At 9am today the good folks at Baseball America will unveil their Top 100 Prospect list (the list is now available – see how the Cincinnati Reds look on the list) for 2018. Baseball America is the gold standard among the national prospect lists. Their lists date back to 1990, by far, the longest running list.

The Cincinnati Reds will be represented by multiple prospects in the list that comes out later this morning. If I had to guess, I would say they will land four prospects on the Top 100, with a chance for five. But, for now, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the history of the Cincinnati Reds Top 100 prospects on the Baseball America lists.

Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Overall Prospects

Since 1990 the Reds have only had five players make the Baseball America Top 10 list. Homer Bailey did it twice, after 2007 (#5) and again after 2008 (#9). Jay Bruce is the highest rated Reds prospect ever. He was the #1 player after the 2008 season. Aroldis Chapman ranked 7th on the list after 2011. Reggie Sanders was the only player from the organization from 1990-2006 to make the Top 10. Sanders was the #9 prospect after the 1991 season. Nick Senzel was ranked 9th after the 2016 season.

The Best Single Season of Top 100 Prospects

Using an AP Style format (100 points for a #1 ranking and 1 point for a #100 ranking) I compiled the rankings for reach year from 1990-2017. Going into this exercise, I was sure that the 2008 class was going to be at the top of this chart. That year the Reds had two Top 10 players and four Top 50 players. WRONG. The 2000 Reds topped the chart with 319 total points from six players. That 2008 group had 317 points from five players. Here’s the comparison of those two years, which stood out among the entire history:

2000 2008
21. Gookie Dawkins 1. Jay Bruce
24. Drew Henson 9. Homer Bailey
55. Ed Yarnell 34. Johnny Cueto
56. Adam Dunn 44. Joey Votto
59. Rob Bell 100. Drew Stubbs
72. Jackson Melian

Seeing that list, you can certainly understand why, particularly before I began doing this job, the 2000 group wasn’t a great memory. Only Adam Dunn became a regular among the six players. Drew Henson was in the NFL a few years after this list came out. Dunn was the only player from that group to produce more than 1.1 WAR for his career. On the flip side, Drew Stubbs has been the worst, by far, from that 2008 group and he’s produced 11.1 WAR for his career. The 2000 group, anchored entirely by Adam Dunn’s 25.4 WAR, combined for 25.5 WAR. The 2008 group, with all five players still active, have combined for 128.5 WAR in their career.

Here’s how each year stacks up, only including the Top 100 (which, let me be clear, is NOT indicative of the overall strength of the farm system in a given year – though, at times it certainly can be).

Breaking things down by position

From 1990-2017 there were 1164 players listed as pitcher first (several were listed as pitcher/some other position. I counted those as pitchers). That was good for 45% of the prospects listed being pitchers. The Reds, however, aren’t near that same ratio of pitchers to position players. The organization had 35 pitchers out of 94 total players. That’s just 37%. Thinking back to pre-Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, that should not be surprising. The entire group of prospect starters brought up through the system was basically Brett Tomko. For 25 years.

35 players were listed as infielders. That number, however, includes Billy Hamilton twice being listed as a shortstop (also listed twice as an outfielder). 24 more players were listed as outfielders.

Who made the most lists?

Making a lot of prospect lists can be both good, or bad. The good side could mean that a player was highly regarded from the very beginning and maintained that value through the minors. At the same time, it also could mean that the player didn’t move quickly – though that comes into play more with a college player than the high school player.

One player made the Top 100 list five times, leading the way for the Reds. Pokey Reese showed up on the list every year from 1992-1996. There were several other players who showed up on four different lists. Billy Hamilton (2011-2014), Homer Bailey (2005-2008), and Robert Stephenson (2013-2016) all showed up on four Top 100 lists.

Joey For Prime Minister T-Shirt

8 Responses

  1. Cinvenfan

    There is an obvious improvement in scouting and drafting in the last 10 years. After the Schott dark years, the team has made development of talent a priority with high success in my opinion. Guys like Votto, Bruce, Chapman, Cueto, Cozart among others are no doubt a testimony of Chris Buckley’s great job for the Reds. Of course there’s some misses along the way (Nick Howard being the wost IMO), but every team does. I’m pretty sure the Reds have to be top 5 in WAR among home grown talent this past decade.
    That’s not even counting guys like Hunter Green, Senzel, Trammel, etc.

    That’s the only way for the Reds to come back to contention.

    • Wes

      Maybe not top 5 but top 15 for sure. Dodgers draft insanely well. Cards do a very good job as do yanks Boston Atlanta Tampa kc and several other teams toward top.

      Reds will never be a top 5 payroll for players but when it comes to scouts and player development is where they can make up ground and compete financially. When fans call reds a laughing stock they pay no regard to scouts and player development. But that’s what keeps me interested and keeps me tuned into this site

  2. Billy

    Doug, we know prospect value is non-linear, right? I know I’ve seen curves that show how the value of draft picks drop off. Has anyone done anything similar for prospect lists? That would seem to be a better way to evaluate the classes than just using the AP-style approach you used here. Just a thought…

  3. Jonathan Linn

    Doug, on your points scale, what would be considered bad, good, better? Is the 317 points from the 2008 year considered a great farm system? I hope that makes sense

    • Doug Gray

      I have no clue how that would rank, historically, because I didn’t do a deep dive into it. But, that farm system in 2008 ranked as the #3 farm system in baseball.

  4. DHud

    “Aroldis Chapman ranked 7th on the list after 2011.”

    Sigh…still hurts inside thinking what could’ve been

  5. Shamrock

    The “Schott Dark Year’s”
    You mean homegrown talent like Eric Davis, Joe Oliver, Rob Dibble, Reggie Sanders, Barry Larkin, Pokey Reese, Dmitri Young, Chris Sabo, Paul O’neill…..
    Or, acquired players, like Hal Morris, Sean Casey, Paul Konerko, Mike Cameron, Ron Gant, Kevin Mitchell, Greg Vaughn, Neon Deion, etc…
    How about the 1990 Wire to Wire WS Championship??

    Are you really going to imply here that the Lindner/Castellini era with “mega prospects” like Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce is somehow superior to the Schottzie years??????

    God Bless

    • Doug Gray

      In the 90’s Marge decided scouting was useless and gutted the organization. It’s what led to the lack of a farm system, for the most part, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Note that most of the homegrown guys you’re touting were from the early to mid 80’s when acquired. The Reds had a pretty good run in the 80’s on drafting and developing guys. The 90’s? Not so much. The early 2000’s? Not so much. There was a guy every so often, but nothing remotely like the 80’s. Nothing remotely like the mid-to-late 2000’s.