Skip to content

Keith Law ranks the farm systems

Feb 4, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT

Cardinals logo

It’s that time again: the week when Keith Law releases his prospect rankings. His content this week — along with Jonathan Mayo of’s rankings and a couple of other lists — truly helps form the basis of most fans’ understanding of prospects and the minors in general. Because let’s face it, we just don’t get to see those folks as much as they do.

Law kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

The top system: the St. Louis Cardinals. The bottom: The Los Angeles Angels. The reasons and the rankings of everyone in between: you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription to find out.

Which, yes, I know, no one likes to pay for content. I don’t either. But I have found that Law’s annual prospects stuff — which I go back and reference dozens of times throughout the year — along with Buster Olney’s daily column/links post is worth the subscription if you’re a true baseball freak. So, if you have the means, definitely consider it.

  1. thebadguyswon - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    I’ll pass. I know Law has his biases, and they will show up in his rankings. He’s right about St Louis though.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      What biases does he have?

      • jarathen - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        It’s a bias cat, really.

      • schlom - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        I think the main one is that if something is unmeasurable than he discounts it. He completely ignores any type of personality issues in his analysis – for a good example see his reaction to the Justin Upton trade.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        So you are saying he’s biased because he doesn’t count things that are uncountable?

      • schlom - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Just because you can’t count something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        I never said it did, but how do you factor something in that can’t be measured? The following players, at one time or another, were considered “cancerous” to their team:
        Justin Upton

        How do you determine which is more or less cancerous? If you can’t, then why bother discussing it?

      • paperlions - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Yes, that is the point. It is not whether or not intangibles exist or have an effect, it is the inability to establish their existence or the sizes of their effects that is the problem (of course, that is also what makes them intangible, by definition).

        In any case, if you don’t know how big (if any) an effect a variable has then it is not possible to accurately include it in any analysis. By including it you have as great a chance of inhibiting understanding as you do of increasing it, therefore, the only real option is to ignore it.

      • Dan the Mets Fan - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        Even if he were to factor in personality issues in his regular work, isn’t it a tad unrealistic for him to rank 30 farm systems while using it as a factor? How would you go about tracking who is a lazy a-hole and who is a supremely-motivated overachiever among 600-plus minor league prospects?

  2. darthicarus - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Always makes me feel good inside knowing the Tigers have a lot of money invested in guys who will likely be past their prime & still making scores of cash & then looking at their farm system and it’s ranked 25th. Though winning a World Series in the next year or two would be a nice treat in case the future turns into 2003 repeated.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Can we get to the event before you kill the afterglow? I’m kinda excited about winning a Series soon.

  3. uyf1950 - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Law has the Yankees farm system ranked 10th, not bad considering Banuelos and Campos have been injured and won’t see much action in 2013.

  4. heyblueyoustink - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    I actively avoid handing ESPN any extra money. I’ll leave the farm reports to the farmers, and keep my eyes on futures involving pork bellies and frozen orange juice.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Klaw’s stuff really pays for insider alone. You can also do an online version that’s super cheap, like a couple bucks a month. It gives you access to all the guest writers they have on doing articles like the guys from fangraphs and BP.

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        It’s more of a principle thing Church, they make enough money off us as it is, at least 5 cents per household plus their advertising pull, which indirectly affects the individual wallet on the back end as well as the front end.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        I agree, but I think of it more than I’m helping to pay those guys salaries, rather than paying ESPN (idiotic way to look at it, but still).

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        You should have seen my assault on AMC when they started running their scare campaign about my cable provider being evil and them being a small helpless network, bunch of BS that was. I’m suprised they didn’t ban me from their twitter account.

    • Francisco (FC) - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Another great movie. Hey cur-ball, this is a can’t miss film. Though don’t expect clowns. However I suspect you like your comedy with violence and preferably with blood and gore so…

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Comedy with blood and gore? Why yes, I do own a copy of Poultrygeist in fact!

      • Francisco (FC) - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        Now I’m going to have to check it out. I meant my message to be for Mr. Cur, since he obviously roams these here parts regularly.

      • cur68 - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        Yo, wassup, FC (you miscreant)? This here be a Trading Places reference, no? T’is, t’isn’t it, and don’t deny it. One of my all time favourite movies. Beeks in a gorilla suit with the new love of his life: awesome. Jamie Lee Curtis, circa 1983: AWESOME.
        World’s Greatest Canadian (non-baseball player edition) Daniel Edward Aykroyd: Beldar Conehead to YOU, peon!
        And, of course, Eddie Murphy before his career suffered ego-death.

        This one did not need blood or gore: it had wit, charm, brilliant dialogue, a great plot and spoke to greater truths than even Giant Fighting Outerspace Robots who were secretly in love with Witty Evil Amazon Wonder Women ever could have.

        The scene in the Stock Exchange where The Dukes realized they’d been had? The ultimate “Surprise BITCHES!” in a movie, ever.

        Thanks for reminding me of that one. I’m going to watch it tonight.

  5. jarathen - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Law and Olney are definitely the crux of the ESPN Insider membership for baseball fans. And now that the Baseball Today podcast is done (this week’s episode will be the last with Karabell and Law/Simon as it gets turned into a Bustercast), it’s going to be even harder to get Law’s excellent analysis.

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      I’ll pay for Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America. I will not pay for Keith Law and Buster Olney.

  6. Stiller43 - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    “Which, yes, I know, no one likes to pay for content. I don’t either.”

    Why not? You get to write it off, ya jerk! We non-sports related profession having people can’t. I’m not just referring to online content, but the MLB package, etc…

    • historiophiliac - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Have you thought about decaf?

  7. mdpickles - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    What kind of favors did Law provide you to link this? Free subscription to Insider?

  8. vallewho - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    To see Keith Law’s full farm system rankings — and get access to all of his upcoming content, including the top 100 prospects in baseball — become an ESPN Insider.

  9. shorttracknews - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Can anyone tell me where the Cubs and White Sox rank?

    • darthicarus - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Cubs are #5 & White Sox #28

  10. sdelmonte - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Can someone just ruin my day and tell me how low down the Mets are?

    (I’m sure it’s worth the money, but that requires me to have the money to spend.)

    • darthicarus - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      The Mets are #14 because of the return they got from the Dickey trade.

      • sdelmonte - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        That’s fair. (Actually expected that, but of late most rankings of everything but their uniforms routinely have the Mets around 20 to 25, so I plan on bad vibes.)

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        It’s fair, but some of the teams just ahead of them are ridiculous. The Yankees farm is not better than the Mets.

  11. darthicarus - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I only have Insider because a few years ago I did one of those “get this magazine subscription for a really long time for really cheap deals” and I ended up getting ESPN the magazine plus insider until I think 2019 for about $25.

  12. bluesnats - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    ESPN magazine & Insider was $5/year via Amazon.

    • manifunk - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Seriously. KLaw’s prospect surveys alone are worth $5 a year. The extra TP that the magazine provides is just gravy.

      • dwdive - Feb 4, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        You couldn’t pay me $5 a year to read Laws anything. That guy is a dope.

    • sportsdrenched - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      That is strong. Now I know what I’m doing with the $5 I have left on my amazon GC. Thanks for posting that…seriously (because we all know, the internet is snark unless otherwise posted)

  13. bbk1000 - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Is this the same Keith Law that voted for Javier Vazquez a few years back for the Cy Young?

    This guy is a dope….

    • kirkvanhouten - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      I think you mean to say

      “Is this the same Keith Law who gave a Cy Young vote for a pitcher who posted a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts. I reasonably disagree with that decision because I feel his additional 30 innings pitched did not outweigh the half-run differential between him and Chris Carpenter”.

      I mean…yeah, I disagree with it too, but it’s not like giving a first place MVP vote to Rick Cerone over George Brett in 1980 or something (note: a voter actually did that).

      In the history of bad Cy Young votes, a third place vote to Vazquez in 2009 isn’t even a blip on the radar.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Which pitcher provided more value to his team:

      A – 192.2 IP, 2.24 ERA, 38 BB, 144K
      B – 219.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 44 BB, 238K

      • paperlions - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        You forgot the intangibles column.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Damnit I knew I hit post comment too soon!

  14. jtpercell - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Where did the Rockies rank? I’m sure that Law was down on them like he always is.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      What exactly have the Rockies done in the past few years to make them be worthy of praise? (and they are 23rd).

  15. fanofevilempire - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I love Mondays!

  16. kelshannon19 - Feb 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    At this time last year the Astros had the 27th best farm system in MLB. Now they are 4th best. What a turnaround

    • kirkvanhouten - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      And their GM is the guy who was basically responsible for making the Cardinals #1.
      (and was responsible for drafting and development Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Jason Motte and more).

      It may be a bad time to be an Astros fan, but I can think of no one better who could have been hired to build up that team in a sustainable way.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        And don’t forget hiring Kevin Goldstein and Mike Fast from BPro as well.

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 4, 2013 at 5:04 PM

        Walt Jockety and John Mozeliak had a hand in that farm system as well Kirk.
        But I do agree with your premise…Houston good do much worse!

      • paperlions - Feb 4, 2013 at 6:02 PM

        Jocketty had no hand in the farm system….it didn’t stop being a shitty system until control of the draft and player development were taken away from Jocketty, which led to him eventually leaving….but yeah, Mo had a LOT to do with it.

    • stex52 - Feb 5, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      A small glimmer of hope at last. I am surprised they are #4. They certainly don’t have much help coming soon.

  17. stlouis1baseball - Feb 4, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    good = could


  18. dwdive - Feb 4, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Keith Law is a joke and so is ESPN. His rankings carry no weight. Pay for that nonsense? No thanks…

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 4, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      Ok, please give us your rankings and explanations, and of course, which team or scouting group you work for?

  19. dwdive - Feb 4, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Stop it already. Keith Law is a joke and so is ESPN. His rankings carry no weight. Pay for that nonsense? No thanks…

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 4, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      Keith Law is incredibly condescending and arrogant. Unfortunately many baseball writers are that way. For some reason snark and derision are go-to qualities.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 5, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        He’s incredibly condescending and arrogant towards the people who act the same way to him. If you want to be treated with respect, do it to others first.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        I’m sorry, Keith’s father.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2975)
  2. D. Span (2526)
  3. G. Stanton (2459)
  4. J. Fernandez (2423)
  5. G. Springer (2399)
  1. Y. Puig (2305)
  2. F. Rodney (2207)
  3. M. Teixeira (2175)
  4. G. Perkins (2065)
  5. H. Olivera (1927)