Re-Ranking All 30 MLB Farm Systems Post-Trade Deadline
The MLB trade deadline expired Wednesday afternoon. But don’t take it personally if you didn’t know—it’s only because it truly was that anticlimactic and uneventful.
Most of the big trades—at least ones that involved prospects—were made prior to the deadline, such as the deal last week between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers for Matt Garza, as well as the one on Friday that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston as part of a three-team, seven-player deal that also involved the Tigers.
Now that the trade deadline has quietly come and gone, it’s time to break down and rank every team’s farm system as we prepare for the final two months of the 2013 season.
*All individual prospect rankings are based on Prospect Pipeline's Top 50 Midseason Update.
30. Los Angeles Angels
Top Prospect: 3B Kaleb Cowart
Top 50 Prospects: None
The Angels have yet to recover from last year’s trade that sent Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena to Milwaukee in exchange for the rental of Zack Grienke. They do have some interesting pitching prospects, it's just that they are either very young or lack a favorable long-term projection; many of their top arms seem destined for a career in the bullpen due to a lack of command and feel for multiple pitches.
Top prospect Kaleb Cowart is battling through a dismal season at Double-A Arkansas, while teammates Taylor Lindsey and C.J. Cron have managed to hold their own at the advanced level.
Meanwhile, the addition of infielder Grant Green—who was acquired in exchange for Alberto Callaspo on Tuesday—at least gives them a position prospect capable of contributing in the major leagues before the 2015 season.
29. Detroit Tigers
Top Prospect: OF Nick Castellanos
Top 50 Prospects: Castellanos (15)
Once a team that relied on the development of prospects, the Tigers have moved away from that strategy in recent years, using their top talent to secure star-caliber players such as Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer instead. The one player who has survived the turnaround is Nick Castellanos, a 21-year-old third baseman-turned-outfielder who projects for a legitimate plus hit tool at the highest level.
Beyond that, the talent in the Tigers' system is few and far between, as 19-year-old right-hander Jake Thompson currently represents the top pitching prospect in their depleted system.
28. Toronto Blue Jays
Top Prospect: RHP Aaron Sanchez
Top 50 Prospects: Sanchez (24)
At this time last season, the Blue Jays' system possessed arguably the best trio of pitching prospects in the minors with Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino. But after dealing both Syndergaard and Nicolino in separate deals during the offseason, the Blue Jays' system now ranks as one of the worst.
Sanchez still has a ton of upside, as do Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin, but beyond that, their system is loaded with raw talent on both sides of the ball. And it certainly didn’t help team's cause that it was unable to reach an agreement with 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford.
27. San Francisco Giants
Top Prospect: RHP Kyle Crick
Top 50 Prospects: None
As usual, the Giants' prospect pool is top-heavy with pitching prospects, including Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton. But while the team has landed some of the better young arms in the draft in recent years, the organization has completely neglected its lack of position prospects.
While there's a chance that Joe Panik, Christian Arroyo, Andrew Susac and even Mac Williamson eventually reach the major leagues, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that the Giants lack a potential everyday player.
26. Chicago White Sox
Top Prospect: RHP Erik Johnson
Top 50 Prospects: None
The White Sox have done a better job targeting high-ceiling prospects over past two seasons, though that doesn’t make up for the lack of depth throughout their farm system.
While right-hander Erik Johnson has made strides this year, outfielders Courtney Hawkins, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker have all suffered a regression.
The team had a solid draft this past June, netting shortstop Tim Anderson in the first round and right-hander Andrew Mitchell in the fourth, but that’s merely the first step in what should be a lengthy rebuilding process.
25. Baltimore Orioles
Top Prospect: RHP Dylan Bundy
Top 50 Prospects: Bundy (13)
It’s a crushing blow anytime a team loses its top pitching prospect to Tommy John surgery—let alone the top-pitching prospect in the game. Well, that’s exactly what happened with the Orioles and Dylan Bundy this season, as it now seems doubtful that the 20-year-old right-hander will even take the mound before the end of the 2014 season.
The good news is that the Orioles still have several promising young arms in Kevin Guasman, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey. The Orioles' system is especially thin in terms of position players, with infielder Jonathan Schoop representing their best chance at developing an everyday player in the major leagues.
24. Milwaukee Brewers
Top Prospect: RHP Jimmy Nelson
Top 50 Prospects: None
Despite having multiple first-round picks in both the 2011 and 2012 drafts, the Brewers failed to land the impact prospects that their system desperately needed. However, they have added a few intriguing bats over the past two seasons, nabbing outfielders Tyrone Taylor and Victor Roache in last year’s draft and acquiring Nick Delmonico from the Orioles in the deal for Francisco Rodriguez.
And after targeting college arms (Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley) almost exclusively in recent years, the organization deviated from its strategy this year when it popped high-ceiling prep righty Devin Williams with the No. 54 overall pick. A step in the right direction.
23. Colorado Rockies
Top Prospect: RHP Jonathan Gray
Top 50 Prospects: Gray (30)
One of the more disappointing systems of the 2013 season, the Rockies have seen top prospect Trevor Story struggle miserably in the hitter-friendly California League, and 2012 first-rounder David Dahl is likely sidelined for the remainder of the year with a hamstring tear.
However, they have had several players step up over the course of the season. Right-handers Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, should each have a spot in the starting rotation by the end of the 2014 season.
Meanwhile, infielder Rosell Herrera has been a pleasant surprise with his eye-opening performance in the South Atlantic League, though it remains to be seen how he’ll hold up outside Asheville’s hitter-friendly park and against more advanced pitching.
22. Atlanta Braves
Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Sims
Top 50 Prospects: None
Having targeted mostly starting pitching over the past three years, it’s no surprise that the Braves’ prospect pool is comprised mostly of young arms. With right-handers J.R. Graham, Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh, the organization has a solid collection of hurlers poised to debut in the coming years.
At the same time, the Braves’ depth on the mound only magnifies their dearth of position prospects. As of now, the only player with major league upside is catcher Christian Bethancourt, though he’s still raw for his age and experience and is in need of further seasoning in the minor leagues.
21. Washington Nationals
Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Giolito
Top 50 Prospects: None
The Nationals lost a key piece this season with the graduation of Anthony Rendon to the major leagues. As a result, the team's system has been reduced to a combination of raw-but-toolsy outfielders (Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor) and power arms (Lucas Giolito, A.J. Cole).
However, their ability to revive the careers of once promising (but oft-injured) pitching prospects ranks second to none. So far this season, the Nationals have utilized right-handers Taylor Jordan and Nathan Karns, and it may not be long until left-hander Robbie Ray gets the nod.
20. Oakland Athletics
Top Prospect: SS Addison Russell
Top 50 Prospects: Russell (9)
While the A's don’t have many big names besides shortstop Addison Russell, they do have considerable depth at most positions—something that’s aided their success in the major leagues over the last year.
Michael Choice and Sonny Gray both appear ready for an everyday role with the parent club—once there’s room, that is—while most of their other young position (Renato Nunez, Matthew Olson, Billy McKinney) and pitching prospects (Michael Ynoa, Raul Alcantara) are still a few years away from contributing.
19. Cincinnati Reds
Top Prospect: RHP Robert Stephenson
Top 50 Prospects: Stephenson (21), OF Billy Hamilton (37)
While I’m a fan of the Reds' system as a whole, they lack the potential impact talent needed to warrant a more favorable ranking.
Speedster Billy Hamilton has come back to earth after a ridiculous 2012 season and has had both his overall ranking and prospect stock drop as a result. And even though flame-thrower Robert Stephenson has made impressive strides in his development, he’s still a high-risk prospect in need of considerable seasoning in the minor leagues.
The Reds also have a few intriguing young outfielders in Jesse Winker and Phil Ervin, though beyond that the system is pretty dry.
18. Cleveland Indians
Top Prospect: SS Francisco Lindor
Top 50 Prospects: Lindor (4), OF Clint Frazier (50)
The Indians' system has actually taken a step back this season, mostly due to the struggles of Trevor Bauer and Dorssys Paulino at their respective levels. They have top prospect Francisco Lindor to thank for their ranking, as the 19-year-old defensive wizard has impressed enough this season at the dish to warrant a promotion to Double-A as a teenager.
Meanwhile, right-hander Danny Salazar has shot up the depth chart with his dominance in the high minors and lights-out debut with the Tribe earlier this month.
Furthermore, the selection of Clint Frazier with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft gave the organization another young, high-ceiling player capable of moving quickly through the system.
17. Philadelphia Phillies
Top Prospect: 3B Maikel Franco
Top 50 Prospects: Franco (49)
While the Phillies' pitching prospects haven’t developed as expected this season—Jesse Biddle being the exception—the team has received standout performances from several young hitters such as Maikel Franco and Cody Asche. Even 2013 first-rounder J.P. Crawford has emerged as one of the top prospects in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
16. New York Mets
Top Prospect: RHP Noah Syndergaard
Top 50 Prospects: Syndergaard (19), C Travis d’Arnaud (26)
With Zack Wheeler now out of the picture, right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who was acquired from the Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, now ranks as the Mets' top prospect. Meanwhile, the other prospect in that deal, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, is trying to get his season back on track after missing several months with a fractured foot.
Beyond those two players, the Mets have a pair of promising hitters in the low minors in first-rounders Dominic Smith (2013) and Brandon Nimmo (2011).
It wouldn’t surprise me if they offer a few more prospects a taste of the major leagues later this season. Wilmer Flores is having a strong season at Triple-A and probably deserves an opportunity, while right-hander Rafael Montero is beginning to make noticeable adjustments at the level following a midseason promotion.
15. Tampa Bay Rays
Top Prospect: RHP Taylor Guerrieri
Top 50 Prospects: Guerrieri (25)
The Rays' system ranked as one of the best in the game heading into the 2013 season. However, the graduation of both Wil Myers and Chris Archer to the major leagues was a crushing blow, as was the season-ending injuries to Taylor Guerrieri (Tommy John surgery) and Hak-Ju Lee (torn knee ligaments).
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi currently represents the team’s top active prospect, though it also has an assortment of young hurlers (Blake Snell, Enny Romero, Jeff Ames, Jesse Hahn) making noise this season at lower levels.
That said, the organization still desperately needs some of its previous first-round picks (Tim Beckham, Drew Vettleson, Brandon Martin, Mikie Mahtook, Jake Hager, Richie Shaffer) to develop into something greater than a potential organizational player.
14. New York Yankees
Top Prospect: C Gary Sanchez
Top 50 Prospects: Sanchez (31)
Even though their top prospects (Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott) did not take a significant leap forward as hoped this season, each player has at least held his own in own in a challenging environment. That said, all of the aforementioned players are still roughly two years away from reaching the major leagues.
One bright spot in the Yankees' system this season has been 22-year-old Rafael De Paula, who made quick work of the South Atlantic League with a plus-plus fastball before a midseason promotion to High-A Tampa.
Meanwhile, the team landed two of the better college hitters (Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge) and one of the top prep left-handers (Ian Clarkin) in the first round of the 2013 draft.
13. Texas Rangers
Top Prospect: C Jorge Alfaro
Top 50 Prospects: None
After graduating Jurickson Profar, baseball’s No. 1 prospect heading into the 2013 season, and Martin Perez to the major leagues and parting with Mike Olt and Justin Grimm via trade, the Rangers' system has been reduced to an assortment of 19- to 21-year-old high-risk players.
So even though top prospects Jorge Alfaro, Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas, Luke Jackson and Joey Gallo all have the potential to be everyday players a few years down the road, it also reflects a lack of depth and talent in the upper levels of their system, as well as an imminent turnaround period.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers
Top Prospect: SS Corey Seager
Top 50 Prospects: Seager (34), LHP Julio Urias (43), OF Joc Pederson (48)
Despite the graduation of phenom Yasiel Puig to the major leagues, the Dodgers' system has collectively improved this season. Both of the team's top position prospects' stocks are on the rise, with Corey Seager having an excellent full-season debut at Low-A Great Lakes and Joc Pederson proving himself as a one of the younger everyday players at the Double-A level.
On the mound, Zach Lee is enjoying an impressive bounce-back season at Double-A Chattanooga, while 16-year-old left-hander Julio Urias has emerged as one of the best stories in the minor leagues this season.
11. Miami Marlins
Top Prospect: OF Christian Yelich
Top 50 Prospects: Yelich (8), OF Jake Marisnick (38), LHP Andrew Heaney (39)
The Marlins would undoubtedly rank in the top 10 if All-Star Jose Fernandez was still in play. And they’ll soon take another hit following the graduation of outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick to the major leagues.
Besides third baseman Colin Moran, the No. 6 overall selection the 2013 draft, Miami’s farm system is top-loaded with pitching prospects, including a trio of left-handers in Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley.
10. Kansas City Royals
Top Prospect: RHP Kyle Zimmer
Top 50 Prospects: Zimmer (27), RHP Yordano Ventura (33), SS Raul Adalberto Mondesi (42)
The Royals had the best farm system in baseball just a few years ago. However, given their ongoing struggles to cultivate top prospects and build a legitimately successful big league team, it’s hard to rank them better than 10th overall.
One thing they have plenty of is power arms. While Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura have cruised into the upper minors this season and are on pace to debut in 2014, it’s yet to be seen how quickly Miguel Almonte and 2013 competitive balance pick Sean Manaea will move through the system.
The Royals also boast an impressive collection of position prospects such as Bubba Starling, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Bonifacio, Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert. However, it’s worth noting that each of the aforementioned players is at least two years away from contributing in the major leagues.
9. Seattle Mariners
Top Prospect: RHP Taijuan Walker
Top 50 Prospects: Walker (5), LHP Danny Hultzen (44)
Following the promotions of Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin and Brad Miller to the major leagues, Seattle’s farm system is a shell of what it was heading into the 2013 season. However, the Mariners still have Taijuan Walker, arguably the game’s top pitching prospect, in Triple-A, as well as left-handers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.
They also have an impressive collection of young arms (Tyler Pike, Luiz Gohara, Victor Sanchez, Edwin Diaz) in the low minors and a couple of guys (D.J. Peterson, Stefen Romero) who can flat-out rake but lack a true defensive home.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
Top Prospect: RHP Archie Bradley
Top 50 Prospects: Bradley (7), SS Chris Owings (45)
After dealing Trevor Bauer during the offseason and graduating Tyler Skaggs to the major leagues, the Diamondbacks still boast one of the finest collections of pitching prospects in the minor leagues. Besides top prospect Archie Bradley and 2013 first-rounder Braden Shipley, the organization is rich with high-floor arms (David Holmberg, Zeke Spruill, Andrew Chafin) in the upper levels of its system.
They also have several infielders (Chris Owings, Matt Davidson) nearing a promotion to the major leagues, as well as a few more (Brandon Drury, Jose Munoz) who are still several years away. The one knock on Arizona’s system is its lack of outfield depth throughout. However, given the team's surplus at the major league level, it’s understandable.
7. San Diego Padres
Top Prospect: C Austin Hedges
Top 50 Prospects: Hedges (20), LHP Max Fried (41)
Despite losing a pair of prospects (Casey Kelly, Rymer Liriano) to season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Padres' system has actually improved as a whole.
At the top of the list is Austin Hedges, the team’s top prospect and easily the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues. Meanwhile, the organization added a much-needed outfielder this past June when it selected the toolsy Hunter Renfroe in the first round of the 2013 draft.
However, the pride of the Padres' system is the team's young pitching. Max Fried and Joe Ross have the higher ceilings among their collection of promising arms, while Kelly, Matt Wisler and Burch Smith project to be at least back-end starters in the major leagues.
6. Boston Red Sox
Top Prospect: SS Xander Bogaerts
Top 50 Prospects: Bogaerts (3), 3B Garin Cecchini (35)
In 2012, it seemed as though every high-upside prospect in Boston's system enjoyed a breakout season. This year, they’ve all managed to collectively take a step forward, with many players moving up the ladder faster than anticipated.
Top prospect and future superstar Xander Bogaerts is seemingly on the verge of a promotion to the major leagues after the recent departure of Jose Iglesias and should be a main cog in a potent Red Sox's lineup, along with outfielder Jackie Bradley, in 2014. And considering Garin Cecchini has raked his way up the ladder over the last two seasons, the team may need to make room for him as well.
While the Red Sox were forced to turn to their pitching prospects (Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Drake Britton) a bit earlier than expected this season, the experience should have them prepared for a more consistent role in 2014. Meanwhile, their Double-A trio of Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo are all within striking distance of the major leagues.
The team also drafted a pair of potential impact players in left-handed pitcher Trey Ball and catcher Jon Denney. And it, in general, had arguably the best draft of any team.
5. Houston Astros
Top Prospect: SS Carlos Correa
Top 50 Prospects: Correa (11), RHP Mark Appel (17), OF George Springer (22), 1B Jonathan Singleton (28), RHP Mike Foltynewicz (36)
The Astros would be ranked higher if not for the high risk involved with so many of their top prospects. Other than that, their system really does have some of everything—and in some areas, a lot of everything.
The Astros have an assortment of up-the-middle talent, including Carlos Correa, George Springer, Delino DeShields, Jonathan Villar and Nolan Fontana. They have power on the corners thanks to Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana and Rio Ruiz.
Jared Cosart was recently promoted into the major league rotation and could be joined in the near future by Asher Wojciechowski. Meanwhile, their second wave of pitching prospects, including Mike Foltynewicz, Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez, is likely to trickle in over the next two years.
One of the few teams that actually traded before Wednesday’s deadline, the Astros quietly added a few nice pieces over the last week, acquiring outfielders Danry Vasquez (Tigers) and L.J. Hoes (Orioles), right-hander Kyle Smith (Royals) and left-hander Josh Hader (Orioles).
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Top Prospect: RHP Jameson Taillon
Top 50 Prospects: Taillon (10), OF Gregory Polanco (12), SS-2B Alen Hanson (46), RHP Tyler Glasnow (47)
Pittsburgh would probably check in at No. 1 if it had more prospects in the upper levels of its system. However, that’s not meant to detract from the Pirates' impressive depth at every position.
Even after the graduation of Gerrit Cole to the major leagues, the Pirates still have four prospects that rank within the top 50 overall. And given the hot starts to the respective careers of 2013 first-rounders Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire, that number could potentially increase by the start of the 2014 season.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
Top Prospect: OF Oscar Taveras
Top 50 Prospects: Taveras (2), OF Michael Wacha (18), RHP Carlos Martinez (23), 2B Kolten Wong (40)
Other than the graduation of right-handers Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal to the major leagues, the Cardinals' system is nearly just as strong as it was to begin the season.
The team still boasts the most impressive collection of MLB-ready talent in the game, as Oscar Taveras, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong are all ready for the challenge but lack a clear path to consistent playing time.
As usual, the Cardinals also house a solid mix of organizational players (James Ramsey, Stephen Piscotty, Mike O’Neill) and hard-throwing relievers (Michael Blazek, Jordan Swagerty).
Their one glaring deficiency headed into the season was left-handed pitching, so it was nice to see them target a pair of southpaws (Marco Gonzales, Rob Kaminsky) in the first round of the 2013 draft.
2. Chicago Cubs
Top Prospect: SS Javier Baez
Top 50 Prospects: Baez (14), OF Albert Almora (16), OF Jorge Soler (29), 3B/OF Kris Bryant
Since taking over prior to the 2012 season, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have quickly put together a monster farm system.
Highlighted by Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Arismendy Alcantara, the Cubs' system was already stacked with some of the more promising hitters in the minors before Mike Olt was added in the Matt Garza deal.
Even though it still lacks projectable pitching prospects, the organization has done an admirable job using the past two drafts to fill its minor league rosters with high-floor arms. And if the Cubs continue to add high-ceiling arms, such as C.J. Edwards, over the next year via trades, it may not be long until they boast the game's top farm system.
1. Minnesota Twins
Top Prospect: OF Byron Buxton
Top 50 Prospects: Buxton (1), 3B Miguel Sano (6), RHP Alex Meyer (32)
The Twins' system has been the talk of the 2013 season, largely due to the emergence of baseball’s best prospect duo, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. But because those future stars tend steal the headlines, the organization's full collection of promising young hitters tends to be overlooked.
The Twins house two of the game's more projectable second base prospects in Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco, as well as sluggers Adam Brett Walker II and Travis Harrison.
But what I like most about the the Twins' system is how they’ve aggressively targeted power arms since mid-2011, acquiring right-handers Alex Meyer and Trevor May through trades and drafting Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades and Jose Berrios.