The Cincinnati Reds are in the middle of a rebuild. Maybe they’re still in the beginning of it. Who really knows? But no matter where you believe that they are in the process, their farm system is an area where they need to lean on and with the rebuild it’s an area that they’ve been trying to add to through trading away just about any established big leaguer that they could in the last 12 months. Cincinnati has had solid showings in various prospect rankings this winter, but nothing extraordinary. Dan Szymborski published the ZiPS Projections Top 100 Prospect List at Fangraphs earlier today and the Reds had their best showing as they landed seven prospects on the list.

Elly De La Cruz was the top prospect here from the Reds, as he has been on every list that’s come out this winter. But the next prospect on the list is Noelvi Marte. He’s been a bit of everywhere on top 100 lists this winter – sometimes in the Top 25 and sometimes just inside the top 100. Those two are joined by Matt McLain, who was unranked on any other Top 100 list this winter, inside the top 35. Spencer Steer shows up on the list at #52 and Edwin Arroyo is close as he comes in at #59. Outfield Allan Cerda shows up on the list at #74 in a surprise ranking. Cerda, who has plenty of interesting tools to work with, was ranked as the Reds #21 prospect by me, and Fangraphs had him all the way down at #36 in the organization in January when they unveiled their list. Rounding out the top 100 for Cincinnati is Christian Encarnacion-Strand at #97.

But it’s not just that the Reds had a good showing in the top 100 with seven guys, which was only behind Cleveland’s nine and Baltimore’s eight, but the Reds also had 11 prospects in the Top 200. While the list doesn’t extend beyond 100, Szymborski did include the numbers for top 200 guys and mentioned a few guys in the write ups who fell in that range. The 11 Reds prospects in the top 200 was only behind the Dodgers 16 and Orioles 12.

The Cincinnati Reds have accumulated a comical number of shortstop prospects. Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and (surprisingly) Matt McLain all make the top 15. Edwin Arroyo missed, but he ranks 58th overall, and yet another shortstop, 2021 third-rounder Jose Torres, finishes in the Top 200. Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, both higher-floor/lower-ceiling guys in ZiPS’ view, ought to feel a bit of urgency because someone here is inevitably going to join the fight for third base!

It is certainly going to be interesting to see how things work out for Cincinnati. ZiPS are based on statistical comps with a little bit of scouting information mixed in there. As Szymborski notes, “ZiPS is a useful tool, but the projections, whether for prospects or for baseball as a whole, are not intended to replace scouting. The purpose of ZiPS is to get the best answers possible from the data available, not necessarily to be the one-ring-to-prove-them-all-unified-field-theory-giant-Katamari-Damacy-ball of prognostication. ZiPS doesn’t see some things that scouts do. But by being able to process large amounts of data and instantly put those numbers into context and make adjustments, ZiPS also sees some things that scouts can’t. Computers and humans have different strengths, after all. ”

Take it all for what it’s worth – which is just another point of information that should be combined with plenty of other points that help us try and parse through it all. It’s not meant to be everything. It’s just a part of something, just like some traditional scouting-oriented rankings can have wide variations in rankings of players, so can a statistical model. It just depends on the inputs and what it’s looking at more so than what it’s not looking at or even ignoring.

7 Responses

    • Bdh

      I think most rankings have put too much into last season k numbers for him. 28% last year was too high but he was at 19% the year before. If he settles somewhere in between then he’ll be fine.

      Even with the high Ks He still OPS’d .816 at AA in his first full season and stole 27 bases in 30 attempts. Without missing around a month to injury he could’ve been a 20HR/30SB player.

      There’s no reason for Reds fans to think any less of him because of the ranking drops. Could easily see him as a 15+ HR / 15+ SB player in a Ben Zobrist role getting reps at 2B, SS, 3B, and OF for Cincinnati

    • DaveCT

      McClain’s seasonal numbers were quite possibly skewed by his developmental step of getting to his power more. Admittedly, I joined in the questioning whether he was selling out ZK’s for power, yet it most likely was part of his learning process and his need to demonstrate his ability. BA’s main post rookie critique was quite direct about his lack of power. So the kid went out and did something about it. To me, that’s a player we want.

    • Doug Gray

      ZiPS probably has nothing on Collier. He played 9 games at the lowest level of baseball. Next to impossible to project from a “stats” perspective.

  1. DaveCT

    “the one-ring-to-prove-them-all-unified-field-theory-giant-Katamari-Damacy-ball of prognostication”

    Folks, Sir Doug Gray has obviously shown up in great shape for Spring Training this year.