Top farm systems: Left-handed pitchers

July 5th, 2020

After beginning our deeper dive into all 30 farm systems by ranking the top organizations at catcher, corner infield and middle infield, MLB Pipeline closed out last week with a look at the 10 best systems based on outfield talent.

That now brings us to pitchers -- left-handers, specifically, before we round out the series by breaking down the organizations with the best collection of righties.

Below are our top 10 rankings of the systems with the best left-handed pitchers, with the top such prospect for each organization in parentheses. We're operating under the assumption that all players selected in the 2020 Draft will sign pro contracts.

1. Padres (MacKenzie Gore)
The fourth-ranked pitching prospect from the 2017 Draft, when the Padres selected him third overall, Gore now ranks as baseball’s top pitching prospect, checking in at No. 5 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 after a remarkable age-20 campaign in ’19 in which he led the Minors (100 IP min.) in ERA (1.69) and WHIP (0.83), ranked second in opponents' average (.164) and finished third in strikeout-to-walk rate (28.3 percent). Beyond Gore, the Padres have three other southpaws in their Top 30: Adrián Morejón (No. 6), who reached the big leagues last year; Ryan Weathers (No. 9), the Padres’ first-round pick in ’18 and Joey Cantillo (No. 10), a breakout prospect for the organization a year ago.

2. Royals (Asa Lacy)
The Royals’ pitching-heavy farm system grew even stronger this past June when the club selected Lacy, the top-ranked hurler (No. 3 overall) on the Draft 200 with the fourth-overall pick. He joins a system that already featured an impressive crop of left-handed pitching prospects in Daniel Lynch, No. 61 on the Top 100 and No. 8 on the Top 10 LHP list, 2019 Minor League strikeout leader Kris Bubic (No. 6 on the Royals Top 30) and Austin Cox (No. 11). They all could be ready for the big leagues before long, as could 6-foot-5 sinker-baller Daniel Tillo (No. 19).

3. A’s (Jesus Luzardo)
Luzardo, MLB Pipeline’s No. 12 prospect, and A.J. Puk (No. 60) make the A’s the only team on this list to feature a pair of hurlers on the Top 10 LHP prospects, where they rank second and seventh, respectively. Though both hurlers pitched well during their first taste of big league action late in the 2019 season, Luzardo’s performance down the stretch was particularly impressive, and he offered a glimpse of his high ceiling during his three-inning, one-hit relief outing against Tampa Bay in the AL Wild Card game. The A’s do, however, lack left-handed pitching depth outside of Luzardo and Puk, with only one other southpaw, Hogan Harris (No. 23), ranking among the club’s Top 30 prospects.

4. Rays (Brendan McKay)
That McKay, who is No. 15 on the Top 100 and No. 3 on the Top 10 LHP list, enters the 2020 season with 49 big league innings under his belt means that he soon will lose his prospect status (when he reaches 50 1/3 frames). The good news is that the Rays have plenty of southpaw talent lined up behind him -- a group led by 2018 first-rounder and current No. 7 Rays prospect Shane McClanahan, a big league camp standout this past spring, who reached Double-A in his first full season. John Doxakis (No. 23 on the Rays Top 30), Josh Fleming (No. 28) and Michael Plassmeyer (No. 29) are former top-five-round Draft picks who have the requisite pitchability and command needed to contribute in either a starting or bullpen role. The same can be said for 2020 second-round pick Ian Seymour, a Virginia Tech product with a deceptive fastball-changeup combo.

5. Cardinals (Matthew Liberatore)
The Rays might have ranked even higher on this list if they hadn’t traded Liberatore, MLB Pipeline’s No. 58 overall prospect, to the Cardinals for José Martínez and Randy Arozarena in early 2020. Liberatore, whom the Rays selected 16th overall in 2018, is one of two former first-round picks ranked in the top five on the Cardinals Top 30, along with Zack Thompson (19th overall in ’19), while hard-throwing Genesis Cabrera gives the club another southpaw inside its top 10. Ricardo Sanchez (No. 26 on the Cardinals Top 30), acquired off waivers from Seattle in February, provides St. Louis with some upper-level starting depth, and the organization is hopeful that 2020 third-rounder Levi Prater could fill a similar role.

6. Orioles (DL Hall)
Hall may already rank among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 (No. 69) and Top 10 LHP prospects (No. 10), yet the 2017 first-rounder arguably has as much untapped potential as any hurler on either list. The 21-year-old generates lots of weak contact (.189 BAA in ’19) and has natural bat-missing ability (12.9 K/9) with each of his three pitches, all potentially plus-or-better offerings, but he is still learning how to repeat his delivery and consistently throw strikes (6.0 BB/9). Zac Lowther (No. 10 on the Orioles Top 30), Keegan Akin (No. 11), Alex Wells (No. 15) and Bruce Zimmermann (No. 28) all have experience at or above the Double-A level and should give the Orioles some depth options as the 2020 season unfolds.

7. Marlins (Braxton Garrett)
Miami still has high hopes for Garrett (No. 6 on the Marlins Top 30) and Trevor Rogers (No. 8) -- the club’s respective first-round picks in the 2016 and '17 Drafts -- especially after they both made development gains en route to successful campaigns at Class A Advanced Jupiter in 2019. Daxton Fulton, possibly the most promising prep southpaw in the 2020 Draft despite undergoing Tommy John surgery last fall, could prove to be a steal after falling to the Marlins in the second round, and the same goes for fourth-round pick Jake Eder, a Vanderbilt junior whom MLB Pipeline ranked as the 59th-best prospect in the class. Reliever Alex Vesia (No. 27) had a breakout 2019 campaign across three levels and encored with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.

8. Angels (Reid Detmers)
The Angels used two of their four picks in the 2020 Draft on lefties, taking Louisville’s Detmers, the eighth-ranked prospect on the Draft Top 200, with the 10th overall pick, and then adding Long Beach State’s Adam Seminaris in the fifth round. Detmers could be among the first in his class to reach the Majors, where he could join fellow southpaw Patrick Sandoval (No. 8 on the Angels Top 30) in the starting rotation. Hector Yan is a name to watch going forward after he finished second in the Class A Midwest League in strikeouts last year to earn a spot on the Angels’ 40-man roster. Jared Walsh (No. 23) successfully reached the Majors as a two-way player in 2019, and the organization is developing yet another two-way talent in 19-year-old Erik Rivera (No. 28).

9. Cubs (Brailyn Marquez)
While Marquez has always possessed a truly explosive fastball, one that frequently reaches triple digits, the No. 68 overall prospect (No. 9 on Top 10 LHP list) didn’t begin to harness his impressive stuff until late last season, when he posted a 1.17 ERA, .445 opponents' OPS and a 48/8 K/BB ratio over his final 38 1/3 frames between Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The Cubs have some left-handed depth beyond Marquez, with Justin Steele (No. 21), Jack Patterson (No. 28) and Brendon Little (No. 29) all ranking among the team’s top 30 prospects, and they also added one of the 2020 Draft’s best relievers (second-rounder Burl Carraway) and hardest throwers (fourth-rounder Luke Little).

10. Tigers (Tarik Skubal)
Though Detroit may have just two left-handed pitchers in its top 30, Skubal carries extra weight as MLB Pipeline’s fourth-ranked southpaw and No. 46 overall prospect. A ninth-round pick out of Seattle University in 2017, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder piled up 82 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings after a promotion to Double-A Erie to finish third in the Minors in strikeouts (179) and K/9 (13.13) in his first full season. He has the size, stuff and feel needed to become a No. 3 starter in the big league, if not more. Tigers No. 8 prospect Joey Wentz, a Trade Deadline acquisition from Atlanta in 2019, appeared poised to contribute in Detroit this season before requiring Tommy John surgery.