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. Wil Myers (OF)- Myers might be the best position prospect in the minors. It depends on who you talk to. For my money, Myers looks the part of a prototypical right fielder who could be a regular All Star. His power is well above average, he shows patience at the dish, has an above average arm, and is even athletic enough that he can play center field. He does strike out a good deal, but should have a substantial offensive impact in a clean up role.
2. Taylor Guerrieri (SP)- I love Guerreri. I think he has number one type potential. His fastball should be plus down the road, along with a potentially plus curve ball. His change should at least be solid, and his delivery is good as well lending to above average command for his age. Plus, he is being developed by Tampa.
3. Chris Archer(SP)- Archer started throwing more strikes last season, and it paid off with a couple of cameos in the bigs last year. He still isn’t where he needs to be as far as command goes, but I think his mid 90’s fastball and sharp slider are good enough that he can get by walking four per nine. His change is a bit below average, but has improved.
4. Enny Romero (SP)- Romero already sits mid 90’s from the left hand side with his fastball. He pairs that with a curve that shows plus as well. His change has to come along, as does his command, but he has top of the rotation potential.
5. Jake Odorizzi (SP)- Odorizzi’s stuff isn’t eye-popping, but it’s at least average across the board with a low 90’s fastball, a good curve, solid slider and change up. He mixes his pitches well, and he commands all of his offerings also. His fly ball tendencies are a bit worrisome, but he is likely a long time starter in the majors.
6. Blake Snell (SP)- Snell is a tall lanky lefty that has a plus fastball that will likely sit mid 90’s upon full maturity as it already touches there now. His change up already flashes as plus, and generates a good deal of swings and misses thrown with good arm action. His slider lags a bit behind at this point, but he flashes a good one of those as well.
7. Alex Colome (SP)- Colome has made himself into a better pitcher in the past year, but his command waivers on him from time to time, which holds him back. His stuff is fantastic. Colome owns a power fastball that sits 92-95, and can touch higher, as well as a sharp curve ball. His change up shows promise as well.
8. Richie Shaffer (3B)- I think Schaffer eventually moves to LF, but the bat should play there rather easily. I see Schaffer as a guy who hits for average and power, though striking out a good deal as well as his swing can get long from time to time. He is pretty athletic, and with a strong arm, might have RF potential as well.
9. Drew Vettleson (OF)- Vettleson’s profile might be a bit boring as a solid tools across the board player, but I think he is a bit more than that. I do believe he has above average regular potential. He has a good idea at the plate, generates good bat speed, and has ability to hit for average and power as he progresses. He is a good athlete as well with good instincts, and also possesses a strong throwing arm.
10. Hak-Ju Lee (SS)- Lee is tremendously athletic, and from what most people say, he is ready to play shortstop defensively in the big leagues right now. That ability alone means that Lee is going to be a big leaguer for quite some time. Add to that his ability to wreak havoc on the basepaths, and we have a potential above average player. His downfall is getting on base to begin with, and I don’t believe he is going to be much more than a .230 type hitter with little power.
11. Jeff Ames (SP)- Ames is a power righy that performed tremendously in 2012. His fastball sits low to mid 90’s, and should be a plus offering down the road. He also owns a potential plus slider, and a solid change up. He threw more strikes in 2012, and if he continues down that path, he has a number two type ceiling. Great pitchers frame.
12. Jake Hager (SS)- Hager had himself a really nice season in 2012, putting him into the serious prospect discussion. Hager shows good ability at the plate, especially with pitch recognition and contact skills. He doesn’t own a bunch of power, but could be a doubles and triples machine down the road. Defensively, he has the chops to stick at short and be an above average performer there.
13. Felipe Rivero (SP)- Rivero is just the next lefty in a long line of power lefties the Rays seem to have a knack for developing. Rivero’s fastball sits comfortably in the low 90’s, playing up a bit because of really good command. His curve also has above average potential as well, and he is still developing his change. One to watch in 2013.
14. Mikie Mahtook (OF)- Mahtook is an interesting guy. He has some really nice tools. He has above average speed, a good strong arm, and some pop in his bat. His production lacks a bit though, and it might simply be because he needs to tone down his aggressiveness at the plate. If he can be a bit more selective, Mahtook should hit for extra base power.
15. Ryan Brett (2B)- I know his PED suspension has hurt him when it comes to rankings, but Brett is a really good player. His line drive stroke, coupled with his selectively aggressive approach at the plate has me believing he has .300 potential as a hitter. He also has tremendous instincts and good speed on the base paths as well. Defensively he should be plenty solid at second.
16. Tyler Goeddel (3B)- Goeddel is long and lanky physically, and for now has pretty good athleticism. His running should taper off as he fills out, but he has the ability to stick at third base defensively down the road. Due to his frame there is some power projection to dream on, and Goeddel does show some patience at the dish for a youngster. Has a pretty high ceiling if all goes well.
17. Jesse Hahn (SP)- I got some pretty glowing reports on Hahn from the New York-Penn League in 2012, so I am going to get him on the list. Hahn possesses a mid 90’s fastball that he throws with good downward plane, generating ground balls. He pairs it with a plus curve. Health is a concern, and he is 23 already, so he is going to have to prove it at higher levels in 2013.
18. Joshua Sale (OF)- Sale is another guy that got hit with a PED suspension in 2012. Before that, he looked like a guy that was improving a good deal after a miserable 2011. Sale isn’t a very good athlete, so his future is likely in LF or 1B, but his bat should have the kind of OPS production that you look for in those spots. Power and patience are his two plus abilities.
19. Todd Glaesmann (OF)- Glaesmann was named the Rays minor league player of the year in 2012. He is a good athlete, whose power is his calling card, as well is his strong throwing arm. He will have to continue to make strike zone improvements if he is going to reach his ceiling as an every day right fielder.
20. Andrew Toles (OF)- Toles is a really good athlete that should fit nicely in center field. He shows good contact ability at the dish, though he could stand to be more patient. If he could draw a few more walks, he could be a top of the order dynamo who steals bags, and has gap power. His speed allows him to cover a bunch of ground in center, where he has an average arm.
Just Missed The List:
Beckham still has plenty of tools despite being a bit disappointing. Markel has good stuff and mid rotation potential. Goetzman just needs to stay healthy but he has everything needed to be a good right fielder. Leonard has a bunch of thunder in his bat, as does Hernandez from the catching position.
Armenta has an advanced ability to pitch at his age, and could be the next in the line for talented lefties. Eierman is a good athlete who has yet to put things together in part due to injury. Araujo was a big bonus guy from a couple of years ago who showed some improvement in 2012.
No system goes deeper than the Rays. Their 50th ranked prospect could be considered legitimate. That might be going a bit far, but the system is loaded with talent. Presently, the pitching is a bit stronger up top, but there is enough hitters at the lower levels with some real good tools to believe that there is going to be quite a few starters in that bunch in a few years.
Given the Rays fiscal constraints, the system has to produce, and it looks like it is going to do so for years to come.