Yankees rank 20th in Keith Law’s organizational rankings

Dellin Betances' Big Chance
Scouting the Free Agent Market: Pitchers on Minor League Deals

Keith Law posted his annual farm system ranking today (subs. req’d), a list that is predictably topped by the Astros. I guess that’s the reward for running out a $25M payroll and making no effort to be competitive: the best collection of minor league talent in the game. The Twins and Pirates round out the top three while the Tigers, Angels, and Brewers sit at the bottom.

The Yankees rank 20th on the list, which seems right. Middle of the pack-ish but closer to the bottom. “It seemed like everyone who mattered in this system got hurt in 2013, and of those who didn’t had disappointing years,” wrote Law while noting just about all of those injured prospects will open the 2014 season healthy. He also mentions the team’s three first round picks in last summer’s draft helped keep them from ranking even lower. The Yankees don’t have a good minor league system right now and we really didn’t need Law to tell us that.

Dellin Betances' Big Chance
Scouting the Free Agent Market: Pitchers on Minor League Deals
  • Guns

    Who cares. Where were the Red Sox ranked!! Wherever it was it’s TOO HIGH!!1!

    • RetroRob

      #5. So you feel better, as in worse:

      5. Boston Red Sox

      They rival Houston for the best top 10 of any team, with as many prospects on the top 100 as the Astros have, and while they don’t have Houston’s depth, Boston’s system is pretty deep, with at least a half-dozen pitching prospects who reasonably project (that is, not just pie-in-the-sky forecasting) as No. 4 starters or better.

      And that ignores the part about their best prospects being position players who hit and most of whom play very good defense. When a defensive whiz like Christian Vazquez, a catcher who can hit a little, can’t crack your top 10, you’re doing a lot of things right.

      Brewers came in last, yup, even worse than the Angels.

      • Eselquetodolosabe

        …..,and drafting 3x before our first pick, in what “experts” are considering a stacked draft. Why the heck are The Brewers at the bottom ?

        • The Great Gonzo

          They are an explosion of a ballclub. I blame Selig for being an overall horrible human being. Karmically speaking, that is….

    • Dave203


  • TWTR

    They were unlucky last season, but given their unimpressive track record over multiple years, there is no way that important decision-makers in the development area shouldn’t have been replaced.

  • RetroRob

    Yup, feels about right.

    Have high hopes for 2014.

  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    Pretty much what I would have guessed.

    Wait, what’s that you say? Where are the Rays? REALLY?! I could have sworn that Andrew Friedman was a genius and it didn’t matter where you drafted yada yada yada.

    • Dave203

      Yeah the difference is all of the Rays prospects of old are now salary-controlled major leaguers…

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        They’ve been terrible in the draft since 08. I wonder where they were drafting that year…

        2 prospects in the top 100, one is out for the year. Sure, from 01-08 they ran circles around NY. It helps when you draft top 10 every year.

        Once they were in the bottom 10, for some weeeeird reason, the magic isn’t there anymore.

    • Farewell Mo

      How do you explain the Cardinals and Red Sox then? They’ve both been pretty successful for many years now yet still boast good farm systems in addition to having multiple cost controlled young players.

      Excusing the Yankees for their poor farm due to having low draft picks is a cop out. Does it contribute, certainly but it’s far from the whole story.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        Yup, that’s what I said. Exactly it. Well done interpreting. Top notch.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          I especially love how many times I excused the Yankees farm system. That was the best part of my comment.

          • Angelo

            I laughed. I’m not sure where “Farewell Mo” was pulling that from.

      • Bo Knows

        Cardinals typically draft in the late teen’s early 20’s; there is usually at least one shot at getting a very talented polished college player that might have fallen due to some minor concerns (Miller, Wacha are just two recent examples both being drafted at 19th overall in their respective drafts) There is a big difference drafting there versus say the 32nd overall pick, or more normally in the late in the 2nd round since the Yankees often lose their first round picks.

        Redsox, have tended to go polished college players with most of their early round picks. Yankees in contrast, have tried to go for high risk high reward players, which as we’ve seen does not pan out too well.

        The right route might be to mix high reward with solid players, like they’ve done this past season

  • Silvio

    Agree: sounds just about right.

    And, worse: it’s a cause of worry that after all that hoopla a few months about, about an organizational review, nothing really significant developed in the way of personnel changes.

  • RetroRob

    For comparison, one year ago Law ranked the Yankees at #10 and the Red Sox at #17.

    Just pointing out how fluid these can be from year to year.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      This, too.

    • Mike

      He shouldn’t have changed the rankings.

  • Vern Sneaker

    It would be interesting to know the correlation between the rankings five years ago and the number of minor leaguers in each system who either are currently contributing in the Show or have been meaningful prospect pieces in a trade that turned out to be significant. I’m guessing the correlation is fairly low and would be any year you did the comparison.

  • special kid

    o k

  • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

    Can’t wait for his chat this week when a fan from every team accuses him of ranking their team too low.

    • Kevin

      Including the Astros

  • The Great Gonzo

    Nothing to see here, Cashman failed, lets move on

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Could post that in every RAB thread, really.

    • TWTR

      Well, he didn’t exactly succeed either.

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”
      • Farewell Mo

        Funny thing is Cashman has gone on records as saying the farm system has been totally inadequate in recent years. The only few who won’t admit it are the apologist crew around here.

        • Steve

          It’s much easier to keep trotting out the same 2 or 3 tired memes than do any critical thinking

          • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

            No, it’s just funnier.

            Exactly what kind of critical thinking were you expecting to see in the comments for this article?

  • There’s the Door

    Can’t win a championship without any major homegrown talent. Nobody’s ever done it.

    • TWTR

      I actually think a team can (although it may be impractical) if a team is willing to engage massive outspending vs. the competition, and not just reactively as the Yankees did this offseason and in 2009, but pretty much year after year.

      Really, if the Yankee didn’t fall victim to a quick and steep decline from Tex, and if Burnett was a 115 ERA+ pitcher rather than the 80 ERA+ he was for two seasons here, they might have been able to win another WS.

      But as a general rule, you’re right.

    • Mike

      I agree. Boston proved that you can overhaul your team in free agency and win a championship.

      • pat

        Add in a nice once in a lifetime opportunity to dump like a half billion dollars in salary and you have a sustainable business model.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Except for the Red Sox who did it like 4 months ago, or the Yankees that did it in 2009, etc etc etc.

      • sLOmO

        just stop

        There is a big difference in using free agency to augment your lineup and it being your lineup. the red sox of last year included:

        and you can throw in salty, napoli and uehara too as players thrown out with the bath water but reclaimed by boston.

        As far as your sustainable business model comment, the Sox have one, proven through not tying up post-’15 roster spots for decaying players such as ellsbury, mccann and beltran. that and respecting young players is a business plan, unlike praying that quality players will become available for $150mm+ next year, and the year after, and then after that will ever be.

        • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

          Ortiz belongs with the Salty/Napoli group.

          And while you’re going to just focus on the Red Sox part of it, you conveniently forget that the 2009 Yankees had Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera, Cano, Cano, Gardner, Melky, Hughes, Joba, Robertson, Coke. Swisher was a rescued cast off.

          Also, regarding the Red Sox, Pedroia is pretty much the same as Ellsbury in your comparison. Plus you don’t know what they’ll do with Lester and Buchholz, nor do you know if they’ll go splurge on some free agent in the future.

          So let’s just settle down and watch things play out.

          • RetroRob

            Shhh…don’t destroy his delusion.

          • Mike

            I wish we had 2 Canos in our team.

            • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

              Whoa. How the hell did I miss that, I wonder?

              Now I can’t remember if I meant to put someone else in there or not.

        • RetroRob

          All teams have a mix of home grown, traded for players, and free agents. Just so happens the Red Sox 2013 season was built heavily on imported free agents.

    • Evan3457

      The key players on the 1977 Championship-winning Yankees that came to them from their farm system:

      Thurman Munson
      Ron Guidry
      Roy White

      That’s all. Not nothing, but of the team’s collective 53 bWAR, they added up to 14.

      I suppose it depends what you mean by the word, “major”, I suppose.

      • Evan3457

        Last sentence approved by the Department of Redundancy Department.

  • Dan

    Obviously the system is in rough shape, but I’m going to be a bit optimistic about it. There’s a good chance that if Austin, Heathcott, and Williams stay healthy they’ll have nice seasons repeating their levels. If that happens, and Banuelos and Ramirez have decent and healthy years in AAA, suddenly the system looks way better and has depth in the high minors.

    Obviously there are a lot of ifs in there, but I’m really looking at this as the low point for the high minors while it’s headlined by these players, before the depth in the low minors makes its way up.

  • Mike

    That ranking is a joke. Our farm system is very good.

    The top systems in Law’s rankings are mediocre teams anyway, and probably won’t make the playoffs.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      Yep, you’ll be that guy in his chat this week.

      • Gonzo

        I laughed.

  • Eselquetodolosabe

    ….and what makes this ranking worse is that the reason for the low ranking wasn’t a by-product of the parent club raiding the minors for talent, or trades. Hopefully this year will begin the turn-around down on the farm. I’m looking forward to the start of MiLB games almost as much as the NYY’s season.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Retro Rob pointed it out earlier, one only has to look at last year’s list to realize how fluid these things are and how much things can change on a year to year basis. While this is going to sound defensive, as it’s coming from a Yankee fan, I also think it has a lot to do with who the “flavor of the season” is. Just two years ago everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) was raving about the Nationals system, and how with their ML team and their minors they were going to be legitimate World Series contenders for the next decade or so. Now (unless they’re number 4, in which case somebody correct me) they aren’t even in the top 5. During the 2012/2013 off season, coming off of a 69 win season and absolutely falling apart the Sox were 17 now after winning the World Series everybody is hot on them and they’re top 5.

    • The Great Gonzo

      THIS. The concept of prospect ranking is so fickle, 3 years ago everyone was on Montero, last year it was Jackie Bradley Jr’s world and we were just walking through it, and next year we all will have forgotten about Taijuan Walker…

  • MC

    In 2010 the Yankees were coming off a WS championship and at the time were pushing a consensus top 5 farm system. It’s seems like ages ago, but it was very recent. This is relevant because its exactly where the Red Sox are now. So while they are all high-fiving each other, that will change very fast. Furthermore, it’s statistically proven that 70% of prospects flame out, so the Sox have what? 9 in the top 100? You’d be lucky if just 2 make any real impact in the majors.

    The case of the Red Sox is a fascinating one since there appears to be an extreme bias somewhere in the media to favor them. I looked over a few of their prospects within the top 100 and a couple are rated far FAR too high. Just a massive overestimation. Ultimately, scan those names, because 24 months from now, only 2 will have stuck.

    Looking at the others; very strange to see the Phils rated as high as they were. They have few impact players. I’m glad that someone finally said what needed to about the Braves. Another Red Sox like celebration annually about their prospects, yet almost all of them flame out. Just a few years ago everyone was chomping on them having something like 6 high ceiling arms and what; 1, maybe 2 have stuck, barely.

    The rest look pretty accurate. The Indians and Reds are kind of high in my opinion. The White Sox a little low.

    • MC

      ..and including last years awesome draft, the addition of Banuelos and other’s being healthy, I absolutely expect the Yanks farm to spring back this year. There is no way to slice it, 2013 was a complete freaking disaster for the Yanks farm. It happens, but it doesn’t mean the talent isn’t there, unlike the Angels for example. The Yanks farm in theory should be in the 10-15 range. That’s the talent level they have.

      • viridiana

        Fascinating that Yanks AA team cruised to title with young squad and yet gets little prospect respect. Also, Yanks dominated Gulf Coast prospect list with 6 of top 20– GCL prospects high-risk of course but the depth is there. Law is right though — just about everything that could go wrong for this system in 2013, did. A little good luck will go far in 2014.

    • Gonzo

      You know what’s wrong with that 70% stat? You are painting a top 5 talent in the game with the same brush you would prospect #99.

      • MC

        I’m not painting anything. I’m just regurgitating the same statistical analysis from the best at Fangraphs; that 70% of “all” prospects fail out. The 30% that pass, are most likely upper end talent, but not limited to that .

        • Gonzo

          Yes, you are painting with the same brush by regurgitating that statistic.

      • RetroRob

        Yes. Yet the fail rate of the top ten prospects still approaches 50%.

        It is pretty crazy how difficult it is to evaluate talent in baseball. Consensus top ten picks flame out at a high rate. I’m not talking about where they’re drafted, but even after they’ve been in the minors for several years, have been heavily scouted against other pro players, etc. There is a very high fail rate.

        Looking back now at Jesus Montero’s two years in AAA, I think it’s fair to say that he underperformed expectations. Maybe we give him a pass for his first year at AAA (which was solid, but not spectacular based on what he showed at the lower levels); but his second year showed no growth at all despite repeating the level.

        And we know what has happened his two years in the Majors. The guy can’t hit a breaking ball away from a righty pitcher to save his life. Yet there must have been some sign of this in the minors, and perhaps it began to be exploited in AAA, yet his rankings didn’t drop. So either the evaluators missed that weakness, or it’s not that unusual and most players eventually figure out how to adjust. Perhaps Montero is in that group who never adjusted, at least so far. Trying to figure out which player will adjust and which one won’t makes it a brutal business.

        • Gonzo

          Exactly. The fail rate of top ten players is much better than, let’s say, bottom 50 prospects.

          There were signs that Montero wasn’t the perfect weapon with a bat. I remember mentioning his platoon split in the minors to people on this site. Everyone always said, “It’s a non-issue, he’ll figure it out.”

          His last year was an abomination, but in his year before that, people still scratched their head as to why he was such a good hitter when he played catcher as opposed to DHing. It was pretty easy to see that his platoon split was much more of a factor.

          • Gonzo

            P.S. I’m not saying that players don’t figure out platoon splits when they are young. I’m just saying it’s not a gimme.

    • Dirty Water

      It’s weird how the Red Sox are the only rating that is inaccurate and “massively” overestimated. Media bias? They’ve been ranked in the top 5 by everybody so you’re saying there’s some sort of collusiion going on between ESPN (LAW), MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, etc. If you watched Bogaerts in the WS, small sample size obviously, I don’t think you would be doubting his ranking. He could flame out like all prospects but I also remember highly touted prospects like Hanley Ramirez and Nomar becoming stars. Ellsbury was probably rated highly as well but I’m not sure. It’s ironic you cry media bias when you’re clearly affected by Yankee fan bias.

      • sLOmO

        Top Sox prospects since 2003, season start, per soxprospects (the best authority by default):

        Sanchez ramirez le rosa
        lester youkilis shoppach
        Ramirez moss pedroia
        papelbon lester hansen
        Ellsbury buchholz bowden
        buchholz ellsbury masterson
        anderson bowden reddick
        kelly reddick kalish
        kalish iglesias renaudo
        middlebrooks renaudo bogaerts
        bogaerts bradley barnes

        that’s an astounding hit rate that makes the endeavor well worth it

  • Gonzo

    Jim Callis had the Red Sox at #5 on his personal list last year, so good on him.

    It’s actually kinda fun looking over the old comments from last year. I made some silly comments, but I wasn’t alone.

  • CONservative governMENt

    I don’t worry about team ranking too much, since to me it’s a few at the top and bottom and everyone else lumped in the middle year-to-year.

    It is a little sad to me that Cano, Hughes and Joba are gone. Hoping we get a new batch out of Austin, Heathcott, Murphy, Williams, Bird, Jagielo, Judge…

    DePaula and Campos seem to have lost some luster but could bounce back with Hensley and Clarkin coming.

  • RetroRob

    This was linked from John Sickles’ minor league ball site. Prospect rankings from a Brewers perspective. Obviously, that organization is getting hit hard right now, but thought it interesting Sickels linked to it. The part that some organizations lobby hard to get their players on these list stood out, for whatever it’s worth.