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Keith Law ranks the farm systems

Jan 28, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

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It’s that time again: the week when Keith Law releases his prospect rankings. His content this week — along with Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis 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 the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Houston Astros. The bottom: The Milwaukee Brewers.

The reasons and the rankings of everyone in between: you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription to find out. Sorry, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it. This is what pays their bills. And really, though I typically don’t like to pay for content, an ESPN Insider subscription is worth it for Law’s work alone.

  1. bazata - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Im sure ESPN makes plenty of money to pay Keith Law for his outstanding services without making people pay for ESPN Insider. Save us the bull please.

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      You confuse what ESPN makes with what it pays its writers. I could be wrong, but I doubt if it’s any different from any other big American corporation in this regard.

      • rocketsteadman - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        If they spread out Chris Berman’s salary amongst the writers such as Keith Law, I don’t think anyone would complain.

      • rje49 - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        If Chris Berman vanished forever I don’t think anyone would complain, either.

      • natstowngreg - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Just a manifestation of the human tendency to want something for nothing. We’re supposed to believe that, if something is on the Internet, we should get it for free. Preferably, without ads.

        Never mind that some of the material is provided by businesses trying to make profits. Like ESPN, which can decide whether to sell its material, and how. It’s up to each consumer to decide whether the material is worth the price. Some Web sites aren’t worth the price when they’re free.

      • nightman13 - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        The number of thumbs down on Old Gator’s post is astonishing. People that clicked thumbs down, just do 3 minutes of research anywhere but FOXNews and then come back and thumbs up to cancel your idiocy.

    • forsch31 - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Actually, they hired Law to write for them for their Insider service, so I doubt it.

    • eddiek77 - Jan 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      Agree 100% Tease us with the headline, click a link that takes us to ESPN with yet another tease and the direction to become an ESPN Insider. Screw that. I’ll just watch the games and see how it all unfolds.

    • pjmarn6 - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      If you read King Kong’s article, you note his inability to use the English language.
      ” The reasons and the rankings of everyone in between: you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription to find out.” is terrible English at best and nonsensical at its worst.

      The reader is supposed to be a mind reader to understand his poor grammar. No wonder he left the law profession.

      • nbjays - Jan 30, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        There’s nothing wrong with Craig’s grammar here. Apparently you are the only one having trouble reading and understanding it, so that would make you the problem.

  2. migoli - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    So basically this article is a commercial for espn? Thanks

  3. nymets4ever - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Gotta love blatant cross-advertising

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Yep. Uh…where does ESPN return the favor, or are you just honking your bile horn again?

    • jwbiii - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      You do know that NBC Sports and ESPN are not the same company, right?

    • forsch31 - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      ESPN is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC.

      This is a website owned and operated by NBC.

      So, basically, Craig is sending business a competitor’s way simply because Law does good work.

      You got a point that doesn’t involve willfull ignorance, or do you just like to climb up on your soapbox to bleat along with the rest of the sheep?

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Oh, he’s definitely a bleater. He bleats so often you’d think he suffered from hamofeelia.

  4. clesportsfan - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Where are the Expos?

  5. caeser12 - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I love you like a Brother Craig, but, I would NEVER pay for an insider subscription to BSPN/Disney, I WON”T!

    Now back to our originally scheduled program.

  6. spytdi - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    I think most of us come to this site to avoid ESPN, no?

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:49 AM

      This guy, right here.

  7. Ben - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    I mind paying for ESPN when in addition to paying for a subscription I count three graphic ads, one text ad, and one auto-playing video ad. There’s nothing worse than auto-playing video ads.

  8. jre80 - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    Keith Law is a bum. Didn’t wanna see it anyway. You could prolly take that list and wipe your a$$ with it.

    • nbjays - Jan 30, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Let’s see your list then, genius.

  9. doctornature - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Paying to read anything on the web opposes the idea of the free sharing of information which is what makes it great. Law needs to start his own website like Bill James and millions of others if he wants to get out from under ESPN’s thumb and make some real money. Espn grew from a great idea into a pestilence I avoid at all cost, and I would rather pay to get RID of ESPN than pay to read anything on their site. From the comments I read here I am not alone.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Paying to read anything on the web opposes the idea of the free sharing of information which is what makes it great. Law needs to start his own website like Bill James and millions of others if he wants to get out from under ESPN’s thumb and make some real money.

      You’re kidding right?

      This is the “public” part of Bill James Online. Bill James Online is a place where people pay $3 a month to discuss baseball, sports and other topics.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Unless its a good Porn website, its ok to pay for those sometimes

  10. fishfiletkray - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Who pays for this crap?

  11. tmhofficial - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    I pay for ESPN Insider to track all sports and read their weekly, in-depth articles on MLB, NBA, NFL, etc. Keith Law is outstanding. Craig isn’t advertising for ESPN, he’s complimenting a colleague, and rightfully so in this case.

    I think it’s worth the price of admission. If you don’t, that’s 100% fine, but don’t rip the system or writers.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Isn’t it something like $12 a year? I can’t remember because mine auto-renews, but it’s so cheap these complaints are absurd.

      And btw, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and Kiley McDaniel’s Scout BB website are just a few baseball sites that charge a subscription fee for the full content.

      • tmhofficial - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Exactly. I think mine renewed at $19.99 this year. So that $1.67 per month really sets me back.

        Plus, I get the ESPN Magazine mailed to me, including the Body Issue.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        It’s usually even cheaper, because they run 50% off deals as well. Regardless, it’s not like we’re talking about a $25/mo subscription. It’s the cost of two six packs a year.

    • ctony1216 - Jan 28, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      Well, it’s kind of weird way to compliment Keith Law, saying he wrote a great article but then not sharing any of it like HBT writers normally do.

      “Hey, let’s talk about Keith Law’s rankings of baseball’s best farm systems! … er, I mean, go pay to read Keith Law’s article, then we’ll talk.”

      So, you get very little discussion about rankings, and instead, a lot of discussion about paying for content. Not that that issue isn’t worth discussing, but it’s not why people clicked on the story.

  12. gibbyfan - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    ESPN is a cash cow–that’s why Disney bought it and apparently their model is working well. Nothing wrong with that –they should make all the $$ they can because that’s what a free market sytem is all about. We all have the choice to buy in or not. We always have the option of sites like this one

  13. jwbiii - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    You can get similar information free from John Sickels or Marc Hulet or (team sites).

    Lists at Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus are free, but you have to pay for the reports.

    There’s enough free information available that I don’t see the need to pay for it, unless you value Keith Law’s opinions more highly than John Sickels’, Marc Hulet’s, and Jim Callis’/Jonathan Mayo’s.

    • tmhofficial - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      But do you get an awesome fleece pullover with those sites?

      Exactly. Case closed.

  14. sophiethegreatdane - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    I’m not going to pay to read an opinion. The web is full of free opinions.

  15. eddiek77 - Jan 28, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    Since I have no desire to become an ESPN Insider, I can’t say for sure but will guess that the Pirates are in the top 5.
    At least, Baseball America says they’re number one and no. I’m not an insider there, either.
    What’s truly hilarious about this is that once those prospects make it to PNC Park, they’ll be on the trail to finding riches elsewhere, because it’s clear that the Nutting family will never be able to justify paying for baseball talent as owners of the team. Fireworks? Yes. Bobble heads? You bet. Warm water coming out of the fountains? Just part of the marketing and sales. But paying players? Are you insane?

    • mikhelb - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Rankings vary a lot from season to season… specially those by Keith Law and company at ESPN even if the crop of players is basically the same.

  16. therooneyskilledwebster - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    Per Law: 1. Houston 2. Minn 3. Pitt 4. Cubs 5. Boston

    • mikhelb - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Fill the gaps 😛

      06 Mets
      07 Royals
      08 Rockies
      09 Padres
      10 Orioles
      11 Dodgers
      12 Cardinals
      13 Rangers
      14 Phillies
      16 Reds
      17 Cleveland
      18 Nationals
      20 Yankees
      23 Tampa Bay
      24 Toronto

  17. mikhelb - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM


    If you search in google

    By replacing “team” with the name of each of the other 20 teams not published (most everybody posted the top 5 and bottom 5), you’ll get the info for the full list, there will always be a fan that will post what ESPN Insider has regarding his favourite team.

  18. mikhelb - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    One of the highest drops if not the highest: Yankees, went from #10 in 2013 to #20 in 2014.

    The Dodgers went from #18 in 2013 to #11 in 2014.

    The red sox went from #17 in 2013 to #5 in 2014 (Baseball America had them at #6 in 2014 and a lot of fuss was created by redsoxfans and boston writers alike for the low rank mr Law gave them).

  19. zemongoose - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Anybody clicking this link is already aware of Keith Law. Posts that provide no information except a link to a paywall are less than useless.

    Baseball is the only sport I need real in depth analysis that I willing to pay $$$ for. Law would be the only insider I would read. I’ll stick to my Baseball Prospectus subscription

  20. keltictim - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I would pay for it on one condition

  21. keltictim - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    I would fully pay for it on one condition. I get one if those old school football phones

  22. stex52 - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Cards took a hit. I guess that is all those hot prospects graduating to the MLB.

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