The biggest flaw on the Cincinnati Reds depth map and how they fix it

I’ve read everything Paul Daugherty has written for as long as I can remember. Doc is the only writer I can say that about. Once I was reading The Morning Line on my iPad in physics class. Doc made a smart point about the Reds firing Dusty Baker, and I was caught up in what I was reading.

My physics teacher noticed I was distracted and, explaining photosynthesis, waved a whiteboard marker my way. It was a great throw. The marker hit my iPad and reminded me I was in science class. Later in the day I finished TML.

I will miss working with Doc and congratulate him on his retirement.

leading

The highlights of the Reds season then were starting pitchers like Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft have shown that there is light at the end of the reconstruction tunnel.

When Greene won NL Player of the Week earlier this month, it was another sign of how the Reds’ prospects could move in the right direction. When Ashcraft completed eight great innings in a win over the Giants on Friday, it was another example of what the Reds are building around.

But when the Reds scored seven runs in the third inning of Sunday’s win over the Giants, there were virtually no long-term implications. None of the RBI’s came from batters who are expected to be starters on the next playoff team of the Reds.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ross Detwiler (75) accepts the ball from Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell (25) after coming into the game in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Friday, June 17, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ross Detwiler (75) accepts the ball from Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell (25) after coming into the game in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Friday, June 17, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Even when Brandon Drury, Tommy Pham, Joey Votto, Matt Reynolds, Albert Almora Jr. and Aramis Garcia in runs, that was not a bright spot for the future of the Reds.

The Reds’ big league roster in 2022 is filled with position players with no long-term commitment from the Reds. The Reds have too many batters whose 2022 season is basically an audition for the other 29 teams.

The only position players on the Reds’ active roster likely to be starters in the next Reds playoff team are Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson. And the reinforcements are still not close in the farm system.

The Reds’ Triple-A roster is not a reassuring sign for the future. Jose Barrero is the only positional player on the Louisville Bats that the Reds see as a likely long-term starter.

The Reds’ front office has already made changes to avoid another drought of position players’ prospects. Over the past three years, Reds GM Nick Krall has restructured the Reds’ front office, aligning the Reds’ scouting vision with their vision of player development, and looking for more athletic, versatile position players with more rounded approaches to the plate.

Cincinnati Reds rightfielder Albert Almora Jr.  (3) walks back to the dugout after being thrown out in the seventh inning of the MLB game in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Los Angeles Dodgers defeated Cincinnati Reds 8 -4.

Cincinnati Reds rightfielder Albert Almora Jr. (3) walks back to the dugout after being thrown out in the seventh inning of the MLB game in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Los Angeles Dodgers defeated Cincinnati Reds 8 -4.

For a long time, the Reds didn’t get many MLB contributors from international scouting. The Reds have made major changes in that area and made the international market a priority for roster building.

This different approach is moving the Reds farming system in the right direction. As these changes started happening around 2019, the Reds are seeing the payoff in High-A Dayton and in Double-A Chattanooga with such impressive prospects as Matt McLain, Michael Siani, Elly De La Cruz, Allan Cerda, Jose Torres, Jay Allen, Rece Hinds, Austin Hendrick and Mat Nelson.

Cincinnati Reds minor league shortstop Elly De La Cruz turns at bat in a minor league scrimmage against the Cleveland Guardians, Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the team's spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

Cincinnati Reds minor league shortstop Elly De La Cruz turns at bat in a minor league scrimmage against the Cleveland Guardians, Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

But when you make massive changes to the way you structure your farm system, it takes time for those prospects to trickle down to MLB. If the Reds want to take actions against the trade deadline, they would take advantage of acquiring Double-A and Triple-A hitters to fill these gaps in their farm system.

If the Reds don’t trade players like Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Pham and Drury for high-level players who may be ready to play in MLB next season, then the Reds will go into the 2023 season with next year’s versions of Drury. Reynolds, Donovan Solano, Almora Jr. and Pham in their starting lineup.

the other sideline

Last week I wrote an article about Bengal’s cornerback Eli Apple. What struck me most was this quote from Bengal cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

“Last season (Apple) pulled out all the stops. Regardless of what anyone said and however anyone had criticized him, he was undoubtedly himself. His presence was always palpable. In a soccer team, any player can get lost in the mix and not let his personality shine. Apple does such a good job of letting its personality shine, and in turn, its game shines.”

It has become a cliché at this point to praise Bengali culture, but there is no better example than Apple of the impact of a locker room environment on an individual player.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) breaks a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trent Taylor (11) in overtime of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, January 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.  Cincinnati Bengals defeated Kansas City Chiefs 27-24.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) breaks a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trent Taylor (11) in overtime of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, January 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Kansas City Chiefs 27-24.

Apple’s former teams gave up on him and some of his former teammates laughed at him on social media after the Super Bowl. Still, the Bengals’ cornerbacks texted Apple all season encouraging him to re-sign with the team.

Apple has been a polarizing player throughout his career, but the Bengals have brought out the positive. “You can just tell he loves football,” said Mike Hilton. “He’s someone we count on.”

Quote of the day

David Bell on Tommy Pham: “I don’t know what people are missing. I don’t know what other people know about Tommy. I know what I know about him and it’s quite simple. It’s very real. It’s very fair. It’s authentic. It’s who he is. He’s a good person. He cares a lot. On the field, he plays to win the game, period. And he plays hard, very, very hard.”

Question of the day

June 24, 2022;  San Francisco, California, USA;  Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) throws the ball against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Oracle Park.  Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

June 24, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) throws the ball against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Reds’ ability to develop pitchers over the next five years be more important than the Cubs’ ability to overspend on free agency?

The Cubs have a problem very similar to the Reds’ problem: lack of position players in MLB that they are building around. Nico Hoerner, Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel are the young core of the Cubs. The Reds have stronger young talent in MLB and a more valued farm system.

The Cubs can obviously spend more on free agency than Cincinnati. The advantage of the Reds is their success rate in developing pitchers.

The Cubs don’t have a Hunter Greene, a Graham Ashcraft, a Nick Lodolo or a Brandon Williamson. They have struggled to develop pitchers since Kyle Hendricks made his debut in 2014. Their rotation going into the season involved signing free agent Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly, an aging Hendricks and a former mediocre prospect in Justin. Steele. When they made it to the playoffs in 2020, Hendricks was the only homegrown starter.

Caleb Kilian, who recently made his MLB debut and currently plays in Triple-A, is the Cubs’ lone notable pitcher. Kilian was an eighth round in 2019 by the Giants and was the center of the Kris Bryant trade. Kilian’s strength is his command, but he was recently chosen Triple-A because he struggled with consistently throwing strikes.

Righthanded pitcher Caleb Kilian started the season strong for the Iowa Cubs.

Righthanded pitcher Caleb Kilian started the season strong for the Iowa Cubs.

The Cubs’ young pitchers don’t come close to what the Reds have. Even if you can spend more on free agency, you still need to be able to develop young pitching to compete consistently.

Read more

What Eli Apple wants to prove

Could the Reds go to a six-man rotation?

Pressure is on the Reds’ starting pitchers

Bengals grid projection

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: The biggest flaw on the Cincinnati Reds depth chart, how they fix it

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