Mid-Season Farm System Reports: NL West

Mid-Season Farm System Reports: NL West

The following are mid-season farm system reports for the NL West. Instead of going team-by-team, I decided to publish by division. The players eligible are the players currently in the minor leagues. 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 ranking and/or players we have listed too high or too low.

Arizona Diamondbacks
System Grade: Top 10
System Trend: ↑

It’s been an interesting few years for the Diamondbacks farm system. About five years ago, Arizona had one of the best farm systems in baseball lead by hitters like Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Gonzalez, Conor Jackson, etc. But proving how quickly a system’s prestige can decline, Arizona’s once-elite farm system seemed depleted by 2009. At that point, the team began showing renewed commitment to its system by placing substantial resources in the 2009 draft and trading for young talent. In 2011, the system has come full circle and seems again on the verge of becoming elite. However, unlike the hitting-heavy systems in 2006 and 2007, the 2011 system is lead by its pitching. The team boasts four elite pitching prospects in Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Archie Bradley, and Jarrod Parker. And beyond the “big name” prospects, there is also terrific depth w/ David Holmberg, Anthony Meo, Pat Corbin, Andrew Chafin, etc. The team’s breakout prospect has been 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who proved prospect rankers wrong by repeating his CAL League power surge in a tough transition to AA while actually managing to improve his plate discipline. Ideally, the elite pitching prospects will join the hitters currently in Arizona to form the backbone of an extremely competitive team.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Trevor Bauer
2. Tyler Skaggs
3. Jarrod Parker
4. Archie Bradley
5. Paul Goldschmidt
6. David Holmberg
7. Matthew Davidson
8. Colin Cowgill
9. Pat Corbin
10. Chris Owings

Colorado Rockies
System Rank: Bottom 10
System Trend: ↘

The Rockies have built a successful team by drafting reasonably well, making clever trades, and acquiring a deep group of international prospects at reasonable cost. But the greatest achievement of the Rockies’ system over the past half-decade has been the terrific job they did (with a little help from a humidor) fixing the problem of developing homegrown pitchers who could succeed at Coors Field. The current system is not terrible, but it could stand to improve. The system is balanced in terms of pitching and hitting, but they suffered a few setbacks, most notably Tyler Matzek, who began the season considered by many to be their top prospect, having a disastrous first half. Beyond Matzek, there were several other moderate disappointments such as: (1) Russell Wilson deciding to play football, (2) Peter Tago struggling more than expected his first season, and (3) Wilin Rosario’s AA numbers being below expectation. But there have been some good events, such as terrific performances from Tim Wheeler and Chad Bettis and several underappreciated prospects having productive rookie seasons (especially Nicasio). This “bottom 10” ranking that does not particularly concern me because it is far too early to write off several of their struggling prospects and the team’s willingness to discuss trading Jimenez indicates they are reasonable enough to realize it might be time to take a more pro-active approach to bolstering the system if needed.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Nolan Arenado
2. Wilin Rosario
3. Christian Friedrich
4. Tim Wheeler
5. Chad Bettis
6. Tyler Anderson
7. Kyle Parker
8. Tyler Matzek
9. Peter Tago
10. Peter O’Brien

Los Angeles Dodgers
System Rank: Middle-of-the-pack
System Trend: ↘

The Dodgers have one of the better scouting departments in baseball, lead by scouting director Logan White. In turn, this system is never depleted, especially because the Dodgers have shown a terrific aptitude for finding value in the later rounds of the draft. For example, it says a lot about the Dodgers’ scouts that—of the prospects listed below—seven were acquired at reasonable prices well after the first round. The current system is fairly average, lead by three almost-ready MLB hitters (Gordon, Sands, and Robinson), three solid pitching prospects (Lee, and breakout prospects Webster and Eovaldi), and reasonable depth. The Dodgers’ ability to find value in the later rounds might come in handy if financial limitations constrain the team’s ability to invest in players. Despite the current talent not being great, with the current group in place, there are no long-term concerns regarding the Dodgers’ ability to find and develop players.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Zach Lee
2. Dee Gordon
3. Allen Webster
4. Trayvon Robinson
5. Jerry Sands (almost graduated)
6. Nathan Eovaldi
7. Chris Reed
8. Garrett Gould
9. Chris Withrow
10. Jake Lemmerman/Alfredo Silverio

San Diego Padres
System Rank: Top 10 (maybe just outside)
System Trend: ↗

The Padres have been very aggressive in trying to create a deep system featuring an impressive combination of hitting, pitching, proximity, and upside. This season has been a mix of ups and downs w/ breakouts bolstering the system despite disappointing performances from several top prospects. In terms of pitchers, Casey Kelly has shown less improvement than expected during his second season in AA, while Simon Castro is having a rough year. But the Padres must be encouraged Keyvious Sampson has pitched well. In terms of hitters, the strength of the Padres’ system has seemingly shifted from OF to IF. For example, top OF prospects Jaff Decker, Reymond Fuentes, and Donavan Tate all reduced their values to varying degrees for different reasons (less so Fuentes). On the other hand, 3B has been a surprising position of strength as the team received breakout seasons from James Darnell, Jedd Gyorko, and Edinson Rincon. The team took a gamble selecting Corey Spangenberg with the 10th pick in this year’s draft, but it’s looking like a solid decision as Spangenberg signed early and has gotten off to a terrific start.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Casey Kelly
2. James Darnell
3. Jedd Gyorko
4. Jaff Decker
5.  Keyvious Sampson
6.  Corey Spangenberg
7. Reymond Fuentes
8. Edinson Rincon
9. Blake Tekotte
10. Simon Castro/Donavan Tate

San Francisco Giants
System Rank: Bottom 10
System Trend: ↘

The Giants’ farm system has been consistently underrated by prospect watchers (myself included). Their strength has been the terrific job they have done picking in the first round. For example, their last ten first rounders included: Matt Cain (#25), Tim Lincecum (#10), Madison Bumgarner (#10), Buster Posey (#5), Zack Wheeler (#6), and Gary Brown (#24). In this year’s draft, the team drafted St. John’s SS Joe Panik. The pick surprised me, but looking more closely, I understand the logic because he is a SS with power potential and plate discipline. On the whole, I have to grade this system low again because there does not seem to be much value after Wheeler and Brown. But realistically, the defending champs clearly have a strategy that’s worked (plus this list would look better w/ Brandon Belt), so I would not be too concerned about this team’s ability to remain competitive.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Zach Wheeler
2. Gary Brown
3. Eric Surkamp
4. Joe Panik
5. Francisco Peguero
6. Michael Main
7. Thomas Neal
8. Kyle Crick
9. Jarrett Parker
10. Charlie Culberson/Heath Hembree