Now that the minor league season is over, the end-of-season prospect rankings are abundant. We've begun our own with our Minor League All-Star poll series (be sure to vote!) but the latest news comes from some praise from a respected site.
Tony Blengino, in his current role as a writer for Fangraphs, compiled a ranking for each team's minor league system performance in 2015, using full season stats to approximate which system had the best players as a whole. For hitters he used OBP and slugging percentage, and for pitchers he used strikeouts and K/BB.
Using that methodology, each MLB team ranked as follows:
|26||Chicago White Sox||27||15|
As you can see, when Blengino averaged out the players that qualified, the Rays came in as numero uno, and better yet, were the only team with hitting and pitching rankings in the top five. The Rays had the best pitchers and the third-best hitters among qualifiers. The next highest pairing was the Rangers system, two in the top seven.
There's much to Blengino's methodology, though it does not include park factors or defense it does show a strong season for the Rays. Here is what Blengino wrote about the team (all the numbers listed next to players are where they rank by this method:
Just one year ago, the Rays had a middle-of-the-pack farm system, ranking 12th and 18th in position player and starting pitcher depth, respectively. This year, they rule the roost on the strength of both their bats and arms, and their quality and quantity of prospects. Seventeen Rays position players, tied for second most overall, and an MLB-leading 11 starting pitcher prospects qualified for my lists.
Their organizational reset at the end of 2014 was the driving force: top position player prospects Jake Bauers (#10 overall), Willy Adames (#37), Boog Powell (#80), Daniel Robertson (#88), Andrew Velazquez (#105) and Nick Franklin (#120) and pitcher Matt Andriese (#16) all came over in off-season trades. Plus, homegrown lefty Blake Snell (#9) has emerged as an impact starting pitcher prospect.
The Rays know exactly what they are doing, and are poised to compete on a shoestring MLB salary budget for the foreseeable future.
Using a results based approach, the list isn't a perfect reflection on the players' raw skills and abilities, but the observation that the Rays' minor league players performed the best cumulatively is a good sign for the next couple years with a pro team that wasn't far off from making a post-season run.