State of the Farm:I got my bag, run to the station. Railman says you've got the the wrong location. I got my bag, run right home. Then I find I've got the number wrong.”

Prospect rankings primer

 The Top Ten

  1. CF Billy Hamilton
  2. RHP Robert Stephenson
  3. LHP Tony Cingrani
  4. RHP Daniel Corcino
  5. RHP Nick Travieso
  6. LHP Ismael Guillon
  7. OF Jesse Winker
  8. OF Jonathan Reynoso
  9. RHP Kyle Lotzkar
  10.  RHP Dan Langfield

1. Billy Hamilton
Position: CF
DOB: 09/09/1990
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 160 lbs.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Taylorsville High School (Taylorsville, MS)
2012 Stats: .323/.413/.439 at High-A Bakersfield (82 games); .286/.406/.383 at
Double-A Pensacola (50 games)
The Tools: 8 run; 6 glove; 5 arm; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2012: Billy Hamilton stole 155 bases in 132 regular season games making him the scariest baserunner of the modern era.  

Strengths: Elite speed; best in baseball; achieves top speed in a few steps; best singular tool in minors; good hands at the plate; can control the bat; swing isn’t empty; shows bat speed; range in center is elite; arm is strong.

Weaknesses: Well below average power; tendency to expand zone; will chase after breaking balls; reads/routes still developing; throws struggle to stay on line; tail off to arm side and lose carry.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; catalytic player with high floor.

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to be a leadoff bat; contact ability and elite speed, so average will play up; 100 stolen base potential; doubles/triples; limited over-the-fence power.

The Year Ahead: Hamilton’s transition to center is a work in progress, but the initial results have been promising and the end result should be a player with impact potential at the position. His range is elite because of his Hall of Fame speed, and his natural coordination and instincts will put him in good positions to make plays. The hit tool isn’t great, but it will play up because of the speed. If he expands his hitting zone against better pitching, he might end up a back-of-the-lineup type over the prototypical leadoff role. Hamilton has an extremely high floor, and if the bat plays and the defense refines, he could be a perennial All-Star for the next decade. If not, he will still be the most feared man in the game when he reaches base.

Major league ETA: 2013

2. Robert Stephenson
Position: RHP
DOB: 02/24/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Alhambra High School (Martinez, CA)
2012 Stats: 2.05 ERA (30.2 IP, 22 H, 37 K, 8 BB) at short-season Billings; 4.19 ERA (34.1 IP, 32 H, 35 K, 15 BB) at Low-A Dayton
The Tools: 8 potential fastball; 6 potential curve

What Happened in 2012: In his much anticipated pro debut, Stephenson flashed the brilliance his amateur hype suggested was possible, reaching the full-season level and missing more than a bat an inning against much older competition.

Strengths: Good body; projection; athletic delivery; big explosion in the arm; arm speed is elite; fastball works in the mid-upper 90s; can touch 100; heavy vertical life; impact pitch; curveball flashes plus; some depth and two-plane movement; can drop the pitch for strikes or chase; some feel for changeup.

Weaknesses: Can fail to finish his delivery; won’t stay over the ball; curve will slurve; fastball will elevate; changeup behind other offerings; turns it over, but can be too firm/overthrown; fastball command needs refinement.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; elite potential with fastball, but secondary offerings need work; limited pro experience.

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to miss a lot of bats; win a lot of games.

The Year Ahead: More than one source thought Stephenson should be the top player on this list, which isn’t a knock on Hamilton. The ball just explodes out of Stephenson’s hand, with an ultra-easy and athletic delivery and release, and punishing velocity and movement. If the curve stabilizes as a plus pitch and the changeup becomes an average offering, Stephenson is going to be a beast on the mound, the kind of player that belongs in the top tier of talent in the minors.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Tony Cingrani
Position: LHP
DOB: 07/05/1989
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2011 draft, Rice University (Houston, TX)
2012 Stats: 1.11 ERA (56.2 IP, 39 H, 71 K, 13 BB) at High-A Bakersfield; 2.12 ERA (89.1 IP, 59 H, 101 K, 39 BB) at Double-A Pensacola; 1.80 ERA (5.0 IP, 4 H, 9 K, 2 BB) at major-league level
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CH

What Happened in 2012: Cingrani exploded, starting the season in the California League and finishing it with a cup of Joe at the major-league level at the end of the season.

Strengths: Good size; left-handed; good pitchability; feel for it; fastball has solid-average velocity, but plays up; excellent delivery-based deception; hitters are late to pick up the ball; jumps on them; changeup is easy plus; good action and deception; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Slider is fringe; lacks bat-missing intensity; fastball is more deception than power; has to hit spots and keep hitters off balance; several sources put bullpen future on him.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; already reached major-league level; two above average to plus pitches.

Fantasy Future: Could log innings in the middle of a major-league rotation; lacks impact potential as starter because of fringe breaking ball.

The Year Ahead: Cingrani has the stuff to start, with a sneaky fastball that he can work low in the zone and a bat-missing changeup that he uses as an out pitch to both lefties and righties. The development of the slider is the key to his ultimate future, as an average offering could back hitters off the fastball and give him an arm-side weapon against lefties.

Major league ETA: 2012

4. Daniel Corcino
Position: RHP
DOB: 08/26/1990
Height/Weight: 5’11’’ 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 3.01 ERA (143.1 IP, 111 H, 126 K, 65 BB) at Double-A Pensacola
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2012: Jumping straight from the Midwest League to Double-A, Corcino made 26 starts, logged over 143 innings, and took a major step forward as a pitcher and a prospect.

Strengths: Easy arm; fast and fluid; from a lower slot, works low-90s with the fastball and can touch higher; good movement to arm-side; picth can also show cutting action; changeup is above-average; plays well off fastball; good sinking action and fade; slider can flash; attacks hitters

Weaknesses: Short and thick; can lose plane; will throw across body; slider gets sweepy and slurvy; fastball can run into hard contact when elevated; needs to work down to establish plane; command is fringe.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate; achieved Double-A level; needs command and breaking ball refinement.

Fantasy Future: Has bat-missing stuff and the arsenal to start; body to log innings/maintain stuff; could chew in middle rotation.

The Year Ahead: Corcino could use a heavy dose of Triple-A, where he can work to refine his spotty command and his slider, which flashes potential but if often more slurvy than sharp. The fastball/changeup combo is very good, so if he can take another developmental step forward in 2013 like he did in 2012, he could be pushing for a rotation spot very soon.

Major league ETA: 2013

5. Nick Travieso
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/31/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Archbishop McCarthy High School (Southwest Ranches, FL)
2012 Stats: 4.71 ERA (21 IP, 20 H, 14 K, 5 BB) at complex-level AZL
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6 potential slider; 5 potential CH 

What Happened in 2012: Big-time arm arrived on the professional scene with a little rust, but flashed the high-ceiling stuff that made him a first-round pick.

Strengths: Impact arm strength; physical/strong; fastball works low-mid 90s; projects to work mid-upper 90s; lively; slider flashes plus; very sharp; bat-missing pitch; some feel for changeup; advanced.

Weaknesses: Potential high maintenance body; delivery has some effort; tendency to overthrow; changeup underdeveloped.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; 19-years-old; complex-league resume.

Fantasy Future: Has the body for workload and the stuff to stick in a rotation; could develop into impact arm.

The Year Ahead: Arriving to camp in better shape will certainly help the big righty, as the body raised some question marks for scouts after he signed. With a lively low-90s fastball that can touch much higher in bursts, Travieso projects to hold that velocity deep into games, and tick up as he continues to find consistency and rhythm in his delivery. If the end result is a mid-high 90s fastball and a wipeout slider, Travieso could develop into a true power arm. One source already called him more advanced than Stephenson at the same age, so the bar is set high. Watch this one. He could take off.

Major league ETA: 2016

6. Ismael Guillon
Position: LHP
DOB: 02/13/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Venezuela
2012 Stats: 2.29 ERA (51 IP, 39 H, 63 K, 24 BB) at short-season Billings; 2.55 ERA (24.2 IP, 22 H, 27 K,  7 BB) at Low-A Dayton

The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: Low and slow, Guillon finally made it to full-season ball, making four starts in Dayton after a strong showing in the Pioneer League.

Strengths: Strong; good balance in delivery; works fastball in the low-90s; good run; easy plus pitch from left-side; several sources put a 6 on present changeup; very good arm speed; action; can pound the zone; aptitude for pitching.

Weaknesses: Lacks physical projection; curveball is more show than showcase; fringe at best at present; might develop into solid-average offering; can lose plane and work up.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; Tommy John on resume; only four starts at full-season level.

Fantasy Future: Has bat-missing potential and two plus pitches from the left side; held velocity well in 2012; has pitchability and profiles as a mid-rotation type.

The Year Ahead: Healthy and ready for a full-season workload, 2013 will tell us a lot about Guillon and his potential. Southpaws with lively low-90s fastballs and plus changeups pitch in the major-league level, and if the curveball steps up, this could be a very good prospect. Obviously, the injury history, lack of a plus breaking ball, and limited projection could limit the upside, but the now stuff is very good and with more refinement, the 21-year-old could take off in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2015

7. Jesse Winker
Position: OF
DOB: 08/17/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Olympia High School (Orlando, FL)
2012 Stats: .338/.443/.500 at short-season Billings (62 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 raw; 5 glove; 5 arm

What Happened in 2012: The first-round pick wasted little time showing off his offensive potential, hitting for average and power with a good approach.

Strengths: Good size/strength; natural baseball ability; mature approach to the game (all sides); easy contact ability; good hands; controls the bat head very well; generates bat speed; plus raw; arm is average and enough to play in either corner; glove is a 5.

Weaknesses: Swing is more hard contact/line drive than leverage/over-the-fence; might not be ideal power bat for corner spot; can get tied up against good stuff; defensive profile is only average at best.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; major-league average player

Explanation of Risk: High risk; mature player despite age; yet to play full-season ball; risk factor likely to shrink next season.

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to hit for a high average with good secondary skills (good OBP, not a base-clogger, pop). Might not be huge power threat, but isn’t without some power potential.

The Year Ahead: Winker is ready for full-season baseball, and the bat has a chance to play at a high level right away. His hands and hips work well, and he can generate good bat speed and a line-drive swing plane. The power might be slower to arrive in game action, but he will work himself into favorable counts and should put himself in good positions to drive fastballs. He has a tough profile to overcome, as he’s a corner player that might not have a middle-of-the-order bat. But the sources that believe in the stick really believe in it, calling it an easy future 6 tool capable of hitting .280-plus at the highest level. Long road to reach that level, but lots of promise in this player.

Major league ETA: 2016

8. Jonathan Reynoso
Position: OF
DOB: 01/07/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: .311/.328/.411 at complex-level AZL (50 games)
The Tools: 6+ run; 5+ potential hit; 6 raw; 5+ potential glove; 6 arm

What Happened in 2012: Making his stateside debut after two Dominican Summer League campaigns, Reynoso popped up on the prospect radar, flashing legit five-tool potential.

Strengths: Impact potential; shows flashes of all five tools; easy 6 run; shows speed and awareness on base; has some bat-to-ball ability; easy contact; above-average power potential; shows necessary components for eventual over-the-fence pop; raw arm strength is plus; glove will play in center.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent; more raw tools than baseball skills at present; aggressive at the plate; very loose; needs refinement across the board.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division talent

Explanation of Risk: Extreme; long way from high ceiling.

Fantasy Future: Monster potential; good contact and speed, with some pop; projects to stay at premium position.

The Year Ahead: Slow and steady for Reynoso, but the baseball skills will ultimately set his pace. He’s ready to face more advanced competition, perhaps at the full-season level, where his see ball/hit ball reactions and fast play could stumble upon some developmental hurdles. The future is crazy bright for this kid, but it’s not going to happen overnight. The tools are legit. It just might take a few years to see the first-division player emerge from the raw shell.

Major league ETA: 2016

9. Kyle Lotzkar
Position: RHP
DOB: 10/24/1989
Height/Weight: 6’5’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2007 draft, South Delta SS (Tsawwassen, BC)
2012 Stats: 2.39 ERA (26. 1 IP, 22 H, 27 K, 10 BB) at High-A Bakersfield; 5.21 ERA (86.1 IP, 77 H, 96 K, 53 BB) at Double-A Pensacola
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 SL

What Happened in 2012: Finally healthy, Lotzkar almost doubled his career high in innings pitched, logging over 112 and making 22 starts over two levels.

Strengths: Excellent size; strength; fastball works in the low-90s; bumps higher; big life helps the pitch play up; slider is above average; bat-missing weapon; creates good angles with all his pitches.

Weaknesses: Struggles to stay on the field; command is fringe at best; changeup will flash average, but is below average at present; can show it and sink it, but lacks much projection.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury history.

Fantasy Future: If he can stay healthy, has the size, strength, and stuff to log innings and miss bats in the middle of a major-league rotation.

The Year Ahead: Back to the health issue, because the talent is there to find sustainable success. Assuming Lotzkar can stay healthy, the arm works, with a good, lively fastball and a very good slider. He needs to find more consistency with the slider, and harness his command, but he’s going to miss bats with it, even if that comes in a bullpen role down the line. For now, he can start, and if the changeup improves and the ability to throw strikes is there, he’s going to remain a legit prospect.

Major league ETA: 2013

10. Dan Langfield
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/21/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft, University of Memphis (Memphis, TN)
2012 Stats: 2.68 ERA (37 IP, 27 H, 54 K, 17 BB) at short-season Billings
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: After signing as a third-round pick out of Memphis, Langfield started missing barrels in the Pioneer League to the tune of 54 in only 37 innings of work.

Strengths: Electric arm; extremely quick; athletic; nice burst at the end; works low-mid 90s; can play up; shows hard breaking ball with two-plane movement and late dive; could be fast mover in relief.

Weaknesses: Some effort in delivery; struggles to stay on a good line; overthrows and pitches with intensity; loose command; fringe changeup.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; setup reliever

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; mature arm; potential for a 7 pitch; above-average breaking ball.

Fantasy Future: He’s going to miss bats, and if it comes in bursts, stuff could be very nasty.

The Year Ahead: Developing arm in a rotation has several benefits, even if the long-term outlook is more bullpen that starter. Langfield has the athleticism and the raw stuff to mold into a starter, but the delivery isn’t super clean and the changeup/command components aren’t crazy projectable. In bursts, Langfield could be a problem for hitters, with a plus-plus potential heater and a hard curve that can miss barrels. You develop them as a starter until the role shifts, and then you lock the doors. He has the potential to move fast, but in a rotation, the progress will slow a bit.

Major league ETA: 2015

Prospects on the Rise:

1. RHP Sal Romano: A contender for the 10th spot in this system, Romano could easily be on the list at this point next season. He lacks big flash, but can work a low-90s heater, quality curve, and playable change into the mix, and with a big, strong body, could develop into a workhorse at the highest level, if not more if the stuff ticks up. Good arm.

2. LHP Amir Garrett: If the basketball player turned pitcher turned basketball player turns back into a pitcher full-time, he could be sitting atop this list next season, and that’s not hyperbole. Six-foot, five-inch lefties with arms as long as baselines and good feel for the craft don’t grow on trees, and if the Reds are fortunate enough to secure Garrett’s services full-time (he currently plays basketball for St. John’s), the progress he made in his brief exposure in 2012 could be a precursor to something special in 2013. This could be the type of arm you buy tickets to watch pitch.

3. 3B Gabriel Rosa: 2012 was a disappointment, as the 19-year-old Puerto Rican wasn’t very good at the plate, hitting a soft .179 in 21 games in the Pioneer League. But the scouting reports are very strong, with some calling for a slow burn before an intense breakout. That breakout might not come in 2013, but the talent flashes suggest its possible, and if it happens, you don’t want to get caught sleeping on this highly projectable prospect.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013

1. RHP JJ Hoover: Acquired in the trade for Juan Francisco, Hoover eventually found himself at the major-league level, where the 25-year-old shoved it in 28 appearances. He misses bats with a 91-94 mph fastball and a very good mid-70s curveball, and he has a chance to carve out a permanent role in the major-league bullpen at some point in 2013.

2. IF Henry Rodriguez: He’s not a sexy prospect, but Rodriguez is a tough out with a good swing, and despite a right-side defensive profile, could be a utility option at the highest level. With good situational hitting skills and some gamer qualities, Rodriguez is an ideal bench infielder, although not the kind of impact talent to stick around as a starter in most lineups.

3. 1B Donald Lutz: Lutz is a big man with legit power, and he just might get a taste of big league action in 2013. The defensive profile is limited, and several scouts think he’s more 4A than major-league regular, but Lutz can muscle mistakes out of the park, even if it comes at an all-or-nothing price.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

  1. Jay Bruce
  2. Mat Latos
  3. Aroldis Chapman
  4. Devin Mesoraco
  5. Billy Hamilton
  6. Robert Stephenson
  7. Mike Leake
  8. Tony Cingrani
  9. Daniel Corcino
  10. Nick Travieso

With two NLDS losses in the last three years and a veteran core that includes Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Shin-Soo Choo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Jonathan Broxton, the Reds are a club poised to contend for playoff spots in the short term. In addition, their considerable stash of under-25 talent suggests that they may have the talent to continue contending for years to come.

Star outfielder Jay Bruce has posted back-to-back 30-HR seasons and is poised to continue that trend as he heads toward the prime of his career. Bruce is a burgeoning star who will be a perennial All-Star and likely MVP candidate for the next five to six seasons at least.

Latos has increased his workload in each of his three full seasons in the big leagues and has yet to allow more than eight hits per nine innings. His other peripherals remained strong in 2012 despite a move to a more hitter-friendly ballpark, and his raw stuff shows equally well.

It is clear that Chapman can completely dominate out of the bullpen having fanned over 15 hitters per nine innings and allowing a hit about every two innings in 2012. There is no doubt his fastball and slider could play in the starting rotation, but there are still questions about his command and changeup. The uncertainty surrounding Chapman’s effectiveness in the starting rotation (if he ever makes it there) is the only reason he rates behind Latos on this list.

Devin Mesoraco may have hit just .212/.288/.352 in a part-time role last year, but he still has the chops to stick behind the plate and the offensive potential to pop 15-20 home runs a year. Ryan Hanigan still projects to get a bulk of the time behind the dish in Cincinnati in 2013, but Mesoraco projects as the long-term answer at the position. –Mark Anderson

A Parting Thought: This isn’t the deepest system in baseball, but it does feature several impact talents, the kind that can alter the landscape at the professional level should they develop to potential.

Last year's Reds rankings