Minors' most talented teams led by Buxton, Swihart, Bryant
Twins' Double-A affiliate ranks No. 1, followed by Red Sox's, Cubs' Triple-A clubs
Twins fans didn't have much to cheer about in 2014. The big league club suffered through its fourth straight 90-loss season, matching the franchise's worst stretch since it moved to Minnesota in 1961. Making matters worse, the two most exciting players in the organization barely got on the diamond.
Outfielder Byron Buxton, the best prospect in baseball, totaled just 31 games between high Class A and Double-A because of injuries to both wrists and a concussion. Third baseman Miguel Sano, the organization's best power prospect since Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, didn't play at all after having Tommy John surgery in March.
Buxton (No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list) and Sano (No. 12) are healthy again, and they headlining a Double-A Chattanooga roster that's the most talented in the Minor Leagues to start the season. Other standout Lookouts include right-hander Jose Berrios (No. 33), who started the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field, all-around shortstop Jorge Polanco and hard-throwing relievers Nick Burdi and Jake Reed.
Behind Chattanooga, here's how the other most prospect-studded Minor League rosters stack up:
2. Triple-A Pawtucket (Red Sox)
No team has a deeper stock of prospects than the PawSox, starting with the game's best catching prospect in Blake Swihart (No. 19) and a trio of premium left-handers in Henry Owens (No. 20), Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 90) and Brian Johnson. Sweet-swinging third baseman Garin Cecchini and hard-throwing right-hander Matt Barnes impressed during their big league debuts last summer. Pawtucket also has one of the better double-play combinations in the Minors with slick-fielding shortstop Deven Marrero and second baseman Sean Coyle, a 2014 Futures Gamer. And this doesn't even count outfielder Rusney Castillo, who doesn't meet MLBPipeline's prospect standards but is rookie-eligible and talented enough to have landed a $72.5 million contract last August.
3. Triple-A Iowa (Cubs)
Iowa can't match the depth of Chattanooga or Pawtucket, but no Minor League team has a better pair of prospects. Third baseman Kris Bryant (No. 2) led the Minors with 43 homers last year, as well as Spring Training this March with nine dingers in March, and shortstop Addison Russell (No. 5) draws comparisons to Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Bryant and Russell could be playing key roles in Chicago by May.
4. Double-A Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers)
Once third baseman Joey Gallo (No. 10) returns from left heel surgery in a couple of weeks, Frisco will have maybe the most fearsome lineup in the Minors with him, catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 46) and outfielders Nomar Mazara (No. 55) and Nick Williams. Texas' best pitching prospect, right-hander Jake Thompson (No. 84), is on hand as well.
5. Double-A Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers)
Tulsa can nearly match Iowa's dynamic duo with shortstop Corey Seager (No. 7), the 2014 Minor League batting champ, and 18-year-old Julio Urias (No. 8), the game's best left-handed pitching prospect. The Drillers have three former first-round picks in Seager, right-hander Chris Anderson and lefty Chris Reed.
6. Triple-A Las Vegas 51s (Mets)
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (No. 10), who combines stuff and strikes, is ready to help New York now, and left-hander Steven Matz (No. 67) isn't far behind. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (No. 65) and second baseman Dilson Herrera rank among the Minors' best prospects at their positions. Matt Reynolds might be the Mets' best hope at shortstop.
7. Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Corpus Christi has a pair of No. 1 overall Draft picks in shortstop Carlos Correa (No. 3) and right-hander Mark Appel (No. 31), while third baseman Colin Moran was a No. 6 overall choice (by the Marlins) and right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. was a supplemental first-rounder. Left-hander Josh Hader was the 2014 Pitcher of the Year in the high Class A California League, and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez slugged 21 homers at age 21 last season.
8. Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Northwest Arkansas already has three Top 100 Prospects in shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi (No. 41), left-hander Brandon Finnegan (No. 76) and right-hander Miguel Almonte (No. 85). The Naturals could add two more in May once lefty Sean Manaea (No. 57) recovers from a strained oblique and righty Kyle Zimmer (No. 59) completes his comeback from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. And third baseman Hunter Dozier and outfielder Jorge Bonifacio were on last year's Top 100 list.
9. Double-A Tennessee Smokies (Cubs)
The Cubs have the game's strongest farm system, so it's only fitting that they're the only organization with two teams on this list. (And their Myrtle Beach affiliate is the most talented team in Class A, too.) Tennessee features right-hander C.J. Edwards (No. 48), catcher Kyle Schwarber (No. 50), outfielder Albert Almora (No. 58) and first baseman Dan Voglebach.
10. Double-A Trenton Thunder (Yankees)
Most of New York's top farm talent is concentrated in Trenton. Electric right-hander Luis Severino (No. 24) will be backed by a potent lineup that includes a pair of 2013 first-rounders in outfielder Aaron Judge (No. 69) and third baseman Eric Jagielo, the reigning Arizona Fall League MVP Award winner in first baseman Greg Bird and catcher Gary Sanchez, who received a $3 million signing bonus.