Top 30 Reds Prosects: No. 26

21 Year Old Waldrop is Ready for High A

Kyle Waldrop starred in football and baseball as a Florida high school athlete and an opportunity to play both sports at South Florida made teams reluctant to spend a high draft choice on him in 2010. The Reds finally selected him in the 12th round and went above slot to sign him. Now he's projecting as a well-rounded outfielder as he advances up the lower minor league levels.

2012 was a long season for the Dayton Dragons as they struggled and put up the worst record in the Midwest League. One of the bright spots of the team was the play of Kyle Waldrop who has since turned 21 years old. The Reds picked up Waldrop with a twelfth round pick in the 2010 draft. He was a standout wide receiver and safety while playing high school football in Florida and concerns that he might pursue a career on the gridiron caused teams to pass on him in earlier rounds. He had an opportunity to play both sports at South Florida until the Reds used a $500k signing bonus to persuade him to commit to baseball. Part of their deal included his college education.

One of the first things mentioned by evaluators watching Waldrop's game is a smooth left-handed stroke. The outfielder followed up on a strong 2011 at Billings to keep a similar slash line of .284 AVG/.346 OB/.421 SLG against low-A pitching. During 75 rookie league games Waldrop never met a pitch he didn't like and walked only eleven times in over 300 plate appearances. Last season there was improvement in his plate discipline because while his average rose .011' against next-level pitching his on-base percentage gained .041'. That can be credited to an 8% walk frequency which was more than double the previous rate and he also reduced his strikeout rate from 22% to 16% . The slugging percentage declined .050' after leaving the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, but he was still over .400 and projects to have average to above average power as he matures.

Defensively most of his action has been in right field and there have been questions in the past if he had the arm strength to stay there. However last season he cut down seven runners in 64 games at that position while making only three errors. In 2012 Waldrop provided strong evidence of significant improvement in major areas of concern. He's hit only thirteen home runs over his 192 professional games but expectations are that number will jump next season in the California League.

Perhaps his improvement was helped by focusing on one sport because while in high school he missed some time on the diamond to injuries sustained from football. Though his game doesn't have a noticeable outstanding facet, he has strong projections across the board which may get him regular action as a major leaguer someday. Right now he's making the Reds look like bandits for getting his services with a twelfth round pick. This young man is a candidate to do some serious climbing for next year's list.

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