What to make of Phils' low minor-league ranking?
Before the season started, Baseball America ranked the Phillies 24th among MLB's 30 organizations. That ranking, which is really a critique of each team's farm system, actually moved the Phillies up three spots, from 27th in 2012.
It's the type of thing that can get under Ruben Amaro Jr.'s skin. In fact, the general manager has blasted those types of lists a number of times over the last year.
Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, has a more philosophical view of Baseball America's organizational and prospect rankings.
"I like them," he said. "The people that do that, they spend a lot of time putting that stuff together and I think it's good for our industry."
Jordan then provided an honest opinion of the current state of the Phillies farm system.
"I think right now where we're at as an organization in the minor leagues is that we've got some good players," he said. "We need more.
"It goes through cycles. We don't have to develop 15 guys a year. Sure, we'd love to develop them all, but when [the big-league team] has needs we have to have the answers. We've got some answers. We've got good players."
The Phillies farm system did provide some answers early in the season. When the Phillies needed a fifth starter, Jonathan Pettibone proved he could handle the role before he was sidelined by a rotator cuff injury.
Cody Asche was perceived as a solid third-base prospect when the season began and he is ending the year as the team's third baseman of the present and future.
Darin Ruf still has some things to learn as a big-league hitter, but his first 66 games at the plate and in the field were better than what Delmon Young was giving the Phillies.
There was one huge area, of course, where the farm system failed.
When Mike Adams went down with an injury in mid-June, the Phillies desperately needed their young relievers to step up and prove they belonged in the big leagues.
It didn't happen, and that's as big a reason as any that this Phillies season will go down as the franchise's worst since 2000. There is a long list of disappointing names that did not come through, with Phillippe Aumont being at the top of it.
Those failures cost two men - manager Charlie Manuel and roving minor-league pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller - their jobs.
"Our job is to get them prepared to come up here and help these guys when they need help, and that means they have to come up and throw strikes and be consistent," Jordan said. "I think the bottom line is it didn't go as well as it needs to go. That's probably the understatement of the year."
The overall minor-league pitching picture looks somewhat grim for the Phillies right now, especially compared with the other teams in the National League East.
The Mets got Zach Wheeler to join Matt Harvey in the big leagues this season and have 21-year-old Noah Syndergaard and 22-year-old Rafael Montero climbing fast.
The Nationals have a young staff already in place and the top three pitchers in Atlanta's rotation are all under the age of 30. Even the Marlins have three young pitchers in place on their staff.
The Phillies' top three rotation prospects at double-A Reading or above are Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan, and Ethan Martin.
Biddle had a difficult time consistently throwing strikes, Morgan battled shoulder issues all year, and many scouts believe Martin is best suited to coming out of the bullpen, which is where he'll finish this season.
As for the overall strength of the farm system, one rival scout described the Phillies and Braves as having the fewest prospects at the double-A level and above.
"The good news is I have Maikel Franco ranked as the second best prospect in the division behind [Miami leftfielder] Christian Yelich," the scout said.
Franco, a 21-year-old power-hitting infielder, is proof that Amaro is not entirely off the mark when blasting Baseball America and other publications for their rankings. (That doesn't mean he still shouldn't do it.)
When the season started, you couldn't find Franco's name on any list of top 100 prospects in baseball.
You'll see his name there before the start of next season.
There's no reason to get overly excited about the Baseball America organizational rankings. They really aren't a great forecaster of anything. They're the opinion of people who work hard to predict what young players might become. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong.
Two years ago, the Cardinals were ranked 24th - the same spot as the Phillies this year - among baseball's organizations by the magazine. They won the World Series with a lightly touted prospect named David Freese playing the starring role.
Truth is, a lot of this stuff is unpredictable, but it's a lot of fun trying anyhow.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow on Twitter @brookob.