While the minor league baseball season ends for some teams next week (rookie level teams) and five weeks remaining for Triple-A (with a bit less for the other full-season teams), we are starting to see “midseason” farm system rankings come out this week. Wording aside, the updated rankings are taking into account the trade deadline moves, the draft, and graduated prospects who no longer qualify for such lists – and the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of those guys at this point.
Let’s start there – the Reds have “lost” Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, Spencer Steer, and Brandon Williamson when it comes to prospect eligibility this season. De La Cruz was the top prospect in all of baseball. McLain, Abbott, and Steer were all top 100 prospects on at least one reputable list before graduating their eligibility.
Usually when you lose that many quality prospects your farm system rankings tank. And that’s to be expected. And in Cincinnati’s case it’s not like the year before wasn’t also a big one in which they graduated Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Jose Barrero, Graham Ashcraft, and TJ Friedl – in the last two seasons the Reds farm system has “lost” a very large number of high end prospects and depth to graduating to the big leagues.
Where does that leave the system currently? Well, that depends on who you ask. Sort of. MLB Pipeline came out with their updated farm system rankings on Tuesday and they had the Cincinnati Reds all the way up at #5. That is a strong ranking, even if it still places them 4th (!) within the National League Central division. Pipeline cites the depth of the farm along with what they believe is the best 2023 draft that keeps them where they were when the year began despite all of the graduations.
The crew at Baseball America (editors note: I write a monthly column about the Reds farm for Baseball America but am not at all involved or consulted for any of the rankings put forth by the magazine) came out with their updated farm system rankings earlier today and they had Cincinnati a bit further down the list. You’ll need a subscription to Baseball America to see this list, but they have the Reds at #12.
Like Pipeline, Baseball America notes just how much depth the organization still has on the farm – particularly at the lower levels (which again makes sense given just how many players they’ve graduated in the last 16 months). They still have the organization with four Top 100 prospects, though none within the top 50 (but they had both the #51 and #52 prospects on the list).
As someone who has been covering the Reds farm system for the last 18 years, the current farm system as it stands doesn’t quite feel like a top five system (here’s the updated Top 25 Reds prospect list). But it also feels like it’s a little better than the 12th system, too. Usually a top five system has a for-sure top 25 prospect in baseball to go along with depth. Noelvi Marte is rated that highly some places, but not everywhere. But even despite the graduations, the Reds still have a lot of high-end talent to go along with a ton of depth, which makes that 12th ranking feel a bit low. Somewhere in the middle of those two spots feels more accurate to me based on past precedent, not how it stacks up to other organizations because I honestly do not have the depths of knowledge about the other 29 organizations to make that kind of judgment.
With that said, at this point in time where the Reds farm system ranks doesn’t mean a whole lot to me as far as “the future” outlook goes. Cincinnati’s “future” for the next five years is mostly built around the 1st and 2nd year big leaguers that they already have. The farm will supplement that in the years to come, but if the Reds are going to be good it’s going to be because of the guys that came up in 2022 and 2023 by-and-large.