This week has seen both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus release their Top 100 prospect lists (or 101 in the case of Baseball Prospectus). For the Cincinnati Reds they only had three players listed between the two lists. Jose Garcia and Austin Hendrick were both in the Top 100 list at Baseball America, with Garcia rating 79th and Hendrick 97th. On the Baseball Prospectus list the only Red that made the list was Nick Lodolo, who was rated as their 57th prospect. That’s it.

On the one hand, that’s not exactly a good showing. In fact, it’s a bad showing. But things may not be as bad as they first appear, either. Baseball America, for example, had eight Cincinnati Reds prospects receive votes in their polling for the Top 100 among staffers involved in compiling the list.

Baseball America is the gold standard when it comes to prospect lists and rankings. There’s a few reasons for that. First, they were the original publication that had them, dating back to the 1980’s. Second, unlike many other organizations, the overturn among writers who get final say on the prospect lists from year to year doesn’t change much. That’s not the case at places like Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, etc. who tend to have plenty of people come in and leave within a matter of a few years. The consistency of people involved makes it easier to compare their specific lists from year to year.

With that said, it’s not that there’s issues with the lists from Baseball Prospectus or Fangraphs (or ESPN). All prospect lists from reputable publications are worth looking at. It is worth pointing out that while I do have a byline at Baseball America for a monthly contribution, I had no part in their prospect rankings for the Top 100 or for their Cincinnati Reds list. What I find more important than the number/ranking next to a players name is what is said in the write up under the players name. Everyone is going to value certain things a little differently. Read the write up and decide for yourself based on that information.

We only have the two lists to look at right now. And when it comes to the Top 100, as said before, it’s not a strong look. But, let’s dive a little bit deeper. What’s clear is that neither publication thinks the Reds have a Top 50 caliber prospect, much less a guy in the top 10 or 25 – guys who can be considered elite level prospects. Those guys are more likely to eventually become All-Star caliber players than those rated lower and obviously are preferable.

Cincinnati’s highest rated prospect on either of the two lists was Nick Lodolo at 57 on the Baseball Prospectus list. Baseball America’s Cincinnati Reds Top 10 list has Lodolo as the Reds 7th best prospect. As said before – people are going to have different values based on what they feel is more important for a prospect to have. But the look between these two lists certainly is a bit telling about just how close the Reds top 6-8 prospects are in terms of value, too. The group at Baseball Prospectus thinks that Nick Lodolo is clearly the best prospect in the organization given that he’s at least 44 spots higher than any other prospect on their list. But Baseball America would have six other prospects in the organization rated higher than that, but also didn’t include Lodolo in their Top 100.

Cincinnati’s farm system is deep with good, but not elite prospects. Depth is important, of course. Having solid to good players goes a long way in the Major Leagues. No weak spots can really help a team. But if a team is going to make a run to be among the best teams in baseball, they tend to require at least one MVP level kind of star. While it’s not unheard of for those guys to never be Top 25 or Top 50 caliber prospects, the overwhelming Majority of those guys are former Top 25 prospects.

There are some guys in the farm system for Cincinnati who have the kind of upside to be rated in the upper echelons of prospect lists. Hunter Greene was inside the Top 30 the year he was drafted, but has fallen down lists after his elbow injury. If Jose Garcia’s bat steps forward he has a chance to get there. Austin Hendrick with his big time power potential could get there if he gets the most out of his development. Right now, though, the industry at large doesn’t have those guys rated there. There’s still too much risk involved with all of those players to rate them up there.

Cincinnati’s farm system has some flaws. It’s strong at the top, but more so because of the depth it has than because it’s got a true “difference maker” prospect – at least according to the prospect evaluators among the national media.

Ranking prospects right now isn’t easy. Many players didn’t get a chance to show any improvements that they did indeed make in 2020 because there was no minor league season played and they didn’t get invited to their teams alternate site as spots were limited, and for the most part, only there for guys who would have been in Double-A and Triple-A who could help the big league team if needed. There were a few exceptions to that rule, but the exception isn’t the rule.

In my opinion, the Reds have a middle of the pack farm system. The lack of an elite prospect hurts them. Their depth in that good but not great prospect range helps. But there’s also a question of depth in that 15-25 prospect range, too. There are guys in that range who have the upside to climb higher within the organizational rankings, but a lot of them also have some real question marks in their game, or are completely unproven players who haven’t played yet (draft picks from 2020 or big dollar international signings from the last two years). It’s a solid, but unspectacular farm system right now.

22 Responses

  1. RedsFan11

    “Cincinnati’s highest rated prospect on either of the two lists was Nick Lodolo at 57 on the Baseball Prospectus list. Baseball America’s Cincinnati Reds Top 10 list has Lodolo as the Reds 7th best prospect”.. (which Id assume place him closer to 200+ overall on their list). That alone makes me disregard these lists completely.

    Value Doug Gray and thoughts and opinions way more when it comes to the Reds prospects than these publications

    • TR1

      These prospect lists are going to vary widely this year due to speculation. The lists where someone has insider information about how players truly played last year are going to be much more accurate. Does Doug have any contacts with the Reds who will give him true insight and not just BS spin? No clue. Maybe he can provide some insight on his sources.

    • Doug Gray

      Baseball America’s staff each submitted their Top 150 prospect list. In total, 198 players got a vote. Lodolo was among that group. So, while it’s possible he would be 200+, it’s very unlikely he’s that far down their list.

  2. Grand Salami

    An organization like the Reds needs to have a consistently top 10 farm system to stay competitive. The Reds had elite when Senzel was a prospect but, excluding Greene who Doug mentioned, their other top 5 picks are India and Downs. India is in make or break territory and looks like a miss in terms of where the Reds had his ceiling.

    Downs came in at 71 for the Sox and is projected to 2nd base now.

    At this point, Greene’s return is their only hope for an elite prospect, IMO

    • David

      Because no one played in 2020 in the Minor Leagues, I don’t think these ratings mean a whole lot, besides which team has a better PR department to hype their prospects.

      Not saying the Reds minors are great, because they’re not.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    I guess it all boils down to how a person defines ‘elite’. In Greene, Garcia, and Stephenson, you have 3 guys capable of making multiple all-star appearances… the most valuable positions in baseball….and you don’t even have to squint that hard to see it. If that’s not top 100 worthy, then I have no need for what these writers are peddling.

    • Doug Gray

      When I say “elite” prospect, I’m saying top 25 caliber prospect on every list that comes out. A universal belief that the guy is going to be a contender for perennial All-Star.

    • jon vera

      How is stephenson not in top 100 considering what he did at the major league level last year even though it was a small sample.

  4. LDS

    I think this says a lot about the Reds management broadly. After a string of horrible years and reasonably good high draft picks they have nothing to show for it. And they’ve given away much of that in the last couple of years with little to show for it, e.g., Trammell

    • Doug Gray

      Nothing to show for it seems a bit dramatic. They drafted 2nd overall two years in a row and it led to Nick Senzel, who was a consensus top 10 prospect before he reached the Majors, and Hunter Greene who was seen as a potential generational talent and literally was 20-years-old last season. The next two years they took Jonathan India (5th overall) and Nick Lodolo (7th overall). India, like Senzel, hasn’t had luck on his side when it comes to injuries, but reports were very good on him this year coming out of Prasco – unfortunately without a season to watch/look at stats, it’s possible his break out is being overlooked (it’s also possible that the Reds are just higher on him than others are).

      • LDS

        I’ll defer to your judgment on this since you’re much closer to the facts on the ground than I. But I remain skeptical of Senzel who seems to be fragile and Greene is young enough to still make it though I’m probably more optimistic on Lodolo. So we’ll see. In the meantime, the Reds need a shortstop and thus far hasn’t shown anything in the off season.

      • Doug Gray

        They really, really need to figure out the shortstop situation.

  5. Jim t

    Hate to derail the thread but Hank Aaron passed away today. One of the greatest players I ever saw play. Saw him hit home runs at Crosley Field and was home on leave from the military sitting at Riverfront stadium opening day with my Dad when he tied Ruth’s record opening day 1974. The reds pitcher was Jack Billingham. A pitcher we got in the Joe Morgan trade. Great players, great times and great memories.

    Hank was a great player and a better human being. May he Rest In Peace.

    • David

      There will never be another like Hank Aaron. I saw him play at Crosley and Riverfront (though not lucky enough to be there on Opening Day in 1974, but watched the game on TV).
      Great player, great guy. When he was on Star of the Game with Nuxhall, it was like two kids laughing it up after school. Aaron hit a bunch of homers off of Nuxie, and he always reminded him of that.
      Rest in Peace, a great player.

      • Jim t

        I was sitting behind home plate one game at Crosley and he hit a home run just to the right of the scoreboard and it looked like it landed on I 75.

    • Doc

      I was in the LF stands, in the Astrodome, if I recall, when he hit #714. I missed a chance to get it by a couple of rows. It’s amazing that he never hit more than about 42 in a season, and was a perennial .300 hitter. Those were the days when baseball was enjoyable, and the Scooter Gennetts of the world couldn’t hit four in a season, much less in a game.

      • Doc

        Error: I believe it was 712. Obviously 714 was already taken in earlier posts!

  6. Rednat

    quick poll . who is the all time Home Run King in mlb Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds?

    • Doug Gray

      Barry Bonds has more home runs in MLB than anyone. This is an irrefutable fact.

    • Grand Salami

      Barry’s existence ceased in about 99 so far as I can recall. Then it was just the Incredible Hulk

  7. TR

    I saw Hank Aaron play his first ML game in 1954 on Opening Day at Crosley Field. In those days, the Milwaukee Braves were a powerhouse team. Hank Aaron had it all in terms of baseball talent, and he has always been known as a gentleman.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    In my estimation, Greene is the Reds best prospect, and I don’t think it’s particularly close. I’d also have Hendrick as the 6th best prospect (behind Lodolo, Garcia, Stephenson, and India). There does seem to be a wide variance of opinions with our guys. With the farm system as a whole I believe we have quite a few high floor prospects but not as many high ceiling prospects at the top, outside of Greene and Garcia who have very high ceilings, IMO.