2012 Baseball Farm System Rankings
I have never done formal farm system rankings before. People have asked me to do it constantly over the years, but I guess I read too much post-modern stuff in college and the idea of saying "this farm system is better than that farm system" never appealed to me outside of generalities.
By this I mean, everyone knows the Blue Jays farm system (one of the best) is better than the Marlins farm system (one of the worst), but an actual ranking of all 30 teams in "order" never interested me.
One could say with a great measure of accuracy that the Padres and Rangers have better farm systems than the Astros and White Sox, but saying that "the Athletics are 11th and the Pirates are 12th" was a statement containing within it so many subjective assumptions that it could not possibly be considered objectively true.
Nevertheless, over the years, various readers have taken my letter grades and generated farm system rankings from those grades. Community member DougDirt has done a lot of work with this the last few years. Doug has put a ton of thought into this and I applaud his efforts.
Community member Backtocali worked up a similar list using a different set of assumptions.
Again, I applaud his efforts. They both spent a lot of time and effort on these rankings and I greatly appreciate what they've done.
There is obviously a huge amount of interest in these kinds of lists, so despite my misgivings, I decided "what the hell" and have worked up a list of my own. There is a mathematical component that plays into this, similar to what Doug and Cali did although based on slightly different assumptions. However, the following list is not based solely on a formula, and some teams were moved up or down a few notches for various reasons.
The list tries to find a balance between everything. Both high-end impact talent and overall depth are considered. I probably consider depth more than some other analysts. I've been working on this list for about a week and I could tinker with it forever, but it's time to get things moving, so here goes.
1) Toronto Blue Jays: Eight B+ prospects with ridiculous depth behind them.
2) San Diego Padres: Incredible depth after the winter trades pushes this system almost to the top.
3) Texas Rangers: Continues to churn out talent, with much more percolating at the lower levels. I do not give the Rangers farm system credit for Yu Darvish. They would rank number one if I gave them credit for Darvish, but in my mind that is unfair to the other teams: I see him as a major league free agent, not a prospect.
4) Seattle Mariners: Jesus Montero plus three elite pitching prospects and others who can improve.
5) St. Louis Cardinals: They don't get talked about as much as other teams, but they have a Grade A prospect in Shelby Miller and a lot of pitching depth behind him. I think this system is underrated.
6) Kansas City Royals: They slipped from last year's top spot, showing the volatility of pitching prospects, but heavy investments in draft and foreign players should continue to show dividends.
7) Tampa Bay Rays: Impact depth behind Matt Moore has slipped but this is still a robust organization.
8) Atlanta Braves: Lots of pitching at the top, but they need more hitters.
9) Arizona Diamondbacks: Another system with lots of pitching but not much hitting, even more extreme than Atlanta.
10) Oakland Athletics: Trades helped this system a lot, would have ranked much lower otherwise.
11) Boston Red Sox: Large group of B- types who can improve. Hitting stronger than pitching at this point.
12) Pittsburgh Pirates: Heavy draft investments slowly-but-steadily raising the talent level in this system.
13) Colorado Rockies: Middle of the pack at this stage, two definite impact talents and a large group of C+ types who can improve.
14) Washington Nationals: The big trade with Oakland tore the top off this farm system. You still have Bryce Harper and some interesting players in the B- range. Would have ranked much higher without the trade.
15) New York Mets: Solid depth in pitching, especially at the top with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia.
16) New York Yankees: You can make a case to rank them as high as 12 or 13. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are strong Grade B prospects for me and there is a nice balance between hitting and pitching.
17) Minnesota Twins: Another middle of the pack organization, fairly balanced between hitting and pitching, some potential regulars with several solid role players.
18) Los Angeles Angels: Not terrible, there is some depth behind Mike Trout but a lot of questions, too, and most of the tool-heavy bets in recent drafts haven't paid off as well as Trout has.
19) Baltimore Orioles: You have Machado and Bundy at the top but it falls off quickly after that.
20) Chicago Cubs: Another middle-of-the-pack system with a lot of B-/C+ type prospects. Could rank much higher next year if some of the lower-level guys pan out.
21) Cincinnati Reds: Heart of this system torn out by Mat Latos trade but there is enough at the lower levels that I think they can recharge quickly.
22) Los Angeles Dodgers: Some intriguing pitching depth, much of it fairly close to the majors, but not much hitting.
23) Detroit Tigers: Thins out very quickly after and Nick Castellanos.
24) Philadelphia Phillies: There is some interesting pitching but tools guys not developing as hoped.
25) Houston Astros: Gradually improving, and there are several players at the lower levels with a chance to develop. Could rank much higher a year from now.
26) San Francisco Giants: This system has thinned out but is not hopeless. Pitching needs a recharge.
27) Cleveland Indians: Of all the teams ranked low, the Indians have the greatest chance to improve in the coming years. There is a lot of talent at the lower levels, but most of it is in the C+ or "Grade C with higher potential" category right now because it is so far away. It would not surprise me to see the Indians in the Top 10 by 2014.
28) Milwaukee Brewers: There is some talent on the pitching side but hitting looks thin.
29) Miami Marlins: Relatively even balance between hitting and pitching, but not a lot of impact coming up.
30) Chicago White Sox: You have two B+ pitching prospects in Addison Reed and Nestor Molina and some other raw materials for a decent bullpen. Hitting is a disaster. I like Tyler Saladino but I have huge doubts about their other hitting prospects.