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………
25. Baltimore Orioles
I’m not sure if this is a bold pick for having them low, considering the type of top 3 the Orioles can bolster. It is the 4-25 or so that I have an issue with, and takes away from their ranking. The top 3 are pretty special. Just about every prospect person out there believes that 2011 first round pick Dylan Bundy is going to be a top of the rotation guy. With his stuff, it’s hard not to project him as such, and he might even push uber-prospect Manny Machado to #2 on some lists. I personally would stick with Machado, but either way it’s like dating the runner up to the Miss America pageant. Yeah you would like the top prize, but in this case it should hardly make a difference. The 3rd musketeer is the underrated Jonathan Schoop. Underrated I say because numbers wise, he was a little better than Machado at the same level last season, and isn’t even a year older. Long term though, Schoop could have trouble with the breaking ball, and is a little less athletic than Machado.
Parker Bridwell is an interesting 4th guy in this system, however, he is really raw as a right handed power pitcher, and has a long ways to go. Let’s hope for the Orioles sake that former first rounder Matt Hobgood can start making good on his promise.
Biggest strength: Infielders. Machado and Schoop are joined by guys like L.J. Hoes, Nicky Delmonico, Ryan Flaherty, and Jason Esposito.
24. Detroit Tigers
The one we all have been waiting for! Well, at least to those that are regular readers of this site. Detroit like Baltimore relies on a top 3 to impress people, but Detroit’s system quietly looks better in that 4-25 range that Baltimore doesn’t look so good in. Much like the Orioles again, the Tigers have more of a 1A and 1B than a 1 and 2. Those guys are pitcher Jacob Turner and 3B Nick Castellanos. Tigers fans have been waiting for a sweet swing 3B since the days of Travis Fryman. The third amigo in this scenario is LHP Drew Smyly, who kind of took the system by storm last year dominating at two levels. Smyly may not have the enormous ceiling because of an average fastball, but he makes up for it with changing speeds and locating superbly. I will say this about the strategy of the Tigers in the draft in recent years, it’s boring, but they have gotten some value out of their picks. A couple guys to watch this year for Detroit fans include; Brenny Paulino, Eugenio Suarez, and Josue Carreno.
Biggest strength: Left handed starters. This organization has found a ton of lefty starters that could potentially be useful at the big league level. Duane Below, Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby, Drew Smyly, Jay Voss, Alex Burgos, and Kyle Ryan head the list.
23. Chicago Cubs
I originally wanted to put the Cubs at 24th or 25th, but then they made a trade for Rizzo and Cates, and added to what is a deep farm system, despite the fact it lacks the kind of high end threesome that Detroit and Baltimore have. Sometimes more is more, and the Cubs have a lot of talent in the lower levels of the system after doing more than a little dabbling in the international market of late. In that regard, they are much like Cleveland. But unlike Cleveland they have some advanced guys like OF Brett Jackson, who has 20/20 potential. Joining Jackson is the newly acquired Rizzo, who President Theo Epstein liked from his Boston days. 2011 draftees 3B Javier Baez, and SP Dillon Maples come from the high school ranks, but both are immensely talented. SS Junior Lake is turning some heads, and Josh Vitters still has a chance. A guy I thought was a steal in the 2011 draft was Tony Zych, who should move fast as a reliever. Reggie Golden offers a ton of athleticism. Matt Sczur is an OF just tapping the surface of his talents.
Biggest Strength: 20-60. The Cubs don’t have a lot of separation between their 20th ranked guy and their 60th, which is both a good and bad thing. Good that they have that many guys with some potential, but bad there isn’t a little more ceiling on them. Some Latin guys to follow for Cubs fans include, Marco Hernandez, Gioskar Amaya, and Neftali Rosario.