Mid-Season Farm System Reports: NL East

Mid-Season Farm System Reports: NL East

The following are mid-season farm system reports. Instead of going team-by-team, I decided to publish by division. The players eligible are currently in the minor leagues, and I also assume that the 2011 draftees will sign. The following provides a brief report of each team’s system, and a quickly-created list of the team’s Top 10 prospects. Hopefully, it will provide some good feedback about players we should consider and/or players we have listed too high or too low.

Atlanta Braves
System Rank: Top 10
System trend: ↘

The Braves’ system has been one of the best in baseball for the past two decades. Unlike teams who built top systems investing heavily in bonuses, the Braves’ strength was scouting and player development. The upper-levels of the Braves’ system remains excellent, lead by a group of pitching prospects (Teheran, Minor, Delgado, and Vizcaino) rivaling any team in baseball. But once those prospects graduate, it could be the first time in recent memory the Braves’ system doesn’t look that great. Last season’s first round pick Matt Lipka is struggling this season, they didn’t seem to add that much in the draft, and there haven’t been too many breakouts in the lower-levels of their system. But the Braves likely have more talent than it appears. First, the lower-levels are not totally devoid of talent.  For example, besides Lipka, they have three high-potential infielders in Andrealton Simmons, Edward Salcedo, and Tyler Pastronicky. Second, the Braves’ consistent success finding talent makes me think they have some future major leaguers I am yet to identify.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Julio Teheran
2. Mike Minor
3. Randall Delgado
4. Arodys Vizcaino
5. Edward Salcedo
6. Matt Lipka
7. Andrelton Simmons
8. Christian Bethancourt
9. JJ Hoover
10. Tyler Pastornicky

Florida Marlins
System Rank: Bottom 10
Trend: ↓

For years, the Marlins were one of the best teams in baseball at finding and developing players, which has allowed them to field a consistently competitive team on a limited payroll. The farm system ranked low to start the season, which did not concern me considering a large number of elite prospects graduated (Stanton, Sanchez, Morrison). Like Atlanta (see above), I was so confident in the Marlins’ ability to develop players I expected a bunch of breakouts this season from players I had not discovered. But at this point, it’s hard not be a little concerned because it seems the talent at the lower levels is not where it needs to be for a low-budget team that will need help from the farm system. The system has a solid MLB-ready prospect in Matt Dominguez, a good pitching prospect in Chad James, and Christian Yelich looks like a decent selection from last year’s draft. Kyle Jensen has produced solid numbers this season, and even though Marcell Ozuna has not been productive, he offers a great deal of upside. While I would rank this system low, the Marlins have a great track record and it would not surprise me to see the system improve in the near future.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Jose Fernandez
2. Matt Dominguez
3. Chad James
4. Christian Yelich
5. Marcell Ozuna
6. Kyle Jensen
7. Rob Rasmussen
8. Jhan Marinez
9. Jake Smolinski
10. Adam Conley

New York Mets
System Rank: Middle of the Pack
Trend: ↗

The Mets came into the season with an interesting dynamic, as the new front office inherited a large number of raw, high-upside players acquired by the previous regime. At this point, 2011 has gone reasonably well. The primary bright spots have been breakouts from Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey. The Mets also have a number of high-upside hitting prospects like Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn, etc. The primary negative was losing Jennry Mejia when he was about to help their rotation. In the draft, the team added a high-upside outfielder in Brandon Nimmo. It’s hard to say how this system will look in five years. There are a lot of potentially productive players, but since many of the high upside guys are speculative, it’ll take time to see how it turns out. On the whole, I think the new front office has the Mets headed in the right direction.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Matt Harvey
2. Wilmer Flores
3. Jeurys Familia
4. Reese Havens
5. Jennry Mejia
6. Brandon Nimmo
7. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
8. Cesar Puello
9. Jordany Valdespin
10. Cory Vaughn/Darrell Ceciliani

Philadelphia Phillies
System Rank: Middle of the Pack
Trend: →

There is a great book about the Phillies’ scouting called “Dollar Sign on the Muscle.” What amazes me is—twenty years after that book—it doesn’t seem the Phillies’ basic strategy has changed too much. They are not huge spenders, but they have been blessed with a group of scouts who are extremely effective at locating high-upside players. The current system is respectable, and the primary reason it doesn’t rank higher is they traded many of their prospects. The bright side of the system has been terrific seasons from Trevor May and Jarred Cosart. They’ve also gotta be reasonably happy with the performance of Sebastian Valle, even though the k:bb needs to improve. On the downside, Jonathan Singleton struggled to start the season, but he has improved recently. It’s also moderately disappointing they haven’t really gotten breakout seasons from some of their high-upside players like Aaron Altherr and Jiwan James.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Jarred Cosart
2. Jonathan Singleton
3. Brody Colvin
4. Trevor May
5. Sebastian Valle
6. Jesse Biddle
7. Domingo Santana
8. Freddy Galvis
9. Phillipe Aumont
10. Cesar Hernandez

Washington Nationals
System Rank: Top 10
Trend: ↑

No team added more elite amateur talent in recent years than the Nationals. Washington had the good fortune of having the first pick in 2009 and 2010, when Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg were available. This season, good fortune perhaps struck again when Anthony Rendon was available with the 6th pick. Rendon started the season with huge hype, and if healthy, the Nationals might have added the best player in the draft for three straight seasons. The team also added high upside collegiate talent in Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin, and Matthew Purke. Purke is a speculative pick, but assuming he’s healthy and willing to sign for a reasonable price, he is a talented pitcher. The other positive sign is the system is building depth. Brad Peacock and AJ Cole are having breakout seasons, and Brad Meyers and Tom Milone are solid starters waiting in AAA. One disappointment is Derek Norris not building on last season’s strong second half performance, but Norris’ numbers could easily improve as he adjusts to AA.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Bryce Harper
2. Anthony Rendon
3. Brad Peacock
4. Derek Norris
5. AJ Cole
6. Alex Meyer
7. Brad Meyers
8. Matthew Purke
9. Chris Marrero
10. Brian Goodwin