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.