The ever-industrious Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus has released his 2014 Organizational Rankings, a list of how he ranks the 30 teams’ farm systems. I don’t want to give away the whole list but I’ll give you some of my thoughts on what he wrote. I’ll also compare his list to Keith Law’s at ESPN.com who has already done his ranking (behind a paywall). Having gone written quite a few of our GOTC Top 15 Prospects, I think I’ve got a pretty decent sense of where the teams’ farm systems rank, at least in my own mind.
The biggest difference between the two lists is at the top. Law likes the Houston Astros as the best minor league system while Parks, unsurprisingly, chooses the Minnesota Twins. Ultimately, any system with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer are ripe for the top spot but it’s also a tough call with several very good farm systems clustered together. Parks obviously like the Cubs a lot while the Astros can make a compelling case with guys like Carlos Correa and Mark Appel but beyond those two, it’s hard to say that their system is the equivalent of the Twins’. The way I see it, the Twins have several players with ML stardom as a possible outcome while the Astros have two or three. The Chicago Cubs could make a case for #1 but their lack of elite pitching prospects makes it tough to call them the best system in baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates occupy the number three spot on both lists. Why? Because their system boasts a combination of ML-ready (or near-ready) young stars like Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco with lower level, potential break-out players like Reese McGuire, Austin Meadows and Josh Bell ready to break out. The Red Sox also finish high on both lists but their strength is with two position players who should graduate to the majors this year (Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr.) and several pitchers who are all very close to the majors who have at least back-end of the rotation projections (Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes). With the addition of Garin Cecchini and Christian Vazquez (one of the best defensive catchers in baseball), the Red Sox have a very large core group of players who are going to thrill Pawtucket fans (I’ll be trying to see them when they’re in Buffalo and Rochester).
At #6 for Parks is the St. Louis Cardinals’ system while they rank much lower for Law. In this case, I’m in more agreement with Law. I think that the number of recent major league graduates for the Cardinals have depleted the Cardinals farm system and that the Kansas City Royals (even without Wil Myers) trump the Cards. The New York Mets, with Syndergaard and d’Arnaud, are pushing their way upwards in the rankings while the Colorado Rockies, led by 2013 third-overall pick Jonathan Gray, crack both top tens.
The honor of the biggest disparity between the lists goes to the Philadelphia Phillies. Parks has the Phillies at #25 while Law has them at #14. I have to side with Parks on this one, mainly because I really like just one or two Phillies prospects including 3B Maikel Franco and LHP Jesse Biddle. The Toronto Blue Jays also divide the prospect writers. Parks has them ranked at #13 while Law has them at #24. Again (I seem to be repeating myself), I think Parks has a more accurate view of the Blue Jays’ system. I wrote about it here. I’ve seen most of the players on the top prospects list and I’m a big believer in the talent at the lower levels of the Blue Jays’ system.
Like with everything else, each of the lists reveals bias on parts of the talent evaluator. While some writers emphasize tools and upside, others want to see a minor league track record and give more weight to players who are close to the majors. Few teams have a combination of both types of players but, overall, there is a fair bit of consensus between the two lists. Some organizations are very close together, especially the top five; I would be hard pressed to figure out a way to actually rank them without just going on my gut.
What do you think about the lists? Whose view do you share most often?