This year's most talented Minor League rosters
It's extremely early in the season, of course, but so far, so good for the Rangers. Coming off their worst three-year winning percentage (.391) since the franchise moved to the Texas in 1972, they opened this year by sweeping the defending National League champion Phillies and currently share first place in the American League West with the Angels.
After shelling out nearly $900 million in contract commitments for free agents during the last two offseasons, the Rangers are poised to develop from within going forward. They have baseball's seventh-ranked farm system and an absolutely loaded Double-A Frisco affiliate that includes four Top 100 prospects, led by outfielder Evan Carter.
The RoughRiders headline our ranking of the most talented teams in the Minors, which features three repeaters (Frisco, Tulsa, Memphis) from last year's list. Our 2022 top 10 also included four Double-A teams that fed Triple-A clubs on this year's: Montgomery to Durham, Binghamton to Syracuse, Altoona to Indianapolis and Akron to Columbus.
1. Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers, Double-A)
Carter (No. 40 on the Top 100) has one of the best batting eyes in the Minors, right-handers Owen White (No. 65) and Jack Leiter (No. 77) have frontline-starter upside and shortstop Luisangel Acuña (No. 70) is an explosive athlete if not quite as explosive as his older brother Ronald. The defending Texas League champions also feature two more of the best hitters in the Rangers system in outfielder Dustin Harris and infielder Thomas Saggese, another future rotation option in right-hander Tekoah Roby and fast-track reliever Marc Church.
2. Norfolk Tides (Orioles, Triple-A)
If the parent Orioles hadn't promoted Grayson Rodriguez to the big leagues on Wednesday, Norfolk would have beaten out Frisco for the top spot. The Tides will have to settle for matching the RoughRiders with a Minor League-high four Top 100 Prospects: outfielder Colton Cowser (No. 39), infielder Jordan Westburg (No. 73), left-hander DL Hall (No. 96) and shortstop Joey Ortiz (No. 98). Second baseman Connor Norby is on the verge of cracking the Top 100 as well.
3. Durham Bulls (Rays, Triple-A)
Durham is the most consistently successful Minor League franchise, having won four of the last five International League championships and three of the past five Triple-A postseason events. The Bulls are geared up for another title run with right-hander Taj Bradley (No. 19), third baseman Curtis Mead (No. 32) and first baseman Kyle Manzardo (No. 72). Shortstop Oslevis Basabe gives them a third sweet-swinging infielder and outfielder Kameron Misner is a premium athlete.
4. Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers, Double-A)
Tulsa would have a case for No. 1 if we were ranking rosters on sheer depth. Catcher Diego Cartaya (No. 13) and outfielder Andy Pages (No. 80) are the biggest names in a formidable lineup that also includes double-play partners Eddys Leonard and Jorbit Vivas and outfielders Johnny DeLuca and Jose Ramos. Nick Frasso and River Ryan could jump onto the Top 100 after joining the Dodgers in minor trades last year, and fellow right-handers Emmet Sheehan and Landon Knack also should reach the big leagues.
5. Syracuse Mets (Mets, Triple-A)
No other team can match Syracuse's dynamic duo of elite prospects in catcher Francisco Álvarez (No. 2) and third baseman Brett Baty (No. 20). Shortstop Ronny Mauricio and third baseman Mark Vientos give the Mets two more dangerous sluggers. Their top arm is right-hander Jose Butto, who features a 92-97 mph fastball and the best changeup in the system.
6. Columbus Clippers (Guardians, Triple-A)
Columbus has three Top 100 Prospects in catcher Bo Naylor (No. 63), right-hander Tanner Bibee (No. 64) and shortstop Brayan Rocchio (No. 74) and would have matched Frisco and Norfolk with a fourth if outfielder George Valera (No. 50) weren't on the injured list with a sore right wrist. Logan Allen gives the Clippers a polished lefty starter and outfielder Jhonkensy Noel finished sixth in the Minors with 32 homers last season.
7. Indianapolis Indians (Pirates, Triple-A)
Indianapolis has a balanced club. The lineup includes catcher Endy Rodríguez (No. 54), second baseman Nick Gonzales and first baseman Malcom Nunez. Right-handers Quinn Priester (No. 59), Luis Ortiz and Michael Burrows front a quality rotation. Priester, Gonzales and outfielder Travis Swaggerty are former first-round picks, while right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski was a supplemental first-rounder.
8. Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies, Double-A)
Hartford boasts nine of the Rockies' Top 30 Prospects, including a pair of Top 100 guys in outfielder Zac Veen (No. 26) and catcher Drew Romo (No. 83). Coming off big 2022 seasons, third baseman Warming Bernabel and first baseman Hunter Goodman add more firepower to the lineup. Joe Rock is the best left-hander in Colorado's system.
9. Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals, Triple-A)
Shortstop Masyn Winn (No. 49) has the strongest infield arm in the Minors, Ivan Herrera is a potential big league starting catcher and outfielder Moises Gómez topped the Minors with 39 homers last season. As for the arms, Gordon Graceffo (No. 78) and Matthew Liberatore are a quality righty/lefty tandem and southpaw Connor Thomas was the Arizona Fall League pitcher of the year.
10. Tennessee Smokies (Cubs, Double-A)
Several players who won the 2022 Midwest League championship at High-A South Bend have made the jump to Tennessee, led by outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 27), the Cubs' top prospect and the consensus best defender in the Minors. Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, Daniel Palencia and Porter Hodge give the Smokies one of the deepest rotations around. Outfielder Owen Caissie offers some of the best raw power in the system and catcher Miguel Amaya had a strong spring as he put 2021 Tommy John surgery further behind him.