I thought about how I would lead into this, the ranking of teams’ farm systems, but don’t have a good way to do it, other than say it is something that I like to tackle every year. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things my rankings aren’t going to make waves with Keith Law, John Sickels, or the staff at Baseball America. However, these rankings by any outlet are rather arbitrary in nature, and I like any of them, will try to give everybody some reasoning behind them. Scouting and prospects are a big part of the game. We can see that by how teams are clinging onto them in a lot of cases this year, instead of dealing them away for proven players. A lower ranked system doesn’t necessarily correlate to a bad team, and a highly ranked system doesn’t mean it’s a good major league team. It just gives us all a look at organizations who might get healthy in a few years, and which ones are going to have to find other means.
Anyway, this is supposed to be fun, so if you want to discuss, let’s do so………
30. Chicago White Sox
Well, someone has to rank last in these things, and in this case, it is the Chicago White Sox. I think this is a pretty widely accepted place for the Sox, and I am no different when it comes to seeing a lack of high end talent and depth in their system. Chicago has liberally traded from within its system the last couple of years, and it’s clear that strategy has taken effect. Couple that with some, shall we say, frugal expenditures in the draft, and they got what they deserve. Their best prospect could arguably be a reliever in Addison Reed. That fact doesn’t bode well for a farm system. Their trades have brought a little bit in Nestor Molina (who is vying with Reed for the top spot), and potentially Simon Castro, but other than that it’s pretty thin.
Biggest Strength: Pitching. The Sox have spent some draft picks on the pitching end the last couple years. Erik Johnson, Jacob Petricka, Addison Reed, and Jeff Soptic all have power arms, but all have issues.
29. Florida Marlins
These guys are dangerously close to being in the last spot themselves. I liked Florida’s 2011 draft a little bit better than the White Sox, so I am giving them the nod. Plus they have a standout position player in Christian Yelich. Yelich showed better athleticism than most people thought he had, and hit probably better than any high schooler out of the class of 2010. There are a couple of other hitters to like as well. When I did a top 7 for the Marlins over the summer at Detroit Baseball Page, it included Noah Perio. Some Marlins fans got on me for that, but I don’t think they will much longer. Perio has a chance to be a fireplug at the top of a lineup. OF Marcell Ozuna has tremendous power potential, and I like catcher J.T Realmuto as well. Matt Dominguez should be a major league 3B on his defense alone.
Biggest Strength: Starting pitching. The Marlins got some good arms in the 2011 draft, and they needed them. Jose Fernandez tops the list. The 1st rounder has a strong arm and the body to be a top of the rotation workhorse. They also got a pair of power lefties in Adam Conley and Charlie Lowell. I think the best pick could end up being Mason Hope, a strong armed righty out of high school in Oklahoma. These guys added to what I consider an underrated Chad James is a good start.
28. Milwaukee Brewers
Here is the first argument that I have made with myself. Florida in my opinion has a couple more high end guys than Milwaukee. However, I am more comfortable believing in Milwaukee’s guys actually reaching their ceilings. In effect, they have higher floors. Positionally, the Brewers are in rough shape. We are talking a White Sox sort of problem here. Not a lot to see in other words. A couple upper level guys in Scooter Gennet, Taylor Green, and Logan Schaffer should see some big league time, though the ceilings aren’t there to be big time players. The lower levels offer some toolsy guys including 2011 draftee Michael Reed and SS Yadiel Rivera, but it’s kind of slim pickings there as well. A fast mover could be 1B Nick Ramirez.
Biggest Strength: Starting pitching. This seems to be the trend, but it’s just what every team wants to stock up on, so it makes some sense. The Brewers might have a bunch of guys topping out as mid-rotation starters, but they are likely to reach those ceilings. Their best prospect is probably Wily Peralta, who should compete for a rotation spot in 2012. He is followed closely by 2011 draftees, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, and Jorge Lopez. Righty Tyler Thornburg emerged as a potential middle of rotation guy, and could be a closer type if he doesn’t make it as a starter. Jimmy Nelson has some potential as well.