Prospect season is still in full gear. We have top-100s, top-101s overall that are continuing to role out. Various publications release top-10s, top-20s, and top-30s by team. Keith Law's top-100 comes out tomorrow, but he gave something of a preview today by ranking the systems of all 30 teams. After ranking the Cardinals 13th last season, a season that saw solid contributions from system graduates in Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, Law put the Cardinals at 19th out of 30 systems.
Nineteenth obviously is not a great ranking for a farm system, but it is important to remember that a high ranking is not the goal of any farm system. The goal is to produce major leaguers, and the Cardinals have been very successful in doing just that over the past few seasons.
In addition to Piscotty and Grichuk mentioned above, the system has produced Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha in the rotation, Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen, and Kolten Wong at second base. That is six major contributors 25 and under without getting to slightly older contributors in Matt Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Lance Lynn or others who have made some contribution like Tommy Pham, Matt Adams, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness.
Those promotions have created a hole in the system at the upper levels leaving many of the Cardinals' best prospects several years away from the majors. While those younger prospects show promise, they are not typically the type of players that make top-100 lists or put farm systems at the top of the rankings. After years of incredibly successful drafts, Law noted that the system "now buttressed by their international department rather than their domestic drafts". That comment represents the Cardinals increased international emphasis that Baseball Prospectus praised and comes on the heels of Jesse Sanchez reporting that the Cardinals are expected to be one of the more aggressive teams in the international market this July.
What is interesting about Law's ranking of the farm system is that he places three Cardinals' prospects in his top-100 list. That list is not available until tomorrow, but that looks to be the highest number of any major publication thus far. Baseball Prospectus puts lists 101 prospects, but just one Cardinals' prospect, Alex Reyes, made BP's list. Reyes received a high ranking at 10th, but he was the team's lone representative. When MLB.com released their rankings, Reyes was again high on their list, ending up at 13 on their list. Jack Flaherty also made MLB.com's list, coming in at number 80 overall.
The third Cardinals prospect on Law's list requires some speculation. In our rankings, Edmundo Sosa came in at number three. Baseball Prospectus put Magneuris Sierra at number three in the Cardinals system. A major-league ready pitcher in Tim Cooney or Marco Gonzalez along with Luke Weaver are also candidates for that third spot in the Law's top-100. As far as the long-term future goes, the National League Central should be a battleground for years to come as the other four NL Central teams all rank ahead of the Cardinals with the Cubs, Brewers, and Pirates among the top-8 systems.
Law's top-100 will be released tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to peruse our full-length write-ups on more than 20 Cardinals' top prospects at our 2016 Prospects Hub.