In-Progress Farm System Rankings Are Now On The Board

You can now view our in-progress farm system rankings over on The Board. If you recall, we debuted this method for ranking farm systems last year — the original post can be found here — but I’ll provide a quick refresher. Kiley McDaniel and I felt that using Craig Edwards’ research on the monetary value of prospects in the various Future Value tiers — which, if I can digress, underscores just how underpaid many hundreds of prospects are — to derive our rankings skimmed away a layer of subjective preference that would otherwise inform the system rankings.

Here’s an example: I like big-framed, projectable players. As such, I’m more likely to prefer a system that has players like that, and am also more likely to grade those players highly as individuals prospects. In essence, I’d be double counting my personal preferences. Using Craig’s research to value a given FV tier still allows me to express my assessment of and preference for individual players, while also adding some rigor to the system rankings.

Craig’s values tend to favor top-heavy systems rather than those with depth based in the lower FV tiers. The Braves and White Sox are the most helped by this, while the Yankees and Phillies are punished the most. Indeed, if you were to ask me which systems would see the greatest difference between the rankings derived using Craig’s values compared to what they would be if they were based solely on my opinion, it’d probably be those four because of my penchant for depth.

Monetary values are also a great common denominator by which to start comparing players and assets like pool space and comp picks that we otherwise could not, and Craig’s values could one day help us build our version of a trade machine here at the site.

Remember that as soon as a player exhausts their rookie eligibility, they are scrubbed from their team’s list and won’t count in these rankings. For that reason, this is not a perfect way of quantifying young talent in an org, and early-career extensions make evaluating those players using monetary values more complicated.

Just as with the player rankings within each org, the farm system order is live, updating instantly in the event of a trade, signing, Rule 5 pick return, or other transaction. The farm systems that haven’t yet had their fresh and thorough annual examination (snaps latex glove) are highlighted in yellow on the Farm Ranking tab, with the asset values of their 2020 top 100 prospects the sole driver of their placement right now. That means teams’ current placement is, in essence, their floor for the final ranking.

You’ll note that, with the Dodgers and Padres org lists very intentionally on the horizon, the Rays have by far the most valuable farm system in baseball among those I’ve covered so far. Running the numbers on the Padres system, the paint on which is mostly dry, shows that they won’t even come close to surpassing Tampa Bay, and will likely fall short by well over $100 million. Some of that gap, which is mostly caused by Wander Franco’s unprecedented 80 FV grade and its associated value of $180 million, will close after Brendan McKay and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo graduate, and I think the Friars have more low-level players (Yeison Santana, Hudson Head, Reginald Preciado and Ismael Mena, among many others) who might grow into capital D Dudes than Tampa Bay does (like Alejandro Pie, Jhon Diaz, Abiezel Ramirez, Curtis Mead… that might be all), which might also make things close in the next year, depending on how much baseball gets played.

Fans of Texas and Cleveland, and to a lesser but relevant extent the Angels and Reds, should take a deep breath and relax when they open the rankings, as those systems have many prospects in the 45+ to 40+ FV range who will buoy those orgs in the final rankings.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

I like how the Padres and Dodgers are already ranked #4 and #5 despite not ranking the rest of the system.

But I also think that does call into question whether FV50s really are worth that much more than FV45+ and FV45’s. They clearly are…but by that much?

MikeS
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MikeS

It seems that most the “5” ratings have value rounded down to a degree. 45 is much closer to 40 than 50. 65 is much closer to 60 than 70. Even 45+ is much closer to 35+ than 50. It seems like they are valued more like 42 and 62.

But then you have 55 being closer to 60 than 50 and a 60 or 65 arm is better than a 60 or 65 bat – the only values where that is true.

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Sort of related…I have noticed FG’s grades are consistently lower than other outlets. The testing set is simply not the same as the training data.

MikeS
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MikeS

I’ve noticed that too. I expect MLB.com to have higher ratings becasue they want to generate excitement and saying “your team has no good MiLB players” isn’t going to do that.

But you know what? the numbers kind of add up. The way I understand it, a 50FV prospect is expected to be an average major league starter and average 2 WAR/season. There are 79 hitters that are 50FV or better. Over the last 5 years there are only 99 hitters who have totaled 10 WAR, so having only 79 guys to replace those guys as they age out to below average over the next few years sounds about right maybe? Especially since those 99 guys include people like Ozzie Albies and Paul DeJong who got to 10 wins much faster and may still be on the list in 5 years because they are young. If you look at guys 28 or older (the guys who will be falling off the list) there are only 40. This is a very barebones model, but both results are lower than I would have guessed.

Red
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Worth mentioning that the FV is not a static number as players age/mature/add a season of data points and reports/etc.

I don’t think it’s worth fishing past the 45+s for monetary value, FWIW. A lot of the 45/50 pool is just going to be guys who are revised up 1-2 notches based on development curve and more information.

The plus designations help account for this some. If you wanted an across the board adjustment, I would think age (or a proxy for age – minor league level?) would get you most of the way there. Younger = more range of outcomes = higher chance of more development in the tank.

There’s also the scarcity argument. Most of the 40s are always going to be 40s, or they’ll get injured/retired/etc. along the way. There’s a new wave of 40s from every draft and signing period. It’s much more difficult to draft/sign a guy who’s 50 right from the start. You’re almost never going to draft one of those past the first 10-15 picks..

NYYfaninLAAland
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NYYfaninLAAland

But FV is somewhat tied to where a prospect is in their minors career arc. Players farther down tend to be graded lower. Yes they have variance. But so do low level but highly graded prospects. – think Nick Gordon of the Twins or Kevn Maitan. A cautionary tale for the Jasson Dominguez’s of the world. . Gordon (and Maitan) just keeps slipping as he’s moved up, been exposed, however you want to put it.
I’d agree that upper minors level 40’s and such may be viewed with a critical eye, but low level guys there just because they’re still low level guys and not top picks or IFA signs just shows caution in the grading.

szakyl
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szakyl

In Craig’s initial series of articles on prospect valuation, the top 100 was given a smooth curve between FVs. This allowed the worst 55 and the best 50 to have a minuscule difference in value. The best 55 and the worst 50 would have a huge difference. Now they are giving all players of the same grade, the same value. This makes Eric’s decision for borderline grade players significant for valuation purposes.