More praise for farm system: No. 2 ranking, 8 prospects in top 100 by ESPN's Keith Law
ESPN's Keith Law is also impressed with the Rays farm system, placing them second behind the Royals in his organizational rankings, and has eight Rays - the most of any team - among his top 100 prospects (including five in the top 50, though none in the top 13).
Law's work is part of the Insider package at ESPN.com, but here is an excerpt of his overall analysis:
Probably second even before they dealt Matt Garza, they're now No. 2 with a bullet and not far behind Kansas City for No. 1. They're absolutely loaded, with top-end talent near that of K.C., but not the extensive depth of prospects the Royals have. The Rays have focused on arms and impact bats in the middle of the field, mixing in the occasional corner bat (Josh Sale), but mostly recognizing that replacement level is so low right now for certain positions and roster spots that there's still some hidden value to be found. They also boast more picks in the first three rounds of the 2011 draft than any other club, so look for the prospect-rich to get richer.
The Rays are the only team to have eight prospects in his Top 100 - the Jays have seven, the Royals six. Here are the eight Rays that were included in his Top 100:
14. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
16. LHP Matt Moore
20. OF Desmond Jennings
40. RHP Chris Archer
49. SS Hak-Ju Lee
77. LHP Alex Torres
89. RHP Alex Colome
97. LHP Jake McGee
Some excerpts from the extensive scouting reports: Hellickson moved up only three spots from last season, but Law says he is as "major league ready as any pitcher on this list, and he should be one of the top rookie pitchers in the game in 2011." ... Moore zoomed up from No. 81 and Law says with better location of his off-speed pitches he has top of the rotation potential. .... Jennings dropped quite a bit from his No. 6 ranking last season, with Law citing his injuries and a change in his swing. ... Archer and Lee were acquired from the Cubs in the Garza trade, with Law saying Lee is several years away from the majors but "one of the more exciting prospects in the low minors."
Also out are mlb.com's ranking of the game's top 50 prospects, and there are four Rays on that list, with Hellickson second overall behind Angels OF Mike Trout:
Below is Law's explanation of how he comes up with his espn.com rankings:
As it has the past two years, this complements my annual Top 100 list of prospects. This ranking includes only players who are still eligible for the Top 100 prospects ranking -- that is, players who still retain rookie status for 2011.
A system that recently "graduated" a number of top prospects -- Florida and San Francisco are two recent examples, with Buster Posey, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison -- will rank lower on this list because I'm considering only what is currently on the farm. It's a snapshot look rather than a look back over a year or two of farm productivity. So if you see a team at the bottom, it might be because its system recently graduated or traded good prospects in the past year. Of course, it also will reflect teams that just haven't done a very good job of stocking the system.
Within each system, I considered the entire list of prospects but gave much more weight to top prospects -- particularly high-impact prospects -- than to organizational depth based in average to fringe-average prospects. I also considered how much major league value each organization is likely to produce the next few years. So a system with high-impact prospects who are relatively close to the majors ranks high even if the system lacks depth in second- and third-tier prospects. Of course, a couple of impact prospects plus organizational depth is ideal.