There have been a lot of questions lately about the strength of the Phillies system. This is not going answer where the Phillies are because Top 100 prospects are not an exact sign of the strength of system. This is because not all prospects are equal, but also because the depth of the system factors into the overall ranking. However, what we can do with Top 100 prospects is see how uneven the distribution of prospects is in baseball.
For this exercise we are going to use MLB.com’s Top 100 prospect list because it is the only fairly live updating list including the 2014 draft class. What I did was see how many top 100 prospects each team had and then grouped them by the number in each and here was the results:
|# of Top 100 Prospects||# of Teams||Teams|
|7||3||Astros, Cubs, Pirates|
|6||3||Mets, Royals, Twins|
|5||5||Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Rangers|
|3||5||Phillies, Nationals, Braves, Dodgers, Mariners|
|2||7||Marlins, Reds, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, White Sox, Indians|
|1||3||Giants, Athletics, Angels|
|0||3||Rays, Tigers, Brewers|
As we can immediately see, the top 11 teams on the list have 64 of the Top 100 prospects, and there are 13 teams at the bottom combining for only 17 of the Top 100 prospects. We would expect the rebuilding teams to have a high concentration of top prospects, especially post deadline, but the only players to move at the deadline that would affect this list are Addison Russell from the Athletics to the Cubs and Colin Moran from the Marlins to the Astros.
This distribution of prospects made deadline prospect blockbusters difficult to pull of because the contenders lacked the big pieces needed to make a huge prospect swing. Of the Top 12 teams on this list only the Kansas City Royals are in a playoff spot with the Pirates and Blue Jays still in the race. This turned what should have been a seller’s market into a buyer’s market because the buyers just did not have the pieces to pay for the goods on the market.
The Phillies fit in the middle of this group with 3 Top 100 prospects, this puts them firmly in the middle tier of farm systems if only judging by Top 100 depth (the exact for those that care would that this breakdown would put them between the 13th and 17th best farm system in baseball). The system is not at the very top yet, but it is not at the bottom of the list either.
When it comes to trades we can see why Amaro encountered difficulty in making trades, he could not be asking for a Top 100 prospect, yet still be asking for a Top 3 prospect in a system. The lack of depth at the top can make it look like your next tier of prospects are better than they actually are.
Overall there is a real divide in the prospect world, driven by many factors, including years of selling, high draft picks, and strong Latin programs, but the end result has been a concentration of wealth in a few farm systems.