Blue Jays: Baseball America Ranks Jays Farm 6th

SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Starting pitcher AFL West All-Star, Nate Pearson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a warm-up pitch during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Starting pitcher AFL West All-Star, Nate Pearson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a warm-up pitch during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Baseball America just released their updated MLB Farm System rankings. Tampa Bay this year took the number one spot with eight players ranking in the top 100. How did the Blue Jays do?

In 2019, Baseball America preseason rankings had the Jays minor-league system ranked at number #3, with seven players sitting in the Top 100.  Those mentioned by BA last year (together with their rank) were Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (#1), Bo Bichette (#8), Danny Jansen (#42), Nate Pearson (#70), Eric Pardinho (#84), Jordan Groshans (No. 89), and Kevin Smith (No. 91).

With two of the Top 10 prospects in baseball last year, Guerrero Jr. and Bichette, now MLB regulars, Pardinho undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Kevin Smith’s disappointing 2019, it was expected that the Jay’s farm system ranking would take a hit. However, some might be pleasantly surprised by how Baseball America views their farm system today.

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The Jays now only have only three players in the top 100:  RHP Nate Pearson at 7, Jordan Groshans at 29, and Simeon Woods-Richardson at 61. Despite having only three players mentioned inside the top 100, BA still rates the Jays as the #6 farm system in all of baseball.  Tampa Bay, San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Seattle hold down spots one through five respectively.

Baseball America states the following of the Jays system:

“Graduating two top 10 overall prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette would usually sink a team in these rankings, but the Blue Jays still have one of the game’s top farm systems. It’s a balanced group with star potential at the top in Nate Pearson and Jordan Groshans and prospect depth throughout each level.”

The strength of the system might lie with those that fall just outside the top 100. Baseball America published a story previously which listed all those who garnered consideration for the top 100 prospects. To determine the top 100, Baseball America editors voted on the top 150 prospects in baseball, and nine Blue Jays were mentioned.  Those that fell just outside the top 100 rankings this year included Adam Kloffenstein, Alek Manoah, Orelvis Martinez, Gabriel Moreno, Eric Pardinho, and Alejandro Kirk.

While the front office has been often criticized, sometimes justified, sometimes not, one of their strengths has been the complete rebuild of the Jays minor league system.  In 2016, the BA preseason rankings had the Jays farm system ranked 24th, and it has steadily improved since then: 2017 (20th), 2018 (8th), and 2019 (3rd).  With six players sitting just outside the top 100, three players in the Top 100, and the #5 pick in this year’s draft, we should expect an jump in the rankings of the Jays minor-league system next season.

Having a strong farm system is extremely important. It allows for a steady stream of young controllable talent to join the roster year after year.  Young controllable talent creates payroll flexibility.  Depth in the minors also gives management an opportunity to use some prospects as trade capital to fill holes, if need be.

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Sustained success at the MLB level requires a strong minor league system. In my next article, I will review the average records of teams with farm system rankings within the top 10, three years after said rankings.

Who is your favourite Blue Jays prospect?

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