These 5 clubs boast the most Top 100 prospects

January 27th, 2024

So you’ve seen MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects rankings, pored over the scouting reports, dreamed about the future of the sport. Now, you want to take your dissection of the list to the next level. Start with this -- which systems look the most loaded?

Top 100 representation isn’t the only pillar in determining our Farm System Rankings (which come out in March!), but it is certainly a major factor in setting the order. In 2024, five organizations set themselves apart on the Top 100:

Chicago Cubs (7)
The Cubs only had three Top 100 prospects on the 2023 preseason list. Two of those remain, in outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 16) and Kevin Alcántara (No. 65), but they’re now joined by five others. Three (Cade Horton, Owen Caissie, James Triantos) performed their way onto the list and now all sit in the Top 75, as high as No. 26 in the case of Horton. Matt Shaw joined Chicago as the 2023 13th overall pick and proved his bat will certainly work in pro ball as he already climbed to Double-A. As if that core wasn’t enough, the Cubs picked up Michael Busch (No. 51) in a trade with the Dodgers this offseason and hope to make the 26-year-old their Opening Day first baseman.

Baltimore Orioles (6)
The O’s may have been knocked out of the top spot, but there’s still plenty of talent to go around here, starting at the top. No. 1 overall prospect Jackson Holliday represents the third straight Baltimore prospect to open a season in the top two spots, following Gunnar Henderson (No. 1, 2023) and Adley Rutschman (No. 2, 2022). Beyond him, the Orioles continue to be bat-heavy with the remaining five Top 100 talents coming from the field: catcher/first baseman Samuel Basallo (No. 17), outfielder Colton Cowser (No. 19), corner infielder Coby Mayo (No. 30), outfielder Heston Kjerstad (No. 32) and infielder Joey Ortiz (No. 63). All six have ETAs of 2024 and 2025, meaning they’ll press for an already crowded Major League position-player group soon. Will the O’s deal from the top of their farm to help their pitching situation or will they hold the line? Answers coming in 2024.

Cincinnati Reds (5)
The Reds graduated Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain and Christian Encarnacion-Strand from previous iterations of the Top 100 and still manage one of the deeper cores on our list. It’s more pitching-heavy now with Rhett Lowder (No. 34) entering via the 2023 first round and Connor Phillips (No. 70) and Chase Petty (No. 98) pushing for inclusion with stellar stuff. On the hitting side, the Reds’ conveyor belt of infield talent continues with Noelvi Marte (No. 21) -- a plus slugger with early Major League success already in his back pocket -- and impressive shortstop defender Edwin Arroyo (No. 67).

Pittsburgh Pirates (5)
Top overall pitching prospect Paul Skenes makes for a heck of a headliner for any group, though it’s a pretty steep drop from him at No. 3 to Termarr Johnson at No. 44. Still, there are reasons to believe that Johnson, who drew plus-plus hit grades during his amateur days, could be ready to take off again in his second full season and turn his walk-heavy approach into one with more knocks as he sees better pitching. Jared Jones (No. 62), Anthony Solometo (No. 82) and Bubba Chandler (No. 93) give the Bucs more quality arms behind Skenes, and Jones and Solometo in particular look in line to be rotation options as early as this summer.

San Diego Padres (5)
The Padres have ridden a nice combination of development and savvy additions to rebuild a farm system that looked like it could have been decimated by the 2022 Juan Soto blockbuster. Ethan Salas (No. 8) was the Minors’ 2023 breakout prospect, reaching Double-A in the same year he signed as a 16-year-old, and Jackson Merrill (No. 12) continued to show the potential for a plus-plus hit tool. On the pitching side, Robby Snelling (No. 36) had one of the best statistical seasons in the Minors with a 1.82 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings across three levels, and fellow 2022 pick Dylan Lesko (No. 56) flashed plus stuff in his return from Tommy John surgery. If anyone had a better 2023 than Snelling, it was newest Padre Drew Thorpe (No. 85) -- acquired in this offseason’s Soto trade with the Yankees -- who led the Minors with 182 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A. Who has the best hit tool? Who has the best changeup? Debates abound in a San Diego system that is much deeper than folks may have expected it’d be in August 2022.

Best of the rest

When you break down the Top 100 list by Prospect Points (100 for No. 1, 99 for No. 2, etc.), this is how the Top 5 looks:

1. Orioles, 444
2. Cubs, 375
3. Padres, 308
4. Brewers, 288
5. Tigers, 284

Baltimore jumps over Chicago by way of having four Top 35 prospects, compared to only two on the other side. It, of course, helps to have the 100-point player too, and it’s interesting that this group of Orioles still accrued more Prospect Points than its 2023 equivalent (398).

Milwaukee and Detroit jump into the Top 5 here despite having only four Top 100 prospects each. The Tigers pushed their way in with three talents in the Top 25 (Max Clark, Colt Keith, Jackson Jobe) while the Brewers are a little broader but placed all four (Jackson Chourio, Jacob Misiorowski, Jeferson Quero, Tyler Black) in the Top 50.

Historical context

The top five all-time leaders in preseason Top 50/100 following this latest update are the Rays (87), Dodgers (78), Padres (70), Pirates (69) and Braves (68). The Angels (38), Nationals (43), Athletics (43), Giants (43) and Astros (45) take up the bottom five spots. Houston drops into this group as the only organization without a preseason Top 100 prospect in 2024.