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Shuffling Decks: How Good is Our Farm Now?

A bird's eye-view of the state of our farm and how we compare to our division-mates.

Follow J.P. on twitter. He posts pictures of his adorable dogs.
Follow J.P. on twitter. He posts pictures of his adorable dogs.
Elsa/Getty Images

Context is always in the details. Rarely can you get a clearer picture of a individual player than sitting behind home-plate in the stands and evaluating what they are doing. Not everyone can do this; so we instead rely on others to properly assess each player and systems as a whole. Lists and compilations help in determining and assigning value to assets (in this case minor league baseball players). This time every year the major scouting outlets compile the best players in the minor leagues and construct an order out of them for us all to be excited/angry at until this said list is updated at either mid-season or the following year. With Baseball America releasing their list on Friday, it added to the already published Baseball ProspectusMLBPipeline and ESPN's Keith Law lists.

Looking at any list individually will likely get you nowhere in truly understanding the prospect hierarchy (or a perceived one anyway). Philadelphia has been...rather lacking in producing quality prospects in recent years. This is mainly because we traded most of them away, relinquished top draft picks because of free agent signings or just from overall abysmal drafting. According to Keith Law, we now have the 6th best system and Baseball America doesn't have us too far off with 9th best. With these organizational rankings, its best to understand that margin of difference between those in the Top 10 are very thin. The Dodgers being at #1 on BA's list doesn't mean they are substantially better than the Phillies. The Phillies have quite possibly littered these Top 100 prospect lists with more players than any other franchise:

Baseball Prospectus Keith Law MLB Pipeline Baseball America
J.P. Crawford 4 4 5 6
Nick Williams 25 74 64 27
Jake Thompson 34 63 55 75
Jorge Alfaro 70 82 96 NR
Mark Appel 64 68 70 NR
Cornelius Randolph NR NR 84 88
Roman Quinn NR NR 99 NR
Franklyn Kilome 95 NR NR NR
Andrew Knapp NR NR NR 96

What does this chart mean? Obviously, Crawford is a gem. There is some argument that he should be as high as #3 on a list. By mid-season, with a Corey Seager graduation and a productive season at AAA, Crawford could be #1. People sure are quite mixed about Nick Williams; likely not ready to believe his 2015 was actually real or not. Let's all collectively cross our fingers and hopes he convinces Mr. Law and MLBPipeline Computer that they were wrong. Jake Thompson is the only other player to appear on all 4 lists and has anything from a #2 ceiling to a #3 starter who will eat innings. Jorge Alfaro and Mark Appel did not appeal to the BA Wizards because one of them is a mostly all tools and the other is a struggling #1 overall pick. Both are Top 100 prospects IMO, even if on the backend. It was very interesting to see the Phillies 2015 1st rounder Cornelius Randolph make two lists. He had an impressive rookie league debut which saw him move to LF (from SS in high school). I wouldn't be surprised if with a great year at Lakewood that he doesn't make all 4 lists in 2017.

How have they turned it around exactly? Well, drafting the adorable J.P. Crawford was the first step along with a better draft strategy overall. Next was upping their game in their international signings and hitting on the likes of Maikel Franco, Carlos Tocci, Franklyn Kilome, Jose Pujols, Adonis Medina, etc. Finally, were the multiple trades of Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, Chase Utley and Ken Giles to bring in a potentially franchise-changing prospect haul. Combine all this with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Phillies are in prime position to cement their future for the next 10 years. John Middleton will likely be able to open up his purse during what will likely be a crazy 2018 free agency. The future is bright my fellow Phans. Just for kicks and giggles, how did our division rivals fare in the lists?

Atlanta Braves: They don't have a J.P., but they do have incredible prospect depth at pitching that few other franchises can match.

Baseball Prospectus Keith Law MLB Pipeline Baseball America
Dansby Swanson 27 13 8 17
Sean Newcomb 32 30 21 24
Ozhaino Albies 37 20 29 63
Aaron Blair 43 39 56 60
Kolby Allard 82 43 89 84
Hector Olivera NR NR NR 55
Touki Toussaint NR 80 NR 90
Max Fried NR 96 NR NR
Austin Riley 79 NR NR NR

Washington Nationals: "Natitude" will unfortunately hang around with the likes of Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles promotion to the big leagues. Both figure to be high impact players upon their arrival. I'm not the biggest fan of Trea Turner, but the floor is high enough to where he should have a long MLB career.

Baseball Prospectus Keith Law MLB Pipeline Baseball America
Lucas Giolito 3 3 3 5
Trea Turner 13 28 11 9
Victor Robles 29 49 63 33
Reynaldo Lopez 75 NR NR 92
Erick Fedde NR NR 78 82

New York Mets: Before addressing the players below, the Mets are absolutely loaded at SP with deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler. Matz will be icing on the cake and Dominic Smith should be a fine first baseman.

Baseball Prospectus Keith Law MLB Pipeline Baseball America
Steve Matz 9 37 15 13
Dominic Smith 86 29 51 79
Amed Rosario 96 42 79 58
Gavin Cecchini NR 89 87 NR

Miami Marlins: The Marlins get a pity nomination for Tyler Kolek, who despite being a 2nd overall pick in 2014 has been extremely underwhelming in his professional debut. Kolek was much hyped in the draft and had a high 90's fastball that was supposed to be incredible. He hasn't put it together and may never. Some cautioning before anointing our #1 overall pick in 2016. What can go wrong...

Baseball Prospectus Keith Law MLB Pipeline Baseball America
Tyler Kolek NR 97 NR NR