Keith Law’s organizational rankings are out

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As he does every year, Keith Law has released his organizational rankings. We’re talking farm systems here, not big clubs, as this will be followed up shortly — if form holds, tomorrow — by Keith’s Top 100 prospects list. Apologies, but both features are for ESPN Insider members only.  But really, 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 throughout the season.

As for the systems: the Royals are at the very top. Not surprising at all given how much we’ve heard lately about how loaded their system is.  The Rays are second, and will only be strengthened by an offseason that has given them a number of extra picks in this year’s draft.  Other notables include the Braves at number three, the Phillies fifth, the Yankees ninth, the Red Sox 11th, the Cubs 20th, the Giants 23rd, the Mets 26th and the Brewers dead last.

As is always the case with these sorts of lists, the narrative assessment of that which is ranked is more useful than the number ranking in and of itself, so if you are able, I recommend giving Keith’s piece a read.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.