The international signing period’s shift from July to January still takes some getting used to on my end. It used to be very rare that players would sign in July and then play that same year. Now that players sign in January, unless there’s an injury that keeps them off of the field, they play in the same year that they sign. The 2024 signing period is coming up on us sooner than you may think – time flies when you get older.

The crew over at MLB Pipeline have updated their Top 50 prospects for the upcoming signing class. What’s interesting this year is that MLB Pipeline isn’t including the “(insert team here) are the favorites to land this player” with each write up.

That doesn’t mean we don’t know where some of these guys are likely to sign. And like the past few years, the Cincinnati Reds are the favorites to land one of the top players in the class. It began two years ago when the club landed Ricardo Cabrera and followed up this past year when they signed Alfredo Duno. The early returns from both of those players has been excellent. Cabrera hit .350/.469/.559 with 21 stolen bases in 39 games for the ACL Reds before hitting .316/.519/.316 in five games during a final week call up to Single-A Daytona as an 18-year-old. Duno spent his first year with the DSL reds and hit .303/.451/.493 with 38 walks and 41 strikeouts in 195 plate appearances.

In January the Reds are expected to sign outfielder Adolfo Sanchez. MLB Pipeline currently rates him as the 5th best prospect in the class with five average or better tools – including a 60-grade hit tool.

Several years ago Major League Baseball instituted a spending cap on international signings. Unlike the cap in the draft, teams can not go over their spending limits. There aren’t penalties if you do – you simply can’t do it. What teams can, and have done, though, is acquire additional bonus pool money. Teams are allowed to trade for/trade away some of their bonus pool money.

The Cincinnati Reds are in the second tiered group of teams with regards to their pool amount. Since they received a competitive balance round A pick in the draft this summer, they fall into the second tier and have $6,520,000 to spend. The slot money for this period can not be traded until the signing period begins, and it usually doesn’t happen until later on when a team is just looking to acquire a couple hundred thousand dollars in pool money to round out their signing group in the late spring or early summer.

Arizona Fall League Sleepers

Josh Norris took a look at 10 potential sleeper prospects that are heading to the Arizona Fall League. The article is behind a paywall, so you need to be a subscriber to read the entire piece. But the first player on the list is free to see, and that player just happens to be Reds relief prospect Zach Maxwell.

The 2022 6th round draft pick out of Georgia Tech split his season between Single-A Daytona and High-A Dayton. In his 34 games he posted a 4.11 ERA in 61.1 innings, walked 38 batters, and he struck out 96 of the 269 hitters that he faced.

The big right-hander (he’s listed at 6′ 6″ and 275 lbs) brings the heat, averaging over 98 MPH with his fastball and he topped out at 101 MPH this season. He will also throw a slider in the upper 80’s. Both pitches can be plus offerings.

What’s held him back, so to speak, has been his inconsistency with throwing strikes. While at Georgia Tech he walked 98 batters in 97.2 innings. As a junior his walk rate did improve, but he still walked 41 batters in 51.1 innings. This past season he took a step forward, walking 38 in his 61.1 innings. That’s still too high, but it did represent a big step in the right direction.

What the offseason coverage will look like

The minor league season is over. That means there aren’t games to cover every day…. well, sort of. There’s plenty of fall and winter league games that will be happening, but there could be days where only a few Reds prospects play and that means there will be days where there’s nothing from on-field play worth writing about.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be stuff posted almost daily, though. Weekends during the offseason are probably going to go quiet most of the time. With no real off days from about mid-February when spring training begins until the last day the big league club plays, I don’t get an “off day”. And really, I’m always kind of “on-call”. But I try to take the weekends off in the offseason when I can. Some days there will be stuff that needs to be written on a Saturday or Sunday, but usually it’s stuff that can wait.

Last night I was able to download the full play-by-play data for all of the Reds farm teams games this year. That’s always the first step in starting more in-depth prospect evaluation. For hitters it’s a resource that’s very valuable for me. It allows me to create spray charts and take deeper looks into how a guy goes about hitting.

It will probably be two Monday’s from now, but that is when I will probably begin the season review and scouting report series that will run until spring training. Usually I will do three of those per week, except for when I get to the Top 25 prospects, and that will be one per day during the week. The Top 25 list is something that I aim to publish the week of October 30th and each day will include five players. After the list is out I will transition into the Top 25 scouting reports and season review stuff before getting back to the 3-per-week schedule. Hopefully that will get about 60-70 reports throughout the offseason.

The State of the Farm articles shall return once again this winter. It will likely be a bit of time before those begin, but as it has been in the past, I’ll look at each position on the farm and break down the position, give it a grade, and discuss what that means in the short and long term for the big league club. Those will be a once-per-week thing a bit later in the offseason.

If there’s something you’d like to see covered – particularly a series type of thing that will provide multiple articles – I’m open to ideas. It’s a long offseason and having semi-regular stuff that I can fall back on is quite helpful.

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.

Related Posts

23 Responses

  1. Stock

    The Reds had 8 players who graduated from the prospect ranks this year. This is impressive but even more so when you consider they had 9 players graduate last year (10 if you include Benson).

    In spite of this the farm system is pretty deep with eight players having an arguement to be on top 100 prospect lists. I agree the reason they some will not make it are obvious. Has Cabrera played at the level necessary to be a top 100 prospect? Did Collier’s average season knock him out of top 100 lists? Did Petty pitch enough innings to make top 100 lists? Dunn has been great at every level he has played but is that enough? Will Lowder’s college experience be enough to place him in the top 100 by the experts? Did Arroyo’s slow start knock him out of top 100 lists?

    Good luck keeping Marte out of the top 50.

    • DaveCT

      That is quite a scouting report on Sanchez. Wow!! And, once again, (apparently) identifying hit tool as a priority and investing in an elite athlete whose makeup of off the charts.This is becoming a golden era of Reds Minor Leagues.

  2. BK

    We had a brief back-and-forth a few days ago about the state of pitching at AAA (or perhaps the automatic strike zone). While I only pulled earned runs for the international league, that one data set showed 15 percent more earned runs in 2023 compared to 2021.

    During prior offseasons, you have addressed how the parks the Reds played in the prior year tended to be pitcher/hitter-friendly or neutral.

    Analyzing how this year played out compared to the last two years, particularly at AAA, might prove interesting. Thanks for all you do!!!

    • Tom

      I like this topic. AAA run scoring was super low 5 years ago, especially compared to today.

  3. RedsgettingBetter

    Doug, How does the International draft work? I mean why the Reds will get #5 class player this year , although they land #3 (Duno) last year and #2 (Cabrera) in 2021? It’s just a matter of good scouting? Or Are there rules to follow in order to choose the players?

    • DaveCT

      There is no international draft. It’s great agency.

      That said, there is a somewhat complex process of players having handlers, etc, that I would make myself look silly trying to pretend I understand.

  4. Doc

    I think I would like to see the Reds biggest off season signing be the contract that expands GABP a bit. I don’t know if it can be done, but enlarge the band box.

    • Doug Gray

      There are rumors that there’s a structural issue that prevents them from moving the wall in right field back. So it’s probably never going to happen. Maybe you could gain 5 feet or so by moving the plate/infield 5 feet closer to the stands? But yeah, it’s not going to happen.

      • kdavis

        I would think that the easiest thing to do is just to raise the wall. You might lose a couple of rows of seats from an obstructed view, but that would make the park play bigger.

    • MK

      Why? Bob Howsam was able to build a team that made Riverfront an advantage to them. Selection of current and future players should now be about GABP. From today’s fans standpoint it is an exciting place to view a game.

      • Old Big Ed

        Bob Howsam did that in the era of the reserve clause, and he did not therefore have to compete financially with the money machines that are the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, etc.

        GABP yields too many cheap home runs, particularly to RF. Obviously, both teams play on the same field, but it can be soul-crushing for Reds pitchers to give up cheap homers on balls that would be outs in 28 ball parks. Similarly, Reds’ hitters sometimes get homer-happy and start to overswing, with Eugenio Suarez being a good example, and India a bit last year and this year. EDLC got a little long in the swing this year, too, but he will correct it.

        I became convinced from watching about 200 games in Fenway Park from 1977-80 that power was actually wasted there. Freddie Patek — all 5’5″ and 148 pounds of him — hit 3 homers in a game there in 1980. He had 41 HRs total in 6,200+ PAs. A home run hit 330 feet over the Fenway scoreboard, ala Bucky F. Dent, counts as much an Aaron Judge 460-foot job. Fenway, however, produces a lot of doubles and triples. (Raising the height of Fenway over the past 25 years has diminished some of the home runs, but not the doubles and triples.)

        GABP is a bit the same way, except that it is not a good park for doubles and triples; it is instead just small. Adam Dunn was pretty much wasted there, because he hit total bombs that would have been out of parks like Kansas City’s place.

        As a result, GABP games have a lot of the 3 True Outcomes, and a bunch of singles. Raising the fence in RF by taking out the first 3-5 rows (or moving the wall back 8-10 feet) would create a lot more doubles and triples. With EDLC, Marte, McLain, Benson, Friedl and Fraley all featuring speed, the ballpark would fit the team better, without hurting a true power guy like CES.

        As they say about Fenway, “You live by the Wall; you die by the Wall.” I think it would be better for a team loaded with athletes to take the luck element out of a short RF porch.

  5. DaveCT

    The one tidbit in the BA article including Maxwell is that he has big velocity combined with significant vertical break.

    Quote: “players listed above averaged between 19 and 20 inches of induced vertical break.”

    It’s been mentioned here that he’s similar to Joel Kuhnel, so there’s that. But you can see why he’s being watched.

    • DaveCT

      Carson Spiers is also mentioned as having notable pitches twice. It’s an encouraging article ahead of the AFL.

  6. Billy

    I’ll just reiterate what I said in the last thread. It would be a good idea for an article (or series of articles) comparing the Reds’ minor league performance to that of the Rays, Orioles, Braves, and Dodgers to see to what degree this is the start of sustained success for the organization vs. a couple of good years of producing talent that may not be repeatable. I’m thinking about minor league records, number/quality of promotions, organizational rankings, etc. Just an idea.

  7. RedBB

    Doug, did we ever find out how much INTL money we got in the A’s trade? And is it for this coming year? TIA

    • Doug Gray

      The money IS for the current signing period. You can’t trade or acquire that kind of pool money for any year except the one that is currently happening. But no, I was unable to find out how much money was acquired.

  8. MBS

    I got an idea for a series for you. Maybe feature players who are in AAA, or AA who aren’t top 25 prospects, and provide a profile on them. There are so many guys who had great year this year, but grab little headlines. You could probably do a top 10 non top prospects.

    • DaveCT

      Plus 100.

      I enjoy watching the 2nd tier prospects and especially sleepers. Nd breakout candidates.

      Doug is excellent at finding stuff in the numbers that suggest a guy may be breaking out or may be on the verge for the following year (shameless plug for this idea).

      That said, it’s another reason not to write off kids who may have struggles. There’s so much negativity at times when some 20 year old has yet to “produce.” Its especially true of the Daytona league.

      • Stock

        I back DaveCT’s breakout candidate idea. In fact two different posts.

        Post 1: 3 Prospects ranked 11 – 25 that will either jump into the top 10 based upon excellent performances or be in the show. In 2023 the three picks would have been Williamson, Cabrera and Abbott.

        Post 2: 3 prospects outside the top 25 who will either vault into the top 25 or graduate altogether. In 2023 the three picks would have been Lyon Richardson, Blake Dunn and Jacob Hurtubise.