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Digging into Keith Law’s Top 100 prospects list and Baseball America’s farm system rankings
2 years ago
With the baseball season quickly approaching, it is that time of year in which scouts and journalists release their top farm systems as well as top 100 prospects. Recently, I covered Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 prospects in baseball list and today I’ll be giving my opinions on both Baseball America’s farm rankings and Keith Law’s top 100 prospects.
Baseball America’s rankings…
According to Baseball America, the Blue Jays have the 19th best (or 11th worst) farm system. Gabriel Moreno ranks as the 7th best prospect, Nate Pearson as the 62nd best prospect and Orelvis Martinez as the 75th best prospect.
I won’t lie, this caught me off guard quite a bit, considering they were ranked 10th by Baseball America after both Simeon Woods Richardson and Austin Martin were traded. Furthermore, Alek Manoah (or Alex Manoah, according to BA) had already graduated at this point. In fact, only Alejandro Kirk has graduated since this report.
So what’s the reason for the Jays’ drop? Well, Jordan Groshans was ranked as the 77th best prospect in baseball when the 2021 mid-season report came out, but he’s not even ranked in the top 100 this season. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, as you’ll find out why later in the article.
Orelvis Martinez’s drop…
However, Orelvis Martinez ranked 54th in the mid-season 2021 report, but drops to 75th. This 21 rank drop makes absolutely no sense to me, as 2021 was Martinez’s breakout year. He absolutely dominated Low A, hitting 19 home runs and slashing .279/.369/.943.
The 19-year-old then went to High A and played 27 games where he hit 9 home runs and slashed .214/.282/.773. One may say that’s the reason for his drop, but there are quite a few reasons why I disagree with this.
Martinez started off his High A career incredibly slowly. Between August 3rd to August 24th, he slashed .158/.182/.511 in 18 games and 82 plate appearances. However, once he had time to adjust, he tore up High A. Between August 25th to September 3rd, he slashed .333/.380/1.213 with five home runs in just 43 plate appearances. He was also an incredibly unlucky hitter, registering a .197 BABIP in High A.
Not only did Martinez’s home run production increase drastically, but he was drawing much more walks (3 in his first 82 PA, 7 in his final 43) and hitting for a better average. Furthermore, the young shortstop has a K% of 26.1% in Low A, but dropped that to 22.4% at the higher level. It’s a small sample size, but overall, Orelvis improved.
Here are Martinez’s last 3 rankings according to Baseball America:
In Low A, he was 2.3 years younger than the average shortstop. In High A, he was 3.8 years younger than the average shortstop. Despite this, Orelvis Martinez hit 28 home runs as a 19-year-old. The shortstop already has power to the moon, but does need to refine his approach at the plate. However, the fact he is that young and is able to produce a good season in the lower portions of the minors arguably deserves an increase in ranking.
This one is controversial but is one I actually agree with quite a bit. Here are the four Jays that cracked his top 100:
#6 Gabriel Moreno (catcher)
#44 Orelvis Martinez (shortstop)
#89 Kevin Smith (third base)
#99 Jordan Groshans (shortstop)
It may be shocking to some to see pitcher Nate Pearson off this list, but this makes total sense to me. Pearson has had issues staying healthy due to fluke injuries and by this point, the right handed pitcher is 25-years-old. If he’s not considered a prospect this season, there is no chance he’ll be considered a prospect for 2023.
This isn’t to say Nate Pearson won’t be successful in the MLB. He has a big frame that allows him to throw 100 mile per hour fastballs and he has a devastating slider. If he can stay healthy, he will continue to progress.
As for Gabriel Moreno, he ranks one spot better on this list compared to Baseball America’s list. No complaints here. Furthermore, you already know my thoughts on Orelvis Martinez. I think the 44th best prospect in baseball is a fair ranking for the 20-year-old shortstop.
However, what may come as a complete shock to some is that Kevin Smith ranks higher than Jordan Groshans according to Law. This may be a hot take, but I actually agree with this. Hear me out.
Groshans is by no means a bad prospect as the then 21-year-old slashed .291/.367/.817 in Double A last season. He projects well as a plus hitter and could develop to have plus power, according to MLB Pipeline. However, what is worrisome to me is the lack of home runs in his professional career. In 619 plate appearances, the now 22-year-old has only 14 home runs. He missed time dealing with multiple injuries in 2021. As I mentioned, he’s still a good prospect and arguably deserves his rank in the top 100.
As for Kevin Smith, don’t let his brief spell with the Jays trick you, he’s a really good prospect. The 25-year-old slashed .285/.370/.931 and added 21 home runs in 410 plate appearances in Triple A.
Furthermore, he added 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts and has always been highly touted for his great defense on the left field of the infield. Unlike both Groshans or Martinez, Smith is also on the cusp of breaking into the MLB, which may help his ranking.
In fact, it is my assumption that if the Jays don’t acquire a third baseman, Smith has a real shot of starting the season at third base. If you want to read more about Smith, I wrote an entire article on him back in June 2021.
What does it all mean?
Personally, I would rank the Jays’ farm system around 15th.
Baseball America points out that the Jays don’t have a lot of prospects in the upper minors, but with the likes of Otto Lopez, Gabriel Moreno, Jordan Groshans and Kevin Smith, I have to disagree with that. It is my belief that the Jays will rank in the top 10 for farm systems within two years, as they have a ton of great players that were signed in the international free agency.
As for Law’s list, I think it is actually pretty solid. Moreno and Martinez rank where they should be, whereas Smith and Groshans may be controversial, but it’s understandable to me as I believe Smith is underrated as a prospect. Nate Pearson being off the list is a little bit confusing, but he’ll likely still have a long and successful career.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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