Laying the Foundation


In light of Steve’s great pieces highlighting the top 2011 Reds prospects, I thought I would take a look at the Reds organizational talent from years past as it stands up along with the rest of the league and mainly the effect Bob Castellini’s ownership has had on overall organizational depth.

John Fay penned a piece recently about the promise Castellini made as his first act as owner. Castellini promised to bring a championship back to Cincinnati. And with the years of losing endured by Reds fans, many chuckled at that possibility. But with the recently rejuvenated (and 2010 NL Central Champion) Cincinnati Reds seemingly coming out of the doldrums, Castellini really has put the franchise back on track to compete at the highest levels of Major League Baseball. And when building a team to consistently compete in this day and age the most crucial part of the equation is having the ability to cultivate and utilize young talent through the minor league system, especially being a team thats part of baseball’s “middle class”. Talented missing pieces to the on-field puzzle cannot simply be bought, they must be scouted, acquired, and grown. Players like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Johnny Cueto must be grown and turn into the stars who are the long term foundation bedrock of a successful team.

In the years leading up to the Castellini buying, the Reds had little real value in their farm system and it showed. The Reds rarely had any starting players who were homegrown and had to fill the roster with mediocre career minor leaguers or bargain bin free agents. This can be seen from organizational talent rankings acquired from Baseball America. These are rankings that reflect the overall talent depth of a team all the way down to rookie ball. They are a very good yearly indicator of a team’s future progress on the major league level. Here are the years preceding the buying of the team by Bob Castellini:

Organizational Talent Rankings 2002-2006


2003: 24

2004: 26

2005: 23

2006: 30

Cumulative Ranking: 26th

As you can see, these years were slim. This was a time right in the middle of the playoff drought and where good players were few and far between. The only noteworthy players that the Reds produced really were Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns and no notable pitchers were produced at all. I remembered being excited for Ray Olmedo and Paul Wilson. Those were some crummy times to be a fan.

But in the years since Castellini has taken control, more of an emphasis has been placed on scouting and signing amateur players. This can be reflected in the organizational talent rankings:

Organizational Talent Rankings 2007-2010

2007: 12
2008: 3
2009: 14
2010: 17
Cumulative Ranking: 12th

As the talent has risen in the lower levels of the organization, more talented players have been produced that can actually help the club win ballgames. The Reds went from producing no homegrown pitchers that have produced on the major league roster in years past to having drafted 10 of the 23 pitchers who pitched for the major league team in 2010.

Pin this on with all of the exciting 2011 Reds prospects, and it seems that things will be going strong for some time for the Redlegs.

All you can ask from an organization is to have a foundation in place that gives the team the best opportunity to produce quality players consistently. For the first time in quite some time, I can confidently say that the Reds are doing that and doing it as well as any team in baseball.