Alonso, Francisco named top prospects

Alonso, Francisco named top prospects

CINCINNATI -- Two Reds corner-infield prospects received further acknowledgment on Wednesday that their big league futures should be bright.

MLB.com revealed that first baseman Yonder Alonso and third baseman Juan Francisco were included in MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list. Alonso was ranked No. 30 while Francisco came in at No. 48.

The Top 50 Prospects list is back for the seventh year, but this was the first time that the announcement was simulcast on MLB.com and MLB Network.

Heading into the 2008 season, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was named as the No. 1 prospect by MLB.com. Bruce reached the Majors by May of that season. The top prospect this year is outfielder Jason Heyward of the Braves, followed by pitcher and '09 overall No. 1 Draft pick Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals.

In 78 games combined for Class A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga, the 22-year-old Alonso batted .300 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs. He missed two months on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone in his right hand that required surgery.

After the regular season, Alonso was moved up to Triple-A Louisville and played five games in the postseason.

"A list like that is an honor, but, honestly, it doesn't mean much," Alonso said. "It doesn't take me to the big leagues. It doesn't get me called up, but it's definitely an honor when you look at the guys on the list. I could be 50 or I could be one, it's an honor just to be there."

In 131 games combined at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, Francisco batted .295 with 27 homers and 93 RBIs. He led all Reds Minor Leaguers in homers and was fifth in hitting.

As a September callup to Cincinnati, Francisco batted .429 (9-for-21) with one homer and seven RBIs in 14 games last year.

Although he will probably start the season at Louisville, the Reds are considering Francisco for their vacancy in left field, with veteran Scott Rolen already established at third base.

"If he is not our top hitting prospect in the organization, he's in the top three," Reds Minor League director Terry Reynolds said earlier this month. "It's up to Dusty [Baker] and Walt [Jocketty] where he'll play, but guys that can hit usually find a place to play."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.