Other Prospects

Smith Has Hit Well at Every Stop During Fast Track

The Cincinnati pipeline has no shortage of depth in the outfield. Recently many in the position appeared in a top 30 countdown of prospects on this website and there are several other candidates to crash the party in the future. As with most younger prospects there is usually a facet or two in their game to work on at the next level in 2013.

The Reds might have been absent of a center field/leadoff hitter last season, but they had no shortage of candidates for the future playing in their lower minor league levels. The first one expected to make an impact is top prospect Billy Hamilton who did not play in the outfield before the Arizona Fall League. The Reds further bolstered their pipeline by investing two supplemental first round picks on outfielders in last year's draft. The position was also very present in the top 30 Reds prospects on this site, occupying nine of the spots.

Outfielders in this site's top 30 prospects: Billy Hamilton, Jesse Winker, Steve Selsky, Ryan LaMarre, Donald Lutz, Yorman Rodriguez, Josh Fellhauer, Kyle Waldrop, Juan Duran

Jeff Gelalich was a 2010 supplemental first-rounder out of UCLA received as compensation for losing Francisco Cordero. His status rose during his final year with the Bruins by improving plate discipline, but he had trouble with contact during his debut at Billings where he hit .244/.336 OB. College players are older when they arrive and are expected to have more polished skills. Gelalich, who will soon turn 22, projects a solid all-around game with good defense and average power.

Creeping onto the radar is Dominican League veteran Jonathan Reynoso. He made it stateside last year at the age of nineteen and hit .311 in the Arizona League while swiping thirty bases in fifty games. There are some thoughts that power at the plate will enter his game as he matures. Like many other young prospects he needs to improve plate discipline, only walking six times last year, which he'll likely get a chance to do in the Pioneer League in 2013.

Dennis Phipps came out of nowhere in 2011 to hit .346 in AAA/AA and rocket up the list of Reds prospects. He fell out about as rapidly after hitting .221 at Louisville last season. He did improve over the second half after struggling with a shoulder injury earlier and even hit an MLB homer after roster expansion. The Reds re-signed him for 2013 and the 27 year-old will be out to prove that 2011 was no fluke.

The Reds acquired Bryson Smith with a late round selection in 2009 and he's hit over .300 at every stop, even last season when he skipped low-A and earned a promotion to AA. His high average doesn't make his low walk rate as noticeable and oddly, he offsets it by frequently getting hit by pitches (4.6% of career minor league PA). Defensively most of his action has been in center where he could stand some improvement on range and he's not shown power in his game normally desired in the corners. Still, a .322/.384 AVG/OB while being fast-tracked will always get attention. The 24 year-old will probably start 2013 getting more experience at Pensacola and a chance to make a case for a promotion to AAA.

22 year-old Theo Bowe hit less than .200 at Dayton to begin last season and got a promotion to the Bakersfield bench. It was a good decision because he cracked .300 with a .391 OB in 96 games with the Blaze. It's hard to get a lot of attention for stolen bases when you're in the same lineup as Hamilton, but he swiped 58 there and a total of 70 on the season. The diminutive (5'9"/160#) outfielder played in center during most of his action and ran down 2 PO/game. He appears ready for AA.

Cuban Felix Perez has a bit of dubious history. He had a $3 million contract voided and served a one-year suspension for falsifying his age to the Yankees. That didn't prevent the Reds from inking him to a $550,000 deal in 2010. He hit .301 at Louisville last season and can play all three positions. He's now 28 (we think) and has yet to debut in the majors, but he could be a candidate if the Reds need a utility outfielder to provide a LH bat off the bench.

Juan Silva was a top-ten pick out of Puerto Rico in 09 and has progressed up the ranks to hit .271 at Dayton last year. The 22 year-old knew the way to first base and walked in almost 15% of his plate appearances in his first full season for an on-base pct. of .380. Most of his action has been in left field, so he would improve his chances with more power, but he did slug over .400 and stole 25 bases which will earn a shot at the next level.

23 year-old Kurtis Muller started out 2012 struggling at Bakersfield and went on a 19-game tear at Dayton after a demotion (.329/.414/.526/4HR). He returned to the Cali League to finish with a high-A average of .262/.327. He's a low-investment late-rounder so the odds may be against him if things get crowded, but he's shown solid defense in the outfield, good plate discipline, and he's tough to strike out.

The Reds chose Daniel Pigott with a top-ten pick in last year's draft after he was undrafted the previous year. He improved his stock at the University of Florida with a strong college world series and by doing well defensively after an injury to a teammate moved him to center field. Many thought it a reach for Cincinnati to select him so early, but the 23 year-old started to prove the Reds right after debuting over .300 at Billings without an error in the outfield.

Yet another top-10 outfield pick for the Reds last year was Gelalich's UCLA teammate Beau Amaral. The 23 year-old hit .287 at Billings while playing center field. He was especially impressive on the base-paths, swiping 20 bags in 57 games while getting caught only twice.

Dominican League veteran Brayan Arias made it stateside last year and hit .295 in the Arizona League. Now at the age of 21 he'll try to continue that success at Billings.

Andrew Means came into the Cincinnati organization after catching passes for more than 1,000 yards at Indiana University. He swung a hot bat after a midseason promotion to Pensacola, but eventually finished hitting .244 with the Blue Wahoos. He's now 26 years old and needs to improve plate discipline to prove he's more than a minor league filler. Still, he's a great athlete with a strong arm and might be worth another look in 2013.

Adam Matthews was drafted twice before the Reds got him in a late round last year. He had strong debut against younger competition in the Arizona League, hitting .325/.427 OB. /.470 SLG. He's 23 years old, so he might miss an opportunity to take advantage of the hitter-friendly venues of the Pioneer League if the Reds opt to jump him to Dayton.

Not all of the above list will have stellar 2013's, but some of them will. Versatility to play multiple positions defensively will also help in their efforts to advance. Many above have experience in center field and they will all participate in drills to improve their defense as well as at the plate. Shin-soo Choo is in the final year of his contract, 34 year-old Ryan Ludwick re-signed after reviving his career, and Xavier Paul has less than 100 PA with the Reds, his fourth organization. There are possibilities of openings at the top of the chain and chances are good that Cincinnati will be able to fill them from within.

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