Farmville: Reds Edition
August 11, 2021
With three-ish weeks to go in the regular MiLB Pro season, the Reds farm is in a pretty good place. Four of the 6 teams are leading their division, with only A-ball Daytona really letting the org down. The system has fallen to 12th in MLB Pro, mostly due to graduations.
Louisville are 11GB, having fallen off the pace massively due to going 8-14 since the all-star break which included a 3-13 stretch.
Individual highlights have been Josh Lowe (15.5 K%, 124 wRC+) and Cole Wilcox (67 FIP-, 2.35 ERA, 0 HR Allowed in 30IP), both of whom have hit the ground running after being promoted from AA after the break. Alfred Johnson has been his usual excellent self, Jasseel De La Cruz has turned in the performances the front office were hoping for when they signed him in International FA last year – one of the current regime’s first acts.
Lowlights include the struggling bat of Bubba Osborn (.230/.299/.321 with an 85+ OPS), who is such an elite second baseman/good third baseman, but can’t hit. Also the lack of development from Hunter Greene, who has been good, but inconsistent and isn’t blowing batters away as people expected him to.
The residents of Minor League Baseball’s most beautiful stadium are on fire, sharing the division lead with Mississippi (did I get that right first time? Holy shit, Cincinnati and Mississippi in the same post!) who they play next for the final time this season.
Individual highlights include right fielder Mike Daum, who is too good for this level but blocked everywhere else (as it happens, by a guy who was part of the same trade and is pretty much the Major League team’s team MVP), hitting .308/.369.484, good for a 143 wRC+ with 4.2 WAR. Catcher Noah Naylor has been solid, but unspectacular after his promotion. Several players who don’t project to be stars are also having good seasons; Erik Hooper (a throw-in from the Wacha trade), Junior Robinson, Hudson Potts among them.
Pitching has been effective but not stellar, especially since the two best pitchers got promoted to Louisville. Stan Lee has been erratic, Clark Riley has been ok, the rest of the rotation are just Guys. The back of the bullpen has been really good though, with Michael Flowers proving an excellent closer despite initially projecting as a starter, leading the league in saves by a margin. Recently-promoted Levi Kelly has started exactly where he left off in A+ too, with a 0.72 WHIP through his first 8 innings.
The Turtles lead their division by 5 games, after a 20-7 June and 21-9 July. They have statistically the best defence in the league, as well as the best bullpen ERA and overall runs against total, whilst being 2nd or 3rd in most offensive categories.
Corner infielders TJ Brey and Brett Baty have been great (with Baty leading the team in homers). Leadoff man Manny Magana has been an unexpected star, leading the team in WAR by 0.1 over the expected star, shortstop Luis Garcia. Among hitters with >400PA, none have struck out more than 19% of the time. 2021 draftee Johnathan Thomas has been promoted to the Tortugas due to a shortage of outfielders, but doesn’t look at all out of place.
The back of the bullpen has been tremendous, with closer Cameron Jones leading the way (0.75 ERA, 10K/9, 1.08 WHIP). Setup men Jake Eder and Max Meyer have been almost as impressive (Meyer perhaps slightly MORE impressive). All three project to feature in the bullpen of the next good Reds team in two or three seasons. In the rotation, Brennan Malone and Jackson Burkhalter, are both having breakout years, as is Gavin Williams. Two-way prospect Eugene Barnett is still playing both ways, and doing a decent job of both, semi-regularly being used as starting DH and even LF a few times.
The Dragons have been… pathetic. Totally letting the side down, sitting at 43-72, 40GB. They’re worse than the major league squad. Bowling Green are in this division, but even so, Dayton are 7GB from 7th. The team are bottom-three for every offensive category (excluding baserunning).
There have been a few bright spots, Leith Wentzell, playing a tier down from where he should be due to poor performance and being blocked, is lighting up the league. Second-year catcher Drew Romo, the front office’s favourite piece returned from the JD Martinez trade, has hit .294/.362/.422 with 1.7 WAR as a 19 year old in A ball, which is absolutely fine. Micah Mason is fantastic with the glove, and has hit well enough “for a shortstop”. Talking of shortstops, 2021 draftees Bryce Young and Austin Shultz were promoted to A-ball fairly recently, and in less than 50 PA, Shultz has been awful and Young has been tremendous, but it’s far too soon to tell.
On the other side of the ball, the only name of note is Daniel Espino, who’s developing well and has been solid. His 20 starts, 3.04 ERA and 5-4 record should tell you all you need to know about the bats and the bullpen, though.