Taking a look at highly topical prospects: Toronto Blue Jays catcher Travis d'Arnaud, Chicago White Sox right-hander Andre Rienzo, and Cincinnati Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani.
I'm pleased to join the Dobber Baseball crew. Each of these reports will include at least one prospect that I've seen in person and have been able to evaluate. I mainly cover the California League so I see a lot of guys come through here.
Travis d'Arnaud, C, TOR - d'Arnaud was one of the Jays prospects who stayed put following the blockbuster deal that went down last week. After Toronto parted with Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino, it's down to d'Arnaud and outfielder Anthony Gose as impact prospects.
d'Arnaud has been the Jays top catching prospect for the last two years. It might seem like a big fat duh to tell you to get d'Arnaud, as good catchers are at a premium in fantasy. This would be the man to get. His upside is a Joe Mauer/Buster Posey comp; hitting for power and average and playing strong defense. Toronto traded Jeff Mathis and they still have J.P. Arencibia at catcher, but the organization is committed to d'Arnaud as the catcher of the future.
The youngster will likely be in Triple-A in 2013 for two big reasons. His walk rate is average and he suffered a season-ending PCL tendon injury in June. He will need to walk more and prove he's 100% physically before the Jays pull the trigger on promoting him. He has a bit of injury trouble behind him already; he had less than 300 at-bats in 2010 and 2012. If all goes well, he'll be in the starting lineup before the end of the year and would be an ideal keeper league pickup.
d'Arnaud could be good for 20 homers a year behind the plate or could wind up in a first base platoon as a worst-case scenario to get him at-bats.
Andre Rienzo, RHP, CWS - Rienzo made waves earlier in the month by pitching some outstanding ball for the Brazilian national team in the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament. Brazil knocked off host nation Panama 1-0 in the final to make the main tournament in March. Rienzo was a big part of his club's success. He showed good movement on his fastball and velocity in the low-to-mid 90s and he has good command. He also has a cut fastball, an improving curveball, and a changeup. The 24-year-old made up for losing 50 games to suspension by pitching 128 innings between Advanced-A, Double-A, the Arizona Fall League, and the WBC tournament. He stays back on the mound well and has good late action on his arm with a high 3/4 release.
Rienzo could be a number 3 or 4 starter in Chicago or at very worst a bullpen arm. There are a few pitchers ahead of him on the organizational depth chart but of all of them, Rienzo has the best upside. He's had a checkered past with a drug suspension this year. Also the Sox exposed him to the Rule V draft last year and had no takers. This year, they made sure to hang onto him and added him to the 40-man roster. Chicago could have two rotation spots up for grabs coming into the 2013 season so Rienzo should get a look in Spring Training. If not, he'll likely be on call in Triple-A.
Tony Cingrani, LHP, CIN - A lefty who soared through the Reds system this summer, Cingrani is the best pick of these three in my eyes. He has electric stuff and a deceptive delivery, important tools that got him a September callup for the Reds. He pitched in Advanced-A and Double-A and showed a 92-95 MPH fastball and great command. His tall, whip-like frame is an ideal build for the kind of pitcher he is.
Cingrani benefits from a so-so rotation in Cincinnati. The club's weakest link by far could get a big boost if Cingrani makes it out of Spring Training. If not, he would get a shot out of the bullpen, a role he's comfortable with. Cingrani was Rice's closer in 2011 before the Reds chose him in the 3rd round of the Draft. I saw him pitch at the beginning of the year for Bakersfield in the Cal League and this guy is the real deal. His secondary pitches--a slider that looked sharp and changeup that works well with his fastball--could push him into the rotation.
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