View Full Version : Organizational Rankings for baseball's minor league system

01-16-2002, 10:48 PM
The Rangers are #2 (http://www.topprospectalert.com/top10/2002teams.shtm)

Top Prospect Alert 2002 Organizational Rankings

By Mark Jerkatis
With the Arizona Fall League in the books and the Winter Leagues well under way, I thought this would be the appropriate time to take a detailed look at the minor leagues before we begin to talk about draft strategy for the upcoming season. This week I will provide an organizational summary, focusing on what teams have the greatest talent in their minor league system. Then over the next few weeks I will take a detailed look at the individual prospects of each organization. Finally in January, I’ll preview the top prospects for the 2002 season.

For those of you who are new to this column, my minor league evaluations stem from statistical analysis of a player’s performance and age relative to the league/level it was achieved. Before you dismiss it as just another list, remember it was this evaluation method that had players like Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Hanck Blalock, Dennis Tankersley, and Chris Snelling rated well higher than most (if not all) of the “experts”, including BBA, entering this season.

A brief word about the organizational rankings…The evaluation method focuses not only on depth of a system, but also on quality. A few weeks back I mentioned research that I had done that showed that a Top 50 prospect becomes an eventual contributor to a major league team about 67% of the time…a Top 100 Prospect - 43% of the time…a Top 300 Prospect only about 16%, and if a player is not a Top 300 Prospect, his odds of contributing at the major league level are less than 10%. Therefore the evaluation method tries determine how many prospect each organization has in each of the above categories and then calculates how many future “contributors”, “stars” and “superstars” will be produced by each system. One final note, the only players considered in this analysis are those players that would still qualify as Major League Rookies in 2002, so players like Adam Dunn and even Rueben Mateo are not considered part of the Reds Minor League organization. The following is a reverse-order look at Minor League organizational strength.

30) Colorado Rockies…With Tsao’s injury and Juan Uribe off to a fine start to his major league career, the Rockies are bereft of top-tier talent, and in fact have no Top 50 players and only 1 Top 100.

29) Milwaukee Brewers…While Nick Neugebauer will enter next year as one of the top Pitching prospects in baseball, there is very little behind him in what is one of the shallowest minor league systems.

28) St. Louis Cardinals…Still haven’t recovered from trades that made them competitive at the major league level. Some top-tier pitching talent, but undoubtedly this is a system even less-deep than the Brewers.

27) Cleveland Indians…Like the Rockies, this is a system with no Top 50 prospects and only 1 Top 100 prospect. They just happen to be a little deeper in middle-tier talent.

26) Cincinnati Reds…This is a system that was rated #3 by BBA at the beginning of last season. But with the arrival of Dunn (and many other players) at the big league level last season, somewhat disappointing 2001 seasons from some of their top prospects and a rather weak draft this past summer the Reds suddenly find themselves looking up at many teams. The biggest problem is they are extremely thin in middle-tier (#100-#300) talent.

25) Oakland Athletics…By using players like Mario Encarnacion and Jose Ortiz to secure major league talent and having poor 2001 showings by other top prospects (see Jason Hart), the Athletics find themselves in the bottom 20% of organizations, with only 1 Top 100 player.

24) Kansas City Royals…An organization that can’t afford to keep it’s home-grown talent, now finds itself with a bottom 25% minor league system. The good news for the Royals is that their very good AA talent is not only strong, but below the Texas League average age.

23) Montreal Expos…It really was only a matter of time before the lack of revenue generated by the big league club was going to hurt the minor league infrastructure. This was a farm system that used to be among the best in the game, but now finds itself much closer to the bottom.

22) Boston Red Sox…The biggest problem with the Red Sox farm system is that most of their top performers are older than their league averages…Oh yeah, and some guy named Duquette traded away some pretty good pitchers in the last few years. Their draft this year was a bit questionable, but there is some talent in the lower minor leagues.

21) Toronto Blue Jays…When arguably your best player is your mid-1st round draft pick this past June, you know things aren’t wonderful. The Blue Jays do boast three top 100 prospects and a lot of marginally talented prospects, but they are lacking any quality middle-tier prospects.

20) Los Angeles Dodgers…A franchise whose minor league system was decimated by Tommy Lasorda’s brief tenure is on the rebound, and the hiring of Danny Evans should only help. They boast four Top 100 prospects and are only lacking middle-tier depth to move up more.

19) Philadelphia Phillies…Players like Marlon Byrd and Eric Valent get most of the press, but the real strength of this system that has two Top 50 and three Top 100 prospects is it’s pitching depth.

18) Anaheim Angels…You have to go back five years to find the last (Troy Glaus) significant hitting prospect in this system. But, in what marks somewhat of a turnaround of this system, three of their five Top 100 prospects are offensive players and they now have put together three straight solid drafts.

17) Tampa Bay Devil Rays…Step forward if your beginning to feel that Josh Hamilton will see more days on the injury list than in the major leagues. While Hamilton is far from the only prospect in this system (four-Top 100), his nagging health questions separate the D-Rays from substantially higher consideration.

16) New York Mets…It’s rare that one franchise has both probably the most overrated (Alex Escobar) and the most underrated prospect (Jose Reyes). Yet both are Top 50 prospects and despite a lack of top-tier pitching (the major league team’s greatest need) prospects (although they have a lot of middle-tier pitchers) the organization has an improving system.

15) Chicago White Sox…It would be really easy to blame Jerry Reinsdorf’s hiring of Kenny Williams over Dan Evans for the rankings fall of this franchise that spent most of the last five years in the top 5. While that decision should still prove out to be a poor one, the reality is that they’ve just promoted too many (Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand, Kip Wells, Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Danny Wright) good prospects to the major league level over the last couple of seasons and are probably just pausing a little to catch their breath for a season, waiting for another waive of talent to develop.

14) New York Yankees…Traditionally one of the more overrated systems over the last few years. The best talent they develop is the ability to hold back their players so that they are a year or two older than their competition, having them put up stats that superficially look impressive, then trading them away and the prospects never reach their “potential”. Looking back at their system over the last five years shows only Mike Lowell, Alfonso Soriano and D’Angelo Jiminez as prospects that have actual produced in the major leagues, yet a Top 5 ranking inevitably follows them around. That said they still have three Top 100 prospects.

13) Arizona Diamondbacks…The Diamondbacks hit rock bottom two years ago when their top prospect (John Patterson) suffered a serious elbow injury from which he has yet to really recover. They were ranked #29 in all of baseball by BBA. But following the lead of their big league club, the minor league system is headed up. Four Top 100 prospects dot the roster.

12) Detroit Tigers…Led by perhaps the best draft class in June’s amateur draft, the Tigers are clawing their way up the ladder. The Tigers boast four Top 100 prospects and one of the deepest group of SS in baseball.

11) Atlanta Braves…My how things change. Once known for the quantity of pitchers it produced, the Braves have fallen behind teams like the Astros, Mariners, White Sox, Padres, and Cubs in regards to pitching depth. By the same token, the Braves couldn’t buy a SS a few years back and now they have solid SS prospects at most every level. Led by the two Top 50 and three Top 100 prospects, this is still a strong system.

10) Pittsburgh Pirates…Injuries have limited the number of Top-tier prospects that this organization has to some extent, but you will find three Top 100 prospects and 14 of the Top 300 here. The pitching is far ahead of the hitting prospects in this organization and its continued philosophy of drafting aggressive hitters who don’t know anything about strike-zone management (Nate McLouth excepted) hurts it, but this is an organization that should see its fortunes rise a bit in the coming years.

9) San Francisco Giants…The first organization on this list with three Top 50 prospects (all pitchers). The system was already improving before it put together one of the better June Drafts. The Giants need Tony Torcato to have big league success because most of their top hitters are too old for their leagues or are in the low minors.

8) Florida Marlins…They may only rank #8 overall, but you’d be hard pressed to find an organization with three better prospects at the top (Beckett, Gonzalez, and Cabrerra). While they have four Top 100 prospects, they only have four more out of the next 200. That lack of depth prevents them from ranking higher.

7) Baltimore Orioles…This ranking probably comes as the biggest surprise on this list, as it was only a year ago that overrated players like Keith Reed and Ntema Ndungi were viewed by many as the top players in this system. Now not only does it have two of the Top 50 prospects and four of the Top 100, but it is one of the deepest organizations in quantity of prospects in Baseball.

6) Houston Astros…The unquestioned leader in “arms” development, the Astros boast two Top 50 and three Top 100 prospects and the deepest list of pitching prospects in the game. The only thing separating the Astros from a higher ranking is the fact that their best hitters are all over-aged for their leagues.

5) Seattle Mariners…Season-long injuries to Ryan Anderson and Antonio Perez probably prevent the Mariners from ranking higher. Chris Snelling remains one of the most underrated prospects in the game and the Mariners count four Top 100 prospects, and a long list of middle-tier pitchers.

4) Minnesota Twins…A system that until Luis Rivas last year had little to show from it, is about to explode. Two straight solid drafts have come on the heels of some more long-term prospects that are just about ready to hit the big leagues leaving this system with three Top 50 prospects, five Top 100 prospects and plenty of depth. It would be no surprise to see as many as five players over the next two years enter the major leagues in Minnesota and become very solid everyday players.

3) San Diego Padres…The top three players in this system (Burroughs, Peavy, and Tankersley) rival any team in baseball. But that’s just part of the story as this organization goes at least ten deep in probable major league players. Lake Elisnore’s rotation this season included Tankersley, Peavy, Eric Cyr, Oliver Perez, and Mark Phillips, all of which may eventual pitch in the majors. Four Top 50 prospects, five in the Top 100 and no less than eleven in the Top 300 make this one of baseballs strongest minor league systems.

2) Texas Rangers…GM Doug Melvin brought this system from the dead to one of the best in the game. ARod should soon have plenty of talent surrounding him and some of it should show up as early as next year. The organization sports four Top 50 prospects, six Top 100 and an amazing 18 in the Top 300. If you look out towards the 2003 opening day roster you conceivably find 7 of the 9 hitting positions occupied with homegrown talent that have less than three years of major league experience. Pitching is still not the strongest area of the organization, but it certainly is not as shallow as it once was.

1) Chicago Cubs…What happens when you take one of the three strongest minor league systems and add to it the best player from June’s draft? You end up with the best minor league system in baseball. The thing about the Cubs system is not the four Top 50 prospects or six Top 100 prospects. It’s when most organizations go about thirty deep with players that could potentially be called prospects, the Cubs have close to sixty, 20% more than the Orioles who come in second. When you scan the list to count players that you would reasonably expect to be in the majors within the next three years, you have to go more than a dozen deep to get to the question marks. And perhaps the greatest strength lies in the overall balance of the system…Not only is the pitching among the best in the game, but potential major league players exist at every position except perhaps 3B and the talent stretches from AAA to Boise where the five starting pitchers posted a combined 2.85ERA, 1.15WHIP and 8.0K/9IP and OF, JJ Johnson was named the league’s Top Prospect.

Flying Tiger
01-16-2002, 10:57 PM
...and who beats them out? The mighty Cubbies!

01-16-2002, 11:02 PM
<< ...and who beats them out? The mighty Cubbies! >>

They've gotta be #1 at SOMETHING...

Flying Tiger
01-16-2002, 11:11 PM
what, you mean besides the National League Central this season?

01-16-2002, 11:12 PM
My granny had a saying &quot;even a blind squirrel finds a nuts every once in awhile&quot;

01-16-2002, 11:15 PM
<< My granny had a saying &quot;even a blind squirrel finds a nuts every once in awhile&quot; >>

the cubs have found plenty of nuts..they've sucked nuts for 50 years