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March 8, 2010

Future Shock

Organizational Rankings, Part 1

by Kevin Goldstein

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30. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Year’s Ranking: 9
Why They Are Here: Their recent drafts aren't awful per se, but they're certainly boring and lacking as far as star power. The graduation of a few prospects and the trading away of even more (which happens when you are a perennial contender) leavse the system almost solely riding on the hopes for Shelby Miller's right arm.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Either here, or darn close to here. Their first-round pick doesn't come until the 25th selection, so there’s no star power coming from there either, not unless someone falls into their lap. If Miller collapses for some reason, there's nobody here worthy of top-prospect recognition.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Year’s Ranking: 28
Why They Are Here: Trades have gutted the system which, combined with the fact that top prospect Jarrod Parker will miss the entire year, means there's no help coming from the system anytime soon. After Brandon Allen, who has some highly divergent scouting reports himself, there's not a good hitter in the system who isn't at least three years away.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Up, and possibly significantly. While I haven't gone back to check exactly, I'm nearly sure that with eight of their Top 11 coming from the previous year's draft, Arizona has set some kind of record, and they just need a few of those players to step forward for the organization to look much better 12 months from now.

28. Houston Astros
Last Year’s Ranking: 30
Why They Are Here: They have utterly no depth whatsoever. Recent drafts have changed the top of their prospect lists, but the players from six to 11 wouldn't even sniff most team's lists. When two middle relief prospects earn single-digit rankings, that's never a good sign.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Should be up a bit. The eighth overall pick in June certainly helps, but what was once a downright embarrassing collection of talent is making slow, steady progress since the addition of scouting director Bobby Heck.

27. Chicago White Sox
Last Year’s Ranking: 24
Why They Are Here: In some ways it's for good reasons, as Gordon Beckham developed so fast that he's not eligible any more. Still, after that, things fall off quite quickly, as we can dream on Jared Mitchell all day long, but he and outfielder Jordan Danks are the only position prospects who would also rank on other teams' lists.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Could go either way. Mitchell is a boom or bust type, as is outfielder Trayce Thompson, while third baseman Dayan Viciedo is looking like he might fall into the same category. They'll likely lose top prospect Daniel Hudson, and possibly their third-best player, Tyler Flowers, tio major-league promotions, so somebody has to step up.

26. New York Yankees
Last Year’s Ranking: 13
Why They Are Here: Jesus Montero is an utter stud, but no other player in the system even sniffed the Top 101. The upper-level pitchers have low ceilings, and after Montero, there's not a hitter in the system close to contributing.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Should be up. The Yankees know how to turn late first-round picks into much better players, while they also tend to find great talent in Latin America, and there are a number of very young players in the Top 11 who could take a step forward. If Montero graduates to the big leagues however, it will be tough to make up for that loss.

25. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Year’s Ranking: 15
Why They Are Here: After graduating so much star-level talent to the big leagues, the well has finally run dry. Alcides Escobar is a fantastic defender who won't embarrass himself with the bat, but his minor-league career is likely over, and there's very little left at the upper levels that's ready to help.
Where They Will Be Next Year: It's hard to see them moving up much, as much of their Top 11 consists of solid guys without a lot of breakout possibility. The 14thoverall pick in the draft will certainly help, but at the same time, they'll lose  Escobar.

24. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Year’s Ranking: 14
Why They Are Here: Because what they gave up for Roy Halladay isn't close to what they got back for Cliff Lee. Domonic Brown is a five-star prospect, and many readers seemed surprised that Phillippe Aumount rated four stars, but it's pretty clear that the system drops off significantly from there. 
Where They Will Be Next Year: Likely up. Prospects three through 11 might not be great yet, but they’re loaded with potential, and based on trends, picking 27th in June will likely result in another high-risk/high-upside type. If you don't play the lottery, you don't win.

23. Seattle Mariners
Last Year’s Ranking: 17
Why They Are Here: What was already a fairly nondescript system became even more so after the Cliff Lee deal, as Dustin Ackley saves them from flirting with the very bottom. Much of the talent left is either exceptionally young, coming off an injury, or needing to prove that last year's showing in High Desert wasn't a mirage.
Where They Will Be Next Year: There's some youth and upside here, but certainly no guarantee of upward movement. Their second-best prospect, Michael Saunders, will lose eligibility, and there's an outside chance that Ackley pulls a Beckham and gets to the big leagues. The club has no first-round pick after signing Chone Figgins. Expect another ranking in the 20s.

22. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Year’s Ranking: 10
Why They Are Here: The only reason they're this high is because of the Halladay trade. Otherwise, we'd be looking at a nightmare, as their top three prospects did not finish the 2009 season as part of the organization. Without the trade, 2009 first-round pick Chad Jenkins would have been the weakest top prospect in the game.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Likely right around here again. They could lose Brett Wallace, and possibly Kyle Drabek, to the big leagues, but the 11thoverall pick in June will certainly help, while Travis D'Arnaud has considerable potential to move up.

21. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Year’s Ranking: 22
Why They Are Here: While the Pirates are improving under their new administration, it's really just baby steps as of yet; having Pedro Alvarez saves them from a much lower ranking. There isn't a pitcher at the upper levels worth talking about other than Brad Lincoln, whose ceiling is likely that of a fourth starter.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Pittsburgh picks second overall in June, but after taking Tony Sanchez with the fourth overall pick last year, one wonders if a potential impact player is guaranteed to be selected by them there. Still, they went after plenty of young, over-slot pitching after the first round, and they need some of them to step forward.

20. Los Angeles Angels
Last Year’s Ranking: 23
Why They Are Here: There's a decent amount of talent here, as the Angels placed five players in the Top 101, but the bad news is that the first one, outfielder Mike Trout, doesn't check in until 54, and the system's talent level drops significantly after those five.
Where They Will Be Next Year: They have a 50/50 shot at moving up or down. Their Top 11 list is loaded with young talent, much of it of the boom or bust variety. The good news, at least for their potential ranking, is that chances are good that nobody in the Top 11 graduates to the majors this year, and the team has three picks in the later half of the first round.

19. Florida Marlins
Last Year’s Ranking: 5
Why They Are Here: While Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison comprise an excellent one-two offensive punch at the top, the system has almost zero up-the-middle talent, and many once highly-regarded arms in the system have failed to pan out. The organization had eight candidates for the last spot on their Top 11, but none of them were good.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Likely in the 20s, as Morrison could be the big-league club's first baseman before the All-Star break, and of the players ranked after their two studs, few, if any even have to potential to move into the Top 101.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Year’s Ranking: 21
Why They Are Here: The system just isn't the factory it once was, and other than Dee Gordon, most of the players in their 2008 draft class took a step backward in their full-season debuts. They've also become almost a non-factor when it comes to acquiring international talent, a pipeline that once served them generously.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Likely right around here. Other than Scott Elbert and maybe Josh Lindblom, the organization isn't set to graduate many talents, but at the same time, who is really going to step forward?

17. Baltimore Orioles
Last Year’s Ranking: 7
Why They Are Here: It’s more of a numbers game than anything else. If Chris Tillman made three fewer big-league starts, the system would rank in the first half of the rankings instead of the second. Still, they remain one of the most imbalanced systems in the game, with plenty of intriguing arms, but precious little by way of batters after third baseman Josh Bell.
Where They Will Be Next Year: The third overall pick in the 2010 draft should add an impact-level talent, but that failed to do that last year at fifth overall with the selection of Matt Hobgood, and they'll surely graduate Brian Matusz. They'll likely be more legitimately in the second half next year.

16. Colorado Rockies
Last Year’s Ranking: 11
Why They Are Here: Always in need of pitching, the club is loaded with arms, including a few who could help as early as this year. On the flip side, the non-pitching talent is desperately thin, as their top two position prospects, catcher Wilin Rosario and shortstop Hector Gomez, are still much more potential than reality.
Where They Will Be Next Year: They’ll still be in the middle, but with a bit more potential for moving up than down. Many believe that Tyler Matzek was the top arm in the draft after Stephen Strasburg, and a healthy Casey Weathers could regain his previously-held "closer of the future" title.

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

Related Content:  Top 11,  The Who,  Year Of The Injury

36 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Cardinals645

Kevin-

I really enjoy these lists; they give me a view of what can be expected out of each system in the next few years, and a quick sort of "Who to Watch For" for my fantasy team.

However, aren't Organizational Rankings as they're currently constructed more like a snapshot in time of the team's minor leagues? Teams aren't necessarily ranked based on their ability to sign and develop players, in fact successfully developing players into major leaguers can hurt their rank.

Do you think there should be a list that gives a more comprehensive view of each team's player development by examining their performance in the draft, international signings, player development, and players graduated to the majors (as opposed to a "How Full/Empty is Their Minor League Glass Right Now?" sort of list)? Could we see something like this in the future?

Thanks!

Mar 08, 2010 10:45 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

It's an important point, these are most definitely SNAPSHOTS and not an overall judgement on a system's ability to generate young talent.

Mar 08, 2010 12:26 PM
 
David Schwalb

Have you given any thought to an organizational ranking of systems in general? As a companion to the "snapshot" ranking, how about a more comprehensive "over the last 3-5 years" list. This would take things like Latin American signings, success rate of drafted players, and use of prospects as trading pieces into account.

Mar 10, 2010 16:36 PM
rating: -1
 
elm
(41)

Kevin, while checking to see each teams prospect list when reading the descriptions here, I realized that Pittsburgh's list is not included on the "Top 11 Prospects" series page and that, in fact, I can't remember reading it. Is this a pithy comment on the state of the Pirates? Or is it hiding somewhere on the site and I missed it?

Mar 08, 2010 11:11 AM
rating: 0
 
David Schwalb

Here ya go...
http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10082

Mar 08, 2010 11:30 AM
rating: 1
 
elm
(41)

Thanks. I figured it must be somewhere: there are so many Pirates fans here that they'd have screamed bloody murder if KG had forgotten to do a Pittsburgh ranking.

On the plus side, it was like reading a bonus KG prospects list for me! A good Monday!

Mar 08, 2010 12:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Kampfer

I like how a team can lose Gordon Beckham to the big league club. I know what you mean by that but it is funny how a club can get punished in org.ranking by being too good at scouting prep talent.

Mar 08, 2010 11:45 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Important point No. 2: Sometimes a system can be down for all the right reasons.

Mar 08, 2010 12:28 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I figured the Cubs would be in the bottom half.

Mar 08, 2010 11:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Cubs ended up much higher than even I expected.

Mar 08, 2010 12:29 PM
 
dianagram

Could you explain that statement? You are the one coming up with the rankings, after all. :-)

Is their algorithmic method to the rankings?

Mar 09, 2010 08:05 AM
rating: -1
 
ryanlazenby

I don't know how the Cards ever climb out of the cellar here. They're built around a few stars they can't afford to trade, and no predictable new and moveable stars are on their way. They can't trade to improve their system, but they stay competitive enough to be held down in the draft. Just seems like they have to keep that balance of pulling up a series of adequate temporary solutions from the system and supplementing their team from FA.

Mar 08, 2010 12:22 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

The Cards better win it all again in the next two years. They might just do it too. But you are right, they can't move Holliday or Pujols and their farm is putrid.

Mar 08, 2010 13:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Sparky's Pitch Fork

As a Red Birds fan, for years I have been complaining about how poor we draft. I am tired of the "safe" route. Maybe Miller's signing is a sign of things to come? I can only hope.

Mar 08, 2010 13:16 PM
rating: 1
 
Cardinals645

I don't think the Cardinals are focusing on their Organizational Ranking, nor do I think they should. The focus is at the Major League level, and they have a solid nucleus of players to carry their team for the next few years (Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, Molina, Wainwright, Carpenter). All they have to do is fill in a couple pieces here and there.

Plus, these rankings change dramatically from year to year. The Cardinals were ranked 9th by KG last year, but traded away a couple players and promoted Rasmus. Similarly, if they make a splash in the Latin talent market, and a high-upside guy falls to them, they could rise up quite a bit next year too (probably not to 9th though). But the team should be pretty competitive in the NL Central for the next 3-5 years, so they probably won't need their system to produce a star player until then.

Mar 08, 2010 14:52 PM
rating: -1
 
Sparky's Pitch Fork

I agree that they shouldn't be and are probably not focused on the organizational rankings.

However, there will come a point in time that they will absolutely need to have a farm system to support the major league roster. Right now, the Team does not have an adequate farm system. Truthfully, they probably do not need the greatest farm right now because of the quality of the major league roster. BUT, the economics of free agency will only allow a select group of teams to compete through acquisition and not development. The Cardinals, in my opinion, are not one of these select few. It is better to start the investment process now, when the urgency is low, then later, when the urgency is high.

Mar 08, 2010 16:37 PM
rating: 0
 
Cardinals645

Sure, the Cardinals are not one of the richest teams, but they do draw well from their city. I agree that they cannot build a team through free agency, but they don't need to as long as they can add a regular or two here or there (like Brad Penny).

They have three starters and all eight regulars locked up for at least two more years, as well as nearly all of the bullpen. They don't really need to add anyone in the future, and you can bet that Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn will be candidates for the final two rotation spots next year.

They do need to start building up the system now, with the hopes of producing some more regulars and a star a few years down the road. Luckily, I don't think they'll need to see major league level results for a few years.

Mar 09, 2010 12:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Al Skorupa

I think that's probably important point #3: Prospects and farm systems are but a means to an end (winning at the MLB level).

Still, the major problem that teams face is how to balance the present and the future. Its pretty clear the Cardinals haven't done a very good job of preparing for their future.

Mar 08, 2010 17:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Cardinals645

Haven't they done a good job?

As I mentioned above, they're pretty set on the field, in rotation, and in the bullpen for at least two-three more years. That should be plenty of time for the system to reload, especially in the weak NL Central.

Mar 09, 2010 12:28 PM
rating: 0
 
AadikShekar

Kevin,
any chance you do an overall, young-player ranking? Ie, for each organization, weigh its under 27, or all players (majors or minors) that are at least 3-years from FA eligibility list. That would give an overall look at where they are now, and not penalize the White Sox for a Beckham, for example (or the Giants for a Sandoval).

Mar 08, 2010 13:41 PM
rating: 1
 
chriscaroy

as always, love your work KG. any chance, though, that the link for each team name here could take the reader to your top 11 for that team? currently that link takes you to the 'team audit' page...and the faster that i get to snicker over houston's "top" 11 the better.

thanks for all the hard work on the scouting/prospect info - this has become my favorite part of BP.

Mar 08, 2010 13:46 PM
rating: -1
 
chriscaroy

well, it turns out there's a link to the top 11 right on the team audit page. so disregard my (dumb) request.

Mar 08, 2010 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
anderson721

Hard to believe the Yankees, with all their resources , could be this low.

Mar 08, 2010 15:21 PM
rating: 0
 
ostrowj1

Why is it hard to believe? It is hard to get good prospects when you sign free agents and win your division.

Mar 08, 2010 15:39 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

The Yankees graduated Joba, Hughes, Aceves, Robertson, et al in the past few years, flipped Jackson for Granderson and gave up picks from signing CC, Burnett, Teiexera. Sounds like they've done a GREAT job with their farm system to me.

Mar 08, 2010 15:52 PM
rating: 0
 
elm
(41)

And flipped Vizcaino. Going into the offseason, they had 3 in the top 101 and used 2 of them to acquire win-now players, which is exactly one of the uses of the farm system for competitive teams to win now.

I am curious about where they'd rank if KG had done the rankings right at the end of the World Series. Maybe around 15 or so?

Mar 08, 2010 15:59 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Good points by all. A low ranking is hardly an indictment of a system by any means. I actually think the Yankees have done an excellent job of late, but they graduated guys and traded others away. Like the Cardinals, they could be here under different circumstances, and this is just a snap shot.

Mar 08, 2010 20:47 PM
 
willjosh09

I'm very relieved to not see the Mets on this list.

Mar 08, 2010 15:24 PM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

They shouldn't be. Despite what the New York media wants people to believe, the Mets farm is not barren. That said, it's probably not much higher than 15.

Mar 08, 2010 17:16 PM
rating: 1
 
greensox

These are the rankings of the minor league organization, as determined by the quality of current minor leaguers, right?

Mar 08, 2010 20:18 PM
rating: 0
 
greensox

And sometime an organization can be "up" for all the wrong reasons (constantly trading any semblance of major league talent for more minor leaguers).

Mar 08, 2010 20:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Welcome to the conversation...

Mar 08, 2010 21:51 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

Excellent point.

Mar 09, 2010 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

...

And weren't the points earlier excellent? Or did you just like the way he rephrased what Kevin (and others) have already said in this very thread?

Again, welcome to the conversation.


" Kevin Goldstein
BP staff
(27460)It's an important point, these are most definitely SNAPSHOTS and not an overall judgement on a system's ability to generate young talent.

Mar 08, 2010 12:26 PM"


" Kevin Goldstein
BP staff
(27460)Important point No. 2: Sometimes a system can be down for all the right reasons.

Mar 08, 2010 12:28 PM"

Mar 09, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: -3
 
eliyahu

Kevin -- you don't see Ethan Martin as someone who could take a significant step forward (not will, but could) this year? As a high school arm, how did he compare with the premier arms in last year's draft (e.g. Turner, Miller, etc.)?

Mar 09, 2010 05:21 AM
rating: 0
 
IAPiratesFan

Wow, the Pirates are just #21? That's terrible. Maybe Neal Huntington isn't fixing anything in PIttsburgh...

Mar 09, 2010 10:54 AM
rating: 0
 
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