Mid-Season Farm System Reports: AL East

Mid-Season Farm System Reports: AL East

The following are mid-season farm system reports for the AL East. 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.

Baltimore Orioles
System Rank: Bottom 10
System Trend: →

Coming into 2010, I considered the Orioles an intriguing sleeper in the AL East because I thought they were about to see dividends from an approach aimed at acquiring talent. Unfortunately, things did not work out. The primary cause of the disappointment was the Orioles’ seemingly intriguing pitching prospects (Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, etc) failing to break through in the major leagues. The Orioles have a number of quality young players on their mlb roster, but in the farm system, the talent could stand to improve. The team’s best prospect is Manny Machado. Machado, the third selection in last year’s draft, has been impressive in his first minor league season, and ideally, will develop into a solid offensive-minded shortstop. Besides Machado, the team has several other reasonably-intriguing hitters in Jonathan Schoop, LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery, etc. In the 2011 draft, the team used its first round pick to improve its pitching by selecting Oklahoma HS standout Dylan Bundy. Bundy will be Baltimore’s best prospect behind Machado upon signing. Baltimore is in a difficult situation because it appears the team must wait longer than expected to compete in the AL East.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Manny Machado
2. Dylan Bundy
3. Jonathan Schoop
4. LJ Hoes
5. Xavier Avery
6. Jason Esposito
7. Nick Delmonico
8. Trent Mummey
9. Bobby Bundy
10. Mychal Givens

Boston Red Sox
System Rank: Top 10-15
System Trend: ↗

The Red Sox do an excellent job competing for the World Series every season without neglecting their future. Boston uses some of its substantial resources to aggressively acquire amateur talent, which allows the team to operate one of the league’s consistently better farm systems. I like how Boston drafts a nice combination of collegiate players who have fallen in the draft (Ranaudo and Brentz last year… Bradley this year) and elite high school players the Red Sox are willing to sign overslot. The strength of Boston’s system is its depth. Boston is one of the few teams where a prospect-watcher can go through every position on the diamond and easily discuss potential major leaguers in the system. The system ranked as average after the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but because of its depth, breakouts inevitably occurred. One of the leading breakouts is 3B Will Middlebrooks, who increased his value by improving his numbers upon reaching AA. The Red Sox also received a breakout season from Bryce Brentz, who has bounced back from a disappointing 2010 season. It is encouraging Boston’s affiliate in Greenville has multiple sleepers like Brandon Jacobs, Miles Head, Xander Boagerts, Season Coyle, etc. The pitching in Boston’s system is a little thinner, but the team used its first pick in the 2011 draft on Matt Barnes, a talented pitcher from UConn. Boston is a well-run franchise and should remain successful in the future.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Anthony Ranaudo
2. Will Middlebrooks
3. Bryce Brentz
4. Matt Barnes
5. Jose Iglesias
6. Ryan Lavarnway
7. Felix Doubront
8. Jackie Bradley, Jr.
9. Blake Swihart
10. Brandon Jacobs/Garin Cecchini

New York Yankees
System Rank: Middle-of-the-Pack
System Trend: ↘

The Yankees operate their system a little differently than the Red Sox. The Yankees have the resources to dominate the amateur market, but in recent drafts, they have tended to avoid spending heavily, instead relying on good scouting and compiling talent on the international market. At this point, the system’s strength is its starting pitching, lead by Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and respectable depth. While Jesus Montero remains an excellent prospect, his numbers in AAA this season could be better. One encouraging sign is three of the main hitters the Yankees drafted last season (Mason Williams, Cito Culver, and Angelo Gumbs) are performing well in the NY Penn League. Plus, first rounder Dante Bichette, Jr. signed early and is off to a solid start in the GCL (like the 23:18 K-BB rate). The Yankees have a lot of talent on their mlb roster, so they can afford to be patient. But with all their resources, I think they should be more aggressive spending because the relative cost for the Yankees to build an elite farm system is not particularly high.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Jesus Montero
2. Manny Banuelos
3. Dellin Betances
4. Gary Sanchez
5. Austin Romine
6. Mason Williams
7. Slade Heathcott
8. Cito Culver
9. Angelo Gumbs
10. Brett Marshall/Dante Bichette/JR Murphy

Tampa Bay Rays
System Rank: Top 5
System Trend: ↑

The Rays are the most well-run franchise in baseball, which allows them to compete against teams with larger payrolls. As always, their farm system is excellent. Desmond Jennings had a solid season, and thus far, is performing well after reaching the major leagues. Matt Moore looked great this season in AA. Beyond Moore, they have excellent pitching depth. In the draft this season, they added to this talent pool with an incredible number of first-round picks. I could literally write pages about this franchise because there are so many interesting prospects, strategies, etc. But in short, the Rays should remain competitive for a long, long time.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Matt Moore
2. Hak-Ju Lee
3. Alexander Colome
4. Alex Torres
5. Josh Sale
6. Chris Archer
7. Tim Beckham
8. Taylor Guerrieri
9. Enny Romero
10. Mikie Mahtook/Drew Vettleson

Toronto Blue Jays
System Rank: Top 5
System Trend: ↑

The Blue Jays are starting to compete for best-run franchise in baseball. In a very short time, they have compiled an incredible amount of young talent which will hopefully enable them to compete in the AL East. The system’s best prospect is Brett Lawrie, an mlb-ready infielder who should succeed if he can find a position. Beyond Lawrie, the system does not necessarily have another unanimous “5 star” prospect. However, starting just outside our Top 50, the list becomes loaded with Blue Jays including Travis D’Arnaud, Deck McGuire, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony Gose, Drew Hutchinson, etc. At this point, the Blue Jays have done a great job acquiring a large amount of amateur talent capable of major league success. Now, they must turn that elite potential into major league results. The front office has done a terrific job improving this franchise, and with some good fortune, their efforts should pay dividends in the not-so-distant future.

Top 10 Prospects
1. Brett Lawrie
2. Travis D’Arnaud
3. Deck McGuire
4. Jake Marisnick
5. Anthony Gose
6. Henderson Alvarez
7. Carlos Perez
8. Drew Hutchinson
9. Daniel Norris
10. Nestor Molina