Monday, February 1, 2016

Farm Systems: Dodgers Over Giants In A Landslide

MLB Pipeline released its 2016 list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball last Friday, and the results are crystal clear: The Dodgers are killing the Giants in this key aspect of the game. Not only was Dodger shortstop, Corey Seager, named the #1 prospect, but 19-year-old lefty starter, Julio Urias, snagged the #4 slot. Right-handed pitchers, Jose De Leon (#24), Grant Holmes (#62), and Frankie Montas (#95) also cracked the Top 100. Where did the Giants' farm system figure into the equation? The team only landed one player on the list, towards the bottom, with shortstop Christian Arroyo coming in at #82 (and that position is pretty much locked up for the next six years with the newly-minted Brandon Crawford).

Corey Seager, #1 prospect, looking good.
Dodger Farm System On The Rise
When Guggenheim Baseball purchased the Dodgers in 2012, CEO Mark Walter smartly hired Stan Kasten, the architect of the Atlanta Braves' extremely successful teams in the 1990s, to revive a Dodger roster that was DOA from the Frank McCourt years. The plan Kasten laid out was straightforward and harkened back to his tenure with the Braves: Great teams are built within, not through free agency. And he had the proof in his back pocket. The Braves teams he oversaw won more games from 1987 - 2003 than any other team in MLB, and consistently competed for a world championship with home grown superstar pitchers, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery, along with all-star third baseman, Chipper Jones.
Julio Urias, not too shabby at #4.
Kasten immediately went to work on re-building the Dodgers' farm system, and in fewer than 4 years, the team is beginning to the reap the benefits. Last season, centerfielder Joc Pederson, only 22 years old, made the club, brought stability to the outfield, and hit the second-most homers (26) on a team that led the National League in that category. Seager, of course, was the rare September call-up last season that made a huge splash with his .337 average, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 17 runs scored and two stolen bases in only 27 games. Dodger insiders see Urias and DeLeon joining a young rotation led by another home-grown player, 3-time Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, in 2017, if not near the end of the upcoming season.
Yep, I am the lone Giant top prospect!

WTF Happened, Giants?
Which leads me to the Giants. What the heck has happened here? Only 1 Top 100 Prospect? One could argue that all the farm hands are already on deck, especially with their current infield built from within--catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford, and newly installed third baseman Matt Duffy. Second-year right-hander, Chris Heston, joins home-grown stud, Madison Bumgarner, in a rotation that will also feature largely forgotten homey, Matt Cain. No doubt, the evidence is there that the Giants have had a fantastic farm system in the past, but going forward, I question the team's ability to continue to compete for world championships with 1 top 100 prospect in their minor league fold. The Giants' World Series victories came at a steep price to their youthful ace starting pitching staff, as Cain's and Tim Lincecum's arms have pretty much fallen off due to their post-season workloads. Is this the year Bumgarner's arm ends up in the same hospital? The front office obviously doesn't have any answers on the farm to the team's rotation woes, as is evidenced by the expensive acquisitions of free agent pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. I smell a problem here, and costly free-agents aren't going to cut it in the ever-competitive National League.

Giants fans, if you have a different take on your team's farm system, I would love to hear your voices. So please chime in below in the comments section!

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