The Los Angeles Dodgers have been atop the baseball world for the better part of the last decade. Though they only have one World Series to show for it, they've been a regular-season powerhouse and have had a consistent top farm system in the sport ever since Andrew Friedman took over as president of baseball operations.
When it comes to their drafting and developing, the Dodgers have been held in high regard for good reason. Look how Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urías, Walker Buehler, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo turned out. Even Dustin May and Gavin Lux have been suitable prospects. Don't forget about traded assets like Oneil Cruz and Yordan Alvarez, too!
But is the jig up? Or at least starting to be? Though Lux has been solid, he was once considered the top prospect in the sport. Hasn't panned out that way ... yet. What about others who have fallen flat, such as Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz and others? Those three were highly touted, and others who were well-known in the Dodgers system (such as Zach McKinstry, Andre Jackson, Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios) also failed to accomplish anything of note.
And look, it happens. Far more prospects fail than succeed. It's "the struggle" when it comes to building an organization. But are evaluators starting to catch on? Have they've been overrating the Dodgers' system for a couple years too long?
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com (subscription required) dropped his top-100 prospects list this week and compared to other publications, it looks a bit different.
Was ESPN's top prospect rankings humbling for Dodgers?
The first Dodger to come in on McDaniel's list was Diego Cartaya at No. 22. Miguel Vargas was all the way down at No. 80. Michael Busch, Ryan Pepiot, Andy Pages and James Outman were nowhere to be found. ESPN had five Dodgers in their top 100.
Baseball Prospectus had nine Dodgers in their top 101. MLB.com had seven in its top 100. Baseball America had six. Cartaya was ranked the lowest on ESPN. Obviously, majority rules here, and it seems as if other publications still believe in what the Dodgers have to offer ... but what if ESPN is trailblazing the road to exposing the Dodgers for their overhyped talent after what they've seen over the last few seasons?
You can't stay at the top for long. Perhaps we'll have more definitive answers when the next wave of young Dodgers hits the big leagues on a consistent basis.
From an objective perspective, ESPN's rankings could serve as a fair warning for LA's future outlook with their top prospects. Not saying it is, but level-headed fans should always be looking over their shoulder for the party to eventually end. It always does.
For now, though, we'll just hope the other outlets have the better forecast. But we're not going to forget about the disparity in ESPN's analysis, that's for sure.