The minor league season came to an end for the Cincinnati Reds farm system on Sunday when the Louisville Bats picked up a doubleheader sweep over Iowa. Those wins were huge for the Bats as it snapped a truly incredible streak of 10 consecutive losing seasons as they finished 75-73.

With the Bats putting together a winning season, they joined four of the other five teams in the farm system with non-losing years. The Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts finished 70-67 and made the playoffs, losing in the first round to eventual Southern League champions the Tennessee Smokies. The High-A Dayton Dragons finished 67-65. Out in Arizona the complex league team – the ACL Reds – finished 28-28. And the Dominican Summer League Reds came in at 28-26. Five teams all finished .500 or better, but “better” was at best three games over .500. The sixth team in the system, the Single-A Daytona Tortugas, finished 56-72 – 16 games under .500.

Those 16 games played a big role in the organization finishing under .500 for the year. All told, the Reds farm system went 324-331 and only one team qualified for the playoffs. It’s the second season in a row that the farm system finished below the .500 mark. In 2021 the club saw the minor league teams go 301-295. That, however, was the first time the Reds had a winning record on the farm system since 2011 when the record was 420-415. Cincinnati has only had two inning seasons on the farm in the last 16 seasons.

During the last 17 years (there was no 2020 season) the team has been through multiple general managers, several farm directors, a multitude of different coaches, coordinators, etc. This hasn’t been the failure of one person, one plan, or even one outlook. 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.

Here’s how that’s gone year-by-year:

Year Wins Losses W%
2023 324 331 .495
2022 298 345 .463
2021 301 295 .505
2019 383 437 .467
2018 372 446 .455
2017 383 443 .464
2016 403 426 .486
2015 404 427 .486
2014 391 443 .469
2013 349 480 .421
2012 367 463 .442
2011 420 415 .503
2010 400 426 .484
2009 343 415 .453
2008 403 426 .486
2007 408 424 .490

The Last Winning Season

The only two teams that didn’t have a winning season in 2023 were the Arizona Complex League Reds and the Daytona Tortugas. The complex league team had a winning record in 2022 when they went 32-19. Daytona, though, haven’t had a winning season since 2018 when they went 69-66. They did finish .500 back in 2021 when they went 60-60.

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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41 Responses

  1. Luke J

    The article seems to have the tone that the season wasn’t a success. As if having 5 of 6 minor league teams at .500 or better is a bad thing. Just because one of 6 (low A at that, where anyone decent tends to be moved up to higher levels) had a terrible record, doesn’t negate that 5 of 6 were not terrible. To me THAT is the bigger story of the state of the farm system. Not an amalgamation of all the records and then looking at that record as if it means something.

    Think of it like this: If a team goes 5-1 but happens to get blown out in the one loss, it doesn’t change the fact that their record is 5-1 and probably one of the top teams in the league.

    This season simply has to be viewed as a success on the farm. Especially considering all the graduations to the big league club. One bad team doesn’t put a damper on that in the slightest to me.

    • weigarp

      This was my exact thought as I read this article. 5 out of 6 winning team seasons is not spoiled by the one team that was well under .500. I truly enjoyed this minor league season for the Reds teams. There is a lot to be optimistic about, both team wise and player wise.

    • Tom

      Not a lot of teams can do what the Reds did this year. Score less runs than their opponent and have a winning record. It’s not a plan for success. The baseball gods will be angry if they try it again next year. The analogy will follow that producing a losing overall product in the minors will not make the baseball gods happy in Cincinnati. It clearly hasn’t thus far. Hey, look at that one correlate. In 2021 they had a winning record in the minors. Look! It’s 2023 and the Reds are exciting, young, and competitive.

  2. Crestwood Craig

    While l agree the combined records of all the minor league teams show a losing season, I disagree. Looking at the talent that got pushed to the MLB level, and that those who got pushed into higher MiLB levels possibly earlier than was optimal, we did quite well. Think about McClain, ELDC, CES, Marte, Abbott, Phillips, & others spending the year in Louisville, what would the Bats record have been?

  3. mac624

    Very poorly written article and headline. One team dragged the farm system’s overall record down. Everyone else was either .500 or better and the farm system graduated a record haul that is just about unprecedented in baseball history. It’s disappointing to come to this site and Redlegnation and only see doom and gloom 5 of 6 winning records yet the tone is how bad the farm system was. Do BETTER! The Reds farm system was leaps and bounds better this year as compared to year past and the big-league club was as well.

    • Doug Gray

      Doom and gloom? The farm system has a losing record for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons. I pointed out very early in the article that 4 teams had winning records and a 5th was at .500. I pointed out that Daytona’s record turned the otherwise solid year as a whole into one with a losing record.

      I’m sorry that you would prefer that I lie and or make up things in the headline or within the article.

      • ChrisInVenice

        Doug – any idea how the Reds org winning pct stacks up against the rest of the league? Is that compiled anywhere?

      • Doug Gray

        There was a site that used to track it, but it appears that site no longer exists. That said, I’ve got some time tonight, so I’ll do some compiling of each org and try to add a little additional data for each and try my best to get an article set for Tuesday with it all (I’m about to start writing up a little bit of an AFL preview since it begins on Monday night).

    • DW

      Your comment is poorly written. And Doug is anything but doom and gloom.

    • Pete

      I agree that the organization as a whole is certainly on the ascension. It would be nice maybe to have an article or two written with that perspective. I monitored all the four top minor-league teams this season. One thing I noted, and Doug can correct me if I’m wrong, is that the Daytona regulars were very very young in comparison to their competition on most days. This along with all the graduations that happened this year I can’t help but think of this as a huge success and expect much more next year. That Nick Krall has a difficult time getting the credit he so richly deserve is puzzling to this Reds fan.

      • Tom

        Introducing average age relative to the league to the equation is very interesting.

      • DW

        I did the same thing Pete and came to the same conclusion. The stars at Daytona were all so young…Jorge, Rodriguez, Collier, Stewart, Acosta etc. Plus, late season call-ups Cabrera and Sanchez. Sure wish Balcazar could have played all season. All very young guys though.

      • Pete

        @tom. I may be persuaded to believe the difference in physical development between an 18-year-old and say 21 or 22 year old is fairly significant when comparing a 21 to 23 or 24 year old. Maybe I’m wrong.

    • Mario

      The headline was doom and gloom. Very exciting season with all of the rookies that graduated from AAA and assisted the big club in their playoff push. It didn’t work out but injuries especially to the pitching staff is what did them in.

      • Doug Gray

        The headline is 100% factual. Doom and gloom would probably sound more like “Reds farm sucks, has no future, and had a losing season for the 14th time in 16 seasons!”

        To note, because apparently I need to specify exactly what I’m saying – The Reds farm doesn’t suck and I think the future is just fine.

  4. Amarillo

    I don’t think Minor League win/loss record is very important. It’s not unimportant, but I value individual performance higher. On Doug’s post 2022 season prospect list, 19 of the top 20 players all showed significant progress this season. The one being Jay Allen who was hurt the majority of the season. We graduated 8 players which is an almost unheard of number. While there were only a few players who had breakout seasons, and several formerly high rated prospects seem to have regressed like Hendrick, I think it’s tough to be negative about much that happened on the farm this year.

    • Tom

      Think about the vacancies available at the MLB level, though. The system was set up so that young players need to advance and then learn in Cincinnati. Very few have shown up truly ready. Steer? Friedl?

      • Andrew

        Abbott showed up and was absolutely lights out to start his career. Struggles have been late in the year and he’s probably worn down

      • Tom

        He and EDLC both had great debut’s, as did McClain. They all knocked the door down, although, aside from McClain, probably would have seasoned longer in AAA if the big league club were deeper at the time.

        Unlike my burger, I prefer prospects “well done”. That said, there is absolutely no doubt all manner of prospect has helped this Reds team. They’ll all be “vets” next year too, which is possibly even more exciting.

  5. Tom

    I don’t read it as doom and gloom.

    As a fan of the minors, it’s worth looking at the totality, especially in light of the fact that disproportionately they finish below .500 each year.

    And it’s not like their MLB team is outperforming the league over the last 15 years on the backs of their advanced development system.

    What it might come down to is the Reds weight their development towards those players they’ve spent more money on? I’m sure that’s throughout all of baseball.

    The discussion is, for me, about raising the level of play on each team. Increase competition. Get the most out of each player. Set high standards. Play important postseason games. Learn to compete to win. For a team like the Reds, this is an agenda that should take hold from top to bottom and one indicator of success might be overall record. The results are not there at the MLB level. I’d like the Reds to make the playoffs in this current format 1 out of every 2 years, minimum. String together 5 years in a row. Why not?

    • Kdavis

      Tom, I agree with you. I think that you have to set an expectation of winning throughout the system. I was disappointed with the results of Daytona this year. With all the emphasis on the new players brought into the system I would have thought the results would have been different.

      • Tom

        And it’s not like the Tortugas terrible season was offset by another team’s awesome season within the org. The rest were just barely over .500.

  6. LDS

    I don’t think the farm system’s performance was all that bad this year given the number of promotions, etc. that happened this year. Happens to a degree every year sure. But this year the Reds called up most of their top prospects, from AA on up. The root problem still seems to be the Reds development strategy and the shenanigans occurring in Cincinnati.

    • Tom

      Credit the Reds for having depth to pull through a high amount of injuries. Now that the Reds roster is filling out with talent, can they still create and stack value throughout the minors. It currently appears to be “yes”. That *should* lead to more winning and slower promotion rates.

    • DaveCT

      The Reds development program appears to be excelling in its third year of top to bottom consistent strategy and instruction.

      Forget the obvious prospects for a moment and look at the hitters who have had excellent seasons and/or surpassed expectations:

      Dunn
      Hurtubise
      Hopkins
      Robinson
      Lopez
      Mount
      Free
      Trautwein
      Hinds
      McGarry
      Urbaez
      Arroyo
      Stewart
      Ibarra
      Jorge
      HRod
      Thompson
      Acosta
      Balcazar
      Cabrera
      Sanchez

      This isn’t even touching the ACL and DSL Reds.

      Then factor in the success of

      EDLC
      Marte
      CES
      Steer
      McLain
      Benson
      Friedl

      I’ll save the pitching for another post.

      There’s a good argument that the development program has become excellent.

      • MBS

        That’s an impressive list. A lot of those guys fell off my radar, and many were never on it. I think 23 was a great year for the Reds organization.

      • DaveCT

        I know. In fairness, unless you’re watching regularly, it’s hard to recognize the depth and production. And I skipped guys like Johnson, Jay Allen, CallAHan (34 doubles, going to the AFL), Tyler Callihan, and the 23 draftees. The system is loaded, and the development is outstanding.

  7. MK

    Larkin and Sadek spoke of how the Reds developmental approach was about creating a winning attitude among the minor leaguers really showed how little they knew about the subject or were trying to sell the part line.

    • Tom

      Aside from Daytona, it could be said that they were not off base. Maybe something is happening before our eyes? We’ll see next year how things go.

      • MK

        They were talking about over the years and this is what 10 straight losing seasons. The rookies this year didn’t spend much time in minors this year getting that winning atmosphere.

  8. Laredo Slider

    It’s really not the first responsibility of the minor league team to win games. Their first responsibility is to develop players to help their ML brothers win games. If you can do that AND win games then that’s all the better. Obviously you want both but the truth is a low percentage of any given minor league team advances to ML level. The minor leagues were created to give the limited number of players within the organization, the players the club has invested the most money, a place to play. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • kdavis

      Laredo,

      I will disagree with you. I think that both are important. By winning you set an expectation of what is needed to win. After watching the poor fundamentals over the last so many years, I think development and doing the things to win go hand in hand.

      Give you a couple of examples – around 2015 or so, it was thought that the Reds had 12 pitchers coming through the pipeline in the minors that would be potential starters. Only a couple made any impact – and not to any great extent. Instead we have pitchers that throw 20 + pitches in an inning and can’t get past the 5th inning. Thus the bullpens are blown up each game.

      I think another thing that has hurt the Reds the last few years was the idea that you had to get lift on every batted ball – thus the three true outcomes. See where that got the big league club the last few years.

      I think that the minors have finally changed their tune this year to putting the ball in play – the old Tony Perez mentality of see the ball hit the ball. But that starts in the minors and doing the things necessary to win games.

      BTW – The Rays have had very successful minor leagues the last few years – and that has filtered on to the big league club.

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    Ok, Ok, good, so I think this was a very “successful losing season” to the farm system…
    IMO to have 5 out of 6 teams with at least .500 mark added to many big league graduated prospects having good performances all year and even a bunch of players projected to reach high levels by 2024 it’s a success as a whole…

  10. Matt McWax

    I think this is an article that gets written every year, and it has a narrow scope. It’s not Doug’s “State of the Farm” opinion based on all the other site content, which is optimistic, often in the form of “Player X struggled in April and early May, but since May 12th, he has come on strong with an OPS of .984 and has 16 game on-base streak.”

    • Doug Gray

      Yep. I write this the week after each and every season is complete. It’s nothing more than a “check in” on the wins and losses. I haven’t gone back and read what I wrote a third time now, but I’m pretty sure that nowhere in here did I offer an opinion. I simply stated the record of the farm, the record for each team, noted the streaks at play for the Bats, Tortugas, and ACL Reds, the fact that the club has only had a winning record for their farm system twice in the last 17 years, and that this isn’t some “thing” that is tied to any particular regime or leadership or whatever.

      The reaction to it has been interesting, to say the least.

  11. AMDG

    A minor league team with 7 or 8 guys like Stuart Fairchild or Alejo Lopez will win a lot more games that a minor league team with the likes of EDLC and McLain, surrounded by a bunch of nothing.

    But I’d guess 10 organizations out of 10 would rather have a couple EDLC & McLain guys, than a bunch of Fairchild types.

    In that regard, the minor league wins aren’t as important as generating quality prospects who can help at the MLB level.

  12. Pete

    In regards to building a winning culture in the minor leagues, Nick Krall has stated that he believes winning is a part of player development. I certainly agree with him. I’m not only excited for the principal team next year, but also all the minor league affiliates. This is certainly a great time to be a Cincinnati Reds fan in my opinion.

  13. Pete

    In regards to building a winning culture, Nick Krall has stated that he believes it is a part of player development. I am certainly inclined to agree with him. This is a very exciting time to follow the complete organization from the principal club on down the line.

  14. Billy

    Just my two cents here. I see the “gloom and doom” perspective. I also see it as Doug just stating the facts. Here’s what I think is missing from an otherwise very good post…

    The Reds have been a chronic loser for the last two decades, but they are now seen as a young and exciting team on the rise, poised for a prolonged run of success. I’d like to see a comparison to other teams on the rise (e.g., Orioles) and other teams that have succeeded in producing a prolonged run of success, primarily on the backs of their player development engine (e.g., Rays, Braves). I haven’t done the research, but I suspect it will show that the Reds aren’t quite there yet. Maybe this year was a fluke in that we produced a lot of good MLB talent. Maybe this is the start of something better, and we can anticipate more winning to come as a result of our player development system producing more talent and there FINALLY being enough talent at the MLB level to allow stockpiling in the minors, and (presumably) the winning seasons that follow from that. I have no idea, but it would make for an interesting comparison.

  15. Erik the Red

    The win percentage is trending up at least. Maybe if Lodolo, Greene, and Ashcraft would have made more starts that might have kept some starting pitchers in AA or AAA longer this year for a few more wins. I would add that I believe it is better for players learn how to win in the minor leagues and not to accept losing.

  16. Frostgiant

    Jeesh. I mean the minor league record could have been better if we would have left EDLC, McClain, Abbot, Marte, and CES in the minors to win a AAA title. Think of how that would have affected the farm system. Our minors would have been killer. But it’s really only the big league record that matters so they were on the Reds. The minor league record to me is insignificant this year because we basically called up a whole mlb team in the last two years.