Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Why the Rangers are No. 1 in baseball
ESPN.com Insider Keith Law ranked the 30 farm systems based on the current inventory in each organization. The ranking includes only players who are still eligible for the Top 100 prospects ranking -- that is, players who still retain rookie status for 2010.
And for the second season in a row, the Texas Rangers are ranked No. 1. Here is what Law had to say about the Rangers.
The best system in baseball for the second year in a row, the Rangers are strong in many areas down on the farm. They continue to draft or sign young pitching in what is starting to look like a pathological fear of an impending pitcher shortage, and their stable of arms includes potential No. 1 and No. 2 starters to innings-eater types to front-line relievers. They have big bats, some with positions (Justin Smoak) and some not so much with the glove thing (Mitch Moreland). Their system was light on middle infielders, so they signed two of the top international free-agent shortstops in Jurickson Profar and Raul Sardinas. They're light behind the plate and in center field, but they're headed for a situation where they have excess pitching and can actually trade some of it to fill other needs, an enviable position for any team unwilling to pay market prices for major league free agents. Even a shaky 2009 draft class, for which the Rangers didn't sign their first-round pick and took a couple of toolsy high school players who are light-years from being productive in pro ball, didn't sink this system, as they were active again in the international market and picked up an out-of-favor prospect from Kansas City during the season.
GM Jon Daniels, who has overseen the farm system's renaissance, recently gave international scouting director A.J. Preller -- who is responsible not just for Texas' signings in Latin America but for identifying players like Neftali Feliz, Engel Beltre, and Carlos Melo as throw-ins in larger trades -- responsibility for the Rule 4 draft as well, consolidating all amateur scouting under one person and perhaps leading to a quick bounce-back from a poor performance in last year's draft. The AL West has suddenly become very competitive, with four well-run organizations all trying to balance immediate contention with long-term building goals, but Texas remains the best-positioned team there for long-term success.