Shockingly, the Cincinnati Reds are still able to boast one of the top farm systems in Major League Baseball. According to MLB Pipeline, the Reds rank No. 5 among all 30 MLB teams, which is exactly where they were to begin the season.
This is quite the feat considering that Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, and Spencer Steer are no longer considered prospects in the eyes of the talent evaluators for MLB.com.
Cincinnati is still able to lay claim to five Top 100 prospects, though Christian Encarnacion-Strand will undoubtedly move off that list in a couple of weeks once he surpasses a certain number of at-bats.
The Reds are not the only NL Central team among the Top 5 farm systems.
But the Cincinnati Reds have company. In fact, four of the Top 5 farm systems reside in the NL Central Division. The only team who didn't receive a high rating was the St. Louis Cardinals.
That's right, after the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates (2), Milwaukee Brewers (3), and Chicago Cubs (4) all find themselves comfortably atop MLB Pipeline's top farm systems. The Cardinals, who ranked ninth prior to the start of the 2023 season, find themselves in the bottom-third of the rankings at No. 22.
Collectively, the NL Central is home to 20 of the Top 100 prospects in the game today. Paul Skenes and Temarr Johnson (Pirates), Jackson Churio and Sal Freick (Brewers), Pete Crow-Armstrong (Cubs), and Noelvi Marte (Reds) are among the Top 25.
So, while fans of the Cincinnati Reds are, and should be, excited for the future, don't think for one minute that the rest of the teams in the NL Central are going to sit on their hands.
Even the Cardinals, who have just two Top 100 prospects, will be looking to improve in 2024. St. Louis' head man, John Mozeliak, has stated (via John Denton of MLB.com) that the Cardinals will look to add three starters during the offseason.
Don't look now, folks! But the NL Central could quickly go from the one of the weakest divisions in Major League Baseball to one of the most difficult.