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FanGraphs releases their Top 26 prospects in the Cincinnati Reds system

26? Well, getting to the big leagues is a marathon.

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First things first - ranking prospects is both incredibly difficult, and incredibly subjective. How do you value stable predictability? How much emphasis do you put on variability? Does proximity to the big leagues factor into your decisions? If a player is incredibly raw, yet incredibly toolsy, do you rank them as a better prospect than a prospect who is what he is with little additional upside?

Hell, do you rank players as prospects if they’ve managed a cup of coffee at the big league level already?

In the nebulous world of prospect ranking, the folks over at FanGraphs do their dang best to create a formula to evaluate things, throwing all sorts of statistics and scouting insight into a blender that spits out a future value smoothie for us all to peruse. All aspects are considered - ceiling, floor, age at each level, and so on - and their most recent analysis of the Cincinnati Reds’ system was published on Friday.

What’s both clear and of the most interest to us, I suppose, is that they think the system as a whole is pretty strong at the moment, a sentiment echoed across the baseball universe (including here). And while the top of their list includes the obvious likes of Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, and Taylor Trammell, there are a few surprises in their rankings that will easily catch your eye.

For one, young Cuban shortstop Jose Israel Garcia checks in at #7 on this list, sandwiched between familiar names like Jesse Winker and Shed Long. If ever there was a trio of prospects with absolutely no pedigree in common, it’s these three in particular, with Winker and Long haven proven themselves for years across the minors while Garcia, 19, has yet to play an official MiLB game. Hmm.

It’s a worthwhile read with great analysis and breakdowns of each player, but it’s something that’s only truly of value when balanced with the opinions of other sources that evaluate the same exact players. There’s just that much variability of opinion out there these days, and while that complicates the ability for you to form concrete opinions about various prospects, it’s an invaluable resource of information.