Here are baseball's most improved farms

September 3rd, 2020

The present and the future looked bleak for the Marlins when a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter purchased the franchise in October 2017. The club had just finished its eighth straight losing season and featured one of the thinnest farm systems in the game.

Though Miami finished with the National League's worst record in each of its first two years under new ownership, it's headed in the right direction. The Marlins are surprisingly hanging around in the expanded playoff race this summer, and the real story is that they're stockpiling young talent that should allow them to produce a sustained contender.

Not only has Miami built a system that placed fifth in MLB Pipeline's recently updated rankings, but it also have improved its farm more than any other organization has since the start of the 2019 season. A pair of strong Drafts and an active presence on the trade market has added four Top 100 Prospects while bolstering the Marlins' overall depth.

Here's our take on the systems that have made the biggest upward moves since Opening Day 2019:

1. Marlins
Farm system rank:
Top 100 Prospects added: OF J.J. Bleday (No. 29), RHP Max Meyer (No. 40), SS Jazz Chisholm (No. 70), OF Jesús Sánchez (No. 86)

The Marlins rank No. 1 on this list even without getting credit for right-hander Sixto Sánchez (No. 24 on the Top 100), who arrived in the J.T. Realmuto trade with the Phillies two months before last season began. They've turned top-four picks in the last two Drafts into Bleday, who led NCAA Division I with 27 homers in 2019, and Meyer, who had the best stuff in the 2020 class. They also used later choices to further bolster their collection of prospects in the outfield (Kameron Misner, Peyton Burdick) and on the mound (Dax Fulton, Kyle Nicolas, Zach McCambley, Jake Eder, Evan Fitterer). Chisholm and Sánchez were parts of mid-2019 deals that sent Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks and Nick Anderson to the Rays.

2. Orioles
Farm system rank: 8th
Top 100 Prospects added: C Adley Rutschman (No. 4), OF Heston Kjerstad (No. 64)

The Orioles kicked off the 2019 Draft with the best catching prospect in recent memory (Rutschman) and turned the No. 2 overall choice this June into the slugging Kjerstad, both of whom should reach the big leagues quickly. They’ve managed to gain a lot of talent in 2020, manipulating their bonus pool adeptly to add six quality prospects in the five-round Draft (beginning with Kjerstad, shortstop Jordan Westburg, outfielder Hudson Haskin) and grab three more at the Trade Deadline (left-hander Kevin Smith, shortstop Terrin Vavra, corner infielder Tyler Nevin).

3. Royals
Farm system rank: 10th
Top 100 Prospects added: SS Bobby Witt Jr. (No. 11), LHP Asa Lacy (No. 32)

Following a strong 2018 Draft that included four college arms in the first 40 picks -- Brady Singer and Kris Bubic already have reached the Majors -- the Royals have continued to pile up talent. Witt (No. 2 overall pick in 2019) and Lacy (No. 4 overall in 2020) are potential difference-makers, as is Dominican outfielder Erick Pena (signed for $3,897,500 last July). Kansas City loves the hitting ability and baseball IQ of 2020 supplemental first-rounder Nick Loftin, who could be Witt's future double-play partner.

4. Mariners
Farm system rank: 4th
Top 100 Prospects added: RHP Emerson Hancock (No. 37), OF Taylor Trammell (No. 59)

After having Hancock unexpectedly drop to them with the sixth overall choice in June, the Mariners pulled off the only trade involving a Top 100 Prospect at the deadline, getting Trammell from the Padres in a deal for Austin Nola -- whom they had signed as a Minor League free agent two years earlier. Seattle's college pitching haul from the first two rounds of the 2019 Draft (George Kirby, Brandon Williamson, Isaiah Campbell) could make an impact.

5. Giants
Farm system rank: 13th
Top 100 Prospects added: OF Hunter Bishop (No. 75)

Sixteen members of our Giants Top 30 Prospects list have joined the organization since the start of last season. As San Francisco has embraced the rebuilding process, it has worked the Draft (first-rounders Bishop and catcher Patrick Bailey, plus left-handers Kyle Harrison and Nick Swiney), trades (shortstop Will Wilson, outfielder Jaylon Davis) and the international market (Aeverson Arteaga). Several of their best Latin American prospects raised their profiles with strong 2019 seasons, most notably shortstop Marco Luciano and outfielder Alexander Canario.

6. D-backs
Farm system rank: 9th
Top 100 Prospects added: OF Corbin Carroll (No. 97)

The D-backs took advantage of the opportunity to bolster their system in 2019 with seven of the first 75 Draft picks (including first-rounders Carroll, left-hander Blake Walston and right-hander Drey Jameson) and the Zack Greinke deal with the Astros (right-handers Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, plus first baseman/outfielder Seth Beer). College righties Bryce Jarvis (first round) and Slade Cecconi (supplemental first) could move from the 2020 Draft to Chase Field very quickly.