Last week the crew at MLB.com wrote about the five most improved farm systems in Major League Baseball from the start of 2021 through the end of the 2021 season. The Cincinnati Reds were among the teams that jumped the most on the list. When the year began the organization had the 20th rated farm system in baseball, but by seasons end they had climbed to the #10 spot in the rankings from MLB Pipeline.
There are a lot of reasons that it happened. The Reds had multiple high draft picks, giving them a bit of an edge over a majority of the league when it came to simply being able to add higher end talent to the organization. But it also helped that their top prospects not only maintained their prospect status, but improved it.
Hunter Greene returned from Tommy John surgery and dominated Double-A before heading to Triple-A where he was the youngest pitcher in the league and performed at an above-average level. Nick Lodolo battled some blister issues during the year, but when he was on the mound he was filthy and posted a 2.31 ERA in his 50.2 innings. Graham Ashcraft vaulted up the rankings as he put together arguably the best season of any pitcher in the organization while posting a 3.00 ERA between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.
On the position side of things the organization saw Jose Barrero improve his stock with a dominant performance in both Double-A and Triple-A throughout the season as he became a Top 50 caliber prospect (and Top 25 in some places), though for the MLB.com rankings he is no longer prospect eligible. Elly De La Cruz went from virtually unknown to a Top 100 prospect after flashing elite athleticism and tools while also hitting the cover off of the ball for much of the season. Allan Cerda took a big step forward, showing good power out of a centerfielder as he split time between the two teams in A-ball.
While not everything went right for the Reds on the farm in 2021, a lot of things did. That’s especially true at the top end of the system. Toss in that much of the top end of the farm system is also made up of guys that played well in Double-A, Triple-A, or both really helps take things to the next level.