Deep Leagues Farm System Rankings IV: Teams 11-15

Deep Leagues Farm System Rankings IV: Teams 11-15

15.  Washington Nationals—like last season, one player clearly ranks at the top of the Nationals’ farm system.  But this season, instead of Stephen Strasburg, the player is 2011 #1 overall pick Bryce Harper, who should enter next season ranked as one of the game’s top prospects.  Behind Harper, Derek Norris came into the season considered one of the game’s best catching prospects, but his status has decreased somewhat primarily due to injuries.  2B Danny Espinoza looks to become a solid major league option by next season.  The system also features several high-upside players at the lower-levels, such as OF Destin Hood.  In the 2010 draft, the team made several substantial investments besides Harper, most giving $2 million to Florida prep pitcher A.J. Cole, who was projected as a top pick several months before the draft.  The team also signed University of San Diego pitcher Sammy Solis to an overslot bonus.  Yuniesky Maya is an intriguing prospect recently signed from Cuba who could be in the team’s rotation next season. 

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Derek Norris
  3. Yuniesky Maya
  4. Wilson Ramos
  5. Danny Espinoza
  6. Michael Burgess
  7. A.J. Cole
  8. Sammy Solis
  9. Destin Hood
  10. Chris Marrero

14.  Colorado Rockies—the Rockies’ system fell slightly this year for various reasons, including graduations and a few mediocre performances from key prospects. The system’s best player is P Tyler Matzek, who had an excellent season, giving the Rockies another potential frontline starter in about 2-3 years.  Behind Matzek, the team offers a bunch of reasonably-close pitching prospects who failed to distinguish themselves in 2010, such as Christian Frederich, Rex Brothers, Esmil Rogers, Casey Weathers, etc.  Offensively, C Wilin Rosario has been a bright spot, as he is having a terrific season highlighted by his impressive defensive performance at the futures game.  Perhaps my favorite prospect in the system is 3B Nolan Arenado, an excellent all-around hitter who should arrive shortly after Matzek.  SS Hector Gomez is a good prospect, but he was limited to only 26 games this season…but he’s worth watching next year.  In this year’s draft, the team managed to sign OF Kyle Parker to a $1.4 million deal allowing him to play football at Clemson this season.  Behind Parker, the team quickly singed second rounder Chad Bettis, who has done an excellent job in his debut season.  The team also reached an agreement where another ACC QB, NC State’s Russell Wilson, who will play baseball for the Rockies while continuing his college football career. 

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Tyler Matzek
  2. Wilin Rosario
  3. Christian Frederich
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Kyle Parker
  6. Rex Brothers
  7. Hector Gomez
  8. Rafael Ortega
  9. Russell Wilson
  10. Chad Bettis

 13.  Chicago Cubs—the Cubs have a decent system lead by OF Brett Jackson, the team’s first round pick last season.  Jackson offers great speed and athleticism and should arrive sometime next season.  SS Hak Ju-Lee, signed from Korea, is an athletic SS who many project will be the team’s SS in 2-3 years, moving Starlin Castro to 2B.  The team’s best pitching prospect is Jay Jackson, a potential mid-rotation starter who should arrive reasonably soon.  The system features a great breakout pitching prospect in Trey McNutt, who despite featuring electric stuff, somehow slipped to Chicago in the late rounds of the 2009 draft.  McNutt should enter next season as a top 100 prospect.  The team took a great deal of criticism for selecting P Hayden Simpson in the first round of this year’s draft.  While the Simpson selection was mildly surprising, it should be noted their next two selections, OF Reggie Golden and C Micah Gibbs, were both considered by some to be “top 50” talents who the Cubs spent extra to sign.  Gibbs has struggled mightily in his debut season, but since I really liked him coming into the draft, stubbornness prevents me from not saying he does not offer solid upside. 

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Brett Jackson
  2. Hak-Ju Lee
  3. Trey McNutt
  4. Jay Jackson
  5. Chris Archer
  6. Josh Vitters
  7. Junior Lake
  8. Chris Rusin
  9. Brett Wallach
  10. Reggie Golden

12.  Cincinnati Reds—despite multiple graduations, I like the Reds’ system because of its position-by-position consistency and its combination long-term prospects and players ready to help immediately.  The team’s best prospect is Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban Left-hander who should assist their bullpen in their playoff run.  Two of the team’s best hitting prospects—C Yasmani Grandal and 1B Yonder Alonso—are also elite Cuban Prospects (both attended college at Miami, however).  Despite Todd Frazier’s struggles this season, I still think he will eventually provide assistance in a utility role.  Former first-rounder Devin Mesorasco re-emerged as one of the game’s better catching prospects.  The team’s international focus brought in several great long-term options, most notably OF Yorman Rodriguez and INF Junior Arias.  In addition to Grandal, two other decent prospect added by the Reds’ are University of Michigan OF Ryan LaMarre and prep pitcher Drew Cisco.

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Yasmani Grandal
  3. Yonder Alonso
  4. Devin Mesorasco
  5. Yorman Rodriguez
  6. Todd Frazier
  7. Zach Cozart
  8. Ryan LaMarre
  9. Brad Boxberger
  10. Junior Arias

Update (8/31): a player who should be included in this top 10 is Billy Hamilton.  I was reading a little about him tonight and I was thoroughly impressed. 

11.  Los Angeles Angels—one of the game’s elite systems for many years is in the process of rebuilding itself, and the progress is coming along nicely.  The team’s best prospect is easily OF Mike Trout, who has been excellent since the Angels selected him in the first round last season.  Beyond Trout, C Hank Conger was impressive at the futures game and appears to be the Angels’ catcher of the future.  Randal Grichuk is an outfielder who could develop into an excellent hitter. Despite including Tyler Skaggs in the trade for Danny Haren, the team features several solid pitching prospects, including Trevor Reckling and Jordan Walden.  The team’s best pitching prospect, however, is Tyler Chatwood, a second rounder from 2008 who has dominated this season between A and AA.  The team’s focus on building their system was emphasized by their performance in this year’s draft, where they used their multiple first-rounders on high-upside prep players such as Cameron Bedrosian, Chevy Clarke, and Kaleb Cowart.  The Angels’ willingness to spend $2.3 million Cowart shows their focus on bringing elite, high-upside players to the organization. 

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Mike Trout
  2. Hank Conger
  3. Trevor Reckling
  4. Randall Grichuk
  5. Garrett Richards
  6. Mark Trumbo
  7. Kaleb Cowart
  8. Tyler Chatwood
  9. Pat Corbin
  10. Chevy Clarke