When you’re writing about a sub-.500 club with little to be excited about, it’s often difficult to find fiery ideas for your weekly Hot Take Tuesday segment. This past week, I was really going through the struggle – I honestly had no idea what I’d be writing about.
That is, until I came across a fascinating tweet from the MLB Pipeline’s page that really got the gears turning.
According to their newest top-100 prospect list, the Orioles have the 10th most “prospect points” of the entire league’s system, not a bad number when you’re just starting a rebuild.
Comparatively, I noticed that the Boston Red Sox have the least number of prospect points, with a whopping 206 total points separating the two teams.
I completely understand that a lot of those sort of exercises that sites like MLB Pipeline run are rather ridiculous. In reality, the success of these prospects will always come down to player development, not the amount of points they each count for at a given point in time.
However, knowing the state of the two ballclubs, I started thinking about how I feel as an Orioles fan and how many of my buddies at Boston College feel as Red Sox fans. Contemplating that spurred this week’s Hot Take Tuesday: The Orioles are in better shape for the future than the Red Sox are.
Obviously, the main caveat to my argument here is that Boston did just win a title, and they’ve won four since the turn of the century, something the Orioles unfortunately haven’t been able to do in 36 years. In that sense, the Sox are clearly in a better place organizationally.
However, ignoring the past and focusing solely on the present and future, I believe there’s an argument to be made that the Orioles are better set up for success.
Looking at this 2019 season, there’s no question that the Red Sox are the better team. Even within the landscape of a very strong American League, Boston is in the mix to a certain extent. Unfortunately for them, though, their postseason hopes appear to have been derailed by an awful stretch of baseball in which they still seem to be mired. Whether or not they can climb back into the race will be an intriguing late storyline to follow.
Meanwhile, though the Birds haven’t really been good, per se, they’ve been better, hovering around .500 over the last month. Still, their record doesn’t factor into the equation of my point much, as they’re fully in the midst of a rebuild and arguably want to win as few games as possible.
But for the Red Sox, a sub-par 2019 campaign could be an omen for the future, and if it is, the next decade could be looking extremely bleak for Boston baseball.
While looking to capitalize on their up-and-coming roster in recent years, the Red Sox smartly parted ways with young assets to acquire players like Chris Sale. Of course, those moves more than paid off last year, but they simultaneously put Boston in a bad place on the farm, with very few prospects to write home about.
With Michael Chavis having been called up this year, the Sox only have one player in the MLB Top-100: corner infielder Triston Casas. Casas is ranked 90th on the list, but is only batting .247 in Single-A.
At the same time, the Orioles now have four players in the MLB Top-100 in Grayson Rodriguez, D.L. Hall, Ryan Mountcastle, and 2019 First-Round Pick Adley Rutschman. If all goes well, these names will be leading the charge back toward baseball relevancy in Baltimore.
Even behind them, both outfielders Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays have shown tremendous potential and could be stalwarts on the big-league team sooner rather than later. On top of that, Mike Elias is building a deeper system in general, one that has had other players find stints of great success in the minors. To that point, names like David Hess and Michael Baumann come to mind.
Where the records really come into play is when it comes to the 2020 MLB Draft. Even though the Red Sox likely will miss out on a postseason appearance, their collapse shouldn’t be dramatic enough that they land a high pick. The Orioles, on the other hand, will almost certainly be within the top five selections (though perhaps not in the top three).
That means that by this time next year, their farm system will be even more promising, while certain players in the system graduate to the MLB level.
For the Red Sox, next year’s draft will lead to mid-level prospects. Of course, those guys could certainly pan out given the crapshoot that is MLB player development, but I’d feel better about Elias’ haul than I would that of the Red Sox.
The caveat here is, of course, that Boston can – and will – buy their way out of their problems…or at least try to. Whether or not that’s a winning strategy in today’s MLB though, remains to be seen.
With all four other teams in the American League East – the Orioles, the Blue Jays, the Rays and the Yankees – having an abundance of youthful talent in their pipeline, it should be very worrisome for Sox fans that their club hasn’t been able to acquire and develop the youngins to step in over the next few years.
Compared to the O’s, the Sox are definitely worse off as they approach the future.