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Monday, January 28, 2013

John Sickels: 2013 Baseball Farm System Rankings

Best Farm System flags fly forever. Just ask the Royals.

1) St. Louis Cardinals (ranked #5 last year): Strengths: Everything. They have pitching, hitting, high upside, and depth. They have a proven track record of player development. Weaknesses: none really. They could use a shortstop with a better bat but so could most teams.

2) Seattle Mariners (#4 last year): Strength: Good balance between hitting and pitching, strength up the middle with Zunino, Miller, Franklin; potential ace arms; good knack for finding underappreciated college hitters. Weaknesses: Persistent problems with Latin American prospects showing poor strike zone judgment and contact issues.

3) Tampa Bay Rays (#7): System was already strong and trade with Royals just adds more. Strength: considerable pitching depth; good mix of players who will be ready now/soon (Myers, Archer, Odorizzi) plus guys at lower levels with high upside. Weaknesses: upper level hitting other than Myers….

30) Detroit Tigers (23): Very thin in all respects. Strengths: Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia could help soon, and there are some potential role players behind them. Bullpen arms. Weaknesses: lack of depth almost everywhere, particularly hitting.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:20 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, john sickels, minor leagues, organizational rankings, prospects

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   1. JRVJ Posted: January 28, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4356948)
A little surprised that Houston is only #10, but I understand the logic (they will shoot up next year, if their players continue developing and if they have another monster draft).

Pleasantly surprised that the Phillies seem to be recovering a semblance of a farm system.

And it's interesting how a strategically added Cuban (Soler for the Cubs, Puig for the Dodgers) can help an organization.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4356981)
2) Seattle Mariners (#4 last year)

shouldn't that be #6?
   3. Honkie Kong Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4356994)
Wow, the A's, Nats and Braves all in the bottom 6. Now thats a role reversion.

I think that there should also be a best under 25 list, which would be a more realistic window into what the system is doing / producing.
   4. DA Baracus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4356997)
Wow, the A's, Nats and Braves all in the bottom 6. Now thats a role reversion.


But not surprising, as their top under twenty-whatever-age-you-want players are on the team already.
   5. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:48 PM (#4357033)

#30 is too low for the Tigers. But not by much.

Part of it might be that Sickels likes Castellanos less than any other prospect guy out there.
   6. bookbook Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM (#4357045)
Seattle has impressive depth, which Sickels leans towards, but outside of Zunino, no potential offensive superstar. I feel like a #2 system ought to blow me away in a way this one doesn't.
   7. spike Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM (#4357084)
I think that there should also be a best under 25 list

Keith Law has a list - video highlights.

There's an insider article with the full list
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4357653)
There's strikingly little difference between teams until you get down to around 15 or so. There are question marks in every system, and few sure things. In some ways I'd rather have the Cubs' system (at 10) than the Pirates (at 5). I can see the Twins (at 7) being top 3 and Houston (at 11) being top 5. There's a lot more uncertainty here than usual.

-- MWE
   9. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4357707)
I feel like the Tigers have been bottom five in these lists since the Randy Smith years.
   10. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4357742)
There's strikingly little difference between teams until you get down to around 15 or so. There are question marks in every system, and few sure things. In some ways I'd rather have the Cubs' system (at 10) than the Pirates (at 5). I can see the Twins (at 7) being top 3 and Houston (at 11) being top 5. There's a lot more uncertainty here than usual.


I was pleasantly happy - but not entirely surprised - to see the Cubs come in #10... they've got some serious problems on the pitching side, but I like what they have elsewhere an awful lot.

I'm really happy with the job Thed and company have done rebuilding a system that was on the thin side just a year or so ago -- I expect big things out of Christian Villanueva... I like him an awful lot.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4357749)
to see the Cubs come in #10


I can't help but think some of this is colored by perception of management. "Hendry was a doofus, but Theo/Hoyer know what they're doing, so they're probably drafting good prospects." I'm not saying this is the thought process, but it must be happening sub-consciously a bit.
   12. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4357770)

I can't help but think some of this is colored by perception of management. "Hendry was a doofus, but Theo/Hoyer know what they're doing, so they're probably drafting good prospects." I'm not saying this is the thought process, but it must be happening sub-consciously a bit.


Hendry/Wilken had some significant misfires -- especially with some 1st round reaches (Pawelek and Simpson come to mind) -- but I don't think they were all that bad at scrounging up amateur talent.

In fact, I think it would be fair to say that there were actually pretty good on the field -- it's on the pitching side where they continually crapped out. Some of these would be from Hendry in Wilkens job -- so I'm not going to bother figuring out the timeline -- but in Soto, Castro, Theriot, Barney, Colvin, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Marwin Gonzalez, etc... I think there's an acceptable level of field talent that they've had. No real stars - Castro aside, but he was a foreign FA - but a fair number of fringy, moderately useful-when-cheap guys.

It's really been on the pitching side where the team has been bereft... BPJ and James Russell are really just about it. Heck - beyond those two, I think everything else the Cubs have produced on the mound were converted from the field (Randy Wells, Carlos Marmol, and I think Kevin Hart were all converted pitching prospects... so I guess this means we should highly anticipate Kyler Burke!)
   13. bfan Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4357771)
I can't help but think some of this is colored by perception of management. "Hendry was a doofus, but Theo/Hoyer know what they're doing, so they're probably drafting good prospects." I'm not saying this is the thought process, but it must be happening sub-consciously a bit.


I agree; kind of like a HS basketball player who gets an offer from UK and becomes a 5 star, and a kid who doesn't get an offer from UK or UNC, and loses a star.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:21 PM (#4357880)
I can't help but think some of this is colored by perception of management.

Sure but Hendry built a good system as farm director and in the early days of Hendry's GMing I recall most of us Cub fans being pretty confident the Cubs would produce some good young talent. And we got Prior.

In fact, I think it would be fair to say that there were actually pretty good on the field -- it's on the pitching side where they continually crapped out.

Not until recently. The Cubs produced quite a bit of pitching talent either drafted/signed when Hendry was farm director or when he was GM. The 2002 Baylor Cubs had Wood, Prior, Cruz, Farnsworth, Zambrano. Looking at the 2006 team, Sean Marshall turned into an excellent reliever, Marmol was briefly a god and Will Ohman is still around. They traded for guys like Aardsma and Williams in the mid-2000s who weren't great but were both pitching in 2012. The Cubs had Willis and Nolasco. Angel Guzman and Rich Hill were good prospects that flamed out.

Again look at the 2002 list -- Wood, Cruz, Farnsworth and Z all pitched in 2012 ... that seems downright amazing even if it was/is the end of the line for most of them, 10+ years is a long time. From 2006, Marshall, Ohman, Marmol and even Rich Hill popped up last year. Add Nolasco and I've probably missed a couple of others and that's nearly a full staff of Hendry draftees/signees pitching in 2012. (The starting pitching would be horrible in 2012 but the bullpen's looking OK.)

The system they left Theo with was bereft of pitching ... and hitting.
   15. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4357943)
Good to see the Mets have finally gotten into the top half, but it's insane they STILL can't develop an impact bat who can actually field a known position on the diamond.
   16. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:50 PM (#4357951)
Not until recently. The Cubs produced quite a bit of pitching talent either drafted/signed when Hendry was farm director or when he was GM. The 2002 Baylor Cubs had Wood, Prior, Cruz, Farnsworth, Zambrano. Looking at the 2006 team, Sean Marshall turned into an excellent reliever, Marmol was briefly a god and Will Ohman is still around. They traded for guys like Aardsma and Williams in the mid-2000s who weren't great but were both pitching in 2012. The Cubs had Willis and Nolasco. Angel Guzman and Rich Hill were good prospects that flamed out.

Again look at the 2002 list -- Wood, Cruz, Farnsworth and Z all pitched in 2012 ... that seems downright amazing even if it was/is the end of the line for most of them, 10+ years is a long time. From 2006, Marshall, Ohman, Marmol and even Rich Hill popped up last year. Add Nolasco and I've probably missed a couple of others and that's nearly a full staff of Hendry draftees/signees pitching in 2012. (The starting pitching would be horrible in 2012 but the bullpen's looking OK.)


Sure - during Hendry's heyday, they were churning out arms at an unbelievable pace... I was just thinking more late Hendry (when he was clearly being groomed to succeed MacPhail)/Wilken divide.

I was arbitrarily timelining it a bit -- but the late Hendry years weren't providing many arms other than those (wells/Marmol) they discovered were better pitchers than position players.

Inversely, they started to have a bit more success around the diamond - no truly star-level players (Castro aside) and nothing like the assembly line they had going on the mound in the late 90s/early aughts, but at least there were some moderately useful spare parts.

Tim Wilken, I think, has to be viewed as a pretty big failure.... he seemed to have a knack for finding deeply flawed MIs (either decent glove men who really can't hit enough to play every day, or, decent bats who aren't good enough to hold down a CI spot they need because of subpar gloves).

Still, the two first round pitchers from Wilken were utter debacles... Colvin is a decent enough 4th OF... some of that gaggle of MIs have either had or should have careers of occasional utility... but if Brett Jackson doesn't become at least something in between Austin Jackson and Curtis Granderson -- yikes....
   17. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 30, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4357975)
But not surprising, as their top under twenty-whatever-age-you-want players are on the team already.


Yeah, I can understand where you'd rank the Braves minor league system low this year, because they've simply graduated all of their top tier talent already. Dan Uggla will be the only Braves regular in 2013 over the age of 30. The next guy on the list of "old" players are Brian McCann and BJ Upton, both 28.
   18. DA Baracus Posted: January 30, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4357982)
Yeah, I can understand where you'd rank the Braves minor league system low this year, because they've simply graduated all of their top tier talent already.


You've listed the reason why the minor league system is ranked low. But of course, there's more to a team's young players than minor leaguers. I agree with the posters who say an "under 25" or maybe a "3 years or less service time" would be a much better reflection of a team's future. Of course, minor leagues are what Sickles does, so that's not a critique of him. Minor league depth is valuable, teams with it will have an easier time making a trade than teams who don't, but it's only part of the story. Minor league ranking is like ranking bullpens: useful, valuable but ultimately indicative of not much else below the surface.
   19. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 30, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4357987)
You've listed the reason why the minor league system is ranked low. But of course, there's more to a team's young players than minor leaguers. I agree with the posters who say an "under 25" or maybe a "3 years or less service time" would be a much better reflection of a team's future. Of course, minor leagues are what Sickles does, so that's not a critique of him. Minor league depth is valuable, teams with it will have an easier time making a trade than teams who don't, but it's only part of the story. Minor league ranking is like ranking bullpens: useful, valuable but ultimately indicative of not much else below the surface.


I agree completely. The low ranking of the Braves is due solely to the fact that Sickels draws his arbitrary line of distinction at "minor leaguers." It's true the Braves won't be graduating a lot of minor league talent to the majors any time soon, but that's more due to the fact that barring catastrophe they're set at virtually every position except C for the next three years or more.

C - McCann (28) +1 year of team control
1B - Freeman (23) +4 years
2B - Uggla (32) +2 years
SS - Simmons (23) +5 years
3B - Francisco (26) +2 years
LF - J. Upton (24) +3 years
CF - BJ Upton (28) +5 years
RF - Heyward (23) +4 years

In the rotation

Medlen - (27) +2 years
Beachy - (26) +4 years
Minor - (25) +5 years
Teheran - (22) +6 years

In the pen

Kimbrel (24) +4 years
Venters (27) +2 years
Avilan (23) +5 years

The Braves shouldn't need to lean too heavily on the minor league system for the next 3-4 years.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2013 at 02:31 AM (#4358015)
but if Brett Jackson doesn't become at least something in between Austin Jackson and Curtis Granderson -- yikes....

That's a damn high bar (or maybe you're under-rating Austin). At this point I'll be happy if he's Cameron Maybin.

#19, not sure how you're counting those extra years. For example McCann -- currently 28 and they have an option for his age 29 season. So I'd call that +1 year as you put it. But they have BJ Upton for 5 years total, so age 28 + 4 years. Also Heyward has 3 full years of service time and is FA eligible after 2015 -- they have 3 years total control so age 23 + 2. Meanwhile Simmons has less than one year so I'd list him as you have. Doesn't invalidate your general point but just trying to get the definition consistent. I would take one year off Freeman, one off each Upton and 2 off Heyward. Too lazy to care about Uggla and Francisco and pitchers get hurt.

I forget where the rookie PA cutoff is, I used 120 ... anyway, the team with the best 24 or younger (in 2012) position players appear to be (in no particular order):

Atlanta (esp now with J Upton)
Cubs (Castro/Rizzo)
Royals (if Hosmer ever hits again)

Of course guys like Trout and Stanton pretty much singlehandedly put their teams near the top but that's not evidence of a system. The only other team with 2 average or better <=24 guys was Seattle with Ackley and Seager poking over average but also three guys who were below replacement and neither cleared average by much and they'll both be 25 this year. But way too soon to give up on Montero so you can add Seattle if you want.

On the pitching side, again some standout names (Kershaw, Strasburg) but the teams with a good number of them (30+ IP):

White Sox
Reds (Chapman, Latos)
Oakland

You can now add those to the minor league rankings and come up with your own 25 and under list!
   21. shoewizard Posted: January 30, 2013 at 07:49 AM (#4358046)
So since August the D BACKS moved Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Trevor Bauer, and Justin Upton, but managed to fall from 9th to 13th in the farm rankings and all they have to show for it in return at the major league level is Heath Bell, Cliff Pennington, and Martin Prado in place of Matt Lindstrom, Willie Bloomquist, and Chris Johnson. You kids following this at home ?

   22. Lassus Posted: January 30, 2013 at 08:02 AM (#4358047)
I think the carping regarding the parameters of the farm system ranking is pretty whiny.
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 30, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4358071)
so folks don't think major league pitchers are going to knock the bat out of billy hamilton's hands?

i like the kid as much as anyone but saying he's 'thin' is a stretch. he's all wire and twine tied together.

hope he proves me wrong
   24. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 30, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4358073)
so folks don't think major league pitchers are going to knock the bat out of billy hamilton's hands?


I think it's very possible. There's an old joke about not being fast enough to steal first base, and that could easily happen here.

-- MWE
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 30, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4358080)
mike

thanks for teh follow up. i only saw him play a handful of times but was struck at how he seem to have no visible sign of muscles.
   26. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: January 30, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4358082)
That had been my impression of Hamilton as well, that he was kind of a fun thing to follow last year but didn't hold much promise. But he kept on surging up recruit rankings.
   27. JJ1986 Posted: January 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4358086)
3B - Francisco (26) +2 years


This can't be right. He just had his first full season.
   28. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4358087)
so folks don't think major league pitchers are going to knock the bat out of billy hamilton's hands?


I'm with you and Mike on this. From the limited video I've seen Hamilton looks like a really fast Gregor Blanco. He's going to have to prove he can hit a ML fastball.

Walt @20 - I was mostly going off of memory, so I probably missed a few arb year calcs in there, and I generally count 2013 as +1 year, as the season hasn't been played yet. BJ Upton is +5 because the Braves have him from 2013-17.

So since August the D BACKS moved Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Trevor Bauer, and Justin Upton, but managed to fall from 9th to 13th in the farm rankings and all they have to show for it in return at the major league level is Heath Bell, Cliff Pennington, and Martin Prado in place of Matt Lindstrom, Willie Bloomquist, and Chris Johnson. You kids following this at home ?


Prospect lists fail to measure grit and hustle.
   29. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 30, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4358098)
A real fast Gregor Blanco will get on base enough to be valuable.

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