FanShot

Ranking the Farm Systems

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Keith Law ranks the farm systems: NL Central: 4. Cards - They've drafted very well in the past few years, which has to be heartening to Astros fans, as Houston just hired Jeff Luhnow, who oversaw the Cards' recent drafts, as GM. St. Louis also has done an excellent job of developing the players it's drafted. I really like how the Cards are set up to contend continuously during the next five years. 8. Pirates - The Pirates' top tier of prospects is very strong, but there's surprisingly little depth given how high they've drafted and how much they've spent on amateur talent. 19. Reds - I would have ranked the Reds several spots higher before the Mat Latos trade, probably top 10. Outside of Devin Mesoraco, every guy with high ceiling in this system played in low Class A or below in 2011, and they're all quite high risk to go with the high reward. 20. Cubs - An unfairly maligned system, in my opinion -- not a great system, but not a disastrous one. And I say that as someone who's relatively bearish on some of the Cubs' more famous prospects. 27. Astros - The Astros might have been last if they hadn't traded Hunter Pence or Michael Bourn in July. Even though neither haul was that great, the prospects represented a major infusion into a barren system. Other notes: 1. Padres - Without Anthony Rizzo, they no longer have a top-25 prospect in their system, but in terms of total future value of players likely to play significant roles in the big leagues, they're ahead of everyone else. Some of these players, especially from the 2011 draft, will develop into stars. But there are so many prospects here with high floors, players who would be top-10 or top-five in other systems but are 11-20 here (such as Robbie Erlin or Edinson Rincon), that they are well-positioned to compete even with modest major league payrolls during the next five to six years. Fans who were upset at the sudden departures of GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod for the Cubs should find solace in the fact that the prospects they helped bring into the system (along with many other scouts and execs, including Chris Gwynn, now with Seattle, and Jaron Madison and Randy Smith, still in San Diego) remain in place. 30. White Sox - And they're not particularly close to No. 29, either. When you don't spend money in the draft, you're not going to fare well in anyone's organizational rankings. The new collective bargaining agreement, which clamps down on teams' ability to acquire premium talent in the draft through higher bonuses, was the result of a long-standing effort by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who wanted to force other teams to play by his rules.

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