Royals and Rays lead Baseball America farm system rankings

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Kansas City had a record nine players in Baseball America‘s annual ranking of the top 100 prospects, including three guys in the top 10, so it’s no surprise that BA‘s farm system rankings released today have the Royals in the top spot.

It’s also no surprise that the Rays rank second, as Tampa Bay claimed BA‘s top spot in three of the past four seasons.

Bringing up the rear are the Brewers and Marlins, who both ranked among the top 15 farm systems in 2010. Milwaukee gutted their prospect crop to acquire Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, while Florida called up most of its top prospects to the majors last year.

As usual with BA there’s a ton of worthwhile content beyond just the rankings, as Jim Callis provides a rundown of each farm system’s strengths and weaknesses.

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.