The Cincinnati Reds farm system has been strong over the last few years. They’ve produced a lot of big leaguers in the last two seasons, graduating guys like Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Brandon Williamson, Andrew Abbott, Alexis Diaz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, TJ Friedl, and Spencer Steer. Despite all of that, the Reds still have a quality farm system. This past week they’ve been rated as having the 10th or 11th best system in baseball depending on who you want to ask.

Farm system rankings tend to be weighted heavily towards the top end prospects in the system. And that’s for good reason – that’s generally where the most future value comes from. Having a prospect ranked in the top 10 is worth a whole lot more than having a few guys rated 75th-100th.

With that said, depth does matter. It can be important in several ways. The first way is that if and when one of your prospects regresses, there is someone behind them with some potential to step up. Another way is that just because someone may not be a “top” prospect doesn’t mean they can’t help the team. Most relievers are never top prospects, and while an individual reliever has limited value due to the lack of innings, several relievers can be quite impactful. Having depth can fill out a bench, provide quality utility guys that a team doesn’t necessarily have to spend additional money on in free agency that they can (theoretically at least) then spend to retain above-average guys on the club.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel had the Reds rated 10th in his farm system rankings this week. On Thursday he released each club’s prospect rankings. The number of players listed for each organization varied because he simply listed every player who graded out with at least a 40 FV (Future Value). A 40 FV would be a role player type of guy/middle reliever-ish/swing-man starter. A 50 FV player is a big league average caliber starting position player or starting rotation kind of guy. 60 FV are All-Star caliber types of players and only 15 players got that caliber of a grade from McDaniel, and two others got a 65.

When it comes to depth, McDaniel rated 28 Reds prospects as 40 or better FV players. That was the 12th best in baseball. The club’s top two international signings from January – Adolfo Sanchez and Naibel Mariano – were included in that group. What’s interesting is that McDaniel included the rankings up to 179 here (which appears to be everyone rated as a 45+ FV), while he had only gone 100 deep last week. Cincinnati had six guys rated in the Top 100, but the organization rankings showed that Lyon Richardson, Ricardo Cabrera, and Cam Collier all made the Top 140.

Unlike the past two seasons, the Reds are not likely to need to call up a ton of their top prospects. It would take a lot of bad things to happen for that situation to take place. Cincinnati’s got solid depth according to the ESPN rankings, and a good farm system overall. Development isn’t always linear – it’s usually not at all linear – so there’s probably going to be some guys who don’t take that step forward. But there are also likely to be some guys who do that maybe weren’t expected to. With many graduations in the last two seasons, the Reds depth is mostly below the upper levels, but 2024 could see some of those lower level guys move up and build that depth at the higher levels up once again.

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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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29 Responses

  1. Frostgiant80

    And the Reds have the 2nd pick in the draft this year. That should produce another highly ranked prospect. I know that the time is coming when the Reds are going to trade some of those prospects for playoff runs but I think this depth is going to allow them to do that without stripping the farm bare.

  2. Stock

    You mentioned 11 of the 12 graduates from the past 2 years. The 12th did not go through the Reds system but Fernando Cruz was a rookie in 2022.

  3. Stock

    As Doug stated above ESPN has the Reds Ranked as the 10th best farm system in baseball for 2023. I was hoping to figure out where they landed in 2024 so I did some work.
    I don’t have the time or capacity to scout 700+ players so I used sources with which I have access. First, I had to determine the top 100. The only access I have to a top 100 is through the subscription my son got me for Christmas with the Athletic. Keith Law released his top 100 prospects. To determine prospects 101 – 700 I used the trade values website. I know this has some weaknesses but overall it should be fairly good, especially since a bulk of each teams value comes from the top 100 list.
    To come of with values I used the players in the top 100 values on the trade value spreadsheet and took a smoothed 10 player moving average. Some player values from this process are below.

    1. Jackson Holliday 68.9
    20. Samuel Basallo 34.9
    50. Cam Collier 19
    78. Edwin Arroyo 16
    93. Sal Stewart 14.5
    100. Drew Gilbert 14
    I like Law’s ranking because he still has Collier and Arroyo in the top 100. I think they both belong there. But because of that I feel the Reds will do a little better
    Step 2 was simple. Every player who had a value of more than 13.5 on trade values had their value dropped to 13.5. Every other player received the value they had on the trade value website.
    Finally, you had to have a trade value of 2.1 to make my list.
    I only looked at teams with at least one player in Law’s top 50. I figure if you don’t have a player in the top 50 prospects you are not a contender for the best farm in baseball. This only eliminated 4 teams though.

    This gave me the top ten teams for the 2023/2024 offseason.
    Rank /Team /Players 2.1+ /2023 Value
    1. Brewers /22 Players /257.7
    2. Orioles /21 Players /253.3
    3. Diamondbacks /27 Players /248.6
    4. Reds /27 Players /235
    5. Cubs /22 Players /233.7
    6. Padres /17 Players /233.1
    7. Nationals /27 Players /232.8
    8. Rangers /22 Players /229.6
    9. Tigers /23 Players /224.2
    10. Red Sox /19 Players /215.2

    Biggest surprise was the Brewers beating out the Orioles for the top spot. However, The Brewers were the only team with more than 5 players in Law’s top 100. Also pleasantly surprised with the Reds 4th place showing. That said I liked his ranking of Collier and Arroyo.

  4. Stock

    But that is only half the battle. That is the 2023 rankings and I was looking for the 2024 rankings. I did not want to place my own opinion in this too much so I set a list of guidelines.

    1. You are eliminated as a prospect for the 2024/2025 offseason if you were in the majors at least 10 days in 2023.
    2. You are eliminated as a prospect for the 2024/2025 offseason if you are one mentioned as a player who may be in the majors on Day 1 in order to gain a draft pick. This eliminates Jackson Holliday, JacksonChourio, Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford.
    3. I included only the first round of the 2024 draft. I figure after the first round the difference is small. I gave them the smoothed values of the 2023 draft picks. This, in theory hurts the Reds because the 2023 draft was much deeper than the 2024 draft will be.
    4. I included the top 25 international prospects.

    Keep in mind the following list is 2024 YE farm values based upon 2023 YE player values. As we all know growth is not linear so this in part is not the final story. Because of that, I think the Reds are undervalued here. I feel Petty, Lowder, Collier and Arroyo are poised for fantastic years and will soar up the rankings. I think there will be many more graduates than I have. I had 28 graduates. If Jackson Merrill graduates SD drops from #1 to #4. I think there is a good chance Lyon Richardson does not graduate and I have Marte, Phillips and Richardson all graduating in 2024.

    Based on this research, I believe there is a very good chance the Reds could have the best farm in baseball 12 months from now.

    Team /2023 Value /Drops /Draft Add /Int Add /2024 Projection
    1. Padres /233.1 /5.9 /10 /20 /257.2
    2. Reds /235 /68.7 /66 /14 /246.3
    3. Tigers /224.2 /26 /25 /2 /225.2
    4. Pirates /190.1 /0 /26 /6 /222.1
    5. Twins /199.4 /6.2 /14 /8 /215.2
    6. Guardians /187.6 /44.5 /66 /6 /215.1
    7. Brewers /257.7 /67.5 /18 /4 /212.2
    8. Cubs /233.7 /55.5 /21 /12 /211.2
    9. Red Sox /215.2 /36.8 /23 /0 /201.4
    10. Nationals /232.8 /69.5 /26 /10 /199.3

  5. Stock

    The depth of the farm system is exactly why the Reds need to trade India.

    The Reds have 10 players for 8 positions and it is going to just get more crowded.

    The Reds should trade India to Boston in a package that includes Kyle Teel.

    Graduations in 2024/2025:

    SP: Petty/Lowder
    SP/RP: Phillips
    RP: Richardson
    IF: Marte/2024 1st round draft pick/Arroyo
    OF: Dunn/Hinds/Hurtubise

    2026/2027
    SP: Aguiar
    RP: Acuna/Floyd
    C: Duno
    IF: Collier/Stewart/Cabrera/Balcazar
    OF: Jorge/Hernandez

    And the Reds have plenty more behind these groups.

    • MBS

      Even if only 1 of the 3 OF’s graduate plus Arroyo, and this year’s #2 pick graduate in that timeline, there will need to be trades.

      CES, McLain, EDLC, Candelario, Marte, India, Fraley, Friedl, Benson, Steer

      That’s 10 guys for 11 roster spots, add 3 more in, and 2 guys need to be traded away. The question is who.

      India is basically a MLB average player, and that’s good for a reserve player. His trade value wouldn’t bring back very much compared to Marte, McLain, CES, etc. I think if the plan is to keep the payroll small, and the talent coming in you are going to have to give up players that you’d really like to keep. Those are the ones that teams will overpay for.

      Now if we want to spend real money, lock up the best kids, and add the right FA’s. I’m all in for that plan to.

    • DaveCT

      Boston isn’t crazy and will not trade Teel, least of all for India and unlikely even in a package headlined by him.

      First, Teel is their No. 3 prospect, with the following ratings after a stellar debut.

      Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Field: 55 | Arm: 55

      Second. To get Teel, the starter for Boston is Marte. The better comp in our present system is Lowder, Would you trade Lowder for India?

      In fairness, I don’t want to be too hard on you Stock, but this is ironically similar to the way large market clubs view small market clubs, as systems for the pilfering. As a former New Englander, and one who still reads the Boston papers every day, the Sox are not trading this guy. They were thrilled to get him where they did, and, as a catcher, he’s in their long term plans.

      • Stock

        I disagree Dave.

        Per trade values, Teel has a trade value of 19.5. Per my analysis above as the 54th rated prospect Teel has the value of 18.5. Fairly close so lets assume the larger 19.5 is correct.

        Also per trade values India has a trade value of 12.6. Ian Gibaut has a trade value of 6.9, Ty Floyd has a trade value of 4.2 and Lucas Sims has a trade value of 3.9.

        Boston needs a 2B and several RP.

        Assuming you believe these trade values to be accurate then Teel for India/Gibaut or Teel for India/Floyd/Sims are both fair offers and both fill two needs for Boston. Maybe Boston is not interested in competing in 2024. If so they say no. But if they are these are fair trades. Even if they are interested in competing they may back off because they feel Teel is better than the 54th best prospect in baseball.

      • DaveCT

        I think this is an interesting discussion between the hypothetical and data driven versus the evidence of observation and (for lack of better words) a more focus group analysis.

        My ‘on the ground’ evidence is that the Sox are in no way trading Teel for India or an India package. He is seen as a cornerstone of their future, especially at an enormously difficult position to fill. Yes, no player is untouchable. Some are just more untouchable than others.

        One unknown, however, is with the return of Theo Epstein to Boston. He knows India, for better or for worse. So, if he wants India, he’ll make a run at acquiring him. If he doesn’t, it’s moot.

        Which, by the way, it is anyway, with the 2-year deal.

  6. Crestwood Craig

    Everyone wants to trade certain players, but remember, another team has to want them. Unless we are willing to simply take “a bucket of balls”, it takes two to trade or tango!

  7. SELLTHETEAMBOB

    THANK YOU STOCK!
    Doug should make you an UN-paid contributor.
    The India Trade: hopefully he gets back to his Rookie year and has a 120 RC.
    Last year he wasn’t a centerpiece of any trade scenarios. Maybe would’ve brought back a RP. Has the talent to be a co-centerpiece, if he plays like 3 he did yrs ago.
    Our farm is loaded with some great prospects and others who are outperforming their draft/signing bonus status.
    Hopefully that 2nd overall pick gets us a future #1 SP. Reds don’t do to well picking 2nd. Anyone remember Gruler? Senzel? Greene hasn’t yet lived up to his draft status.
    ST is just days away!

      • Tony Camp

        A lot can change between now and the draft Stock. I see many Reds fans assume that if Nick Kurtz is available at #2 he will be the pick. A guy with an average arm, below average speed and who’s signature tool is hitting with a metal bat doesn’t seem like a pick Krall would make so high. We shall see but I doubt he will be the pick.

      • MBS

        @Tony, Kurtz is also a 6’5″ true lefty with 60 Field. I’ll take the slower speed, and arm for a prototypical 1B body that can mash. Like you said though, it’s a long way until the draft.

      • Tony Camp

        @MBS Some hitters hit as well or better in pro ball with a wooden bat than they did in college with a metal bat. However, almost all do not and that’s where the problem lies. If Kurtz doesn’t mash at the pro level then what you have is a wasted pick for a player who adds no value. I don’t think it’s a risk Krall is willing to take that high in the draft.

      • MBS

        @Tony, You could say the same about any prospect. No one drafts a #2 pick when they think can’t hit. He’s not just a power hitter, but a hitter, hitter as well. He’s also considered the 1st or 2nd pick by most every outlet.

        Only time will tell, but he’s the one I’m hoping we get.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    I read today Keith Law ranked the Reds farm system at 14th overall and 5th in NL central. He said, word more word less, that the Reds farm system has no stars, it’s a long list of guys who may produce something at major league level , just platoon players or relievers

      • Stock

        Marte will be a star.

        Law mentioned Collier.

        Stewart had more BB than K last year. Maybe he doesn’t make Law’s definition of standout but he may by the end of the year.

        Cabrera should probably make this list. Duno without a doubt will be a star.

        Petty will be a star. Lowder has yet to pitch as a professional.

        I know no rating system would ever consider Dunn a regular but I think he has the makings of a star.

        Rece Hinds has a pretty high ceiling also.

        Maybe several of these will not be as good as I hope this summer. But it seems the days are gone where Reds prospects disappoint.

        Assuming graduations in 2024 are limited to Marte, Phillips, Richardson, Hurtubise and Dunn, I will take my chances on the Reds being a top 2 franchise in 12 months.

  9. Optimist

    Both the depth and ratings make sense – they seem to be getting very good at selecting players who can get far into MiLB if not all the way to MLB, but haven’t had the certain major obvious future star to cap it off. Of course that can change with any given draft/MVP-MiLB season, and with the ongoing depth, simple chance indicates it could happen sooner or later.

    Finally, the 14th overall/5th in division indicates a major mid-season revision is likely. Hard to believe that pattern will hold.

    • DaveCT

      One shift for the better has been in signing top shelf international talent. The greatest deficit in the system, over time, has been the need for elite talent.

      The last three years have seen us sign several Top 100 international prospects (and a few surprises — EDLC), such as Carlos Jorge and Leo Balcazar, Cabrera, Carlos Sanchez, and Esmith Pineda, Duno, Sanchez and Mariano, Lin, etc.

      Getting a couple 50 grade starters from that group, and perhaps a 55 grade All Star, would be a huge bump. Getting solid trade assets is also a plus.

      The Reds drafting has been solid IMO as well. Given the chance to draft an elite talent, Greene, they did so. When the best player available is a higher floor guy without an elite ceiling, ie Lodolo, Lowder, McLain, they’ve made very sound decisions. Hitting higher end high school guys, Collier and Stewart, has been in the repertoire, and several flyers, Abbott, Ashcraft, Aguiar, Dunn have been astute.

      Trade acquisitions are light years from the Jockety rebuild that wasn’t. There are almost too many to list. Steer, Marte, Arroyo, Phillips, Petty, HRod, Acuna, Acosta.

      Final comment. In Zen and the Art of Tanking, there are clubs who rather shamelessly set themselves up to tank prior to great draft years. The Astros and Orioles come to mind. I don’t begrudge the long suffering O’s fans. The Astros? They’re a different story (cheaters). That said, if we’d been able to draft a Bregman or a Holliday instead of a Senzel, things might have been different.

      • Greenfield Red

        I agree the drafting by the Reds has been solid for the last several years. Austin Hendrick is the sore thumb. I believe this is the make or break year for him. If he doesn’t cut down significantly on his strikeouts, I think he is done in the Reds system… because if I have counted correctly, he will need to be added to the 40 man next Winter.

      • DaveCT

        The scouting on Hendricks has always said he’d need years to develop. So always a risk. However, given the other like-year first rounders, not much lost, either. I’d think Hendricks has all of AA to prove himself. Or not..

  10. TJ

    @Stock….I need your address for when all my tax information comes in. I can see you getting me a great return this year. Thanks in advance.

  11. Hoyce

    Why I would try to do as GM:
    1. Trade Greene to rangers for Wyatt Langford and a pitching prospect
    2.trade marte, India and a prospect (all the way as valuable as collier) to tigers for skubal
    3 trade for Kyle teel. Starting w Phillips and prob adding a position player lower prospect
    Any of these make sense? Dumb?? Wouldn’t ever happen??

  12. DaveCT

    The Rangers are not trading Lankford and his many years of an elite talent at team control.

    Likewise, the Red Sox are not trading Teel and his above average to plus talent with years of team control at a key position.

    If you turn the tables, if teams come calling with a cluster of less talented players, would you allow them to cherry pick Rowder or Marte. ,

    I don’t have an opinion on the Tiger’s guy.