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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Wild on Sports
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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

Cincinnati Reds
2012 Record:
97-65, lost NLDS
After a breakthrough 2010 campaign, 2011 was a consolidation year and that winter Walt Jocketty helped shore up the rotation and bullpen to the point where the Reds are now a powerhouse that will compete long-term.

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Sin-Soo Choo,
NOTABLE LOSSES: Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs

Keys to Success: Can Sin-Soo Choo play center field capably, at least until Billy Hamilton is ready to contribute? Do either Zach Cozart or Devon Mesoraco have growth left in them? Mesoraco was supposed to be an everyday catcher last year but didn’t show enough to unseat the quietly competent Ryan Hanigan, who will again provide insurance against Mesoraco’s failed development. Is this the year Bronson Arroyo’s slop finally proves unworkable? It looked like in 2011 he might be finished but then he put in another solid year, eating innings and staying healthy. What kind of role is envisioned this year for Aroldis Chapman, who still has the stuff to be a starter but is almost literally unhittable out of the bullpen (he allows one hit every two innings).

Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

BILLY HAMILTON, OF (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm

xxxxxxx
x
x
x

Hamilton is the fastest player in organized baseball. He set the all-time professional baseball stolen base record last year with 155 between three levels (including Cincinnati). Overall in the minors he hit .314/.415/.425 with 2 HR, 43 RBI, 113 RS, and 86 BB between High-A Bakersfield and AA Penascola. He hit 22 doubles and 14 triples so even if he doesn’t hit home runs, he has enough gap power to keep pitchers honest. His BB% in AA was among the league leaders and the plate discipline he adds to his game makes him more than just an elite burner. Hamilton could be a marquis lead-off man as soon as this year. He will probably start in AAA but could force his way into the Cincinnati lineup, especially if Sin-Soo Choo struggles defensively.
TONY CINGRANI, LHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x

x
x
xx
x
Cingrani is a fascinating prospect, as he works almost entirely off his good-but-not-great fastball yet puts up truly insane statistics. Normally prospects whose results outweigh their stuff can be treated with healthy skepticism, but Cingrani’s stat line moves beyond mere competence. Last year between High-A Bakersfield and AA Penascola, he went 10-5 with a 1.73 ERA, which lead the minor leagues. He also struck out 172 batters in 146 IP. His control was mediocre in AA and his ERA doubled…all the way to 2.12.  His nuts minor league career includes a 1.73 ERA and 252 K in 197 IP. Scouts believe that Cingrani’s act won’t work three times against a major league batting order, but even so, it is hard to see him as anything less than a dominant relief pitcher. Only Cincinnati’s strong rotation will keep him from getting a starting opportunity.
DANNY CORCINO, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
x
x

TBD
x
Corcino, 23, survived the AA jump with his numbers superficially intact. In fact, his ERA dropped from 3.46 down to 3.01. However, his walk rate nearly doubled and his lower ERA was in part due to more luck with hits. The good news is that, although his strikeout RATE dropped (10 K/9 to 8 K/9), his strikeout PERCENTAGE stayed very similar (17% in 2012 vs 17.8% in 2011). That means that his ability to use his plus stuff to confuse hitters did not actually change drastically. Corcino could either become a mid-rotation starter or he could be a capable reliever, the latter scenario likely if his control does not improve.

2012 Top Draft Pick: Nick Travieso, RHP

Sleeper MLB Contributor: Reliever JJ HOOVER isn’t much of a “sleeper” after a strong 30-inning audition in Cincinnati but if Chapman moves to the rotation, Hoover could compete for time as the closer.

2013 Outlook and Projections:
It has been a slow process but the Reds are now something of a dynasty. They have a great mix of strong pitching, a balanced lineup and solid depth, and their bullpen is just nasty. Joey Votto is their only truly elite hitter right now but they have no holes anywhere in the lineup. After years of struggling to find the right rotation mix, Jonny Cueto and Mat Latos anchor a strong staff that has reinforcements if the back end (Mike Leake and friends) has performance or injury issues. Aroldis Chapman is due for an extended look as a starter. However, outside of one spot start, just five pitchers started every game for them last year, so the depth they have is gravy. Scott Rolen is the big name departing but he was mediocre last year and Todd Frazier will do fine replacing him. At some point their crazy contract extensions to Votto and Brandon Phillips might hurt, but not in 2013.

STRONG CONTENDERS


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