Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Both Tony Maz and Steve Buckley had interesting articles on the strong status of the Sox minor league system published on World Series Ring Day.
Buck interviews Jim Callis of Baseball America, who describes how MLB’s slotting system and the Sox willingness to pay above the recommended/slotted bonus has lead to the acquisition of talent later in the draft. That advantage maybe diminishing as even smaller revenue stream clubs like the Rays, Nationals, and O’s went above slot in last year’s draft. If this trend continues, the Sox can either up the ante to a point where it only makes economic sense for them and other big market clubs, like the top end of the free agent market, or put more dollars into the international amateur market where they do not have to wait their turn. My guess is that the Sox go more global and let the MFY drive up the signing bonuses. There is no need for them to actively compete with the MFY, thereby speeding up their eventual advantage in the current system.
In Maz’s article, he references BA touting the Sox system as second only to the Rays. He then quotes Theo Epstein.
“I think the strength of our system is in the lower minors,” Epstein said. “If you walk down to our minor league complex (during spring training), there’s probably as much talent as we’ve ever had down there.”
The trifecta of Buchholz and Ellsbury loosing their prospect status, Lowrie and Masterson without as much upside as the previously mentioned, and the lack of premium prospects above A-ball will likely drop the Sox ranking next year. If the very top of the 2006 draft was living up to expectations, Daniel Bard in particular, the Sox might not drop too much. Bard projected to be at least at the same level as Masterson, but his lack of command and secondary stuff got him demoted to the pen. Bard is probably a data point in the Sox philosophy to acquire pitchers with breaking stuff instead of trying to develop the pitch.