Pardon us if we’re having trouble containing our excitement. This time of year has a tendency to get us all fired up at MLB Pipeline, and this year is already quite special.
At the big league level, we have three of the top four prospects from our Top 100 making their debuts as the Major League schedule got going Thursday afternoon. The Minor League season officially got underway in Triple-A on Tuesday and the rest of the affiliates get into gear Friday. That means the vast majority of the top prospects in the game are dotting rosters all over the country, from Triple-A down to Single-A.
Not all rosters are built alike, with some being more prospect-laden than others. Which Minor League rosters are the most chock-full ‘o talent? Here’s a ranking of 10 clubs, looking at a combination of high-end Top 100 guys and overall depth.
1. Altoona Curve (Double-A, Pittsburgh Pirates)
Prospects: 2B Nick Gonzales (No. 1, MLB No. 20), RHP Quinn Priester (No. 4, MLB No. 54), SS Liover Peguero (No. 6, MLB No. 79), OF Matt Fraizer (No. 10), RHP Michael Burrows (No. 11), RHP Carmen Mlodzinski (No. 14), RHP Kyle Nicolas (No. 19), 3B Jared Triolo (No. 20), INF Tucupita Marcano (No. 25), RHP Tahnaj Thomas (No. 29), OF Jack Suwinski (No. 30)
Not only are there three Top 100 players in Altoona, including the Pirates’ top hitting and pitching prospects in Gonzales and Priester, there are a total of 11 of the Pirates’ Top 30 playing for the Curve. That’s more than a third of a Top 30 list for a very deep system that ranked in the top 10 of our farm system rankings. Many of these players are stepping up from a High-A Greensboro team that made the playoffs in 2021.
2. Eugene Emeralds (High-A, San Francisco Giants)
Prospects: SS Marco Luciano (No. 1, MLB No. 13), OF Luis Matos (No. 3, MLB No. 63), LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 4, MLB No. 75), OF Jairo Pomares (No. 7), C Patrick Bailey (No. 8), OF Hunter Bishop (No. 9), RHP Randy Rodriguez (No. 13), 3B Casey Schmitt (No. 14), LHP Nick Swiney (No. 18), LHP Seth Corry (No. 21)
In 2021, San Jose won the Low-A West championship. Many of those players have now moved up to Eugene. All three of the Giants’ Top 100 players are there, led by Luciano. This should be a pretty dangerous lineup, with the Giants’ first-rounders from 2019 (Bishop) and 2020 (Bailey) starting with the Emeralds.
3. Tulsa Drillers (Double-A, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Prospects: RHP Bobby Miller (No. 2, MLB No. 57), 2B Michael Busch (No. 3, No. 67), OF Andy Pages (No. 4, MLB No. 68), RHP Clayton Beeter (No. 15), OF James Outman (No. 17), SS Jacob Amaya (No. 19), RHP Michael Grove (No. 23), 3B Kody Hoese (No. 24), C Carson Taylor (No. 27), 1B Justin Yurchak (No. 30)
After striking out Shohei Ohtani on his birthday, going to Tulsa might be anti-climactic for Miller, but he will head up a rotation with some serious stuff (Beeter and Grove, too), and he’s one of three Top 100 guys on the roster. The Dodgers have a top five system and a third of the Top 30 will suit up for the Drillers.
4. Akron RubberDucks (Double-A, Cleveland Guardians)
Prospects: OF George Valera (No. 1, MLB No. 47), RHP Daniel Espino (No. 2, MLB No. 53), INF Brayan Rocchio (No. 4, MLB No. 84), LHP Logan Allen (No. 8), INF Jose Tena (No. 9), RHP Tanner Burns (No. 11), C Bo Naylor (No. 16), RHP Xzavion Curry (No. 23)
It would be worth heading to Akron just to watch Espino throw every fifth day, but there’s more than the hard-throwing right-hander here. He’s joined by two hitters in the Top 100 in Valera and Rocchio, with a savvy lefty like Allen providing an interesting foil to Espino’s gas.
5. Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A, New York Mets)
Prospects: C Francisco Álvarez (No. 1, MLB No. 10), 3B Brett Baty (No. 2, MLB No. 27), SS Ronny Mauricio (No. 3, MLB No. 78), RHP Jose Butto (No. 12), C Hayden Senger (No. 20), OF Jake Mangum (No. 22), RHP Brian Metoyer (No. 30)
This is more about the trio of Top 100 prospects here than the depth, though seven of the Mets’ Top 30 will be here (and five from the top 20). Álvarez and Baty are in the overall top 30, making this one of the best hitting prospect tandems in the Minors, with Mauricio rounding out that group.
6. Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A, Texas Rangers)
Prospects: RHP Jack Leiter (No. 1, MLB No. 17), INF Ezequiel Duran (No. 4, MLB No. 83), 2B Justin Foscue (No. 5, MLB No. 89), 1B Dustin Harris (No. 6), LHP Cody Bradford (No. 20), RHP Zak Kent (No. 21)
Leiter’s professional debut is about as highly anticipated as any pitching prospect’s in recent memory, both within and outside the organization. Frisco is a stone’s throw from the parent club, so rest assured the brass will make trips whenever he’s pitching at home. Beyond the right-hander, there will be two other Top 100 players in Duran and Foscue, once the latter comes back from injury. And Harris didn’t miss the Top 100 by much.
7. Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A, St. Louis Cardinals)
Prospects: 2B Nolan Gorman (No. 2, MLB No. 33), LHP Matthew Liberatore (No. 3, MLB No. 43), C Ivan Herrera (No. 4), 1B Juan Yepez (No. 6), LHP Zack Thompson (No. 9), OF Alec Burleson (No. 10), INF Brendan Donovan (No. 12), RHP Angel Rondon (No. 14), 1B Luken Baker (No. 17), LHP Connor Thomas (No. 20), RHP Jake Walsh (No. 30)
The Gorman-Liberatore combination is reason enough to put Memphis on the list, with the two best friends originally from the Arizona high school ranks joining forces. But this is also a deep roster, with 11 of the organization’s Top 30 on it, and while the Cardinals are a middle-of-the-pack farm system, they always do a terrific job of producing big leaguers.
8. Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A, Tampa Bay Rays)
Prospects: RHP Taj Bradley (No. 3, MLB No. 74), SS Greg Jones (No. 5, MLB No. 91), 3B Curtis Mead (No. 6), LHP Ian Seymour (No. 14), OF Kameron Misner (No. 15), 3B Austin Shenton (No. 20), C Blake Hunt (No. 21)
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to have a Rays affiliate on here, right? The No. 3 farm system in baseball has seven players here (five in the top 15). Bradley has a huge up arrow next to his name and Jones’ speed is enough to make him worth watching, and Mead wasn’t too far off the Top 100, especially after his standout Arizona Fall League campaign.
9. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Triple-A, Miami Marlins)
Prospects: RHP Max Meyer (No. 3, MLB No. 35), OF JJ Bleday (No. 6, MLB No. 69), OF Peyton Burdick (No. 10), LHP Braxton Garrett (No. 21), C Nick Fortes (No. 30)
This team might not make this list based on the Opening Day roster, but I’m cheating a bit here. Right-hander Edward Cabrera will join this rotation once he’s built up enough at Single-A, giving the Jumbo Shrimp three Top 100 prospects and an absolutely electric 1-2 punch in the rotation with Cabrera and Meyer.
10. Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A, Boston Red Sox)
Prospects: 1B Triston Casas (No. 2, MLB No. 16), OF Jarren Duran (No. 4, MLB No. 85), SS Jeter Downs (No. 6), RHP Josh Winckowski (No. 14), RHP Connor Seabold (No. 15), C Ronaldo Hernandez (No. 24)
Casas is the big draw here, but the pairing of his ridiculous power and Duran’s incredible speed is intriguing. A bounce-back from Downs, a former Top 100 caliber prospect, would make the lineup even deeper, while Winckowski and Seabold are two top 15 prospects in the organization anchoring the rotation.