Down on the Farm: Reds awaiting Tony rewards
Sometimes a prospect just doesn't get the hype he probably deserves. Our Scott White introduces you to Tony Cingrani, a lefty in the Reds organization quickly making a name for himself.
You guys wanted Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher? Well, here he is!
That (slightly edited) observation is brought to you by CBSSports.com user "kgmoney5" -- as fine a commenter as there ever was, judging by that small sample.
It was in reference to arguably the best pitcher in the minor leagues last year. I'm not talking about Dylan Bundy or Jose Fernandez . I'm not even talking about Dan Straily , who was fairly under-the-radar himself before leading the minors with 190 strikeouts last year.
I'm talking about a prospect who has for too long taken a back seat to others within his own organization, who has too long been overlooked because of his draft status, who has too long gone without a half-column singing his praises.
I'm talking about the Reds' Tony Cingrani .
If you're unfamiliar with his exploits, I'll start with the most recent. Making his second start for Triple-A Louisville Tuesday, he allowed no runs on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
It was disappointing to some.
That's because in his season debut April 4, he struck out 14 in six no-hit innings. If you're keeping score at home, that's three hits, two walks and 21 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings at the second-highest level of professional baseball.
Maybe comparing him to Chapman is selling him short.
If a relative unknown did something comparable at the major-league level, we'd be warning you that it's just two starts and saving the half-columns for after he delivered two or three more. But in Cingrani's case, it's not just two starts. It's all he's done since the Reds drafted him in -- gasp! -- the third round of the 2011 draft.
|Player Name||Own %|
|1.||Wil Myers , OF, Rays||80|
|2.||Jurickson Profar , 2B/SS, Rangers||55|
|3.||Oscar Taveras , OF, Cardinals||51|
|4.||Yasiel Puig , OF, Dodgers||47|
|5.||Travis d'Arnaud , C, Mets||43|
|6.||Billy Hamilton , SS, Reds||42|
|7.||Dylan Bundy , SP, Orioles||42|
|8.||Zack Wheeler , SP, Mets||41|
|9.||Trevor Bauer , SP, Indians||36|
|10.||Dan Straily , SP, Athletics||24|
In parts of three seasons, Cingrani has a 1.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. That covers 209 2/3 innings or basically a full major-league season. Rest assured, sample size isn't the concern here.
Is level of competition? Maybe to an extent. After all, only the last 101 2/3 of those innings were at Double-A or higher. But another 56 2/3 were at Class A Bakersfield of the California League, where he posted a 1.11 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings last year.
If you're unfamiliar with the California League, it's the one most known for providing hitters with Bugs Bunny numbers, leading to prospect fakeouts such as Aaron Bates , Vinnie Catricala and, yes, even Brandon Wood . It's become so well-known among prospect hounds that pretty much any conversation about a player's home run total at that level ends with "oh, but it's the California League."
That it may be, but it made Cingrani look like Sandy Koufax.
Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Scooter-pants, now you've taken the hype too far. Maybe, but only to compensate for the startling lack of hype he's received to this point.
So why the lack of hype? Like I said, Cingrani lasted until the third round in 2011, which means he was available well after the best of the best had already gone off the board, but that's mostly because he was a reliever his senior year in college, having moved out of the starting rotation after bombing there as a junior. Whatever adjustments he made to his delivery with that transition the Reds thought he could take with him back to the rotation, and to this point, he's proven them right.
At age 24, he's not quite a finished product, but he's close. Mostly, he just needs to refine his breaking ball, but if his minor-league numbers are any indication, his fastball-changeup combination is good enough that his slider, if that's what they're calling it, only needs to be serviceable. The Reds obviously have some confidence in it reaching that point. They refused to promote Cingrani as a replacement for injured reliever Sean Marshall Wednesday just because they didn't want it to impede with his progress as a starter.
And in doing so, manager Dusty Baker more or less declared him next in line should something happen to one of their starters.
In single-season leagues, I wouldn't add Cingrani over, say, Ervin Santana , but if your options are more like Jake Westbrook and Brad Peacock , why not take a flier and hope for a Mike Leake meltdown or Johnny Cueto injury? It's not any less promising than stashing Drew Smyly .
In fact, it's probably more so. A hard-throwing lefty misidentified as a reliever early in his career only to shock and amaze when moved to the starter role is basically Chris Sale all over again.
And with that comparison, the hype is just about right.
What do Giancarlo Stanton , Brett Anderson , Jordan Zimmermann , Freddie Freeman , Andrelton Simmons and Jason Kipnis all have in common?
If you guessed they were former second-round picks in the MLB amateur draft, then you would be correct. If you are looking for a prize for guessing right, then I've got nothing for you except to say give yourself a pat on the back.
Keeping with that theme, this week I highlight five players taken in the second round of the 2012 draft that have the potential to be on Fantasy radars down the road.
, SP, Royals
, OF, Padres
, SP, Giants
, SP, Tigers
, OF, Rangers
Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org .