While working on the Inbox for this week, I got to watch the Rays and Wander Franco play the Pirates and Ke’Bryan Hayes. That’s what’s so great about Spring Training.
And by now, you know that both players are the No. 1 prospects for their organizations. Yes, the Rays Top 30 isn’t out yet, but I trust you’re all smart enough to figure out the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball will sit atop their Top 30. And you’ll also have figured out that both teams are among our top 10 farm systems. The recently-released Pirates Top 30 revealed they’re at No. 8. The Rays? Well, you’ll have to wait to find out. To help tide you over, here are some interesting Inbox questions about farm systems and prospects, with a Draft question thrown in for good measure.
How do you view the Royals farm system?
We dug into this question in this week’s Pipeline Podcast, so be sure to listen (and subscribe!) for more details. Obviously, we view the Royals farm system very favorably. That is, after all, why we ranked them as the No. 10 farm system in all of baseball. And we made that call before their top prospect, Bobby Witt Jr., started looking like he’s ready for the big leagues during Spring Training. (Pump the brakes there, Royals fans, don’t be too upset if it takes him a tiny bit longer to actually get called up.) They’ve done a good job in recent Drafts, not only taking advantage of picking early, but by adding talent beyond the first round. The Royals once had the best farm system in baseball and then went all in to win it all in 2015 and knew the system would take a hit, and that it would take time to restock. They’re restocking now and have gone from No. 17 on our farm system rankings last year to No. 10 now. Not only is there elite-level talent at the top, but it’s deeper than it used to be and if several players who had struggled previously, like a Nick Pratto for example, turn it around, the up arrow could continue.
If you take Wander Franco off the Rays, what place do they fall to AND/OR if you add Franco to any single team who jumps up most (if you use some points type system)?
We don’t use a point system to determine the farm system rankings, but we do monitor “Prospect Points,” which is a fancy way to keep track of which organizations have which players in which spots in the Top 100. The way that ultra-complicated system works, you get 100 points for having the No. 1 prospect (i.e. Franco), 99 for No. 2 and on down. This year, the Rays were actually No. 2 with 373 Prospect Points. The Tigers finished ahead with 421 because while they had three fewer players in the Top 100 compared to the Rays, all five were in the top 25.
Just taking Franco off the Rays’ list (and not adding him back in for the moment) would leave the system with 273 Prospect Points. That would still put them sixth overall on the list, thanks to their seven other Top 100 prospects. Here’s the current top 10 by Prospect points, with the amount of Top 100 prospects each team has in parentheses.
1. Tigers, 421 PP (5)
2. Rays, 373 PP (8)
3. Mariners, 341 PP (6)
4. Marlins, 308 PP (5)
5. Padres, 283 PP (4)
6. Braves, 266 PP (4)
7. Orioles, 260 PP (5)
8. White Sox, 255 PP (4)
9. Blue Jays, 239 PP (4)
10. Royals, 237 PP (3)
Now, we don’t just use Top 100 prospects to determine overall farm system rankings. Obviously, that’s a part of it, with eight of the 10 teams above landing in the top 10 systems. But we also figure in depth, along with elite-level talent. And that would help cushion the blow of losing Franco from the list. I’m not giving away where the Rays are among the top 10 now — that will be revealed to all on Friday — so we’ll work off the 2020 midseason list they led. Assuming Franco isn’t added to one of the teams right behind the Rays, I think they would cede the No. 1 spot, but not fall too far. They’d still have the most Top 100 players with seven, one more than the Mariners (who were No. 4 last year) and their depth is absolutely ridiculous, so I think they’d still slot in at No. 3 or 4.
Now to the flip side. I think the easiest thing to do would be to pick the team that needs the most help with its farm system. The Washington Nationals were No. 30 on that midseason ranking in 2020 and have just one player in the Top 100: Cade Cavalli, at No. 99. The Oakland A’s were at No. 17, but lost Jesús Luzardo and Sean Murphy to graduation, while A.J. Puk fell off the list, so they don’t have anyone in the Top 100. Adding the top prospect in the game would jump them several spots in the rankings, for sure. Based only on PP, either organization would go from 29-30 up to 19 by adding Franco’s 100 points.
Tucupita Marcano and Ryan Weathers have to be close to your top 100, right? Is Luis Campusano ready for the big show this year?
Weathers, yes. Marcano, not really. We actually had Weathers in and out of the Top 100 as we were putting it together and, as everyone can see, ended up with him not on the list. I was very glad to hear about the increased velocity and stuff from reports at the Padres’ alternate training site and it was a nice surprise to see him get the call for the postseason roster. But we kind of wanted to see him do it for a longer period of time and where we could actually witness it. I think you won’t have to wait long to see him get added when one of the current members of the Top 100 graduates off quickly at the start of the regular season.
Is there anyone who could join the 1.1 discussion we aren’t currently talking about enough? Henry Davis? James Wood?
It’s a bit early to really know who should or shouldn’t be in this conversation (and not just because we’ve been so busy getting the Top 30 lists out that we haven’t had time to dig into this more). I will say I don’t think either of your examples will figure into the conversation, though I like both of them. If you want to look for high school players, Jordan Lawlar might be the best bet, maybe Marcelo Mayer, but probably not.
In terms of players outside of the one who comes up the most (Kumar Rocker), most of the college bats I thought could figure in (Adrian Del Castillo, Jud Fabian) aren’t off to great starts. Matt McLain has been OK, but doesn’t really fit the 1-1 profile. All of that said, if Rocker (who we have said repeatedly was not the slam dunk everyone said he was before the season started) keeps doing what he’s been doing (23 IP, 0.00 ERA, 8 hits, 8 BB, 34 K, only two walks in his last two starts combined), it might not matter what anyone else does.