re: ESPN's Keith Law ranks Cardinals farm system #1(Posted by reddman on 2/4/13 at 4:31 pm to floridatigah)
1. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have drafted well, fared well in Latin America, traded well and developed well over the past five years, fulfilling the main goals of a farm system: Provide talent for the major league roster, and provide currency for trades to do the same.
St. Louis has shown a willingness to use young players in minor roles, with some of them graduating to full-time roles, a process I think will be easier under current manager Mike Matheny -- and it's a good thing, as the system is bursting with players who look like they'll be ready for the majors in the next year and who project as average regulars or more.
There at least five guys in the Cardinals' system -- if we include Tyrell Jenkins, who's coming off a shoulder injury -- who project as mid-rotation starters or better. Two of them -- Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal -- are ready now. They've got the minors' best pure offensive prospect in Oscar Taveras, their usual assortment of unheralded relief prospects and plenty of depth in the type of bat-first college position prospects they've had success with over the past few years, a strategy that helped yield guys like Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter.
They're in extremely good position to keep the major league club in contention for another five years without forcing them to ratchet up the payroll, and should produce a few rookie of the year candidates in that period, as well.
2. Minnesota Twins
The Twins placed more players on my top 100 (seven) than any other team, only one of whom was initially signed by another organization, and they added a former top-100 guy, Trevor May, in a trade this offseason. Their system is particularly strong in center field, enough that they're working on converting Eddie Rosario to second base, and has more power arms with a chance to start than it has at any point in the past decade.
The major league team is down, and isn't going to turn it all around in a year, but there's a lot of talent coming around which the Twins can build another contender.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays had some setbacks among their highest-profile prospects this past year, but added a top-10 prospect in Wil Myers, a top-100 prospect in Jake Odorizzi and a former top-100 prospect in Mike Montgomery in the James Shields trade. They're deepest in power arms, although many of them are a grade or two of command below where they'll need to be to profile as starters, and right now their next impact bat after Myers would be in low Class A or short-season ball.
4. Houston Astros
The Astros had the second most money to spend in last June's draft and used it extremely wisely, landing the second player on my draft board and four other players off my top 60, while also adding some lower-ceiling talent through trades of the few valuable assets the new front office inherited. Their top two picks from 2010, Delino DeShields Jr. and Mike Foltynewicz, bounced back from disappointing first years to re-establish their prospect value, as well.
5. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs' rebuilding process isn't much further along than the Twins' or the Astros' in terms of time, but they spent extravagantly in the international market before the new CBA's restrictions went into effect last summer, landing the Cuban toolshed Jorge Soler (and the Cuban flop Gerardo Concepcion, but we're not going to talk about him), then later using their international pool money on the Dominican pitcher with an electric arm currently known as Juan Carlos Paniagua, who has gone through more names than the thief known as Parker. The Cubs also scored big in last year's draft, addressing the system's lack of starting pitching candidates while also bulking up its depth in outfield prospects.
6. San Diego Padres
My top system from last year graduated several players to the majors, saw a few significant injuries to top pitching prospects but then added a ton of high school pitching talent through a very strong draft. The system's weakness is in near-ready talent, where only infielder Jedd Gyorko and right-hander Casey Kelly are likely to be significant contributors this year, with lefty Robbie Erlin a possible option for the back of the rotation.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates
Their top two pitching prospects rival any club's at this point, with Gerrit Cole likely to reach the majors this year and Jameson Taillon probably a year behind, while their low Class A West Virginia roster was one of the strongest teams for prospects, including up-the-middle bats, last spring. The knee injury that wiped out nearly all of 2011 bonus baby Josh Bell's season after his awful (tiny-sample) start hurts, as he needed those repetitions at the plate and in the field.
8. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners still have that raft of starting pitching prospects, with Victor Sanchez and Brandon Maurer stepping up as James Paxton took a step back. Their first pick in the draft, Mike Zunino, might be the first position player from that draft class to reach the majors.
9. Texas Rangers
They have Jurickson Profar, arguably the top prospect in baseball, three guys in the back half of the top 100, and as much talent from their short-season rosters last year as any organization in baseball, primarily on the position-player side. Their international spending spree had to end under the new CBA, but many of the fruits of those efforts are just now reaching full-season leagues, setting the Rangers up well to maintain their contender status for several more years.
10. New York Yankees
It's a top-heavy system, but the group of position players who started in low Class A Charleston last year, some of whom finished in high-A Tampa, could produce as many as three above-average or better regulars plus several other guys who'll have big league value. They'd rank even higher had they not lost two major starting pitching prospects to season-long injuries, with one, Manny Banuelos, probably out now until 2014.