Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (29) | 2012 (30) | 2011 (27) | 2010 (23) | 2009 (16)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [63-99] AL Central
AAA: [65-78] International League — Charlotte
AA: [77-63] Southern League — Birmingham
A+: [71-69] Carolina League — Winston-Salem
A: [61-76] South Atlantic League — Kannapolis

Arizona Fall League PlayersGlendale Desert Dogs
Chris Bassitt (RHP); Charlie Leesman (LHP); Stephen McCray (RHP); Kevin Vance (RHP); Micah Johnson (2B); Marcus Semien (SS); Brandon Jacobs (OF); Jared Mitchell (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Avisail Garcia (OF); Josh Phegley (C); Jordan Danks (OF); Andre Rienzo (RHP)

The Run Down
Back in July I went on a brief rant, imploring White Sox brass to change their ways and improve their flaccid trajectory. It went like this: “There are several questionable farm systems in baseball, but the Chicago White Sox are certainly one that stands out. For years now, the Sox have maintained a firm MLB-first approach to player personnel. They’re a principled franchise that would rather allocate its baseball operations budget toward free agent signings and MLB extensions than toward draft spending. And when they do stumble upon a real-deal prospect, they usually like to trade him for a veteran dude, someone to help that playoff push. It’s a model that occasionally works — they won a World Series by it in 2005 — but it’s not one that’s built to sustain success. And now, in 2013, the White Sox are awful. They’re in total rebuild mode — everything is for sale. This is finally their opportunity to change direction, to try to build a system that cultivates and utilizes impact talent. They’ve already dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for Brandon Jacobs, an upside outfielder with a skill set that might be very useful in the fantasy game. Don’t stop there, Chicago. Tear it all down.”

Well, they couldn’t quite tear it all down — there were no Adam Dunn buyers in the market — but they were able to make some key moves and splash some youth into an organization that desperately needed it. Most notably, Avisail Garcia was an outstanding acquisition. He’s ineligible for this list, but he’d be an easy #1 were he still hanging onto his prospect status. Don’t get me wrong here, this system is still lacking, but it’s no longer the weakest in the game, and its overall direction has improved greatly.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (30) | 2012 (18) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (26) | 2009 (25)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [78-84] AL West
AAA: [78-66] Pacific Coast League – Salt Lake
AA: [73-66] Texas League — Arkansas
A+: [69-71] California League – Inland Empire
A: [56-78] Midwest League – Burlington

Arizona Fall League PlayersMesa Solar Sox
R.J. Alvarez (RHP); Cam Bedrosian (RHP); Mike Morin (RHP); Michael Roth (LHP); Jett Bandy (C); Taylor Lindsey (2B); Zach Borenstein (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Kole Calhoun (OF); J.B. Shuck (OF); Grant Green (2B); Andrew Romine (3B); Dane De La Rosa (RHP); Michael Kohn (RHP)

The Run Down
The postseason is barely underway, but let’s get on with some 2014 baseball chatter because I just can’t wait.  As always, we’ll be easing you into these MiLB previews, starting with the poorest systems, and working our way toward the best as Opening Day approaches next spring.  So here we are at the bottom; The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Hoo boy, this is a thin, low-impact group.  Making matters worse, the Halos forfeited their first round picks in each of the past two seasons when they signed free agents Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols.  LA fans probably don’t want to hear this right now, but the Cardinals used their 2012 first round pick to draft Michal Wacha.  Ouch.  Take solace in the fact that you guys still produced Mike Trout, whose career WAR at age 22 is 21.1.  That’s insane homegrown output over the past two seasons, so I can’t feel too bad for you jerks just yet.

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Jonathan Singleton | 1B, Astros | Born: 9/18/1991

Jonathan Singleton tested positive for using marijuana. He was busted for that twice, actually, and the after the second offense, baseball suspended him for the first 50 games of the 2013 regular season. Now, I could probably spend the rest of this post writing about how idiotic it seems to slap such a lengthy suspension on a 21-year-old prospect for puffing a few doobs — after all, this is the same sport that hardly cares to notice when year after year ballplayers are arrested for driving while drunk. The crime/punishment standards in these cases seem a tad ridiculous, but what do I know? Anyway, before news of his suspension, Singleton was being tabbed as a 2013 impact arrival. He’d spent all of 2012 at Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a full-season line at .284/.396/.497 with 52 XBH (21 HR). He was all set to begin the year at Triple-A, on track for arrival in Houston sometime in the mid-to-late stages of the regular season.

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Jorge Alfaro | C, Rangers | Born: 6/11/1993

When we published my mid-season top 50 fantasy baseball prospects back in July, naturally there was some discussion in the comments section regarding the list’s more unforgivable omissions. The one that popped up the most was Cleveland Indians shortstop prospect, Francisco Lindor, but there were also folks clamoring for guys like Lucas Sims or Austin Hedges or Joc Pederson or any number of other borderline top 50-ish prospects. No one, however, asked why Jorge Alfaro wasn’t ranked, or how far off he was from cracking the list. But two months after posting that top 50, Alfaro, in my eyes, is the unforgivable omission. He’s potentially a top 25 talent, boasting a fantasy ceiling that is as good or better than any other catching prospect in the game. I’ve been slow to tout the 20-year-old, but I’m trying to make up for lost time with his very own post right here. Do take note.

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Kyle Crick | RHP, Giants | Born: 11/30/1992

The hype machine has a habit of shutting itself off when it comes to injured prospects. It’s the nature of things in prospectland — it’s hard to get excited about a given player’s future when he’s not even on the field. Such was the case with San Francisco Giants pitching prospect, Kyle Crick, who missed two months of the season with an oblique injury. Not to imply that Crick is getting no hype — he’s pitching too damn well for that — but because his name hasn’t been at the forefront from April through August, he’s probably not getting the full attention that he deserves. In 14 High-A starts this season (11 of which have come after the DL stint), the 20-year-old has posted a 1.57 ERA, and a K/9 at 12.5. That line includes his final start of the regular season (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K), but it does not include his first career playoff start, which took place this past Sunday (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K). These last two outings make it impossible to deny that this is a prospect who’s ready for a test in the upper levels. Crick will get a taste of that advanced competition in the Arizona Fall League next month, where he’ll be one of the prospects I’m most excited to track.

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I’m gonna double-dip on what I wrote a year ago in my week 23 MiLB report because 1) I think it still holds, and 2) I’m a double-dipper: “The Minor League Baseball season has reached it’s glorious culmination. Well, actually, it’s not very glorious. No, no one really cares who wins in the New York-Penn semis, or the International League title, or the Midwest League championship. It’s just not that interesting. Not even for me. Sure, organizations do their best to instill winning attitudes throughout their farm systems, and I absolutely agree that’s important. It’s why Jeff Luhnow is still tweeting crap like “#JETHAWKS WIN”. Yay, Jethawks… It’s fun for the players, I suppose. It’s fun for the small-town fans, too. And it’s a small source of pride for player development types. But that’s about the extent of it. All that said, the various MiLB playoffs are still worth keeping an eye on, if only for the handful of real-deal prospects who’re performing on a slightly grander stage than usual. So, to wrap up this year’s Minor Accomplishments series, I leave you with a brief rundown of what’s happening with some of the more notable prospects in their respective postseasons.”

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This is always painful, but it’s also necessary. What follows is a look back at my preseason prospect rankings — a self audit, if you will. To be clear, this isn’t a re-ranking or anything, but it should suffice to remind all of you that I am mostly stupid. Please keep in mind that these guys are very early in their careers, and there is plenty of time for each to either figure it out, or get figured out. Anyway, let’s cut to it. Here’s the list as it appeared back in February:

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The Arizona Fall League has announced its preliminary rosters, and as usual, this year’s AFL is loaded with high impact talent. Offensive headliners include Byron Buxton, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler. On the pitching side of things, we’ve got Kyle Crick, Alex Meyer, Andrew Heaney, and Marcus Stroman. I’m leaving out plenty of other notable prospects, too. These rosters are always a welcome relief for us prospect enthusiasts who fear the onset of the withdrawal symptoms that inevitably come with the baseball off-season. The AFL should keep the nervous twitching and general malaise at bay, if only for a little while.

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Back in May, I wrote a Courtney Hawkins fantasy. You can read it here. At that point in time, Hawkins was at High-A Winston Salem knocking homers at a good rate, but he was struggling to make contact, striking out more than 50% of the time he stepped to the plate. Near the end of the writeup, I said this: “The Sox must be thrilled with the huge power Hawkins is showing, but if the K’s continue at this rate, they’ll need to consider bumping him down the ladder to a level where he can more easily focus on approach and pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve in that regard, and for fantasy baseball purposes, I truly hope he doesn’t go the way of the Donkey. Either way, though, he’s a fascinating dude to follow.” So here’s our Courtney Hawkins update, almost four months later: .182/.252/.407, 19 HR, 9 SB, 38% K-rate in 95 games at High-A. In other words, the whiffs continued, and the White Sox never demoted him. Hawkins is an extraordinary athlete with enormous upside, and I rarely am one to question a team’s development strategy, but it bothers me that the Sox have allowed their 19-year-old prized prospect to struggle so severely all season long. He won’t be ready for Double-A next spring, and I’m beginning to worry that this 1st rounder might never realize his potential.

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Javier Baez | SS, Cubs | Born: 12/1/1992

I realize I’ve been a little Javier Baez-centric lately (see here and here), but I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m also not going to apologize for the fact that I already wrote one of these posts on Baez around this time last year. No, I’m actually going to take this time to write a few hundred more words on him because he’s pretty much the hottest thing going in Minor League Baseball, and y’all need to take note. Baez is beasting right now. There’s no gentle way to put it. For the past month the 20-year-old has been drilling lasers all over Southern League ballparks, and in many cases, out of said ballparks. Since being promoted to Double-A Tennessee in early July, Baez has posted 28 XBH (14 HR) in 185 PA for a slugging average of .631, which is an insane figure for a middle infielder.

Please, blog, may I have some more?