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I've attended three of the Brewers' four home playoff games so far, and Ryan Braun is the hottest postseason hitter I've ever seen in person. He has gone 7-for-11 with three doubles, a homer, six runs and four RBIs in the three games. All told, he's batting .500/.577/1.000 in six playoff contests.

Actually, I should say Braun is the second-hottest postseason hitter I've even seen in person, because one of his teammates was even more devastating—at the 1995 College World Series. Mark Kotsay went 9-for-16 with three homers and 10 RBIs in four games, hitting .563/.611/1.250 as Cal State Fullerton won the national title. Kotsay also got the job done on the mound, saving the Titans' CWS opener and recording the last five outs in the championship game.  

    The Padres farm system seems to be improving every year. How many of their top prospects will be considered for Baseball America's next Top 100 Prospects list? Where does San Diego stack up in terms of its farm system? Will the Padres improve from last year's No. 8 ranking?

    Brian Koke
    San Diego
 The Padres system definitely is looking up. Many of their top prospects coming into the season had terrific years in the minors, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Jedd Gyorko and third baseman/outfielder James Darnell. Others took big steps forward, most notably outfielder Rymer Liriano and righthander Keyvious Sampson. San Diego also has added plenty of talent via the draft (starting with first-rounders Cory Spangenberg and Joe Ross), trades (getting lefty Robbie Erlin and righty Joe Wieland from the Rangers for Mike Adams) and the international market ($1.1 million for Venezuelan catcher Jose Ruiz).

The Padres have one of the better farm systems in baseball, and I expect their ranking to move up from No. 8. They had 18 different players make our various minor league Top 20 Prospects lists, tying the Rays for the most of any organization.

When we unveil our 2012 Top 100 Prospects next spring, I anticipate that the list will include Rizzo, Gyorko, Liriano and Erlin for sure, with several other San Diego farmhands having a shot. Other candidates include Darnell, righthander Casey Kelly, Ross, Sampson, Spangenberg and Wieland.  

    Could you compare Pirates outfield prospects Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman? Marte oozes tools and hit .332 at Double-A Altoona, one of the most extreme pitcher's parks in the Eastern League, while also showing some power for the first time. Yet he also struck out 100 times compared to just 22 walks, normally a huge red flag. Meanwhile, Grossman became the first minor leaguer to have 100 walks and runs in the same season since Nick Swisher in 2004, while also putting up decent power numbers in the high Class A Florida State League, a circuit that traditionally favors pitchers. Grossman was 21 this year and Marte was 22, so they were at the same age relative to their leagues. So who's the better prospect?

    Joel Charny
    Washington D.C.
Marte is the superior prospect, and it's not particularly close. He has the potential for three plus tools, while Grossman doesn't have a single above-average tool. He's more of a tweener who lacks the speed and range for center field and the true power for a corner. His ability to control the strike zone may not translate to the upper levels because pitchers will have better command and no real reason to fear him.

Grossman's lone advantage over Marte is his plate discipline. Marte is a better hitter, faster runner and more valuable defender (good center fielder vs. solid right fielder). Their arms and raw power are similar, though Marte figures to generate more extra-base hits because of his quickness. Projecting them down the line, Marte figures to become a solid regular in center field while Grossman looks like a versatile reserve.  

    In a recent issue of Baseball America, I read Jerry Crasnick's column on the Orioles. In it, he commented on the sorry state of the Baltimore farm system. I looked at the Orioles' draft this year, and saw that they signed just 22 of their 50 choices. While I realize quantity (such as the Mariners signing 43 players) doesn't equal quality, does a lack of signed players equal a poor draft?

    Joe Hamilton
    Shoreline, Wash.
Not at all. I don't think there's any correlation between the quantity of players signed and the quality of a draft. I believe teams win with stars, and I'd rather have a couple of difference-makers and not much else as opposed to more depth but no blue-chippers. While money doesn't guarantee success, bonus spending better reflects the talent in a draft than the number of players signed.

The Orioles shelled out $8.4 million in bonuses on the 2011 draft, a total that ranked 11th among the 30 teams and didn't include an additional $2.25 million in guaranteed money via a major league contract for No. 4 overall pick Dylan Bundy. Baltimore does have a lot of problems, starting with the facts that they clearly have the worst major league team and worst farm system in baseball's most rugged division, but it did get the draft's best pitching prospect in Bundy. The Orioles added some other promising players as well, among them third basemen Jason Esposito (second round) and Nicky Delmonico (sixth).  

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