I know that the Reds system isn't necessarily that highly regarded still by some "experts," but I swear, in my 45 years of serious Reds fandom I can't recall a time where this system was as deep in prospects - both pitching and positional.
I was so pesimistic just a few short years ago - there wasn't really that much talent on the big league club and precious little on the farm too. I must admit, the turnaround has been impressive and I think BCast and the three GMs that have served under him deserve a ton of credit.
The five areas that give me the most hope for the future:
1. The strong core of young players already contributing on the Major League level. It not only has led to improved on-field performance, but is allowing a steady stockpile of talented youngsters behind them.
2. The Latin Invasion. The improved latin scouting and signing of talent is accelerating the improvement of the system. Flashy signings like Chapman, Yorman, Duran, Valor, etc. are certainly helping, but the lesser lights coming out of the VSL and DSL programs shouldn't be discounted either. Best part is, we're just seeing the tip of the iceburg. Three or four seasons from now it may just be amazing .
3. Depth/Versatility. The last few years, the Big Club has shown some spurts, but somehow you were never really convinced. You had your doubts. There wasn't the depth to fill-in for injuries or to push a slumping/under-producing player. You also knew (though most of us wouldn't admit it) there weren't that many players that other teams might want - guys that could be used as trading chips to fill glaring holes. Its amazing to think that we could consider a package that includes names like Alonzo, Bailey/Wood, Heisey, etc. for a single pitcher without fear of setting the system back for 2 or 3 years. I'm starting to see depth that will allow the franchise to build something sustainable, not just a flash-in-the-pan pretender for a season or two.
4. Addressing areas of need. For two long, this club has had areas that stood out like sore thumbs - especially starting pitching, Middle Infielders and catchers. The increased depth when it comes to starters is obvious. While a TOR-type guy is always welcome, I can honestly say that the Reds have never been a deep in quality, home-grown starters at the major league and high-minor level. The emergence of Mesoraco and the drafting of Grandal combined with a surprisingly serviceable young vet like Hanigan and some of the other lesser-touted young catchers have the future at this position looking much brighter. With Valaika, Cozart, Puckett, Rojas, HRod, Gregorius, Hamilton, Arias, Valor, etc. we're starting to see some home grown MI's that could possibly contribute some with their bat as well as their glove. If you can build quality surplusses at SP, SS & C you can always make a deal to fill other needs.
5. The renewed empasis. Improved scouting, development, drafting, spending and a much more aggressive attitude toward foreign talent beds has almost brought a full recovery from the neglect that was the Schott/Lindner/Bowden era. i could quibble (more emphasis on OPS, a few more of Pants 5-tool OFs...), but I won't. I have to give Kudos to BCast, Jocketty, Krivsky, O'Brien and all of their subordinants that have also played huge roles in the turnaround. Lord knows I've given them enough grief over the past decade.