ESPN’s Law Pegs Phillies Farm System as 4th Worst – Phillies Nation

ESPN’s Law Pegs Phillies Farm System as 4th Worst

Beyond Biddle, its a bunch of unknowns.

As we learn more about the top names in the Phillies minor league system thanks to Jay Floyd’s Top 25 Prospect countdown, Keith Law goes and kills the mood.

That’s because ESPN’s minor league insider has ranked his farm systems 1-30 and does not look favorably upon the Phillies. Law ranks the Phillies farm 27th of 30 major league teams, and says:

Their highest-ranked prospect on my top 100 (no team was shut out entirely) is the lowest of any team’s highest-ranked prospect. They do, however, have a number of intriguing, high-risk guys from low-A on down, especially on the pitching side.

That one prospect in his Top 100 is Philly native Jesse Biddle. Beyond that, Law says there’s some intrigue, but at lower levels. Some names have burst onto the scene, like Adam Morgan, Ethan Martin, etc., but they don’t have the background of some of the other prospects that litter the top teams.

Thus far, Jay Floyd is down #17 in his Top 25, which you can check out right here.



  1. Publius

    February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Seems about right

  2. Pops

    February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Sad assessment, but it may be true. Amaro hasn’t traded well and those deals have left the farm without much to cultivate.

  3. Ron B

    February 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    The Phillies PHarm system may lack at this moment, but they are truly the gold standard on the overall. Bringing in some of the marquis players they have brought in cost them. The fact that they were in a position to do so speaks more volume than where they may stand at any particular moment in time. This is a movie, not a snapshot, and the Phillies do it right.

    • Steve Bosell

      February 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Decimating the farm system for short term players like Oswalt & Pence may not fit everyone’s definition of “doing it right”.

      • Moondog

        February 4, 2013 at 5:24 pm

        Decimating? Who? If one of those future HOF traded for Pence and Oswalt makes it I’ll be surprised. Law is very overrated. Watch Ruf will hit 35 HRs and Law will trash him.

      • Publius

        February 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        They don’t need to be HOF players (neither Oswalt nor Pence are by any stretch of the imagination) to make the Phillies rue the day. They merely need to be above-average regulars, which I think both Cosart and Singleton will prove to be.

        Also lmao at the thought of the Phillies being “the gold standard” overall.

  4. bacardipr

    February 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Didnt think they would be ranked that low.

    • Ken Bland

      February 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      If it makes you feel better, John Sickels has the Phils 20, and Atlanta 27, a flip of Law’s rankings.

  5. bestpaboxer

    February 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    PUBLIUS is always a half empty glass. He is never positive. I read is comments and want to take xanax

    • Double Trouble Del

      February 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Publius just makes me laugh most of the time. The name also reminds of two characters, Publius and Furianus, in Latin for Americans II.

  6. Jroo

    February 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Kieth Law may be right about the Phillies farm system, but i take everything he says with a grain of salt. He has a track record of hating everything. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him write a positive article.

  7. George

    February 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    No matter whose farm system we’re talking about, everyone in it is still a prospect. Some will work out, others won’t. If the Phils are still #27 a couple of years down the road, then maybe I’ll worry a little bit.

    Law always takes a dim view of the Phils, and I’m sick of hearing his opinions recited like Gospel.

  8. Bart Shart

    February 5, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I never — NEVER — pay attention to Keith Law. What he says is usually taken from a magazine that is a month old.


    …………….On the other hand, the Phils need to further develop the crucial minor league talent, find more top talent and send scouts with baseball knowledge to Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic and Mexico; We need to stock up on talent, young talent .

    • Publius

      February 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

      The dude watches more minor league games than just about anyone. This is a ridiculously ignorant and misinformed comment.

  9. Chuck A.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Are Publius and Keith Law related???? …..

  10. Publius

    February 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I do NOT understand the Keith Law hate. The dude watches, yes with his own 2 eyes, a TON of minor league games each and every year and relies a lot more on his eyes than pure states. More traditional baseball fans should appreciate him. Also, the fact that he hasn’t said much positive about the Phillies’ moves means he’s a good analyst. I *wish* I was related to him.

    • hk

      February 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      A quick check of Law’s archives showed that he gave the team positive marks for the Pence and Victorino deals last July and for the deals in the prior seasons in which they acquired Oswalt, Halladay and Lee. He also thought the 2011 trade for Hunter Pence was a good move if Pence was acquired to replace Raul Ibanez. He gave them low marks for the Ibanez signing because he felt that they should not have given him the 3rd year, for trading Lee to Seattle and for extending Howard’s contract nearly two full seasons before the Big Piece was eligible for free agency. He has also consistently been pretty consistently negative towards the Phillies farm system.

      His track record seems pretty neutral to me, but I guess if you write anything negative about our beloved Phillies or the front office, it qualifies you as a hater.

    • George

      February 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      I don’t hate Keith Law. and I’m not so sure very many others do, either.

      I do feel, however, that Law’s opinions are no more valid than any other writer’s. Yet so many people seem to worry inordinately about everything he says he sometimes seems like the only “expert” out there.. I can look at hk’s comment below as an example that Law can be as dumb as anyone else if he indeed thought the deal for Hunter Pence in 2011 was a good move.

      • Don M

        February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm

        When the Phillies added Hunter Pence at the deadline … did you or did you not think we could and would win the World Series?

        If the goal is to win a championship.. I cannot fault the Phillies for making that deal. They needed a bat – (I still would’ve preferred Beltran), but I can’t complain about their going for it

      • Chuck A.

        February 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        I will defend that trade every single day…for the very reason that you stated. Yes, it didn’t work out in the end but I can’t fault them for making the deal. And if used properly in the lineup in the playoffs (Charlie moved him up in the order) he would have provided Howard the protection that he needed.

      • Manny

        February 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        I’m sorry guys but that trade was awful when it happened..and even worse now.
        We KNOWINGLY paid for Pence when he was at his career peak –we KNEW that, he was having an All-Star year. Buying high isn’t too smart of a move, in my opinion.

        Not only that, but the fact that we were WELL on our way to going to the playoffs… where we KNOW it’s a crapshoot, should be enough of a reason to AVOID making a move like that. In other words, any serious observer could have warned you that even having Pence in top form during the postseason would have only marginally increased our chances of coming out with a championship.

        And the kicker: the amount of talent we gave up was borderline absurd. Don’t even get me started on Santana being the player to be named later… ouch. The point isn’t that these players may or may not pan out.. the point is that we gave away value… which we could’ve kept or used it for trade bait in the future.

        The cost-benefit analysis in that trade was severely flawed and a massive mistake by Amaro. There’s no two ways around it.

      • schmenkman

        February 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        Manny, well said. The Phillies had about a 95% chance of making the playoffs at that point, and Victorino had been tearing it up vs. lefties, including in the 5th spot.

        Many fans and some in the media were calling for another RH bat to face RHPs, but there there was a sizable contingent even before the trade who thought it was a needless move.

      • George

        February 5, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        Don M:

        If your question is directed to me, YES, I did think the Phils could win. No one in their right mind would ever say they WOULD win it, though, so adding a player like Pence was never any guarantee.

        I’ll admit that when I first heard of the trade, I thought it was okay, but as I found out more about the players Pence cost, I grew a bit disheartened. I tried to rationalize it by telling myself and others that prospects are only that and don’t always work out; but even then I knew deep down that trading the future in an attempt to reach a goal that’s probably going to be reached anyway is never wise thinking.

    • George

      February 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm


      It doesn’t matter if Law watches players with his own two eyes if he happens to have 20/200 vision.

      Just kidding!

  11. Don M

    February 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

    On Keith Law ……. lets just hope he’s wrong.

    Part of what the Phillies have a lot of right now is Relief Pitching – which, while not “sexy” is definitely useful (look how much the bullpen helped the cause in 2008) . . . If you can get multiple, reliable, cheap arms from the pen (Aumont, DeFratus, Kyle Simon, … a healthy, effective Stutes). . That would be great help from the Farm – but they aren’t All Stars …..

    I think part of these rankings is really looking at what major impact players are in the system – and the Phillies don’t really have anything on offense – That said – none of the guys they’ve traded in years past has made an impact at the MLB level that would help them right now (Jason Donald – Michael Taylor)……… It would be nice to have D’Arnaud, and Singleton … but they’re gone – and thus our rankings aren’t great …. doesn’t mean the MLB team can’t have a good couple years.

    The farm is a great way to build, reload, restock the MLB roster – but there are also trades and free agency ….. and with Utley, Ruiz, Rollins, Halladay, etc potentially coming off the books in the next year or two (and that nice new TV contract coming soon) the Phillies will have the money available to grab impact players – and they won’t need to rely on their farm as much as teams like Kansas City, Tampa Bay, etc.

    Not saying it’s a great strategy for the long-term, but the Phillies future can still be bright, even if the farm doesn’t look so great

    • Ryne Duren

      February 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      @ Don i do think he’s wrong! if you check the minors rosters what you’ll see is a ton! i mean a ton of pitching prospects. we actually have at least two prospect starters at all three of the highest levels and even more prospects as releivers. so pitching wise we are in excellant shape. fielding wise at position spots. we have quite a few catching prospects. two at 3rd base asche, franco. two at ss, galvas, quinn. second we’re thin at, with hernandez, and first we have at least 2 counting ruf. and in the outfield we hava a couple but i’m not so sure i’d brag about them. the only one i really like is castro. however if ruf pans out and revere also we have time to replentish that area. it’s not as bad as some of these guys like law predict. but it’s also not as good as i might think.
      i check the other teams minors alot and i think our pitching will match up as good or better on the whole as anybody’s.and position wise the phils are set for some guys to start filtering up over the next few years so we’ll see. as far as the other teams go. they all have the same as each other. some positions are strong and some are weak. not every minor leaguer is going to make it that’s for sure.
      the old saying goes. if you can add one player every year the the big club then your system is doing fine! now how many did we add last year? and how many are coming this year?

      • Ryne Duren

        February 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm

        also Don the 4 guys you mentioned are questionable.donald isn’t or hasn’t done much, taylor has gone flat, d’arnaud is coming off a serious knee injury.( not good for a catcher) and singleton just got nailed for pot ? the one i worry about the most is the PTBNL Domimgo santiago? i was pissed when they gave him up.

  12. Lefty

    February 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I supported the acquisition of Pence. I have some misgivings now, but I did support it, and I refuse to be a phony about it. I thought he was the right fit for THAT team at THAT time. A complimentary piece that can help you win a championship. Sometimes you pay too much for that type of player. In a different way (money instead of prospects)The Nats paid Werth too much, and he may still pay dividends.

    But Pence simply was not capable of carrying a team after the loss of Howard and Utley, and eventually Halladay the next season.

    And as it turned out (by luck or karma or whatever you want to call it) , he was exactly what RA Jr. must have thought he’d be, -a good complimentary piece to add to a team to trying to win a championship. That proved to be true, it just happened a year too late.

    • frank

      February 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      I moved to the bay area in Californian 30 years ago. Once you are truly a fan of a team, no matter where you live, you stay emotionally connected to that team. But I also think it’s easier to see the moves the Phil’s have made more objectively being so far away. When the giants beat the phillies in 2010, all the experts gave the giants no chance, but even though I was not a giants fan, I had no doubt the giants would win because they were so well managed and their pitching was the only staff that could beat the phillies. Hunter pence should not be blamed for 2011. The Phil’s had everything that year to win it all, but their problem is, they were not managed well. I.m sure this will be very unpopular, but we should have easily been a dinesty. I truly believe if Bruce bochy had been the Phil’s manager, Philadelphia would have 3 championships. The giants had no business winning it all last year but they were run well and Washington was run very poorly. The Phil’s need to do everything to get young pitching through the farm and not give it away for an easy fix.

      • schmenkman

        February 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

        frank, with all due respect, I couldn’t disagree more that Bruce Bochy would have meant a dynasty.

        Manuel didn’t give up home runs to Cody F. Ross.
        Manuel didn’t give up a 4-run lead in game 2 in 2011.

        And I haven’t seen anybody blame Pence for 2011.

    • George

      February 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Pence’s value to the Giants in their championship run could be debated. I’m not going to myself, but I’m just saying…

      • frank

        February 5, 2013 at 11:29 pm

        First, I didn’t mean pence blamed. I think what I was trying to say was a lot of fans disagreed with the trade. I think pence did all he could do but he was not the answer. They had it all. I don’t think I have ever seen a pitching staff full of aces. Yes they should have easily been a dynasty. I’m sorry, but the giants 1 thru 8 were not close to the Phil’s. Charlie is a nice guy and a players manager but I don’t know how many times I’ve seen bochy bench regular srarters for the good of their team and put in players who were playing better at a particular time. He does not care about hurting feelings but winning games.

      • schmenkman

        February 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

        “I think pence did all he could do but he was not the answer.”
        — I agree. But then there was no “answer”.

        “I don’t think I have ever seen a pitching staff full of aces.”
        — Agreed — one of the best staffs ever assembled.

        ” I’m sorry, but the giants 1 thru 8 were not close to the Phil’s.”
        — Maybe, but I would bet that at least once a week during the season, a team isn’t nearly as good as their opponent wins a series. So I have a hard time being surprised when it happens in the postseason, when teams are, if anything, much more evenly matched.

        And again, with slightly better execution (or luck, either one would have sufficed), we wouldn’t be having this exchange.

  13. smitty

    February 5, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    For all of the time, effort, and angst spent trying to rate prospects and the quality level of minor league systems by various pundits I would only say it is a highly difficult and ultimtely subjective study. I would suggest that anyone who gets terribly upset by what Law or anybody else says – go back and look at these ratings and lists of 100 prospects in 1, 2 and 3 years later. What, I submt, you will find are usually a number, typically 15 or so, players who were clearly going to be standouts and turned out that way- see Manny Machado for instance – and a host (the majority) of others who never quite made it – EVEN in the top 100 lists. It is a combination of injuries, the higher level of competition, and the sheer extreme mental fatigue it takes to play baseball at the ML level for 162 games. So it is impossible for Law or anyone else to make these statements with any degree of accuracy – particularly when he is trying to assess 60-80 + minor league players in any one system ! It is just patently absurd…

    • hk

      February 6, 2013 at 5:37 am

      I agree with everything that you write except your closing comment and I think that Law, Sickels, Mayo, etc. would agree with most everything that you write except your closing comment. There are reasons that these lists, especially when looked at in the aggregate, have value and are not absurd. The value that they have to fans like us is they allow us, if we are so inclined, to assess the job that our front office is doing or has done, especially in regards to trades they make in which they send prospects in exchange for veterans. If we don’t know how the general prospect ranking community views prospects, we can’t assess in foresight or in hindsight whether the team underpaid or overpaid in deals of this sort.

      There’s a debate above about whether or not the Phils made a good move in parting with Singleton, Cosart, Santana and Zeid for Hunter Pence. Without knowing the way that the prospects were viewed in the scouting community, there’s no way for an average fan to form an opinion as to whether it was a good deal at the time. However, with some knowledge about the scouting community’s views on our favorite team’s prospects, we get some context. Further, on the same day that the Phils acquired Pence from the Astros, the Braves acquired a better and cheaper player (Michael Bourne) from the Astros for what was generally considered to be a much worse package. Therefore, with knowledge about another team’s prospects and a similar deal against which to measure our team’s deal, we can form an even more informed opinion of how our GM did. In this case, at the time, it looked like the Phils overpaid for Pence relative to what Atlanta paid for Bourne. To some, this is valuable information.

  14. frank

    February 6, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Schmenkman- I appreciate you’re respectful answers to my comments. Sometimes I think they might sound negative.

  15. Rob h

    February 6, 2013 at 1:30 am

    The farm might not be great now but I’d have to think if we’re not playing well we could fetch some decent prospects for halladay, utley, Rollins, maybe even lee or Howard. Howard not as likely but most teams would trade for the first 3 for a playoff run. With the way the market just went Rollins contract looks great, and lee’s doesn’t look so bad either. We might not get any a-list prospects for these guys but I think we could without a doubt replenish the system a little bit. Also, as stated by others, we have some decent pitching prospects throughout, if even 2 of them pan out we are in decent shape with the staff down the line.

  16. Chuck A.

    February 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Lefty, EXACTLY! Well said, friend. He was the right fit for THAT team at THAT time. Yeah, maybe they WOULD have made the playoffs anyway. They certainly were on the right trajectory. But bringing him in, I think, solidified their lineup and brought a certain “energy” to the team that was lacking. Sorry D Brown fans… but the still raw young “untouchable” just wasn’t getting it done at the time.

    I still can’t understand, though, why Pence was so misused in the lineup during the NLDS. If he was brought here to be that 5 hole hitter and to give Ryan Howard protection…in effect taking Werth’s role…..then why in the hell did Charlie move him up in the order during that series??

    • schmenkman

      February 6, 2013 at 8:24 am

      I can only imagine that he was trying to break up Utley and Howard, although then he had Howard and Ibanez back to back.

      Once Pence arrived I have to admit I was grudgingly won over by his goofy, gawky “6-year-old chased by a swarm of bees” energy, and it didn’t hurt that he was in the midst of the best hitting stretch of his career.

      But in spite of whatever deficit in energy they may have had, in the over two months from the time Utley had returned in May until the trade, the Phillies had the second highest-scoring offense in the NL, at 4.71 runs per game. Scoring went down somewhat after Pence arrived, in spite of his hot hitting.

      Getting another RH bat was a “nice to have”.

    • Publius

      February 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Because “protection” doesn’t really exist

      • Chuck A.

        February 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

        Yeah, ok….whatever.

  17. Don M

    February 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I think the notion of “protection” is overblown – but I don’t think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t exist … we constantly hear players, GM’s, ex-players (play-by-play, color guys, post-game Lives) . . . etc all talking about protection in the lineup – seeing better pitches, pitchers pitching differently if there are men on base, or depending on who is on the on-deck circle.

    Again, I think it gets exaggerated by fans, but I think it’s a real part of baseball … if you have Freddy Galvis batting next – you aren’t putting anything where Howard can beat you … you’ll take your chances with Galvis.

  18. Dyroff

    February 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    This is completely wrong. They have the WORST farm system. Thank you Rube(en).

  19. schmenkman

    February 7, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Here is a somewhat more positive ranking, by John Sickels at Minor League Ball:

    “20) Philadelphia Phillies (24 last year): Strengths: Good pitching depth with Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan, Austin Wright standing out; they seem to find nice lefties. They also have a habit of finding Tyler Cloyd types that scouts don’t like but who get people out. Some nice right-handers too with Ethan Martin and Jon Pettibone nearly ready to contribute, plus considerable bullpen material. Weaknesses: Hitting. Heavy investments in tools players have not panned out. Untoolsy Darin Ruf was a nice surprise though. Not a terrible system, clearly better than the teams behind them.”

  20. Don M

    February 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    “Heavy investment in tools players” ……. that’s a great comment … they’ve gone searching for MVP players in the past few drafts (early rounds) … and have come up short on those projections.

    It would be a huge help to the organization if Cody Asche continues to hit at the next level …and if he can develop more power as he gets older/stronger

  21. Ken Bland

    February 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Time for some it’s been said 2,000 times,around here, so who cares if it’s 2001.

    Subject: Darin Ruf
    Date: quite current, 2/7/13

    Joe Jordan was interviewed scant minutes ago on MLB Network Radio, and the subject turned to Ruf. I really liked Jordan’s attitude. To paraphrase, he said, “look, I can only go by what I’ve seen. The guy hit 51 (or whatever it was) homers last year on all his levels, and that’s not an easy thing to do. What I saw of him at the big league level, he did not look out of place.”

    My own feeling on Ruf is he’s forced the Phils to give him a serious look this spring. Jordan didn’t mention it, but I’m sure he’s 100 times more aware, and qualified to judge than myself about the young man’s defensive ability as well, particularly since the club’s not looking to add to 7 gold glove starters.

    Naturally, with any prospect, some degree of cautionary tone be’s advised. I sensed an optimistic cautionary tone. There’sve been 2 kinds of people watching Daren Ruf the last few months among the masses. The perhaps correct, but still seemingly close minded folk thatgive us the older, lousyt defense, if he was any good, he’d have been heard of gang, and the yahoos that try to out bid each other on Ruf’s projected homer total for ’13, with nearly all entries surpassing the big league record of 27 for a guy in his first full season at age 26.

    If Daren is cool, cal, and collected, within a passionate approach, he’s got a better chance to tip the upside of the challenge ahead. That’s what Joe Jordan conveyed to my ear. At the least, he strikes as a kid worth rooting for, even ignoring the club’s sore need for him, or somebody in the outfield to overachieve.

    • frank

      February 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      One thing that I never understand is when a player goes to college, they do not normally start their pro career until around 22, sometimes 23. So many so called experts start calling them old for whatever level they’re at. It normally takes 2 or 3 years to climb through a system. These guys need to be given time or why bother going to college if your goal is to play baseball. My point, darin ruff has had 3 full years of minor league ball since being drafted. Forget what the experts say about his age. I would not be surprised if he has a 10 year career making several all star teams.

  22. Pingback: Philadelphia Phillies: Spring Training Grades for Every Top Prospect - St. Augustine Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Phillies Nation has been bringing Phillies fans together since 2004 with non-stop news, analysis, trade rumors, trips, t-shirts, and other fun stuff!

Browse the Archives

Browse by Category

Copyright Phillies Nation, LLC 2004-2016
Not Affiliated with Major League Baseball or the Philadelphia Phillies

To Top