Comparing Orioles’ top 10 prospects list to others in AL East

Later this morning Baseball America will release its new list of the Orioles’ top 10 prospects. The Orioles farm system is considered pretty top heavy, with some high-end prospects holding the top spots, but not a lot of depth.

Still, in an American League East where only one team - and that is Boston - has a top-notch farm system right now, the Orioles are close to second best in the division. Yes, small victory, I know.

John Manuel, Baseball America Editor in Chief, sized up the AL East farm systems for me.

“Baltimore has the next best top 10 after Boston,” Manuel said. “I like their pitchers in the top 10, but their system really falls off after about 13 or 14. Right now, we have Josh Hart at No. 14.

“After that there are a lot of 45s. At Baseball America we use a (scouting-type) grade and risk for every player on the 20-80 (scouting) scale. There are a lot of 45s and that is a fourth or fifth starter, middle relief, utility player ceiling. You want more 50s, that is kind of like the floor for a regular. If you look at a farm system in a quick thumbnail sketch, the more 50s and up you see in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook the better that farm system is.”

When ranking systems, Manuel said he is more partial to looking at the number of impact players than overall depth for an organization. Below is how he ranks the AL East right now along with his comments on each other division club.

Tampa Bay
New York

Boston: “We haven’t finalized our organization rankings yet, but Boston could be No. 1 overall and is clearly among the top five farm systems in the game. It doesn’t hurt that Xander Bogaerts is still eligible. From a profile standpoint, he is already a championship caliber shortstop/third baseman. That pushes their farm system into another stratosphere.”

Toronto: “The Blue Jays get a slight edge over Baltimore here for second in the AL East. They have two pitchers at the top I’m high on in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. They have a lot of young talent, especially in the international arena. Orioles fans remember Bluefield as an affiliate. Toronto’s Bluefield affiliate was loaded this year with domestic and Latin American products.”

Tampa Bay: “They probably have the deepest system after Boston, but it is very difficult, in my opinion, to see impact in the Rays’ farm system. They had a disastrous minor league season. Their best prospects had bad years.

“They have really just not drafted well, that is the bottom line. Since 2007, when they got David Price and Matt Moore, since then the guys that have gotten to the big leagues from Tampa are not impact guys and that is a long time, five years of drafting

“Not only have they not drafted well, but there are double digits the numbers of Rays players that have had 50-game suspensions in the minors for drugs and it’s been some of their top guys. They’ve had more suspensions for this than any other organization and it has been some high draft picks. It is just not a pretty picture.

“People think of the Rays as this scouting and player development machine, but it is just not true. Not right now. Could be again, but it is not right now.”

New York: “Since 2006 when they got Ian Kennedy in the first round, most of their top picks have not worked out or were not signed, like Gerrit Cole. When you miss on the first rounder that doesn’t help.

“The Yankees are fifth here. They had a nice draft in 2013 and there is some talent there, but the Yankees track record of developing guys is pretty poor lately. They haven’t developed a hitter out of the draft since Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were drafted in 2005.

“They draft low, but so does Boston, so do the Cardinals. They draft low every year, but you don’t hear them whining. This is a what have you done for me lately business and lately, the Yankees have not done anything when it comes to drafting and developing hitters.”

Manuel said that after Boston, right now, none of the other farm systems in the division rank very high overall.

“After Boston, those other four organizations are probably all in that 18 to 30 range. Those are not good farm systems. Maybe they can sneak into 15 to 20 but for me none are top half farm systems. Baltimore would look a lot worse without (Kevin) Gausman who is just eligible the way we rank them.”

After Baseball America releases the top O’s 10 today, I’ll take a look at the list later this morning.

As author this year of that Baseball America list, I also will be hosting a live chat later today (for subscribers only) on the Baseball America web site, but will also be around throughout the day for any comments or questions you may have.

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