The ultimate measure of a farm system is how many quality major leaguers it produces. While we won’t know how the 2018 Organizational Talent Rankings will bear out for a few years, we can look back and see what teams have done well, and poorly, when it comes to identifying and developing future big leaguers.
Here is what every team’s 2018 lineup and starting rotation would look like if it was made up solely of players drafted or signed by that team. In other words, a look at the team if it was made up entirely of homegrown players.
We start with the American League East, and will roll out the rest of the divisions throughout the week.
Any player signed for entry into Major League Baseball is eligible to be listed with the team that signed them. So, foreign professionals signed from Japan, Cuba, South Korea or other countries are included, in addition to those drafted and signed, signed as international amateurs or signed as undrafted free agents. Players must have been active in 2017 and are scheduled to be active in 2018 to be eligible.
Honorable Mention: Ariel Miranda, Josh Hader, Mychal Givens, David Hernandez, Koji Uehara, Caleb Joseph, Tim Adleman, Pedro Florimon, Parker Bridwell, Wei-Yin Chen, Steven Brault, Jim Johnson, Donnie Hart, Oliver Drake
Analysis: The Orioles have long been short on starting pitching, but it’s not because they haven’t drafted it well or identified it internationally . The Orioles traded three of their most productive homegrown starters before they reached the majors (Zach Davies, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Brault), released another (Tim Adleman), traded Ariel Miranda after one appearance and Parker Bridwell after two, and famously cut bait on Jake Arrieta. Josh Hader, if he moves to the rotation, would make for seven MLB starting pitchers the Orioles traded or released when they were prospect-eligible….Offensively the Orioles have some big successes (Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop) but have struggled to develop homegrown outfielders or corner infielders, leading to some positional gymnastics—and the inclusion of two rookies and a fringe player—just to find enough big leaguers to fill out a homegrown lineup. In real life, the Orioles made up for this shortcoming with astute trades (Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo).
BOSTON RED SOX
Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw, Manuel Margot, Yoan Moncada, Brandon Moss, Carlos Asuaje, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Pressly, Alex Wilson, Matt Barnes, Jose Alvarez, Junichi Tazawa, Michael Kopech.
Analysis: The Red Sox may have the best lineup in the American League when it comes to homegrown players—and the worst starting rotation. Jon Lester is still going strong, but Clay Buchholz and Anibal Sanchez have largely been done since 2014 and Raul Alcantara and Chris Smith are up-and-down starters who had ERAs over 6.75 last year. The scary thing is, there are no better options. The Red Sox have not drafted or signed a future big league starter in any capacity since 2009, when they signed Alcantara. Top prospect Michael Kopech, now with the White Sox, is their best hope to change that….When it comes to identifying and developing position players, the Red Sox are elite. Adding Anthony Rizzo and Josh Reddick to their current lineup, with Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw, Manny Margot, Brandon Moss, Yoan Moncada and others able to mix and match in, would make for one of the deepest and most fearsome offenses in the game.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Honorable Mention: Ben Gamel, Mark Melancon, David Robertson, Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, Shane Greene, Tommy Kahnle, David Phelps, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino, Phil Hughes, Zach McAllister, Francisco Cervelli, Jose Pirela, George Kontos
Analysis: The Yankees draft history has been more miss than hit, but a strong international program makes up for it. Half of their best homegrown position players were international signings, as were three-fifths of their top homegrown starters… The Yankees haven’t missed completely domestically. They’ve done exceptionally well drafting righthanders who develop into impact relievers (Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, Shane Greene, David Phelps, Tyler Clippard) and have had some big hits drafting outfielders with Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson and Ben Gamel….The Yankees haven’t produced quite the the star depth of the Red Sox offensively, but have developed more than enough quality position players and a vastly superior group of arms.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Honorable Mention: Felipe Rivero, Alex Colome, Jake McGee, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Jason Hammel, Jesse Hahn, Brent Honeywell, Kirby Yates, Enny Romero, Joey Rickard, Taylor Motter
Analysis: The Rays recent record of developing homegrown position players is astoundingly poor, with a homegrown lineup saved from being the worst in the division only by the Blue Jays’ even more abysmal record. Evan Longoria has long been a star and Kevin Kiermaier is a keeper, but beyond that the Rays have struggled to identify or develop anyone better than a second-division regular or backup, either in the draft or internationally. To put it in perspective, the Rays drafted and signed 12 position players in either the first or supplemental first rounds from 2010-14—only one (Mike Mahtook) projects to be in the big leagues on 2018 Opening Day…. The Rays pitching record is much, much better, with 10 established major league starters to choose from, another on the way in top prospect Brent Honeywell, and an impressive collection of impact relievers from both Latin America and the U.S.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Honorable Mention: Sam Dyson, Brett Cecil, Dustin McGowan, Jeff Hoffman, Anthony DeSclafani, Daniel Norris, Miguel Castro, Matt Boyd, Justin Nicolino, Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup, Danny Farquhar, Danny Barnes, Marc Rzepczynski, Franklin Barreto
Analysis: The Blue Jays have as good a track record drafting righthanders as any club in baseball, scoring with Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Musgrove as high schoolers in the supplemental first round and Marcus Stroman and Kendall Graveman out of college. That reputation will only be enhanced if Jeff Hoffman reaches his potential and Anthony DeSclafani successfully returns from injury….On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Blue Jays have the worst homegrown lineup in the division, and maybe all of Major League Baseball. With a host of second-division regulars, platoon players and up-and-down types, the Blue Jays are woefully short on homegrown offensive talent, especially in the infield. The club made up for it with hugely successful trades and free agent signings (Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki), but with that group largely moving on or aging out, the Blue Jays’ lack of viable internal options has shown. There is hope down the road—Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are on the way and, with Anthony Alford, may be able to reverse the Blue Jays poor recent history of homegrown position players.