In recent years, prospect mavens have annually ranked the White Sox farm system at or near the bottom in MLB. And, in an annual winter ritual, the White Sox dismiss those rankings and defend their organization. To wit, Rick Hahn:
We don’t get too hung up on these ratings. I understand they are a big story right now, and obviously we prefer to show well as oppose to showing poorly. But that’s not the priority within our draft and within our minor league system. Our goal is to do two things with the minor league system; first, provide high impact assets for the major league club in Chicago. This year we have a potential impact starter in Chris Sale who was home grown, a potential impact back of the end bullpen guy in Addison Reed and a right fielder, an everyday position player, in Dayan Viciedo who we developed. So from that element, the farm system is doing what we need it to do.
The second thing a farm system needs to do is create trade assets that allow us out onto the market and acquire players to help us in Chicago.
Essentially, their position is they don't stockpile prospects in the minors in order to secure a high ranking. But, of course, it's not like other teams are, either.
[Baseball America] ranks the organizations based on the talent that has passed through their systems since the end of the 2008 season. That includes both prospects who graduated to the majors or were used in trades, as well as those lost via waivers or the Rule 5 draft. A team gets credit only for players who spent time in its system (so no Austin Jackson for the Tigers) and anyone who was traded by one organization and reached the majors with another (such as Brett Lawrie) are counted with both.
Here, the White Sox shoot all the way up to #20, which I think is a pretty fair assessment. At the bottom are the Twins, Astros and Mets - who, notably, are teams that are expected to really suck this year. Also below the White Sox from the AL Central are the Tigers, who have only produced Alex Avila of late.
In 2009, Baseball America ranked the White Sox farm as #16. So where they ended up three years later looks about right from that perspective, too. The 2009 rankings of the Twins (#22), Astros (#30), Mets (#17) and Tigers (#28) also suggest that bad farm rankings translate to bad real production from the farm in the future. Which does not bode well for the White Sox ranking over the next few years even in what they say they do.
BA's blurb about the White Sox:
20. WHITE SOX. Chicago GM Kenny Williams likes to trade youngsters, and he likely will rue dealing Dennis (sic) Holmberg, Daniel Hudson and Santos. Chris Sale has lived up to his seven-figure signing bonus, but Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo have yet to do the same.