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Article:Who are the Best Players Down on the Farm in Baseball?

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This year, we would like your shiny two if you are out there in parts of North America where you see players in development regularly enough to know them well.

Every year at SZ, for the last six, we have put out the MLN FAB50 Baseball rankings of the top fifty players on the fast track to the majors or on the block for a deal, and the Ones2Watch companion list of players who are lower down in the farm but developing well and beginning to make their move.

Repeatedly we have kicked BA's sorry beauty contest because we don't have to kiss a lot of butts over at MLB. BA rankings get used to make deals, and they have to rank players largely by tool sets, just like the clubs' clipboard literati

The FAB50 goes beyond that by putting some reality into the process.  We look at the depth chart. Who is green capped by a big-dollar player with a long contract covering the position? Who has an opportunity to move on a trade?  How does the draft alter the landscape for a particular player in his organization.

We do this mid-season, rather than at the start, because we have solid track records and the June Draft to work with, along with the many hours that we spend talking to scouts, farm directors, coaches, managers, and now, you.

There are times when fans can point out something about a player whom they see every day that the numbers, or our evals from Spring Training, or our own beating of the bushers doesn't turn up.

Who do you see that you think is on the move?  To nominate them, remember a couple of things:

  1. Disabuse yourself of the notion that they have to be the best players. In past years, BA number ones like Delmon Young sat on the farm with issues while guys like Ian Kinsler, whom many  fans thought was a bum, went into the majors and stayed there.  The FAB50 is about making it to the show. Great tools are nice, but reasonable tools and the opportunity to advance still work;
  2. The high-dollar club may not be the place with the player on the move. The Yankees promotion system for pitchers is good. For position players it is nearly non-existent. Playing for Milwaukee, Pittsburgh or Florida, though, opens up lots of possibilities. In the middle the Boston Red Sox deliver both high-dollar and farm talent in a blend that keeps rings on their fingers;
  3. Exception or Rule - Jim Thome would have seemed to be a player that could hold his position. Ryan Howard, though, was that good, and send Thome packing. If you think that a minor league player is good enough to unseat a green cap player, then talk them up!

Thank you for your help!

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