Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is the farm system in bad shape?

Last year, the Cubs were recognized as a team with an improving and somewhat deep farm system.

A couple days ago, released its list of the top 50 prospects. The Cubs had one player on that list, Brett Jackson. On top of that, he wasn't even rated very highly on that list at 46.

Last year, the Cubs also only had one player on that list and that was Starlin Castro who is now the everyday shortstop on the big league team.

A ranking of only the top 50 players doesn't necessarily say very much about the state of a team's farm system, though. The average would be less than 2 players per team on a list like this.

Next month might give us a little bit of a better indication of the state of the system when Baseball America releases its list of the top 100 prospects. Last year the Cubs had 5 players on that list, Castro, Josh Vitters, Jackson, Andrew Cashner, and Jay Jackson.

Considering the Cubs have traded away what many people believe were two of the top prospects in their system (Chris Archer and Hak Ju Lee) and 3 other prospects from 2010 are solidly on the major league roster now (Castro, Cashner, and Tyler Colvin), it should be considered a good thing if the Cubs were able to score 3 players on that list from Baseball America.

No...the we can't call the Cubs farm system weak quite yet...but we can say it isn't nearly as strong as it was last year...that is something people should expect when the team has had to start using that farm system to rebuild. The Cubs still have Brett Jackson who will obviously make the BA list. Trey McNutt will likely also make the list after having such a good season last year. It is possible that Chris Carpenter could make this list as well and possibly even the Jeff Samarzija wannabe Matt Szczur. It will be interesting to see if Josh Vitters has dropped off the top prospects list after his development appears to have stalled out.

If only Jackson and McNutt are on that list, that could signal some reason for concern. If Carpenter or Szczur are on that list, we should feel secure with the direct of the organization. If the Cubs have more than 3 on the list this year, then we should be the Cubs would then appear to have a very strong young talent pool to pull from compared to other teams.