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?
1. Yasiel Puig (OF)- Puig is a guy that raised some eyebrows when he got a significant contract last season from the Dodgers. He look s like a big, strong, fast young man to me that has an idea of the strike zone. I think the Dodgers are going to be plenty happy with their investment.
2. Corey Seager (IF)- I’m not sure where Seager is going to end up in the infield, but his bat is what is really intriguing. He is pretty athletic as well with a big frame. I think he will grow into a prototypical 3B body, and could potentially be an above average defender and offensive force.
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP)- Ryu looks to have a pretty impressive four pitch mix from what I have seen on video. His fastball works in the low 90’s mostly, and he combines that with an above average change, good curve, and a slider as well. His easy throwing motion may help his fastball out some, and he reportedly commands well.
4. Joc Pederson (OF)- Pederson put up impressive numbers in high A last season as a 20 year old, showing power, an ability to hit for average, and ability to run the bases. I like the willingness to work counts as well. He wasn’t in the Midwest League long enough for me to see him play defense, but with his solid athleticism, he should be at least average.
5. Chris Reed (SP)- There is a lot to like about Reed. Many wondered if he was just a bullpen guy, but I think he could be way more. A lefty that gets up to the mid 90’s with his fastball, Reed also possesses an above average slider, and an improving change up. His command waivers, but if it gets better, look out.
6. Zach Lee (SP)- I’m sure Dodgers fans will think I’m crazy for putting Lee at six, but hey, I think the other guys on this list carry more upside. Lee has solid stuff across the board, and shows a good feel for pitching, but I see him as more of a #3/4 type that can eat innings.
7. Onelki Garcia (SP)- Garcia reportedly has a big fastball and a sharp curve, giving him the makings of two above average to plus pitches. He also has a large frame as well and is already 23 years old. There are questions about his change up and command, but it’s tough to ignore the arm.
8. Zachary Bird (SP)- There is a ton to like about Bird, and I wanted to be aggressive in his ranking. Projectable frame, low 90’s fastball right now, chance for a plus curve, and also owns a change up. Generates ground balls as well. Will need to strengthen body, and work on repeating mechanics.
9. Jesmuel Valentin (SS)- Valentin has the major league bloodlines, and it looks like he has the approach and demeanor of someone that has been around the game a while. Needs to get stronger for sure, but could hit for average, and be a top of the order hitter while sticking at short.
10. Chris Withrow(P)- I’m a velocity whore, and Withrow has a power fastball that sits mid 90’s getting into the upper 90’s. He combines that with a sharp breaking curve that can generate swings and misses when it’s going good. Once a starter, looks like he is strictly a reliever at this point.
Mar 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Chris Withrow (68) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Just Missed The List:
Rodriguez is a deceptive lefty who will work late in games. Rathjen is a physical specimen with good athleticism. Gould is an underachiever of sorts thus far, but still has potential because of a real good curve ball. Tolleson has the makings of a set up guy.
Sulbaran is a young lefty that has a knack for strikeouts. Martin surprised in 2012 with an increase in velocity. Needs better command.
As I get deeper into this system, I realize I may have underrated it a few spots. I know the biggest beef from Dodgers fans would be the Lee ranking, and that’s okay. When I saw him, he had good stuff, I just don’t think it rises to the ace type level that many thought coming out of high school. I’m a bit disappointed in Gould. I thought his velocity would be bigger at this point. But these are minor things. Overall, there are quite a few strong arms, both in the rotation and the bullpen. Position prospects are a little more thin, but Puig, Pederson, and Seager all could be regulars at the big league level, and good ones at that.
Despite being ranked 22, this isn’t that bad of a system, and could work it’s way up quickly. The new ownership seems determined to build a strong system as well as a big club.