This week, Keith Law of ESPN is releasing his preseason prospect rankings. He got started on Wednesday by rating each team's overall farm system, and the Oakland A's clocked in at No. 18 out of 30. In the notes on that list, he mentioned that the A's would have two guys in his Top 100, and now we officially know who they are (Insider subscription required for that link):
22. Franklin Barreto, SS
59. Sean Manaea, LHP
If you've been following the prospect talk over the last several months, this won't be a shock to you. Those two guys are pretty much the consensus top two in the system, and the only disagreement among the experts is whether there is a third A's youngster in the Top 100 (as well as the identity of that third guy). As a reminder of the other rankings so far:
|Baseball Prospectus||MLB.com||Keith Law|
|26. Franklin Barreto, SS||23. Franklin Barreto, SS||22. Franklin Barreto, SS|
|45. Sean Manaea, LHP||68. Sean Manaea, LHP||59. Sean Manaea, LHP|
|66. Jacob Nottingham, C||100. Matt Olson, 1B/OF|
One note from Law about his procedure:
I've made one adjustment in my ranking philosophy in recent years, favoring higher-upside prospects over lower-ceiling prospects that are closer to the majors. This better reflects how these players are valued now by front offices and scouting departments, and it gives me a chance to deliver more information on prospects whose names or scouting reports might be new to you.
Perhaps the biggest current strength in the A's system is their quantity of B-grade players who are relatively close to MLB. Given this statement by Law about leaning toward lower-level, higher-upside guys, it's no surprise that we wouldn't see someone like Matt Olson show up in his rankings. That doesn't explain the absence of Nottingham, but he's only shown up on one of three lists so far so he's not exactly an egregious snub himself. Law did mention in his organizational rankings that the A's "have a bunch of guys in the 101-150 range of prospects," so again, this system is more about intriguing quantity than can't-miss quality.
There's not a lot of new information here, but that in itself is telling. Everyone loves Barreto, to an almost identical degree. He's an elite prospect, but not the biggest shortstop prospect in the minors. Everyone agrees that Manaea has something serious cooking, but that he's not an absolutely top-of-the-minors blue chip guy (that's not an insult in any way).
There are still two more major lists to come: Baseball America, and John Sickels of Minor League Ball.