Last week I unveiled my Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospects for the 2016 season over at my site. Over the next 100 days I will be releasing a season review, video (for most guys at least) and a scouting report (this part is only for subscribers) on the Top 100 prospects in the organization. On Monday the guys over at Baseball America (mostly JJ Cooper) released their version of the Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects. The lists from Keith Law at ESPN, John Sickels at Minor League Ball and the guys/gals at Baseball Prospectus will be coming later this offseason.

For now though, we have two lists. My list and the list put together by JJ Cooper at Baseball America. As I was working on my list I had a general idea of where I figured guys would rank before I started. Some quick background information on how I create my list is to open up an Excel spreadsheet and rank players by their position in each column. Once all positions are ranked, I can start comparing only the guys on the top line for the next overall spot on the list. It makes things go much more smoothly for me. Once I began to reach the spots in the teens things became much more difficult as I began seeing names that I was certain would rank in that range falling outside of that range rather easily. There were several players left outside of my Top 25 who were absolutely in there when the list began, at least in my “this guy goes here” thinking.

In the chat over at Baseball America about the Reds prospect list, Cooper seemed to run into the same thing.

J.J. Cooper:  And beyond that, there is some very solid depth. This is a year where I was leaving out guys I wanted to rank in the Reds Top 30 for the Handbook.

With how the Cincinnati Reds season played out in 2015, it’s easy to understand why there is plenty of talk out there among fans that the farm system stinks. The guys that they called up, for the most part, simply weren’t ready or weren’t good. That, of course, isn’t a reflection on the system as a whole, simply a reflection that the Triple-A squad wasn’t chock full of prospects that were ready to make the jump into the big leagues in 2015.

Despite that, the Reds did have plenty of rookies who did step up in 2015. Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias stepped into the rotation. Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb both showed things at times that were impressive. Eugenio Suarez technically wasn’t a rookie entering the season, but he was certainly a young player who stepped up when called upon and more than held his own. Tucker Barnhart also showed that he’s going to be a solid big league back up catcher at the very least, if not a chance for more.

The organization seems to have a lot of young talent right now. Between the guys that stepped into roles in 2015 with the big club and the depth that the minor league system is beginning to show, a year or two down the road could really start to see things turn around. And things could be even brighter if the Reds are able to flip some of the guys they are rumored to be listening in on over the offseason. Oh, and they also have the #2 overall pick in the 2016 draft. It may take a year or two before the Reds are truly competitive again, but the parts seem to be lining up.

21 Responses

  1. redslam

    Definitely some reason for optimism but as you say, it is 2017 and beyond. Part of the calculus of all our good young talent is the inclusion of players on the big league roster already – guys who need time to develop as well. I really hope the organization continues with smart trades this winter and next summer and we go into the 2017 season with a clear idea and vision for our future.

    Liking the fact that we have a #2 pick and 3 picks in the top 40 (I think).

  2. DHud

    I was trying to do some quick brainstorming on what a potential 2017 lineup would look like and found it to be rather difficult not because it’s two years away but because the Reds have a lot of options and directions they could take.

    That’s not a bad problem to have I guess.

    • doctor

      I was just trying the same thing in projecting for rotation and bullpen. I had rotation down of Homer, Stephenson, Reed, Garret and Disco. I thought something was missing and realized no Iglesias. LOL. He needs to be in there and who is bumped.

      Then, load up the bullpen with Finnegan, Hoover, Lorenzen, Lamb, Cingrani and makes you wonder where others are going to fit in at. Regardless, Reds should have plenty of LHP options for bullpen. And all have good or better power arms.

  3. ohiojimw

    My concern has been that they haven’t seemed to be able to successfully identify and develop / finish position players over the last 3-5 years. The guys they have touted have come crashing down in flames offensively at AA or AAA.

    Other than Winker or YRod (who will have to be force fed because he is out of options, not because he looks ready), it is going to be another 2-3 years before there is a position guy ready to be brought up even if all goes well.

    My 30K feet view from hearing some of the org guys talk (mostly Chris Buckley) is that when it comes to position guys, especially among guys coming out of college, they need to worry a little less about tools and just latch onto some good old fashion ballplayers who have demonstrated they already know how to hit and field. And start by not making a guy who had a .900+ OPS over several hundred PAs at a top level D1 NCAA program versus less than 50 innings as a college closer a starting pitcher prospect/ project from day 1 without even looking at his positional skills at the professional level.

    • Doug Gray

      Which guys have gone down in flames that were truly highly touted in that time span? I’m having problems thinking of any other than Hamilton, who always had questions about whether he’d be able to hit even when he was hitting in the minors.

      • ohiojimw

        Neftali Soto, Juan Francisco (OK, both maybe more AAAA guys). Quite possibly YRod. Juan Duran is running out of time and options and is still deep down the chain. Ervin is 23 and being pushed to AA despite no better than marginal numbers at A+ LaMarre & Waldrop have both gotten some mention and look doubtful going forward.

        Also, if they aren’t there to name, that’s the other side of my point; they never got them into the system to begin with because they certainly haven’t come up with the Reds or been dealt because they were blocked since Alonso and Grandal were dealt 4 years ago, Gregorius 3 years ago.

      • Doug Gray

        Neftali Soto was never a Top 10 prospect outside of one season. Francisco was never a Top 5 caliber guy and there were always questions about whether he would hit. Duran has not even been a Top 30 prospect since he was 16-17. I’m not sure LaMarre has ever been a Top 15 prospect. Waldrop has never made my personal top 10’s and I believe he only made 1 BA top 10.

        The Reds have been light on positional prospects of late, no question. If the issue is that they haven’t had them, it’s a fine point. But that they’ve had guys flop isn’t. To flop you have to be expected not to and none of the guys you mentioned were expected to be hitters.

        Ervin posted an above-average OPS in both leagues he was in this year by at least 50 points, so to say he had marginal numbers isn’t exactly fair. He played in a league where the average OPS was .650 for most of the year and he was leading the league in home runs when he was promoted. His average wasn’t nice and shiny at either stop, but he got on base, made a lot of contact, drew walks and hit for power.

      • ohiojimw

        Doug, I will defer to your expertise in assessing Ervin’s OPS. Guys with 30K feet information should stick to 30K feet observations 🙂

  4. DHud

    I really don’t think Cingrani sticks around.

    Travieso will be pushing by then as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Homer gets dumped sometime between now and then. Clears money and a spot in the rotation.

    • Doug Gray

      My guess is: If Homer Bailey pitches well enough that the team can actually trade him, they will just keep him.

      • reaganspad


        I am not following you as I think that Homer is a logical trade piece as well when he returns to health at the all star break.

        We hear about trading Phillips or Bruce or Votto, but the most logical places from my standpoint to offer to trade are Chapman and when healthy Homer.

        Those would be trading from strength as well as lowering payroll

        Granted that Homer needs to be healthy

      • Doug Gray

        I just can’t see a team taking on Homer Bailey unless he’s pitching very well. If Bailey is pitching very well, I can’t see the Reds trading him away. With all of the young arms they will have, trading away a veteran that’s under contract and pitching quite well seems like a backwards move.

    • Montana

      How do you think the rotation will look like? I personally think it will look like this?

      1. Raisel Iglesias
      2. Anthony DeSclafani
      3. John Lamb
      4. Brandon Finnegan
      5. Michael Lorenzen

      I would see Homer Bailey in the 2 or 3 spot when he comes back from Tommy John surgery in mid-May. What do you guys think what the rotation will look like in 2016?

  5. jdx19

    Doug, this is a somewhat unrelated question, but I was curious if you have any experience with Dan Farnsworth, who took over at FG when Kiley McDaniel was hired by the Braves.

    If so, do you think he’s worth his salt?


    • Doug Gray

      I’ve never talked to him. I honestly haven’t seen too much of his work. I’d like to see what he has to say about some Reds prospects before going out and giving an opinion on him either way. I know our guys best, so seeing what he has to say about them is a decent gauge for me.

  6. Peter Pond

    Doug, as always I appreciate all the work you put on the Reds’ minor leagues system fairly and without biases. Much as you say and to the surprise of many who live to criticize the organization, there’s good depth and Cooper even calls the system one of the top 10. There’s been a good plan of drafting and developing players for at least 10 years now. That’s why 90% or more of the current 40-man roster has been developed that way producing all-stars and elite players or traded for pieces needed (Latos to SD, Cueto, Leake, etc.).

    Of course it’s not perfect -no organization is- but the success rate is one of the best in that period. It’s been heavily strong on the pitching side (incredible for this team since well…. forever!) and not as much on position players but as we know, hitting is at its premium this decade. Still, they have produced the likes of Votto, Frazier, Bruce, Mesoraco, Stubbs (decent performance), Grandal, Cozart, Heisey, Barnhart among others. Not bad at all.

    And now there’s a very good wave of pitchers coming up, some who will be part of the future rotation, and others who will be relievers or trade baits. At the end of the day, I’m optimistic over the fact that the Reds won’t take 7-10 years to see the light again like the Cubs, Astros, Royals, Pirates and other ‘sudden’ winners did.

  7. Jeremy Conley

    Nice work Doug. Two questions: What is it that excites you about Sal Romano and why did T Stephenson slip so far on your list?

    • Doug Gray

      Full scouting report on both players will be up next week on my site. Swing on by (Thursday and Friday) and give them a read, it will give plenty of information on both.

  8. DHud

    Doug, with the buzz about a Chapman trade heating up (see MLB Trade Rumors), how would you rank the farm systems of teams rumored in on Chapman, i.e., who do you want the Reds making the deal with to bring the best return (could be either one can’t miss prospect or a depth of available talent)?

  9. Drew

    All of you need to understand that players drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft are not allowed to be traded until July 2016, per MLB rules. (It has something to do with Pete Incaviglia back in the mid eighties.) Therefore, three of Houston’s top four prospects cannot be traded unless they were a PTBNL like what happened to Tea Turner when he was traded last off season from the Padres to the Nationals. However, it doesn’t sound like the Reds are that interested in such young players that have a few years of development at least before they are ready to contribute at the MLB level.

    The Reds are looking for impact players, not just nice MLB spot players. So even though nothing in baseball is certain when it comes to prospects, I and the Reds’ brass are probably looking for players that have some considerable upside/potential.

    That being said, I like this trade (if doable from both teams POV):

    Chapman for Colin Moran, Derek Fisher, and then a third lesser player, some of whom have already been mentioned.

    I would rather see them get the best talent than being so focused on “MLB ready.” Let’s face it: they are going to pretty much suck this coming year in this division at least no matter what!