A Minor Review of 2009: Cincinnati Reds

Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for a second year.

Cincinnati Reds

The Graduate: Daniel Herrera, LHP
At 5’6” (or so), simply appearing in a Major League game would have been an accomplishment for Herrera. This southpaw appeared in 70 games for the Reds while posting a walk rate of 3.50 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 6.42 K/9. His ground-ball rate of 50% was encouraging, especially considering that his heater averages out at a lukewarm 84 mph. His changeup, by far his best pitch (7.3 wCH) floats in around 68 mph. Left-handed batters hate him (.183) but right-handers love him (.361).

The Riser: Matt Maloney, LHP
The Reds big-league club received solid production from Maloney during a seven-start stint in the Majors. He showed good poise with a walk rate of 1.77 BB/9. Maloney allowd 43 hits in 40.2 innings of work. He gave up too many homers (1.99 HR/9) as a fly-ball pitcher. The southpaw has always posted good minor-league numbers despite having average stuff. His best pitch is his changeup, which he sets up with below-average fastball. Maloney has a chance to settle into the backend of the Reds’ rotation.

The Tumbler: Devin Mesoraco, C
The good news is that Mesoraco is still young; he’s just 21 years old. The bad news, though, is that his bat has been pretty much ineffective for his three pro seasons since being taken in the first round of the amateur draft. At high-A in 2009, Mesoraco hit .228/.311/.381 with a strikeout rate of 24.4%. His walk rate did show some signs of life at 10.4%, as did his power. Mesoraco’s ISO has increased each season and it topped out at .154 in ’09. Defensively, he threw out 30% of base runners attempting to steal.

The ’10 Sleeper: Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RHP
Sulbaran gained a following after appearing in the most recent World Baseball Classic. He did not make his Reds system debut until 2009 and the 19-year-old hurler was challenged with a gig in low-A ball. Sulbaran did not embarass himself, but his walk rate (4.95 BB/9) was high and he gave up a lot of homers (1.85 HR/9). His strikeout rate of 9.71 K/9 was encouraging. Look for bigger and better things in 2010, although he may return to the Midwest League.

Bonus: Kyle Lotzkar, RHP
Lotzkar was drafted out of Canada as a raw, but intriguing, pitching prospect and he was highlighted as the Reds’ sleeper prospect prior to the 2009 season. His pro career – like a lot of hard-throwing Canucks – has been littered with injuries. He made just 10 starts in ’09 and allowed 29 hits in 37.2 innings. Lotzkar’s strikeout rate of 11.95 K/9 is eye-popping, but so is the 5.73 BB/9. He needs to get a healthy streak together so he can gain some much-needed experience on the mound.

We hoped you liked reading A Minor Review of 2009: Cincinnati Reds by Marc Hulet!

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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It’s quite possible that the “changeup” that this site’s pitch types credit Herrera with throwing is actually a screwball. It’s mentioned here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/another-junkballer (although Herrera himself admits he does throw a changeup) and here: http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090809&content_id=6337244&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin.