ESPN.com analyst Keith Law, a respected MLB wonk and a friend of this blog, this week released his third annual list of organizational rankings. His top three farm systems are: 1. Kansas City (“arms coming out of their ears,” Law wrote), 2. Tampa Bay (“absolutely loaded”) and 3. Atlanta. Law’s cellar-dwellers are: 28. Chicago White Sox, 29. Florida and 30. Milwaukee (the first club to not land a single prospect on Law’s top 100 list).
The Pirates wound up ranked 21st, in Law’s opinion. He wrote: “This system consists of a few high-end prospects, including three teenage power arms, followed by a dropoff. The big investment in prep arms in 2009 hasn’t yielded any major prospects yet, although it’s early.”
Six Royals minor-leaguers are on Law’s Top 100 list. The Rays claim a whopping eight farmhands on the list. The Pirates have two — right-hander Jameson Taillon (No. 30) and catcher Tony Sanchez (63).
The Pirates stack up well against the rest of the NL Central. The Reds (No. 8 organization) have five players among Law’s Top 100 prospects, the Cardinals (No. 14) have three and the Cubs (No. 20) and Astros (No. 27) have one apiece.
Law gushed about Taillon’s potential — he “projects as an ace” and “the pure stuff and physicality are extremely exciting.” Law also gave kudos to Sanchez: “He’s got above-average power and a chance to hit for average at the same time, making him a fringe All-Star at that position. … I wouldn’t bet against him at this point.”
The Pirates’ third-best prospect is righty Luis Heredia, who just missed making the cut for Law’s Top 100. The Pirates signed Heredia last summer for a $2.6 million bonus, which is a record for a Mexican amateur player.
Law noted Heredia, “will sit in the low 90s (mph) already with a good feel for the fastball. He’s very well-developed physically for a 16-year-old, with a big frame and the potential to get heavy, which is more of a long-term concern.”
»»» If you have an insatiable need for farm system info, check out the Pirates Prospects 2011 Prospect Guide by Tim Williams. A copy landed in my mailbox the other day, and I’ve spent the past couple of nights thumbing through it. Tim (who runs the website www.piratesprospects.com) did a great job gathering stats and surveys on dozens of the club’s top minor leaguers. The book is available through is website.
»»» I’ll be blogging and Tweeting this weekend from PirateFest at the Lawrence Convention Center. Follow me on Twitter (@RobBiertempfel) for updates.