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slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish


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March, 2009

2009 BDBL Farm Report

Since this is the tenth BDBL Farm Report, most of you know how this process works.  But for you new guys, each year I collect top prospect lists from a "panel of experts."  I assign 100 points to the top player on each list, 99 points to the #2 player, etc..  I then tally up all the points and rank each team in the BDBL by the total number of points.  I then provide a bunch of snarky comments to add to the fun.

This year's panel of experts includes Baseball HQ (two lists), Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus), Keith Law and Baseball America.  As always this panel does not -- and I repeat, does not -- include Anthony Peburn.

Here now is your 2009 ranking, along with all the past rankings:

  Total Pts 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 Avg Rank
MAR 2,656 1 1 3 16 17 19 7 8 15 10 9.7
SCS 2,338 2 6 12 5 9 13 2 3 10 17 7.9
NMB 1,906 3 7 15 23 22 15 14 5 1 3 10.9
ATL 1,665 4 4 10 21 10 14 17 11 20 24 13.6
LAU 1,660 5 2 1 1 2 6 19 2 3 7 4.6
CHI 1,412 6 12 2 10 14 2 5 1 8 12 7.2
MAN 1,327 7 13 8 2 3 7 8 12 16 22 9.8
STL 1,292 8 5 11 9 19 10 23 17 12 19 13.3
BCJ 1,288 9 23 9 3 12 22 20 21 23 21 16.3
SAL 1,161 10 3 5 8 7 8 1 10 7 1 6.0
LVF 1,040 11 10 14 15 21 17 13 23 22 16 16.2
AKR 1,034 12 8 23 12 18 21 15 13 2 9 13.3
ALN 837 13 16 6 13 4 16 12 9 4 18 11.1
SYL 832 14 18 19 20 13 20 4 22 19 14 16.8
VIL 815 15 15 7 6 1 1 10 18 18 8 9.8
NHB 738 16 21 20 17 20 18 6 14 17 11 15.9
SCA 709 17 14 16 11 15 11 9 7 14 15 13.2
NAS 615 18 17 17 18 11 23 24 6 9 23 16.5
RAV 465 19 19 22 24 23 12 22 20 13 5 17.8
SAB 384 20 22 18 22 8 3 18 15 5 13 14.0
CLE 348 21 20 13 19 24 24 21 24 24 20 21.0
COR 269 22 11 24 7 6 5 3 4 6 2 9.0
KAN 165 23 9 4 4 5 4 11 16 11 4 9.1
GLS 133 24 24 21 14 16 9 16 19 21 6 17.0

#1 Marlboro Hammerheads
Ranked prospects: Colby Rasmus (9), Andrew McCutchen (25), Jarrod Parker (26), Josh Vitters (32), Michel Inoa (37), Mat Gamel (49), Jeremy Jeffress (51), Adam Miller (57), Jake Arrieta (63), Michael Almanzar (122), Julio Borbon (129).
Unranked prospects: Jaff Decker, Jonathan Galvez, Chin-Lung Hu, Fernando Perez, Yorman Rodriguez, Oscar Tejeda, Wilfredo Boscan, Charlie Haeger, Chris Withrow.

Meet the new #1; same as the old #1.  Despite the fact that the team's #2 prospect (McCutchen) fell in the overall ranking from #12 to #25, despite five of this team's top nine prospects from last year leaving via trade, and despite the graduations of two others to the active roster, the Hammerheads' farm repeats as the top-ranked system in the BDBL for the second year in a row.  How has new GM Nic Weiss managed to take over where former farm director Ken Kaminski left off?  Rasmus, Vitters, and Gamel were all added via trade, Inoa was a key mid-season pick-up last summer, and Parker rose from #42 to #26.  There is considerable disagreement among our panel regarding nearly every one of Marlboro's top prospects.  Rasmus ranks as high as #3 (BA) and as low as #25 (HQ.)  Of HQ's two contributors, one ranked McCutchen #10, while the other ranked him #51.  Parker ranked #16 on one of the HQ lists, but ranked just #35 by Law.  And Vitters (#14 by Law, #59 by HQ) and Inoa (#20 by Goldstein, #54 by BA) also showed a wide disparity of opinion.

#2 South Carolina Sea Cats
Ranked prospects: Buster Posey (11), Justin Smoak (13), Chris Tillman (23), Fernando Martinez (27), Alcides Escobar (52), Freddie Freeman (66), Greg Halman (69), Adrian Cardenas (79), Reid Brignac (81), Jon Niese (96).
Unranked prospects: Caleb Gindl, Reese Havens, Cedric Hunter, Jericho Jones, Tony Butler, Alan Horne, Will Inman, Kevin Mulvey.

This is the seventh time in ten seasons the Sea Cats farm system has ranked among the top ten.  Incredibly, the top four prospects in last year's #6-ranked system (Martinez, Brignac, Ian Kennedy and Radhames Liz) all fell in the ranking.  But Tillman jumped from #65 to #23, Cardenas went from #123 to #79, Smoak and Halman went from unranked to #13 and #69, respectively, and this team's top prospect, Posey, was acquired last summer off the free agent scrap heap.  GM Tony DeCastro then added two more top-100 prospects (Escobar and Freeman) in the drafts this January (paying $3 million to acquire Escobar.)

#3 New Milford Blazers
Ranked prospects: Dexter Fowler (12), Brett Anderson (17), Matt LaPorta (21), Mike Stanton (38), Nick Weglarz (62), Kyle Skipworth (83), Brett Lawrie (90), Michael Burgess (103), Brad Lincoln (138), Sean West (143)
Unranked prospects: Chris Getz, John Raynor, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi.

Here's a prediction you can cut, paste and save for later: every prospect ranked above will drop in the rankings by this time next year.  Fowler's singles-driven .335 batting average last year was inflated by a high BIP average and the hitter-friendly confines of Tulsa and the Texas League.  Anderson is a dime-a-dozen junkballing lefty who typically gets lit up in the big leagues where corner-nipping repertoires like his don't work as well against seasoned professionals.  LaPorta has Jack Cust's career arc written all over him.  And Stanton strikes out more often than Jim Doyle at a sorority party.  Other than that, I absolutely love the Blazers farm.

#4 Atlanta Fire Ants
Ranked prospects: Tim Beckham (15), Gordon Beckham (24), Wade Davis (29), Jordan Walden (43), Matt Latos (72), Jeremy Hellickson (88), Jeff Niemann (110), Jemile Weeks (119), Ross Detwiler (120).
Unranked prospects: Robbie Grossman, Bryce Harper, Ryan Kalish, Wil Middlebrooks, Joshua Fields, Gaby Hernandez, Mike Montgomery.

Despite the fact that last year's #1 prospect (Clay Buchholz) graduated to the majors, and the team's #2 (Davis) and #3 (Detwiler) prospects both fell in the ranking, the Fire Ants once again own a top-five farm system for the second year in a row.  The credit for that goes to the Beckham brothers: Tim, who was selected with the #2 overall pick of the 2008 farm draft, and Gordon, who was the #1 pick at last year's Chapter Four free agent deadline.  After years of stocking the farm with "safe" picks, GM Gene Patterson has struck gold with several high-upside/high-risk picks.  He continued that trend this winter by selecting 16-year-old Bryce Harper with the #1 overall pick.  Last year, I noted that this franchise's three best prospects were all pitchers; this year, they're all hitters.

#5 Los Altos Undertakers
Ranked prospects: Matt Wieters (1), Jason Heyward (3), Brian Matusz (21), Elvis Andrus (47), Engel Beltre (113), Julio Teheran (124), Brad Holt (139).
Unranked prospects: Ryan Westmoreland, Kyle Blair, Jose Ceda, Kyle Gibson, Matt Harvey, Mike Leake, Tyler Matsek, Alex White.

Ho-hum.  Another year, another top five ranking for the Los Altos farm system.  That's five in a row if you're still keeping track, and NINE top-seven rankings in the ten years of the BDBL Farm Report.  We may as well call this the "Paulson Report" at this point.  And there's no end in sight, either.  Even after Wieters graduates to become the greatest offensive catcher since Mike Piazza this year, Gibson, Matsek and White will all join the top 100 (if not the top 50) next year, and Blair and Harvey will be right behind them in 2011.  If you think it's discouraging to look at the Undertakers' 35-man roster this year, just remember that there is no end in sight to this wretched dynasty.

#6 Chicago Black Sox
Ranked prospects: Travis Snider (4), Cameron Maybin (10), Mike Bowden (45), Jeff Samardzija (73), Ethan Martin (95), Drew Stubbs (105), Josh Reddick (125), Jefry Marte (139), Neil Ramirez (148).
Unranked prospects: Kevin Ahrens, Nick Noonan, Austin Romine, Billy Rowell, Matt Sulentic, Jack McGeary, Shelby Miller, Donald Veal.

John Gill was the first BDBL GM to dive into the high school ranks when he selected prep pitcher Josh Beckett in the 1999 farm draft, so it's interesting to note that Chicago's top three prospects (and four of the top five) were all plucked from the hallways of high school.  All four of Chicago's top four prospects should graduate to the big club next season, which may cause a drastic dive in next year's farm report.  Both Snider and Maybin project as significant impact players, and should help to continue the tradition of dominant Chicago lineups.

#7 Manchester Irish Rebels
Ranked prospects: Angel Villalona (47), Matt Dominguez (50), J.P. Arencibia (57), Brett Cecil (60), Phillipe Aumont (70), Aaron Cunningham (77), Jason Castro (85), Scott Elbert (92), Dayan Viciedo (108), Chris Nelson (117), Junichi Tazawa (133), Gio Gonzalez (144).
Unranked prospects: Scott Campbell, Zach Collier, Dan Moskos, Andrew Oliver, Humberto Sanchez.

It's not easy to rank #7 in the farm report when your top prospect is ranked just #47 overall.  But the Rebs own a good portion of the bottom 100 in the overall top 150, and if quantity counts for more than quality on the farm, then the Rebels are doing okay.  Manchester leads the league with a dozen ranked prospects (one more than the Apostles, Blazers and Hammerheads.)  The last time Manchester's farm ranked this highly (2006), their farm consisted of players like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Cain, Nick Markakis, Cole Hamels and Andrew McCutchen.  Let's all hope the team of Doyle and Bliss can get more return for this year's lot than Doyle got out of 2006's.  For the most part, there doesn't appear to be any real high-impact players on the Manchester farm at the moment.  Most thought that Villalona would be that type of player, and although he held his own at a young age, his future stardom is now less certain than it was a year ago.  Dominguez and Aumont have some upside, but are too far away to speculate with any accuracy.  And Arencibia and Cecil are projected to be solid, yet unspectacular, big league role players.

#8 St. Louis Apostles
Ranked prospects: Derek Holland (27), Jesus Montero (34), Wilmer Flores (53), Jose Tabata (65), Martin Perez (76), Chris Perez (89), Darryl Jones (98), Kellen Kulbacki (128), Daniel Cortes (133), Neftali Soto (133), Adys Portillo (150).
Unranked prospects: Jharmidy DeJesus, Kelvin DeLeon, Mychal Givens, Rafael Rodriguez, Deolis Guerra, Scott Lewis, Shairon Martis, Jason Motte.

The leading advocate for farm expansion, Bobby Sylvester insists that 15 farm spots just isn't enough.  Judging by some of the reaches in the list above, I'm thinking ten might be too many.  There's nothing wrong with Holland or Montero, and Flores and Tabata have the type of young, toolsy upside that Bobby recently railed against on the board.  But there are some far-flung reaches spread out among the rest of the Apostles farm -- reaches with 1,000-to-1 odds of ever playing a single MLB inning, never mind starring.  In recent years, Bobby has fallen in love with the idea of discovering the next Miguel Cabrera or Felix Hernandez on the international market.  Incredibly, 10 out of the 19 players listed above were all signed as international free agents.

#9 Bear Country Jamboree
Ranked prospects: Madison Bumgarner (6), Carlos Triunfel (42), Aaron Poreda (55), Desmond Jennings (61), Kyle Blanks (74), Wilson Ramos (116), Chris Marrero (120.)
Unranked prospects: Norichika Aoki, Cutter Dykstra, Cale Iorg, Bryan LaHair, Hak Ju Lee, Casey Crosby, Eduardo Morlan, Tyson Ross, Mitch Talbot, Ben Tootle.

The award for the biggest gain in this year's farm report belongs to the Jamboree, who jumped all the way from #23 to #9.  And that entire jump can be attributed to just one player: Bumgarner.  Matt Clemm's one and only free agent acquisition at the Chapter Four deadline in 2007, Bumgarner exploded onto the scene last year and made Sally League hitters look absolutely foolish (142 IP, 111 H, 3 HR, 21 BB, 164 K, 1.46 ERA.)  While Bumgarner ranked among the top 10 on four of the five lists (one of the two HQ lists ranked him #22), opinions were all over the map for Triunfel.  Both HQ lists and Law each rank Triunfel among the top 25 prospects in the game, while Baseball America ranked him just #89, and Goldstein didn't rank him at all.

#10 Salem Cowtippers
Ranked prospects: Pedro Alvarez (16), Eric Hosmer (19), Aaron Hicks (36), Daniel Bard (107).
Unranked prospects: Chris Coghlan, Matt Davidson, Kentrail Davis, Christian Lopes, Austin Maddox, Connor Narron, A.J. Pollock, Mark Melancon, Mike Minor, Stephen Strasburg, Kendall Volz.

I really thought this would be the year my string of top-ten farm systems would be broken, but Alvarez and Hosmer kept the streak intact.  Despite the fact that the two have combined for just 11 professional at-bats so far, both are ranked among the overall top 20.  Seven former Cowtipper farmhands (Rick Porcello, Cameron Maybin, Dexter Fowler, Matt LaPorta, Fernando Martinez, Josh Vitters and Yonder Alonso) appear among the top 50.  If I had held onto all of them, the Cowtippers farm would be the overwhelming #1-ranked system in the BDBL, with 3,783 points (1,127 more than the Hammerheads.)  But I guess that's the price I pay for not winning a championship.  Reinforcements are on the way, with Davidson, Davis, Maddox, Pollock, Minor, Strasburg and Volz all expected to join the rankings next year.  And with Alvarez, Hosmer, Strasburg and, potentially, Hicks all joining the top 15 next year, Salem may capture the #1 spot in this survey for the first time since 2003.

#11 Las Vegas Flamingos
Ranked prospects: Neftali Feliz (8), Yonder Alonso (46), Michael Main (67), Shooter Hunt (91), Wilin Rosario (94), Bryan Anderson (115), Nick Hagadone (125), David Cooper (132).
Unranked prospects: Corey Brown, Lance Broadway, Bryan Henry, Bud Norris, James Simmons.

The Flamingos snuck into the top ten for the first time in franchise history last year, but just missed the mark this year despite the meteoric rise of Feliz from #88 overall all the way to #8.  With last year's #1 prospect (Chase Headley) moving onto the active roster, and #2 prospect Gio Gonzalez traded for Anderson, Vegas was able to replace them with three products of the 2008 MLB draft: Alonso (acquired from Salem in last year's Hideki Matsui trade), Main and Hunt.  Rosario and Cooper were both added this winter in the farm draft.

#12 Akron Ryche
Ranked prospects: Tommy Hanson (5), Logan Morrison (41), Jhoulys Chacin (56), Angel Salome (97), Cole Rohrbough (113), Gerardo Parra (123).
Unranked prospects: Dustin Ackley, James Darnell, Taylor Green, Kila Ka'aihue, Gaby Sanchez, Faustino de los Santos, Danny Duffy, Matthew Purke, Juan Ramirez, Chance Ruffin, Matthew Shepard, Alexander Smit.

Akron has had a long tradition of excellent pitching in their farm system (Jeff Weaver, Mark Mulder, Jason Marquis, Mark Prior, Cliff Lee, Rich Harden and Johnny Cueto to name just seven success stories), and Hanson is just the latest product of the Akron ace factory.  There is some debate, however, whether Hanson will become a true ace, or whether he is more likely to be a middle-of-the-rotation inning-eater.  His stats last season (138 IP, 85 H, 9 HR, 52 BB, 163 K, 2.41 ERA) certainly scream "ace," yet scouts question whether his stuff will translate to the big stage.  Like Hanson (who rose from a #80 ranking last year), Morrison really came out of nowhere this year, and made a name for himself in the Arizona Fall League.  Like Chacin, Morrison was a mid-season free agent pick-up by D.J. Shepard last year (Shepard's third pick.)

#13 Allentown Ridgebacks
Ranked prospects: Rick Porcello (6), Tim Alderson (40), Andrew Lambo (78), Josh Lindblom (144).
Unranked prospects: Jarek Cunningham, Rashun Dixon, Sean Doolittle, Juan Duran, Grant Green, Jesus Guzman, Cody Johnson, Derek Norris, Jose Casilla, Carlos Gutierrez, Kam Mickolio.

Porcello is the highest-ranked pitching prospect in the Allentown farm system since Jesse Foppert.  No one (and I mean no one) is hoping that Porcello has a Foppert-like career arc more than I.  But given the success rate of Allentown pitching prospects (Roy Oswalt, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, etc.), Porcello's Hall of Fame election is a fate accompli.  Three of Allentown's four ranked prospects throw a ball for a living, so you'd like to think the TINSTAAPP Curse would strike at least three of them.  Of the unranked group, I'm not even sure who many of them are, but I'm sure they're all products of Tom's super-secret prospect formula.

#14 Sylmar Padawans
Ranked prospects: Lars Anderson (18), Mike Moustakas (19), Wes Hodges (127).
Unranked prospects: Francisco Cervelli, Isaac Galloway, Jared Goedert, Kala Ka'aihue, Hunter Morris, Yorman Bazardo, Cesar Carillo, Kenshin Kawakami, Sean O'Sullivan, Drew Pomeranz, Chaz Roe.

This is the third year in a row the Pads have moved up in the ranking, and this has happened despite the trade of #12 prospect Dexter Fowler and the graduation of last year's top prospect, Geovanny Soto.  Both of the team's current top prospects came from the Los Altos Undertakers organization.  Anderson -- acquired in 2007 in the Bobby Howry trade -- made the leap from #55 to #18, and Moustakas came to Sylmar in last year's Ryan Dempster deal.  Anderson, Moustakas and Soto could form a very nice (and inexpensive) offensive trio in Sylmar for many years to come.  They just need about a dozen more prospects just like them in order to keep up with the Undertakers.

#15 Villanova Mustangs
Ranked prospects: Trevor Cahill (14), Carlos Carrasco (44), Tyler Flowers (71), Angel Morales (136), Jeffrey Locke (144).
Unranked prospects: Ehire Adrianza, Ryan Flaherty, Chad Huffman, Justin Jackson, Manuarys Correa, Kelvin de la Cruz, Edgar Garcia, Kasey Kiker, Clayton Mortensen, Trevor Reckling, Anthony Swarzak.

Anthony Peburn recently stated "I love this kid" in regard to Cahill.  If that's not the Kiss of Death, I don't know what is.  For what it's worth, our prospect panel loves Cahill, too, as they all ranked him among the top 25 prospects in baseball.  And after striking out 136 batters in 124+ innings while posting a 2.61 ERA in two tough hitters leagues, what's not to love?  Still, TINSTAAPP applies just the same.  I'm not sure who a lot of those guys on the unranked list are, but they sure have funny names.  They look like a bowl of alphabet soup.

#16 New Hope Badgers
Ranked prospects: Brett Wallace (29), Austin Jackson (33), Andrew Brackman (99), Dellin Betances (105).
Unranked prospects: Cole Gillespie, Hector Gomez, Michael Hollimon, Ryan Jackson, Mitch Moreland, Donovan Tate, Josh Whitesell, Clayton Cook, Matt Graham, Chris Jenkins, Brett Marshall, Jaime Richmond, Pat Venditte.

Tony Badger's stated farm-building philosophy is to target those guys who are underappreciated by prospect pundits.  Guys who will become solid, yet unspectacular fourth outfielders, pinch hitters, #4 starters, utility infielders or relief specialists.  Guys with funny-looking faces and oddly-shaped bodies, who don't move particularly well or run particularly fast.  Guys with weird abnormalities who can pitch with either arm or work a set of chopsticks with their toes.  This team's #1 prospect, Brett Wallace, certainly fits into that category.  Half-man, half-hippopotamus, Wallace doesn't look like a professional athlete, but he sure can hit.  However, with the trade for Jackson, the selection of Tate as a free agent last year and the selection of Betances with his #1 farm pick this winter, it appears that Badger may be softening his stance on shying away from high-risk/high-reward prospects.  The result, so far, is the best ranking this franchise has seen since the Geisel Era.

#17 Southern Cal Slyme
Ranked prospects: Carlos Santana (31), Jordan Zimmerman (39), Max Ramirez (83), Henry Sosa (130).
Unranked prospects: Casey Kelly, Chris Parmelee, Kyle Russell, Aaron Crow, Yu Darvish, Randall Delgado, Vin Mazzaro, Zach McAllister, Tim Melville, Stolmy Pimentel, Jess Todd.

All three of SoCal's top three prospects were acquired this winter in pre-season trades.  Santana (along with Crow) was acquired in the Magglio Ordonez trade with Marlboro, Ramirez was a throw-in on the SUS trade with New Milford, and Zimmerman was acquired from the Broncs straight-up in exchange for Jayson Werth.  Any time you can add your top three prospects while at the same time building a first-place ballclub, you know you're doing something right.  Looking ahead, Kelly and Crow could easily join the ranked list next year, and if Darvish ever decides to make the jump he could make more of an impact than any of them.

#18 Nashville Funkadelic
Ranked prospects: David Price (2), Jason Donald (81), Lou Marson (111).
Unranked prospects: Yung-Chi Chen, Jonathan Lucroy, Jon Coutlangus, Kyuki Fujikawa, Yadel Marti, Felipe Paulino, Jason Stanford.

The wait is almost over.  Four years after he was plucked off the free agent scrap heap, David Price is poised to become the ace of the Funkadelic starting rotation in 2010.  And once he moves on, there won't be much left to talk about on the Funk farm.  Seriously, I have nothing else to talk about here.

#19 Ravenswood Infidels
Ranked prospects: Jordan Schafer (35), Todd Frazier (75), Brandon Erbe (99), Ivan Dejesus (142).
Unranked prospects: Jeff Bianchi, Peter Bourjos, Eric Campbell, Mike Carp, Chris Carter, Ike Davis, Jason Kipnis, Devin Mesaraco, Josh Phegley, John Whittleman, Jeff Manship, Yuki Saito.

Last year I commented that several of Ravenswood's prospects seemed to be moving in the wrong direction.  Since then, Schafer was caught using steroids, suspended for half the season and dropped three spots in the ranking, Carter went from #131 to unranked, and of the 11 unranked prospects from last year, only Frazier made the jump into the top 150.  This is the seventh time the Infidels farm system has ranked among the bottom five in the past eight years, and the future doesn't look any brighter.

#20 San Antonio Broncs
Ranked prospects: Gorkys Hernandez (68), Taylor Teagarden (80), Chris Carter (85), Dominic Brown (87), Brandon Allen (148).
Unranked prospects: Travis D'Arnaud, David Freese, Conor Gillaspie, Adam Moore, Chris Valaika, Blake Beaven, David Hernandez, Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Perry, Michael Pineda, Hector Rondon.

With a $3 million salary, Teagarden is a lot more expensive than most prospects, but after the trade of Max Ramirez last year, the Broncs hope that Teagarden will be the team's starting catcher for the next several years.  GM Greg Newgard hopes that this year's farm draft crop (which includes ranked prospects Brown and Allen) will be just as successful as last year's (which included Chris Davis, Jordan Zimmerman, Mat Gamel and Ramirez.)

#21 Cleveland Rocks
Ranked prospects: Ben Revere (59), Dan Schlereth (102), Kyle Drabek (109), David Huff (111), Beau Mills (118).
Unranked prospects: Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Danks, John Jaso, Matt McBride, Nolan Reimold, Jose Mijares, Kazumi Saitoh, Tanner Scheppers, Terrell Young.

After a brief flirtation with the top 10 back in 2007 (thanks to Troy Tulowitzki), the Rocks are back at the bottom for the second year in a row.  In the ten years I've been doing this annual survey, Cleveland has ranked among the bottom five NINE times.  That's not easy to do, even if you're not trying!  There's not a lot to say about this year's Cleveland farm crop.  It's difficult to identify one player above who looks anything like a potential impact player in the BDBL, and there isn't much trade bait here, either.  If I were Mike Stein, I'd release all 15 farm players and start over from scratch.

#22 Corona Confederates
Ranked prospects: Nick Adenhart (54), Christian Friedrich (99), Andrew Cashner (137).
Unranked prospects: Bobby Borchering, Hank Conger, Brian Goodwin, Anthony Hewitt, Brandon Snyder, Matt Sweeney, Craig Italiano, Tyler Lumsden, Joe Savery, Jason Stoffel, Zach Wheeler.

Once the pride of the BDBL, the Corona farm system has now ranked among the bottom three in two of the past three years.  Since he took over the franchise, Ed McGowan has concentrated heavily on the high school and college ranks.  This very high-risk/high-reward strategy has netted such gems as Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin and Ryan Braun, but has resulted in more misses than hits.  The current Confederates farm club is filled with players who were selected from the amateur pool, including Friedrich, Cashner, Borchering, Conger, Goodwin, Hewitt, Snyder, Savery, Stoffel and Wheeler.  Of that group, none currently projects as a surefire impact player.  This team's top prospect, Adenhart, ranked among the top 30 prospects in baseball in each of the past two years, but fell to #54 after a disappointing showing last year.

#23 Kansas Law Dogs
Ranked prospects: James McDonald (64).
Unranked prospects: Trevor Crowe, Esmailyn Gonzalez, Chris Pettit, Danny Gutierrez, Hitoki Iwase, Michael McCardell, Kris Medlen, Edward Reynoso, Will Smith, Graham Taylor, Jacob Turner, Koji Uehara.

And the award for the biggest drop in this year's Farm Report goes to the Law Dogs, who fell from a #9 ranking last year all the way to #23.  The team's top three prospects from last year (Andy LaRoche, Carlos Gonzalez and Kosuke Fukudome) all graduated to the big leagues, leaving 2008's #1 farm pick, McDonald, as the team's only ranked prospect.  Making matters worse, Gonzalez was recently outed as a 24-year-old, erasing his prospect status.  But the good news is that this farm club isn't nearly as bad as its rating would indicate.  Uehara isn't considered a "prospect" by most pundits, and thus isn't ranked, but he could make a sizeable contribution to Kansas in 2010.  Crowe is also a former top-ranked prospect who could conceivably make an impact in 2010 despite not being ranked this year.  And Turner is considered to be among the top prep arms in the country, and may rank highly on this list a year from now.

#24 Great Lakes Sphinx
Ranked prospects: Michael Saunders (92), Michael Taylor (104), Jake McGee (130), Tyler Colvin (139), Jay Jackson (147).
Unranked prospects: Josh Donaldson, Tony Thomas, Neil Walker, Nick Barnese, Gerrit Cole, Alex Meyer, Tyler Robertson.

Bringing up the rear for the second year in a row is the Sphinx.  It's hard to believe that Scott Romonosky has traded John Smoltz, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Germano, Gil Meche, Shane Victorino, Justin Morneau, Carlos Lee and Carlos Marmol over the past seven months -- mostly in exchange for prospects -- and yet the top-ranked prospect on the Sphinx farm is ranked just #92 overall.  Normally, when a rebuilding team trades that much talent, they get at least ONE top-rated prospect in return.  I didn't see the value in guys like Saunders, Taylor, Barnese and Robertson when they were acquired, and I still don't see it.  Evidently, our panel of pundits doesn't see it, either.