The Cincinnati Reds have some depth at the hot corner, especially in the lower levels of the minor leagues. There is no rush for these players to develop as currently major league third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is showing signs of developing into a solid, albeit unspectacular, everyday player. He is currently hitting .258/.360/.492 but is showing increased home run power and better strike zone judgment with only 18 strikeouts and 19 walks. His walk percentage has almost doubled over last season from 7.2 to 13.7 percent. His strikeout percentage is down slightly from 17.1 to 15 percent.
Juan Francisco is a 20-year-old Dominican playing at High-A Sarasota. He’s hitting .275/.290/.464 with 11 doubles and five homers in 138 at-bats. Unfortunately, he has only three walks and 29 strikeouts. Last season he walked 23 times and struck out 161 times in 534 at-bats. He hits very well against left-handers, including .360/.379/.520 this season. The talent is there, he just needs to learn the strike zone and show a little more patience.
Brandon Waring, 22, is an intriguing prospect and he has flashed excellent power potential, both in college and in pro ball, after being signed in the seventh round of the 2007 draft. Currently in the Midwest League, Waring is hitting .302/.377/.575 with eight homers in 106 at-bats. He has also driven in 25 runs in 29 games. Unfortunately, like Francisco, he has work to do with the strike zone with only eight walks and 39 strikeouts. Last season, in the Pioneer League, Waring hit 20 homers in 267 at-bats but struck out 83 times.
I took a look at Todd Frazier yesterday, while reviewing the Reds’ 2007 draft and this is what I said him, in case you missed it: Frazier was the 34th overall pick out of Rutgers University and has been on the prospect radar since he was a kid. He also has two brothers who have played pro ball. Frazier is currently at shortstop but many feel he will have to move to third base as he climbs the ladder towards a major league career. He had a nice debut in 2007 and hit .319/.405/.538 over two levels. The Reds were cautious with him in 2008 and started him out at Dayton, where he ended last season, and he hit .321/.402/.598. The right-handed batter beat up on southpaws to the tune of .414/.485/.724. He was just promoted to High-A ball.
Depth is always nice to have and the Reds have a ton of it at the third base bag. All the players looked at above have things to work on, but the talent is undeniable.
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