How the best systems are built
Talent is nice. So is depth. But a great system has many parts -- we offer a primer.
Even as baseball has seen a return to long, massive free-agent deals over the last two offseasons, the league's most intelligent organizations value their farm systems more and more. It's overstating it to say a good farm was once a mere luxury, but a loaded system is at least considered a much closer link to a World Series, between both call-ups (Buster Posey is a recent case) and as currency to polish off a roster -- just as the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers have done this winter.
What's more, a GM's getting canned for "letting a system go to waste" is now greeted with nodding approval in many circles.
But what components make a farm system great? It's a mix, based on continually growing and recycling talent, spending on the draft, mining the international market, building depth that matters, and targeting impact talent.
TOP MLB PROSPECTS 2011
ESPN.com's Keith Law tracks the game's best prospects throughout the 2011 major league season.
IN-SEASON UPDATES7/14: Prospect Rankings - Midseason update
7/11: Futures Game report | Part II
6/28: Futures Game 10 to watch
5/31: Law's Top 25 Update
5/3: Law's Top 10 update