There has been some good work happening in the prospect landscape at Fangraphs for quite some time now. Over the last decade they’ve really jumped into what I consider a place in the conversation among the national publications that are trustworthy and reliable when it comes to writing about, and valuing prospects. In the last month they’ve released a new way to attach a dollar value to prospects based on how similarly rated players eventually turned out in the Major Leagues. They also began to release their Top Prospect Lists for each organization. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen have made their way through the National League Central, and the Cincinnati Reds stack up quite well within their division.

At the time of the release of the new value system there were farm system rankings published by Fangraphs. But, those were based off of values from the midseason update and not current prospect valuations. While they are still working through all of baseball, the Cincinnati Reds division has been completed. Let’s take a look at what the rankings all add up to for the division:

Based on Fangraphs Valuation System and Post 2018 Rankings

The Reds are clearly the front runners in the division. Their positional prospects alone are more valuable than any other franchise in total. The Reds pitching prospects are also worth more than any other team’s pitching prospects. To be clear – the Reds have the most valuable farm system overall, the most valuable farm system when looking at just position players, and the most valuable farm system when looking at just the pitchers. Here’s the exact breakdown of each team:

Team Position Pitchers Total
Reds $234M $58M $292M
Brewers $172M $50M $222M
Cubs $151M $11M $162M
Cardinals $104M $52M $156M
Pirates $108M $33M $141M

That’s good because the Reds finished in last place in 2018 at the Major League level. They have the most ground to make up. Being at the top in both position players and pitchers is good to see. There’s always the issue of getting the players to go from good prospects to Major League performers, but that’s the case with every team. It’s better to have the guys that are believed to be better now – and that’s where the Reds are at.

As the offseason continues Fangraphs will keep releasing their organizational lists. When they are complete, I will create another post that shows how Cincinnati stacks up to all of baseball. The consensus seems to be that the Reds are a Top 10 system, but probably just outside of the Top 5. For now we only know how they stack up in the division – but the outlook is good.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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66 Responses

  1. MK

    Hopefully they update as prospects are traded both ways. Cards are probably a little lower today than Monday.

    • Ghettotrout1

      I think the two guys they traded were already graduated from the prospect world and the utility aa guy I can’t imagine made huge a difference and the comp pick wouldn’t have been any value in this scenario. But I get what you’re saying.

  2. Klugo

    I’d rather have the best MLB team in the NL Central. ‘Nuff of this farm system stuff.

    • Doug Gray

      Teams with top farm systems tend to eventually become the better teams in the Majors – at least for a few years. It’s not a guarantee, but studies show that it tends to play out that way over time.

      • Datdudejs

        What studies? I’d like to see these studies personally if you know where I can find them

      • Doug Gray

        Baseball America has done a few over the years, but unfortunately when they upgraded their website last year they lost almost everything that was ever published and never recovered it (whether it was because they screwed up, or just didn’t care to – I don’t know). So I don’t have links, unfortunately.

      • Klugo

        Yes, I didn’t mean enough reporting on the farm system. I meant there is only so much satisfaction in having the top farm system. I’m ready to see it translate to the team that counts.

  3. Mark

    I agree if these guys are so great then step up and get it together if your so great and help out the parent team.

    • Oldtimer

      The 2018 MiLB results for the Reds were pretty weak. Three teams right about .500 and four teams well below .500 for the season.

      Long for return to results like the 1960s farm system run by Phil Seghi.

      1960 Leo Cardenas, Jim Maloney. 1961 Johnny Edwards. 1962 Cookie Rojas. 1963 Pete Rose, Tommy Harper. 1965 Tony Perez. 1966 Tommy Helms. 1967 Lee May, Gary Nolan. 1968 Johnny Bench.

      All-Stars galore. Some HOF too.

    • Doug Gray

      Farm systems aren’t just about helping the next year. It’s about long term value. Otherwise a guy who is a 4th outfield type but in Triple-A would be more valuable than Hunter Greene simply because one guy is more likely to help immediately.

      • Oldtimer

        The whole purpose of the MiLB teams is to learn how to win so the MiLB players can help the Reds win in 3-5 years (average MiLB tenure of Reds players).

        The 2018 season was disappointing (overall) for Reds MiLB system with good talent.

      • RedsinWashst

        I would much rather have 2 superstars on each team then a whole team of above average players who won’t make the MLB team. Winning is nice but training a few great players is better.

      • Oldtimer

        The Reds have no superstars in their MiLB system. No HOF players coming up.

      • redlegs4ever

        I would put a Hall of Fame grade on both Greene and Trammell.

      • Doug Gray

        Well you shouldn’t. The guys in my lifetime that *should* have been given those kinds of prospect grades: Griffey, ARod, Andruw Jones, Bryce Harper, Mark Prior, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout. That’s probably it. Now, Greene could eventually be that kind of guy. But all of those guys were either teenagers that obliterated the minors – and the upper minors, or the best college pitcher of their generation who also dominated in quick fashion right out of the draft.

        By the time all of those guys I mentioned (position players) were the age that Trammell is, they had multiple seasons in the big leagues. Mike Trout had an MVP caliber year. Alex Rodriguez had an MVP caliber year. Griffey was an All-Star. Bryce Harper was a 2-time All-Star. Jones wasn’t quite on that same level through age 20. But then at 21, he was.

        Go back and really look at what those kinds of dudes did in the minors and the age at which they did them. Those are guys that warrant HOF grades as prospect. True 80 guys.

      • MK

        Reds have, at least in last 20 years, have been more about developing individual skills than winning games. So team win/loss records aren’t a priority. Meaning if a pitcher is supposed to pitch 70 pitches he is going to pitch them whether it is 7 shutout innings or 4 10-run innings. They probably are not going to pinch hit in obvious pinch hitting situations or bunt for that matter. I am sure winning would be a plus but has never been #1 priority. Other organizations are just the opposite and others put equal emphasis on both.

      • redlegs4ever

        I have a simpler definition of a Hall of Fame grade, it’s someone I project to make the Hall of Fame. Greene definitely fits that mold, I know Trammell does but whether he gets in with my projections is questionable. I think he could be a 300 HR/300 SB guy.

    • DHud

      To suggest that a 19 yr old kid with 1.5 seasons of pro ball should not be touted for the future potential he has that is recognized by scouts across the profession and that he is somehow failing to “get it together” because he isn’t winning ball games at the major league level is a pretty outlandish suggestion

  4. Wes

    And they are 1 dumb trade away from ruining it. I’m ready for reds to win too but trading a top 4 prospect is dicey. Reds won’t get another player of senzel/Greene caliber for a long time and senzel/Santillan will both be ready to contribute next season.

    Buy up the free agent market when it bottoms out and hold onto these guys.

    • Colorado Red

      Yes, but
      How many top prospects (looking and Jay Bruce here), have not turned out great.
      A combination of trades, FA, and farm systems make a winner.
      For too long the Reds have overrated there prospects.

      Hope is NOT a strategy.

      • Jonathan Linn

        Did Jay Bruce really not turn out great? I think he did – he’d a good player. Maybe he didnt live up to people’s opinions, but that’s a different discussion

      • Doug Gray

        Using this system, over the first 7 years of his career, Jay Bruce was “worth” $151.2M. He made less than $40M in that time. The average WAR for a 65/70 caliber position player, which Bruce was at the peak of his prospectdom, is somewhere between 6.9 WAR (65) and 12.5 (70). Bruce produced 16.8. He was BETTER than the normal guy who ranked as the #1 or #2 caliber prospect in baseball.

        The problem arises with the expectations, as you noted. When you are the #1/#2 guy in all of baseball, people expect a Hall of Fame caliber guy. When you turn into a sometimes All-Star caliber guy instead, it’s viewed as a disappointment despite the fact that where you ranked doesn’t even become that type usually.

      • Stock

        I am not sure what Bruce was rated but it was not 70. Two players have achieved 70 and neither was Bruce. Bruce acclaim was similar to Acuna from last year. Acuna was a 65. I think that is what Bruce was too.

      • Muddycleats

        So true, can’t trade guys like Bruce, Chapman & Cueto away 4 next to nothing & expect things to improve! Likewise, I do think Reds overvalue their young guys. Might b better off trading a high prospect in high A or AA to an Org that does a better job developing players n exchange 4 a prospect that’s further along. Reds hold on until they fail or performance flat lines & then get next to nothing for them

      • Norwood Nate

        I had made similar points about Bruce’s value recently when discussing trading 6 years of Senzel for 2 year of Bauer (I think he’s the one I was discussing). The math/value just doesn’t work out to justify it for me. Which is why I think we’re best hanging onto Senzel in general, or at least getting a TOR pitcher with 3 or more years of control. Bruce’s contribution to those winning teams was underrated by many in Reds country, largely due to his perceived “streakiness” I think.

      • Wes

        If senzel stays healthy his floor is Bruce’s achievement. What he lacks in power he will over achieve every where else.

        If u trade senzel and others for a player. There’s a chance greater than 10% senzel will out perform the player u trade to acquire. Keep him and hope he stays healthy

    • Oldtimer

      Reds will draft 7th in 2019 draft. Player chosen should be similar to Greene, Senzel or India in terms of talent and MLB potential.

      Reds may draft in Top 10 of 2020 draft also but TBD.

      • Doug Gray

        Similar to India? Yes. Similar to Greene or Senzel, who were both rated #1 in the draft, no.

      • Oldtimer

        Similar. Not identical. Neither Greene nor Senzel was rated #1. Both were rated among the Top few but not definitive #1.

      • Doug Gray

        Both were the #1 prospect by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America on draft day. Both were that in March of the draft year and it never wavered.

  5. Cheapskate Castellini

    If they didn’t have a top 10 farm system after 5 straight 94+ loss seasons then they should be tarred and feathered publicly for incompetence

    • Norwood Nate

      It is the recent losing that has indeed built the farm system. In the top 10 alone 7 of the 10 on Doug’s list were picked in the 1st or 2nd round since the 2015 draft. Additionally, Gray, Richardson, and Fairchild were also drafted in the top 2 rounds of the past four drafts. There’s a case to be made that both Siani and Friedl can be attributed to the recent losing as well, because the money that was there to sign them is directly correlated to draft position.

      • Michael Smith

        Spot on Nate. Drafting in the front of the first round is huge compared to the back that the reds were doing in 10,12-13.

        Thats Hunter Greene vs Robert Stephenson

    • Doug Gray

      You’ve got to also remember that guys graduate all of the time, too. And a lot of what they traded for in all of that losing are no longer prospect eligible.

  6. Stock

    Last winter I said this year’s farm would be the better than the Pre 2008 club of Bruce, Bailey, Votto and Cueto. People thought I was nuts. We now have evidence I was correct. Actually by my calculations the best reds farm team of all time is the Pre 2018 farm team. I thought the upgrades from good seasons plus a new pick (India) would favor this club. It didn’t.

    Pre-2018 class = $328 Million
    Pre-2019 class = $289 Million
    Pre-2018 class = $264 Million

    My revision to the 2018 class and my reasoning for the 2008 class are below. These last two classes are not as top heavy as the 2008 class but their depth does make them better.

    I have Fangraphs rating for 2019. I slightly revised the 2018 class (moved Downs from 45 to 45+ and Fairchild from 40 to 40+) Valuing the 2008 class was more difficult.

    I gave Bruce a 65. I could see a grade of 60 but for this purpose it does not matter. I gave Bailey a 60. Not as highly ranked as Senzel so this was an easy placement. I gave Votto and Cueto the benefit of the doubt and gave them a grade of 55. I could see 50 but this works. Stubbs gets a 50. Easy grade. Very similar to Winker from 2018 class. Todd Frazier prior to 2008 was in the same place as Jeter Downs was last year. Easy grade 45+. Stephenson and Santillan were 45 last winter. Travis Wood and Meso were in pretty much the same spot in 2008. Both get 45. Neftali Soto prior to 2008 = Fairchild prior to 2018. After that my research is done. I just give 4 hitters and 4 pitchers 40 and we are done.

    • Oldtimer

      Of all time?

      The 1965 Reds MiLB system produced Johnny Bench, Bernie Carbo and Hal McRae among others.

      The 1963 Reds MiLB system yielded Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Tony Perez, and Lee May among others.

      All time is a long time.

      • Stock

        If the top 3 prospects in 1965 were Bench, Carbo and McRae you are talking about a pretty weak group. Carbo was coming off a year in A ball where he hit .188. McRae lit it up to the tune of a .154 BA. Two really impressive seasons.

        As far as your other group, I am assuming you are talking pre-1963 since Rose was not a rookie in Post 1963. Lee May was in D ball (lower than A ball) and hit .260 with an OPS of .706, Helms was in A ball and Tony Perez was in B ball (again lower than A ball). If these were the Reds top prospects in 1962 then the class of 1962 is far inferior to the three I mentioned.

    • Billy

      I was one of the ones who thought you were crazy, and I will concede that this year’s system is better than I expected it would be. I still don’t think it is the best ever, and I don’t think it is better than the 2008 class. I think this year’s class benefits tremendously – and very unexpectedly – from Senzel having not graduated yet. We’ve got a very good system. It’s a system that still hasn’t cracked the top 5 in baseball in recent years though, so I think it is either (1) tough to buy it is the best system we’ve ever had or (2) a sad testament to the quality of our system over the years or (3) both.

  7. Brad Konerman

    Fascinating that the Reds position player prospects hold more future value than other 4 teams have in total value.

    Have to imagine those numbers change significantly in June when Nick Senzel “should” graduate from prospect status.

  8. Nep O'Tism

    The potential feel-goods are lost a bit when you realize the Brewers won the division, traded for MVP Yelich, and STILL have the 2nd ranked farm system.

    The Cubs will throw around enough $$$ to offset any farm deficiencies in FA.

    Meanwhile the Cardinals continue to use some kind of black magic to conjure up great starters out of nowhere. Sign a guy out of Korea and he throws 200 innings at 2.83 ERA. Trade for a guy who was never a top 100 prospect, a year later he’s got a 3.47 ERA. Draft a guy out of HS and he’s in the majors by age 21, and at age 22 has a 3.34 ERA in 150 innings (the Reds drafted Nick Howard and Alex Blandino in the 1st round that year).

    Makes it hard to get too pumped up.

    • MuddyCleats

      Exactly my pt about trading prospects before they fail or flat-line. Cards R great example of a team that develops players who when promoted, find a way to contribute. Reds not so much! So why not find those teams who R further behind in rebuild than Reds R & trade for their advanced players w/ Reds high draft picks who R lower in the minors? Instead, Reds R spending $$$$ & time trying to revamp their Farm System, on a continuous basis it seems, N hopes they’ll one day they’ll produce another good draft class or two. While you can’t trade draft picks, why not trade the highly rated player for a quality player who is much closer or on the cusp of being promoted to ML. Of course, they’d have to make the talent level and $$$$ work

  9. RedsinWashst

    Reds problems of late have not been in their drafts but in acquiring international players. They need to improve in that area to have winning teams in minor leagues. They have changed people in that area recently hopefully it will change now.

    • Nep O'Tism

      Well, their drafts had a huge drought there, too.

      They drafted Yasmani Grandal in ’10, but he never played in a Reds uniform. So the best 1st round draft picks since ’10 to play in a Reds uniform is Phil Ervin (-0.3 WAR) followed by Robert Stephenson (-0.9 WAR).

      Then you look at the Cubs… Baez in 2011, Almora in 2012, Bryant in 2013, Schwarber in 2014, Happ in 2015.

      The Reds most certainly have a problem in their drafts getting actual major league production. The Cubs picked 5 straight starters, including an MVP and another guy who got 2nd in MVP voting…and the Reds got Phillip Ervin and Robert Stephenson.

      • Michael Smith

        Nep apples and oranges comparison. Let’s see how the 15-19 picks do since they are in in similar spots

      • sixpack2

        Yep, and I hope Williams and the new coaching corrects that. I have hope for Williams as so far I think he has done a very good job.

    • Doug Gray

      That’s probably got a lot more to do with being willing to spend money than the people looking at the players. I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: The Yankees signed more Top 30 prospects in the 2014 class than the Reds have signed Top 30 prospects in their class over the last decade combined. It’s really difficult to produce international players when you are spending a fifth of the money that other teams are. Especially if you want to talk about non-Cuban players.

  10. redlegs4ever

    Fangraphs has really stepped up their prospect game in the last decade, then they ranked Hunter Greene as an FV 50 and lost all credibility LOL.

    • Doug Gray

      And graded him at 80/55/55/60. The 50 FV is mostly because he’s a just turned 19-year-old pitcher. The risk is built into his grade.

      I also think people tend to see that 50 and think it’s a negative. A 50 grade by them means he’s a Top 50 prospect in the entire game. It’s hardly an insult.

  11. AirborneJayJay

    A handful of those prospects sure would buy some good MLB experienced, top of the line pitching.
    The graph sure shows the Reds have a surplus of good prospects.
    Prospects are cool.
    Parades are cooler.

    • Bob Anderson

      Sorry, but nope, they won’t buy junk. Full of prospects. they are not.

  12. Stock

    I was looking at why this year’s prospect class ranked lower than last year’s prospect class. However, the disappointing performances by prospects this past year show up in Fangraphs prospect ranking. 10 of the 21 non-graduate, non-departed, prospects from last years class received downgrades this year. This is highly unusual. The 2018 class ranked at $328 million. This years class is at $293 million (I didn’t have Garcia on my values from yesterday and I don’t know why my pitching disagrees with Doug’s). Had these 10 not received a downgrade this years class would have been valued at 363.

  13. Stock

    My top 10 observations from the Pre-2019 Prospect list..

    10. Fangraphs reduced the value of 10 prospects. I believe many of these 10 will be upgraded a year from now. Namely, if Hunter Greene stays healthy he will move up to 55 or 60. Siri, Garcia, Friedl and Heatherly also have a chance to move back to their 2018 value.

    9. Last year 2 of the 3 prospects with a value of 45 or more who had potential to graduate did so. Senzel did not and he is the only prospect (value 45 or more) this year with a very good chance to graduate. Long, Santillan and Gutierrez have an outside chance to graduate.

    8. The Reds 2018 draft was very productive. Six entries onto this list vs. four players from the 2017 draft on the 2017 values.

    7. 6 players from the 2018 draft class makes the pre-2019 list. 3 player from the 2017 class, 4 players from the 2015 and 2016 class and one from the 2013 class.

    6. A young group. 10 players spent most of their season in rookie ball and 9 of these 10 spent the entire season in rookie ball.

    5. Additionally 4 of the 5 players at 35+ spent the entire season in Rookie ball.

    4. Five players on this years list with the best chance of increasing value by at least 5. Hunter Green, TJ Friedl, Jose Garcia, Debby Santana and Michael Beltre.

    3. Five players not on this list who have a chance to have a value of at least 45 next winter. Jose Salvador, Alexis Diaz, Andy Sugilio, Randy Ventura and Hendrix Clementina.

    2. If Rylan Thomas successfully converts to catcher he should move up at least 5 points. If he doesn’t there is still a good chance he moves up 5 points.

    1. The market of the Pre-2019 club is $293 million. The Pre-2020 prospect class should be greater than $300 million. This would rank the Pre-2020 class as the second best in Reds history behind the Pre-2018 class. It will be interesting to see if they can eclipse that class.

    • Billy

      If Siri has a good enough year to recoup his value, he probably graduates. Senzel should graduate too. Shed Long could be another graduation candidate depending on what happens with Scooter. You could even make an argument that strong starts by Vladimir Gutierrez and/or Tony Santillan could see them get enough time in MLB this season to graduate. Obviously, some of those things are more likely than others, but I think all are possibilities. I suspect that the 2019 class will be good, but it may take a step back because of graduations.

  14. Bob Anderson

    Problem is, they don’t. This great farm system couldn’t even get James Paxton because the Reds didn’t have a good enough pitching prospect to get him. Now think about that?
    Much like most things “Reds” since 1997-98 during the last big scouting overhaul, they want to be the 90’s Cleveland Indians. Draft a bunch of Hall of Famers. That was a fluke.
    The lack of depth is bad.

    • Stock

      I am not sure Robert Stephenson is not better than Sheffield. Santillan can throw strikes. The Reds could have come up with a package. They just didn’t.

      • Bob Anderson

        Dude, Robert Stephenson is 26 years old reclamation prospect. He is not Sheffield. Santillan is a inferior prospect. There is no superior package. They didn’t have the pitching prospect.

        Don’t insult other posters, Bob.

      • Muddycleats

        I find it interesting Sheffield continues 2 b traded. I think many R over rating him as a SP prospect, but those around him realize he may only b a RP. Smart teams R moving him like Peraza was shopped & sold by LAD & Braves 4 more than he MAY b worth? Reds don’t seem savey enough 2 know when 2 hold um or when 2 sell um? Stephenson & Bailey come 2 mind

      • Stock

        But Sheffield is exactly what Robert Stephenson was 5 years ago. A high ranked prospect who could not throw strikes.

        And as for Santillan, I agree at this point he is not in the same category, but if his command improves half as much this year as it did in 2018 or 2017 he becomes a better prospect than Sheffield.

      • Muddycleats

        Stock, agree 2 a pt, but Cleveland & Yankees have sold this high talent – Reds don’t. Reds struggle 2 develop SP, so why not sell that high talent n exchange 4 someone is further along. Pt is to put better product on the field n Cincy

      • Patrick

        Because a guy walks less batters does not mean he has better command. For Santillan he was not “fearing” hitters he was just throwing it into the meat of the plate because of the league and parks most hitters could not touch him. At the majors and in GABP this will change, look at how the walk rates of Mahle and Castillo changed from AA to MLB and they were much better than Santillan. Santillan challenging ways showed with high HR rate and solid hit rate. He seems to be a guy that falls in between Mahle and Romaro. I agree with fangraphs his most likely outcome is a number 5 or a real good multi inning reliever. His ceiling(potential) maybe mid rotation but that is not where guys wind up.

  15. Krozley

    Off topic, but Harold Baines a hall of famer?!?! Wow. Now I guess you have to enshrine about 100 players who were much better than him that are not yet in. Who’s next, Placido Polanco?