After the 2019 season was over there really was only one starting pitcher who was in the conversation for Cincinnati Reds Minor League Starter of the Year. That pitcher was Packy Naughton.

The 23-year-old left-handed starter split time with both the Daytona Tortugas and the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2019. His season began in the Florida State League with Daytona where he made nine starts. In that stretch he posted a 2.63 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched with 9 walks and 50 strikeouts. His performance there earned him a quick promotion to Double-A.

Once he arrived in Chattanooga he picked up where he had left off for the most part. He would make another 19 starts on the season – all for the Lookouts, throwing 105.2 innings for the Reds affiliate. His ERA over that span was 3.66 and he struck out 81 hitters with just 26 walks. Between his two stops he came in with a 3.32 ERA in 157.0 innings, just 10 home runs allowed, 35 walks, and he struck out 131 hitters.

Among the pitchers in the organization who threw at least 90 innings this season Packy Naughton led in wins, ERA, innings, and walk rate. He was second in home run rate, strikeouts, and WHIP. He was third in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

What separated Packy Naughton from the others?

It wasn’t exactly a stellar year for the Reds farm system when it comes to starting pitchers. That’s not to take away from what Packy Naughton did, because he’d have been in the conversation in past years, too. But it did limit the competition that he had.

What made this such an easy choice for the former Virginia Tech lefty is just the entire package of his season. Only three other pitchers in the farm system topped 130 innings pitched. None of those pitchers had an ERA under 4.00. If we extend the look to guys who threw fewer than 100 innings you get to Jose Franco (2.20 ERA in 57.1 innings for the DSL Reds), Connor Curlis (2.92 ERA in 83.1 innings for Dayton/Daytona), and Miguel Medrano (3.13 ERA in 60.1 innings for Billings). While those guys had better ERA’s, the innings were a huge differentiator here.

It’s not the fault of those pitchers that they threw fewer innings. Both Franco and Medrano pitched in short-season leagues that didn’t begin until June. Curlis didn’t begin pitching this season until late May – and he was very good once he did take the mound. But Packy Naughton was out there from opening day through the end of the year, making 28 starts and throwing 157.0 innings. That he did that and was still among the leaders in nearly every category simply made it an easy choice.

21 Responses

  1. PUSHERMAN

    Lol this organization really is in the crapper. Would he have won this in any other system?
    More hits than IP. Way less Ks than IP.
    Gray and Moss were easily way better, but they were traded for absolutely nothing so there’s that.
    How about writing an article on the other site roasting the awful moves that have put this club in the position they are. Not to mention the team not playing the few players who may actually be part of the future.
    Do you just not do negative press towards the FO? Any other market they would be getting absolutely grilled.

    Reply
    • Barry

      You must be new to this site. Doug has often times been critical of the FO. The trade with the Dodgers has been written about here many times.

      Reply
      • Doug Gray

        Heck, I was critical about the Trevor Bauer trade. I was destroying them on the Sonny Gray trade until it was announced that it came with an extension (which changed all of the math involved). I was roasting them all winter two years ago for not trading for Yelich. I was roasting them all last winter for not trading for Realmuto. I’ve blasted them forever for not even thinking about playing in the free agent market.

        But sure, pusherman, you do you.

      • Hanawi

        Reds fans were ecstatic about the Dodgers trade and Doug was all for it as well. I’ve been beating this drum all year. Both were mind blowingly bad when they were made.

      • Doug Gray

        I stand by the Dodgers trade being a good decision. It simply didn’t work out.

    • Cguy

      Sorry, I don’t get it. Who out there actually wanted the Reds to do nothing this past year & just sit on their prospects? No Roark deal, no Dodger deal, no Sonny Gray deal, no Trevor Bauer deal, no 2nd Roark deal? No organization comes out on top in every trade. Reds finally try to put a competitive team on the field & get very little appreciation for it.

      Reply
      • Tom

        In a world where all the big money teams are doing all the right things, the Reds need “the next thing” to enter in their possession.

        I’d consider Derek Johnson one of those kinds of things. A distinct advantage.

        As others here have said, I think Wes, the cheap post hype veterans have made a difference around baseball in places like Cincy, Oakland and TB.

        But what’s next that can turn an effort like 2019 into an actual contender?

        Was Rocco Baldelli really that much better? Is David Bell actually a net negative on the W/L column? Do the Reds have the very best scouting they can have?

        Anecdotally it seems the teams that have had success have all also been engaged in some form of cheating. Astros, Atlanta, Cardinals, Boston, NYY, San Diego, etc. They’ve all had significant scandals, yet emerged even better. Is it the mark of a “good” organization that they are constantly finding gray areas to cheat? I’d have to say yes.

      • PUSHERMAN

        So you commend them for making moves just for the sake of it? They didn’t work. The team isn’t competitive and we are out multiple top prospects. They don’t deserve ANY praise for that. They deserve to be fired for trading multiple years of control away for nothing.
        Your premise would be on if the roster was close to competing, but guess what…. they weren’t. If the FO couldn’t see that they need to go.
        The FO didn’t know what they had in Downs, Gray, Moss and sold Trammel at his lowest for 1 year of control on a career 4 ERA pitcher. They need to clean it out from the top down

      • MK

        I my mind they gave away one maybe two prospects who will make a impact at the big league level who might be a significant loss to their future success. I’ve always believed that Trammel, Rainey and Downs were extremely over rated and are easily replaced by the organizational depth. J. Gray and Moss might be the ones that might hurt in the long run, but to get S. Gray, Bauer, Farmer and Hannah they were certainly expendable

      • Cguy

        I commend the Reds for finally, finally realizing that they were not at all successful in developing starting pitching- even though they had drafted or traded for a host of pitching prospects. So they traded for established sp, and as a group (Roark, Wood, Gray, & Bauer) the Reds did quite well. There’s no reason to assume that Josiah Gray or Scott Moss would have become successful ML sp under continued Reds tutelage. Frankly, little evidence to assume Santillan , Gutierrez, or Mella will either. Additionally, they hired Derek Johnson who has made an impact on the pitching already. No, there was a well thought -out plan & execution to the trades the Reds made.

    • Big Dan

      We are more about the feel good stories here, nothing wrong with that, just is what it is.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      You do realize this article is about recognizing the player who had the best season as a pitcher in the farm system, right? Why on Earth would I use this article to complain about the front office?

      Reply
    • Greenfield Red

      It should be pointed out that 30+ 1 run losses tell me things aren’t that far off at the major league level.

      It should also be pointed out the two top pitching prospects in the organization (both top 100 in baseball) weren’t considered here. One was injured. The other was just selected this past June.

      If they are not going to compete for the World Series, I remain in the group that is happy with the losses because of draft position.

      On the negative side, 2019 was another year of too much losing in the minor leagues at all levels. Even when Aquino, Van Meter, and O’Grady were raking at Louisville, they weren’t winning. At some point, the talent level in the minors has to be questioned if the some of the parts can’t win against their peers.

      Reply
  2. MK

    I would really like to see them give Packy a legitimate shot in Spring Training. They have been so darn conservative in their development process for pitchers and they have little to show for it. Heck give Lodolo a shot as well. They seemed to be so interested in protecting arms and service time, they are missing out on a lot of quality pitching. The 70’s era Reds took early chances on guys like Ross Grimsley, Santo Alcala, Pat Zachary, Don Gullett etc., etc., and it paid off.

    Reply
  3. Tom

    What kind of velo does Packy have? What is his repertoire? Is he in the Matt Maloney genre or the Travis Wood genre?

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      I’ll have a full scouting report on him later when I start doing the top prospect articles. That said, he’s a low-90’s guy, so a lot more Wood than Maloney.

      Reply
  4. Billy

    Isn’t the drop in K/BB as he went from A+ (~5:1) to AA (~3:1) worrisome for his future prospects? Does that suggest that his stuff may not play so well as he climbs the ladder?

    He had a very nice year (couple of years, really), and he deserves to be recognized for it. I still don’t see him as having much of a shot of being a significant MLB contributor though – even in a bullpen role. Am I wrong?

    Reply
    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      I don’t think you’re wrong. I hope you are, but I lean toward you bring correct.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Yes and no. 3:1 is still pretty good if he can maintain it. That would be a well above-average rate in the Majors. Hardly anyone is ever a 5:1 guy.

      Reply
  5. Norwood Nate

    Completely agree with this selection. Been banging the Packy drum since the promotion to AA. That’s the jump I weigh the most and believe separates legit prospects from the rest.

    Reply
  6. SteveLV

    I’m happy for Packy, and while not exactly excited by his future, I think it’s great to see guys do well who don’t have off the chart stuff. Good for him.

    The concern is that no other starter was really in consideration. Hopefully that changes when Greene is healthy, Santillan bounces back, Lodolo continues his brief success, and someone like Richardson takes a big step forward.

    Reply

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