On Wednesday the Louisville Bats wrapped up their season with a win in Gwinnett. It was also the final game played for any of the Cincinnati Reds farm teams. As was noted on Wednesday – that game meant that Louisville finished 60-90 on the season, giving them their 10th consecutive losing season. The last time that the Bats had a winning season was 2011. No other team in the farm system has been nearly that bad for that long.

But what that final loss did was give us a final record for the farm system for the year. That game didn’t decide a winning or a losing record for the farm system – it just gave us a final record. That record for the entire farm system was 298-345. A losing record overall and only two of the six teams had winning records on the season – Dayton went 67-61 and the ACL Reds went 32-19.

We don’t have to go back very far to find a winning season for the farm. In 2021 they finished 301-295 on the year. That 2021 season, though, was the first time the farm system had a winning record since 2011 when they went 420-415. Those are the only two years in which the Cincinnati Reds farm system has had a winning record in the last 15 seasons. The next closest season to .500 was in 2007 when they finished 408-424.

While there’s not exactly a 1-for-1 correlation between winning in the minor leagues leading to winning in the major leagues, it’s incredible that in 15 seasons that a farm system only has two winning seasons.

In that span the team has been through countless general managers, several farm directors, a multitude of different coaches, coordinators, etc. This hasn’t been the failure of on person, one outlook, one plan. This has been an organizational problem for a decade and a half and it’s happened under countless leaders up and down the front office ladder.

The Last Winning Season

As noted above, the last time that the Louisville Bats had a winning season was 2011. They were above .500 for six consecutive seasons from 2006-2011 under Rick Sweet. In 2012 they didn’t bring Sweet back (since leaving he’s gone 600-518 since, including going 91-58 this year for Nashville) and moved David Bell up to Louisville from what was then Double-A Carolina where he had been (and went 179-239 with the Mudcats in three seasons) the manager. They went 51-93 that season and haven’t won since.

Chattanooga’s last winning season came in 2021. Dayton had a winning record this season. Daytona finished at .500 in 2021 and had their last winning record in 2018. The ACL Reds had a winning record this season. And the Dominican Summer League Reds finished with a winning record in 2021.

About The Author

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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23 Responses

  1. LDS

    It’s organizational and systemic. It starts at the top. Castellini & son needs to go. To see it all laid out like this is a bit depressing. That Bell failed in the minors as well, is well known. Maybe Sweet wants to manage Cincinnati next year. It would have to be a step up.

    • Redsvol

      I think the Reds philosophy in the minors of not stressing wins and losses needs to go. Stressing winning breeds discipline and adherence to fundamentals. When its all about whether a player can hit for power and play multiple positions – but not necessarily 1 well, then it appears to me to lead to loss of fundamentals.

      Too many times have we seen the younger Reds players not understand how to make the fundamental play – from Senzel’s lack of base running skills to numerous outfielders not throwing to the right base. We had numerous occasions just this past month where bases weren’t covered correctly on defense. Its embarrassing and leads to unearned runs – even when the scorers don’t score them as errors.

      2 teams that seem to stress winning (at least at the upper levels) – Guardians and Rays.

  2. wolfcycle

    agree above and disagree with article, Cast and fam is problem. I could point to 50 things that are not stat related as to the reason the Reds org as a whole is terrible. But, ownership has to do right by the players.

      • DW

        That is what I was wondering…what exactly is there to disagree with? Pretty much just facts laid out with a few obvious statements. Not much opinion to disagree with. Great article Doug.

      • Optimist

        I’m with DW – maybe the next article gets to recommendations, opinions and pointed criticism, but this is just a summary. Now, as to what those could be, sure -We’ve all got ideas, but they’re not in this wrap up.

      • Dean Rock

        Probably disagrees with notion that winning at minor league level is relevant, as article suggests.
        I don’t care if the minor league teams go winless, so long as players are developed as they should be. But doing that in theory should lead to more winning.

      • Doug Gray

        The article doesn’t suggest that.

        The article simply suggests that the farm system has been very bad for a long time with regards to winning and losing games.

  3. Dan

    Doug, great reporting. It is a cultural thing, along with direction, planning , and execution. I was very disappointed when they dismissed Brody last year, driveline works, but where was the Reds commitment long term. I love the Reds, and I love baseball. It’s hard not to click on Top 5 picks, but even that we’ve struggled from time to time, but look at the Rays and Dodgers- no comparison in regards to tangible value or financial flexibility, but their talent evaluation and development leads the pack, I also admire the Indians for development of pitching- sorry I refuse to acknowledge Guardians. If the Reds are going to work within their financial budget(s) they need to see it through, and not change course in midstream. Our evaluators and developmental staff needs to step it up a few levels as well.

    • MK

      I think the issue was more his administrative ability to manage the pitching coaches and training across the organization. The Reds still use his philosophical, mechanical, and technical teaching. He is just not involved day-to-day. J.J. is a disciple of his principles and carries them on.
      Broddy who had no pro-pitching experience how to tell pitchers what to manage a game on the mound when he had no experience and the guys he was directing all had that experience created some internal issues.
      Interesting that a guy in such high demand a few years ago is no longer an employee of a pro team.

  4. Greenfield Red

    I have been concerned with all the losing in the organization for some time now.

    I think the other thing that is being overlooked or explained away is all the strikeouts. From EDLC on down, few, very few hitters don’t have prohibitive strike out rates. If this does not change, the rebuild will fail… again.

    We are seeing Barrero fail at the ML level. Aquino is a lost cause. India strikes out too much. Senzel is lost. The Reds had to get rid of Suarez because of it. It’s rampant in the minors. There is still time to correct it, but there is little evidence of improvement.

    In the case of Suarez, the answer was clear. He stated that he was going for 50 HRs after hitting 49. He tried to hit everything to the moon. He led planet Earth in strikeouts. Nobody stopped him. Now he’s gone.

    Aquino and Senzel may be gone too.

  5. Norwood Nate

    It is interesting to me how the article highlights that David Bell has basically failed his way up the ladder. Losing AA record, promoted to AAA. Losing AAA record, promoted to ML. Losing ML record….promoted to Front Office in the near future? Nepotism knows no bounds in a Castellini run organization.

  6. TMS

    I mentioned this very issue once on the message board at another site, and basically got shut down as “winning doesn’t matter.” While I understand that development is the main reason for minor league baseball, the point ought to be developing minor league players into major league winners.

    Part of the issue with Louisville is that they really have not had good players there over the past ten years. There have been far too many “has-beens” trying to resurrect careers. Too many guys in their late 20’s who should have gone on to the next career in life five years ago. Too many “scraped-the-bottom-of-the-barrel” players from some other team’s garbage can. The worst thing is that someone in the Reds’ developmental pipeline actually thinks that these players are useful to keep around. I actually don’t blame the on-field coaching and manager at Louisville. Untalented players will produce poor W-L records, no matter how good or bad the coaching is.

    I realize that there are the occasional late bloomers who finally figure things out at age 28-29. But those are extremely rare, and it makes little sense to build your entire AAA team on players you hope might figure things out. They never do, and you end up with a team that finishes 30 games under.500 for ten consecutive years.

    Is it any wonder why the major league team is having the same results?

  7. Dave

    The big league club is so drained of talent that they’ve basically been playing the minor league players in Cincinnati. I’ve been at every Lookouts game this year and the biggest obstacle to winning is the severe lack of pitching. In 2021 the Looks had Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft and all three are now on the big league club. That’s great but once they’re gone there was practically nobody that can get the job done. The Lookouts have had to score 8 runs a game to even have a chance, and when you’re down 5 runs before you even come to bat that makes it difficult. No pitching = No winning

    • EyeballsInNooga

      Yeah. It’s pretty telling that pretty much every pitcher Chattanooga this season with any prospect value had either been promoted to AA too soon (Abbott, Phillips, Roa, Boyle) or were promoted out to AAA too soon (Williamson, Stoudt).

      The team was consistently trotting out a few talented pitchers, but most of those guys were struggling to find their feet at a new level. And then the guys promoted up to Louisville struggled there.

      Oh, except the bullpen. I’m sure you had the same experience, but I felt like strapping into an ejection seat after about the 5th every game because the bullpen was a hall of horrors on a nightly basis.

  8. Chas

    I agree with the article and a lot of the comments. I might have liked for the reporting to go deeper. Win/Loss numbers in themselves are not very meaningful, they’re a result of other areas. Is the pitching worse (ERA), or the defense, or are they moving guys around too much,or not enough? Maybe all the mistakes at the MLB level are due to missing training opportunities in the minors. I would love a follow up article with more information.

    • Doug Gray

      Here’s my opinion for what happened in 2022: The trickle down from the big league club led to a lot of players being at levels they shouldn’t have been at, causing the play to be lesser than. Between the insane amount of injuries the big league club had, along with the trades they made both in March and in July/August, there were probably 10 players at every level who in a normal scenario would have been a level lower. That kind of thing is going to show up in your record.

  9. MBS

    I’m not super concerned about winning in the minors. The minors are full of filler players that will never reach the MLB club. I’m not going to make the argument that the minors should be cut back even further than they did. It should, but the point is with the system we have, winning is not a priority. It’s all about player development. At each level you’ll have 4 – 8 players who have a legit shot of making the bigs, and less that will stick.

    • Oldtimer

      Bob Howsam made that one of his first changes when he took over as Reds GM in 1967. He wanted the Reds to draft and sign good players and prospects who would learn to win in the minor leagues.

      I don’t know the W-L minor league numbers from 1967 to 1978 (when he left) but his philosophy was for Reds minor league teams to be winners.

  10. Tom

    All things totaled, any one of us would prefer a winning organization to a losing one. It’s more fun.

    Within that structure, we all want the best prospects in baseball to come through to become all stars for the Reds, and as frequently as possible.

    I don’t see how a losing organization can make this happen any better than a winning one. It could at best be a neutral impact on prospect performance and frequency. At worst it could have a broad ecological impact and in some ways be hard to detect or define. Then as the losing everywhere becomes obvious it turns into an identity crisis. I think we’re about there now.

    In this day and age with payroll disparity, the Reds have made themselves responsible for having a pristine prospect pipeline. They have to achieve perfection in so many areas they would otherwise just be able to compensate for with cash. And as we know the cash rich teams now also seek perfection in every facet of the pipeline, all the way to dominant championship rosters.

    No more slouching around people! Win everything, everywhere!

  11. LarkinPhillips

    The same people at RLN that say Bell can’t win because he doesn’t have good players also say that in the minors winning isn’t important. If good players win games and managers don’t matter at all, then good players in the minors should result in winning as well.

    With that said, I agree that this years injuries and trades from the majors trickled down to the minors. Especially evident in Dayton where a stacked team ran out to a big record, then got picked apart by promotions.

    I am optimistic about the farm system right now, but would like to see more fruits of the developmental system show up in basic fundamentals being displayed in the majors over the next year or two. I remember numerous botched rundowns, throwing to the wrong bases, and lots of other poor fundamentals this year from players that came up through our farm system.