Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects Doug Gray February 13, 2017 19 Comments Earlier today John Sickels of Minor League Ball released his Top 200 Prospects List and it was noted that it wasn’t the best showing for the Cincinnati Reds. Well, the Baseball Prospectus list was also released today and their Top 101 Prospects is also not a good look for the organization. Among the 101 prospects listed there are only two Cincinnati Reds among the list. Third baseman Nick Senzel ranked 20th overall on the list. He’s followed up closely by left handed starting pitcher Amir Garrett who comes in ranked 32nd overall. On the Top 10 prospects list by the same group, Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson would be next in line among the Reds prospects, but neither was able to crack the Top 101. As was noted in the Sickels list article, there’s a lot of variance among the national writers on where the Reds farm system is, and just where the players inside the organization are. Scout.com also released their Top 100 Prospect list today, and it looks a little bit better for the organization. Generally speaking, it’s not been on par with the lists by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, MLB.com or John Sickels. I only know one of the contributors to the list, but he’s knowledgeable enough to the point that I’d say it’s worth taking a look at. On the Scout.com list there are four Cincinnati Reds prospects that make the Top 100. Nick Senzel once again leads the way at #24 overall. Amir Garrett follows for the Reds at #41 overall. Outfielder Jesse Winker comes in at #76 on the list and Robert Stephenson rounds things out for the organization at #97. Four prospects in the Top 100 is a better look than two, but it once again illustrates the variance among national writers of where the current crop of prospects stand on the landscape of all of Minor League Baseball. 19 Responses Steve February 13, 2017 Hope Stephenson and Winker have a chips on their shoulders now and use being omitted from all these lists as motivation for the upcoming season. Glad to hear that if we couldn’t sign Wood, that he went to an AL team. Simon Cowell February 13, 2017 I would imagine that if Cincinnati had a sports writer that had national recognition and followers that the Reds would be higher regarded in their farm system. And that is coming from me who doesn’t think we are that good. I don’t think we are that bad either. I do think our farm system isn’t stocked very well in comparison to how bad our major league team has been. There should be a closer parallel to when the major league team is struggling and the farm system excelling. On that measurement the Reds should be top 5. The Reds need to stop the over investment in retread arms that have had Tommy John or other major surgeries. The odds of a payout are low and our attention could be better suited combing the Asian and Latino markets. As things stand it appears that the Reds only have interest in Cuban players which I find very odd and detrimental to the farm system long term. Doug Gray February 13, 2017 I think their going after so many Cuban players is simple: There’s far less risk involved in them than other Latin American signings. These guys aren’t 15-years-old when you get your last look at them before you can sign them. They are more physically developed – there’s not much guesswork on whether they will fill out. Generally speaking, you’ve seen them in actual games against other high-ish end competition – which is something you literally never see from other Latin American signings. They are, generally speaking, significantly closer to reaching the big leagues as well. That, of course, comes with it’s own set of problems, too. They are more expensive to sign because everyone else also understands there’s far less risk involved. Simon Cowell February 13, 2017 you also get to miss out on those diamonds such as Tanaka and Choo Chris in NC February 13, 2017 Doug, I’ve tried to message you on twitter. I’d like you to do a guest spot on my radio show Wednesday. Hit me up at @chris_delambert. We’re covering spring training, and I’d like some local input from guys like you. Thanks Doug Gray February 14, 2017 Shoot me an email with more details – email@example.com Stock February 14, 2017 Simon makes a great point here. The Reds have all the advantages that others lack and still are an average farm team. Top 5 should be a given. Instead they are more of a 13-18 system to me. Here is why they should be top 5. 1. The Reds get extra draft picks for small market team. 2. The Reds major league team stinks so they get Senzel. 3. The Reds traded all their ML talent for youth. 4. The Reds blew up the international salary cap. The Reds are the only team in the majors with all four of these advantages yet have an average farm. The Cubs took advantage of 3 of these 4 several years ago and not only had the best farm but by far the best farm. People jump on here and praise Dick Williams for paying the Braves to take Phillips. It was a no brainer for the Braves. I am not sure why Williams just didn’t wait until a team needed Phillips and then received something for him. The Reds are in the habit of trading players and getting nothing in return. Here is the Reds recent history. I may have missed some transactions but caught most of the low-lights. 1. The Reds pay the Braves to take Phillips (see item 3). 2. The Reds trade a SP with a 3.10 ERA in the second half for a pitcher who is projected to be a RP and is the Reds 9th best prospect. 3. The Reds trade Jay Bruce for a quality prospect (good trade, too bad they forgot that sometimes you wait for opportunity when looking to dump Phillips). 4. The Reds blow up their international budget to sign Alfredo Rodriguez when much better players sign with other teams at half the price. 5. The Reds give away Chapman. They obviously did not understand the concept of waiting for the best price yet. 6. The Reds undersell in the Frazier trade. Doug Gray February 14, 2017 Let’s discuss some of your points here. #1: What have they done with those picks? In 2015 they took Tanner Rainey. Elite stuff, but it hasn’t played out that way just yet. I do think the transition to the bullpen will help, but he was also a Comp B pick after the 2nd round. Then last year they hit a home run with their comp pick by landing Trammell (at least as far as prospect values go for today). #2: They certainly nailed the Senzel pick. The 2013 and 2014 drafts are holding them back right now. Lorenzen was a win, but he’s not a part of the farm from 2013. Ervin is a solid, but unspectacular prospect. You’ve still got some guys of note from 2013 (Mahle, Weiss, Long, Mitchell, Crook), but none of them are “farm system movers” yet. In 2014 you’ve got a mess. Nick Howard can’t throw strikes, Alex Blandino is coming off of a very poor year that you hope was injury related, Taylor Sparks hasn’t shown he can hit at all and Wyatt Strahan is trying to come back from TJ. Gavin LaValley has performed, but he’s also a first baseman. You’ve got a few guys that could be big leaguers beyond that, but right now, no one that looks like they are “farm system movers”, either. With Phillips, I think it was simple: They couldn’t afford to wait. First, Phillips has to approve a deal and a team he was willing to go to showed interest. What if you wait for someone else to come calling and he’s not willing to go there? You can’t take that risk. Now, let’s move on to the 2nd set of numbers: 2. Straily may have been a 3.10 ERA guy in the second half, but he didn’t project to be that guy at all. Castillo may wind up a reliever, but I think a lot of the “projects to be a reliever” stuff is rooted in the “he was a reliever before 2015”, too. The last line in his writeup in the BA HAndbook “He’s moved from a bullpen arm to a potential mid-rotation starter”. 4. I’m as big of a “WHAT THE CRAP!?” on Alfredo Rodriguez as there is. But they were going to blow past their budget with or without him because they also grabbed Gutierrez. He would have pushed them beyond their limit (not on his own, but when coupled with everyone else they signed, absolutely). Also, the better players you talk about, while true that they signed for less – that’s just not how the international game works. If you wanted to sign those kids in 2016, you needed to have them locked into deals in 2014. It’s hardly ever about just offering the most amount of money at the end of the day. It’s about offering the most money when the kid if 14 or 15, then his agent stops letting him have workouts for other teams. 5. Complete PR move. Had nothing to do with baseball or the future, aside from getting him off of the team. The owner didn’t care about the price, he cared about getting him off of the team. 6. The Reds didn’t undersell Frazier. What they did was sell too late. He lost a bunch of value with that terrible second half. Wes February 14, 2017 Go look. The cubs missed out on plenty with their top picks over last few years and d Williams has a long way to go before he’s Theo Epstein which is in a class of his own. Cubs also raked the As w the smarja/Russell trade which helped a ton. Then they also signed a bunch of international prospects vs just a couple and those guys are starting to come through vs not even playing yet. I want to look at our team with how they stack up when they start to compete again. With our under 27 talent and 2 top picks (2017 and 18) plus additional picks in those drafts we are extremely deep and theirs a lot to be optimistic about! Soon we will have a full roster and plenty of prospects to deal to improve. You can’t get russell or Swanson back in every trade and to create that as a standard is unrealistic and unfair. Imo reds win w most deals they make. Example they wanted peraza and went and got him. So trading Frazier was step they needed to make to accomplish an organization goal. I like the confidence in a decision like that and Frazier wasn’t in long term plans. Another is most sure fire talent is at top of draft so put a young team out there, lose a ton of games, and draft a guy who will be a top 20 prospect right away. Stock February 14, 2017 Trammell was a good pick (too early to call it a HR though). In spite of this good pick the Reds are still a 13-18 farm. You claim it is the weak 2013 and 2014 drafts. I will not disagree with that. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Reds have an average minor league system. You wait on Phillips because even if no one comes calling you have the same return. Plus, now you can gain an extra season on the back end with Herrera. I have seen the Reds turn many RP into SP over the last 4 years. Tony Cingrani was a college RP who the Reds made a SP, Mike Lorenzen, Howard and Rasiel Iglesias soon followed. Unfortunately none of these four are SP now. I would gather Castillo has a 25% chance at becoming a middle of the rotation starter. Problem is you traded him for someone who has a 100% chance at being a middle of the rotation starter. How can that be considered a good trade even if the odds were 75% instead of 25%. Maybe a 3.10 ERA is the ceiling for Straily. Why trade him now though for scraps? If he performs to his ceiling for 4 more months to start the year you get a haul for him. There is a chance the Reds sold high on Straily. But they didn’t get high price. A pitcher with a 3.50 ERA should bring in quite a haul. Shelby Miller returned Swanson last winter. Why not wait 4 months and see the real Straily. You risk going from Castillo to nothing but for the potential of going from Castillo to a top 25 prospect it is worth the risk. The Reds need to take more risks. This was a terrible trade. Best case scenario they get a pitcher slightly inferior to the one they traded. Worst case scenario Castillo never makes the show. When you barely go over your cap you don’t incur the penalties and restrictions the Reds face the next two years. I believe the Reds signed Rodriguez first. Finally when the Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees blew through their international signing restrictions they planned ahead and were prepared to get quality players that allowed them to incur the restrictions they faced later and still come out ahead. This is not true for the Reds. They signed a worthless player and are limited in future years because of this. Outside of Gutierrez they have nothing to show for this. If this were a PR move obviously the Reds don’t know MLB fans enough. The perception is the Reds came out losers and the Yankees came out winners. The Reds got much less for Frazier than the White Sox received for an inferior Eaton. And it wasn’t even close. I know everyone is excited about Peraza but I don’t see it. Everyone is critical of Billy Hamilton but his per game WAR in the majors is 2.5 – 3.0 times that of Peraza as a major league player. And that is with the aid of Peraza’s .364 BABIP last year (about .320 in his AAA career). For the record Billy Hamilton’s BABIP is .301. I think Peraza tops out at a 1.5 WAR player per 150 games. For comparison Hamilton WAR is roughly 3.5 per 150 games and Cozart is roughly 2.5 per 150 games. You have been very critical of both Hamilton and Cozart through the years (especially Cozart). But their on-field performance is far superior to that of Peraza. I am not sure you can sit back and justify that Hamilton and Cozart stink yet Peraza is good and it was a solid trade. I just don’t see it. Maybe I need some of that secret sauce you are drinking. Stock February 14, 2017 Wes, I think some of your points prove everything I say is right. You say the Cubs got a lot of quality international prospects in one year because they went over their cap. I agree. It was a well thought out organizational plan. Not so much for the Reds. The difference is one team has quality management and one does not. As for trading Frazier for Peraza because that is their target. I can’t help but feel you are right here. They tried to get Peraza in a Chapman deal. Unfortunately, this seems to be an awful low target. The Dodgers received Peraza as a throw in just months earlier as his stock value had fallen considerably in the prior months. I am not sure why you consider looking at talent 27 and younger (I would look at years of control) but within their division the Reds do not look so good. Reds stars: Hamilton Reds starters: Barnhart, Herrera, Suarez, Peraza, Disco, Finnegan, Reed Stephenson Reds Prospects: 2 in BP top 101 but will include Winker and say 3. Included Reed and Stephenson above so all this is very generous. Generous to call Suarez a starter because long term he becomes a role player. Long term I also feel Finnegan and Stephenson end up in the bullpen. Cubs stars: Kris Bryant, Schwarber, Baez and Russell. Cubs starters: Contreras, Almora Cubs prospects: 4 in BP top 101. Card stars: Carlos Martinez Card starters: Wong, Diaz, Grichuk, Gonzalez, Wacha and Weaver. Card prospects: 4 in BP top 101. Brewer Stars: Villar, Arcia Brewer Starters: Perez, Gennett, Keon Broxton, Santiago and Davies Brewer Prospects: 7 in BP top 101 Pirate Stars: Cole, Polanco Pirate Starters: Hanson, Frazier, Taillon and Kuhl Pirate Prospects: 5 in BP top 101 Cubs are easily #1 with less than 27 year old. Brewers are easily #2 in my opinion. Cards and Pirates are close at #3. Pirates have 4 top 30 prospects so I would give them the edge. Cards have #1 prospect though. The Reds are 5th in the division long term with only 5 players capable of a WAR > 2 (Hamilton, Senzel, Reed, Garrett and Winker). Wes February 14, 2017 Hey stock! It’s a long way from bottom to top and it’s frustrating as a fan sometimes! Reds organization is surely behind other organizations and that is what it is but we can get back to competing and I see reds doing well in that aspect 1. Reds are incredibly deep projecting at least 2 controllably (27 and under) MLB players deep at every position except short and front end starter. At 2nd, if peraza can’t play ss, we are 4 deep. KLaw says we have more back end prospects than nearly any other team. On the same note there are tons and tons of ranked prospects outside of top ten that never make much of anything out of an MLB career so more options better odds of someone sticking. Example judge from Yankees and Brinson from brewers are ranked super high but good chance neither of them ever hit well enough to be everyday big leaguers. 2. Arizonas gm got fired for the Swanson trade. One of worse trades ever. Stailey for a 65 grade prospect is an absolute pipe dream! And he’s not going to be there when we need a guy so move him. Doing that made our rotation terrible in the process though now we can pick at top of 2018 draft and add one more stud. And at top of this draft is a front line starter and ss. So we will fill one of our 2 biggest needs w first pick this year. 3. Cubs are 1st in division no doubt. But when u add pick 2 to equation- you can argue reds at 2. I got pirates ahead of cards and all four teams fairly equal. All the more reason why we need that top 2018 pick. Not the most exciting rebuild and not the quickest but in 2018 the reds are projecting a good team on field with plenty of guys pushing for time behind them that should give us a lot of trade leverage. Stock February 14, 2017 Wes, I hope you are right and love your optimism. MikeD February 13, 2017 The other day I commented about us “fallin in love” with our guys and Doug rightly responded that he gets that, but believes that it is not the case with these players that he has graded. I don’t disagree with that, but the problem is we follow our players in a vacuum and we don’t have the same in depth knowledge of other systems. Trust me, I want to see our players all do well, because that’s the Reds only chance to compete. Following players Stephenson, Winker and Garrett from day one, clouds my objectivity. I want to believe they will be the players that lead the Reds to a title, but I also remember the likes of Gary Redus and realize there’s a huge, huge difference between minor league and MLB success. It is a lot of fun to follow minor league baseball and thanks to Doug it’s even easier. I enjoy many Doug’s insight as well as most of the comments on this particular site and at the very least, that’s something. Every publication is trying to have a different perspective or they would be marginalized by previous rankings. Have fun being critical and hope that we have some players that prove them wrong. Beyond that, we don’t have much else as Reds fan right now! Thank you Doug, you provide professional and insightful information! Patrick February 13, 2017 I am also one that believe we over value our own players. This last year I have tried to be more objective. I can see why some of our players are falling or not rated as highly. I think we tend to see their ceilings more so than being realistic. Stevenson may have the arm but he has not shown production that will correspond to any major league success his low k and high walk at AAA says he will more likely than not fail. I see winker’s bat being like Hal Morris Yonder Alonso nice but not impactful. His D and speed are ok. I think people are seeing him as 12-15hr guy in left field which is not as special as he was seen as before. Reed has very few innings where he has put it all together. He also has had high babip. He was only good in 2015 and part of 2016 I think these players could be what we want them to be but I can see why they have fallen to the national media. Ryan Harney February 14, 2017 Guys like Acquino, Gutierrez, Trammel, Stephenson (C), and Santillian are good bets to rise up prospect list as soon as the mid-season list. The draft will hopefully net us another Senzel plus another couple high upside guys. As Doug said above, the they had 2 pretty bad drafts and that’s what’s costing them in the prospect list. I don’t see the Reds perpetually rebuilding like Minnesota. It might be as dramatic of a turnaround the Cubs had either but I think they get competitive by 2018, maybe even dabble with .500 ball after the AS break this year. Replacing the below replacement production with replacement level will be huge. Greenfield Red February 14, 2017 Here is another thought that is worth considering in this whole argument. Like every major league team, the Reds have several valuable players on the major league team. At any point in the year, other than August – October, any team can choose to cash them in for a rebuild. The Reds did a lot of that with mixed results in the last couple of years. It seems the White Sox did a ton of it this winter. The Reds can trade another 5 or 6 players (Hamilton, Disco, Iggy, Duvall, Lorenzen, ect) at any time and get a decent return of future prospects. They would be trading, in all of the above cases, several years of club control of good players now, for more control of higher rated prospects. The point is, the future value of the team is not just what is currently in the system. It can change a lot in just a year. I think the Reds need to do more… a lot more. There is still opportunity. I hope they are players for the new Cuban pitcher and Luis Robert if he becomes available. I hope the opportunity arises to trade a couple of the above mentioned current players for a big haul. I hope they have a great draft this year. And I also hope they lose 100 games in 2017. One more year of drafting at the top can’t hurt. The Front Office really needs to show more commitment to the rebuild than they have. Ryan Harney February 14, 2017 The players you mentioned are the current core…That core did just almost lose 100 games but I believe that has more to do with the last 5 or 6 guys on the roster than them. When you have guys providing big time negative value it hurts almost as much as Votto helps. That is almost a theme with the Reds. They had several very good players when they were competive but they also had Patterson playing CF, or a Schumacher getting 200 PA’s from the bench. It’s very important to have a rounded team, guys that have 5,6 era’s kill you. Guys that slash .220/280/300 and get a healthy and share of PA’s kill you. Thats what you have to avoid. Cody Reed himself can represent nearly a 4 war difference if he is the guy I believe him to be… That’s huge. You can’t have a handful of stars and 5 AAA players on a 25 man roster and hope to compete, not in today’s game. Blandino and Ervin are important for the Reds. If they turn out to be 1 WAR players, that represents a major improvement on the bench. If the bullpen is league averagish, that’s a huge deal for the Reds. You can’t always shoot for the stars, you must however, eliminate negative performance. Ryan Harney February 14, 2017 To further my earlier point about negative performances, the Reds got Storen and Feldman to add to bullpen. Add in Astin,who I think will be an Ondrusek type performer and that’s 5 games, easy. I do believe that Iggy and Lorensen are at their best in the ‘pen. I don’t think Iglesias can handle a starters workload and Lorensen lacks the pitches to be a good starter.