At 9am today the good folks at Baseball America will unveil their Top 100 Prospect list (the list is now available – see how the Cincinnati Reds look on the list) for 2018. Baseball America is the gold standard among the national prospect lists. Their lists date back to 1990, by far, the longest running list.
The Cincinnati Reds will be represented by multiple prospects in the list that comes out later this morning. If I had to guess, I would say they will land four prospects on the Top 100, with a chance for five. But, for now, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the history of the Cincinnati Reds Top 100 prospects on the Baseball America lists.
Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Overall Prospects
Since 1990 the Reds have only had five players make the Baseball America Top 10 list. Homer Bailey did it twice, after 2007 (#5) and again after 2008 (#9). Jay Bruce is the highest rated Reds prospect ever. He was the #1 player after the 2008 season. Aroldis Chapman ranked 7th on the list after 2011. Reggie Sanders was the only player from the organization from 1990-2006 to make the Top 10. Sanders was the #9 prospect after the 1991 season. Nick Senzel was ranked 9th after the 2016 season.
The Best Single Season of Top 100 Prospects
Using an AP Style format (100 points for a #1 ranking and 1 point for a #100 ranking) I compiled the rankings for reach year from 1990-2017. Going into this exercise, I was sure that the 2008 class was going to be at the top of this chart. That year the Reds had two Top 10 players and four Top 50 players. WRONG. The 2000 Reds topped the chart with 319 total points from six players. That 2008 group had 317 points from five players. Here’s the comparison of those two years, which stood out among the entire history:
|21. Gookie Dawkins||1. Jay Bruce|
|24. Drew Henson||9. Homer Bailey|
|55. Ed Yarnell||34. Johnny Cueto|
|56. Adam Dunn||44. Joey Votto|
|59. Rob Bell||100. Drew Stubbs|
|72. Jackson Melian|
Seeing that list, you can certainly understand why, particularly before I began doing this job, the 2000 group wasn’t a great memory. Only Adam Dunn became a regular among the six players. Drew Henson was in the NFL a few years after this list came out. Dunn was the only player from that group to produce more than 1.1 WAR for his career. On the flip side, Drew Stubbs has been the worst, by far, from that 2008 group and he’s produced 11.1 WAR for his career. The 2000 group, anchored entirely by Adam Dunn’s 25.4 WAR, combined for 25.5 WAR. The 2008 group, with all five players still active, have combined for 128.5 WAR in their career.
Here’s how each year stacks up, only including the Top 100 (which, let me be clear, is NOT indicative of the overall strength of the farm system in a given year – though, at times it certainly can be).
Breaking things down by position
From 1990-2017 there were 1164 players listed as pitcher first (several were listed as pitcher/some other position. I counted those as pitchers). That was good for 45% of the prospects listed being pitchers. The Reds, however, aren’t near that same ratio of pitchers to position players. The organization had 35 pitchers out of 94 total players. That’s just 37%. Thinking back to pre-Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, that should not be surprising. The entire group of prospect starters brought up through the system was basically Brett Tomko. For 25 years.
35 players were listed as infielders. That number, however, includes Billy Hamilton twice being listed as a shortstop (also listed twice as an outfielder). 24 more players were listed as outfielders.
Who made the most lists?
Making a lot of prospect lists can be both good, or bad. The good side could mean that a player was highly regarded from the very beginning and maintained that value through the minors. At the same time, it also could mean that the player didn’t move quickly – though that comes into play more with a college player than the high school player.
One player made the Top 100 list five times, leading the way for the Reds. Pokey Reese showed up on the list every year from 1992-1996. There were several other players who showed up on four different lists. Billy Hamilton (2011-2014), Homer Bailey (2005-2008), and Robert Stephenson (2013-2016) all showed up on four Top 100 lists.