Deep Leagues’ Farm System Rankings Part VI: Teams 1-5

Deep Leagues’ Farm System Rankings Part VI: Teams 1-5

This concludes our rankings.  We went a little more quickly on the final rankings because this process was more time-consuming than anticipated…

5.  Cleveland Indians—the Indians’ farm system has been bolstered by an increased focus on the draft and several recent “rebuilding” trades.  Despite the graduation of Carlos Santana, the system remains strong.  The system offers no “super-elite” prospect, but they have a great deal of depth, lead by 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Nick Weglarz, 2B Jason Kipnis, and P Alex White.  Each of the aforementioned players had excellent performances this season solidifying their status as “top 100” (possibly top 50) prospects.  The system also offers a plethora of near-ready major league pitchers offering solid upside, such as Nick Hagadone, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, and Hector Rondon.  However, the team’s #2 pitching prospect behind White is arguably Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, who the team drafted with the 5th overall selection.   The team also grabbed several good players in the later rounds, including San Diego Pitcher Kyle Blair and California Prep SS Tony Wolters.  The Tribe made a substantial investment on C Alex Lavisky, signing him to a $1 million bonus, and were able to sign Levon Washington, a first rounder last year, for $1.2 million.

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Lonnie Chisenhall
  2. Alex White
  3. Jason Kipnis
  4. Drew Pomeranz
  5. Nick Weglarz
  6. Carlos Carrasco
  7. Jason Knapp
  8. Nick Hagadone
  9. Kelvin De La Cruz
  10. Tony Wolters

4.  Boston Red Sox—It speaks to the talent in their organization that the system ranks third despite everything seemingly going wrong this year.  Casey Kelly was less than stellar this season in the Eastern League; Cuban SS Jose Iglesias was only average with the bat; a potentially lethal brain disorder sidelined top prospect Ryan Westmoreland for the season; Lars Anderson struggled after showing early-season promise; Josh Reddick failed to take advantage of injuries to establish himself in the majors; etc.  There were positives, however, most notably impressive performances by P’s Felix DuBront and Stolmy Pimentel, and 1B Anthony Rizzo.  Furthermore, after several disappointing seasons, 3B Will Middlebrooks finally starting showing his potential.  Finally, OF Reymond Fuentes, the Red Sox’s first-rounder last season, had a good season in A ball for a player his age.  The Red Sox spent heavily in this year’s draft, going after several collegiate players who fell to them in the late-first round.  Power hitting OF Bryce Brentz has struggled initially while reports on Kolbrin Vitek have also been mediocre.   The Red Sox also invested heavily in Garin Checcini, a Louisiana prep product who would have been drafted much higher but for an early-season injury.  The Red Sox also signed Texas Pitcher Brandon Workman, who many saw as a clear first rounder, at a discount price after he fell to them in the supplemental round.  Former LSU Ace Anthony Ranaudo fell to the Red Sox in the supplemental round, and Boston gambled giving him a $2.55 million bonus after he dominated the cape league.  With this much talent in the organization, despite things not going perfectly, it’s impossible to rank the Red Sox outside the top 5.  However, the main knock against the organization is the lack of a clear “five star” prospect.

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Casey Kelly
  2. Anthony Rizzo
  3. Stolmy Pimentel
  4. Jose Iglesias
  5. Anthony Ranaudo
  6. Reymond Fuentes
  7. Kolbrin Vitek
  8. Ryan Lavarnway
  9. Lars Anderson
  10. Will Middlebrooks

3.  Atlanta Braves—No team besides Kansas City and Tampa Bay boasts a group of pitching prospects comparable to Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizquaino.  All of these pitchers are unanimously rated as top 100 prospects.  The team’s best position prospect is 1B Freddie Freeman, who despite having some growing pains in AAA, projects as an excellent first baseman.  Catcher Christian Bethancourt also offers substantial upside.  Beyond the aforementioned players, the Braves’ remaining prospects (Adam Milligan, Cody Johnson, Zeke Spruill, Brett Olberholtzer) don’t seem particularly exciting, but they represent the type of players that epitomize the organization success strategy over the past 20 years.  In the 2010 draft, the Braves used their first two selections on Matt Lipka and Todd Cunningham, two players who were slightly lesser regarded who are nevertheless off to impressive debuts in their respective professional careers.

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Freddie Freeman
  3. Randall Delgado
  4. Arodys Vizcaino
  5. Mike Minor
  6. Christian Bethancourt
  7. Brett Oberhultzer
  8. Matt Lipka
  9. Edward Salcedo
  10. Zeke Spruill

2. Tampa Bay Rays—in addition to the elite young pitching the Rays offer at the major league level, Tampa’s farm system offers one of the best group of pitching prospects in baseball.  The best prospect is Jeremy Hellickson, a solid starter who emerged as one of the game’s elite prospects.  What impresses me, however, is the level of pitching depth behind Hellickson.  The organization is loaded with pitching prospect including Matt Moore, Alexander Colome, Jake McGee, Alex Torres, Nick Barnese, Kyle Lobstein, and Wikling Rodriguez.  Desmond Jennings—the team’s top hitting prospect—is a top 10 prospect who will gain a starting spot sometime next season.  Unlike the depth behind Hellickson, the quality of position prospects drops significantly after Jennings.  Tim Beckham is still working to justify his #1 overall selection, but he showed some signs of life in A-ball this season.  The team worked to upgrade their offensive prospects in this year’s draft, grabbing two Pacific NW outfielders, Josh Sale and Drew Vettelson, in the first two rounds.  The team also picked up Justin O’Connor, a well-followed prep player from Indiana known for his potential at multiple positions.  Finally, the Rays grabbed Virginia Tech product Jesse Hahn at a good price.  As always, the Rays’ farm system is very good.

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Jeremy Hellickson
  2. Desmond Jennings
  3. Matt Moore
  4. Jake McGee
  5. Alex Colome
  6. Nick Barnese
  7. Wikling Rodriguez
  8. Josh Sale
  9. Tim Beckham
  10. Kyle Lobstein

1. Kansas City Royals—Dayton Moore & Co.’s long-term efforts to rebuild the farm system is about to pay serious dividends.  Almost everything in Kansas City’s farm system went well this season.  Among hitters, the team received breakout seasons from the three of their biggest investments, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, and C Wil Myers, all of whom should be to 20 prospects next season.  On the mound, John Lamb established himself as one of the game’s 10-15 best pitching prospects.  Lamb—along with Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow, Tim Melville, and Noel Arguelles (hopefully)—give the Royals multiple possibilities for bolstering their rotation.  The talent in the outfield is a little thinner, but Derrick Robinson showed enough offensively to emerge as the team’s future leadoff hitter.  In the draft, the team used their first rounder on SS Christian Colon, a talented player who should arrive near the same time as Hosmer and Myers.  Lead by this group, the organization has the potential to return to its best days since “Bo Knows.”

Top 10 Prospects

  1. Mike Moustakas
  2. Eric Hosmer
  3. Wil Myers
  4. Mike Montgomery
  5. John Lamb
  6. Tim Melville
  7. Christian Colon
  8. Danny Duffy
  9. Aaron Crow
  10. Chris Dwyer