at High A (46 G), .270/.312/.392 at AA (38 G)
Tools Profile: True shortstop with defensive tools and the potential for offense.

Year in Review: Curacao native held his own at Double-A as a 21 year-old after a blistering two-week streak at High-A earned him a promotion.
The Good: Based on tools alone, Gregorious's potential is significant. He's a lanky, smooth athlete with above-average speed, a quick bat, and a good feel for contact. He's capable of spectacular plays in the field, and his arm is among the best in the system.
The Bad: Gregorious has yet to put it all together, much of it due to his inability to slow the game down. He's far too aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths and often rushes his throws, leading to silly errors. He'll never be a power hitter.
Ephemera: Four of Gregorius's five California League home runs came over a one week period from July 16 to July 23.
Perfect World Projection: Good everyday shortstop.
Fantasy Impact: He doesn't have that one category he can really fill up the stat sheet in.
Path to the Big Leagues: Gregorious will return to Double-A to begin 2012 but switch uniforms with Cincinnati's new affiliate, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. I swear I didn't just make that name up.
ETA: 2014

8. Todd Frazier, UT
: 2/12/86
Height/Weight: 6'3/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2007, Rutgers
2011 Stats: .260/.340/.467 at AAA (90 G), .232/.289/.438 at MLB (41 G)
Tools Profile: Power and versatile defense.

Year in Review: Former first-round pick spent his third year in the upper levels of the system and finally got an extended look in the big leagues.
The Good: Frazier has a solid approach at the plate and a tick above-average power. He's a baseball rat with outstanding instincts which allows his average speed to play up. He's been used at many positions in the minors and now has valuable flexibility as an average defender at both infield and outfielder corners.
The Bad: Frazier takes a healthy cut, and a lower batting average with plenty of strikeouts will always be a part of his game. He pressed in the big leagues and stopped working the count and needs both walks and power to make up for his below-average hitting skills.
Ephemera: Frazier already ranks fourth all-time among players drafted out of Rutgers with six home runs. The all-time leader is Eric Young with 79.
Perfect World Projection: Valuable utility player with some chance as a second-division starter.
Fantasy Impact: Some power and a little speed, but he's not going to help your team's batting average.
Path to the Big Leagues: Frazier has an excellent shot at spending 2012 in the big leagues as a backup at several positions.
ETA: 2012

9. Neftali Soto, 1B
: 2/28/89
Height/Weight: 6'2/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 3rd round, 2007, Colegio Marista HS (Puerto Rico)
2011 Stats: .272/.329/.575 at AA (102 G), .412/.444/.588 at AAA (4 G)
Tools Profile: Power, and that's about it.

Year in Review: Up-and-down prospect became the minor league's biggest power threat in the second half of the season.
The Good: Soto has plenty of power to all fields thanks to a combination of bat speed and brute strength. He incorporates his lower half into his swing well and doesn't need to fully square a ball up to hit it out of the park. His arm is at least plus, if not better, although the tool is a bit wasted at first base.
The Bad: Other than hitting balls a long way, Soto doesn't bring much to the table. He's slow and merely an average defender at first base despite starting his career on the left side of the infield. He doesn't walk much and does not project to hit for a high average, so he'll need to keep mashing to have value.
Ephemera: Soto hit just five home runs in his first 38 games of the year and then mashed 25 in his next 64 before being promoted to Triple-A.
Perfect World Projection: He could be Russell Branyan, he could be better than that, or he could get stuck at Triple-A.
Fantasy Impact: Home runs are cool, but you'll need to live with other deficiencies.
Path to the Big Leagues: Soto will begin the year at Triple-A, shooting for a September look. With Yonder Alonso in San Diego, there might be room for him should Joey Votto depart in 2013.
ETA: Late 2012.

10. Henry Rodriguez, 2B
: 2/19/90
Height/Weight: 5'10/150
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2007
2011 Stats: .340/.378/.513 at High A (58 G), .302/.367/.432 at AA (69 G)
Tools Profile: Difficult to assess combination of pluses and minuses.

Year in Review: Venezuelan had his second straight year of good production and did not slow down when moving from the California League to Double-A.
The Good: Rodriguez can beat teams in several ways. He's a switch hitter with great contact ability from both sides and the wrists to hit 15 home runs annually. He's a tick above-average runner who can steal bases.
The Bad: Rodriguez is a sloppy defender who often looks disinterested in the field. He doesn't have the arm for the left side of the infield or the speed for center field, so a move to an outfield corner would require more from the bat. He's a free-swinging hacker who often finds himself behind in the count.
Ephemera: Doing his best Pat Tabler impression in 2011, Rodriguez went 11-for-24 with the bases loaded with five doubles and a home run.
Perfect World Projection: If he can shore up the defense, he could be a multi-faceted second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: Batting average, power, and speed.
Path to the Big Leagues: Rodriguez could begin the year at Triple-A and provides the Reds with some insurance should Brandon Phillips depart via free agency.
ETA: 2013

11. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
: 8/15/92
Height/Weight: 6'2/184
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2008
2011 Stats: .254/.318/.393 at A (79 G)
Tools Profile: The tools have never been the problem.

Year in Review: Ultra-toolsy outfielder was starting to put things together when a shoulder injury cut his season short.
The Good: Rodriguez is still among the highest ceiling players in the system. He has plenty of raw power and can put on a show in batting practice. He's a tick above-average runner with excellent range in right field, and his arm is a cannon.
The Bad: Rodriguez is still far more dream than reality. He still has a swing-at-everything approach at the plate and needs to improve his base running, as well as his jumps and routes in the outfield. He did himself no favors with a sub-standard effort early in the year, but the Reds hoped he learned some lessons from it, and he did play both hard and well in the weeks leading up to the injury.
Ephemera: Rodriguez hit just .160 (8-for-50) as the number-three hitter for Dayton but hit .286 in any other slot in the batting order.
Perfect World Projection: Rodriguez can still become a star, but his chances of doing that have decreased.
Fantasy Impact: You like playing the lottery?
Path to the Big Leagues: Rodriguez does not turn 20 until July, so it's hardly hurting his development to have him repeat Low-A. He has equal chances of moving up on this list significantly, or dropping completely off of it.
ETA: 2015

The Sleeper: An 11th-round pick last June, Canadian right-hander Vaughn Covington is raw, has already had a Tommy John surgery, yet has a nearly ideal pitching frame and can throw in the mid-90s.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/86 or later)
1. Mat Latos, RHP
2. Jay Bruce, OF
3. Mike Leake, RHP
4. Aroldis Chapman, LHP

5. Billy Hamilton, SS
6. Devin Mesoraco, C
7. Homer Bailey, RHP
8. Zach Cozart, SS
9. Robert Stephenson, RHP
10. Daniel Corcino, RHP

Obviously, Latos's numbers will be affected as he moves from a pitcher's park to a hitter's one, but parks affect the numbers more than the player, and he still has ace potential while being years from his prime. Bruce is a frustrating talent who has yet to slug .500 in the big leagues, but it's hard to find anyone in the industry who doesn't think he will, and soon. Leake was rushed to the big leagues but made adjustments in 2011 and should settle in as a good number-three starter in 2012. It's time to stop yanking Chapman around and just let him pitch in the back of the bullpen. The dream to start him is certainly understandable, but it's just a dream. It's hard to believe Bailey is still eligible for this list, and he does just enough every year to keep people believing.

Summary: The Reds eviscerated the upper half of their prospect list by trading for Mat Latos, but their under-25 list is among the best in the game. Their trades and signings make them the favorite in the National League Central for some, and they're set up to remain competitive long term.