It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Courtney Hawkins (OF)- Hawkins is already the top prospect in the system after getting drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 draft. Hawkins combines good athleticism with power projection and a good arm to have a future as an above average right fielder. He has solid instincts and should be able to improve on his deficiencies.
2. Carlos Sanchez (2B)- Sanchez shot up the White Sox list in 2012, displaying an ability to hit for average, and play well above average defense. He runs okay, but his ability to spray line drives all over the field should continue as he moves to Chicago. Could put Gordan Beckham out of a job by late 2013.
3. Erik Johnson (SP)- Johnson is Chicago’s best hope for a #2 or #3 starting pitcher right now. He is a big strong kid that has a fastball that works mostly in the low 90′s, but can get up to 95 or so. His power slider is a strikeout pitch, and his change up is coming along nicely as well.
4. Trayce Thompson (OF)- Thompson is a tooled up kid that needs to learn how to cut down on the strikeouts. He has power, speed, and an ability to play a good defensive CF, so even if he strikes out a ton, there will still be some value there down the road. Maybe a Drew Stubbs type?
5. Keenyn Walker (OF)- Walker is a speed demon who projects as a future CF and leadoff guy. His speed allows him to get to balls defensively, where he has a pretty good arm as well. He has pitch recognition issues, so he does strike out some, but he also draws walks as well.
6. Scott Snodgress (SP)- Snodgress has good stuff, he just hasn’t always been able to throw it over the plate with any consistency. Low to mid 90′s fastball and deceptive delivery produces swings and misses. Tough to hit as evidenced by his batting average against in the minors of .224.
7. Keon Barnum (1B)- Power guy all the way. Classic first base type, but will need to hit for average along the way to make it. Don’t see anything but a first baseman with his body going forward.
8. Andre Rienzo (SP)- I’ve liked this guy for several years. He has a strong arm despite his smallish frame. While he hasn’t developed a change up yet, I still hold out hope he can start. If not, he can take his mid 90′s fastball and slider to the pen with him, where I think he could be effective.
9. Rangel Ravelo (3B)- I’m not sure why in this system in particular Ravelo doesn’t receive a little more interest. He is young, turning 21 in 2013, has shown ability to hit, and has already been in A ball. Yes, he lacks power currently, and that counts against him, but he has a good frame, and I think more will come.
10. Joey DeMichele(2B)- DeMichele had a strong start to his career after being drafted in the 3rd round in 2012. He has some pop for a 2nd baseman, and some solid athleticism to go with it. He doesn’t appear to be more than an average defender however.
Just Missed The List:
Jared Mitchell (OF), Brandon Brennan (SP), Chris Beck (SP), and Kevan Smith (C). Mitchell still has strong tools. Brennan a strong arm with a chance to start. Beck needs to regain his stuff from college. And Smith is a strong catcher with some power.
Jake Cose (SP) and Jefferson Olacio (SP). Cose is already 22 years old, but has a big strong frame, and generates a bunch of ground balls with that frame. Olacio is a big strong armed lefty with command issues, but is only 18 years old. Wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these guys begin to work themselves into top 15 consideration by the end of 2013.
This is the 2nd year in a row I’ve ranked the White Sox system last in baseball. This year, however, it wasn’t a no-brainer. I strongly considered them above a couple of teams. There are some guys with tools in this system, but they have real things that are going to hold them back. Cutting down on the strikeouts is going to be big for a lot of their positional prospects. Still, things are looking much better for the White Sox farm system, and they always seem to develop pitching decently. One guy not mentioned that I like, and I wanted to get into the top 10 was Marcus Semien. Nothing stands out, but he is solid across the board.
There is still a lack of depth in this system, and a lack of pitching. Two things that will get your system ranked low in my book.