For the first time ever, John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com has released a ranking of the top farm systems in baseball. Normally Sickels ranks the prospects for each team in the majors and leaves it at that. This year he went a step further to put a ranking on every system in the majors. The Pittsburgh Pirates finished 12th on his list. Go here to read the rankings.
Sickels started off with a disclaimer on the ranking process, and why he never ranked teams prior to this. He mentioned about how the end result of saying “the Athletics are 11th and the Pirates are 12th” is very subjective to the person doing the rankings. He also mentioned that he considers depth more than other analysts, which explains the ranking for the Pirates. His number one team, the Toronto Blue Jays, had eight players with a B-plus rating to headline their system. Following that they had eight more players with a B-minus rating. By comparison, the Pirates had Gerrit Cole rated an A, Jameson Taillon rated an A-minus, Josh Bell a B-plus, then two B’s and three B-minuses.
The Pirates have the better system at the top. If you take the top five or six prospects and match them up, the Pirates end up better off than Toronto. But going beyond that, Toronto easily wins. A lot of publications seem to be top heavy with their analysis. I’d expect a top ten by Baseball America, and wouldn’t be surprised with a top five ranking. Baseball America has focused more on the top of the system in the past, rather than taking the approach Sickels took by weighing the middle guys heavier.
The difference is that there is no difference. It all comes down to subjectivity, and what the person doing the rankings values. Both rankings tell the same story about the farm systems. If I’m correct on my guess for Baseball America’s rankings, it will just illustrate what we know: the Pirates have a lot of impact talent at the top of the system. Sickels points out another thing that we know: the system isn’t loaded with top talent in the middle like the situation with Toronto. There’s a lot of guys who are rated C+ right now who have breakout potential, but right now we’re still waiting on those players to break out.