MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra updated the farm system rankings over at MLB.com this week. The Cincinnati Reds show up on the list with the 4th best farm system in baseball according to the trio of experts in charge of the rankings. They trail the Cleveland Guardians (#3), the Los Angeles Dodgers (#2), and the Baltimore Orioles (#1).

When the year began the Reds were rated 15th by MLB Pipeline (this was published on March 31st, so it did include the trade acquisitions from the spring). Since then the Reds have had all kinds of changes in the organization. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Alexis Diaz, Alejo Lopez, and TJ Friedl have all graduated prospect status. The team has also gone out in the last five weeks and had a well regarded draft as well as making multiple trade deadline moves that brought in a whole lot of talent.

All of those moves made since spring training began has really crushed the big league roster, but it has rebuilt the farm system in a big way. We can argue about whether it was the right move to go into rebuild mode, but it is tough to argue that since they did go with that option that as of now they have been making the right moves.

Here’s what was said about the Reds farm system:

The Reds’ restocking has come in a variety of ways. Their last two first-round Draft picks are in the Top 100, and an international signee’s ascension gives them one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. But it’s been the trade market where Cincy has restocked its system the most, with nine of its Top 30, and eight of the top 15, coming in deals. In addition to the intriguing talent at the top, this is the deepest the system has been in some time.

It’s always best to have elite level prospects, but depth matters, too. And prior to the trade deadline deals the farm system lacked plenty of depth. There were some good prospects spread out throughout the system, but the depth was a problem from where I was looking. That’s no longer the case as the trade deadline deals added good depth as well as several high-end prospects to the ranks.

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48 Responses

  1. RedBB

    Overall it’s a deep farm system but it lacks starting pitching. None of the starters in the system are anywhere close tothe level of our 3 rookies.

    • Greenfield Red

      I don’t understand those with this concern. They just graduated 3 starting pitchers so they are not on the list. There are lots of them in the development stage, but the three top are in Cincinnati with 15 years of control combined. Would you feel better if they were all in Louisville?

      • Tom

        I think it would be different if Williamson and Phillips were a little ahead of where they are now. Right now it’s hard to decipher their trajectory from those of Stephenson, Garrett, Romano, Reed, Santillian, etc. which doesn’t help 2023 or 2024.

      • Jonathan

        @ Tom – what am I missing on Phillips? 21y @ Double A and holding his own? Seems pretty good to me….

      • Tom

        I think he’s really stalled out at AA. Not sure why but the numbers aren’t good. I’ll give him credit that age is on his side.

      • DaveCT

        Not trying to split hairs re: “stalled,” vs. struggled. I would say Phillips is far from dead in the water or stuck on the side of the road (stalled). Phillips has had 8 starts at AA. His BB are up but his K’s still at a good rate. He was excellent over 12 starts just weeks ago at Dayton. He just turned 21 years old, and AA is considered the most difficult jump to make. Young pitchers require patience.

      • Chi Reds Fan

        I think folks get far too hung up in what is defined as a “prospect” for listicle purposes. I get definitions are needed because a fairly easily defined common standard is needed for comparison purposes. But in reality Ashcraft, Greene and Lodolo are very much “prospects” as far as projecting young talent that will be available on the Reds roster in say the ’24-27 period with far more in common with their sequencing into useful MLB pitchers with AAA/AA types like Phillips, Williamson, Stoudt etc. than a 18 year old high schooler just drafted who may be many years away from making an impact. If one is focused on players that will make positive material impacts in the next few years then a broader definition may be needed. Personally I made a Top 30 list comprised of players with 3 or more year of control after this year. It captures Stephenson, India and Senzel (all the minor leaguers) but eliminates Farmer, Hoffman, Sims for instance. It is an encouraging list of 30 guys almost half of whom would not have been on the list at the end of last year. The point of the list to show how much talent the Reds have to make a run in the next few years with its current crop of controllable players.

    • Alex Reds

      I’m pretty sure the Reds will have a shortstop or two to trade for a starter in due time. That’s with moving some to 3B and CF and possibly even 1B ?. Plus, how much payroll do the Reds have on the books in 2024 to sign some pitching? Including relievers. One more year of high draft picks, sign some more 1 year contract free agents to trade at the deadline to load the farm again in 2023. In 2024 and on, here they come! It’s going to be a great competitive window coming. No more bad contracts as of now in that time period.
      P.S. Reds made a great decision to retool very quickly and while the players still had value. Krall really maximized that value. Reds even won the trades IMO where they traded their veterans like Winker and Suarez. Reds have all kinds of chips to move in for some pitching. Ricardo Cabrera, Victor Acosta, Hector Rodriguez etc. There’s no way this is a playoff team if adding back all the players from the last 1-2 years that have left. LETS GO REDS! LFG!

    • DaveCT

      I think you have to start offering proof of this statement. Several of us have offered proof to the contrary with no response. This is starting to be a troll opinion, otherwise.

      • RedBB

        Troll statement? really…I basically said the same thing Doug said below. Not a ton of upside and a lot of downside. As I said before there is no one close to the upside of the 3 guys that are rookies and those 3 guys are not even locks to be top of the rotation guys. Unless we hit the free agent market we will need more starting pitching to be competitive in 2024 and I don’t see any oil those guys on the farm better than back end rotation guys if even that.

      • DaveCT

        No, really, and I’m not trying to be an a**. Your posts on this frequently state there is little or no starting pitching in the system, and they then offer no evidence or to expand afterwards. Making a blanket statement like that without providing anything to support it several times over can be trolling or, assuming that isn’t your intent, has the effect of trolling. It’s simply not true. There is starting pitching depth. There is very good talent, if not elite, ie Greene. Visit the Daytona pitching stat’s, and look at the starters, especially those spending the first half there.. Their numbers are quite good. The same is true of Dayton, before promotions or injuries. It thins out at AA and AAA which is to be expected. But there is still talent and some of it is pretty good.

      • Greenfield Red

        You said it well Dave, and I agree. There isn’t a Greene in the minors because he is in the majors. He is/was a very high end prospects. No team has an abundance of guys like that. However, I really like Phillips, Petty, and Boyle among others.

        I believe this team will compete for a WS or two by as early as 2025, and with all the high end young talent they have, it could be sustainable for 10 or so years.

        They will only add to the young talent in 2023 through the draft and hopefully this Catcher and other internationals turn out.

    • Kindell

      Phillips is a really good prospect. If you just look at stats, sure he has struggled some moving to AA, but that is expected. His last start showed a lot of that potential. He was painting the corners at 98 and 99, while also throwing good breaking balls. He just needs time, but he has as much upside as anyone in the system not named ELDC.

    • Luke J

      Williamson, Phillips, Abbott, Petty, Boyle, Bonnin, Roa, Richardson, etc… all seem to be decent prospects, a couple of which will likely pan out.

      • Doug Gray

        Playing the odds here, I’d say that the chances are just as good that none of them pan out as starters as there is that two of them make it as #4 starters. There’s a ton of risk in this group between “not a big upside”, “injury risk”, and “low floor”. Among that group only one of these players has had success in Double-A and that guy is now in Triple-A having a lot of struggles on some fronts.

        While I agree with Greenfield Red that I’m not as concerned about the lack of pitching depth “on the farm” because guys like Lodolo, Greene, and Ashcraft are all rookies in the big leagues right now, when we do look at the pitchers on the farm, there are a lot of questions and no one feels like a solid bet right now.

      • Tom

        Right now, I’d take Petty out of that group if I had just 1 pick.

      • Optimist

        Just went back and looked at Mahle’s progression. He seems to be settling in to a classic 3rd/4th starting pitcher role – very reliable, not really an ace and not likely to become one.

        His first 1/2 season in AA MiLB was the only stretch where he was not particularly good, let alone great. Who among this group fits that profile?

      • Tom

        Optimist, are you referring to Phillips? His bb/9 has been high throughout his early career. Mahle was special in that he always could avoid walks at a very nice rate.

      • MBS

        I’ve liked Williamson and Boyle for the pen.

        Phillips, Abbott, Stoudt, Bonnin could all become starters, or like Doug said, they could just as easily not make it as starters.

        Petty is much younger, and shouldn’t be lumped in with the other guys, at least in my opinion.

    • Jj

      You need to look more deeply, trade’s brought in pitching from Minnesota, mariners, with great upside. What they got for Gray, Mahle and winker/Suarez could compete

  2. haven

    Love where the farm system is, however to this point looks like 2020 draft was kind of a lame duck. Obviously there’s still time.

    • Old Big Ed

      I wouldn’t fault any team under the circumstances for having an unproductive 2020 draft. I hold out almost zero hope for Hendrick, but they did get Joe Boyle and Christian Roa out of that draft. And I don’t know if they signed somebody after the 5-round draft that year who may work out.

      • Luke J

        There were a lot of steps forward for Hendrick this season. He’s not where we might want him, but he’s young, was promoted, and seems to be progressing in many of the areas he struggled last season.

      • Doug Gray

        Luke, where exactly has Hendrick progressed aside from hitting for a little more power? His strikeout rate this year is 38.3% (it was 37.6% in 2021). His walk rate is 8.4% (19.2% in 2021). His slugging is up to .413 after being .388 last year.

        His strikeout rate in August in 17 games is 26.4%. That’s far and away the best strikeout rate he’s ever had for a month. It’s encouraging to see, but I don’t think we can point to a 17 game stretch and say he’s progressing, either.

      • Luke J

        Doug, for a player who is as young as he is, who spent significant time injured last season, and who has as few total games as a professional as he does, and was promoted to tougher competition right in the middle of it, I think it’s very reasonable to use a small sample size of 17 games to look for progression. I’m not suggesting he’s made large strides. But I see some baby steps happening.

  3. Stock

    A tale of 5 pitchers:

    Pitcher A: Age 22 in A+ and AA
    Pitcher B: Age 21 in A+ and AA
    Pitcher C: Age 22 in A and A+
    Pitcher D: Age 24 in AA and AAA
    Pitcher E: Age 22 in A

    Pitcher A:
    A+ Ball: 14.7 K/9, 7.1 BB/9, 2.17 ERA
    AA Ball: 9.4 K/9, 9.4 BB/9, 2.08 ERA

    Pitcher B:
    A+ Ball: 12.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 2.95 ERA
    AA Ball: 12.0 K/9, 7.2 BB/9, 6.18 ERA

    Pitcher C:
    A Ball: 9.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 4.15 ERA
    A+ Ball: 10.4 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 3.86 ERA

    Pitcher D:
    A+ Ball: 9.9 K/9, 7.4 BB/9, 4.14 ERA
    AA Ball: 5.4 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 3.77 ERA

    Pitcher E:
    A Ball: 10.0 K/9, 7.1 BB/9, 3.16 ERA

    Pitchers A and E got away with the huge BB/9 because (IMO) their stuff was so good that when hitters did not walk they had weak contact or struck out.

    Pitcher B was great in A+ ball but once his BB/9 went to 7 in AA he could not induce enough weak contact (or K’s) to limit the damage.

    Pitchers C and D were okay but I have concerns that this BB% and their inability to limit hard contact will come back to haunt them eventually.

    Pitcher A: Joe Boyle
    Pitcher B: Connor Phillips
    Pitcher C: Christian Roa
    Pitcher D: Brandon Williamson
    Pitcher E: Randy Johnson

    • AllTheHype

      The Randy Johnson story is an extreme rarity. It happens once in blue moon.

      Boyle does have some crazy stats though, perhaps most impressive .118 BAA in his MiLB career. But the most challenging stat for him is, and will continue to be, p/IP, because the odds are greatly stacked against him ever being able to command the zone well.

      Approx 19 p/IP in lower MiLB levels probably translates to about 24 in MLB. And the more pitches MLB batters see, the more likely they will exploit the count. It’s hard to imagine him sticking as a SP in MLB, even if he were somehow able to stay at 19.

    • Zach

      Obsessed with Joe Boyle much, eh? Beer on me if he hits the majors and has half of the success Randy Johnson had. Seems unlikely though

      • Doug Gray

        You should buy him a brewery if he has half the success Johnson had. There are dudes out there who are multi-time All-Stars who can’t claim to have half the success Johnson had.

      • Amarillo

        In order to have half of the success of Randy Johnson you would need 50 WAR, 2 Cy Youngs, 5 All Star selections, 2500 Strikeouts and 150 wins. A player with half the success of Randy Johnson would get a decent amount of Hall of Fame votes.

      • Stock

        I love the pick of Boyle in round 5 of the draft. His ceiling is much higher than any other pitcher in the Reds minor league system.

        I understand his ceiling is pretty low too. But I tend to put much more empathis on the ceiling because in order to win you must have superstars and for the Reds to have a Joey Votto type player it must come through player development. I feel his ceiling warrants my high ranking in the Reds system.

      • Stock

        Agreed with Petty. I also like Jose Acuna. I did not mention it on my next post but Jose Acuna has a (K+IFFB)/(TBF-BB) ratio of 41%. This is pretty impressive in my mind.

  4. Stock

    Much of this detail was not available when Randy Johnson was pitching so will include just the 4 Reds here:

    There are two great ways to get outs in Baseball. IFFB and K. My opinion is that both of these stats are also a good indicator of weak contact also.

    Ratio 1: (K + IFFB)/Total Batters faced (TBF)
    Ratio 2: (K + IFFB)/(TBF – BB)

    Greene 2021:
    Ratio 1: 36%//Ratio 2: 40%

    Lodolo 2021:
    Ratio 1: 43%//Ratio 2: 46%

    Ashcraft 2022 (Minors):
    Ratio 1: 21%//Ratio 2: 24%

    Ashcraft 2021:
    Ratio 1: 30%//Ratio 2: 33%

    Boyle 2022:
    Ratio 1: 45%//Ratio 2: 56%

    Phillips 2022:
    Ratio 1: 35%//Ratio 2: 40%

    Roa 2022:
    Ratio 1: 32%//Ratio 2: 37%

    Williamson 2022:
    Ratio 1: 29%//Ratio 2: 33%

    Boyle, Greene, Lodolo and Phillips all have a (K + IFFB)/(TBF – BB) ratio of at least 40%. Because of this I think they will all be SP in the majors. All four have at least 1 superior pitch. I know that BB are currently a problem for Boyle and Phillips but I think they will learn to throw strikes in the next two years or so.

    Ashcraft will be a good backend rotation piece because he induces GB at such a high clip. If he can strike out a few more (or induce even more GB he could be a #3 SP.

    Chase Petty and Jose Acuna will be interesting to watch develop. I think both could be SP in the majors.

    I think the Reds are pretty well set with SP. Four in the minors and 3 in the majors. If only 2 of the 4 in the minors turn out to be SP the Reds still have 5. Plus they have the cash and future draft picks to add to that.

  5. DaveCT

    The failure of Garrett, Stephenson, Romano, and others of that grouping to develop into starting pitchers, IMO, hurt the most recent rebuild/retool quite a bit.

    Mahle was a very solid arm developed in house, and Castillo & Gray were astute acquisitions. But the statement by Stephenson that the main pitching prospects were largely ‘left alone to figure it out,’ still makes me SMH.

    So, given the implementation of a system wide, top to bottom program to develop pitching, combined with the talent we have, will likely influence this rebuild. Of the many arms in the minors, as well as the three rookies in the ML’s, developing a core rotation and pen is gonna be a big key.

    Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Williamson, Stout, Abbott, Phillips, Boyle, Petty, Bonnin, Roa, Farr, Rivera, Benschoter, Aguiar, Acuna, Cooper, Jose Franco (104 k’s in 77 innings) are plenty of starting arms for developing a core for the rebuild. The bullpen pieces in the minors are promising as well.

    Time will tell.

      • Stock

        Agreed Greenfield. Also if it were the Reds development team that was the problem, why hasn’t he flourished since his trade. His ERA this year is 6.08 with Colorado with a 6.11 ERA on the road.

    • Tom

      I agree that time will tell. Also we don’t know what could have been, but the 2014-2019 class of prospect pitching that was left alone to figure it out also did not figure it out at any other time after moving on, which says something to me about the limited supply of arms that can make it to free agency at the mlb level. Plan for the worst, hope for the best is all I’d say at this point.

  6. MK

    Starting pitcher injury bug moves down to AAA as Nicolino comes out after three batters for the Bats tonight.

  7. Redsvol

    I know I’m late to the conversation but I love to see the back and forth about our Reds minor leaguers. I remember when all we could dream on were a couple of hurt high school pitchers who barely even pitched (Ty Howington, Chris Gruler, Kyle Lotzkar, Nick Travis). Now we actually have pitchers (and hitters) performing well at several levels. Just have to keep them healthy.

    I would say the pitching depth is phenomenal compared to previous years. We’ve had a couple of bare drafts but not like in the past. The keys will be health, whether they can command another 1-2 pitches and whether they take their craft seriously and really learn the art of pitching. They all throw hard enough. You don’t have to throw 99 to be a good major league starting pitcher. It just so happens that we have 2-3 that can. Lots of guys are winning with 92-93 mph fastballs.

    • DaveCT

      Tyler Mahle was a skinny 7th round pick that developed physically as projected and honed his skills. How many kids in the system right now fit that description? Depth is great, quality depth is even better, especially when complementing elite talent.

    • Jonathan

      Man i forgot about these names…Ty Howington, Chris Gruler. Ty Howington was once a top 100 prospect along with Dunn and Kearns in like 2002-2003? That class was suposed to help Larkin & Griffey to a WS.

      The quote about Stephenson is very sad. What the heck? that is really poor leadership and management by the Reds staff if that is the case.

      I work for a billion dollar company and we have a Leadership and Development department which there entire focus is to develop their leaders and promote core values, etc. Seems like a shame if the Reds don’t have something like that. Someone like Amber Selking would be a good boost for the Reds if they could snag someone like that.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    I think some people tend to value prospects based only on their stats and performance in the current season. I want to say is that a good ranked prospect this year has not done well is considered no longer talented or even this year he had good numbers at one level and when he was promoted he got worse then loses his prospect status. I am not an expert in minor leagues aspects but from what I have observed it is better to be patient with the prospects and always watch their performances because they are working on to improve or at least it is supposed are doing that, so, at any moment, one of them could breakout and give the surprise. Take Graham Ashcraft or Elly de La Cruz himself as examples. In the other hand , Noelvi Marte has started slowly and guess he doesn’t finish strong this season (God forbid) , What will happen to the Marte’s rank for the next season? Should he be get down in the rankings so quickly or not be considered a top prospect anymore?

    • Tom

      India, Antone and Diaz are other great examples of patience paying off.

  9. Jim Delaney

    The farm system is better YES but unfortunately the current ownership is the same. The current ownership group has never committed to putting a championship caliber team on the field even though they are in a division they should be able to
    compete in annually. As as long as profit margin and financial bottom line are the keys to how the current ownership runs the Reds I don’t see a strong farm system doing enough to making this franchise a consistent winner… Tanking a season to lose 100 plus games this season and run back the same group to run the
    organization leaves a lot of questions as to whether fans will buy in to this strategy….