On Friday we saw Baseball America and ESPN release their farm system rankings. The two sources were pretty close with their rankings, too. Baseball America placed the Reds farm system 11th in baseball, while ESPN had them ranked 10th.

One thing that ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel offered with his rankings that Baseball America didn’t was a more precise “valuation”. Along with the actual ranking, McDaniel used a dollar value that’s assigned to each organization for “surplus value” that’s derived based on the future value grades given to prospects in a farm system based on how similarly rated players wound up performing in the past. You can read a lot more on that topic here if you would like to.

Here’s how the 30 teams in baseball stacked up.

I’ve put the Reds in red on the chart. There’s a big drop off after the top team, then a drop off after the next two, and then the next two. But the gap between the teams rated 6th and 12th is the same as the gap between 5th and 6th. That group of teams is bunched together quite well. The decline from 6th through the 23rd spot is gradual from team to team before you get another decent sized drop off near the bottom of the list.

As for Cincinnati’s farm team value – they’re sitting at $237,000,000 in “surplus value”. That’s $134,000,000 behind the top team in the game. It’s also $171,000,000 ahead of the team in the 30th spot.

The Reds farm system is in the “good, but not great” range. And given all of the guys that have exited the farm system in the last two seasons, that’s pretty impressive. There’s some correlation between the strength of a farm system and future winning, but it’s not a guarantee, either, especially once you get beyond the first few spots. Cincinnati has gone from 100 losses to a winning record in a short period of time and it’s largely been on the back of the farm system providing young talent to the big league club. We’ll have to see if those guys take another step forward in 2024, and how the prospects continue to develop in the minors – where they will likely get more time than the class before them did.

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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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19 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    That is interesting and probably about right as far as the Reds are concerned right now. I think they will get big years from a lot of guys and they will move several places to the left in the next few months.

    The guy who gets no love is Hector Rodriquez. He has hit everywhere he’s been. If he has another good year, he will have to make Top 100 lists. Right?

    • Stock

      I agree. I can’t help but feel his height (or lack thereof) plays a role and minimizes his value. If he hits 25 HR and splits time between Dayton and Chattanooga next year he should start getting some respect.

      • Greenfield Red

        I like that he has already been in Dayton before 20. As you said, if he has another good year and makes Chattanooga, they probably won’t be able to continue to ignore him.

  2. Optimist

    This seems relevant – “But the gap between the teams rated 6th and 12th is the same as the gap between 5th and 6th.” Arguably, they haven’t changed since last season.

    Wonder what that gap looked like last year – I’ve thought there isn’t much change in the Reds system, even with the promotions, given the great depth/quality they have. Unlikely that they decline, and with a single explosive season, or several noticeable ones, they move into the top 5. The mid-season/post draft revisions will be very interesting.

    • Doug Gray

      I’d say there’s a big difference simply because they had arguably the #1 prospect in the game and today they don’t have a Top 20 guy. That difference is enormous. The gap in most years between the #1 guy and the #20 guy is much larger than the difference between the #20 guy and the #100 guy. And it’s not like the Reds didn’t have tons of depth a year ago, even if they did get breakouts from guys like McLain and Abbott that took them to a different level of prospect/player before they “graduated”.

      • Stock

        A year ago EDLC was in the 6-10 range on prospect lists. Henderson and Corbin were #1 and #2 on every list I saw.

        A year ago BA had EDLC at 8 and Marte, Arroyo and Collier all in the 60-70 range.

        With the #1 prospect dropping from 8 (EDLC) at 2022 YE to #23 this year (Marte) the class is weaker. But I think the depth is better.

      • Optimist

        This all makes sense, but if Lowder goes out and is dominant thru June, and, say, Collier is on a +.900 OPS tear in Chattanooga, or any of about 5 other guys do something akin to that, all of a sudden, the mid-season rankings have someone or two moving into the top-20. Point is, they seem like they are tracking Baltimore’s progress without quite having Baltimore’s string of top draft picks. It may not happen, but with some much breadth and depth it’s likely more than one overperforms and forces a move.

        A good example is what more does Dunn need to prove? If he continues at current production won’t he have to be considered a top-20 or higher prospect – prime defensive role/fantastic batting stats?

      • Doug Gray

        Dunn’s already 25-years-old. The chances he gets ranked in the Top 100, much less top 20, are slim at this point. It’s not his fault – his career’s been a weird one with the 2020 season, then the weird run of injuries that have kept him off of the field. Still, 25-year-olds just don’t get rated that highly all that often because most guys are several years into their big league careers by the same time and ultimately it’s the career you are trying to rank. Multiple years of big league time is pretty valuable.

      • Optimist

        Thanks for the emphasis here Doug – both the heavy weighting to the very top prospects as more sure-fire careers, as well as the Dunn comment that he’s the other end of the range – may have a fine career, but a shorter one.

        Still very much looking forward to his following the Justin Turner career path – he’s right in that age range, and a solid 3 months in Louisville sets him up nicely. May end up as a AAAA special, but the defensive value can only help.

        If that works out the FO/farm system deserves great credit, from the original draft pick to the patience in development.

        Stock may be on to something as far as retrospective rankings of farm systems. I wonder what a ranking of farm systems would look like if it only considered performance of UDFAs and post 5th round picks? Almost impossible to find HOFers there, but plenty of multi-season production and occasional all-stars – credit to teams which find those players.

  3. Stock

    Baltimore is easily the highest rated farm by the experts. With Jackson Holliday at the top and several others in the top 50 they are loaded. Furthermore, Baltimore have had seven players graduate from the prospect lists the last 2 years. They seem to be rolling out players much better than other farm systems, and have a large lead in prospects currently in spite of these graduations. It has helped that in the from 2019 – 2022 Baltimore has picked 1st, 2nd, 5th and 1st in the drafts. Also, in 2018 Baltimore drafted Grayson Rodriguez with the 11th pick in the draft.

    I decided to see if the Reds were in the same class as Baltimore.

    Players analyzed: Prospects and players who graduated from the prospect lists in either 2022 or 2023.

    Format used. I feel it is difficult to compare a player with some ML experience such as CES to one who has limited or no ML experience. I don’t have BA access or other such sites and even then they don’t rank current ML players so I decided to use the Trade Values site. This allows me to avoid partiality.

    Non-Prospects for Baltimore: Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, Jordan Westburg, Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish, Miguel Bautista and Yannier Cano (3 position players, 2 SP and 2 RP).

    Non-Prospects for Cincinnati: CES, Steer, McLain, EDLC, Friedl, Benson, Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Abbott, Williamson, Diaz and Fernando Cruz (6 position players, 5 SP and 2 RP).

    Position Players: Cincinnati’s 6 players have a trade value of 229.2. Baltimore’s 3 position players have a trade value of 207.9. Cincinnati has the depth but Baltimore’s top two are Gunnar Henderson (Trade value 104.1) and Adley Rutschman (75) vs. Cincinnati’s top two EDLC (94.1) and McLain (45.8).

    Pitching: Cincinnati has 7 pitchers with a trade value of 215.4. Baltimore has four pitchers with a trade value of 131.5 Cincinnati’s depth wins out again. But again the Orioles have 2 pitchers with a value greater than 50 vs. one for the Reds. Hopefully, Lodolo stays healthy and changes that this year.

    Prospects: If you consider prospects with a trade value greater than 20 only.

    Baltimore has 4 prospects (Holliday, Mayo, Basallo and Kjerstad) totalling 168

    Cincinnati has 2 prospects (Marte and Phillips) totalling 65.6

    Prospects: If you consider prospects with a trade value greater than 10 only.

    Baltimore adds one prospect (Cowser) bringing their total trade value of prospects to 185.4

    Cincinnati adds 6 players (Arroyo, Jorge, Collier, Lowder, Petty and Richardson) bringing their total trade value of prospects to 147.6

    The overall value (Position Players + Pitchers + Prospects with a trade value of 20+):

    Baltimore: 207.9 + 131.5 + 168 = 507.4
    Cincinnati: 229.2 + 215.4 + 65.6 = 510.2

    Pretty close.

    The overall value (Position Players + Pitchers + Prospects with a trade value of 20+):

    Baltimore: 207.9 + 131.5 + 168 + 17.4 = 524.8
    Cincinnati: 229.2 + 215.4 + 65.6 + 82 = 592.2

    Not as close. Cincinnati without a doubt has more depth than Baltimore when you consider prospects and players who lost prospect status in 2022 or 2023.

    What concerns me is that Baltimore has 5 of the 7 players with a value greater than 50. I think the Reds are a year behind Baltimore in development so that could change a year from now.

  4. DaveCT

    It’s not lost upon me that in an article about valuation, the cover photo is a bucket of baseballs (which I’d wager is in no way a reference to the valuation of the Reds’ farm system).