Farm system value rankings (Part 2)by Victor Wang
March 13, 2009
Before we jump into the second part of the farm system value rankings, I want to emphasize that these rankings are only for a team's prospects rated in the top 100. This means that farm systems that are deep but may lack some top end talent get hurt. In parts three and four of this series, I will factor in the values of a farm system's other prospects.
15. Chicago White Sox, NPV: $75.89 million
Top 100 Prospects: Gordan Beckham (26), Aaron Poreda (56), Tyler Flowers (80), Dayan Viciedo (91)
The White Sox have done a pretty good job of restocking their farm system, though they still could use some more depth. However, they appear to be in a contending while trying to get younger stage, which can be quite difficult to execute successfully. The White Sox might be at the point where it's best to just head in one direction.
14. Toronto Blue Jays, NPV: $83.78 million
Top 100 Prospects: Travis Snider (7), J.P. Arencibia (52), Brett Cecil (58)
Snider provides more than half the Blue Jays' value, meaning the Jays could take a big hit next year when Snider graduates. They'll definitely need some of the younger prospects like Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens to emerge. Toronto also might want to give some deep consideration to flat out rebuilding given the stiff competition in the AL East.
12. Colorado Rockies, NPV: $86.29 million
Top 100 Prospects: Dexter Fowler (17), Jhoulys Chacin (42), Wilin Rosario (90), Christian Friedrich (96)
It's hard to believe the Rockies were in the World Series a little bit ago. They still have a pretty good amount of young major league talent; now it's up to the Rockies to put the pieces together again. Finding some more pitching and figuring things out with Franklin Morales would help.
12. Boston Red Sox, NPV: $86.29 million
Top 100 Prospects: Lars Anderson (13), Michael Bowden (49), Josh Reddick (78), Junichi Tazawa (100)
Boston has done a tremendous job restocking its system. However, there is a lot of volatility with their prospects after the first few. Prospects like Ryan Westmoreland, Casey Kelly and Ryan Kalish could head in many different directions. Given the volume and the willingness to spend on the draft, though, Boston should be able to figure things out.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates, NPV: $87.35 million
Top 100 Prospects: Pedro Alvarez (12), Andre McCutchen (19), Jose Tabata (60)
This is what happens when teams spend on elite hitting talent in the draft. I hate to bring this up with Pirates fans, but Pittsburgh would be in the top five on this list if it had drafted Matt Wieters. Their top end hitting talent brings the Pirates near the top 10, but they lack depth. Still, this is a good start for Pittsburgh.
10. Milwaukee Brewers, NPV: $94.62 million
Top 100 Prospects: Alcides Escobar (34), Mat Gamel (54), Jeremy Jeffress (64), Brett Lawrie (86), Angel Salome (94)
Milwaukee has done a really impressive job with its farm system, ranking in the top 10 even after trading Matt Laporta. The Brewers continue to do well developing position players, though they could improve their pitching. It'll be interesting to see how Milwaukee deals with its surplus of position players, and how the Brewers draft without Jack Zduriencik.
9. Cleveland Indians, NPV: $97.67 million
Top 100 Prospects: Carlos Santana (25), Matt Laporta (27), Adam Miller (65), Nick Weglarz (70)
Cleveland continues to do well acquiring prospects in trades. The Indians have depth, but a lot of their guys seem to be destined to play first base—withVictor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko already at the major league level. With a lot of pitching depth, they should be in good shape over the season. Adam Miller is a big wild card—he has some filthy stuff. Cleveland has the potential for a nasty back end of the bullpen with Miller, Kerry Wood and Rafael Perez.
8. St. Louis Cardinals, NPV: $106.48 million
Top 100 Prospects: Colby Rasmus (6), Brett Wallace (30), Chris Perez (85), Daryl Jones (95)
The Cardinals have done well building up their system. They have impressive depth behind their top end guys. However, they lack a lot of young major league talent. After building up the farm system, the big test for the Cardinals will be to continue to churn out a top farm system while their current to prospects graduate to the majors.
7. Baltimore Orioles, NPV: $112.03 million
Top 100 Prospects: Matt Wieters (1), Brian Matusz (23), Chris Tillman (24), Jake Arrieta (62)
Someone could make a legitimate case that the Orioles have the top farm system in baseball simply because of Matt Wieters. Baltimore's system may be the most top heavy farm system in the game. The fact that three of the top four are pitchers adds to the risk.
6. San Francisco Giants, NPV: $122.95 million
Top 100 Prospects: Madison Bumgarner (3), Buster Posey (10), Tim Alderson (40), Angel Villalona (41)
The Giants drastically improved their farm system from the beginning of 2008. They continue to be one of the top teams, if not the top, with drafting and developing pitchers. Normally I'm against investing so many top picks in pitchers, but it's hard to argue with the Giants' results.
5. Florida Marlins, NPV: $131.26 million
Top 100 Prospects: Cameron Maybin (11), Mike Stanton (22), Logan Morrison (37), Matt Dominguez (57), Kyle Skipworth (93)
If Florida can develop some of its younger pitchers, which should be feasible given the high number in the system, this could be a really dangerous team over the next few years. This leads to a question of how much impact defense has on developing young pitchers. I ask this because Florida has had a pretty poor defense over the last few years while Texas appears to have thought about this in the move of Mike Young to third base. The next team on the list also has done pretty good job with defense and developing pitchers . . .
4. Oakland Athletics, NPV: $133.32 million
Top 100 Prospects: Trevor Cahill (15), Brett Anderson (16), Michael Ynoa (35), Chris Carter (68), Adrian Cardenas (82), Aaron Cunningham (98), Gio Gonzalez (99)
Oakland probably has the deepest farm system in the game. While its top position prospects have weaknesses and none project as an elite player, they have a ridiculous amount of pitching depth. If I were Oakland, I would try to manage some of the risk that comes with pitching prospects by trading for some position players. Given this, the overhaul of Oakland's farm system has been very impressive.
3. Atlanta Braves, NPV: $137.93 million
Top 100 Prospects: Jason Heyward (4), Tommy Hanson (9), Jordan Schafer (43), Freddie Freeman (69), Gorkys Hernandez (75)
Atlanta continues to excel in drafting and developing players. The Braves look like they have a decent shot to contend with the Mets and Phillies this year. Frank Wren did well to improve the major league team without giving up any of its top prospects. Keep on eye on how the Braves integrate guys like Hanson and Schafer. And yes, Atlanta would easily have the top farm system if it had its prospects from the Mark Teixeira trade.
2. Tampa Bay Rays, NPV: $141.16 million
Top 100 Prospects: David Price (2), Tim Beckham (14), Wade Davis (31), Desmond Jennings (45), Reid Brignac (59), Jeremy Hellickson (75)
After graduating Evan Longoria, the Rays still are able to come in with the No. 2 system. With young, established major league players and prospects near major league ready, the Rays will have some decisions to make in the near future. Sustaining a top farm system without having top draft picks also will be a new challenge for Tampa Bay.
1. Texas Rangers, NPV: $144.86 million
Top 100 Prospects: Neftali Feliz (5), Justin Smoak (20), Derek Holland (28), Taylor Teagarden (63), Michael Main (66), Martin Perez (76), Elvis Andrus (84)
Texas earns the top spot with a slight edge over Tampa Bay. The battle between Texas and Oakland should be entertaining in the near future. The big key will be which team develops its pitchers—both have talent and depth.
This brings us to another question: How much credit should go to the scouting and development staff when evaluating prospects and young major leaguers? And what impact does the major league coaching staff have on this? I'm not sure, but I hope we'll be able to better quantify this in the future.
Next up, part three of the series. We'll look at the bottom half of farm system rankings after including prospects not rated in the top 100.
Victor Wang's work on OPS has been featured in SABR's By the Numbers magazine, and was the 2007 recipient of SABR's Jack Kavanagh Memorial Youth Baseball Research Award. He can be reached via email here.