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?
*This is where the rankings get tough, because starting with the Cubs, these systems are very good to elite. I have gone back and forth on multiple scenarios, but hey, it’s not life and death, it’s just some pretty awesome farm system rankings
1. Xander Bogaerts (SS)- Bogaerts likely future is going to be at 3B, but that shouldn’t matter one bit. He has the bat to carry any position. Looks like a guy that will fit right in the 3rd spot in the order, hitting for plenty of power and average.
2. Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF)- I put Bradley second on this list because of his ability to play Gold Glove type center field, while being offensively skilled enough to be a top of the lineup threat. Doesn’t have a lot of power, but should get on base while hitting plenty of doubles and triples.
3. Matt Barnes (SP)- Barnes has the look of a #2 starter with a plus fastball that sits 93-94, touching higher, and a curve that shows promise given it’s tight rotation. His change up lags quite a bit behind and he will have to work to make it an average offering. Tired down the stretch of a long season.
4. Allen Webster (SP)- Similar ceiling to Barnes and may even surpass him. Webster has an effective sinking fastball that sits low to mid 90’s, generating a bunch of ground balls. He pairs that fastball with an above average change up that shows good armside fade. Webster also throws a curve and a slider but would be better off scrapping one, as neither is tremendously sharp at this point. Command could be better.
5. Garin Cecchini (3B)- Cecchini looks the part of a guy who could end up as a middle or top of the order bat. Shows quality plate discipline despite some swing and miss in his game. Projects to have solid power as some of those doubles will turn into homers down the road, and runs better than I thought when he was drafted. Defensively he is still raw, and could wind up in left field.
6. Henry Owens (SP)- Owens has some issues, however, his projection for me ends up in the 2nd or 3rd starter range. His fastball sits in the low 90’s currently with potential for more as he continues to add strength and refine his consistency in his delivery. His curve ball is a potential plus pitch down the road flashing really good bite, and might be his best overall offering right now. The change is far behind the other two pitches.
7. Blake Swihart (C)- Swihart is an athletic catcher who shows good enough defensive tools to project as an above average defender. There is some excitement about the bat as well as Swihart shows good pop, but has to work on pitch recognition and patience to reach a higher ceiling offensively.
8. Ty Buttrey (SP)- Buttrey is an exciting pitching prospect. Sitting in the low 90’s with his fastball, Buttrey has potential for a bigger fastball as his projectable frame fills out. Buttrey gets on top of the baseball and should generate a good amount of ground balls as well. He pairs his fastball with a good curve ball that should be above average down the line. Buttrey also shows some feel for a change up.
9. Brian Johnson (SP)- Johnson is nothing to get overly excited about but should reach his projection of a back of the rotation starter. Shows average velocity from the left side, and also possesses a solid curve and change up. Knows how to attack hitters, and has shown better velocity in shorter stints.
10. Pat Light (SP)- Light has the ceiling of a mid rotation starter who works with an above average fastball that sits low to mid 90’s with good movement. His slider flashes above average, and he shows good feel for a change up, but needs consistency with both of his secondary offerings.
11. Cody Kukuk (SP)- I liked Kukuk coming out of high school, and despite not pitching much as a pro, he has flashed enough to be really intriguing. Kukuk has an easy delivery from the left side, giving his low 90’s fastball plenty of life. He pairs that with a potential plus slider that gets sharp break. Pretty athletic and projectable, it’s easy to see more fastball down the road, as well as developing a good change up.
12. Bryce Brentz (OF)- Brentz is a power hitting right fielder who may be hindered a bit by the poor pitch recognition displayed that leads to a lot of swing and miss. When he connects, it goes far. Has good defensive ability showing solid athleticism and above average arm.
13. Manuel Margot (OF)- Margot is the buzz of the Red Sox farm system right now. Shows plus ability to hit for average as well as plus speed on the bases. Defensively, he should be above average because of the speed and a good arm, but needs to work on reads. Could develop some pop offensively as well.
14. Jose Iglesias(SS)- Iglesias has the defensive chops to be one of the better shortstops in all of baseball. Great hands, instincts, and the arm to make all the throws. Offensively, he isn’t going to hit much, but even at .240 with little pop, he could be asset.
15. Deven Marrero (SS)- Marrero is a good defender at SS, but opinions vary on his ability to hit. I haven’t seen him live yet, but people I trust are skeptical in his ability to hit going forward, so I am going to have to be convinced that he can. Solid regular if he does.
Just Missed The List:
Vinicio has the look of a good defensive shortstop with some pretty good projection on the bat. Workman looks like an innings eater, but may be best in the pen. Jacobs has a ton of swing and miss, but impressive raw power. Maddox could fit nicely in the back of a rotation with his ability to pitch.
Callahan has projectability on his side despite his arsenal needing sharpening across the board. His frame is good, and he already sits low 90’s with potential for more. Augliera is a guy that has a solid pitch mix but relies on a low 90’s fastball that has plus sinking action.
This is obviously a strong system that has a couple of high end guys, but plenty of depth as well. I probably wasn’t as aggressive on some higher ceiling guys as I usually am because the concerns outweighed the upside in my book. Simon Mercedes shows a good power arm with a mid 90’s fastball, but reports are that his delivery isn’t ideal making his command and secondaries lag quite a bit behind. Same goes with super powered arm Francellis Montas. Montas can get into the upper 90’s regularly, but lacks secondaries.
There is good balance in the system between pitching and hitting, and there is also a good deal of guys that have not performed but have tools to become good players. Drake Britton probably tops that list for me, and guys like Anthony Ranaudo and Sean Coyle could improve at any time.