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. Jurickson Profar(SS)- As everyone who follows prospects knows, Profar is one of the best talents in the game. He does everything well. Projects to hit for average, some power, runs well, and plays above average defense at a premium position. Oh, and he turns 20 tomorrow.
2. Mike Olt (3B)- Olt is a premium defender at third base, but for now is blocked by Adrian Beltre at that spot. His power is hard to ignore, but I do have some concern about how much he is going to hit at the big league level given his proclivity to whiff in the minors. Even still, should be able to produce a pretty robust OPS on a regular basis.
3. Luis Sardinas (SS)- Sardinas is a 19 year old that more than handled himself in low A ball last season. Shows a good idea at the dish with a line drive stroke, and has the frame to grow into a bit more power. He runs at an above average clip, and has the hands, quickness and arm strength to be an above average shortstop defensively.
4. Cody Buckel (SP)- Buckel is working hard on throwing his fastball a little harder, which sits in the low 90’s right now and may limit his ceiling a bit. But he throws strikes with all of his offerings (curve and change), and mixes his pitches well, so he is a good bet to reach his ceiling as a mid rotation starter.
5. Justin Grimm (SP)- Grimm has a very solid three pitch mix which should help him get to his ceiling as a mid rotation starter. His fastball sits low to mid 90’s, and he is able to command the pitch well. His curve ball is a true 12 to 6 curve, though he needs to throw for strikes early in the count more often, and his change up is solid and getting better.
6. Rougned Odor (2B)- Odor just turned 19 and held his own in low A last season. A shortstop early on, Odor has made the move to second base, where he should develop into an above average defender. Odor runs well, but needs to learn the nuances of base running. At the plate, he shows advanced ability for his age, and has some pop in his swing.
7. Martin Perez (SP)- I have Perez ranked a bit lower than most, and that is mostly because of his BB/K ratio. His stuff is strong from the left side, but he has trouble commanding and often falls behind the count. He does generate ground balls with his solid fastball, above average change up and average curve.
8. Luke Jackson (SP)- Jackson’s calling card is his raw arm strength, sitting comfortably in the mid 90’s with his fastball. His command waivers due to some mechanical flaws, and affects his ability to consistently throw his potential second plus pitch his curve ball. His change lags behind, but he has time to develop yet.
9. Leonys Martin (OF)- Martin has the skills to be a productive major leaguer. He knows the strike zone, has above average speed, and plays CF well with good arm strength. I ranked him a bit lower, because I think he falls in love with becoming a power hitter, and his swing can long. Plus he is 25 already.
10. Lewis Brinson (OF)- Brinson is a bit more polished as a hitter as many thought. However, there is some concern about this pitch recognition. His tools are loud though and Brinson projects as a guy who could be a 20/20 type guy in the future with above average defense.
11. Jorge Alfaro (C)- Alfaro is an athletic catcher who at this point is rough around the edges defensively. He has a strong arm, but lacks the catch and throw skills at this point. Offensively, he has really good bat speed and projects to hit for power. He needs to improve his discipline if he is going to hit for average in the future, but his ceiling is really high.
12. Nomar Mazara (OF)- Mazara held his own as a 17 year old in the AZL. Mazara has plus power potential, and his swing and miss tendencies could hold him back as far as hitting for average. He is a solid athlete and has the arm to stick in RF.
13. Joey Gallo (3B)- Gallo obviously has tremendous power after connecting for 22 home runs in short season ball. He also has a great amount of swing and miss in his game, and lacks a defensive position at this point, as he is really rough at third base.
14. Ronald Guzman (1B)- Guzman has loads of potential and should have a plus bat going forward. His frame suggests a guy that will hit for power. He has a better idea at the plate than Mazara and Gallo at this point, but his lack of defensive value has him ranked slightly behind. Not a bad athlete for his size.
15. Neil Ramirez (SP)- Ramirez is a bounce back candidate after struggling in AAA ball last season. He has a solid mid rotation repertoire, but his inconsistency is frustrating from year to year.
16. Nick Williams (OF)- Another athletic outfielder in the Rangers system that has some swing and miss issues, but also has the tools to become a premium player. There is potential here to be an above average major league player if all comes together.
17. Leury Garcia (SS)- The Rangers depth is pretty amazing. The fact that Garcia is 17th on my list says so. He is a pretty darn good prospect. Garcia has above average defensive potential, runs really well, and has surprising pop for his size. If he tones down his aggressiveness at the dish, he could be a top of the order spark.
18. Hanser Alberto (SS)- The middle infielders in the Rangers system are plentiful, and Alberto would rank top 10 in many systems. Does a little bit of everything well offensively while being good enough at short to stick there.
19. Victor Payano (SP)- Payano is a bit rough around the edges, but he has the projection to get a ranking. As a 6’5″ 20 year old lefty, it’s not hard to imagine a guy with plus stuff. His command is an issue right now, but has plenty of time to iron that out a bit.
20. Will Lamb (SP)- Lamb is a power lefty with a low to mid 90’s fastball and potential above average curve. He is still learning how to pitch, however, after splitting time in college. Has command issues to iron out.
Just Missed The List:
Beras hasn’t played yet, so this is entirely based off the hype about his talent. Herrera is yet another solid up the middle prospect with good tools. Mendez has to stay away from the injury bug, but has good stuff and might end up as a high end bullpen guy. Edwards really burst on the scene last year, flashing top shelf stuff.
Martinez is a converted shortstop that has a strong arm. Mendez is a projectable left handed pitcher that is likely to get his first taste stateside this year.
Obvioulsy the Rangers have a really good farm system, and my belief is that their 10-20 is about as good as it gets in baseball. There is truly some all star potential in the back half of that top 20. Problem is, there is some real concerns with those guys, and they are mostly quite a ways away from the big leagues where a lot can change. Massive ceilings aside, there is a reason I ranked them a bit lower this year.
Profar is clearly a top prospect, but it’s the top 1o that has me concerned. I do believe guys like Olt, Perez, and Martin are going to be useful, if not sometimes good major leaguers. I don’t believe in them nearly as much as most of the experts in the prospect world. That is easily reflected in the Martin and Perez ranking. I still ranked Olt second because there is no clear cut choice to take that spot other than him. I really do like Cody Buckel, but when the best pitching prospect in the system is a likely mid rotation guy at best, there is a gap there that some of the other teams ahead of the Rangers don’t have.
This system could go either way after the 2013 season, largely depending on two things; one, some development of pitching, and two, how well all of the raw high ceiling players in their system adapt as they move up the ladder.