The Reds' strength continues to be infield depth, but the overall Top 10 has seen a lot of turnover since a year ago, with several players emerging from under the radar, as well as a few big international signings joining the crew, most notably the huge addition of Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman.
There is a lot of versatility waiting in the wings, though the strength of the system remains heavily weighted on the offensive side. The club is clearly aware of that disparity, loading its battery in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft by using 13 of its first 17 picks on either pitchers or catchers. Of that group, 16 signed, including 10 pitchers. Of that latter group, nine are right-handers and seven are polished college products.
If the team hopes to break its string of nine consecutive losing seasons, it will need to turn to its farm system, and there are plenty of players on the verge of being able to help. More than a dozen rookies made their big league debuts with the Reds in 2009, and that trend could continue in '10.
Aroldis Chapman, LHP
The biggest international sign of this past offseason, the Reds came in like stealth bombers and shocked the baseball world when they inked the highly-regarded southpaw in January to a six-year big league deal. He has been impressive enough this spring that he could either break camp with the team or be there soon. Just 22, he defected to Andorra out of an international tournament in the Netherlands after clocking a Cuban League record with a 102-MPH pitch. His slider is his best secondary pitch, and he also throws a changeup and a curveball.
Chris Heisey, OF
A 17th-round pick in 2006 out of tiny Messiah College in Pennsylvania, he's quietly and steadily climbed the ranks to emerge as one of the club's brightest outfield products, and one who is ready to contribute now with good tools across the board. He hit a combined .314 with 22 homers, 77 RBIs and 21 steals this past year between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, adding 35 doubles. He can play all three outfield positions.
Matt Maloney, LHP
Maloney barely retains his rookie eligibility for 2010 after posting a 4.87 ERA in seven Major League starts and 41 innings. Originally a third-round pick by the Phillies in '05 before coming over for Kyle Lohse in '07, he posted a 3.08 ERA in the International League last season, ranking fourth in the league with 125 strikeouts. He's a finesse pitcher who added a cutter that made the difference in his repertoire and could be a good back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Mariekson Gregorius, SS
The teenager from the Netherlands was a Pioneer League All-Star at short-season Billings last year and actually got a brief shot at Advanced A Sarasota due to injury, holding his own in that time. Still projectable and blessed with good instincts and upside, he hit .314 for the Mustangs, including .364 in July.
Logan Ondrusek, RHP
A 13th-round pick in 2005 out of Texas, he emerged with a move from the rotation to the bullpen and an added cut fastball. Added to the 40-man roster this past off-season, Ondrusek sparkled in 2009 with a 1.50 ERA in 56 games, adding 19 saves and limiting opposing hitters to a .178 average between Sarasota, Carolina and Louisville.
Miguel Rojas, SS
Yet another promising young shortstop in an organization loaded with them, he was named the best defensive shortstop in the Midwest League during his Class A Dayton stint in 2009. Rojas has great hands and tools but needs to bring his overall offensive game to the level of his defense. He started doing that last summer with a .273 average with the Dragons in his first full season.
RHP Mike Leake (1) was drafted with the eighth overall pick out of Arizona State and signed at the deadline, making his unofficial pro debut in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.37 ERA. He has a repertoire of five pitches, including a lively fastball and deceptive changeup. He also has the polish and poise to move quickly. ... RHP Brad Boxberger (1S) was taken with the 43rd overall pick. A late sign who was inconsistent in Arizona Fall League action (11.37 ERA in eight games, 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings), he was a starter in college but more likely projects in the back end of the bullpen. ... SS Billy Hamilton (2) was a football recruit out of high school in Mississippi and is still a raw baseball product, but he has blazing speed, agility and great upside with all the natural tools for the position. A natural right-handed hitter, he's just learning to switch-hit to take advantage of his speed. ... LHP Donnie Joseph (3), a University of Houston product with a plus slider, combined for a 3.06 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings between short-season Billings and Dayton. Joseph, a reliever, walked just 14 and limited batters to a .165 average. ... RHP Dan Tuttle (5), considered by many to be the top high school pitcher in North Carolina, has solid potential pitches in his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup despite an unorthodox delivery. In the Arizona League he posted a 1.67 ERA and fanned 30 in 32 1/3 innings, walking 10. ... RHP Mark Serrano (6), a 24-year-old out of Oral Roberts, moved up quickly, combining between Billings and Dayton for a 2.11 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 55 innings while limiting hitters to a .198 average.
Hitter of the Year -- Yonder Alonso, 1B
A fractured hamate bone in his left hand cost the 2008 first-rounder the first two months of the '09 season, but he hit .303 at Sarasota and then .295 at Carolina when he returned to action. The Reds can't wait to see what he does in his first full healthy season. He is a polished player out of the University of Miami with power to all fields.
Pitcher of the Year -- Leake, RHP
Signed at the deadline, the '09 first-rounder is not a big guy, but what he lacks in size as a power pitcher, he makes up for with savvy and polish and a five-pitch repertoire. He has a good feel for the mound and does all the little things well, such as fielding his position. The Reds love his baseball smarts and command. He was 16-1 with a 1.71 at ASU.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less