Farm system value rankings (Part 3)by Victor Wang
March 30, 2009
My last two articles looked at farm system rankings based off of how a team's prospects rated in various top 100 lists. In the next two parts of the series, I'll look at a team's complete set of prospects and use their prospect rankings to find the worth of each farm system in baseball. For a more in depth look at how I measure prospect value, I would recommend reading my article in the 2009 Hardball Times Annual. A quick note, the prospect to watch section shows a prospect not rated in the the top 100 (shown in the first article) who I think has a good shot to break out next year. Now let's look at the bottom half of the THT farm system rankings.
30. Detroit Tigers, NPV: $59.19 million
Strengths: Rick Porcello is really good. The relievers selected from the 2008 draft should move fast.
Weaknesses: Huge drop off in talent after Porcello. No position prospects really project as everyday players. Other starting pitching prospects are a ways away.
Looking forward: With a top-10 pick next year, Detroit should be able to add at least one impact prospect to its farm system. However, with talks of Porcello possibly making Detroit's opening day rotation, the Tigers will need a really good draft and improvement from a few of their prospects to make a major move up the farm system rankings.
Prospect to watch: Cody Satterwhite, RP. Satterwhite will likely come out of the bullpen for Detroit. He brings a plus fastball but lacks a good secondary pitch. He'll only need to come up with one now that he's a reliever.
29. Houston Astros, NPV: $61.51 million
Strengths: Brian Bogusevic impressed in his first year as a position player. Jason Castro projects as an everyday catcher. The Astros drafted some interesting arms in last year's draft.
Weaknesses: No impact talent. Their depth with position players really drops off after Bogusevic and Castro.
Looking forward: Bobby Heck's first draft looks promising, though passing on Justin Smoak still looks questionable. The farm system could take a while to improve. The Astros desire to continue to try and contend for the playoffs certainly doesn't help.
Prospect to watch: Samuel Gervacio, RP. Gervacio has put up excellent numbers in the minors and has good stuff to back up his stats. He could be a closer sleeper this year if anything happens to Jose Valverde.
28. Washington Nationals, NPV: $71.5 million
Strengths: Jordan Zimmerman has looked really good so far. They have an intriguing group of younger prospects with breakout potential. Jack McGeary has shown promise and will now be pitching full time.
Weaknesses: Big drop off after Zimmerman. Still looking for a few prospects to take the next step. Lacking talented middle infield prospects.
Looking forward: The legend of Stephen Strasburg continues to grow each day, including potential record bonus demands. With two top ten picks in this year's draft, Washington's farm system could take a big leap forward next year.
Prospect to watch: Derek Norris, C. While raw as a catcher defensively, Norris has a polished approached with solid power.
27. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, NPV: $74.76 million
Strengths: Jordan Walden broke out last year. A few young arms like Trevor Reckling and Mason Tobin showed interesting potential.
Weaknesses: Very poor depth and talent with position prospects. Nick Adenhart really struggled with his command last year.
Looking forward: Los Angeles has two first round picks and two supplemental first round picks next year, which should give the farm system a nice boost.
Prospect to watch: Will Smith, SP. A nice find by the Angels, Smith is an advanced arm who shows a great feel for pitching. He could move quickly and projects as a mid-rotation starter.
26. Chicago Cubs, NPV: $78.32 million
Strengths: Jeff Samardjiza finally broke out last year. Josh Vitters still shows excellent hitting skills. A good-looking 2008 draft, so far, produced a nice sleeper in Jay Jackson.
Weaknesses: Not much immediate impact help after Samardjiza. Drafts haven't produced much over the last few years. No lefty pitching to speak of.
Looking forward: The Cubs are in a win-now mode and attempted to trade for Jake Peavy in the offseason. Prospects could very easily be moved in the right deal.
Prospect to watch: Ryan Flaherty, SS. A first round supplemental pick last year, Flaherty offers a solid bat but like won't be able to stay at short. He should hit fine next year as we learn more about where he will eventually play.
25. San Diego Padres, NPV: $80.84 million
Strengths: Good depth after loading up on college hitters in their latest draft. Showed aggression in last year's international market.
Weaknesses: Lack high upside talent. Matt Antonelli had a season to forget. Could use some up the middle talent.
Looking forward: San Diego's 2008 was a complete disaster. Having the number three pick in this year's draft will help. It would be nice to see them mix in up some high risk, high upside talent in the draft. Trading Jake Peavy would also help rejuvenate the farm system.
Prospect to watch: James Darnell, 3B. Darnell offers the solid approach at the plate that the Padres like to see with their hitters. He also adds some intriguing tools, with above-average power and speed.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks, NPV: $82.78 million
Strengths: Jarrod Parker has looked like a pretty good pick so far. They have good pitching depth behind him.
Weaknesses: Don't have many position player prospects as there is a huge dropoff after Gerardo Parra. The Diamondbacks have drafted very conservatively the past few years.
Looking forward: Trades and major league graduation have really thinned out the farm system the past few years. Having the number 16 and 17 picks in this year's draft should help.
Prospect to watch: Trevor Harden, SP/RP. It looks like the Diamondbacks may try Harden out as a starter, though he may end up profiling better as a reliever. With a good fastball/slider combo, Harden has the stuff for either role.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers, NPV: $84.71 million
Strengths: James McDonald contributed to the Dodgers' postseason success. The 2008 draft has looked good so far, including Devaris Gordon, who was a nice scouting find.
Weaknesses: Poor depth, mostly due to major league graduation. Ivan DeJesus will likely miss most of the year.
Looking forward: The Dodgers consistently produced top notch farm systems under Logan White. With a lot of that talent now in the majors, it remains to be seen if Tim Hallgren can reproduce White's success.
Prospect to watch: Josh Lindblom, SP. A closer in college, the Dodgers will try out Lindblom as a starter. He has very good stuff and could move quickly through the system.
22. Chicago White Sox, NPV: $94.73 million
Strengths: Did a nice job adding impact prospects, with four prospects in the top 100. Gordan Beckham has done nothing but hit so far.
Weaknesses: Not much after their top four prospects. Some intriguing pitching prospects, but they all have questions marks.
Looking forward: The White Sox have done a nice job improving their talent towards the top of their system. Now they need to work to add more depth to the system.
Prospect to watch: Dexter Carter, SP. Carter was a nice 13th round find in last year's draft. He struggled in college but may have figured things out with the White Sox, as he has shown the potential for two plus pitches.
21. Cincinnati Reds, NPV: $95.57 million
Strengths: Have a fairly deep system, involving a mix of different skill sets. Have shown the willingness to invest in young international talent.
Weaknesses: Weak pitching depth. Lost a lot of high end talent due to graduations.
Looking forward: The number eight pick should help the Reds get an impact type prospect. With a lot of talent moving to the majors lately, the Reds farm system is in a bit of a transition stage.
Prospect to watch: Zach Stewart, RP. Moved to the bullpen as a pro, Stewart can now focus on using his two plus pitches to go after hitters. Stewart could move very quickly in 2009.
20. New York Mets, NPV: $98.56 million
Strengths: Continue to do a great job of finding international talent. Wilmer Flores rocketed up prospect lists. Brad Holt had an excellent debut.
Weaknesses: Lack depth in system. More immediate pitching help, except for Jon Niese, will come through relief pitchers.
Looking forward: The Mets typically adhere to slotting rules in the draft and lost their first round pick by signing Francisco Rodriguez. While Niese is the only major prospect who is at risk of losing his prospect status, the Mets will need some prospects to take some steps forward to avoid dropping down.
Prospect to watch: Reese Havens, SS/2B. While Havens was the Mets first draft pick in 2008, he has been jumped by Brad Holt by most prospect evaluators. He provides good secondary skills at the plate, and while he likely won't stay at shortstop, he could profile nicely as an offensive second baseman. I wouldn't be surprised to see Havens jump back over Holt in next year's prospect lists.
19. Colorado Rockies, NPV: $109.39 million
Strengths: Good talent at the front, led by Dexter Fowler. Christian Friedrich is looking like a steal.
Weaknesses: Talent level drops off quickly after top four prospects. Casey Weathers will miss the 2009 season.
Looking forward: The Rockies are another team that has lost some talent to the majors. Fowler and Jhoulys Chacin could move on to the majors so the Rockies will need a good draft to keep up with graduations.
Prospect to watch: Charlie Blackmon, OF. A senior sign, Blackmon is raw but possesses tools not typically seen from college seniors. He's raw at the plate but has a lot of potential if he can figure things out.
18. Philadelphia Phillies, NPV: $109.87 million
Strengths: Good depth, able to put four prospects in the top 100. Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor had great 2008 seasons. Toolsy players drafted provide a lot of potential.
Weaknesses: Pitching talent falls off quickly after Carlos Carrasco. Drafting style means a lot of prospects with risk.
Looking forward: With Carrasco and Jason Donald both having a chance to graduate and the loss of their first round pick, a lot will depend on how the Phillies' lower level prospects develop.
Prospect to watch: Kyle Drabek, SP. After recovering through Tommy John surgery in 2008, Drabek should be fully healthy for the 2009 season. He has some of the best stuff in the Phillies' system and could really take off if healthy.
17. New York Yankees, NPV: $110.74 million
Strengths: Two top hitting prospects in Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero. Lots of pitching depth behind them.
Weaknesses: After Jackson and Montero there is not much hitting depth. Pitchers all have question marks.
Looking forward: The Yankees lose their top three draft choices because of their free agent signings, though they do pick up a second rounder after failing to sign Scott Bittle. A lot could depend on how aggressive the Yankees are going after potential over slot draftees.
Prospect to watch: Jairo Heredia, SP. The youngster handled low-A ball as an 18 year old. Still has some things he needs to work on but the future is bright.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates, NPV: $113.15 million
Strengths: Two elite hitting prospects in Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. Jose Tabata played great after coming over in the Xavier Nady trade. Were able to add additional talent by trading Jason Bay.
Weaknesses: Huge drop off after top three prospects. Pitching needs a lot of work. Daniel Moskos had a very disappointing year.
Looking forward: The new Pirates' management continues to make progress with the farm system as they spent money to go get Pedro Alvarez. McCutchen could move on to the majors in 2009 and Alvarez soon after. Continuing to go after top draft talent will definitely help.
Prospect to watch: Robbie Grossman, OF. An above slot signee taken in the 6th round, Grossman had first round potential going into the 2008 draft before having a poor senior season. He still possesses good hitting tools, though he may end up being a tweener.
Next time, we'll finish up the farm system rankings and reveal the top farm system in all of baseball (hint: it is an AL West team).
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.