Keith Law Ranks the Chicago Cubs Farm System 4th in Baseball

albert almora kane countyThe rankings week for ESPN’s Keith Law is upon us, and he’ll soon be dropping his top 100 prospect list, as well as team-specific rankings.

In reverse from many of the other prospecting outlets, Law starts his set of rankings with the overall farm system rankings, which just came out. The Chicago Cubs land in the number four spot, primarily on the strength of the Big Four offensive prospects. The system lacks big-time arms, Law cautions, which is something that surprises no one.

The Cubs are behind the top overall system, according to Law, which is the Astros, as well as the Twins and Pirates. Together, those four seem to be considered by most to be the top four in the game in some order, with the Red Sox – who came in at number five – right there as well. (The Cardinals, for what it’s worth, come in at number 12, though that is in large part due to some high profile graduations. They’re still, sadly, a young and talented organization. The Reds are at 16, and the Brewers are dead last.) If you want to read more about each system and/or see the full list, you’ll need to be an ESPN Insider.

For those keeping track at home, the Cubs are up a spot in Law’s eyes since last year, when he ranked them fifth. Given that they’ve since added Kris Bryant, Rob Zastryzny, C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, Corey Black, and Eloy Jimenez, among others, I would certainly hope the Cubs moved up. It’s funny to look back on that ranking and remember that, at the time, being viewed as the 5th best farm system in the game was something of a pleasant surprise. Now, being ranked fourth feels like damning with faint praise.

But that’s just us being silly.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

77 responses to “Keith Law Ranks the Chicago Cubs Farm System 4th in Baseball”

  1. Jon

    The new CBA coupled with their lack of top 10 draft picks has killed the Cardinals farm system.

  2. Luke

    Given the lack of elite pitching talent, this doesn’t shock or concern me.

    I’ll stack the Cubs collection and depth of hitting prospects against anyone in the game, but while I like the potential in the 2012 and 2013 draft classes on the mound, high ceiling pitching remains a current problem. I can see ranking the Cubs below some of the more balanced but also very talented systems.

    1. ari gold

      I would think Klaw would rank the farm systems regardless of their weaknesses. Talent is talent. I think he’ll be a little lower on Baez than most. But he seems to be higher on Soler than just about anyone. Will be curious to see his list tomorrow.

      1. terencemann

        I’m with Ari, though. I think other teams just have better systems at the moment regardless of the pitching situation.

      2. CubFan Paul

        “But he seems to be higher on Soler than just about anyone”

        Because Soler spent a lot of time in Arizona where Klaw lives.

        1. FullCountTommy

          Actually, Klaw lives in Delaware now

          1. CubFan Paul

            “now” and not during Spring.

            But I did not know that he moved.

      3. Javier Bryant

        Yeah, isn’t Law the guy who said Soler is more talented and more athletic than Puig?

        1. DarthHater

          Soler is a better driver.

          1. ClevelandCubsFan

            Wow that’s low. But I laughed. :-)

          2. Patrick W.

            You have no way of knowing that. Have you seen him drive? Were you at his driving test? You’re basing this on a sample size of one for Puig? How absurd is that statement?

            1. CubFan Paul

              Instead of laughing lets jump to conclusions and call Darth a racist too.

              So much for sarcasm.

              1. Patrick W.

                “So much for sarcasm.”

                No shit?

                1. CubFan Paul

                  I didn’t know that you sucked at joke telling. Sorry.

                  1. Patrick W.

                    The inability to recognize suckiness is not a surprising trait of yours.

            2. hansman

              When he gets pulled over, Soler tends to flash large blunt objects at the cop while shouting obscenties and running after the cop.

              Thats the difference.

    2. terencemann

      Do you think the Cubs could be a strong rotation around the arms they have in their org in a similar way to how the Braves have a strong rotation? There’s no “Ace” on the Braves staff but it is solid from top to bottom.

      1. Jon

        It’s a shame there haven’t been any 25 year old TOR like pitcher(s) on the FA market not tied to any draft pick compensation, the past few years.

        That would allow the Cubs some room for error in terms of developing their rotation in house. And they wouldn’t have to deplete any minor league resource acquiring this resource.

        1. FullCountTommy

          Ya it’s a shame that pitcher didn’t want to come to the Cubs

          1. Jon

            Can’t blame him for not wanting to take a 30 million dollar pay cut.

            1. FullCountTommy

              Let’s see, the Cubs also wouldn’t give him an opt-out or a no-trade (which they absolutely shouldn’t have) and Tanaka wanted to win right away, so how much money did you want the Cubs to throw at him to overcome all of these variables? 200 million? 250 million? eleventy-billion?

              1. Jon

                I would have matched or topped the Yankees offer.

                1. FullCountTommy

                  And it would have been turned down because the Cubs aren’t in a position to win, and they wouldn’t give him a no-trade or an opt-out clause. They probably would have had to top the Yankees offer by 50 million or so to overcome those variables (pure guess but it would take a huge number)

                  1. Jon

                    You don’t know that for sure. Maybe Tanaka would have signed with the Cubs for 10 million more, maybe not. You are just making blind assumptions. Assuming the reports of the Cubs being outbid by 30 million are true, I can only judge the effort, and if that is true, it was a poor effort on their part.

                    1. FullCountTommy

                      You can’t judge the effort without knowing the whole story though. We have info from a “source.” I wanted Tanaka as much as the next guy, but for a bare minimum (and most likely more) 175 million dollar commitment with a no-trade, and an opt-out after 4 years, I’ll pass.

                    2. Cyranojoe

                      No way you’d take a 10 million boost to lose BOTH a no-trade and an opt-out clause. Those are huge values.

                2. dw8

                  “I would have matched or topped the Yankees offer.”

                  Best argument, ever.

                  1. Jon

                    It wasn’t an argument, I was responding to a question, “how much money did I want the Cubs to offer Tananka”

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      $22M-$25M AAV is just too much for unproven player I think.

                      They should be shopping for two pitchers next offseason now that Tanakas gone.

              2. dw8

                For 27 million for only four years, I’d hope he’s TOR, like the second best pitcher in baseball.

                1. CubFanBob

                  Yankee’s are paying over $35 mill a year for him if you add in the luxury hit. Good luck with that Yankee’s…..

                  1. Cyranojoe

                    Well, it’s not like the Yanks are known for their “value” contracts…

                    1. Jon

                      They should have some of their world series trophies taken away because they weren’t “efficient” enough……

        2. JadeBos

          Jon is a troll.
          Gee, to think we could’ve spent 200 million on an unproven starter. Who is probably a 2/3. I don’t get what the Yankees did. They coulda signed both Santana & Jimenez for that money at 3-4 years. It was the same money they offered Cano.
          The Yanks are that guy in the fantasy football auction draft who bids $80 on Adrian Peterson right off the bat.

          1. Jon

            That’s like 5 horrible analogies tied into one. Holy shit. Fantasy football auction draft? Really?

          2. Patrick W.

            The Yankees needed Tanaka more and had more resources to land him. That money doesn’t hurt the Yankees as much as it would hurt other teams.

            Here’s another horrible analogy: Think of resources as a big swimming pool. The Yankees have the biggest pool, and they can afford taking out water if they are adding big enough bodies to make the water level rise.

    3. Kyle


      I don’t think there’s any meaningful difference between first and fifth. Ordinal rankings present the illusion of stratification that probably isn’t there.

      1. Ivy Walls

        Actually there are groupings as in the upper tier or upper class where by any measure those five systems are well ahead of the next tier. Followed by other groupings, all which in a human competitive framework actually reflects what happens in society. There are differentials in applications (smarts) and assets (resources like cash, staff, intelligence, relative positioning) and then use and strategy.

        One thing appears to be changing is how Boston and now Chicago, both big market, big asset organizations are seeking to dominate the pipeline where formerly small market and lowered asset organizations predominated like Oakland, KC, TB, Miami. Minnesota and Pittsburgh are hanging in there but other small market clubs as in Milwaukee and Cincinnati are in trouble. Also big market clubs like the NYY, LAA, ATL, CWS, WAS, PHIL and SF are also very thin to voided.

    4. Chef Brian

      Luke, Just a fun what if? In hindsight do you think due to our glut of 3rd base prospects and lack of potential TOR arms, that Cubs regret not drafting Gray? Now mind you I know that Bryant is phenomenal and I happen to agree with his selection. I’m just wondering if knowing what they do now, would they have done it differently?

      1. Luke

        The situation was pretty much the same when the Cubs drafted Bryant. They choose Bryant knowing they had in house third base options coming, but not a lot of high ceiling pitching.

        But even if that were new information, they wouldn’t wish to change their minds. At the top of the draft good teams draft the best player available. On their board Bryant was ranked over Gray, otherwise they would have drafted Gray.

        1. Chef Brian

          Fair enough. Thanks for your insight. I also believe the Cubs made the right decision.

  3. MichiganGoat

    So since I’m lazy and some of you already no this what has been Laws rank for the Cubs in the last ten years.

    1. DarthHater
      1. DarthHater

        Bah, didn’t work. It was supposed to look like a “lmgtfy” link and then take you to a picture of a lazy goat. I way overreached my html skills. :-P

        1. DarthHater
          1. DarthHater

            Double sigh. Last try.

            Let Me Google That For You

            1. MichiganGoat

              The force is weak in you

  4. blublud

    I don’t see how the twin rank so high. I agree, Buxton is a monster. Sano, ugh, he’s OK. After those two, however, there is nothing that intrigues me.

    1. aaronb

      Sano is Baez

      Or the closest comp to him in baseball right now.

    2. ced landrum

      Alex Meyer and Kohl Stewart are really good prospects. 28 and 40 respectively. Then Berrios is a top 100 pitcher too. So I mean they are really top heavy, but the fact that they have 2 really, really good pitchers helps.

      1. ced landrum

        One thing to remember on Stewart too is that some thought he had as much or more upside then Gray or Appel before the draft, but the fact that they were more polished is why they were taken before him.

    3. Big City Mick

      I don’t mean to pile-on but I can’t let a Twins discussion pass without participating. At this point, I’d agree that the Twins have the better farm system. But, this should be the last year before they’re knocked down the rankings due to the promotions of Sano, Meyer, May, and Pinto. With that being said, I doubt they’ll fall out of the top-10 for farm system rankings, they’re absolutely stacked. In fact, I’d wager, if you were to accumulate a top-20 combined Twins-Cubs prospect pitching rankings, 15 of the 20 pitchers would be Twins.

      1. YourResidentJag

        Is Sano playing this year?

        1. Big City Mick

          Yes, Sano just got a clean bill health and confidently thinks he’ll make the Twins out of Spring Training and confidently thinks he can hit 45 or 55 HR’s this season.

  5. miggy80

    When it comes to prospects and pitching Derek Johnson is the most important name on that list, and many believe he is one of the best.

  6. brainiac

    very promising indeed. if only there was a team for the rookies to join. sometimes it seems like they could be so close to a solid team, but most of the time fundamental gaps become so conspicuous and glaring that this looks like a one sided rebuild that coudl have gone much differently with some additional competency and will.

  7. Ivy Walls

    It will be interesting to spread the composite lists including BA’s on one spread and see how players deviate from each list and then come together with a composite ranking. This would actually give a deeper picture as to which players are in the 102-150 category and the composite relative strength and weaknesses of various clubs.

    Again there will be deviations but with four ratings services they will pretty much fall into a standard and expose the margins, both those highly prized and those who are on the margins.

    1. Ivy Walls

      Ultimately I am curious as to determine how deep organizations can go with players thought to be bona fide albeit average MLB players. The standard deviation is that all 30 clubs have a minimum of 3 in the top 100, (we all like round numbers in that the real number is 90), but extending that out to 150 (or a standard of five) which would include perspectives how effective a team’s draft and FA intl signings are (Rule V overlay) in that each year conceivably you bring in one bona fide shouldn’t miss talent at least at a MLB average level.

      But at the 150 mark Cubs conceivably have at least 8, probably 10 or 11 where it includes Vogelsbach, Olt, Vizcaino and Ramirez, not including Candelerio and C. Villaneuva, they could have 15 here at the onset of ST. That is at least 7 possibly 10 above other clubs. I am interested to see how many clubs might only have 4 or less. Because if you say there is the BIG 5 than there has to be a bottom 5 or even 6 or 7. This is where you are seeing the future.

  8. Jim

    2nd IMO, based upon ceilings and where the depth is

  9. Cheese Chad

    Obviously we keep all of our prospects in the minors for the next couple of years to ensure a number one farm system ranking, right?

  10. Diehardthefirst

    Id rather have producers than prospects– be bold and transform the team so by the end of August the starting 25 will have avg age signiciantly less than 25

    1. CubFan Paul

      And I thought I got drunk last night.

  11. Diehardthefirst

    Cubs vs Astros World Series by 2020? Stranger things have happened

  12. Keith Law’s Top 14 Cubs Prospects for 2014 Has a Few Surprises | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] Law’s rankings week is winding down, after offering his farm system rankings and his top 100, Law is now offering individual team rankings (to ESPN Insiders, that is), and his […]

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