Blue Jays come 25th in Law’s ESPN farm system rankings


The Toronto Blue Jays farm system has been ranked 25th in Major League Baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law after the trade deadline purge of 2015

January and February are prime time for prospect rankings around Major League Baseball, including our own list of the top-30 Blue Jays prospects which recently wrapped up with Anthony Alford.

League-wide top-100 lists and farm system rankings also roll out ahead of spring training, and one of the more prominent lists from Keith Law of ESPN (Insider subscription required) ranks the Toronto farm system 25th. 

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Law notes that the status of Toronto’s system is being salvaged by the sudden emergence of Alford and right-handed pitcher Conner Greene. As we all know, however, the Blue Jays have seen a mass exodus of top-20 prospects in deals for David Price, Troy Tulowitzki and others ahead of the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline.

This 25th-place ranking is somewhat underwhelming, but not terribly shocking. The important question to ask, though, is how strong does the system need to be in 2016?

Entering last season, youth was more of a need. Arms like Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris were leaned on to earn starting jobs at stages in their individual development that was still relatively early. Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar were thrust into starting roles, to varying results, while the fresh faces of Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna surprised everyone by claiming bullpen jobs.

Entering this spring, Toronto doesn’t need that. While this doesn’t excuse a weakened system, it should soften the blow.

Strong seasons from top prospects Alford or Greene could surely put them into the late-season picture, while specialists like Chad Girodo could carve out a role for themselves at some point as well. It is 2017, however, that matters most in regards to this farm system.

From R.A. Dickey to Brett Cecil, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and several others, the Blue Jays could be facing a more noticeable level of roster turnover next offseason. Frankly, the 2016 offseason has been little more than a slight readjustment. Which is fine.

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By that point, several of Toronto’s higher-level prospects will have the opportunity to move from the lower minors, where most of the Jays talent exists, to the upper minors. A strong amateur draft from the new regime and some savvy international work should help to buoy the system, too.

So while the current system comes with flaws it is undoubtedly pointed in the right direction, and should use the coming 12 months to arrive at a much higher ranking by the time it’s needed.