ESPN's Keith Law unveiled his ranking of all 30 MLB farm systems going into the 2015 season. In this ranking he placed the Phillies farm system as the 25th best in the league. This of course is a whopping 11 spot drop from his rankings in 2014. To quote Law:
They might have been 28th or 29th had they not traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers for a pair of solid pitching prospects, but the system still lacks depth up top, and aside from J.P. Crawford, their best teenage position players are still a long way off. More trades could obviously help push this system up.
Just a year ago:
Similar to Texas but with fewer prospects who are potential grade 65 or better players in the majors. I thought the Phillies had one of the best drafts, perhaps the best of anyone, in 2013, landing a few high-ceiling high school kids -- such as shortstop J.P. Crawford -- while mixing in some solid college bats like catcher Andrew Knapp.
Let's think about this rationally now. Obviously throughout the season/offseason teams acquire talent through trades, international signings and trades. Most prospect heads thought the Phillies had a very good draft in 2014. They nabbed Aaron Nola who looks to be close to MLB-ready. They also drafted a slew of potential in Matt Imhof, Chris Oliver, Aaron Brown, Rhys Hoskins and Brandon Leibrandt. They obtained the #6 (Jesmuel Valentin) and #7 (Tom Windle) top Dodger prospects in the Rollins and Roberto Hernandez trades. They also picked up the Padres #8 (Zach Eflin) in the Rollins swap. In the Marlon Byrd trade the Phillies received Reds #11 prospect (Ben Lively). These are all rankings according to Keith Law mind you.
Now lets get into the minor quibbling. Keith Law is only one voice and these rankings should really be taken with a grain of salt. To be honest, I didn't really have any issues with his Top 10 teams (outside perhaps an overly aggressive ranking of the Braves). Once you get past the Dodgers it gets a bit dicey for me. The Padres depleted their system, yet still wound up ahead of the Phillies despite questions regarding their top end prospects? The Marlins have little past Tyler Kolek and rank above the Phillies. I could go team by team with just about everyone Law has ranked from 11-24, but that could be tiresome.
If you don't think the Phillies improved their prospect depth the past year, fine. But to think 11 teams have gotten substantially better, well frankly I think that is just silly based on Law's own (brief) commentary. I'm trying to be respectful and keep most of his summaries behind the pay-wall.
If you have any questions (@keithlaw) for Law (and can get him to answer you), make sure to post it here in the comments.