MLB.com has been polling front office executives about things related to prospects and development. There were a lot of categories that were asked about, and the Cincinnati Reds showed up in some of them and were completely absent in some others.

When it comes to the best farm system in baseball the Reds weren’t among the top four vote getting organizations. They were, however, among the other five teams who did receive votes. The Baltimore Orioles got half of the votes, while the Los Angeles Dodgers were next in line and the only other team to get a double-digit percentage of the vote (21%).

The next question asked was interesting. The question was “which team uses the draft best?”. I find it interesting that the question wasn’t “which team drafts best”, implying that there’s a difference in the two things (which you can argue there is, but I feel like which team drafts best is the question that has an answer that matters in terms of winning baseball games instead of winning accounting games). The Reds also got votes here and were tied with Atlanta for the 4th most votes. The Dodgers were atop this poll, with the Orioles and Cardinals coming up next. The Reds also did well in the question about which team plays the international market better than any other. The Astros and Dodgers were at the top, followed by the Yankees. But Cincinnati was tied with Cleveland, Washington, and San Diego at the #4 spot.

When it comes to the farm system being underrated, it’s a bit strange because many of the teams that got votes for the best farm system also got plenty of votes for the most underrated farm system. Cincinnati came in at #4 here.

With regards to developing players, this is where things did not seem to favor the Reds. The question was asked about which team is best at develop pitchers, and a separate question for developing hitters, and Cincinnati didn’t get a vote in either category. 10 teams received votes in the pitchers category, while 12 teams received votes in the hitter category.

Individual player questions were asked, too. The first time we see Elly De La Cruz show up is when he received the 4th most votes in the “most usable power” category. 13 players got votes, but surprisingly Christian Encarnacion-Strand was not among them. De La Cruz showed up with the 4th most votes in the “most speed” category as well. He was the only Red – hitter or pitcher – to get votes in any of the individual categories.

23 Responses

  1. LDS

    That the Reds received no votes for developing pitchers or hitters isn’t really surprising. That coupled with the overall perception of drafting and the farm system generally, strikes me as somewhat ominous for the future. But, well supported by recent history.

    • MBS

      I agree it doesn’t feel like a surprise. We always seem to grade out well on drafts, but don’t seem to produce much talent.

    • AllTheHype

      Our expected top 3 starters in ’23 were developed in Reds system.

      Potentially our top 2 hitters (Stephenson, India) also were.

      Our best reliever & potential star, also was.

      Our top 2 trade targets last year, Castillo and Mahle, also were. Castillo was traded to Reds, yes, but developed his changeup etc in the system after he was acquired.

      De La Cruz, knocking on the door, also was developed by Reds.

      So I don’t think the argument that Reds can’t develop is true at all, factually speaking.

      • Stock

        I agree with you 100% Allthehype. I feel that in the past that was true. Gullett to Browning to Bailey. From 2008 – 2020 we brought of Bailey, Cueto, Leake and Wood. Followed this up with Mahle and Castillo (you could also include Lorenzen). I feel Derek Johnson is changing even more. I love that he is overseeing the entire system. Greene and Lodolo were spectacular in the second half last year. I have high hopes for Boyle, Abbott, Phillips and Petty. Several others could also do well in the show.

      • MBS

        @All, a team needs 26 men on the roster, and you’ve only been able to mention 8, and 2 of them are traded away. No one in their right mind would say we can’t produce anyone. I stick by my we haven’t produced much.

        1st 3 rounds of draft picks since 2012, I could have added 2011 to make it look uglier, but I think it looks ugly enough.

        2012
        1 Travieso Comp *Winker*
        Comp Gelalich 2 Rahier
        3 Langfield

        2013
        1 Ervin Comp *Lorenzen*
        2 Franklin 3 Armstrong

        2014
        1 Howard 1 Blandino
        2 Sparks 3 Wyatt

        2015
        1 *Stephenson* 2 Santillan
        Comp Rainey 3 Trahan

        2016
        1 Senzel Comp Trammell
        2 Okey 3 Hanson

        2017
        1 *Greene* Comp Downs
        2 Fairchild 3 Heatherly

        2018
        1 *India* 2 Richardson
        Comp Gray 3 Spillane

        2019
        1 *Lodolo* 2 Hinds
        3 Callihan

        2020
        1 Hendrick 2 Roa
        Comp Miller 3 Bonnin

        2021
        1 McLain comp Allen
        Comp Nelson, 2 Abbott 3 Torres

        The younger classes are harder to judge since they are still mostly prospects, but 2012 – 2106 looks terrible. It does feel like we are doing a better job recently, and hopefully that continues. We are a long way from being a system that produces a lot of talent.

      • MBS

        BTW Castillo was in our minors for a half season, we didn’t develop him.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS, compare what the Reds have produced to ANY team, and we would compare favorably. Our best 4 pitchers and best 2 position players were drafted and developed by Reds, plus the Reds have traded away elite players they drafted or developed (Winker, Mahle, Castillo, Josiah Gray & more). And yes, the Reds developed Castillo. He refined his changeup while in the system.

        Find another team that can say that many of their best players were drafted and developed internally. There aren’t many that can’t stand with the Reds in that respect.

      • MBS

        If you exclude Stephenson and India, just look how far back you need to go to find another successful position player that the Reds developed.

        2022 (62-100, 1.6 oWAR) Stephenson (1.5) Votto (-0.3) India (-0.4) Drury (2.1) Farmer (1.0) Pham (0.6) Senzel (-1.3) Aquino (1.4) Moustakas (-1.0)

        2021 (83-79, 11.4 oWAR) Barnhart (0.2) Votto (3.5) India (3.9) Suárez (-0.7) Farmer (1.2) Winker (2.7) Naquin (0.8) Castellanos (3.2)

        2020 (31-29, 1.9 oWAR) Barnhart (0.8) Votto (0.0) Moustakas (0.2) Suárez (0.6) Galvis (0.2) Akiyama (0.8) Senzel (-0.3) Castellanos (0.0) Winker (1.3)

        2019 (75-87, 8.3 oWAR) Barnhart (0.5) Votto (1.4) Peraza (-1.1) Suárez (3.4) Iglesias (1.0) Winker (0.9) Senzel (0.1) Puig (0.4)

        2018 (67-95, 14.8 oWAR) Barnhart (0.8) Votto (3.6) Gennett (3.0) Suárez (4.0) Peraza (2.2) Duvall (1.3) Hamilton (0.7) Schebler (0.9)

        2017 (68-94, 23.9 oWAR) Barnhart (3.6) Votto (8.1) Gennett (1.9) Suárez (3.5) Cozart (5.2) Duvall (2.0) Hamilton (1.3) Schebler (1.2)

        2016 (68-94, 13.5 oWAR) Barnhart (0.9) Votto (4.2) Phillips (0.1) Suárez (1.6) Cozart (2.2) Duvall (3.3) Hamilton (3.1) Bruce (0.9)

        2015 (64-98, 15.7 oWAR) Peña (0.4) Votto (7.8) Phillips (2.2) Frazier (3.5) Suárez (0.9) Byrd (0.8) Hamilton (1.1) Bruce (0.9)

        2014 (76-86, 15.9 oWAR) Mesoraco (4.9) Votto (1.7) Phillips (1.0) Frazier (4.7) Cozart (1.9) Ludwick (-0.6) Hamilton (2.5) Bruce (-0.8)

        2013 (90-72, 23.0 oWAR) Mesoraco (0.1) Votto (6.6) Phillips (1.7) Frazier (2.9) Cozart (1.2) Heisey (0.7) Choo (4.6) Bruce (5.2)

        2012 (97-65, 19.5 oWAR) Hanigan (2.3) Votto (5.9) Phillips (4.0) Rolen (0.6) Cozart (2.8) Ludwick (2.3) Stubbs (0.1) Bruce (2.2)

  2. AllTheHype

    As for “which team uses the draft best” versus “which team drafts best”, I think the Rangers in 2022 would get a good grade on the former question, considering they landed the pre-draft #38 and #11 with only 1st and 4th round selections (they had nothing in between). They might have “used the draft best” but did they “draft best”, considering they took Rocker at #3 when he was rated #38?

    • Doug Gray

      Eh – “rated” is very, very subjective, especially when it comes to players in the draft, and even more so with players who are, or aren’t injured but were before. Tons of variables in the “how exactly do we evaluate Kumar Rocker” file.

      • AllTheHype

        Agreed but regardless of rating, almost all analysts agree it was a reach to take Rocker 3rd. But the point is the Rangers had a plan in doing so and that was save lots of $$$ at 3 and use that cash to get someone really good who fell to 109 (due to signability concerns), which happened to be Porter.

        In that sense, the Rangers should get some votes for “which team uses the draft best”.

    • Stock

      AllTheHype is all over it tonight. The Reds have used the draft to perfection the last two years taking McLain and Collier because the asking price got too big for others and manipulating other picks to make sure they stay under the cap.

      Pittsburgh understood 1 – 6 were of similar value so they take the one who needs the lowest signing bonus and use the savings to spend on other picks.

      My third example was going to be Texas but AllTheHype beat me to it.

      If McLain does not work out then the Red will have a bad 2021 draft in spite of the fact that they used the draft the best.

      • AllTheHype

        Definitely a fan of the Collier pick, but I was never a fan of the McLain pick at the time even though he slid down a little. He just wasn’t that upside guy, no particular tools stood out, although no glaring weaknesses either. At best I think he might end up being a serviceable guy in MLB, about what I thought when we drafted him. I wanted Gavin Williams with that pick, said it here at the time, after watching him pitch in NCAA playoffs.

  3. Tom

    I’m rarely impressed with Cardinals use of the draft, I’m not unimpressed either. But their development is quite clearly near the top.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    Encarnación-Strand could surprise much people next season as long as he keeps developing and performing very well as he did in 2022. I feel the Reds are underrated in general, it is not to be shocked when they are ignored in many aspects of the game and by the scouts, media and so on…

    • AllTheHype

      Especially if CES is more than a DH. At the time of the trade, he was looking like a DH/1B type but after the trade he showed more defensive viability. In any event, the Reds do need a Votto replacement soon and he might just be that guy.

  5. DaveCT

    I think it’s going to take time for the newer, top to bottom development strategies formatting and pitching to be fairly evaluated.

    I frequently go back to Robert Stephenson’s statement after his trade that he (they) were basically left alone to figure things out on his own. And I don’t necessarily think Reds were alone in the practice of letting the various hitting/pitching coaches at each level teach what they knew vs. teaching a unified approach.

  6. Optimist

    Let’s put a marker down and review this same time next year. Some of these are clearly lagging indicators, and some may have recency bias involved. Taking a 5-10 year view would take us back to D William’s changes, and forward 5 or 6 years.

    Callups this season will show us a lot, one way or another.

  7. Stock

    The Reds have turned around their drafting recently. It is too early to determine the success of the 2020-2022 drafts but the draft classes of 2017 – 2019 are pretty good.

    Players who have made the majors in each draft (a comparison between the Reds and the Dodgers):

    2017
    CIN: Hunter Greene, Jeter Downs, Stuart Fairchild
    LA: Nobody

    2018
    CIN: Jonathan India, Josiah Gray, Mike Siani
    LA: James Outman (13 career AB)

    2019
    CIN: Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft
    LA: Nick Pepiot (36 IP)

    Is this an indication the Reds have turned the corner on drafting and developing players? We probably need to see if we can continue to develop a couple of regulars each year over the next 5 years to confirm it is not just luck.

    The five years from 2012-2016 were not bad. Just not as good as 2017-2019.

    3 Regulars
    2 SP
    3 Closers
    4 Utility players (AAAA players)
    6 Bullpen pieces

    • AllTheHype

      In fairness, Reds had much better draft position which skews the comparison, but no doubt the Reds have had some success. I’m interested to see if India has a bounce back year. We need him to.

  8. Old Big Ed

    Drafting is only half of it, because it doesn’t take into account international signings, which until about 4 years ago was the biggest flaw in the Reds baseball operations.

    The big reason that the Reds farm system is now so deep is the Reds have signed and developed several very strong Latin American players, starting with Elly De La Cruz. The difference between now and five years ago is astonishing.

    Senzel is a disappointment, but the 2016 draft turned out to be weak. Gavin Lux at #20 is the only hitter in the top 30 picks to accumulate more than 2.5 bWAR. With hindsight, they could have taken Pete Alonso (14.2 WAR at #64) or Bryan Reynolds (13.6 WAR at #59), but they allow hindsight.