Reds' 2010 organization review
It was recently reported, right here on MLB.com, that no one should expect the Cincinnati Reds to be big players on the free-agent market. Even after their 91-win season and an National League Central crown, the Reds are committed to sticking largely with what got them there: good old-fashioned scouting and player development.
And why shouldn't they? The postseason roster had 12 homegrown players on it, and that's no accident. A renewed commitment to developing from within, along with general manager Walt Jocketty's acumen in complementing with veteran acquisitions, is what led to the team that made it to the postseason in 2010. Many contributions -- from Mike Leake to Aroldis Chapman to Chris Heisey -- came up from the Minors to provide help as rookies.
"The proof is in the pudding," said Bill Bavasi, the Reds' vice president of scouting, player development and international operations. "We ended up calling up quite a few guys. The guys we brought up this season, they did a great job."
"It's not that common, there's some luck involved," he said. "This was a year that we had this group, and they were ripe. They ripened at the same time, and they were ready to fall off the tree at the same time."
When they were ready may have been a bit fortuitous, but the fact that they were ready when the call came has more to do with the organization's desire to build a strong system and stockpile young talent. The Reds did a bit of an audit on how players at each level were instructed and prepared for the next challenge, and the brass came away very pleased with the systems in place.
"One thing I took a close look at, as they were being developed, was [if there was] any level in which they were getting better attention. I found that not to be the case. You have to be happy with what was being done at every level."
The level of preparation throughout the system bodes well for a team that won't be a big player in the free-agent market. To prolong this year's success, the Reds will have to continue to push young players up the ladder and make sure they're ready to go when they are needed at the highest level.
"You've seen it where a club like ours gets to 90-plus wins, it's the year after that that gets real tough," Bavasi said. "We've got a pretty good stable of kids, from Devin Mesoraco knocking on the door down to Billy Hamilton. There's a wide range there.
"That's who we are right now. We have to have that core. The Reds, based on the good work of the [scouting and player development staffs], have been turned around. There is a good group of young kids now."
MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Yonder Alonso, 1B: The thinking was that a now-healthy Alonso would use his polish at the plate and power to all fields. If this were a second-half-of-the-season award, the University of Miami product would have won it hands down. It took him a while to really get his groove back, but when he did, he hit .335/.416/.561 after the All-Star break with Triple-A Louisville before making his big league debut in September.
Mike Leake, RHP: Did anyone really see this coming? It was known that the Arizona State product was advanced and polished, but it's safe to say that few thought he'd make the jump straight to the big leagues to make his professional debut. He ran out of gas a bit at the end of the season, but who can blame him? Still, he finished the season with eight wins and a 4.23 ERA over 138 1/3 innings in his first year.
MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Dave Sappelt, OF: A ninth-round pick in the 2008 Draft, Sappelt was solid in his first year-plus of pro ball. In 2010 he really took off. Playing across three levels, he hit a combined .342/.395/.507, beginning in the Class A Advanced Carolina League and finishing in Triple-A. Not only did he lead the organization with his .342 average, that was good for seventh among all Minor League full-season players. His 174 hits put him in a tie for fifth in the Minors as well. He had 53 extra-base hits, and his 25 steals put him fifth in the Reds' system, as did his 74 RBIs.
Jordan Hotchkiss, RHP: Taken in the 31st round of the 2007 Draft, Hotckiss had been used primarily as a reliever as he made his way ever so slowly up the Reds' ladder. He was in the bullpen again to start the year with Class A Advanced Lynchburg at the age of 24. After Hotchkiss had pitched 16 games and posted a 1.29 ERA as a reliever, there was a need in the Lynchburg rotation, and he ran with it, posting a 2.63 ERA over 15 starts and earning a bump up to Double-A Carolina near the end of the season. He pitched decently there as well, and his 2.43 combined ERA led the organization. He held hitters to a .216 average, and for his efforts with Lynchburg, he was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Year.