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. Kaleb Cowart (3B)- This might be the biggest no-brainer number one prospect in any teams organization. Cowart projects as a regular at third base with a potentially above average glove, and solid 20+ homer power. If his plate discipline continues to get better, he could hit for some average as well.
2. Randal Grichuk (OF)- Grichuk was famously selected by the Angels one pick ahead of Mike Trout. Still just 21, Grichuk began making some strides himself last season. He doesn’t have standout tools, but they are good. He does everything well, and most importantly, he seems to have an aptitude to get better. Looks like a RF to me.
3. Nick Maronde(P)- Maronde made it all the way to Los Angeles last season, and is unquestionably the best pitching prospect the Angels have. His fastball and slider can both be above average pitches, but he needs to develop the change up to stick as a starter in the bigs. He looks like a potential late inning lefty if not.
4. C.J. Cron (1B)- Cron to me is an one trick pony. Though that one trick is some pretty massive power. He doesn’t strike out a ton for a power hitter, but I have a feeling that increases as he moves up the ladder and faces tougher competition. Calling him a 1B is generous, and he looks like a DH to me.
Here is where it gets interesting…and tough…
5. R.J. Alvarez (RP)- Alvarez has closer potential, and in this system that gets you ranked number five in my book. Alvarez has the ability to have two plus pitches in his fastball and slider. The fastball can sit up in the upper 90’s while the slider has late breaking action. Needs better command.
6. Taylor Lindsey (2B)- At one point, I was very high on Lindsey. Still like him, but I’ve come down to earth on him. Has a knack for hitting the ball hard, but lacks athleticism for an up the middle guy, and doesn’t show much more than gap power.
7. Alex Yarbrough (2B)- I liked Yarbrough coming out of Ole’ Miss. He is a guy that I can see hitting around .280, while mainly living in the gaps. He runs pretty well, and owns a solid glove at 2B. Not sure he is a starter, but at least a capable backup.
8. Eswarlin Jimenez (SP)- Got solid reports on Jimenez from the Midwest League. He will be pitching at 21 years old in 2013 and should start in high A. Fastball sits in the high 80’s, but touches low 90’s, and has a good curve. Needs to develop a better change, but I needed to find a youngster with some upside for this list.
9. Austin Wood (SP)- Good stuff. Wood can get into the mid 90’s with his fastball, and at times has a wipeout slider. However, the command and the change lag behind, and ultimately I think he ends up a reliever.
10. A.J. Schugel (SP)- Schugel doesn’t have any standout offering, but his stuff is plenty good to make it to the majors. However, he is a classic back of the rotation candidate due more to his ability to mix pitches than anything else.
Just Missed The List:
Mike Clevinger (SP), Mark Sappington (RP), Jose Rondon (SS), Luis Jimenez (3B). Clevinger has a good repertoire but is going to miss most of the season with Tommy John, if not all of it. Sappington has a great fastball but lacks command. Rondon is a young SS with some projection. Jimenez is solid and likely to be a backup.
Cameron Bedrosian (SP) and Reid Scoggins (SP). Bedrosian was a high draft pick that missed 2011 with Tommy John and struggled in 2012. It has put him out of a lot of peoples minds, but the talent that made him a high draft pick is still there. Scoggins has huge stuff and could be a closer in quick order if he learns better command.
The Angels system has taken a hit in large part due to the graduation of Mike Trout and Garret Richards. Given that they didn’t have a first round pick in 2012, they did a solid job in the draft, and with some command improvements on the part of their pitchers, it could get better. Things look better on the offensive front with Cowart, Grichuk, Lindsey, and Cron, though their big league club is pretty stacked and they don’t need a ton of help anyway. OF Chevy Clarke is one to continue to keep an eye on.