Chicago Cubs' Minor League System on the Upswing While White Sox Rank Last

Bob WarjaSenior Writer IJanuary 27, 2010

ESPN's Keith Law, who serves as the senior analyst for Scouts, Inc., and also spent some time in the front office in Toronto, recently ranked all 30 MLB teams' minor league systems.

The Chicago Cubs finished a very respectable seventh in the rankings while the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox finished dead last.

Law was quick to point out that the rankings were heavily slanted toward major league-ready impact players and only players with rookie status were considered.

Recognizing this, to be fair, the Sox certainly would have rated a bit better if Gordon Beckham hadn't "graduated" to the big leagues last season.

Still, it is somewhat surprising to see that Law ranked the Cubs' system so high. He gave kudos to scouting director Tim Wilken, of whom Law mentioned "hit on several top draft well as a couple of later-round finds."

Clearly the crown jewel of the organization is shortstop Starlin Castro, who is already playing Double-A ball at the tender age of 19.

Castro is a flashy defensive fielder with a good arm, but it's his bat that is drawing raves. He has been compared to the Florida Marlins' Hanley Ramirez, though that may be just a bit over the top.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have a good arm in Jay Jackson and a future star in third base prospect Josh Vitters, though the latter is not close to being ready for the majors yet.

Andrew Cashner is another kid with a strong arm, though they need to figure out if he is a future closer or a rotation guy. I personally favor him in short relief, which would be a much faster route to the bigs for him, but the Cubs are grooming him as a starter.

As for the rest of the list, the Texas Rangers ranked first overall for the second consecutive year. The Boston Red Sox, despite the lack of high draft picks, were second.  Tampa BayCleveland, and Atlanta round out the top five.

The rest of the NL Central did not fare so well. The Cincinnati Reds were the only other team in the Cubs' division in the top 10, coming in right at the 10th spot.

But the Pittsburgh Pirates at 18, Milwaukee Brewers at 26, the Houston Astros at 28, and the St. Louis Cardinals at 29 were bottom feeders. In the Cards' defense, however, Colby Rasmus is a future star who recently graduated and the Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa trades cost them some depth as well.   

I'm usually very hard on GM Jim Hendry, and with good reason, but he did make a good hire with Wilken and, as a result, the Cubs may be positioned for future success.