ESPN’s Keith Law has released his rankings for all 30 MLB farm systems and the Padres are once again in the Top 10. The organization has slid down in the rankings a fair amount since 2012 when Law named them the number one farm system in baseball. That season was Josh Byrnes’ first as GM of the Padres and a lot of the organizational depth from then was accredited to Jed Hoyer (whose 2014 Cubs are ranked #4 by Law). Last year San Diego was ranked #6, so this is the third consecutive year in which the Padres have earned a Top 10 ranking, a sign that things are still heading in the right direction for the team on the field.
Two years after Hoyer’s departure, it’s good to see that Byrnes has continued to help keep the Padres among the top organizations in the league for prospects, despite many players from the Hoyer era having moved up the system... players like Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and Jedd Gyorko, for example, who have seen significant playing time in the bigs, but also guys like Burch Smith, Robbie Erlin and Casey Kelly who have only had cups of coffee at the major league level but remain key components of the Padres farm system. Of course, Kelly is also a case in which development has been hampered so far by injury. Rymer Liriano can be put in the same category, but hopefully both he and Kelly can come back strong in 2014.
You can read Law's full list at ESPN ($), but here is what he had to say about San Diego:
The Padres were my top system two years ago and graduated a lot of that depth to the majors. However, they filled the void nicely with two more solid drafts, helping make up for lost seasons from Casey Kelly and Rymer Liriano (both of whom missed 2013 due to Tommy John surgery).
Their recent trade for major league reliever Alex Torres also included Jesse Hahn, another power arm to add to the system, but he missed their top 10 behind several pitchers with a better chance to remain starters.
Fortunately, Jesse Hahn won't have to go the Tommy John route like his new teammates Kelly and Liriano, because he's already had the procedure done. As Byrnes elaborated last week, Hahn is someone the Padres scouts have been high on for years and they believe he is now back at the level he was pre-TJ-surgery. A.J. Hinch also stated that the organization feels really good about Hahn's upside and the future of the team.
Still, as Law points out, the Padres have several pitchers ranked even higher. Guys like Matt Wisler, Max Fried, Joe Ross, and Keyvius Sampson are just a few of the pitching prospects in the organization to look out for (if you aren't already). But perhaps the most anticipated prospect in the Padres farm system is catcher Austin Hedges, and I'll be looking forward to seeing where Law ranks him in his list of Top 100 Prospects for 2014, scheduled to be released tomorrow, followed by Law's Top 10s by division coming out on Thursday and Friday (NL West list will be released on Friday).
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