Blocked Prospects: Yonder Alonso

The Reds have successful drafted and developed their first baseman of the future, and it's not 2008 first round pick Yonder Alonso. Joey Votto, a second round pick back in 2002, has emerged as one of the game's best young hitters, posting the fourth highest OPS (.981) in baseball last year. Tim mentioned Votto as a young player with a chance to receive a contract extension, and went so far as to find some comparables.

Baseball America ranked Alonso the 45th best prospect in the game, while ESPN's Keith Law had him 76th. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein left him off his Top 101 Prospects List entirely. In their 2010 Handbook, Baseball America rated Alonso the team's second best prospect (though that was before the Aroldis Chapman signing) and wrote that he is "the purest hitter in the system and has above-average power." Though he missed a big chunk of the 2009 season with a hamate injury, Alonso hit .292/.374/.464 across three levels.

As the 7th overall pick in 2008, Alonso received a Major League contract that put him on the 40-man roster immediately and will pay him $4.55MM through 2012. The clock is ticking on Alonso's three option years, which will expire after the 2011 season, however it's worth noting that he'll qualify for the rare fourth option because his original three will be used before his fifth pro season. Regardless, Cincinnati is in a bit of a pickle because they have a highly touted first base prospect ready to start the season in Double-A, and a 26-year-old franchise player at the same position.

Rumors swirled last year that the Reds would try Alonso behind the plate, but he doesn't have the body for it and it's a position that takes quite some time to learn. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports that Alonso will play left field this year, which is exactly what the Padres did with Kyle Blanks when he approached the big leagues blocked by Adrian Gonzalez. If the experiment in left doesn't go as planned, Alonso will be a prime piece of trade bait.

When it comes to comparable prospects being traded, the first name that comes to mind is Matt LaPorta. The Brewers selected him in the first round despite having Prince Fielder in the big leagues, but used him to headline a package for CC Sabathia, who helped them get to the playoffs. If the Reds contend this year or next, Alonso could be the guy to get them the piece needed to put them over the top. For now, he'll try out left field and continue to develop at Double-A.


33 Responses to Blocked Prospects: Yonder Alonso Leave a Reply

  1. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    Still think the Rays should try to trade for him. If they could pull it off they could let Peña walk and afford Crawford.

    • aap212 5 years ago

      The Rays are just playing PR on Crawford. They’re too smart to want to pay him what the market will give him. You really want to pay a guy eight figures a year into his thirties when so much of his value is tied up in his legs? He doesn’t hit for much power, draw many walks, or play a premium position. Let him walk, take the draft picks, replace him from within with Desmond Jennings, and laugh at the Yankees when they’re paying a leftfielder big star money to be a merely solid player.

      • BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

        merely solid? He’s far better than solid. Incredibly good defense, decent baserunner and good stealer (45+, and the only two years he had below 50 when he became an everyday player was 05 when he had 45 and his injury year in 08), .280+ hitter for his career, save his injury year in 2008, good for 25+ doubles, 5-10 triples, 10 HRs, and a K% of only about 15%? Yeah, that’s farrrrrrr better than solid. And he doesn’t turn 29 until August. Sure he’ll get caught 10 times a year stealing, but, outside of an average OBP, that’s his only knock, probably. That’s what you call an all-star.

        If you give him a 6 year deal when he has about 4 years worth of great speed left, yeah…that’s pretty good.

        • aap212 5 years ago

          When he loses even one tick off his speed, he’ll be merely solid. I didn’t mean right away. But even right now, he’s not a star, except in fantasy baseball. Left field defense is only worth so much. He’s a corner player whose career OBP is .335 and career slugging is .437. He’s never had an OPS+ 120 or higher. He’s not a star. A long term deal for big money is going to hinder the team that gives it to him and the Rays are smart enough to know that, no matter what they say to the press.

          • BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

            we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this, because i don’t feel the same. I don’t think he’ll really lose his speed anytime soon, unless he has a major leg injury.

          • aap212 5 years ago

            Do you disagree with the fact that he’s not a star caliber player but he’s going to get paid like one?

          • BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

            I won’t argue with him getting overpaid unless he ends up making less than 14 mill a year, if that’s the question.

            I think he’s a great player, and just don’t think he’ll have as significant a drop off as you do.

  2. AB 5 years ago

    Thanks for spotlighting the Yonder Alonso situation so well. I was thinking the other day how a move to LF would make sense — glad that the Reds are already on that point. Yonder’s agent is Scott Boras though, so using him as a trade piece for a playoff run actually might be the best move for the Reds longterm, assuming they don’t raise their payroll. That might also limit the trade partners the Reds can get unfortunately.

    • aap212 5 years ago

      Alonso in left field could near Daniel Murphy levels of ugly.

    • sdf354 5 years ago

      pretty sure alonso’s agent is not scott boras

  3. aap212 5 years ago

    The Reds could target Reid Brignac from the Rays, perhaps. Brignac is definitely good enough to start at shortstop, especially in the national league, and lord knows you can’t say that certainly about anyone else the Reds have.

    But frankly, Alonso is a guy with bad platoon splits, who has close to zero chance of playing anything but first base capably. I’d trade him while people still think of him as a top draft pick.

    It’s still baffling that they passed on Gordon Beckham, and if they were going to draft a first baseman behind Votto, why not Smoak?

    • AB 5 years ago

      The Reds have also passed on Lincecum (for Stubbs) and Derek Jeter (for Chad Mottola) in recent years. Their official stance is to draft who they deem to be the best player, no matter the team’s present needs.

      I can’t say I agree with said stance.

      • aap212 5 years ago

        Jeter’s ancient history and a bunch of teams passed on Lincecum, with whom there were concerns about his unorthodox size and delivery. The concerns were wrong, but lots of teams had them, and at least they picked a premium defender at a premium position with offensive upside. I can understand those two picks.

        Alonso not only plays a position they had filled but was by most opinions and most measures not the best prospect at that position left on the board, and most people had them tied to Beckham, who made more sense, and was and is a better player. I know you shouldn’t draft for need, but when you’ve got a young star, it’s a nifty tiebreaker.

        • I really wish they would have taken Beckham too, but one note is that Joey Votto was just a rookie just called up when they selected Alonso. They had no idea Votto would develop into what he is today. They thought Alonso was the best, obviously that has a strong argument against it but I do believe he will be a great MLB hitter in a couple years. It’s a question of does he work hard enough on conditioning to become a serviceable LFer. Heck, we stuck with Dunn’s defense for how long in LF with a mediocre BA?

          • aap212 5 years ago

            Votto was at one point the best first base prospect in baseball. They had some idea.

            I really think Alonso in the outfield is a stretch. He’s less athletic than Dunn was as a youngster, he has a really thick, immobile lower body, and he ain’t exactly agile at first.

          • I honestly feel it was not that great of a move to switch positions on Frazier. He’s tall but he’s not heavy at all. He could handle shortstop at least at an average defensive level, Cal Ripken wasn’t exactly twinkle toes but he played SS for years. Cozart will be interesting as well.

      • Jeter is water under the bridge, if they had drafted him he would have been blocked by Barry Larkin just like Alonso is with Votto. And we all know Larkin wasn’t going anywhere

        • aap212 5 years ago

          Good point, and let’s not forget that 1992 had an unbelievably bad draft.

          • AB 5 years ago

            Not to beat a dead horse here, but while not drafting Jeter is indeed a forgivable sin, I can’t agree that Larkin would have blocked Jeter in a meaningful way. Jeter’s first full year in the majors was 1996, the same year Larkin belted 33 HR’s. The year after that though, Larkin only played in 76 games. Guess who would have filled in? Before Larkin left after the 2004 season, Jeter had one off year where he played 119 games — the rest of the time his lowest game count was 148 compared to Larkin’s low point of 45 games. Assuming you value a young-to-in-prime Jeter at least as much (if not more) as an aging, injury-prone Barry Larkin, the point that Larkin and his severely decreased playing time would have somehow “blocked” Jeter for more than one season makes absolutely no sense. If anything, I’d argue that Larkin would have retired sooner knowing that his SS duties were in capable hands after playing mentor to Jeter. Also, comparing the Alonso/Votto block to a hypothetical Jeter/Larkin block is inaccurate due to the difference in the two sets of players’ ages.

  4. MLB_in_the_Know 5 years ago

    I think a trade with the Braves for some minor league pitching could be worked out.

    • Reds have way too much pitching already stocked in the farm to trade a blue chip for more. If you have a blue chip C or SS in the system better offer him up to start.

    • aap212 5 years ago

      Is Alonso that much better than Freddie Freeman, if at all?

  5. Taskmaster75 5 years ago

    I think something with the Giants potentially? It depends on what they want to do with Pablo Sandoval ofcourse. If he can stay at 3rd, then they could potentially deal him for some prospects. Problem is, the Giants don’t want to deal Posey, and they really only have SP prospects, something the Reds don’t really need.

    • aap212 5 years ago

      Everyone always needs starting pitching prospects, the Reds included.

      • Taskmaster75 5 years ago

        They will lose Harang and Arroyo I guess, but they would prefer offense I would think.

        • AB 5 years ago

          If Arroyo has a decent year, I see no reason not to at least negotiate with him. Even if they lost them both, they’d have Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Chapman, and Leake as their hypothetical starting five with Owings and Wood still available to fill in.

  6. redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

    The reds should trade him to the white sox for tyler flowers? reds catcher of the future and the white sox get a young slugging firstbasemen to take over for Paulie after the year and the could even let him Dh some.. But the Guy who mentioned Reid Brignac is a great suggestion i love his defense and he can hit and Alonso and take over for pena

    • Yeah I could see that or the Rays making a pitch by trading one of their young and good SSs or SPs (even though the Reds might not need another SP).

      • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

        No the reds do not need anymore pitchers, they have a pipeline full of them but i would be estatic if the reds Got tyler flowers because we really need a catcher for the future not so much short as fraizer,cozart and valikia (sp) could play there but i would be glad to get brignac also

  7. bannister19 5 years ago

    MLBTR better have one of these on Kila Ka’aihue

  8. willg2009 5 years ago

    The Twins have two pretty impressive prospects at catcher, Jose Morales and Wilson Ramos, that are being blocked by Mauer. Hopefully they’ll use them as trade bait at the deadline.

  9. grob25 5 years ago

    To me, situations like this are part of the reason this there has become such a gap in the quality of the two leagues and they should go play under the same rules. This situation may be a non-issue if the Reds were an AL team. The DH allows teams to have two players in the lineup everyday that play the same position. If the Reds end up trading him it could potentially be to a AL team that already has a first baseman. A few years ago to make room for Ryan Howard, the Philies traded Jim Thome to the White Sox who had a first baseman. I think I read on here that there was debate within the front office over which player to keep. It’s easier to build strong offenses in the AL because teams can acquire and retain offensive talent that they wouldn’t or couldn’t without the AL having the DH while the NL doesn’t.

  10. armyredsfan 5 years ago

    What about a trade with the indians involving their big catching prospect?

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