Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Used to Work on Mr. Wren’s farm

With the obligatory cautionary references to Brad Komminsk, Bruce Chen, and Jose Capellan, there is near-universal consensus that the Braves' farm system is loaded, especially with pitching talent. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus gives five-star status (nice to see the infiltration of college football recruiting terminology here) to three prospects: Julio Teheran, Freddie Freeman, and Mike Minor. Three more prospects - Arodys Vizcaino, Craig Kimbrel, and Randall Delgado - get four stars.

Goldstein's bullish thoughts on the farm system are by no means unusual. ESPN's Keith Law rates Freeman as the top impact prospect in baseball and ranks the Braves' system as third overall. Law puts five Braves in his top 100: Teheran (6), Freeman (43), Vizcaino (47), Delgado (50), and Minor (61). Baseball America takes a similar view of the top prospects in the system, although its organization rankings are not yet out.

This seems like as good a time as any to make the point that Liberty Media has not been a disaster for the Braves. The common criticism in this town is that Liberty Media doesn't care whether the team wins or loses because the Braves are only one of a number of faceless assets to them. That's true as far as it goes, but one of the advantages of being run by a distant, dispassionate entity is that there is no interference with the people who actually know the industry. Thus, the professionals who draft and sign young talent are able to maintain a farm system that consistently produces quality players. We all get frustrated when Liberty Media doesn't spend that little extra sum to fill in an obvious hole, but the team is only in a position where a free agent leftfielder could make a difference because of the farm system.

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