So everyone’s asking me for a ranking of farm systems. This just a very rough cut, and if anything, I’m overvaluing my top 100 as an input to this, so take it for what it’s worth.
1. Tampa Bay
5. NY Yankees
6. LA Dodgers
7. Chicago Cubs
9. San Francisco
15. LA Angels
16. St. Louis
18. San Diego
26. Kansas City
28. NY Mets
30. Chicago White Sox
The top two teams have insane prospect depth, and Boston isn’t far behind, especially if you believe in some of the guys in Lowell this year. The Reds really run four deep plus Mesoraco, and that’s about it, but what a front four. Atlanta impressed me when I looked at their system – they dealt a lot of ability in the Teixeira deal, and yet they still have a strong system deep in pitching. Keep an eye on Jeff Locke as a sleeper for ’08. San Francisco is a bit of a fetish of mine, as they have almost no talent in full-season ball, but I loved their draft this year, and I’ll roll the dice on a power bat like Villalona.
Seattle doesn’t get enough credit for their fantastic work internationally. They’ve consistently done well in Venezuela, they’re active all over the Pacific Rim, and former Toronto scouting director Bob Engle – who drafted Halladay and Carpenter – has done a really solid job in western Europe that I think is going to give the M’s a strategic advantage over there for several years.
The Angels and Cards are two teams I can’t get excited about. Wood and Adenhart both disappointed a bit this year, and they’ve lost so many high picks while doing diddly-squat in Latin America that their system is thin. The Cards have a ton of guys I project as extra players – fourth outfielders, utility infielders, middle relievers – and I’m not sure how to value that appropriately. The Nats are sort of the Giants Lite, in that their best players are all in short-season ball, and I like the Giants’ crop better.
I may have more to say on Cleveland in a day or two, but I ranted about them in chat yesterday:
John (Chi): Two questions: When you were in Toronto, did you ever read any Robertson Davies? If not, I really suggest Fifth Business. Second, your rankings seem to suggest the Indians farm cupboard is pretty bare? What’re your thoughts on their system?
Keith Law: It is pretty bare. I know it’s all chic to say that they’re the new “model franchise,” but their drafts have kind of sucked for a long time now, and their farm system has not been all that productive outside of prospects they acquired in trade. That speaks well to a pro scouting process, but I don’t know that that alone is a recipe for long-term success.
Seriously, look at Cleveland’s draft going back to 1998, the Sabathia draft. They haven’t kind of sucked; they have SUCKED. The 2007 division winner was built on several great Latin American finds, and a few ripoff trades in Colon, Hafner, and Eduardo Perez. That covers almost every major contributor except Betancourt, who was signed out of Japan as a free agent, and Sabathia, who was Cleveland’s last great draft pick. Since then, their next-best pick was Jeremy Guthrie, who did nothing for Cleveland before a nice rookie year in ’07 for Baltimore.
Minnesota would have been bottom three prior to the trade. Toronto has some promise in short-season ball, and of course I’m a big Snider fan. Detroit at least gets a pass for emptying their farm system to get two great big leaguers in Renteria and Cabrera, and the same goes for the Mets and Santana. The Astros and White Sox have drafted unbelievably poorly over the last few years – you could flip those two in the rankings and I wouldn’t argue, as both organizations deserve the ignominy of being called the worst farm system in the game.
There’s one consistent thing about the clubs in the bottom nine if we ignore the Tigers and Mets, who got to the bottom nine by trading their prospects: The other seven clubs have gotten nothing from Latin America in ages. The Twins, Pirates, Royals, Blue Jays, and White Sox in particular have done a horrid job in Latin America. The Astros had a great run in Venezuela that has cooled off a bit, and the Phillies might be bouncing back a bit there but haven’t had anyone come out of Latin America in ages. It’s really hard to have a top-flight farm system if you pretend the world stops south of Puerto Rico.