Keith Law of ESPN Insider has ranked all 30 farm systems in baseball today and his conclusion is that the Cubs have the best farm system in baseball. Law says that the Cubs have "the strongest collection of top-shelf hitting prospects I can remember since I started working in baseball."
None of this comes as much surprise to any of you. In fact, Law starts his write up of the Cubs with, "Take a moment to recover from your surprise." The Cubs have been amassing an impressive collection of hitters since Theo Epstein took over the team and most of those players are now close to major-league ready.
The article itself is an ESPN Insider only piece, meaning that you need to subscribe to be able to read the whole thing. (I don't want to shill for Disney, but a subscription to ESPN the Magazine is pretty cheap and it comes with ESPN Insider access.) But while staying within the rules of "fair use," I can tell you that Law says the Cubs have top prospects at every position except catcher and first base. The "problem" with the system that he mentions is that there simply aren't going to be enough at-bats to go around for all of these players and eventually they are going to have to deal some of them for pitchers.
Law is not as high on the Cubs pitching prospects (who is?), but he does mention Duane Underwood as someone who could be an impact player even if he's a few years away.
Here's a short video of Law discussing his rankings and the Cubs farm system.
Looking at Law's overall rankings, things look good for the Cubs as the Pirates are the only other NL Central team that rank in his top ten. His top ten farm systems are:
- Chicago Cubs
- Minnesota Twins
- Houston Astros
- New York Mets
- Boston Red Sox
- Atlanta Braves
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Colorado Rockies
- Washington Nationals
- Los Angeles Dodgers
And his bottom five are:
30. Detroit Tigers
The rankings of the top five and the bottom five don't surprise me at all, although I thought the Dodgers system was better than Law has them ranked. Law does say that the Dodgers top three players rank up with the Cubs and the Twins and their overall top ten prospects are strong, but that the system drops off fast after that. The Braves make the list on the strength of all the prospects they picked up in their off-season deals.
The bottom of the list is dominated by two very good teams, Detroit and San Francisco, who have been dealing their top prospects for major leaguers in a "win-now" mode. You can add Oakland to that list, although the A's system is down from their mid-aughts heyday in any case.
The Angels and the Brewers are just bad.
Law will be coming out with his top ten list for each team and top 100 list of all prospects over the next few days. We'll have more updates when they become available.