The latest farm system rankings to come out belong to Keith Law, who released his top 30 farm system rankings today (ESPN Insider subscription required). In the description, Law noted that the top tier of talent for the Pirates was very strong, but that the system lacked depth, which he said was surprising considering the high draft positions and the amount of money they’ve spent on amateur talent.
Law’s ranking is the highest the Pirates have been ranked out of all of the major outlets. That’s not really a big surprise. Law has been higher on a lot of the Pirates prospects than most outlets. He had Luis Heredia in his top 50 mid-season rankings last year. He was one of the highest on Gerrit Cole heading in to the 2011 draft. He’s also been one of the highest on Robbie Grossman, who had a breakout year in Bradenton in 2011, then continued his run in the Arizona Fall League, which Law covered.
On the flip side, Law has been lower on Starling Marte than most.
The depth issue is one that has been discussed over the past few weeks with the various prospect rankings that have been released. It’s true that the Pirates lack a lot of depth behind their top prospects. They don’t have a lot of guys who are established prospects. What they do have is a lot of young players who are a year or two out of high school, or college guys like Alex Dickerson who are talented but have yet to prove themselves in the higher levels.
The Pirates have a lot of guys who could be breakout candidates, just as Robbie Grossman broke out in 2011. On the flip side, a breakout isn’t guaranteed, as we’ve seen with Quinton Miller so far. Until we start to see more Grossman’s and fewer Miller’s from the 2009-2011 draft classes, we’re likely to continue to hear the “lack of depth” arguments.