Major League Baseball’s official site, MLB.com, recently released their list of the top 50 prospects coming up through the league’s farm systems. While their lists are probably nowhere near as accurate as Mel Kiper Jr.’s NFL Draft big board, it is definitely a more credible source than anything I could put together. Two youngsters in the Cincinnati Reds’ system made the MLB.com top-50 cut, with 1B Yonder Alonso ranking #30 and 3B/OF Juan Francisco coming in at #48. Both players spent a little bit of time with the Louisville Bats late last season, and could start the 2010 season here in Derby City.
Alonso was a #1 draft pick by the Reds in 2008 out of Miami (Fla.), AKA ‘The U.’ While you won’t find the left-handed hitting Alonso in the ESPN 30 for 30 movie production, he has thus far confirmed the scouting report of being a middle-of-the-order guy who can hit for average and power. Although his pedestrian speed won’t win him any track meets, his defense is regarded as solid at first base, and his foot speed shouldn’t be a factor, as long as his bat continues to develop. Another of Alonso’s most impressive qualities is plate discipline, as his 2009 walk to strikeout ratio was almost even.
In his first full season within the organization, Alonso played at all three levels, eventually making a cameo with the Bats once the team reached the postseason. Despite missing two months with a broken hamate bone, Alonso batted .300 with nine homers and 52 RBIs. Alonso also joined Reds’ prospect Chris Heisey in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, as well as playing in Puerto Rico during the winter. The hamate bone is towards the base of the hand, and the break is also common among golfers when they hit their club on the ground with their downswing.
Opposing pitchers would probably beg to differ with Francisco not being ranked higher than #48, as his power numbers since coming into the Reds’ system has been off the charts. Francisco, who is also a 22-year-old left-hander, was a beast at the plate at all levels in 2009. After hitting 22 dingers while spending most of the season at double-A, Francisco hit .359 in 22 games with Louisville before getting his first big-league call-up. In 21 September at-bats with the Reds, Francisco hit .429, further cementing his status as one of the better young power bats in the team’s system. This winter, Francisco spent his time torching the Dominican League, ranking the near the top in several offensive categories.
Although regarded as having a good arm, defense has been a bit harder to come by for the native Dominican. While he has spent most of his time at third base, Cincinnati has recently given him a look in left field. With left being the Reds’ most unsettled position going into spring training, putting Francisco into the outfield seems to be an attempt to insert some much needed power in the lineup.
With spring training now underway, be sure to check back for updates as the Bats’ and Reds’ rosters start to take shape.