I'm going to preface this discussion with the following disclaimer:
I'm not any sort of expert on prospects in general, or the Rangers prospects in particularly. I haven't seen most top prospects, and don't have any sources or connections about prospects. I base my opinions on about prospects, and farm systems in general, on information that is available to the public.
Now, with that out of the way...
I got into a discussion recently on the strength of the Rangers' farm system, relative to the strengths of the farm systems of other teams around baseball. And it occurred to me in the course of the discussion that the most logical way to evaluate farm systems in comparison to one another is to ask a simple question...would you trade the entire farm system for team X for the entire farm system for team Y?
It seems like, if you do an exercise like this, you are going to end up with three general groupings...teams you would definite swap farm systems with, teams you would definitely not swap farm systems with, and those who fall in the "close call" category, those you could go either way on.
I'm not necessarily interested in determining a pure ordinal ranking...I don't have much interest in getting bogged down on whether the Rangers' farm system is, say, the 14th best, or the 17th best, or the 15th. I'm more interested in identifying strata, in figuring out a general hierarchy and seeing which grouping the Rangers farm system falls in.
This is particularly true because I think a lot of fans tend to view their team's tendencies or attributes in extremes, particularly in areas which are hard to quantify. Fans think that their team is either one of the best in baseball in "clutch" situations, or one of the worst in "clutch" situations. They think they have one of the best managers, or one of the worst. Their team's bullpen is either one of the best at keeping games close, or one of the worst at allowing other teams to get back in games.
And with farm systems, it seems like a lot of fans tend to take a very polarized view, as well.
So with that in mind, I went through the other 29 teams, looked at their farm systems and prospects (defining "prospects" the way BA does, as guys who still have rookie eligibility remaining), and tried to determine which category each team fit in, vis-a-vis Texas. However, when I started sorting, I realized there was a little more grey area than I anticipated...so I instead split them into five groups, as you can see here:
Teams whose farm systems I'd definitely rather have than the Rangers:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Teams whose farm systems I'd probably rather have than the Rangers:
Teams I could go either way on
Teams whose farm systems I'd probably choose the Rangers over
Chicago White Sox
Teams whose farm systems I'd definitely choose the Rangers over
I feel pretty comfortable with the groupings. Probably the team I had the hardest time with was Boston, and they maybe should be bumped up a level.
But anyway, looking at it this way, I feel fairly comfortable with saying that the Rangers have a middle-of-the-pack farm right now.