MLB Power Rankings: Rating the Farm Systems of Every MLB Team
With the MLB offseason partially done, most of the news has been based on, naturally, the signing of many marquee free agents. However, other teams are using the offseason to go a different route. Namely, they are rebuilding their farm systems.
For small market teams especially, having a top-tier farm system is key to making title runs, and when the talent is no longer coming in, stars have to be traded to rebuild the system.
Which teams have the best farm systems in baseball, and which ones have the worst?
30. Baltimore Orioles
The Brewers want to win now, so they have an excuse for a bad farm system. Not sure what that would be for the Orioles, though. Zach Britton is in the majors now, so who do they have left in the minors?
The only two players to come to mind are Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. Both are great talents and should rise through the minors quickly, but there's a sharp drop-off after that, one that they shouldn't have with how often they draft early.
29. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers pretty much traded everyone away in 2010 to acquire Shaun Marcum and Zach Greinke. They had no one in the top 100 prospects last year, and they will have no more than one or two this year.
They have some promising pitching, with Tyler Thornburg, Taylor Jungmann, and Wily Peralta looking good in the minors, but they have no hitters of note. They're very clearly built to win now in the majors.
28. Chicago White Sox
For as much as many people (including me) complain about the wishy-washy nature of the White Sox rebuilding strategy, perhaps one of the reasons for it is due to a poor farm system, especially with Chris Sale and Brent Morel now in the major leagues. Had they not made some nice trades this offseason, they'd be way last.
Acquiring pitcher Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez from San Diego keeps them out of the basement, as does another new acquisition, Nestor Molina, who should be more highly regarded than he is. Beyond that, there's not all that much.
27. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are one of those teams that just doesn't seem to have the farm talent, for whatever reason, and seem to go for quality over quantity. With Dee Gordon and Rubby De La Rosa joining the majors, though, who does that leave?
The obvious one to note is Zach Lee, who made further strides than expected and should reach the majors soon. Allen Webster and Nate Eovaldi are also promising pitchers, but they are very weak in all the non-pitching areas.
26. Cleveland Indians
The Indians actually had a very nice farm system heading into 2011, and it was exciting to watch. However, everyone of note was either traded or joined the majors, so who does that leave?
Francisco Lindor and Tony Wolters provide a nice one-two punch at shortstop, and Dillon Howard already has prospects talking even though he hasn't played a game yet. When it comes to players at Triple-A already, however, the Indians are essentially cleaned out.
25. San Francisco Giants
The Giants had a great farm system stocking with great pitching for some time. With all of that promoted, including Brandon Belt, and Zach Wheeler being traded, suddenly there's not many prospects of note left.
Gary Brown had a great first year in the outfield, and could easily be a future star for the Giants. Joe Panik and Tommy Joseph will be players to watch in 2012 as well. Their starting pitching, aside from maybe Kyle Crick, is depleted.
24. Detroit Tigers
Unlike the White Sox and Indians, at least the Tigers can shrug off their poor farm system, since they're trying to win a title in the majors.
There's no question that Jacob Turner is a future star pitcher, as is potentially Drew Smyly, and Nick Castellanos has make good strides at third base. Beyond that, they have talent, but most of it is in the very low minors and isn't worth mentioning quite yet.
23. Miami Marlins
A lot of rankings seem to have the Marlins dead last, which is surprising. While they certainly don't have a good farm system since all the talent's in the majors now, it's not the worst, as there is some talent if you look around enough.
Matt Dominguez showed promise in a September call-up, and was a great third baseman in the minors. Christian Yelich has been on fire since being drafted, and Marcell Ozuna is keeping pace behind Yelich. Chad James is worth a mention as well, since he's been a good pitcher who has had historically bad luck in the minors.
22. Chicago Cubs
When the Cubs traded for Matt Garza, they most their top farm talent, and in the past year, it doesn't feel like they've improved on it much.
Brett Jackson continues to progress and should be on the 2012 roster, and Javier Baez is quickly making headway at third base. Trey McNutt, the only other player on the top 100 prospect list, took a step back this year, and there aren't too many other prospects of note.
21. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros had one of the worst farm systems in the majors entering the season. After trading Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, there's some improvement, but they have a ways to go.
Jonathan Villar slowed down in 211, but he's a 20-year-old in Double-A, so it's to be expected. Jarred Cosart has been a great acquisition, and Jonathon Singleton and George Springer make a promising outfielder duo. The X-factor will be Delino DeShields Jr, who could make an impact in the minors this year.
20. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners' major league roster and their farm system have a lot in common. They have good pitching talent, but very little hitting to speak of, and Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda joining the majors is great but hurts the organization for the purposes of this ranking.
Nick Franklin is the main hitter, though due to his fielding there's talk about moving him to second base; after that there's a drop-off. On the pitching end, James Paxton is showing great promise, and Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen have been good pitchers so far.
19. Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds made it incredibly clear that they want to win now. Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso are gone, knocking their farm system far down the rankings. They do have a bit of talent remaining there, however.
Billy Hamilton and Devin Mesoraco have made strides at shortstop and catcher, respectively, and Daniel Corcino might be the most underrated pitcher in the minors due to his size. If Neftali Soto can continue finally showing up, he could help the farm teams, though he may end up as trade bait too.
18. New York Mets
The Mets have started to rebound, finally. They had a poor farm system to start the 2011 system, but it's risen to about the middle in terms of talent.
Matt Harvey has been dominant so far on the mound, and acquiring Zach Wheeler from the Giants was a great move. Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia could be major league talents soon as well.
Their hitting core isn't as strong, but Wilmer Flores is still showing progress at shortstop, and Brandon Nimmo will be a guy to watch in his first full season.
17. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins' farm system is not in terrible shape, but it has fallen well behind the major league team; it's only more evident after the crash and burn that was the 2011 season.
Kyle Gibson fell off in 2011, leaving Liam Hendriks as the only real big time pitcher of note. Their hitting is a lot better though, as Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano show further progress. Eddie Rosario has also burst onto the scene and has become a player worth mentioning for the Twins organization.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks still have a decent farm system despite the Trevor Cahill trade, and they have a couple players who may be ready to make an impact.
Trevor Bauer is no doubt going to be a great pitcher to watch in 2012, and Tyler Skaggs has quietly had a great year at Double-A despite only being 20. Their pitching core is nothing to worry about even with Jarrod Parker gone.
Third baseman Matt Davidson struggled his first season, but everyone still seems to be high on him, and Ryan Wheeler has been producing in the same spot big-time.
15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
It's tough for me to call Mike Trout a prospect since he will obviously be in the majors in 2012, but if we consider him one, then that bumps up the Angels' ranking. Nonetheless, their farm system is merely solid, no better or worse.
Jean Segura continues to make headway as the shortstop of the future, and Kaleb Cowart and C.J. Cron give the Angels a great infield group in the minors. John Hellweg could also turn some heads as the organization's top pitcher.
14. Philadelphia Phillies
I was considering ranking the Phillies fairly low due to them losing Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart to the Houston Astros, but enough players stepped it up in their farm system that I still find it to be solid.
Despite his struggles, Brody Colvin could still be a playmaker, and Trevor May has become a phenom on the mound. Sebastian Valle could turn into a great catcher, and Jesse Biddle has emerged as yet another pitching option. They just need more hitters to step up.
13. Washington Nationals
Had it not been for the Gio Gonzalez trade, the Nationals definitely would have had a top ten farm system going into 2012, maybe even top five. Even with the trade occurring, they have a good one.
Bryce Harper is a no-brainer for the number one prospect tag, and if Derek Norris's batting average is looked past, he's doing fine otherwise at the catcher spot. Anthony Rendon is increasingly looking like the third baseman of the future as well.
As for pitching, Alex Meyer or Sammy Solis might be the best one left, and while he has promise, it's a far cry from A.J. Cole.
12. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox as a whole have a fairly good farm system. When it comes to the elite players many other teams have, however, they don't measure up to those near the top of the list. This is partially due to Jose Iglesias and Anthony Ranaudo struggling this past year.
Xander Bogaerts has looked great at shortstop, and Garin Cecchini and Will Middlebrooks may make a logjam at third base. Matt Barnes could be a great up-and-coming pitcher, though we will have to see how 2012 is for him, as 2011 was not good for their minor league pitchers either.
11. Colorado Rockies
After the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, the Rockies had a pretty nice farm system to work with, though I can see them plummeting next year since they will probably promote much of their talent.
Despite Tyler Matzek's big time struggles, he has a high ceiling, and the acquisition of Drew Pomeranz and Alex White helped the farm. Chad Bettis is also coming up strong.
As for their hitting, Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado both had great years, and Tim Wheeler came out of nowhere this past season with a great display of power hitting.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
It's a bit ironic saying this, given that the Cardinals just won the World Series, but their farm system is good, and more importantly, may actually be underrated.
They only had two prospects on the top 100 list entering the year, but that number will jump. Shelby Miller is proving to be the real deal on the mound, and Carlos Martinez, following right behind Miller, may be even better.
Zack Cox performed well in his first full season, and Oscar Taveras has become a playmaker in the outfield already. Kolten Wong is quietly working his way through the minors as well, and could be starting at second base in 2013.
9. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers have won back-to-back American League titles, and yet they still manage to have a top-10 farm system, which is really quite amazing.
The two big names are of course pitcher Martin Perez and shortstop Jurickson Profar; Profar has a great year, while Perez struggled a bit in Triple-A.
Aside from them, Tanner Scheppers has remained great, and Leonys Martin has made an immediate impact in the outfield. They have plenty of low-level talent as well that should keep their farm system working.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a bad rotation for so long that one would think they'd look at the farm system more closely, since from the looks of it, they should have a great one in the next three years or so.
Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole have been highly regarded, and Taillon had a nice first year. Stetson Allie had a bad first year, but still gives a vibe as a closer of the future.
As for hitting, Tony Sanchez continues to progress having now played a full season, and Starling Marte and Josh Bell are a great one-two punch in the outfield.
7. San Diego Padres
After the Mat Latos trade, the Padres' farm system went from an already solid one to a great one.
The acquisitions of Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are huge, as they give the Paders two playmakers who should be ready to join the majors soon enough.
Aside from them, Anthony Rizzo has been great and is making the Adrian Gonzalez trade pay off so far, and Casey Kelly has been doing the same. For those looking on the offensive side, third baseman James Darnell has turned into a strong bat as well.
6. New York Yankees
For those keeping track, yes, there's going to be three AL East teams with top six farm systems. No wonder that's a tough place to win. It is funny in a sense, for as much as we all argue that the Yankees buy their titles, they actually have a great farm system.
Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez give them the best group of catchers of any team, and Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances feel like the future one-two punch of the Yankees rotation. Getting rid of the Andrew Brackman experiment and concentrating on pitchers that can pitch is a plus for me too.
Dante Bichette Jr. and Mason Williams could also provide a big impact for the Yankees in the future, and gives them one of the better hitting cores in the minors.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have built up their farm system big time, thanks in part to the Roy Halladay trade. While Kyle Drabek and Brett Lawrie making the move to the majors hurt their ranking a bit, they are deeper than many realize.
Travis D'Arnaud is lighting up the minor leagues, and will undoubtedly be the catcher of the future. Jake Marisnick has also had a great 2011, and should show up on Baseball America's list this year. Anthony Gose could be the next great speed demon as well.
As for pitching, 2010's draft has given them a deep core, led by Deck McGuire. Drew Hutchinson, Asher Wojciechowski, and Noah Syndergaard could all become starters as well, even if they are mostly rather low in the farm system right now.
4. Oakland Athletics
Coming into 2011, the Athletics had pretty much depleted their farm system. Those who read my articles probably saw my lashing for trading away all the talent, but it makes sense from a farm perspective, as they went from a bottom-five team to a top-five team there.
Grant Green is the top holdover, looking better and better at shortstop. Michael Choice is rising up the ranks in the outfield as well. The Andrew Bailey deal brought over Miles Head, who shows promise, and the Trevor Cahill trade gave them Arizona's arguably best prospect in pitcher Jarrod Parker, as well as Collin Cowgill.
The Gio Gonzalez trade, however, is what skyrockets them. A.J. Cole is very highly regarded and could be a future ace, while Brad Peacock and Tom Milone are very capable pitchers who may have been under the radar.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to have a top-tier farm system, and this year is no exception. Jeremy Hellickson won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2011, and phenom Matt Moore is likely to do the same in 2012.
Chris Archer is poised to lead the AAA pitching staff next year, and Taylor Guerrieri and Alex Torres should continue being great as well.
As for their hitting core, Hak-Ju Lee lit the Florida State League on fire last year, and Brandon Guyer is finally starting to show up as a capable outfielder. However, they don't have much in the way of infield prospects besides Lee, their one weak spot right now.
2. Kansas City Royals
Despite the promotion of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to the major leagues, the Royals haven't missed a beat, and still have the best hitting farm talent, and one of the best farm systems in the majors.
Wil Myers and Bubba Starling are both great outfielders, and Myers should have no trouble being a top-five prospect in Baseball America's 2012 rankings. If Christian Colon bounces back from an iffy 2011, he could add to the deep pool of hitting talent.
That's not to say they lack in pitching; they certainly do not, as Mike Montgomery and John Lamb provides a great one-two lefty punch. Jake Odorizzi and Danny Duffy can be big future talents as well.
1. Atlanta Braves
To my surprise, I'm not seeing any rankings that have the Atlanta Braves on top, though they are consistently high. Why that is I don't know, but I see them as having the best farm system.
The Braves have the best pitching crop by a mile, hence why they are trying to trade Jair Jurrjens to make room. Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado and Arodys Vizcaino could all be on a major league roster in April no question.
Even outside of pitching talent, they are an elite team, with Tyler Pastornicky set to start at shortstop in April and Christian Bethancourt is establishing himself as one of the top minor league catchers. Even Freddie Freeman, Mike Minor and Craig Kimbrel's ascent into the majors can't shake them from the top spot.
The Braves are going to be downright scary in 3-4 years when the rest of the crop joins the majors.