These are MLB’s top 15 farm systems

August 6th, 2019

There's a reason that every time a new general manager gets hired, he preaches the goal of building a strong farm system. Developing homegrown talent is the most efficient way of constructing a winning big league club, by graduating youngsters to the Majors or using them in trades for more established players.

When MLB Pipeline began evaluating farm systems before the 2015 season, the Cubs were the first team to claim the No. 1 ranking -- and they would parlay their highly touted talent into a World Series title a year later. The Red Sox ascended to the top spot in mid-'15, a prelude to winning a World Series championship in '18.

Top-rated systems since then have continued to fuel success. The Dodgers (pre-2016) have captured the last two National League pennants, while the Brewers (mid-'16) got within a victory of the Fall Classic last October. The Braves (pre-'17) returned to relevance quicker than expected and are headed for their second straight National League East title.

The White Sox (mid-2017) are still in the midst of rebuilding but could contend as early as next season. And the future is especially bright for the Padres, who have placed first in our last four system rankings, dating back to the '18 preseason. San Diego general manager A.J. Preller initially dealt prospects for veterans after taking over in August 2014, then changed course after a disappointing '15 season and began hoarding young talent.

We've expanded our rankings to 15 with this edition. Our evaluations are based on a variety of factors, including potential impact talent, depth, proximity to the big leagues, balance between position players and pitchers as well as ceilings and floors. Prospect Points, a minor consideration, are determined by awarding 100 points for the No. 1 prospect on our Top 100 list, 99 points for No. 2 and so on, down to one point for No. 100.

1. San Diego Padres
Preseason Top 10 Rank: No. 1
Top 100 Prospects (7): LHP MacKenzie Gore (No. 3), INF Luis Urias (No. 20), OF Taylor Trammell (No. 30), RHP Luis Patino (No. 33), SS CJ Abrams (No. 48), 2B/SS Xavier Edwards (No. 78), LHP Adrian Morejon (No. 87)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 408 (1st)

Even after graduating Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Mejia, Chris Paddack, Josh Naylor and Cal Quantrill to San Diego in the first four months of the season, the Padres have a formidable farm system. They still have more Top 100 Prospects than anyone, led by baseball's best lefty pitching prospect in Gore, and incredible depth beyond their impact talent. No organization has done a better job of harvesting both the Draft (Gore, Abrams, Edwards) and international (Urias, Patino, Morejon) crops. Padres Top 30 Prospects list »

2. Tampa Bay Rays
Preseason Top 10 Rank: No. 2
Top 100 Prospects (6): SS Wander Franco (No. 1), LHP/DH Brendan McKay (No. 15), 2B/SS Vidal Brujan (No. 41), LHP Matthew Liberatore (No. 44), RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 75), RHP Shane Baz (No. 96)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 334 (3rd)

Franco and McKay form the game's best hitter/pitcher prospect combo, but the Rays' talent extends far beyond them. Tampa Bay has made the most of six first-round or supplemental first-round picks in the last two Drafts, including Liberatore, and has done a nice job of finding bargains in the Draft (first baseman Nate Lowe) and internationally (Brujan, catcher Ronaldo Hernandez). If the Padres hadn't acquired Trammell and the Rays hadn't dealt Jesus Sanchez leading up to the Trade Deadline, Tampa Bay would have ranked No. 1 on this list. Rays Top 30 Prospects list »

3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Preseason Top 10 Rank: No. 7
Top 100 Prospects (4): SS/2B Gavin Lux (No. 10), RHP Dustin May (No. 35), C Keibert Ruiz (No. 36), C Will Smith (No. 57)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 266 (6th)

While winning six consecutive NL West titles and storming toward their seventh, the Dodgers have integrated a seemingly endless supply of blue-chip prospects into their big league club: Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Alex Verdugo. Smith recently seized Los Angeles' catching job, May made his debut last Friday and Lux is one of the hottest hitters in Triple-A. The Dodgers keep adding talent, too, stealing right-hander Josiah Gray and shortstop Jeter Downs in a December trade with the Reds and grabbing slugging infielders Kody Hoese and Michael Busch as first-rounders in June. Dodgers Top 30 Prospects list »

4. Miami Marlins
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (6): RHP Sixto Sanchez (No. 26), OF JJ Bleday (No. 32), OF Jesus Sanchez (No. 42), SS Jazz Chisholm (No. 59), 2B Isan Diaz (No. 86), OF Monte Harrison (No. 88)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 273 (5th)

The Marlins have improved their system more than any other organization has over the course of 2019. They added Sixto Sanchez in the J.T. Realmuto trade, took Bleday with the fourth overall pick as the start of a high-upside Draft crop and made sneaky-good Deadline deals for Jesus Sanchez and Chisholm. A number of players already on hand took positive steps forward in their development, including Diaz (who homered in his MLB debut on Monday), Harrison, right-hander Edward Cabrera and left-handers Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers. Marlins Top 30 Prospects list »

5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (4): OF Alek Thomas (No. 63), OF Kristian Robinson (No. 93), OF Corbin Carroll (No. 99), 1B/OF Seth Beer (No. 100)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 49 (27th)

The D-backs place a close second to the Marlins among most-improved farm systems. Their depth stands out more than their Top 100 Prospects at this point, though that should get more balanced as young outfielders Thomas, Robinson, Carroll and others continue to develop. Arizona has infused a lot of talent in the last two months, thanks to a June Draft haul that included four first-rounders (Carroll, left-hander Blake Walston, right-handers Brennan Malone and Drey Jameson) and a Deadline trade of Zack Greinke that brought in three current or former Top 100 guys (Beer, righties J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin). D-backs Top 30 Prospects list »

6. Detroit Tigers
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
No. 10
Top 100 Prospects (3): RHP Casey Mize (No. 2), RHP Matt Manning (No. 29), OF Riley Greene (No. 49)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 223 (9th)

The Tigers system hasn't been this strong since Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Co. were coming through in the late 1970s. Detroit's last four first-rounders (Mize, Manning, Greene, right-hander Alex Faedo) look extremely promising, and the Justin Verlander trade with Houston two years ago could yield three key pieces in right-hander Franklin Perez, catcher Jake Rogers and outfielder Daz Cameron. Tigers Top 30 Prospects list »

7. Atlanta Braves
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
No. 3
Top 100 Prospects (5): OF Cristian Pache (No. 11), OF Drew Waters (No. 27), RHP Ian Anderson (No. 34), RHP Kyle Wright (No. 38), C Shea Langeliers (No. 69)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 326 (4th)

After producing three quality up-the-middle players in Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, the Braves have three more on the way in Pache, Waters and Langeliers. That said, Atlanta has more depth in pitchers, with Anderson and Wright potential frontline starters. Braves Top 30 Prospects list »

8. Minnesota Twins
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
No. 8
Top 100 Prospects (5): SS Royce Lewis (No. 7), OF Alex Kirilloff (No. 16), RHP Brusdar Graterol (No. 58), RHP Jordan Balazovic (No. 82), OF Trevor Larnach (No. 97)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 245 (7th)

This system would look better if Lewis and Kirilloff were repeating their monster 2018 seasons and Graterol wasn't dealing with a shoulder impingement. Their talent remains undeniable, however, and the Twins have gotten breakthroughs from Graterol and right-hander Jhoan Duran. Twins Top 30 Prospects list »

9. Chicago White Sox
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
No. 4
Top 100 Prospects (5): OF Luis Robert (No. 5), RHP Michael Kopech (No. 18), 1B Andrew Vaughn (No. 23), RHP Dylan Cease (No. 25), Nick Madrigal (No. 43)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 391 (2nd)

The White Sox have the most top-heavy system in the game with five of the top 43 prospects but not a lot of clear standouts beyond them. Developing pitching will be key, especially with Kopech and right-hander Dane Dunning recovering from Tommy John surgery, though righty Jonathan Stiever has impressed in his first full pro season. White Sox Top 30 Prospects list »

10. Toronto Blue Jays
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
No. 5
Top 100 Prospects (3): SS Bo Bichette (No. 8), RHP Nate Pearson (No. 14), SS/3B Jordan Groshans (No. 73)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 208 (11th)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. no longer headlines this system, yet there's no shortage of difference-makers with the sweet-swinging Bichette and live-armed Pearson. The Blue Jays have built up their supply of pitching with premium Draft picks (Pearson, Alek Manoah, Adam Kloffenstein, Kendall Williams), international signings (Eric Pardinho) and trades (Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson). Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects list »

11. Seattle Mariners
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (5): OF Jarred Kelenic (No. 24), RHP Logan Gilbert (No. 51), OF Julio Rodriguez (No. 54), 1B Evan White (No. 74), RHP Justin Dunn (No. 77)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 225 (8th)

The Mariners didn't have a single Top 100 Prospect at this time a year ago and now they have five, thanks to trades (Kelenic, Dunn), first-round picks (Gilbert, White) and seven-figure international signings (Rodriguez). There's depth behind, them, too, and Seattle would benefit if left-hander Justus Sheffield and outfielder Kyle Lewis could get back on track. Mariners Top 30 Prospects list »

12. Cleveland Indians
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (3): 3B Nolan Jones (No. 40), RHP Triston McKenzie (No. 68), LHP Logan Allen (No. 98)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 97 (21st)

The Indians are on the rise with the youngest collection of Top 30 Prospects, including 14 teenagers. None of them cracked the current Top 100, but the strength of the system is sweet-swinging middle infielders such as Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, Gabriel Rodriguez and Aaron Bracho. Indians Top 30 Prospects list »

13. Baltimore Orioles
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (4): C Adley Rutschman (No. 6), RHP Grayson Rodriguez (No. 47), LHP DL Hall (No. 64), 1B Ryan Mountcastle (No. 70)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 217 (10th)

The Orioles still have a lot of work to do on their climb toward respectability, but getting generational catching prospect Rutschman with the No. 1 overall pick in June will help. All of their Top 100 guys are former first-round picks, and they've just started to get heavily involved in the international market after years of avoiding it. O's Top 30 Prospects list »

14. Texas Rangers
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (3): 3B Josh Jung (No. 60), C Sam Huff (No. 79), RHP Hans Crouse (No. 83)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 81 (24th)

Though Jung had one of the higher floors in the 2019 Draft, he also has a high offensive ceiling, and the Rangers' system is all about ceilings. There's risk involved with Huff, Crouse and others such as outfielder Bubba Thompson, but the rewards could be huge. Rangers Top 30 Prospects list »

15. Pittsburgh Pirates
Preseason Top 10 Rank:
Top 100 Prospects (3): RHP Mitch Keller (No. 28), 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (No. 39), SS Oneil Cruz (No. 62)
Prospects Points (MLB rank): 174 (14th)

The Pirates built their 2013-15 playoff clubs in large part by investing heavily in the Draft, and most of their best current prospects were seven-figure Draft signings: Keller, Hayes, outfielders Travis Swaggerty, Cal Mitchell, Sammy Siani and right-hander Quinn Priester. Cruz could prove to be a steal after arriving from the Dodgers in the Tony Watson trade two years ago. Pirates Top 30 Prospects list »