Well grab my tongue and paint me red, the Cubs suddenly have a competent farm system according to ESPN’s Keith Law.
This may seem like a non-news issue, but Mr. Law isn’t exactly a baseball slouch. He’s spent years on the scouting scene and has been a contributor to baseball prospectus on multiple occasions. When it comes to prospecting, he’s one of the leading authorities.
Law has some big love for the Cubs this year despite his previous years of placing the Cubs in the basement of the rankings on a regular basis.
Jumping from 20th overall in 2012, the Cubs have surged upwards to 5th on the list one season after Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took control of the team. Is this a coincidence? Not at all – in fact, it was to be expected. Epstein and Hoyer have continually made their plans to bolster the farm system very public and are living up to their word.
Here are the top 10 results from this year’s list:
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Minnesota Twins
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Houston Astros
- Chicago Cubs
- San Diego Padres
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
- New York Yankees
Here’s what Law had to say about the Cubs ranking on the list:
The Cubs’ rebuilding process isn’t much further along than the Twins’ or the Astros’ in terms of time, but they spent extravagantly in the international market before the new CBA’s restrictions went into effect last summer, landing the Cuban toolshed Jorge Soler (and the Cuban flop Gerardo Concepcion, but we’re not going to talk about him), then later using their international pool money on the Dominican pitcher with an electric arm currently known as Juan Carlos Paniagua, who has gone through more names than the thief known as Parker. The Cubs also scored big in last year’s draft, addressing the system’s lack of starting pitching candidates while also bulking up its depth in outfield prospects.
We can grumble all we want about the Cardinals having the best overall system in baseball, but these are some pretty big compliments coming from Law. No doubt he is very impressed with how the Cubs play the international market, which is smart considering that most international players can be as talented (if not better) than a lot of North American players and can be had for much cheaper. The fact that he mentions pitcher Juan Paniagua leads me to believe that he thinks highly of him, which can never be a bad thing.
Take in to consideration that the Cubs’ system also broke the top 10 in John Sickle’s overall ranking of farm systems and you’ve got to imagine that the Cubs are a real force in minor league play.
For reference sake, the Padres were ranked #1 last season and have since slid to #6 overall. The Padres were still number 1 despite losing Anthony Rizzo as well and it really shows the sporadic nature of system ranking. Could the Cubs’ system climb even higher next season? For now, nothing is for certain but with the second overall draft pick in 2013, the Cubs will certainly add more key pieces to the mix. RHP Mark Appel’s name has been tossed around as a potential pick as well as LHP Sean Manaea, OF Clint Frazier and RHP Ryne Stanek. Each one of these young prospects would add immediate impact talent to the Cubs’ system should they be drafted.
The future is certainly bright with the progressive development of Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Arodys Vizcaino (who Law is a huge fan of,) the Cubs’ farm system is sure to climb the ranks further in the future.