More Depressing Prospect Lists

Usually, the unveiling of the Baseball America Top 10 prospects list is like Christmas morning for me — for whatever reason, I can’t wait to read through their rankings, projections, and reports. Over the past few years, they’ve had nice things to say about the organization as a whole, and it’s always nice to get some validation that the future is bright.

This year? Not so much.

BA says in the upcoming 2011 Prospect Handbook that the Brewers’ system is the thinnest in the major leagues. After the trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, they say Mark Rogers is left as the team’s top prospect. Rogers was drafted in 2004 and still hasn’t thrown enough major league innings to disqualify him from these prospect lists. That’s how dire things are down on the farm.

It was easy to peg Rogers as their choice for #1 on the Brewers’ Top 10, even if it wasn’t a terribly imaginative pick. The rest of the list looks drastically different when you compare it to lists previously posted by John Sickels and Kevin Goldstein, though.

Outfielder Kentrail Davis, who many see as the best position prospect in the system, is down at #5, behind second baseman Scooter Gennett. Kyle Heckathorn, who many see as the best remaining pitching prospect in the low minors after the departure of Jake Odorizzi, barely cracks the Top 10 at #9. Instead, Cody Scarpetta takes that honor, coming in at #2 behind Rogers. Wily Peralta, who got a lot of hype last winter but saw his strikeout rates drop in 2010, fills out the top five.

Granted, with such a thin system, anything past the top five is a crapshoot — you can pretty much take your pick of players, and you won’t get much argument from me or many other people. With that said, Tyler Thornburg — a guy with very good stuff but questions about his ability to start and just a handful of innings under his belt in rookie ball — at #6? Eric Farris, with his good speed and good glove and not much else, at #7? Amaury Rivas, a guy who might be a #5 starter if all goes well, at #10?

Good grief. That’s sort of depressing, and we’re not even to their projected lineup for 2014.

I don’t know how they put together the projected lineup, whether it’s just taking this year’s roster and adding in guys who could be major-league ready in a few years, but color me shocked they had Prince Fielder as the team’s first baseman and Zack Greinke as the #1 starter. Rickie Weeks in centerfield? Are we really still trying to make that happen? Yadiel Rivera at short? The same Yadiel Rivera that was drafted just last summer out of Puerto Rico as an 18-year old, whose bat was described as inconsistent, and hit .209/.243/.257 in 218 plate appearances at rookie ball last year?

Uh, yikes.

To me, this confirms a couple of things. First, this June’s draft — with two picks in the top 15 — is incredibly important to the future of the organization. Secondly, with the system so thin, had Dylan Covey signed instead of choosing to deal with his diabetes diagnosis in college at San Diego, he would’ve been the top prospect in the system already. As much as no one is to blame for that situation, there’s no question that failing to get a first round pick signed hurt the system just as much as this offseason’s trades.

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