The Rockies farm system is ranked among the best in baseball. This is becoming old news, but it is news nevertheless. We know that the Rockies farm system is good. We've covered multiple top 100 prospect lists and farm system rankings that illustrate the point quite clearly. And yet, it's still exciting every time a new ranking pops up. Once again, ranked among the best organizations in baseball.
Baseball Prospectus places the Rockies' system third. This ranking is formatted slightly differently than other ones. Instead of a straight ranking, they place the organizations into tiers so that like is grouped with like. They place the Rockies in the top tier here, along with the Dodgers, ranked first, and the Braves, who rank second. It's a little like saying Larry Walker, Carlos González, and Brad Hawpe are the best right fielders in Rockies history. They might be ranked 1-2-3, but there's a clear top tier there.
As Jeffrey Paternostro and Wilson Karaman note in their write-up, the Dodgers, Braves, and Rockies have each "taken a different path to the top of the mountain." The Dodgers have invested heavily in the international market, while the Braves have re-stocked via trades. The Rockies are ranked highly because of high draft picks and a series of very strong drafts, which has given the system a lot of depth. They note that seven of the organization's top ten prospects are top 45 draft selections. Some of them, namely Jon Gray and possibly Jeff Hoffman, will graduate this year.
Some of the "next batch" of prospects are also draft products. They name Dom Nunez and Jordan Patterson among them. Not only that, but international finds Raimel Tapia, Antonio Senzatela and "tooled up project Pedro Gonzalez" demonstrate that the Rockies have also found success outside of the draft.
The Rockies have received a lot of criticism, from those who follow the team closely but also from national writers, for not commencing a nuclear rebuild in the vein of the Astros or Cubs. This ignores the fact that they've been subtly rebuilding with strong drafts over the past several years. It's true that they've been able to do so by fielding poor teams, and it's also true that Rockies are doing things a little bit differently. Nuclear rebuilders don't sign the likes of Chad Qualls and Gerardo Parra to multi-year deals.
But "different' doesn't have to mean "bad"—or shortsighted, or inept, or any other common epithet. And again, having a top tier farm system doesn't guarantee success. Some of the Rockies prospects will fail. But the state of the organization can't but lead to legitimate excitement and optimism for what's to come in the next few years.