There aren't a lot of things to like about a string of losing seasons, but having one of the top picks in the MLB draft is a silver lining. The Twins have added Byron Buxton (1, via our own community vote), Kohl Stewart (5), and Nick Gordon (7) as their top pick these last three seasons, but it's more than the draft that creates the system's strength. High-profile international signings like Miguel Sano (2), Jorge Polanco (9), Lewis Thorpe (11), and Max Kepler (12) combine with trade targets Alex Meyer (4) and Trevor May (6) as well as other non-first-round draft successes to create a minor league system deep in top-end talent as well as quality depth.
One of the best and most highly-respected minor league pundits is Keith Law, whose minor league organizational rankings were released earlier today. It's no surprise that he ranks the Twins so highly, but having what is considered to be the second-best farm system is always something to be excited about. The best way to turn around a losing team is with young, team-controlled talent, and Minnesota obviously has that in spades.
Topping the Twins on Law's list are the Chicago Cubs, who don't have Minnesota's pitching but they have an embarrassment of riches as far as hitting prospects go. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, Arismendy Alcantara, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo are all 25 or younger (sometimes much younger), and they're all talented hitters. The Cubs won't be able to find time for all of these players, and you can't state the strength of the organization's position player strength any more than that.
If Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano had both been healthy and productive in 2015, perhaps Law gives Minnesota a bit more consideration for the number one spot, but as far as this list is concerned there's nothing wrong with second place. With most of the Top 10 returning from 2014, the Twins get a small benefit of what's becoming a backlog of players approaching the upper levels of the farm, and Law says as much as he points out that a number of players could come off of the list next season.
Indeed, our current community prospect vote has named the organization's top 13 prospects heading into 2015. No fewer than seven of them should get playing time with the Twins this season, and at least for of them could have an opportunity to exceed their rookie threshold. While that likely means a drop in next year's organizational minor league rankings, it's welcome news for a Major League team and a fan base that needs excitement.
I know it's hard to watch a team lose 90+ games four years in a row. I know we can only hear "the prospects will come" so many times. But we already got a glimpse of a few of those guys last year, and we're going to see even more of them this year. The exciting ones, too.
Sometimes the journey means just as much as reaching the destination. Law's ranking of the Twins as the second-best farm system in baseball illustrates that idea perfectly, because 2015 could be the beginning of something special.