If the Yankees are expecting reinforcements from the farm, they’d better stock up on Miracle-Gro. At least that seems to be the consensus of the most respected talent evaluators in the baseball media.
Keith Law is the latest prospect guru to offer a less than sanguine view of the Yankees’ prospect pipeline. Coming on the heels of equally pessimistic reports by Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, which respectively listed one and two Yankees’ prospects among the game’s top 100, Law’s organizational ranking places the Bronx Bombers at 20th, a steep drop from the last three seasons when the team’s minor leagues ranked within the top-10. Law attributes the Yankees’ drop off in his ranking to a combination of injuries and poor performance among the franchise’s best prospects, albeit one mitigated by a strong 2013 draft class.
Keith Laws’ Yearly Organizational Rankings for AL East, 2009-2014
Within the A.L. East, the Rays decline in Law’s ranking was even more precipitous than the Yankees. After being a top-3 system since the list was first compiled in 2009, Tampa plummeted all the way to 23. Granted, some of the decline was the result of recent promotions to Wil Myers and Chris Archer, but Law also cites “several unproductive drafts” as a culprit.
Taking the Rays’ place as the division’s prospect alpha dog was the Red Sox. Last year, Boston ranked near the bottom of Law’s list, but the combination of depth and high-end talent catapulted the Red Sox’ farm system into the top-five. Rounding out the A.L. East, the Orioles’ bevy of blue chips was good enough to earn a top-10 ranking, while the Blue Jays’ minor leagues continue to lag, according to Law, following several recent trades as well as the repeated failure to sign their first round pick.
Law’s top-rated organization was the Houston Astros, who have parlayed three consecutive 100 loss seasons into higher draft status and remained active in international markets. The Cubs and Mets stand out as large market teams who are starting to show rewards for years of rebuilding, while former doormats like the Pirates and Royals maintain a pipeline that they hope will support their recent resurgence.
Keith Laws’ Top-10 Farm System Rankings, 2014
Considering the Yankees’ earlier predicted bumper crops haven’t exactly borne much fruit, one shouldn’t read too much into the organization’s relatively weak minor league system evaluations. Prospecting is from an exact science when focusing on one player, much less hundreds spread across all 30 major league franchise. All it takes is for one or two underappreciated minor leaguers to blossom before you trade them (think Robinson Cano), and the perception of a team’s farm system changes completely. Nonetheless, the general consensus indicates the Yankees have a lot of work to do if they want to re-sow the seeds of a new homegrown dynasty.