On Monday we looked Victor Wang's fantastic research on the "hidden value of prospects", and applied his surplus values to the farm systems of the AL West. Here again are the surplus values for your review before we jump into the NL Central.*
|Top 10 hitting prospects||$32.5M|
|Top 11-25 hitters||$22.3|
|Top 26-50 hitters||$20.8|
|Top 51-75 hitters||$12.6|
|Top 76-100 hitters||$11.1|
|Top 10 pitching prospects||$13.5|
|Top 11-25 pitchers||$14.2|
|Top 26-50 pitchers||$14.2|
|Top 51-75 pitchers||$10.8|
|Top 76-100 pitchers||$8.7|
|Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels)
|Grade B hitters||$4.9|
|Grade C pitchers 22 or younger||$1.9|
|Grade C pitchers 23 or older||$1.3|
|Grade C hitters 22 or younger||$0.62|
|Grade C hitters 23 or older||$0.45|
*I decreased the values thanks to an astute reader's observation. Last time they were $4.8M/WSAB -- what we would have expected if the FA market continued to grow by 10% -- but that's too high considering the chilly off-season market. Victor's research was published 14 months ago, times have changed. It's now set at $4.5M/WSAB, which is higher than current spending, but is on par with last year's free agent market.
Here's how the NL Central's farm systems fared:
We'll start with the bad first.
- Houston, $50.1M: The Astros had only one top 100 prospect: Jason Castro, their first round pick from last year. 1/4 of their farm system value is wrapped up in two high school pitchers that threw nearly all their innings in the Appy last year. Suffice to say this system stinks.
- Chicago, $57.6M: The Cubs actually may be worse in terms of surplus value. The team placed just two prospects in BA's top 100, Josh Vitters and Jeff Samardzija. I included Samardzija but considered leaving him out, because "The Shark" signed a 5-year, $10M major league contract, so I'm not sure how much surplus value you can say he has. With Sean Marshall as the favorite for the Cubs' 5th starter job, Samardzija had better be one heck of a stopper coming out of the bullpen. Oh, and I have to scoff at these Jake Peavy to the Cubs rumors. What are they going to trade to get Peavy, exactly?
Pittsburgh, $76.9M: The Pirates have Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata not much else. 3B Neil Walker has been in the top 100 three times but posted a .296 wOBA in AAA last year, and has now been downgraded to a C+ grade by Sickels. He's also now buried behind Andy LaRoche and Alvarez on the depth chart. Here's another nail for the Dave Littlefield, Pirate GM coffin: Brad Lincoln and Daniel Moskos combined value was less than 4% of the team's farm system value.
Cincy, $78.5M: One can very safely assume the Reds' farm system is down from last year after graduating just a ridiculously good class of Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. (Homer Bailey too, I guess). Their system still looks relatively healthy with Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier leading the way and six B grade prospects that make up 55% of their farm system's total value. Consider me a Drew Stubbs believer, if for no other reason than his glove. The Reds also heavily invested in Latin America this past year, signing Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez to large bonuses. Jocketty has a lot to work with here, but hopefully he has learned his lesson after the Mulder trade.
Now to the cream of the NL Central crop, the Brewers ($99.7M) and the Cardinals ($98.7).
Rather than a lot more explanation, here's a couple of graphs illustrating distribution of for these two systems:
The Brewers a strong depth of hitting prospects; the Cardinals have a 1-2 punch of Colby Rasmus and Brett Wallace at the top. Both players should be permanently entrenched the Cardinal lineup by 2010, if not sooner.
Concluding, the Cubs had better win now while they are in "win now" mode. While they look to be in position to do so for the next few years, the Reds, Brewers and Cardinals are all pumping impressive talent up the pipeline, and the Pirates can't help but to slowly but surely improve under Neal Huntington's watch. As for Houston, well...things could be ugly for a while.