After Jane Austen and Alton Brown’s birthdays, today and tomorrow are the two biggest days in all of Keith Lawdom. Tomorrow it’s his top 100 prospects. Today: ranking the farm systems. The features are for ESPN Insider members only, but in all honesty, these are two of the features that make getting an Insider subscription worthwhile. If you care a lick about player development, you’ll be going back to them over and over.
Anyway, the systems: Texas leads the pack for the second year in a row. Frankly, seeing them so high again makes me feel a bit better, as I harbored a secret fear that last year’s top ranking was totally attributable to Frank Wren overpaying for Mark Teixeira a couple of years ago.
Other notables: Boston is second, my Braves are fifth, with Law giving me happy feelings about a potential shutdown rotation come, oh, 2013 or so. The Cubs are seventh. The Royals are ninth, which pleasantly surprised me because I still remember a time when the Royals were considered the class organization in the American League, and though I don’t root for them, I liked the world back then.
The Mets are at 15, which may be as close to the middle of the pack they get in any category this year. The Dodgers are at 19. The Yankees are at 25, but it’s not like they depend on the farm system all that much. And heck, if they’re unhappy with their rating maybe they can just buy Law himself and find themselves much higher next year. The Cardinals and White Sox come in at 29th and 30th, respectively.
As is always the case with these sorts of lists, the comments are more useful than the rankings themselves, so if you are able, I recommend giving the piece a read.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.