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February 14, 2007

Future Shock

Organizational Rankings

by Kevin Goldstein

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It's generally accepted that the legendary Branch Rickey devised the universally used 20-80 scouting scale. The actual origin of the scale is a bit of a mystery, but some believe it's based on a scientific scale used in some fields that revolves around a median (in this case 50), and three standard deviations above (60, 70, 80) and below (40, 30, 20). What does that have to do with organizational rankings? Not much, unless you're a scouting dork like me. As opposed to being completely subjective here, I went about the task of trying to actually quantify the rankings.

I began by assigning points to each team for the talent it has, giving points at differing levels within the Excellent, Very Good, and Good labels used in the recently completed Top 10 lists. Additional points were granted for average prospects, as well as talent beyond their top 10 that would qualify for that level. The rankings you see here reflect the total raw points. In order to have a little fun with this, and in an attempt to provide some additional information, I then split the talent between hitting and pitching, found the average amount of hitting and pitching points, and then calculated the number of standard deviations above or below that average. Presto! Instant 20-80 scores for each category.

RankTeam Hitting (Rank) Pitching (Rank) Comment


Devil Rays

Top 10 Prospects
76 (1st) 62 (4th) The best system in baseball and it's not even close. Hard to beat three elite hitting prospects, all of whom have proven themselves at Double-A or higher, as well as one near-ready stud pitcher and a plethora of high-ceiling young arms. The D-Rays won't be picking at the top of the draft for much longer.


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Top 10 Prospects
63 (4th) 60 (6th) Another team that needs help and will get it from within their system. Jason Hirsh, Chris Iannetta and Troy Tulowitzki begin the flow of talent to the big leagues this year, Dexter Fowler looks like a potential dynamo, and no group of arms can light up a radar gun like Colorado's youngsters.



Top 10 Prospects
67 (3rd) 49 (17th) Even with Howie Kendrick and Jered Weaver out of the picture, the talent keeps coming, though the Angels will need some more pitching to step forward and join Adenhart in the upper echelon.



Top 10 Prospects
45 (18th) 74 (1st) Philip Hughes leads off the best collection of mound talent in the game. Unfortunately, Jose Tabata is left alone to carry the weight offensively, as the hitting talent is thin.



Top 10 Prospects
56 (6th) 60 (5th) As usual, the Dodgers have a well-rounded collection of talent, including a number of high-ceiling young players who could help move this ranking up next year.



Top 10 Prospects
72 (2nd) 36 (26th) Even with Stephen Drew and Carlos Quentin in the big leagues, the Diamondbacks have three more elite hitters in the system with Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, and Chris Young. The pitchers are either low on ceiling, or low on talent--signing first-round pick Max Scherzer sure would help.



Top 10 Prospects
54 (8th) 55 (10th) Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo give the Brewers a hitter/pitcher combo that ranks with just about anyone, and while the elite talent ends there, the depth of the system is among the best in the game.



Top 10 Prospects
53 (11th) 56 (9th) Few teams in baseball have two outfielders to match Fernando Martinez and Carlos Gomez or two righthanders to match the duo of Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey. So they get huge points for top-level talent, but there is little to talk about after that.



Top 10 Prospects
58 (5th) 49 (19th) The big three of Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Luke Hochevar carry the torch for the system, but three potential All-Stars is still enough to rank in single digits.



Top 10 Prospects
54 (9th) 50 (16th) A once moribund system suddenly has a potential ace in Homer Bailey and a potential impact outfielder in Jay Bruce. Joey Votto is pretty good in his own right, but the talent falls off in cliff-like fashion in short order.


Red Sox

Top 10 Prospects
45 (17th) 58 (7th) Plenty of exciting pitchers throughout the system, both in starting and relief roles, but who is going to hit? Jacoby Ellsbury is the only star-potential hitter who is close.



Top 10 Prospects
41 (27th) 63 (3rd) An incredible collection of arms should keep the Twins stacked for years to come. With first-round picks Matt Moses and Denard Span hitting a wall at Double-A, impact bats are few and far between.



Top 10 Prospects
44 (20th) 58 (8th) Lots of arms, headlined by an elite starter in Adam Miller who should hit the big leagues this year. The hitting, however, has thinned out dramatically over recent years.



Top 10 Prospects
51 (14th) 49 (18th) Not the system it once was, with few impact hitters, and a group of pitchers that pales in comparison to past groups. The system does feature some projectable pitchers who are short on success and experience but high on ceiling.



Top 10 Prospects
54 (10th) 45 (21st) Miller and Maybin and pray for rainin'? Young outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is a fascinating prospect, but after trading a trio of pitchers to the Yanks for Gary Sheffield, there's nothing left--not that Detroit needs young arms.



Top 10 Prospects
52 (13th) 44 (22nd) Better than you might think at first glance. Jeff Clement and Adam Jones are a potent pair at the top, and Carlos Truinfel is unproven but very exciting. The 2006 Draft class began a much-needed restocking of arms.



Top 10 Prospects
44 (22nd) 53 (13th) Pretty much the entire group of good hitting prospects went splat at Double-A, but Angel Villalona is already a scouting legend at 16. Tim Lincecum leads off a pitching group that offers depth and little else.



Top 10 Prospects
43 (24th) 53 (14th) Billy Rowell sure looks good so far; after that, it's hard to figure out where future Baltimore runs are going to come from. The pitching looks good across the board, but some of the better ones might take a while.



Top 10 Prospects
33 (30th) 64 (2nd) Absolutely nothing in the position player category, but we'll give them a mulligan after watching what the big league team did last year. They've spent the last two drafts stocking up on pitching, with their rotation at High-A Jupiter this year possibly having five first-round picks.


Blue Jays

Top 10 Prospects
56 (7th) 35 (27th) Adam Lind and Travis Snider are an enviable pair of hitting prospects, and while the upper-level talent ends there, the system has a number of solid prospects who should get to the big leagues. What about the pitchers? Don't ask.



Top 10 Prospects
42 (26th) 51 (15th) Moving in the wrong direction offensively. Felix Pie and Eric Patterson could help in 2007, but after that, it's nada city. The pitching looks much better.



Top 10 Prospects
38 (28th) 54 (11th) Some of their top pitching prospects have taken steps backwards of late, but Eric Hurley made up for it with a breakout performance in 2006. There is very little offensively, especially at the upper levels.



Top 10 Prospects
53 (12th) 35 (28th) The offensive ranking surprised even me, though Daric Barton and Travis Buck are a nice pair at the top; beyond that, they're similar to Toronto, with a number of players easily projected as big leaguers. Last year's dip into the high school pitching pool paid few dividends.


White Sox

Top 10 Prospects
44 (21st) 46 (20th) John Danks, Josh Fields, and Ryan Sweeney are a nice trio at the top, but after that, the well is dry, particularly at the lower levels after years of overly conservative drafting.



Top 10 Prospects
48 (15th) 41 (25th) Injured pitchers, the disappointing career of Neil Walker, and no more Brent Lillibridge is too much for a great talent like Andrew McCutchen to make up for.



Top 10 Prospects
37 (29th) 53 (12th) A nice collection of young, high-ceiling arms, with some potential innings-eater types coming quickly to keep the seats warm for the high-ceiling teenagers. If there were any good hitters going into 2006, chances are pretty good they had a miserable season.



Top 10 Prospects
45 (19th) 42 (24th) Colby Rasmus looks awfully good, but after that, the only word that comes to mind is 'boring.' A whole lot of future middle relievers and fourth outfielders. Yawn.



Top 10 Prospects
43 (23rd) 44 (23rd) Hunter Pence sure is good. So is Troy Patton. Following them is virtually nothing offensively and a group of pitchers with good scouting reports and little success.



Top 10 Prospects
47 (16th) 34 (30th) When your best pitching prospect has open injury issues, that's a bad thing. When he's the only one in your team's top 10, that's even worse. Kevin Kouzmanoff arrives to save the day offensively, while Cedric Hunter's impressive pro debut provides some optimism.



Top 10 Prospects
43 (25th) 35 (29th) Still recovering from the final years in Montreal, where the signing budget was limited and the scouting department was reduced to a skeleton crew. They used their plethora of picks in the early portion of the 2006 draft to take high-ceiling teenagers, so there's potential to move up. Not that there is any other option.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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