With the Major League Baseball draft now in the rear-view mirror, it is as good a time as any to take a look at the state of the farm system of all 30 teams. The minor league season is nearly half over and All-Star games will be starting, so we have a decent-sized sample size to judge players by.
Of course, as prospect fiends know all too well, the stat lines for a player doesn't tell the whole story. Even though a star prospect might not have the best stat line, perhaps he has been dealing with a nagging injury or was pushed too aggressively by his team.
Regardless, thanks to the infusion of talent through the draft, graduations to the big leagues, injuries and performances, the rankings have changed a bit from what my colleague Mike Rosenbaum published prior to the start of spring training.
Here is our post-draft farm system rankings, in ascending order, for each team in baseball.
The Brewers didn't have a first-round pick after signing Kyle Lohse late in spring training, but they were still able to address their biggest system need with the 54th pick by adding Devin Williams. He is a projectable, high-ceiling right-handed starter in a system seriously lacking...well, everything.
There is still a lot of work to be done to repair this system, but at least the scouting department made some noise in the draft when it could have remained silent and no one would have thought any differently.
Like the Brewers, the Angels have a serious lack of everything in their system. They did have one potential impact prospect coming into the year in third baseman Kaleb Cowart, but he is really struggling in Double-A right now. (Caveat: He is just 21 years old in Double-A, so he is hardly a lost cause.)
But even without a first-round pick, thanks to the completely rational decision to sign Josh Hamilton, they got a potential first-round talent in Hunter Green at No. 59.
They have a system built on a lot of relief pitchers and low-impact position players. A good start, but a long way to go.
I was tempted to put the Giants a little lower on this list thanks to a really baffling draft, but it was hard to do. They have solid talent at the top of their system, so there was no way to justify having them behind the Brewers and Angels.
That said, years of trading away players—admittedly, as a way to help win two championships in three years—has taken a toll on the system. Kyle Crick is still a potential star, and Christian Arroyo isn't a bad player, just a huge overdraft.
The Tigers don't really like to develop through their system anymore, as they are among the most active teams in free agency. But they have used a lot of talent over the years to acquire players like Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and others, so it is hard to knock something that works.
This year's draft didn't do a lot to address their need for impact talent. Jonathon Crawford is a reliever, as is their second pick, Corey Knebel.
Nick Castellanos has really turned his season around after a slow start. The star of the system is hitting .289/.363/.480 in Triple-A, including four of his nine home runs in the last 10 games.
While still not boasting any kind of depth, the White Sox are doing a much better job at getting more athletic and high-impact ceiling talent. Despite his massive struggles this season—due in large part to an aggressive assignment to High-A—Courtney Hawkins still has a bright future.
Tim Anderson isn't likely to stay at shortstop thanks to a fringy arm, but he could move to center field with no problems. Andrew Mitchell could be one of the biggest steals in this draft as a fourth-round selection.
It takes time to rebuild a system, but the White Sox are headed in the right direction for the first time in a long time. Struggling in the big leagues is actually the best thing that could have happened to them, because they won't be inclined to trade prospects and fool themselves into contention.
The best thing the Braves have going for them is their presence on the international market, because their drafts lately have been, to be kind, mediocre. They have drafted low-ceiling college pitchers who project as relievers (e.g. Alex Wood, Jason Hursh) in the last two years.
Even Lucas Sims, the team's first-round pick last year, looks more like a future closer than No. 3 starter. I did like their second- and third-round selections of Victor Caratini and Carlos Salazar, but the system has more players who project as big league specialists than everyday contributors.
For the first time since 2010, the Phillies actually had a first-round pick. They used it to grab the only impact shortstop, J.P. Crawford.
This team does like athletes, though most of the ones it has right now are in the lower levels of the minors. The Phillies' best pitching prospects, like Jesse Biddle, don't project as more than mid-rotation starters. They have a few big leaguers, but nothing that immediately stands out.
Thanks to the trades in the offseason, the Blue Jays have taken a huge hit down on the farm. Nonetheless, Aaron Sanchez still looks like a star.
They weren't wrong to make the deals they did, as one of the advantages of having a deep system is being able to trade players to improve the big league team. But since that hasn't worked out as planned, at least so far, the Blue Jays are trying to figure out where to go.
Phil Bickford is a player who could make a huge jump next year and make everyone look foolish, but he could also flame out in two years due to the lack of any off-speed pitch. I do like the selection of Clinton Hollon in the second round, though.
The Indians actually look a little worse today than they did at the start of the season down on the farm. There have been a few surprises, like Danny Salazar, but for the most part, their boom-or-bust players are exploding in a bad way.
Dorssys Paulino is hitting .218/.276/.290 with zero homers in Low-A, though he was aggressively promoted at just 18 years old. Trevor Bauer, who is really their only potential impact starter, has given up eight home runs with a 49:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Columbus.
The one saving grace has been Francisco Lindor, though he has hit a wall in the last few weeks offensively. Clint Frazier gives them another young player with a high ceiling at the lower levels of the minors.
With the injury to Dylan Bundy, the struggles of Jonathan Schoop, and the promotion of Kevin Gausman, an already thin Orioles system suddenly has a lot more question marks. The draft did provide some nice results, though, as Hunter Harvey, Josh Hart and Stephen Tarpley project well in pro ball.
Bundy is expected to return soon, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, and could start dominating once again. That would be a huge relief to everyone in the city of Baltimore.
The more I think about what the Rockies got in the draft, the more I like it. Nolan Arenado being promoted to the big leagues and Trevor Story hitting around the Mendoza Line hurts, but adding an impact starter—something this franchise so desperately needs—in Jonathan Gray at No. 3 overall is a huge lift.
Also, if they are able to get Alex Balog, Sam Moll, Konner Wade and Terry McClure under contract, they would have the makings of a very good nucleus down on the farm.
What the A's lack in star power (with the exception of Addison Russell and the resurgent Sonny Gray), they make up for with some depth. Add to that mix Billy McKinney—a very advanced high school hitter—and reliable college performers like Dillon Overton, Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy, and they are slowly moving up.
They really emptied out their system last year, especially on the pitching side, when they were making their run to the playoffs.
Remember two years ago when the Royals had the best system that most of us would ever see? That shows the volatility of prospects...as well as the poor job the team has done in using all that talent to build a big league team.
The Royals do have a lot of very good, intriguing players in the lower levels who could push this system back into the elite territory very soon. Right now, though, it is still, to go back to a word used before, volatile.
Bubba Starling's game is still incredibly raw, and his approach at the plate is virtually nonexistent. Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Bonifacio and Adalberto Mondesi could all end up as top-100 prospects very soon.
Kyle Zimmer is missing a lot of bats, but his control is erratic and he gets hit a lot harder than a pitcher with his stuff should. Yordano Ventura is having a great season as a starter, but still projects better as a power reliever in the big leagues because of his size and lack of a third pitch.
The Mets are still trying to move forward with their system, even though they are further away than a lot of fans would like to admit. Zack Wheeler covers up a lot of things, and he is (finally) reportedly set to debut soon, per John Harper of the New York Daily News (though the exact date remains a mystery).
Adding Noah Syndergaard from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade also gives them another high-ceiling arm. Travis d'Arnaud was supposed to be the catcher of the future, but his inability to stay healthy—either by his own body breaking down or suffering freak injuries—is starting to cloud his future.
Dominic Smith gives the team an advanced high school hitter who could move relatively quickly thanks to the fact he is just a first baseman. Brandon Nimmo is hitting well in High-A, though his strikeout rate is a little too high.
There is better talent now than there has been in a long time, but it still not a great system.
I think I like the Reds more than this, but it is hard to justify really moving them up because there are so few stars in the system. Billy Hamilton's inability to really drive the ball appears to have caught up with him in Triple-A.
I do love what they have at the lower levels, especially 2011 first-rounder Robert Stephenson, and Jesse Winker, their second-round pick last year, but there is not much in the way of depth behind them.
Phillip Ervin is a solid all-around player, but his lack of size and bat speed will hurt his potential in pro ball.
It is a good system, just not one ready to be in the top half of the league.
I wasn't sure if I should keep the Dodgers this high after they called up Yasiel Puig, but their system is steadily improving to the point where they don't get punished that much for losing their top prospect to the big leagues.
Corey Seager is a really impressive player, even though his stats don't necessarily reflect that. Hitting in the Midwest League is really hard, so don't just look at the numbers; his athleticism is well established already.
Zach Lee and Joc Pederson are performing really well this season and could be reaching—or, in the case of the latter, elevating—their respective ceilings. First-round pick Chris Anderson was a good value and could prove to be a very good No. 3 starter.
Depending on what you look for, the Nationals could be a little higher or lower on this list. I split the difference because there is a lot of intriguing upside here, especially with the likes of Lucas Giolito, who won't play a full season until 2014, Anthony Rendon and A.J. Cole.
Even Brian Goodwin, who is having contact issues in Double-A, is still getting on base at a good clip and has a good glove in center.
The Nationals didn't add much in the way of impact talent through the draft, but their love of power right-handers can't be overstated.
The system is a bit down right now, but there is enough there to see a number of quality big leaguers in the future.
The Marlins would rank in the top 10 if Jose Fernandez wasn't pushed to the big leagues far quicker than expected. Marcell Ozuna was also a surprise call-up, though he has held his own in Miami.
Colin Moran, the most advanced college hitter, fell into their laps with the sixth pick. Matt Krook is a really good, projectable left-handed starter. Trevor Williams has a really good arm, even though he doesn't miss a lot of bats, and could be a good No. 4 starter. Colby Suggs will move quickly as a college reliever.
Christian Yelich gives the Marlins an elite prospect, even though he has battled injuries this season and is currently on the DL.
They still lack enough impact to be a great system, but the Marlins have enough depth to be a good one.
The Yankees are building depth in their system, but it is still a fairly volatile system, with their best players at least one year away.
Rafael De Paula is having a breakout season in Low-A with a 2.48 ERA, an 83:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54.1 innings, and a plus-plus fastball. He is 22 and old for the league, so it is important to keep things in perspective.
They could take a huge leap forward heading into 2015 if a few of their players (Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott) continue to perform well. If Aaron Judge makes contact, he will be a very good right fielder. Eric Jagielo is a high-floor third baseman, and Ian Clarkin is a good, high-upside left-hander.
Enthusiasm for Gerrit Cole is really cooling, as the big right-hander still struggles to dazzle, even though he has ace potential. Jameson Taillon is starting to miss more bats and could overtake Cole as the top pitching prospect in the system very soon.
Neal Huntington gets a lot of blame for the Pirates not finishing over .500, though that may change this year. But you look at the system, especially at the A-ball level, and there is talent on the way. Add to that Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire, and this could be a top-10 system before the end of the year.
The emergence of Archie Bradley, promoted to Double-A last month at the age of 20, gives Arizona yet another top-of-the-rotation arm it can plug in the big leagues possibly next year. Braden Shipley was, to me, a steal at No. 15, even though he isn't as polished as a typical college starter. On top of that, the Diamondbacks still have Adam Eaton waiting to make his debut when he gets healthy.
There is a lot to like about this system, even as the team made a few offseason trades that left us wondering if it had a clue what it was doing.
The Padres system intrigues me for a number of reasons. Rymer Liriano, their best position player prospect, is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which does obviously sting.
They have the best defensive catcher in the minors, Austin Hedges, who is performing well in High-A with a .259/.364/.407 line. Cory Spangenberg is hitting well in High-A, and Hunter Renfroe is a high-upside, toolsy college player who should be at least an average big leaguer.
Yet their real strength lies on the mound. Even with Casey Kelly out, Joe Ross looks terrific in Low-A after an injury-plagued 2012. Last year's top pick, Max Fried, is holding his own.
It's still a system built on depth rather than star power, but the Padres have a lot of future big leaguers on the way.
This is a system that I like the more and more I think about it.
Javier Baez still has to show that he can take a pitch every now and then—something Cubs fans are saying about Starlin Castro. But you look at Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and new addition Kris Bryant, and the team is very sturdy at the top.
Arodys Vizcaino has yet to throw in a game after undergoing Tommy John surgery early in 2012, but if he comes back at full strength, he has the upside of a very good starter or, at worst, a late-inning reliever.
Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have done a great job adding a lot of impact talent to this system in their short time with the team.
The Rangers system is in an interesting spot right now. The team put pitchers Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch in the rotation out of spring training due to need, and Jurickson Profar was moved up recently thanks to Ian Kinsler's injury.
Mike Olt hasn't hit this year due to vision problems, but he is working his way back. Cody Buckel has been awful all year with a 28:9 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 9.1 innings.
Alex Gonzalez gives the Rangers' pitching depth a big boost, even though his ceiling isn't higher than that of a No. 3. And Travis Demeritte is the kind of player this franchise loves: He's very raw with big tools and could develop into a star.
Most of the top players, with the exception of the returning Martin Perez, are very high risk at this stage of their development. But it is a testament to the job the organization has done building up impact depth that it can still rank this highly with so much turnover and volatility.
The Mariners still lean heavily on the pitching side, especially with Nick Franklin getting called up to the big leagues. But Taijuan Walker is a stud and Danny Hultzen, while he has spent nearly two months on the DL, was throwing well in Triple-A.
Mike Zunino isn't hitting for average or walking much in Triple-A right now, but he does have four home runs in his last 12 games and is slugging .515 for the season.
I am not the biggest D.J. Peterson fan in the world, but he will hit. The only question is, how much power will he have? Austin Wilson was a terrific value pick in the second round.
If they can just figure out how to develop a hitter or five, the Mariners will be ready to compete with the big boys of the AL West.
This is still a system built more on depth than impact talent, but with Wil Myers starting to heat up in Triple-A, Taylor Guerrieri showing excellent control in Low-A and another good draft, led by first-round picks Nick Ciuffo and Ryne Stanek, the Rays still boast one of the top systems in baseball.
Having Chris Archer and Alex Colome move to the big leagues recently did put a dent in their overall ranking, but not enough to push them out of the top five.
This has been a great bounce-back year for the Red Sox at the big league level, but what is happening down on the farm is just as exciting.
Xander Bogaerts is a future superstar, though it may happen at third base instead of shortstop, Garin Cecchini has taken a huge step forward, and Henry Owens is progressing quicker than anticipated. The Red Sox also added two potential impact players in Trey Ball and Jon Denney, and they had the best draft of any team.
The biggest surprise has to be Anthony Ranaudo, still just 23 years old in Double-A, who has an incredible 63:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59.1 innings with a fastball touching 95 again. He is very much back on the prospect map after injuries ruined him last year.
Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha graduated to the big leagues this season, and Oscar Taveras hasn't caught fire in Triple-A due to some nagging injuries. That puts a huge dent in your system that drops you substantially, right?
Well, when you are the Cardinals and have built such an incredible wealth of impact talent and depth, as well as boasting two first-round picks in the draft, it just means you may be near the top of the league instead of head-and-shoulders beyond everyone else.
They didn't have a great draft, opting for floor over ceiling in the first round and going after Oscar Mercado way too high. But they still boast an impressive collection of impact talent and big league depth on the farm.
Boasting the No. 1 pick in the draft for two consecutive years (with the chance to do it again next year) and getting Mark Appel has allowed the Astros to add the kind of high-ceiling talent the team shied away from for so many years.
General manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have done a remarkable job with trades and aggressive drafting over the last 12 months and have turned this farm system around. The big league team is going to be a mess for awhile, but as these top-tier players, starting with Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart, start trickling in, they will be fun to watch.
There may not be a farm system that is more fun to watch right now, as the Twins boast the best prospect duo in baseball (Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano), a number of intriguing arms (Kyle Gibson, Alex Meyer) and position players (Oswaldo Arcia, Eddie Rosario), and a lot more depth than they have had in a long time.
Factor in the addition of Kohl Stewart, easily the best high school pitcher in this year's class, a solid college starter who projects as a No. 4 starter in the big leagues (Ryan Eades) and a projectable high school left-hander who I haven't given up on even though he badly needs to develop a breaking ball (Stephen Gonsalves), and you have the best system in baseball at the moment.