John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com has finished up his prospect rankings as we gear up for the 2014 season. Sickels, usually finished by January or February, suffered a concussion over the winter and has had trouble recovering from it and it really slowed down his work. But he is finished now with all thirty teams. With his finished product, we can take a look at just how the Cincinnati Reds stack up against the rest of the National League Central.

In the past, work has been done by Victor Wang to determine the prospect value of past similarly ranked players by Baseball America and players graded by Sickels. The guys at Beyond the Box Score then took that value and converted it to dollar amounts for the various rankings or grades. What I have done is then combine the two and create a valuation system based on those findings. You can read all about the math if you would like to, here. Otherwise, let’s jump into the rankings and what they say about the Reds and their central counterparts.

Team Pitcher Value Hitter Value Total Value MLB Rank
Cubs 41.50 154.32 195.82 2
Pirates 56.10 106.18 162.28 4
Cardinals 54.30 87.42 141.72 7
Reds 43.70 64.16 107.86 15
Brewers 33.80 19.98 53.78 29

The Reds are fourth in these rankings, well behind the Cardinals who sit in third and nearly double the value of last place Milwaukee. When we look at the rankings, only the Brewers have more value from their pitching than their hitting, but that is because hitters are far more valuable than pitchers in these kinds of systems due to the likelihood to not flop and because of injuries that can more easily derail a career of a pitcher.

With all of that said, the Cubs system is loaded with hitting prospects. According to John Sickels rankings, the Cubs have two of the top nine hitting prospects in the game. They have three of the top fourteen. Those three players alone account for 87.3 of their hitter value. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Albert Almora were all taken inside the top 10 of the draft from 2011-2013. Bryant and Baez could make their big league debuts in the 2014 season as they are currently in Double-A and Triple-A, while Almora is a bit further away. They only have one pitching prospect that has big time value, CJ Edwards, though my personal belief is that he will wind up in the bullpen after watching him pitch earlier this year against Pensacola.

The Pirates are also pretty loaded in their system, though not quite as much as the Cubs. Their top prospect Gregory Polanco is a stud outfielder who could be in the Majors very soon. Their top pitching prospect, Tyler Glasnow is still several years away and struggled with his control in the 2013 season in Low-A ball. They are deep in both position and pitching prospects though, giving them plenty of ways to take steps forward in the coming years.

The Cardinals have another loaded system within the Central and rank 7th in the Major Leagues by this specific system. Their top prospect, Oscar Taveras, is coming off of an injury riddled 2013 season, but is still just 22-years-old and in Triple-A where he is hitting .300 and slugging .500. The next two guys on their list though are already in the Majors before getting into some more of their depth where the system shows off good pitching depth, but not much positional depth.

The Brewers bring up the rear in the division with their top prospect being ranked a Grade B prospect, and they only have one of those before a few B- grades. Their system is in shambles and has been for quite a few years as they once again rank among the worst systems in baseball. If there is a strength in the system it may be in lower level pitching depth, though there don’t appear to be any big time prospects in that group right now.

The Reds rank low in the division but are right in the middle when it comes to all of Major League Baseball. I believe that Sickels is underrating a few guys in the system, The system is very top heavy with Robert Stephenson, Billy Hamilton, Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker all garnering plenty of value in this system before seeing a drop off to the next group that is made up of a bunch of pitching depth. The teams pitching depth is where they shine. While there may not be immediate true prospect help at the Triple-A level, once you get below Louisville there are some real arms throughout the system.

As noted above, I think that Sickels was a little tough on a few guys in the system, but his rankings paint the system as a little bit light on hitting prospect depth, but is quite favorable for the top end guys. The system is rebounding and surviving after making several big trades over the past few seasons to acquire the likes of Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Shin-Soo Choo and Jonathan Broxton. Unfortunately, the one spot it seems that the Reds have the biggest area of weakness, shortstop, they are pretty thin without a single shortstop ranked among the top 35 players he lists in the system. Going back just a sentence though, we can see that the Reds are willing to make trades to fill out their needs if they don’t have options in-house, so the lack of options there may not be a big deal if the Reds decide they want to change personnel.

4 Responses

  1. zaglamir

    Your point about the Reds being willing to trade to bring in personnel is both valid and invalid at the same time, I think.

    The case I’m considering is Cozart. If the Reds wanted to bring in an impact player and on a deal that isn’t a 1-and-done stopgap, who would they lob out as bait? Shortstops always have been a hot commodity; especially those of the high OBP variety. To bring in someone who could help the team would set the Reds back 10 spots in next year’s system rankings. I suppose you could argue “window of opportunity” and make the claim that emptying the system to compete while Votto and Bruce are in their prime is a smart move… but to build a winning team for the next decade, I think the hands are tied.

    • ToddAlmighty

      I think Didi Gregorius is out there. Last I saw he was back in AAA after losing his job in spring training.

      Nick Franklin is back in the majors and is struggling if you want to view him as a SS.

      Both might be AAAA players, yet to be seen because both are still youngish.

      • Doug Gray

        Didi Gregorius showed last year that he isn’t a AAAA player because he spent the year in the Majors and played well.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, it all depends on who the target is. But you could get some talks started by starting with Michael Lorenzen and Carlos Contreras and not set the system back 10 spots. Don’t forget, the Reds have two top 30 picks in the draft this year. The Reds have a lot of outfielders and intriguing arms that sweeten deals up. Unless the Reds trade Robert Stephenson, the system isn’t going to take a big step back without replicating another Mat Latos type of trade (several big time prospects all in one deal to acquire a true stud performer).