Future Forty 3.0
After a too long absence, and thanks to the hard work of Conor Glassey, the Future Forty has returned. It’s also been overhauled, as you’ll notice from surfing over there.
Obviously, the newest thing is the graphical representation of the prospects. Rather than just an endless string of numbers in a list, I figured it would be helpful to see these guys on a chart that show just how close to the majors each one is and how we’re projecting their talent to turn into production. Since the horizontal axis is based on Wins Above Replacement, the best prospects will be found on the right side of the graph.
We’ve also got a table below the charts that contains all the relevant data, as well as links to each player’s FanGraphs page. I think you’ll find those helpful.
Okay, so that’s the stuff about the Future Forty. But, obviously, you guys care a lot more about the players on it, so let’s dive into that.
From looking at the two charts, there should be a couple obvious things that stand out; there’s a pretty strong group of position players that are near major league ready, but there’s next to no pitching for the next few years. In the next two years, the M’s could potentially introduce three or four new everyday players into their line-up, but there isn’t an impact pitching prospect anywhere close to the majors. There are some talented arms in the system, but they’re years away from helping.
Carlos Triunfel remains the system’s best prospect. You’re going to hear some negative stuff about him from Baseball America, because the Cal League coaches weren’t very impressed with his work ethic, especially during his miserable first half. But he made some pretty big strides in the second half, and he’s beginning to grow into his power. He hit a monster home run off Max Scherzer in the Arizona Fall League a few weeks ago, and there aren’t many kids his age with his hitting ability. His long term position is still a question mark (second or third base remain most likely), and he needs to continue to take steps forward with his power and attitude, but he’s the most likely star in the system.
After Triunfel, there’s the group of guys we talked about quite a bit during the 2010 roster series – Clement, Balentien, Halman, Saunders, Moore, Valbuena, Tuiasosopo, and Raben. None of them look like all-stars, but that’s a pretty nice crop of position players to rebuild around. Even if you only get two or three good players from the entire group, it’s a head start to having every day players that can contribute for close to the league minimum.
Down the line, there’s another solid group of talented youngsters, as the M’s continue to reap the rewards of their international scouting. DeJesus, Noriega, Nunez, and Morban are all well thought of and were signed for significant figures by the M’s. They’re all a long way from Seattle, but they represent the best of the wave after the one coming.
On the pitching side of things, it’s Aumont and a bunch of questions. And, to be fair, Aumont still has quite a bit of work to do himself. There are guys with good velocity, such as Juan Ramirez, and guys like Michael Pineda who opened some eyes in 2008, but they all come with legitimate concerns. Thankfully, Fontaine was able to reload with a quantity of pitching arms in the draft, as often the best way to develop a good major league pitcher is to just accumulate a lot of minor league pitchers. The attrition of young arms is so high that you’d certainly rather have an organization with position player strength, like the Mariners currently have, but you don’t want to be this weak in upper level pitching talent either. The Bedard trade really killed the system’s close-to-the-majors pitching depth.
Overall, though, the farm system is in good shape. It’s probably in the 10-15 range in baseball, and with potentially four picks in the top 50 this summer along with the hope for maturation in some of the younger prospects, it’s pretty easy to imagine the M’s sitting here with a top 5 farm system a year from now. The major league team stinks, but there’s help on the way.