Minor league baseball go-to Keith Law released his 1-30 rankings of MLB’s best farm systems in The Athletic Wednesday, slotting the Yankees in the middle of the pack at No. 14. Law will dive deeper into his rankings in the coming weeks but offered this tidbit on the state of the baby bombers:
The Yankees seem to develop velocity as well as any organization and have used it to great effect for their own system and for packaging unheralded prospects into bigger trades, while largely hanging on to their own high-dollar guys from the draft and the international market. Because they’ve drafted so low in recent years, their top 20 reflects more of the high-upside talent they’ve found internationally than draft products, although they do have a few recent draftees whose industry value might rise quickly once they get to play this year. They have some depth up the middle, especially at catcher, and even with trades like the Jameson Taillon deal they still have a lot of power arms.
Brian Cashman has done a nice job over the last several years of using his prospects in trades without completely bottoming out the farm, and Law’s perception mirrors what most Yankees have noticed as a strategy to prioritize high-velocity pitchers and international draft pool money. The former sets up a steady stream of attractive trade bait for a team that’s consistently looking to win now and the ladder being understandably key with a consistent lack of frontline draft positioning. That tends to happen after 28-straight winning seasons.
Most impressive however might be the fact that the Yanks have never really been burned by trading a prospect that blossoms into one of the game’s top talents somewhere else. Justus Sheffield is probably the best one out there who could be that guy after posting a 3.58 ERA in a short 2020 season, but even in hindsight, it was the right move to make for a team that was trying to put itself in the best position to win a championship.
The biggest takeaways from Law’s assessment might be him slotting Tampa Bay No. 1 and Toronto No. 3. Put as much or little stock into these rankings as you want, but it’s safe to assume that Tampa will continue to cause the Yankees issues in the A.L. East. Their system is led by the game’s consensus top prospect in Wander Franco and is bolstered by seven others ranked in the top-100 (no other team has more than six). And Toronto’s appearance at No. 3 reaffirms what we already know – they’re going to be a PROBLEM for the foreseeable future.
By the way, coming in at No. 4, the Marlins. This Jeter guy seems to know what he’s doing…