It's prospect ranking season again, and with the multitude of top prospect lists that will be coming out, farm system rankings are also going to make the rounds. Kiley McDaniel had a glowing evaluation of the Yankees organization, ranking them 11th overall in MLB. Keith Law has now released his own list, but it seems he feels much differently about the state of the franchise, placing them 20th overall.
The Yankees' system still has more talent than production, as several key prospects continued to have trouble staying on the field, but a very strong 2013 draft class and a blowout year on the international front have the system trending up again.
Law's ranking wasn't exactly fueled by dislike of what the Yankees have, just the unfortunate reality of prospect development. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't, and according to him, the Yankees are currently on the upswing despite the beat down some of their key prospects have recently received. With Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, and Eric Jagielo moving through the system, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, and Greg Bird tagged for big years, and the addition of one-third of the top 30 international prospect class, the Yankees are due for an even bigger year in 2015.
Between Fangraphs and Keith Law, it's a huge difference in opinion that makes it almost impossible to know just how good the Yankees prospects are. Do you trust Fangraphs with their scouting reports, but possibly biased opinion (McDaniel was previously a member of the Yankees front office) or do you prefer Law's more cautiously optimistic view? As McDaniel states, "the idea of ranking the systems depends on what you want to emphasize, since there isn't an objective method for this yet." It might be better to not take either as definitive views on the system and as mere reflections of the same argument.
McDaniel likes high-upside prospects and Law likes major league-ready talent. Pinstripe Alley will be releasing our own top prospect list, but will it favor players with more promise or actionable talent? And what do you prefer when you evaluate prospects? Are you looking for someone like Jorge Mateo, who possesses the tools and talent to be a star, but hasn't had enough time to prove it on the field yet, or do you prefer someone with a more established track record like Greg Bird? As McDaniel says, there is no objective way of doing this, though I'm sure at some point we'll make it possible. Hopefully what Keith Law says comes to pass and this split between rankings will ultimately mean nothing when the Yankees find success either way.