Quantifying The O’s Farm System Value

With John Sickles of Minor League Ball having finished his ranking of every team’s farm system, it’s possible to use research done by Victor Wang and Beyond The Box Score to put a dollar figure on the amount of surplus (value in dollars minus salaries) the prospects from each system are expected to produce. That is precisely what Doug Gray of Red Minor Leagues did, so let’s take a look at the results.

First, here’s how the O’s system shakes out (it actually goes to 20, but only C+ or higher guys counted):

“1 – Brian Matusz, LHP, Grade A: I don’t see anything to complain about here. Could be something like a cross between Barry Zito and Mark Mulder when they were young.

2 – Jake Arrieta, RHP, Grade B+: I like this guy a little more than most people, but I love the upside and I think the command will come around.

3 – Zach Britton, LHP, Grade B: Love the grounders, solid strikeout rate, I’m pro-Britton.

4 – Josh Bell, 3B, Grade B: I like Bell too, but I see him more as a solid regular than a future star.

5 – Brandon Erbe, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B-. Have always loved the upside, but durability and consistency remain concerns.

6 – Brandon Snyder, 1B, Grade B-: I think he has a good bat, but not a GREAT one.

7 – Matt Hobgood, RHP, Grade B-: Liked him a lot in high school, need more pro data before going higher.

8 – Mychal Givens, SS, Grade B-: Great tools, grade is highly speculative at this point until we get some performance data. Can always try pitching if he doesn’t hit.

9 – Brandon Waring, 3B-1B, Grade C+: I like the power, but am unsure about the glove. Like Bell and Snyder, he seems more solid-ish than star-ish. Batting average and OBP may be issues.

10 – Kam Mickolio, RHP, Grade C+: I am the Great Mickolio. I need control for my baseball. I have no changeup. Do you need fastball for your bullpen?

11 – Luis Lebron, RHP, Grade C+: Another hard-throwing bullpen option if he throws strikes.

12 – Steve Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: Might get overlooked because of his boring name. Possible fourth starter type if the command is there.

[The exercise assumes that Johnson – picked by the Giants in the Rule V draft – will be given back to the Orioles at some point, which I think is fairly likely.]

13 – Brandon Cooney, RHP, Grade C+: Another hard-throwing bullpen option if he throws strikes.

14 – Ryan Berry, RHP, Grade C+: A steal in the ninth round, IF his arm doesn’t fall off due to the Rice injury curse.

15 – Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Grade C+: Interesting southpaw arm with very good stuff, probably fits in the pen better than as a starter.”

Here’s the general layout of dollar values for hitting and pitching prospects of various grades that was used:

Pos Team A A- B+ B B- C+
H Value 32.5 22.3 20.8 12.6 4.9 0.88
P Value 14.2 14.2 14.2 9.8 6.5 2.6

That puts the O’s farm system at $93.38 M, which ranks just 18th in baseball.

Here’s a couple of graphical representations of it. The first is a pie chart with the values for all 15 guys, and the second breaks it down into pitchers and position players.

As you can see, the common conception that the O’s system is heavy on the pitching side is pretty accurate. That’s one of the reasons they are rated lower by dollar value, as top pitchers have lower expected surplus values than top hitters.

Using my grades of the O’s prospects, with Matusz an A and Mickolio a C+, I get $103.62 M. That would only move the team up to #14 though. It seems like the team’s system has tumbled a bit further than I had anticipated after graduating Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen. Hopefully a few players take some steps forward this year and improve their stocks.