Keith Law Ranks Cubs System Fourth Best in Baseball

The Cubs farm system received more accolades on Tuesday morning when Keith Law released his ranking of the 30 farm systems. Baseball Prospectus recently placed the Cubs behind the Twins and ahead of the Pirates for the second best system in the game. Keith Law thinks the Cubs have the fourth best system in baseball behind the Astros, Twins and Pirates and ahead of the Red Sox.

Keith Law made an excellent point about building a successful organization and it all starts with scouting and player development. Those are the best two ways “to build a competitive big league team” according to Law. Allocating funds to the scouting and player development departments helps build organizations. Law said, “Good organizations hire and retain good people, enact strong processes and then execute them.”

As for Keith Law’s view of the Cubs’ system, Law indicated the Cubs “are absolutely loaded with bats, but they could use a few arms.” The top four prospects in the Cubs’ system “are all impact players, three because of how they’ll hit and one (Albert Almora) because of his defense/offense combinations. If the players continue to develop, Law thinks the Cubs could have one of the best offenses in the National League.

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Keith Law’s Ranking of the Farm Systems
  1. Astros
  2. Twins
  3. Pirates
  4. Cubs
  5. Red Sox
  6. Mets
  7. Royals
  8. Rockies
  9. Padres
  10. Orioles
  11. Dodgers
  12. Cardinals
  13. Rangers
  14. Phillies
  15. Diamondbacks
  16. Reds
  17. Indians
  18. Nationals
  19. Marlins
  20. Yankees
  21. Mariners
  22. Braves
  23. Rays
  24. Blue Jays
  25. Giants
  26. A’s
  27. White Sox
  28. Tigers
  29. Angels
  30. Brewers

Keith Law’s list of the top 100 prospects in the game publishes on Wednesday and his look at the Cubs’ system posts on Friday.

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  • 07GreyDigger

    If the offense thing holds true, I can see Castro being shipped out for pitching at some point.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      His contract is at fair rate………..four top pitching prospects at least!….but which team?…….too early to discuss it now.

  • John_CC

    Interesting that only team in the top 10 that has not been built by years of losing seasons and top picks is the Red Sox.

    I am not being facetious or trying to be snarky. It goes to prove that the Red Sox have one of the best scouting and player development processes in the game. They maintain one of the best farm systems without picking at the top of the draft. Same goes for the Cardinals.

    The converse can be seen by looking at crappy teams, those that have drafted pretty high for years yet have terrible farms; the Brewers, White Sox, Mariners.

    • cubtex

      very true. Look at the top 10. All perennial losers. Red Sox have drafted quite well 2010,2011 and 2012. They made that trade to the Dodgers to get rid of those albatross contracts(Agon and Crawford) and got another couple of good prospects in Allen Webster and others. Boegarts was an international free agent. So they have done well lately. Cherrington has done a great job over there.

      • Tony_Hall

        LOL!

        • cubtex

          it is very true. Look how many of their top 10 prospects were added by Cherrington. Keith Law had the Red Sox at 11th in 2011 and 18th in 2012. Great job by Cherrington to get that up to top 5 from there.

          • Tony_Hall

            Of course he has done a great job, he had a GREAT teacher!

          • cubtex

            yea. he showed whar not to do! those make the best teachers ;)

          • Tony_Hall

            What did Theo do to you? Really, your absolute hatred for him won’t allow anything good to be said about him in any way.

          • cubtex

            Seriously Tony. Look at what he has done since he has been here. He has put together terrible teams. Handpicked a manager that he fired 2 years later. Traded the best pitching prospect in the organization for an average 1st base prospect. Hasn’t picked the “right” targets in the international free agent market..Ryu,Puig,Cespedes,
            Darvish. The one thing that he has done is improve the farm system(that ANY gm could have done) by getting top draft picks. He is not trying to win and I am totally angered by these lost opportunities. He has taken a team that I love and looked forward to watching them play to a product that is unwatchable. I think he has done an awful job. This is year 3. No excuse for Valbuena/Murphy. Sweeney/
            Ruggiano, Schierholtz,Barney. No excuse for a 70 mil dollar payroll. Sorry, but you asked

          • Tony_Hall

            Some would say that the last few JH years were unwatchable.

            You didn’t like Theo before he got here. That is just your viewpoint of the last 2 years. What is the real reason for your hatred for Theo?

            btw no charge for the therapy session

          • John_CC

            You are forgetting that cubtex is a Yankee fan.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL! Now it ALL makes sense.

          • cubtex

            Not a Yankee fan,although I wish they owned the Cubs. They don’t care about luxury tax. They care about winning each and every year. Look at their record over the last 10 years. Let’s see if “boy wonder” can match that. lol

          • Tony_Hall

            Let’s go back 13 years, to when the Yankees were a home grown winner.

            World Series Championships
            Yankees 1
            Boy Wonder 2 (2.5*)

          • cubtex

            Since 2002 Wins.
            103
            101
            101
            95
            97
            94
            89
            103
            95
            97
            95

            What a hell of a run! Money can buy you into the playoffs each and every year.

          • Tony_Hall

            But in 13 years of trying to BUY a World Series they did it only once after spending $425M on free agents in that one off-season.

            The sport needs a hard salary cap, with a floor that all teams can afford.

          • cubtex

            exactly and so did the Braves only do it once. You also need luck. No doubt the sport needs a salary cap. Yankees do not care about luxury tax. They already have said that will not deter them from putting a winning product on the field each and every year.

          • Tony_Hall

            They also said they would stay under the $189M. They do change their minds.

            One question.

            If they don’t care about the luxury tax.

            AND

            They won’t let money deter them from putting out a winning product on the field.

            WHY

            do they still have so many holes to fill and players who could fill them.

          • cubtex

            ARoid. #1. Injuries to Michael Pineda and Banuelos #2. Prospects like Bettances and the other B(forgot his name) who was supposed to be a TOR starter. Injuries and prospects not panning out are part of the game

          • Tony_Hall

            So, that is stopping them from using the FA market to fill the remaining holes on their team?

            It is money!

            Every contract has a 50% tax on it.

            They would have been better off signing Garza and another SP, and using the rest of the money from Tanaka to fill in the rest of their holes.

          • daverj

            I think Brackman is the third “B” you are referring to.

          • Dorasaga

            Chipper Jones appeared in 3 WS + 3 more NLCS.

          • cubtex

            Your point???? Jeter appeared in 7 WS + 10 more ALCS.

          • Dorasaga

            Exactly. You got no point. It’s apple to orange. Braves to Yankee Sucks, Cubs to Yankee Sucks. What do you know about the Braves winning model? The NYY throughout history? Do you know NYY had one of the best four farm systems the last century? How many homegrown talents were from those days?

            I’ve been reading lofty comparisons lately from you. I’ll love the Cubs to be NYY ever since Jim Hendry fed us with “one or two moves away” from a World Series. But you know what? There’s only one NYY in this world, so just live with it!

          • cubtex

            again. wow! fantasy baseball should be starting soon for you.lol

          • Dorasaga

            So now, instead of debating over what you don’t understand, you decided to make fun of others who are trying to make a real point?

            You are such a baby.

          • cubtex

            why did you edit that last line that showed up on my email? who is making fun? You broadcast about your love for fantasy baseball. good for you. It will start for you soon so you can do your research beyond the numbers and find out why players respond the way they do. The game is not that complicated my friend.

          • cubtex

            I should say 10 year run. 2002 to 2012. We were talking about a 10 year run.

          • Tony_Hall

            Well I have said 13 years and 2002-2012 would be 11 years, but if you say 10, then 10 it is.

            Regular season record doesn’t buy Championships! Just a playoff appearance that in today’s MLB is a 1 game, win or go home.

            You defend the Yankees and talk so glowingly about them.

          • cubtex

            ok delete one year if you wish. I defend about high salary teams have a huge advantage and buy their way into playoffs. Theo did it in Boston. Dodgers did it and Yankees do it every year. Cubs could do it too.

          • Tony_Hall

            In 10 years do you think teams that use FA to buy their way to the playoffs will win more World Series, or teams that build their team through the scouting and player development systems.

            With the game becoming more of a young man’s game is on the scouting and player development versus the 30 something Free agents.

          • cubtex

            no doubt about it. Teams that can afford to buy that ace like a Tanaka or Darvish when they are ready to win a WS have a huge advantage

          • Tony_Hall

            You think Tanaka’s arm is going to fall off, now he is going to help a team win a World Series?

          • cubtex

            ok to recap what I said about Tanaka. He is for a team ready to win now. He is not this arm that you hold onto for 3 years expecting that he will be healthy in 2017. Just like Dice K…He is to win a WS immediately

          • John_CC

            Yeah that WS in Texas wa….errr…nevermind. But when the Dodgers paid a billion dollars for their current pitching staff they won…nevermind

          • Dorasaga

            Why are you two wasting your lives AND CCO webspace talking about Yankees Suck?! Yes, YankEes SUck!!

            Hooray! The Texan loves Yankee Sucks. Why should I care?

            Tell me something about Kuroda taking over Sabathia as the ace, or why the Ichiro trade had limited effect to their win totals? Dig in.

            Seriously? Yankee Sucks. I’m outta here.

          • cubtex

            This Texan didn’t bring up the Yankees. Why should I care about Kuroda or Ichiro? Dig out

          • Dorasaga

            Because there was a difference in identifying what truly contributed to a win, as opposed to what we imagined an unrealistic, revisionist history.

          • cubtex

            only one word for that. wow! so glad I don’t play fantasy baseball.

          • John_CC

            Get over yourself, dude. Dorasaga is not some basement dwelling fantasy baseball geek, he has a baseball knowledge and makes good arguments. This is second or third condescending reply to him.

          • cc002600

            I agree with you that having a 70M payroll is pathetic, but I have a feeling that is being dictated down from Ricketts. I find it hard to believe that Theo & Jed wouldn’t spend some of that dough if they could.

            Theo is by no means perfect but you are overlooking some deals that have turned out pretty good. Wood for Marshal, Strop/Arrieta for Feldman. Rizzo for Cashner (ahem :-)), and the jury is still out on some of the other deals but there is potential – Vizcaino, CJ Edwards, Olt, Grimm, Black, etc. and yes, they have drafted high so you expect good choices, but look back at some of the other high picks in cubs history that were complete busts.(Vitters, Montanez, etc) and you realize that nothing is guaranteed. So when you look at it from that context, I think almora and bryant were excellent choices. Plus, they got Soler.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree. I have canceled the money for computer baseball, don’t care if WGN does not renew, for what? To watch this team on the field? Until something happens that is a concrete move towards putting a major league roster on the field I am content to watch cooking shows, at least that’s entertainment.

          • Tony_Hall

            Try MILB.TV

            Iowa Cubs and Tennesse Smokies have their games all live.

          • paulcatanese

            Same thing.

          • cubtex

            It is sad isn’t it. Not even looking forward to watching the Cubs on opening day(I don’t ever remember that being the case) I will watch the Horns play and the RR Express and catch some games on TV but will not go out of my way to watch any Cubs games until they give me reason to watch.

          • John_CC

            Come on. I haven’t looked forward to a Cubs season since 2009! 2010, 2011…those were wasted, lost years. And a lot worse than last year because in 2011 we still had Jimbo telling us they were just “a couple moves away…” away from what he never described.

            In my eyes, the 2014 season has the most potential of the last 5! The kids are coming…

          • GaryLeeT

            You need to blame the one holding the purse strings. Darvish, Cespedes, A. Sanchez, Tanaka, and I am sure even Girardi, all had contract amount limits set by Ricketts.

          • Ripsnorter1

            And don’t forget to add this:
            He has already totally tanked the 2014 season. We are possibly looking at the #1 pick in the draft.

          • John_CC

            AAAhhhh….THE SKY IS FALLING THE SKY IS FALLING!

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are way behind: it fell nearly three years ago.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Theo has to get a ton of credit for that system. Cherington has made some nice moves as well but Theo was laying the groundwork. That’s one of the big reasons that he ended up leaving is because he wanted to build through the farm but ownership didn’t support that idea.

            I’ll give the Sox credit for doing both at the same time. But you have to give Theo credit for a lot of their system. He has been, overall, the top talent evaluator in baseball of this millennium.

        • John_CC

          That was a good one. One of your best, cubtex! so subtle in the insult it was almost discernible!

    • jtrain23

      The Red Sox are on this list, but are also not considered a “small market” team. I think you must have a combination of the two to achieve maintained success.

      The teams that overspend but have no prospects are always chasing free agents, overpaying for players, and seeing a lot of overturn on the roster which makes extended success difficult.

      Teams that have great prospects, but cannot pay free agents or keep their own have trouble winning because by the time their prospects pan out, they are looking for big dollar contracts that the team cannot give them.

      That is what is encouraging about the Cubs being on this list. They have the great prospects, but also SHOULD have the money to pick up extra pieces and retain their in house talent when the time comes.

      Aside from the Red Sox, the Cubs are the only team in the top ten that has this ability. (Besides maybe the Mets) Let’s hope the Cubs path follows that of the Red Sox more than the Mets in recent years.

  • texcubnut

    One quick look at Law’s list and in my mind, breaking down the list into 10’s, the top ten are made up of teams, with the exception of the Red Sox, that are either small market teams or teams that have seen little to no success recently, or both. The second ten, the Dodgers to the Yankees, have achieved the most playoff and organizational success, due to their abilities to use their minor league developmental programs, their trades, and the signing of impact free agent players. The final 10 are teams that have had some success, but, are probably on the way down, due to a lot of ‘albatross’ contracts and the obvious, being in the bottom third of minor league systems.

    I guess my long-winded point is that , even though we are in the top ten in minor league systems, I want the Cubs to be in that second tier of teams and I think we will be. 2014 should be a ‘turning point’ year for the Cubs. A year to start moving up talent to the top levels and see how they do and what exactly we have. By 2015, we should know and start making trades and impact signings combined with our minor league talents and finally bring some much needed relief to a fan base that has been ,for the most part, very patient.
    I look forward to the success and, much to the dismay and disbelief of Rip and Ray, I believe this organization is close to getting there. I hope I’m right

  • BigJonLilJon

    With all the losing, shouldn’t we have a top system? I understand that you still have to pick the right players, but still….. it’s not rocket science. And throw on top of that all the trades for prospects. I still ask the big question…. when will we see a MLB team on the field?? We continue paying the highest ticket prices, the cubs are consistently ranked as one the top profit making teams…. when does the madness end??

    • Tony_Hall

      The Marlins are 19th. It takes more than just losing.

      From Neil’s article above.

      “Keith Law made an excellent point about building a successful organization and it all starts with scouting and player development. Those are the best two ways “to build a competitive big league team” according to Law. Allocating funds to the scouting and player development departments helps build organizations. Law said, “Good organizations hire and retain good people, enact strong processes and then execute them.””

    • Tony_Hall

      Also, not sure about the profit, I read recently that the numbers on the lists they you see are before their interest payments, which they have large interest payments, as mandated by Sam Zell as the structure of the sale.

      • paulcatanese

        To be sure the profit margin may be tainted because of what you say. But this also says what I had posted a few days ago about Ricketts buying the team. Roof top rebuilding problems, the interest payments, money problems at the present (for whatever reason). Don’t you think that all of these things should have been reviewed before Ricketts made his purchase? I stated that he had needed a better attorney to point these things out, and maybe he did, and Ricketts bought the team anyhow.
        Evidently Ricketts wanted the Cubs so bad that he overlooked or thought they all would disappear quickly.
        I don’t fault anyone with the decision to buy, but unfortunately it has presented a number of delays in the process.
        A lot has been done however with the minor league system, new achievements with Arizona and the Latin countries.
        Bringing Theo in may be the right thing at the time to try and re-build, but I don’t think Ricketts or Epstein thought it would take this long or the
        reversal of the program (time) would take place.
        While it may be true that Tanaka and others from last year, Cespedes and Puig were blown, I have to think it was because of the financial structure and what was left in the coffers. And none of the above may be true, maybe it wasn’t blown for that reason, the end result was they didn’t get any of them.
        Monies were indeed spent to improve the foundation, and I realize that. However, I cannot condone the lack of players at the major league level and the feeble attempt to put a winning team (or at least a competitive one) on the field. I also cannot buy the bringing in of players that have not played an inning based on projected comebacks.
        The players that have been listed in the top 100 are great to be listed, but the futures are a question mark. I think the majority will succeed but just not at the same time. All of this will take time, and the idea of a World Series championship in the near future is totally a gamble, so many things that enter in even if all the players that are brought up succeed above the highest hopes.
        Luck is needed.

        • Tony_Hall

          It wouldn’t matter if Warren Buffett bought the Cubs, the structure of the deal was dictated by Sam Zell to save the Tribune tax money. The choice to use this timeframe to rebuild the organization from the ground up was Ricketts and the right decision for the long term success of the team.

          Luck is needed by every team and every team that wins a World Series has luck on their side.

    • cubtex

      What you say is 100% true but many don’t like to hear it. When you trade MLB players each and every year for prospects(not mlb ready players in return) and finish with a top pick for several years in a row….it is almost impossible not to have a top system. Now…if they traded the Garza’s,Dempster’s,Maholm’s,Soriano for major league players and put together a competitve mlb team and possibly got into the playoffs now that there are 2 WC’s that would have been an accomplishment.

      • Tony_Hall

        Or a band-aide!

    • No Baseball In Indiana

      We HAVE a top system.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        but we still need more pitching.

    • John_CC

      Are you CDC’s lil brother? Or is he your mentor, alter ego, one of his other “personalities?”

  • Eugene Debs

    LOL @ the Brew Crew. What a mess.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      At least their MLB team will be above our Cubs this season.

      • Eugene Debs

        No doubt. Still, the organization is about to hit really tough times.

    • TheWrongGuy

      I agree a BIG mess.
      Yes good rotation.
      Yes good offense. (yet needs more balance ie LH bats).
      No bullpen depth. I don’t like their bullpen. This will be their downfall this season IMO, our CUBS have a better bullpen IMO.

      On another note how good will Braun be without his drugs?

  • Tony_Hall

    Buster Olney isn’t even waiting for ST to make predictions on 2014 playoff teams.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post?id=4595

    Division winners
    AL – TAMPA, Detroit, Oakland

    NL – Washington, St. Louis, Dodgers

    Wild Card teams
    AL – Boston, NY
    NL – Atlanta, San Diego

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Bruce Levine will have the Cubs as a Wild Card.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Please stop this. There was zero reason for you to take the opportunity to put down Levine.

        This is the last time I ask.

        Thank you.

    • No Baseball In Indiana

      The Friars!?! Buster’s been in the hooch again.

    • Dorasaga

      “Boring!” –House, M.D.

      I’m tired of the gutsy guesses about nine months away. When will Yahoo Fantasy Baseball open for business?

  • No Baseball In Indiana

    Law is the only one to rank the cubs outside of the top three. Take it with a grain of salt, but the hysterics here are well worth a read. Damn you Theoyer, damn you to hell!

    • cubtex

      couldn’t agree more Hoosier. Indianapolis Indians have a better roster :)

  • CubbyDenCritic

    2014 Season……

    Playoff teams…..

    Red Sox
    Rays
    Tigers
    Indians
    Angels
    Rangers
    A’s
    Cardinals
    Nationals
    Braves
    Dodgers
    D-Backs

    Treading water……

    Yankees
    Royals
    White Sox
    Mariners
    Pirates
    Reds
    Giants
    Padres

    Sinking………..

    Blue Jays
    Orioles
    Brewers
    Mets
    Phillies

    Wait until 2018……

    Twins
    Astros
    Cubs
    Marlins
    Astros

    • Ripsnorter1

      Those Astros won’t be waiting until 2018. I think they will finish .500 or better this year.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        In that division?…..if they do, give the Manager of Year award to Bo Porter.

      • Eugene Debs

        No way.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Interesting Theo built two of the top 4. He’s good at this…

    • GaryLeeT

      He is, but I wonder what the system would be ranked without Baez in it.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        I’d imaine he is good for at least 5 spots. I guess we’d be at 10, maybe 12 at lowest.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    You either a Cubs fan…or you are not……many of us have gone through many bad seasons, managers and players in the past…….I think the main problem is that many fans thought that Theo & Ricketts were going to turn this club around over night……….first, it takes years to build up a farm system that can produce prospects…….the other way is through free agency….and A+ players want to win now and not sign with teams that SUCK……which leaves us signing only low rate players……..
    There are many reason to watching & listening to the Cubs in 2014……
    – New Cubs Manager…..
    – Castro & Rizzo rebound from a bad season
    – Baez, Olt, and other Prospects
    – Watching our Bullpen & new Closer
    – Seeing major stars from visiting teams.
    – Watching the end of Samardzija Cubs career
    – Enjoying 100 year old stadium and stale popcorn
    – Cubs Trade Rumors
    – Cubs Draft
    – Clark the Bear
    – Roof Top Saga
    – Cubs Promotion Giveaways….some of you might want to add to your Bobble head collection
    – or just meeting the women in the stands
    Sure this Cubs team will SUCK in 2014……Rookie mistakes will happen…bad base running, poor hitting, poor pitching…….but by 2017, Cubs should be in playoff contention if they are still following Theo’s game plan.

    • paulcatanese

      Not desirable, but at least honest. 2017 may be a stretch, but a WS? Yes that is very close or longer for that matter.