Why Dodgers' and Giants' Lack of Farm System Depth Will Hurt Them in September
With less than two months left in the 2012 season, the National League West remains up for grabs. After Friday night’s games, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are tied atop the division with identical 61-52 records.
As we learned at the trade deadline on July 31, both teams are all in after acquiring All-Star-caliber players, respectively. The Dodgers made the larger splash, landing Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. In response to the Dodgers’ moves, the Giants aggressively dealt for Hunter Pence.
Will both teams’ high-profile acquisitions provide the necessary boost to win the West and reach the postseason? Perhaps.
However, both teams would benefit from the contribution of their respective prospects once rosters expand on Sept. 1. Unfortunately, neither organization possesses a prospect capable of making an impact in the immediate future, as both farm systems rank among the worst in baseball.
The Giants have a few under-the-radar arms who may help them down the stretch, such as promising reliever Brett Bochy—manager Bruce Bochy’s son—and right-handed starter Chris Heston, who’s having a strong season at Double-A.
Furthermore, the majority of their position prospects closest to the majors are either Quad-A-type hitters or younger players with plenty to prove.
Top prospect Gary Brown is arguably the closest to the majors of their position prospects, but he offers nothing that the Giants outfield doesn’t already have in Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco. If anything, his 80-grade speed may be utilized off the bench as a pinch runner late in games.
The Dodgers have more positional depth and players who could serve as a pinch-hitter or platoon option—but no one deserving of consistent playing time.
Alex Castellanos and Scott Van Slyke both reached the major leagues for the first time earlier this season, and once the rosters expand, they should once again serve a role on the Dodgers’ bench.
Although they do have an impressive crop of pitching prospects in RHP Zach Lee, RHP Allen Webster, LHP Chris Reed and RHP Matt Magill, they are all stashed at Double-A and more likely to contribute by the 2014 season.
Most importantly, neither team will be able to rest its everyday starters as needed, especially while in a race for the divisional lead and playoff berth.
Along those same lines, they both will struggle to fill holes in the wake of a serious injury—possibly due to the overuse of and reliance upon big league talent.
As well, even though it has little to do with their success this season, neither organization will be able to offer its prospects significant big league experience before they’re expected to produce in the future.
So, are both the Dodgers and Giants doomed because they have weak farm systems? Absolutely not. But as the grind of the season continues, any added depth or alternatives from within would be immensely valuable.
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