Farm system value rankings (Part 4)by Victor Wang
April 15, 2009
Before I jump into the last part of the farm system value rankings series, I want to emphasize that these rankings are only expected values of a farm system's value. These values do not adjust for risk or the distribution of talent in a system. For example, some people might prefer a top-heavy system lacking depth to a deeper system without as much top-end talent. This can be done by factoring in one's risk preference and using basic utility theory. Now, with that being said, let's take a look at the top 15 farm systems in baseball.
15. Seattle Mariners, NPV: $113.6 million
Strengths: Good mix of young talent. Deep at third base. Continue to do great with acquiring international prospects.
Weaknesses: A lot of their prospects are relatively raw. No immediate impact starters on the way. Lack a true lefty starting prospect.
Looking forward: Jack Zduriencik did a great job running drafts in Milwaukee and brought in Tom McNamara to become Seattle's scouting director. With most of their talent being young and a high draft pick in this year's draft, Seattle's farm system has a good chance to move up.
Prospect to watch: Dennis Raben, OF. Raben brings a patient approach with plus power but needs work on making more consistent contact. He could put up some big numbers in the California League next year.
14. Toronto Blue Jays, NPV: $118.34 million
Strengths: Travis Snider is one of the top hitting prospects in baseball. J.P. Arencibia is one of the top catching prospects in the game. They have a few arms that should be able to help quickly.
Weaknesses: Not very deep. Lack high upside arms after Brett Cecil. Still looking for high school hitters from their 2007 draft to produce.
Looking forward: Toronto will have a tough time in the AL East this year. There have already been a few rumors that Roy Halladay may be moved at the deadline this year, which would really help out this farm system. Rebuilding might be the best option given the current state of their team and the competition they face. Travis Snider will almost certainly graduate this year.
Prospect to watch: David Cooper, 1B. Cooper was one of the most polished college bats in last year's draft. While his power projection falls short of the other top first basemen from last year's draft, he should be able to move quickly.
13. Milwaukee Brewers, NPV: $128.52 million
Strengths: System is filled with hitting prospects. Jack Zduriencik was able to add a number of intriguing prospects in his final draft with Milwaukee. System had enough depth to deal Matt Laporta and others to acquire CC Sabathia.
Weaknesses: Pitching is weak as even top pitching prospects have question marks.
Looking forward: Milwaukee may trade some of their surplus of hitting prospects for some pitching help. Next year's farm system will depend a lot on how their 2008 draft prospects perform.
Prospect to watch: Cutter Dykstra, OF. The son of Lenny Dykstra, Cutter has great speed and a good approach at the plate. He's likely maxed out, but he has the tools to profile as an everyday center fielder.
12. Minnesota Twins, NVP: $129.19 million
Strengths: Have two really good outfield prospects in Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere. Wilson Ramos is one of the more underrated catching prospects in the game. Good depth.
Weaknesses: Top prospects at least a year or two away. Could use some more quality infield prospects.
Looking forward: Minnesota continues to a good job with the farm system as the major league team stays competitive. A lot of the top guys in their system will likely remain prospects next year.
Prospect to watch: Shooter Hunt, SP. Hunt can be dominant when he's on with his two plus pitches. He needs work with his control and command, but he's in the right system to improve these.
11. Kansas City Royals, NPV: $136.42 million
Strengths: Two elite hitting prospects in Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Lots of pitching depth behind them.
Weaknesses: Not much depth with hitting prospects after Moustakas and Hosmer. Most of the pitching is young and/or raw.
Looking forward: Moustakas and Hosmer and a lot of the pitchers should remain. The number 12 pick should add another good prospect to the system.
Prospect to watch: Tim Melville, SP. Melville was one of the top high school pitching prospects coming into the 2008 draft but fell to the fourth round. With the chance for three above average pitches, Melville may have the highest upside among Royals' pitchers.
10. St. Louis Cardinals, NPV: $142.72 million
Strengths: Colby Rasmus is one of the top center field prospects in the game. Brett Wallace might be the best pure hitter in the minors. Good depth, especially with relievers and at third base.
Weaknesses: Starting pitching needs improvement. Question marks with middle infield prospects.
Looking forward: Jeff Lunhow has done a nice job improving the system as St. Louis had one of the worst farm systems in the league a few years ago. The system could lose a few players to the majors so they'll need some guys to take steps forward.
Prospect to watch: Adam Reifer, RP. A nice find from college, Reifer has the chance for two plus-plus pitches and could rocket through the minors in 2009.
9. Cleveland Indians, NPV: $145.85 million
Strengths: Carlos Santana is one of the top catching prospects in the game. Pretty good depth. Made multiple above slot signings in last year's draft.
Weaknesses: A lot of their position prospects project to play first base. Could also use some more up the middle talent.
Looking forward: Cleveland continues to do well trading for prospects but has struggled drafting the past few years. They'll need to improve this if they want to keep producing a top-10 farm system.
Prospect to watch: Kelvin de la Cruz, SP. The young, projectable lefty did very well in his full season debut last year. He's a bit raw but has a big upside.
8. Baltimore Orioles, NPV: $157.63 million
Strengths: Matt Wieters is the top prospect in all of baseball. Good pitching depth behind Wieters, led by Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman.
Weaknesses: Hitting talent falls off after Wieters.
Looking forward: Joe Jordan has been little underrated as he has done a great job improving Baltimore's system. While they will likely lose Wieters to the majors, the No. 5 pick should help lessen the blow.
Prospect to watch: L.J. Hoes, 2B. Hoes has a good idea at the plate along with solid power. Converted to second base after being drafted, Hoes needs a lot of work on defense but could end up being a nice offensive second baseman.
7. San Francisco Giants, NPV: $158.35 million
Strengths: Excellent top-level prospects as their top four guys stack up among any organization in the game.
Weaknesses: Solid but not great depth. Big decline with starting pitching prospects after Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson.
Looking forward: The Giants have done an excellent job quickly rebuilding their farm system. With an excellent major league rotation and more pitchers coming, San Francisco could be real dangerous if they could develop some hitters.
Prospect to watch: Conor Gillaspie, 3B. Gillaspie's reminds some of Bill Mueller with his polished approach. He should be able to move quickly and profiles as a solid everyday player.
6. Boston Red Sox, NPV: $158.53 million
Strengths: Lars Anderson is an elite first base prospect. Michael Bowden would be in the big league rotation for most major league teams. Tremendous depth.
Weaknesses: Lots of their prospects could take a few years to develop. Still looking for a catching prospect.
Looking forward: Boston's farm system could go in a lot of different directions with the youth of their farm system. However, with their commitment to the draft, I would expect to keep seeing Boston near the top.
Prospect to watch: Kyle Weiland, SP. A reliever in college, Boston will try out Weiland as a starter. He has the stuff to succeed in the rotation as he works on building up his stamina and improving his command.
5. Tampa Bay Rays, NPV: $180.82 million
Strengths: David Price is the top pitching prospect in baseball. Very deep pitching. Talented prospects at up the middle positions.
Weaknesses: Lack a big time power prospect. Weak at the corner infield positions.
Looking forward: The system is very deep and should stay near the top. How the team drafts without having top draft picks will determine if they are able to keep producing top farm systems.
Prospect to watch: Nick Barnese, SP. Barnese is a polished pitcher who still has some projection remaining. While he has some work left with his secondary pitches, Barnese could be Tampa's best pitching prospect going into 2010.
4. Florida Marlins, NPV: $181.42 million
Strengths: System filled with top hitting prospects as they likely have the best crop of hitting prospects in baseball. Some interesting arms behind their hitters.
Weaknesses: Lack a legitimate shortstop prospect. Starting pitching could use some improvement.
Looking forward: Cameron Maybin will likely graduate in 2009, but the rest of Florida's top prospects have a good chance of remaining on the list. Look for Florida to focus on pitching in the near future.
Prospect to watch: Issac Galloway, OF. Galloway is loaded with tools but is raw at the plate. He'll need some time in the minors, but he has a big ceiling.
3. Texas Rangers, NPV: $191.06 million
Strengths: Excellent high-end talent with seven top-100 prospects. Terrific pitching depth.
Weaknesses: Not much at third or the corner outfield.
Looking forward: Texas has done an excellent job rebuilding their farm system. A big test will be how they develop this talent in the majors as they've had trouble establishing pitching prospects in the past.
Prospect to watch: Robbie Ross, SP. Ross is a small, left handed pitcher but has big time stuff. Texas may take it slow with Ross, but he has the repertoire to move fast.
2. Atlanta Braves, NPV: $197.99 million
Strengths: Arguably the top 1-2 prospect combo with Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson. Two top center field prospects. Lots of lefty pitching.
Weaknesses: They're a bit weak at catcher.
Looking forward: Atlanta continues to do well with scouting and player development. They'll likely lose Hanson and Jordan Schafer to the majors but have a few pitchers who could shoot up the prospect lists along with the number seven pick in the draft.
Prospect to watch: Cole Rohrbough, SP. A nice draft-and-follow find by Atlanta, only Tommy Hanson has better stuff in the Braves' system. He needs some more work with his command but could easily rocket up the Braves' system with his stuff.
1. Oakland Athletics, NPV: $200.7 million
Strengths: Ridiculous pitching depth. Tied Texas with seven prospects in the top 100. Good hitting depth as well.
Weaknesses: Lack a top-notch hitting prospect. Weak at third base.
Looking forward: Oakland quickly went from having one of the weaker farm systems to having the best in the game. We'll see if Oakland is tempted to trade a few prospects if they're in contention come July. Sustaining this level of depth could be difficult, especially with a few prospects likely to graduate this year.
Prospect to watch: Jemile Weeks, 2B. The brother of Rickie Weeks, Jemile is a better defender than his brother and has surprising pop for his size with a good approach at the plate.
References and Resources
Prospect rankings for non top 100 prospects came from John Sickels.
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.