KLaw’s Top 100 Prospects


Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list came out today (1-25, 26-50, 51-75, 76-100), and unsurprisingly the Yankees are well represented (I believe all but the top 25 are Insider only). Jesus Montero comes in at number four, trailing only Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Domonic Brown. “[Montero's] going to hit. And by that, I mean he’s going to hit for average, get on base and have huge power — the type of offensive profile that plays anywhere on the field and in the lineup,” said KLaw, though he adds the obvious caveat about his defense. “Montero could solve the Yankees’ DH problem for the next 10 years if they commit to it, a move they are unlikely to ever regret.”

Manny Banuelos wasn’t too far behind Montero at number 12, and according to KLaw he’s the fourth best pitching prospect in baseball behind Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, and Zach Britton. “[He's] a 19-year-old on the cusp of the majors with a three-pitch mix where all three pitches will at least flash above-average … he’s just a few refinements away from being able to help the big league club.” Law is probably the high man on Banuelos, I was surprised to see him ranked so far up there. Gary Sanchez is 68th (“youth and distance from the majors are the only things keeping him out of the top echelon of this list”), Dellin Betances is 73rd (“[there's] No. 1 starter potential here, but the probability isn’t there yet”), and Andrew Brackman makes five Yankee farmhands at number 88 (“[he] may be a bullpen guy, but at least now that’s his floor”).

Austin Romine make Law’s list of ten prospects that just missed the top 100, and he notes that Romine “can throw and hit for power, but has struggled with basic receiving tasks every time I’ve seen him in the past six months.” His list of each organization’s top ten prospects came out as well, and the Yankee list is pretty standard with one exception: he’s got Graham Stoneburner all that way at number seven. Hooray for a strong farm system.

Categories : Asides, Minors


  1. JGS says:

    @TheYankeeU said this on twitter, but it bears repeating:

    Law said Montero should be moved to DH and kept there…and still ranked him 4th overall. That’s how good his bat is.

    Holy freaking crap

    • Steve H says:

      I wonder if he would have felt the same way about Piazza* at the same age. It’s an interesting question, if you could have added a few hundred games to Piazza’s career, but at DH instead of C, would the payoff have been worth it?

      *obviously Piazza came up in NL so didn’t have the option

      • JGS says:

        I say no. His bat would have been elite at DH, but it was absurdly, historically, elite at catcher. From 1993-2001, ages 24-32, Piazza hit .326/.393/.583/.975 (156 OPS+). In that span, he had 260 more runs created than the next catcher (Pudge), and nearly twice as many as third-place Kendall. In terms of WAR batting runs:

        3. Kendall: 70
        2. Pudge: 89
        1. Piazza: 359

        Sticking that bat at DH would be fine, but playing a defensive whiz with no bat instead of him? Not worth it.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Of course Piazza worked out at C, but the question is whether Keith Law and the like would have also said there’s no way he can catch going forward and should be moved to 1B/OF or traded to the AL. BA, for example, had Piazza as only the #38 prospect in 1993. Posada was never in their top 100.

          Certainly there is no guarantee Montero has nearly the success those guys did. In terms of guys having their C ability heavily questioned and still being the best C of their era, though… There is a strong precedent set forth by Posada and Piazza.

        • David says:

          I believe it is going to be kind of a wait and see theory with Montero. He will have every chance to prove whether or not he can catch at least adequately at the major league level. At the same time that is going on, they can look at how Romine and Sanchez are progressing. It will all sort out based on that. Nobody knows yet. My guess is that he makes it at Catcher, based on the improvement that he has shown.

        • KyleLitke says:

          For what it’s worth, it seemed less about defense behind the plate (Law essentially said he has a strong arm but takes too long to throw, and he’s athletic but is too big to get up quickly to block balls or whatever), and more about his sheer size being an injury risk behind the plate. Law seemed more concerned about keeping him from missing a lot of games with knee problems rather than concerned about his defense.

  2. Steve H says:

    Love love love that Banuelos was ahead of Drabek, Hellickson, Chapman and Kelly. While the difference in spots is essentially the flip of a coin, it at the very least destroys the “Law hates the Yankees” notion. I don’t think anyone could reasonably complain if Banuelos was behind all of them.

    • Doug says:

      And he was the 2nd highest ranked lefty, one spot behind Britton

    • crawdaddie says:

      It still doesn’t explain the team rankings, but whatever I’m done arguing about it since Law isn’t a scout and is more of a ESPN personality.

    • AndrewYF says:

      It doesn’t destroy it, it just further calls into question his strange rankings of farm systems.

      Like I said, Keith Law is a good, good guy for individual reports on prospects, but his farm system rankings over the past two years are just bad. Personally, I think he does this on purpose, for two reasons:

      1.) He doesn’t think farm system rankings have all that much value, so he doesn’t really put much time into it, as evidenced by his lazy analysis and poor editing.
      2.) ESPN likes when he puts forth controversial rankings, because all it does is get people talking about them. No one cares about Frank Pieliere’s, even if his rankings are better, because he doesn’t write strong, contrarian opinions that piss people off like Law does.

      • Steve H says:

        Who says Frankie Piliere’s rankings are better though? What determines that? As a Yankee fan I love Pileiere’s rankings because he was so bullish on several Yankee prospects. That sounds great, but I can’t say for sure who has a better list, or is a better scout.

    • Pat D says:

      Why is that people think KLaw hates the Yankees? He’s said several times that he grew up a Yankees fan and his family are still Yankees fans.

      Where did this hate come from?

      • Steve H says:

        Fans of every single team think that KLaw hates their team. That, to me, is a sign that he actually does a good job. Us fans have rose colored glasses, he certainly doesn’t.

        • Pat D says:

          Yea, I’ve always found him to be fair.

          I know a lot of Yankees fans hate Neyer, and he’s said he doesn’t like the Yankees because he grew up a Royals fan in the ’70′s, but I’ve always felt that he’s been fair to the Yankees, too.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        He is on record saying that the Red Sox are a better run organization. He says that they would never sign a relief pitcher for 3 years or have their owner overrule their GM because they are a better organization. That doesn’t mean he “hates the Yankees.” He feels justified in his opinion, but he is admittedly biased.

        • Pat D says:

          Never remember seeing him say that.

        • Marcus says:

          How is that biased? I think that is a good point and I’m a diehard Yankee fan.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            It’s hard to say you’re objective when you feel that one team consistently makes better decisions. It leads to a prejudice, which is the definition of bias.

            In the comments section of the article where he criticizes the Yankees for giving a 3 year deal to a reliever, he says that the Red Sox are too well run to ever take that risk… Never mind that in the past two seasons they’ve give 7 years 142 mill to a lead-off man coming off a career season and 5 years 85 mill to an above average starter.

            This is not to criticize Law. I also think he’s entitled to think the Red Sox are a better run organization if he has some reasons for thinking so. However, he’s a human being who describes his own job as entirely subjective (which I disagree about), so it’s hard to say he’s objective.

  3. Steve (different one) says:

    Yes, but what about Boston?

  4. Doug says:

    Hey Mike,

    Left out KLaw’s follow-up sentence on Brack:

    “He may be a bullpen guy, but at least now that’s his floor. A year ago the floor was more of a crawl space.”

    Had me laughing

  5. Doug says:

    Sanchez was the 3rd highest rated 18 year old behind Machado and some guy named Harper

  6. Hughesus Christo says:

    The Yankees have a DH problem? News to me.

    • Doug says:

      the problem is that the yankee don’t have room for him as their dh

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      Don’t think they do especially with a rotation of our old timers assuming Posada doesn’t return after next year. Interesting to speculate who would have a better year as a full time DH next year? The 39/40 Posada or the 21 year old Montero?

      Pujols hit 37 at 21. Just sayin’

      We KNOW Posada won’t hit 37 and drive in 130.

      • JGS says:

        Montero won’t be Pujols. Please stop saying he will be

        • Ty says:

          Miggy-lite would do just fine by me.

        • Monteroisdinero says:

          I hope you are wrong. If Montero is the top right handed power hitting prospect/minor leaguer in all of baseball, why should I not hope he will be Pujols?

          • Jerome S. says:

            Because if he winds up being “only” Piazza, you’ll be disappointed.

          • bexarama says:

            You can hope, but it only creates ridiculous hype that leads to nothing but disappointment and the likes of “if Montero has Posada’s career he’s a failure” comments. Pujols is a once-in-a-generation-type bat. You can hope for it, of course, but if you’re really expecting it, well.

            (Also, Montero doesn’t have Pujols’ plate discipline that we’ve seen. Not that he’s a hacker or anything, but yeah, he’s not a .425 OBP guy along with his great power.)

          • KyleLitke says:

            Hoping is one thing. I hope A-Rod hits 60 home runs and Cano hits .360, but realistically neither is likely. Pujols is a once in a generation guy who could end up as one of the greatest players of all time. Expecting Montero to be anything close to that is immediately setting him up for failure.

      • Steve H says:

        Why lowball it with Pujols’ 37 at age 21? Eddie Matthews hit 47 at age 21. Jesus could do that lefty.

    • KyleLitke says:

      Is it? I’ve personally always felt the Yankees didn’t get the most of the DH position. It hasn’t really cost them anything at this point, but they typically just use it for random guys or injured guys. Sometimes that’s fine but I wouldn’t mind actually seeing a real DH. Posada might serve that role this year, although he’s a 39 year old declining guy with knee problems who has never hit terribly well at DH (hopefully just a small sample size thing, but there are guys who don’t do well with the whole “sit for a couple innings, swing bat, go sit down for an hour, swing bat” thing).

      I know that supposedly in the next year or so the Yankees will have half the team at DH (not sure how that works, but that’s my understanding from the whole Montero can’t catch, A-Rod and Jeter need to DH forever crowd), but I don’t think a permanent DH would hurt.

  7. Doug says:

    Nice to see Banuelos’ climb on this list: went from 96 to 12. Highest of anyone in the top 16

  8. Tank the Frank says:

    I’m no prospect expert so could someone explain to me why Harper is ranked so high? I was surprised he’s ranked above Montero. Has Harper even played a professional game yet? (I heard he hit very well in a winter league or something.) It seems to me like Montero was putting up similar numbers to Harper at a similar age but Montero is only three years older and on the cusp of the big leagues after destroying the minors. All things that people expect of Harper…but he hasn’t done it yet. Montero has.

  9. AndrewYF says:

    I’m pretty sure the Yankees have had a prospect in the top 10 for 4 out of the last 5 years.

    pre-2007: Hughes
    pre-2008: Joba
    pre-2010: Montero
    pre-2011: Montero

  10. Ted Nelson says:

    This certainly puts a dent in Law’s supposed “anti-Yankee bias.” However, it makes his organizational rankings even stranger to me. He ranks the Mariners right behind the Yankees at #10, and in his comment basically says they have 2 guys in their entire system. Yet, he doesn’t even rank those 2 guys as highly as the Yankees 2 guys? Of course, he’s pretty low on the Yankees other guys. What’s with the huge disparity between Sano and Sanchez?

    I would really like to see how he arrived at the organizational rankings he did.

    • Steve H says:

      Maybe there’s a huge gap between 9 and 10?

      • Ty says:

        If I remember correct last year he talked about teams with high impact prospects ranked higher in the overall team rankings as well which makes it a little more puzzling but again so many moving parts hard to get it 100% right. I’ll take a few high end prospects + yankees finances over organizational depth in the minors any day.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          If he spelled out his method and the factors that led to the ratings, I’d have a lot more respect for them. He just throws together a list with a few sentences about each team that he could have finished in about 30 minutes and leaves us to guess why teams ranked where they did. Leads me to believe a lot of it is Law’s “gut” and just because he feels like it.

          In terms of high end prospects, the Yankees are one of 2 teams with 2 of the top 15 and 3 teams with at least 2 of Law’s top 20 prospects (Royals have 2 in top 10 and Rays have 3 in top 20). They are between 4-7 in terms of most prospects in the top 100 (4 way tie). So if he’s going on high end talent 9 still seems a little low, though not necessarily terribly low.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            He explained his method in the first few paragraphs before the actual rankings. Favored upside over probability and back-end depth.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Yeah, methods but not computations. That’s what I mean, though I might not have explained it. Just because John Kruk says player x is an “RBI guy” or Keith Law says prospect x has “high upside” I am supposed to eat it up? This site is not known for excepting the Kruk type comment, so I don’t think it should just accept Law’s opinion either. In my opinion, he should back it up a bit.

              Just saying I favor upside… what does that mean? There’s a balance. What’s your tipping point? Maybe he doesn’t even know his own tipping point in terms of upside/probability and just goes by feel, but to me that’s a problem. Not spelling out how he came to these conclusions is the typical MSM attitude of “I know more than you do, so I’ll tell you how it is and you’ll accept it.” It’s 2011, let’s move past that.

              I would have liked more of a score card in which he calculates organizational grades in a rational way and shares his scores across various categories for various prospects. That way you at least know his assumptions and that he went about it in a rational way. With nothing but a list and short blurbs, it comes across as though he sat in his undies and threw some crap together off the top of his head while eating his cheerios. Even if one large component–say anywhere from 10 to 50% of the ranking–is literally “my gut feeling and limited observations”… at least we know where he’s coming from.

              If nothing else at least tiers. Show where the cut-offs lie and there are huge disparities from one slot to the next rather than just 1-30 or 1-100.

              I mean these lists are a good % of this guys full time job. This is what they’re paying him for. Do a decent job of presenting it. The Arodys bs just really blew me away, as did his “people are misreading it” response. Centerpiece is not equal to throw-in.

              I raised some of the same points to Keith Law in the comments section of his 100-110 prospects article.

              • Mister Delaware says:

                How is Law coming up with a calculation any less accepting something because of who says it? Its still his calculation of his rankings, no?

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  I don’t really understand your phrasing, but my point is that I’d like the rankings to be more transparent and more in-depth.

                  As stands, he just says this is how they rank and here are a couple sentences explaining one or more reason why. In some cases those sentences are extremely limited in scope. The Phillies have a few guys in A ball, so I decided they were the #5 org. Boom. Clearly he considered more than this, like maybe Domonic Brown.

                  I would like to see a more scientific approach. Some statistical analysis. Some in-depth scouting (why not at least show how each prospect grades in various areas?). An upside/probability calculation. Some situational context: has a certain weakness, coming off injury, etc. Then you can say, “oh, I see why he did this.” You might still disagree, and you could know exactly which assumption you disagree with. You’d get more information than just: yeah they have a few guys here, some catchers, blah blah blah. And maybe if he doesn’t already have an unbiased scientific process it will force him to create one.

                  • rbizzler says:

                    Your proposal sounds great but he is just one person making a list that is going to run on the ESPN.com baseball page for a few days. You are talking about a lot more work for something that is completely subjective (as you noted). In comparison, BA has a staff of people working on their prospect handbook and can devote the necessary resources to compiling reports closer to what you desire,

                    Also, KLaw stated his preference for upside over high floor back-end/fringe type guys. While the Yanks have a fair amount of high upside guys, the Phelps/Noesi/Warren type guys don’t really impress him. Not that I agree with that, but that is his opinion and how he values players. The Yanks are also a little light on position prospects right now, so that may have influenced his ranking as well. I wouldn’t sweat it as the Yanks have a great mix of impact guys on the way and a pool of back-end and BP arms to augment the pitching staff for the next few years.

                    Also, my assumption is that he was pretty bullish on the BOS system b/c he loved their ’10 draft and feels like they got multiple high impact guys who didn’t have enough experience to crack his top 100. While, I don’t necessarily agree, he has been pretty consistent in his love for their drafting strategy.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      You don’t think ESPN could get some unpaid college interns to work under Law and create a robust section of their website on MLB prospects/farm systems?

                      Plus, he’s one guy but this is his job.

                      “something that is completely subjective (as you noted).”

                      It’s not completely subjective. You can test how right you are. See how the players actually develop. See which system actually produces what talent.

                      “Also, KLaw stated his preference for upside over high floor back-end/fringe type guys.”

                      And the Yankees are one of two teams with 2 top 15 prospects, one of 7 with at least 5 top 100, and one of 4 teams with at least 6 top 110 prospects. The top end talent is there according to his own rankings, so that’s not the whole reason. Don’t know what the reasons are, but that’s not the only one.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I mean the Yankees were in a 4 way tie for 3rd most prospects in the top 100 (5). They were one of only 3 teams with at least 2 guys in the top 20 (along with Royals and Rays who had 3). Of course org.s aren’t just made up of top 100 prospects and I am biased towards the Yankees, but it’s hard to justify the #9 ranking based on his top 100.

      • Brian Cashman is Watching says:

        He’s been doing this list for years and explains each time he wants to see known high impact talent. He loves it. He favors teams that take high impact talent in the draft. Just because the Yankees have 5 guys in top 100 (maybe 6 in top 110), other teams might have more guys in the top 150 that are just high impact. We might lack those guys, especially because Oppenheimer didn’t pick the “accepted” top 150 in the draft. If the Yankee players like Culver develop, good thing, but when Law ranks systems, he takes into consideration the rankings of the drafted players, and the Yankees just didn’t take the accepted top 100 in the draft.

        As much as we like Culver, he wasn’t on draft boards, not that high. Same with most of the draft.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          All I’m asking is for him to share the information that went into the rankings. If he feels they are justified, then show us the assumptions and justify it. I’m not going to just take his word.

          He’s only been doing this since 2008, I believe, which I wouldn’t say is years.

          As far as known high impact guys… The Yankees are one of only 2 teams with 2 guys in the top 15. He ranks the Mariners right behind the Yankees while saying they only have 2 guys in their system, and those guys aren’t even as good in his own opinion as the Yankees guys. While I admit that I am biased, in the most unbiased way I can evaluate him, it seems he went with the lowest justifiable ranking of the Yankees system.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          Seems like Law likes Culver:

          jamie (dc)

          could you see JR Murphy leapfrogging Romine in the Yanks system with a solid year? Not on your org top 10 but it seems like a lot of people like his talent and think he will stick behind the plate long-term.

          Klaw (1:42 PM)

          I like Murphy, was disappointed to leave him and Jose Ramirez off the top 10. Culver could have made it in another year. Best the Yanks system has looked since I started doing this stuff.

    • YanksFan in MA says:

      I didn’t get that either. Sanchez plays a more valuable position at C than Sano at 3B or corner outfield and he outperformed him at the same level.

    • J says:

      Sano has a far higher offensive ceiling than Sanchez. (According to the chat)

  11. Even if he loses some position value moving from C to DH, Montero will likely still provide the team a ton of value, assuming he hits. He could be a young, cost controlled DH (hopefully/possibly) producing at very high levels for a very low cost. No matter what position The Jesus plays, I’m excited for that bat.

    • Steve H says:

      Yeah, I just hope once (if) they decide he can’t catch, that they start working him at 1B, so he can take over once Tex leaves. That would also make a potential huge contract easier to swallow, not tying up that money with a DH.

      • Ty says:

        I’m guessing for the same reason you just stated they will keep him at C until they bring him up (maintain max value) 1B should be the easiest position to learn so you would think they’d wait until next spring to try that worst case.

      • Yeah, exactly. And he’ll still be pretty young when Tex’s contract is up, right?

        • Mike Myers says:

          Tex is thru 2016. Thats a long time away, no need to think about a replacement.

          I think Montero would be 27 and hitting his prime. who knows.

        • UncleArgyle says:

          He’ll only be 27 when Tex’s contract is mercifully over. But it will be sorta odd moving someone from DH to 1b at 27 no?

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Tex is signed for 6 more seasons, so that’s not really a rush or an immediate priority. DH is probably the most likely non-C short-term landing spot followed by RF. I think they’ll leave him at C unless Martin kills or Romine/Cervelli suddenly becomes good. And even then they could split Montero’s time between C and DH. A somewhat likely case is he’s at least a part-time C until Sanchez theoretically is ready.

      • KyleLitke says:

        While I’m not against the idea, I mean…Tex is here through 2016. If Montero were to get called up this year, they’d be free agents at the same time. It’s not like Tex is gone in 2-3 years where Montero can DH for a year or two then take over.

  12. Mike Myers says:

    Gotta give cash a lot of credit for this. Everyone hates on him for winning with a bazillion dollar payroll. But he saw they needed a change down on the farm years ago, and we are starting to feel it now.

    One thing im real curious is the kevin towers impact. I wonder if we will get a gem or 2 out of the short time he was with us. Any thoughts Mike?

  13. Sheepmeister says:

    I think the fact that yanks are at the top every year and they can still have a strong farm system is a testament to the improvement in drafting and international signing.

  14. Will Y says:

    Can someone with insider release KLaw’s top ten for the yankee’s farm system?

    • Pat D says:


      As I posted below, he felt that Murphy, Ramirez and Culver are Top 10 worthy, too.

  15. Pat D says:

    Here’s a nugget from KLaw’s current chat:

    jamie (dc):
    could you see JR Murphy leapfrogging Romine in the Yanks system with a solid year? Not on your org top 10 but it seems like a lot of people like his talent and think he will stick behind the plate long-term.

    Klaw (1:42 PM):
    I like Murphy, was disappointed to leave him and Jose Ramirez off the top 10. Culver could have made it in another year. Best the Yanks system has looked since I started doing this stuff.

  16. Jerome S. says:

    Again… there is no better model of a model franchise.
    Winning with only small exception for 90 years now. This is (partly) why.

  17. Reggie C. says:

    Considering Sanchez has not one single at-bat in the Low-A and got placed at #68 its actually not a bad spot.

    Where did MIGUEL ANGEL SANO make the list? Was he top 50?

  18. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    I always thought Law was very fair and usually spot on with his analysis. I remember during the whole Gerritt Cole fiasco when most other analysts were saying he’d eventually sign. Law kept saying it was 50-50 at best, that Cole would sign. He turned out to be the closest to accurate there.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      And he also was one of the first to say Cash couldn’t have done anything different; when Cole made up his mind to go to UCLA that was it.

  19. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Keith Law is in the odd position of being the smartest person at ESPN. It basically allows him to troll his readers, I think he’s a solid scout and I listen when he speaks…but I don’t think anyone will ever accuse him of having a consistent opinion regarding talent.

  20. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    Wonder who his sleeper late in the Yanks 2010 draft is that he said he’d be talking about this Friday. My guess is 26th ronder Connor Mullee, who I’ve heard some other scouts raved bout in hi short stint in Rookie ball last summer.

  21. bexarama says:

    Awesome. Makes his org rankings kind of make no sense, but still awesome.

  22. Dick Whitman says:

    I cannot believe he left Alan Horne off his list. Unbelievable.

  23. Ted Nelson says:

    re: Law’s Red Sox bias…

    Check out the comments section of his Soriano piece. He says he thinks the Red Sox front office is better run than the Yankees. Perhaps he feels his bias is justified, but the guy is basically on record saying he’s biased.

    And I was not one to jump to this conclusion with no evidence. But when it comes straight from the horse’s mouth what can you do?

    • Mister Delaware says:

      I think the Yankees front office is better run than the Mets. And really, I think the Red Sox are better run than the Yankees if for no other reason than their owner stays out of personnel decisions.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        You’re basically basing this on one signing, huh?

        He blows the Yankees to shreds for signing a 3 year deal, but what about all the money the Sox have thrown at Lackey, Dice-K, Beckett, Crawford, Scutaro, Cameron, Ortiz… It’s awesome to give lead-off hitters coming off career years 7 year deals into their mid-30s, but a team is poorly run for a 3 year deal to an elite reliever from his 31-33 year old seasons which may actually be a 1 or 2 year deal?

    • Esteban says:

      Having an opinion that the Red Sox front office is better-run is bias? Opinion=bias? I don’t follow.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Yes, a bias is implied there. I said it may be justified, but it is a bias: “a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice” He is not unprejudiced because he feels the Red Sox are better run; therefore, he is necessarily bias.

        • Esteban says:

          I don’t follow that having the opinion that the Red Sox FO is better now ‘prevents unprejudiced consideration’. Unless somehow opinion and bias are now synonyms, I really don’t understand your point.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I’ve explained my opinion on this issue several other times on the thread, several different ways. Objective is now and has always been an antonym of objective. Law proclaims himself to be making “entirely subjective” analysis of these prospects and organizations. He’s not objective. Therefore, he holds biases. His admiration for the Sox FO plus his rankings consistently giving the Sox the benefit of the doubt leads me to believe one such bias leads him to overrate the Sox.

    • Mike says:

      That’s not bias; it’s an opinion. One that most people in baseball share. It’s hard to disagree considering our GM just got overruled on a major signing. This is 3 years after the owner gave out the worst contract in baseball.

      I’m always interested by Law’s lists because they are always different than the other lists. Some people think that’s a conscious attempt to be a contrarian, but I think it’s a function of these lists being almost entirely his thoughts. The other top 100 or top 50 lists are combinations of numerous scouting reports. Law has said that he only consults other scouts if he hasn’t seen much of a player or if the player has undergone changes since the last time he has seen him.

      Complaining about this stuff is really dumb and it’s crazy to say he has a bias when he has Banuelos 20 spots higher (he’s the only person who will have him above Hellickson, Chapman, and Drabek) than any other list will. I don’t know what is meant by “scientific approach.” It’s scouting, of course it’s going to be based on gut and experience. He could have included more in the organizational rankings, but they are a secondary piece to his top 100 list. I’m sure he would say that he wouldn’t have a problem with the Yankees as a top 6 or 7 system it’s just that he slightly prefers some aspects of the other systems. He has been negative about the Yankees past couple drafts (again, not bias, just an opinion) so it’s not surprising that he has them slightly lower (we’re really only talking about a difference of 1-4 places. Sickels had the Yanks 6th and we were all thrilled)than some other people.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Is his Soriano article on ESPN Insider?

      He is right though the Red Sox FO is better run. I don’t want ppl to take that as the Yankees FO is a place of anarchy but IMO the Red Sox brain trust is on the right track.

      • Steve (different one) says:

        Yes, I think the Sox FO is well run and maybe better than the Yankees (I wouldn’t have said this before this winter, I’d have called it a draw).

        That said, I *ALSO* think they are extremely overrated.

        They are viewed as this super genius cutting edge thinktank that has revolutionalized baseball, but in reality, they are just the Yankees on a slightly smaller scale.

        The Sox are really good when they spend a ton of money. Their record on bargain-bin shopping is just as spotty as everyone else’s.

        To me, the big difference from 2003-now is that Theo inherited a rich farm system and the Yanks’ had nothing and it took 2 more years to put Oppenheimer in place. Besides that, I don’t see a huge difference.

        Give me the Rays’ FO over Boston’s any day.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “I wouldn’t have said this before this winter”

          Before the Sox gave a lead-off man coming off a career year a 7 year $142 mill deal plus gave up their top 2 prospects, while the Yankees were unable to sign one of the best pitchers in baseball? If Cliff Lee makes the decision to sign with the Yankees I sort of doubt this offseason would have tipped the scales for as many people as it has. A lot of people are holding the Yankees front office responsible for Cliff Lee’s personal decision.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        “He is right though the Red Sox FO is better run.”

        Based on what?

    • Jake says:

      Saying he thinks the Red Sox front office is better is not evidence of bias. Bias means an inability to be objective. He’s stating his opinion that the Sox have a better front office, not that he likes them better.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        It’s very hard for any human being–especially one that describes his own job as entirely subjective when it is not in fact entirely subjective–to be objective. Especially when you feel that one organization consistently makes better decisions and have to judge that organization on 18 year olds you’ve maybe seen play a few times and are relying on the team’s own scouts for further information.

    • YanksFanDan says:

      Well, it’s clear someone here has a bias, but it’s not Keith Law (Hint: it’s Ted Nelson). Also, you should familiarize yourself with the definitions of “opinion” and “bias” before you start throwing one of those words around.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I am quite familiar with the definition of bias and have quoted it on this thread several times. I think other people need to become familiar with it and realize that by calling him bias I am not demonizing him or saying that he “sucks” or something like that.

        When you feel that one organization consistently makes better decisions and are judging them in part on 18 year olds you’ve seen play a few times, it is very hard to say you’re objective. Law is consistently higher on the Sox and lower on the Yankees than the average rankings. Maybe not by a huge amount and I am not saying he’s incompetent. When you read his stuff, though, it becomes fairly clear that his faith in the Sox decision makers leads him to give them the benefit of the doubt in what he feels (incorrectly in my opinion) is an “entirely subjective” enterprise. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the definitions of subjective and objective.

    • KyleLitke says:

      A lot of people think that who aren’t Red Sox fans. Are people not allowed to have opinions on which are run better? If I go ask a Giants fan which front office is run better, the Yankees or the Mets, and they say the Yankees, would I scream that they must have a Yankee bias and hate the Mets?

      I’m not saying I necessarily agree that the Red Sox are better run…I’d also say I don’t necessarily think they’re worse. Both are well run organizations and I could see an argument for either one.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Who is screaming anything? I am typing.

        Law says himself that he is doing this entirely subjectively. You cannot be both subjective and objective. I feel from reading his rankings that his belief the Red Sox consistently make better decisions leads to a bias in their favor. Simple as that.

        He is entitled to his opinion, I am entitled to mine. I am not screaming about anything or at anyone.

  24. AndrewYF says:


    (Oh, and stop worrying about where I ranked some rival team’s system. It has zero effect on what happens on the field. I’m not that good.)”

    I think we just need to ignore farm system rankings. He clearly doesn’t really put too much stock into them himself, and I think that’s correct. Just like ranking drafts, there’s too much uncertainty to actually know which teams will produce the best value from their current minor league crop.

    Just remember, the Yankees’ minor league system ranked near the top back in the early 2000s (remember Juan Rivera, Brandon Claussen, Drew Henson, and John-Ford Griffon?). We now know that Nick Johnson was the cream of that crop. Meanwhile, the Red Sox’s farm was placing near the bottom, even when they had guys like Youkilis, Lester, and Hanley Ramirez hanging around down there.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, it’s very volatile. If you’re going to bother, though, why not do your best? I am convinced that something scientific-ish in nature would yield better results.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        For example, part of the reason some of those Yankees prospects ranked so highly might have been that they wowed the Keith Laws of the world with their “tools” but weren’t actually living up to them. Henson had power, but never much patience or contact skill. He was athletic, so scouts loved him. Griffin was a first rounder in the system less than 2 years whose stock fell by his 2nd pro season. Which is an argument against overvaluing unproven guys based on scouting reports and small sample sizes.

        Maybe a more scientific approach would have pointed these flaws out. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

      • Mister Delaware says:

        But whats the cutoff? Avg (on the 80-20 scale) of the top 10? What if the team has an awful 11 on? Of what if the value is in some team having a dozen 50s? If he did that, not only would people complain about the rankings, they’d complain about a methodology that a logical person (which I believe Law and a good deal of us here (you included) to be) would admit is inherently flawed. Just doesn’t make sense to attempt.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I disagree. Anyone with a basic training in statistics could fix the problems you address.

          I never said anything about top 10, you brought that up out of the blue. I would assume you’d look at all real “prospects” in an organization. The cut off would be a certain likelihood of making an impact in the major leagues based on your model. Some teams might have 3 guys who reach your cut off, others 30. Who knows.

          You could then factor in quantity (depth) vs. quality (stars), upside vs. probability, and other factors.

          I am not saying that the model should be purely based on Law’s 20-80 ratings. I think stats should probably be the biggest component. How the player actually played, adjusted for age, level, position, and other factors. I would also look at other factors including a sort of quantified scouting report. Somehow I would want to reflect a player’s projected performance with a confidence interval around it, which would encompass both upside and probability.

          You test your model against historical results in making it and continue to test it against actual results, making adjustments and improvements as needed.

          Right now it’s just “this is the way it is because Keith Law says so.” I cannot accept that as legitimate. My suggestion is to say “this is the way it is and this is why it is that way.” Then say “this is how our predictions have worked out the past X years.”

          • Mister Delaware says:

            But the only thing you’re being asked to accept as legitimate is that “these are Keith Law’s rankings”. There are no ramifications beyond that.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              They are also effectively ESPN’s rankings. And ESPN is the self proclaimed “worldwide leader in sports.”

              If you’re going to do something, do it right. I mean, nothing written in any publication has any real ramifications beyond it being that author’s interpretation and representation.

          • rbizzler says:

            KLaw is on record saying that he bases his rankings on his first-hand scouting of a player and then uses stats to confirm or call into question his analysis. In the instances where he hasn’t seen a particular player enough, he relies on what his contacts have to say. Obviously, it is not a perfect system, but these lists are just food for thought and a good way to dream about the future for obsessive fans (myself included).

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Yeah, I guess my point is that I think there’s a better way. I suppose I should put my money where my keyboard is and actually create a model.

          • Jake says:

            This whole exercise is inherently subjective. He’s stating his opinions based on stats, level of competition, scouting, what he hears from others in the industry and his own personal experience. Don’t make this out to be something more than it’s not. He’s not saying 2 + 2 = 5. He’s giving his opinions. Don’t like it, fine, give your own or find one you like better.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              “Don’t like it, fine, give your own”

              That’s precisely what I’m doing…

              It is not “inherently subjective.” It is just being done subjectively. That doesn’t mean a more objective approach would not work better. This is why MLB teams are starting to use statistical analysis along with scouting: it has value.

              • rbizzler says:

                FYI, I am pretty sure that Bill James, et al have tried to come up with a projection system based on MiL numbers, but I am not sure how much confidence that people have in it. Obviously, there is the MLE calculator but that seems like a pretty blunt tool.

                I look forward to reading about your research (I mean that in the most non-sarcastic way), but if you do come up with some sort of revolutionary formula, I suggest you keep the Voros McCracken story in mind!

    • Steve (different one) says:

      i think you are being a little liberal with what you are calling the “early 2000′s”.

      by the time the Sox had those guys as prospects, i think they were recognized for their quality and the yanks’ system was considered barren by that point.

  25. Mike says:

    I would have liked to see his 20-80 grades for all of the top 100. He did this for his top 100 draft prospects last year, both their grades now and his expectation for their future grades. Also would have liked to see where each guy was drafted just to have that “ahhh, why didn’t the Yankees draft him?” moment 75 times, but I can do that on my own.

  26. Russ says:

    Here’s my question…

    Our 4th starter, one Mr. Ivan Nova is still rookie eligible (42 IP) yet couldn’t crack the organizational top 10 list.

    After some discussion, I don’t believe he even cracks the top 15 (Marshall, Murphy, Culver, Phelps, Adams, Laird et al).

    So, the obvious question is….does this fact leave you all very impressed or really nervous?

    • KyleLitke says:

      I’d be concerned if he has to be the 4th starter. I’m not sold on Nova and his appearances last year did nothing to change that…he was good initially in most games then would get completely lit up the second time through.

      But for the most part, neither. To me he’s a decent 5th starter option, which is nothing I’d be throwing onto a prospect list if I’m most interested in upside. But it doesn’t necessarily mean he’d sink the team either, especially if Andy returns or they find someone more reliable than Mitre and Nova to be the 4th starter (leaving the 5th starter job to Nova).

      Ideally he’d be the 6th starter getting called up if there’s an early injury, but short of resigning Pettitte and signing someone like Duchscherer, it doesn’t seem too likely.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      I think Nova crossed the 45 day rookie threshold.

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