The Minor League season begins today, with 59 games scheduled to be played across the four full-season levels. Of course there's talent spread throughout the Minor Leagues, but certain teams stand out more than others.With that in mind, MLBPipeline.com has compiled a ranking of the Top 10 Minor League teams
The Minor League season begins today, with 59 games scheduled to be played across the four full-season levels. Of course there's talent spread throughout the Minor Leagues, but certain teams stand out more than others.
With that in mind, MLBPipeline.com has compiled a ranking of the Top 10 Minor League teams for fans to follow on Opening Day and throughout the season.
1. Triple-A Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
No team made a bigger jump in MLBPipeline.com's Top 10 farm system rankings for 2017 than the Chicago White Sox, going from a consensus bottom-third system to No. 3 thanks to an offseason rebuild that saw general manager Rick Hahn trade cornerstones Chris Sale and Adam Eaton to acquire four Top 100 Prospects in Yoan Moncada (No. 2), Lucas Giolito (No. 10), Michael Kopech (No. 15) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 44).
Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2017 season
While Kopech is ticketed for Double-A Birmingham, Giolito and Lopez will headline a deep Knights rotation that also includes right-hander Carson Fulmer (No. 69 overall), the White Sox first-round Draft pick in 2015. All three hurlers received a taste of the Majors last season, with Lopez fairing the best of the bunch. Charlotte also will have an elite relief/closer prospect in right-hander Zack Burdi, who ascended to Triple-A last summer in his professional debut after the White Sox selected him in the first round.
At the plate, the Knights boast a dynamic top-of-the-order pairing in Moncada and outfielder Adam Engel. Together, the speedsters combined to scored 187 runs and steal 90 bases in 2017, swiping 45 bags apiece.
The Knights have the most loaded roster in the Minors and are one of two teams with four Top 100 prospects on their roster, and, in total, there are seven members of the White Sox Top 30 starting the year with Triple-A Charlotte.
2. Triple-A Durham Bulls (Rays)
The Bulls' roster features 10 of the Rays' Top 30 prospects, including six players ranked in the Top 10. The group includes four of the club's five Top 100 prospects in Willy Adames (No. 20), Jose De Leon (No. 31), spring standout Jake Bauers (No. 73) and Casey Gillaspie (No. 100), as well as a host of potential 2017 contributors on the mound such as right-handers Chih-Wei Hu, Jacob Faria, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek and Christopher Guerrieri. De Leon
3. Double-A Trenton Thunder (Yankees)
As the owners of MLBPipeline's No. 2-ranked farm system, the Yankees have talent spread throughout their system. No Yankees affiliate boasts more star power than the Eastern League's Trenton Thunder, who'll begin the season with Gleyber Torres, the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, at shortstop and Miguel Andujar at the hot corner, as well as a starting rotation comprised of left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 76 overall) and right-handers Chance Adams and Chad Green.
4. Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays)
New Hampshire will open the season with four Top 100 prospects and 10 of Toronto's Top 30 prospects on its roster. Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley (No. 62 overall) headlines a talented Fisher Cats' rotation that includes fellow righties Conner Greene, Jon Harris and Francisco Rios. Offensively, they have a trio of dynamic up-the-middle players in center fielder Anthony Alford (No. 68), shortstop Richard Urena (No. 91) and catcher Reese McGuire.
5. Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers)
Oklahoma City might have as much prospect depth as some of the other teams on this list, but the club's offense surely will be something to behold. The Dodgers feature three of the organization's top four prospects -- all Top 100 prospects, too -- in youngsters Cody Bellinger (No. 11 overall; age 21), Alex Verdugo (No. 59; 20) and Willie Calhoun (No. 79; 22), who combined to slug 66 homers in 2016.
6. Double-A Mississippi Braves (Braves)
Much like Oklahoma City, Mississippi stands out for its high-end prospects, specifically on one side of the ball. The Braves have aggressively double-jumped a number of the arms that helped Rome win the South Atlantic League in 2016, with Kolby Allard (No. 51 overall), Mike Soroka (No. 75) and Max Fried all leaping up to the Double-A Southern League. Right-hander Patrick Weigel, arguably the Braves' top breakout prospect last season, provides the M-Braves' rotation with another power arm, while second baseman Travis Demeritte is sure to provide plenty of power at the dish.
7. Class A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Brewers)
The Carolina Mudcats' roster features nine of the Brewers' Top 30 prospects -- a group highlighted by a wave of talented young hitters in Isan Diaz (No. 63 overall prospect), Trent Clark and Lucas Erceg. First-rounder (2016) Corey Ray (No. 28 overall) is likely to head there as well once he completes his rehab in extended spring camp. The Mudcats are equally deep on the mound, with a rotation that could include Marcos Diplan, Cody Ponce, Kodi Medeiros, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes.
8. Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
Many of the players that made Double-A Reading's offense such a force last season are ticketed for Lehigh Valley. That includes a pair of Top 100 prospects in shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 5 overall) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 70), outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn and bash brothers Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins. Overall, 11 of the organization's Top 30 prospects will open the year with the IronPigs.
9. Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers)
Top 100 prospects Lewis Brinson (No. 17) and Josh Hader (No. 36) may be nearly ready for the Major Leagues, but for now they'll both begin the season back in the Pacific Coast League. Right-hander Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers' Minor League pitcher of the year in 2016, will follow Hader in the rotation, while Brett Phillips and Ryan Cordell, along with Brinson, will comprise an ultra-athletic and rangy Sky Sox outfield.
10. Triple-A Nashville Sounds (Athletics)
Triple-A Nashville's roster should house more than one-third of the A's Top 30 prospects once fully healthy. Top 100 prospects Franklin Barreto (No. 50 overall) and Matt Chapman (No. 97) are slated for shortstop and third base, respectively, giving the Sounds what could be one of the better left sides of the infield in the Minors. Meanwhile, Matt Olson, Bruce Maxwell, Renato Nunez and Chad Pinder all will return to Nashville after debuting with Oakland late last season.
Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Twins)
There are nine Top 30 prospects -- and six of the Top 10 overall -- slated to begin the year with the Lookouts in the Southern League. That includes the Twins' top two prospects, Nick Gordon (No. 48) and Stephen Gonsalves (No. 89), as well as promising hurlers Fernando Romero, Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart and Felix Jorge.
Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
Lake Elsinore may have one of the best starting rotations in the Minors to begin the season in Anderson Espinoza (No. 24 overall prospect), Cal Quantrill (No. 94) and Eric Lauer, and it's only a matter of time until Adrian Morejon and Jacob Nix join them. At the plate, Michael Gettys and Josh Naylor are set to lead the Storm's offense.
Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies (Astros)
Class A Advanced Florida Fire Frogs (Braves)
Double-A Akron RubberDucks (Indians)
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.