Bleacher Report's Updated Farm System Rankings at the Start of 2018

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2018

Bleacher Report's Updated Farm System Rankings at the Start of 2018

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    There's still a lot of the MLB offseason left, but it's time for an updated look at the MLB prospect landscape.

    A handful of blockbuster deals have taken place since we last updated our farm system rankings following the conclusion of the 2017 MiLB season.

    We'll likely update and tweak the rankings a few times before Opening Day, but the following will serve as a baseline for offseason prospect talks going forward.

    The following factors helped determine the rankings of players and teams:

    • Potential (Player): Potential trumps production a lot of the time, especially in the lower levels of the minors and with recent draft picks. Skill set and overall tools are often a better indication of what kind of player a guy will be.
    • Talent (Player): As for guys in the higher levels of the minors who are close to breaking through at the big league level, production and current talent are the determining factors, as these players are viewed as more complete products.
    • Overall Depth (Team): Having one or two elite prospects is great, but having a deep farm system from top to bottom is the way to build a sustainable contender. The overall depth and level of talent were the biggest factors in ranking each team.
    • High-End Talent (Team): That being said, there is a difference between a prospect who has a chance of making an impact at the big league level and a prospect who could be a star. Elite prospects served as a tiebreaker of sorts when two teams were close in the rankings.

    We've incorporated a tier system to help differentiate between levels of talent. Here's a quick explanation: 

    • Tier 1: Prospects who have an elite skill set and legitimate All-Star potential. These are the guys who would receive consideration for a spot on leaguewide top-100 prospect lists.
    • Tier 2: Prospects who have a good chance of becoming at least a contributor at the MLB level. This is where most prospects on the following list will fall.
    • Tier 3: Prospects who profile as fringe MLB contributors or young prospects who are still too raw to project any higher. Having one of these players ranked among your top 10 prospects is a good indication of a thin system.

    Along with an updated list of the top 10 prospects for each team, you'll also find some general analysis on each team's top prospects and the outlook of the farm system as a whole.

    A player must not have passed the rookie-eligibility limits (130 AB, 50 IP, 45 days on roster) to be eligible for inclusion in these rankings.

30. Kansas City Royals

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    Foster Griffin
    Foster GriffinMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 29

    NameAgeTier
    1. 1B Nick Pratto192
    2. OF Khalil Lee192
    3. LHP Foster Griffin222
    4. RHP Josh Staumont242
    5. 3B Hunter Dozier262
    6. OF Seuly Matias192
    7. SS Nicky Lopez222
    8. C M.J. Melendez192
    9. LHP Eric Skoglund253
    10. OF Michael Gigliotti213

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Kansas City Royals are in a tough spot. An unavoidable rebuild has arrived at their doorstep and they have one of the thinnest farm systems in baseball.

    That said, the 2017 draft did bring some quality talent, headlined by sweet-swinging first baseman Nick Pratto. Prep catcher M.J. Melendez (second round) and outfielder Michael Gigliotti (fourth round) also jumped into the top prospect ranks.

    International signee Seuly Matias also started showing flashes of why he landed a $2.25 million bonus in 2015.

    Outfielder Khalil Lee has the highest ceiling in the system, showing an intriguing mix of power and speed (17 HR/20 SB) in Single-A. The 19-year-old also whiffed 171 times at a 32.1 percent clip, though, and there's a wide range between his floor and ceiling.

29. New York Mets

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    Chris Flexen
    Chris FlexenJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 27

    NameAgeTier
    1. LHP David Peterson222
    2. SS Andres Gimenez192
    3. LHP Thomas Szapucki212
    4. RHP Justin Dunn222
    5. 3B Mark Vientos182
    6. 1B Peter Alonso232
    7. RHP Marcos Molina222
    8. C Tomas Nido232
    9. RHP Chris Flexen232
    10. SS Luis Guillorme233

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    With Amed Rosario (No. 1), Dominic Smith (No. 2), Brandon Nimmo (No. 6) and Robert Gsellman (No. 8) all graduating the prospect ranks from this time a year ago, the New York Mets have slid to the bottom of the farm system totem pole.

    University of Oregon left-hander David Peterson (No. 20 overall pick in 2017) and precocious infielder Andres Gimenez now headline the system, and both players are capable of making the leap to Tier 1 status.

    Thomas Szapucki, Justin Dunn, Marcos Molina, Chris Flexen and Anthony Kay give the system a solid collection of second-tier pitching prospects. That depth could be tested given the injury issues at the MLB level.

    Shortstop Ronny Mauricio will be watched closely as he begins his pro career after he inked a $2.1 million bonus in July.

28. San Francisco Giants

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    Tyler Beede
    Tyler BeedeBen Margot/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 26

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Heliot Ramos181
    2. 1B/OF Chris Shaw242
    3. RHP Tyler Beede242
    4. OF Bryan Reynolds222
    5. C/1B Aramis Garcia242
    6. OF Sandro Fabian192
    7. OF Steven Duggar242
    8. LHP Garrett Williams232
    9. LHP Andrew Suarez253
    10. OF Heath Quinn223

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Heliot Ramos is now the clear-cut top prospect in the San Francisco Giants system after Christian Arroyo was dealt in the Evan Longoria trade. He hit .348/.404/.645 with 23 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in 151 plate appearances in rookie ball after going No. 19 overall last June.

    Chris Shaw and Bryan Reynolds have both shown the offensive chops to be everyday players at the highest level, and right-hander Tyler Beede remains the best pitching prospect in the organization—even if he hasn't lived up to his first-round pedigree.

    Dominican native Sandro Fabian hit .277 with 30 doubles and 11 home runs as a 19-year-old in Single-A and his ceiling is considerable. He also walked just 10 times in 503 plate appearances, though, so the jury is still out on his eventual ceiling.

27. Chicago Cubs

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    Jen-Ho Tseng
    Jen-Ho TsengCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 25

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Jose Albertos192
    2. RHP Adbert Alzolay222
    3. SS Aramis Ademan192
    4. RHP Alex Lange222
    5. C Victor Caratini242
    6. RHP Oscar De La Cruz222
    7. RHP Thomas Hatch232
    8. LHP Brendon Little212
    9. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng232
    10. OF Mark Zagunis242

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    After trading Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes last summer, the Chicago Cubs are now without a true top-tier prospect.

    That could quickly change.

    Right-handers Jose Albertos, Adbert Alzolay and Alex Lange all have Tier 1 upside, and 19-year-old infielder Aramis Ademan has already begun living up to the $2 million bonus he received as an international free agent in 2015.

    Victor Caratini, Jen-Ho Tseng and Mark Zagunis appear to be next in line to make an impact at the MLB level. One or more could also wind up being used as a trade chip to fill more pressing needs on the roster.

26. Miami Marlins

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    Brian Anderson
    Brian AndersonBrett Davis/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 28

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Sandy Alcantara222
    2. RHP Jorge Guzman212
    3. LHP Braxton Garrett202
    4. LHP Trevor Rogers202
    5. 3B Brian Anderson242
    6. RHP Nick Neidert212
    7. OF Magneuris Sierra212
    8. LHP Dillon Peters252
    9. 3B James Nelson202
    10. RHP Merandy Gonzalez222

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Miami Marlins system is undoubtedly deeper than it was prior to the team trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon. They're still lacking in top-tier talent, though.

    Sandy Alcantara (first), Jorge Guzman (second), Nick Neidert (sixth) and Magneuris Sierra (seventh) all jump into the organizational top 10 after coming over in those trades, while Zac Gallen and Christopher Torres are right on the fringe.

    Getting former first-round picks Tyler Kolek (No. 2 overall in 2014) and Braxton Garrett (No. 7 overall in 2016) back to full health would also provide a boost to the system.

    Brian Anderson has a good chance of breaking camp with the starting third base job, and Dillon Peters looks to have a leg up to earn a rotation spot.

25. Seattle Mariners

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    Dan Vogelbach
    Dan VogelbachMatt York/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 22

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Kyle Lewis221
    2. 1B Evan White211
    3. OF Braden Bishop242
    4. RHP Sam Carlson192
    5. OF Julio Rodriguez172
    6. OF Anthony Jimenez222
    7. RHP Max Povse242
    8. 1B Dan Vogelbach252
    9. 3B Joe Rizzo193
    10. OF Luis Liberato223

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Seattle Mariners have traded away three of their top five prospects from last year's version of this article—Tyler O'Neill (1), Luiz Gohara (3) and Nick Neidert (4)—and graduated another to the majors in Mitch Haniger (5).

    A breakout season from outfielder Braden Bishop and a solid draft haul that was headlined by Evan White and Sam Carlson is enough for them to avoid a bottom-five spot in these rankings, but just barely as GM Jerry Dipoto continues to play for now.

    Julio Rodriguez, who signed for a $1.75 million bonus in July, has the ceiling to quickly join the Tier 1 ranks once he gets his pro career started, so he's one to watch.

    MLB.com wrote: "Rodriguez has a chance to be a special hitter, one who projects to hit for average and already shows big raw power during batting practice."

24. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Anthony Banda
    Anthony BandaRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 24

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Jon Duplantier231
    2. 1B Pavin Smith211
    3. RHP Taylor Clarke242
    4. OF Marcus Wilson212
    5. C Daulton Varsho212
    6. LHP Anthony Banda242
    7. SS Jasrado Chisholm192
    8. OF Eduardo Diaz202
    9. IF Domingo Leyba223
    10. RHP Matt Tabor193

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Arizona Diamondbacks took some positive steps forward down the farm last season, starting with a breakout performance from Jon Duplantier.

    A third-round pick in 2016, Duplantier went 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 165 strikeouts in 136 innings between Single-A and High-A to win MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year award and climb to the top of the organizational rankings.

    Marcus Wilson also enjoyed a breakthrough season, and Eduardo Diaz turned some heads by hitting .312/.357/.510 with 28 extra-base hits in 268 plate appearances as a 19-year-old in the rookie league.

    Throw in a terrific draft class that included polished college sluggers Pavin Smith and Drew Ellis, catcher Daulton Varsho (who hit .318 with a .902 OPS in his pro debut) and projectable prep right-hander Matt Tabor, and this is a system on the rise.

23. Cleveland Indians

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    Francisco Mejia
    Francisco MejiaRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 20

    NameAgeTier
    1. C Francisco Mejia221
    2. RHP Triston McKenzie201
    3. 1B Bobby Bradley212
    4. 3B Nolan Jones192
    5. SS Yu-Cheng Chang222
    6. OF Quentin Holmes182
    7. RHP Shane Bieber222
    8. SS Willi Castro202
    9. OF Will Benson192
    10. RHP Aaron Civale223

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Cleveland Indians have two of the game's truly elite prospects in catcher Francisco Mejia and right-hander Triston McKenzie.

    Mejia hit .297/.346/.490 with 21 doubles and 14 home runs in Double-A before making his MLB debut in September. McKenzie went 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 186 strikeouts in 143 innings for High-A Lynchburg and there's remaining projectability in his 6'5", 165-pound frame.

    Slugger Bobby Bradley, 2016 second-round pick Nolan Jones, power-hitting shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang and teenage outfielders Quentin Holmes and Will Benson all possess the upside to make the leap to Tier 1.

    The system is thin on pitching behind McKenzie. Shane Bieber had a strong 2017 season, though, going 10-5 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 162 strikeouts in 173.1 innings over three levels to reach Double-A.

22. Boston Red Sox

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    Sam Travis
    Sam TravisSteven Senne/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 23

    NameAgeTier
    1. LHP Jay Groome191
    2. 3B Michael Chavis221
    3. RHP Bryan Mata182
    4. RHP Mike Shawaryn232
    5. RHP Tanner Houck212
    6. 1B Sam Travis242
    7. RHP Alex Scherff192
    8. RHP Roniel Raudes192
    9. OF Cole Brannen192
    10. 3B Bobby Dalbec222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Left-hander Jay Groome is one clear Tier 1 pitching prospect in the Boston Red Sox system, but several others could join him in short order.

    Bryan Mata won't turn 19 until May, yet he already went 5-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 77 innings for Single-A Greenville. Fellow right-hander Roniel Raudes has also moved quickly, though he doesn't possess quite the same upside.

    Mike Shawaryn is looking like a steal as a fifth-round pick in 2015 after posting a 3.81 ERA and striking out 169 in 134.2 innings, though the effort in his delivery still raises some question marks. Righties Tanner Houck and Alex Scherff also belong in the conversation as they get set for their first full pro seasons.

    As for position-player prospects, Michael Chavis takes over for Rafael Devers as the headliner after he posted a .910 OPS with 35 doubles and 31 home runs between High-A and Double-A. Beyond him, the system is lacking in potential impact bats, though 2017 second-round pick Cole Brannen and slugger Bobby Dalbec are worth watching.

21. Colorado Rockies

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    Ryan McMahon
    Ryan McMahonWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 19

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Brendan Rodgers211
    2. 1B/3B Ryan McMahon231
    3. RHP Riley Pint201
    4. 3B Colton Welker202
    5. RHP Yency Almonte232
    6. 2B/SS Garrett Hampson232
    7. RHP Peter Lambert202
    8. 3B Ryan Vilade182
    9. RHP Ryan Castellani212
    10. LHP Sam Howard243

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Colorado Rockies graduated Jeff Hoffman (2), Ramiel Tapia (4), German Marquez (5), Kyle Freeland (6) and Antonio Senzatela (8) from last year's organizational top 10, going from a top-10 farm system to a bottom-10 farm system in the process.

    There's still some terrific talent at the top, though.

    Brendan Rodgers is a top-20 prospect in the league and a potential star in the making, Ryan McMahon is ready for a shot at the everyday first base job after crushing Triple-A pitching, and hard-throwing Riley Pint has ace upside—albeit with a fair amount of polishing still required.

    Beyond that trio, there's a handful of decent arms and third baseman Colton Welker is worth keeping an eye on. However, there clearly are nine top prospects in the system, and it thins out quickly from there.

20. Baltimore Orioles

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    Chance Sisco
    Chance SiscoChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 15

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Austin Hays221
    2. C Chance Sisco221
    3. SS Ryan Mountcastle201
    4. RHP Hunter Harvey232
    5. LHP D.L. Hall192
    6. LHP Tanner Scott232
    7. OF Cedric Mullins232
    8. LHP Alex Wells202
    9. LHP Keegan Akin222
    10. LHP Zac Lowther213

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Austin Hays and Chance Sisco could both break camp in starting roles for the Baltimore Orioles in 2018.

    Hays rocketed through the system after going in the third round of the 2016 draft, posting a .958 OPS with 32 doubles and 32 home runs between High-A and Double-A before making the leap to the majors in September.

    Sisco also got a taste of the big leagues over the final month and with Welington Castillo out of the way, he has a clear path to the starting catcher job.

    Hard-throwing Tanner Scott, outfielder Cedric Mullins, offensive-minded infielder Ryan Mountcastle and Australian left-hander Alex Wells all turned in standout 2017 season and solidified their place among the organization's top prospects.

    The X-factor here is the oft-injured Hunter Harvey, who is still just 23 years old. He finally returned to action in July and posted a 0.96 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 18.2 innings in the lower levels.

19. Washington Nationals

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    Victor Robles
    Victor RoblesMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 12

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Victor Robles201
    2. OF Juan Soto191
    3. SS Carter Kieboom201
    4. RHP Erick Fedde242
    5. OF Daniel Johnson222
    6. LHP Seth Romero212
    7. RHP Wil Crowe232
    8. SS Luis Garcia172
    9. OF Yasel Antuna182
    10. C Raudy Read243

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Washington Nationals have two of the game's most exciting outfield prospects in Victor Robles and Juan Soto.

    Robles has looked like a superstar in the making for years, and Soto would be the crown jewel of almost any other farm system. They could be sharing the outfield by 2019 and reaching their respective ceilings would go a long way toward easing the expected loss of Bryce Harper.

    Carter Kieboom is also a Tier 1 player after hitting .296/.400/.497 with 25 extra-base hits in 255 plate appearances last season. A hamstring injury cost him significant time, though, and a true breakout season could be coming in 2018.

    A rocky season from Erick Fedde drops him to Tier 2 status, while outfielder Daniel Johnson, left-hander Seth Romero and prized international signings Luis Garcia and Yasel Antuna are all capable of moving up a tier this coming season.

18. Los Angeles Angels

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 30

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP/OF Shohei Ohtani231
    2. SS Kevin Maitan171
    3. OF Jo Adell181
    4. OF Jahmai Jones202
    5. OF Brandon Marsh202
    6. RHP Jaime Barria212
    7. 1B Matt Thaiss222
    8. RHP Griffin Canning212
    9. C Taylor Ward242
    10. RHP Chris Rodriguez193

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    How far the Los Angeles Angels should climb is one of the more compelling questions when it comes to 2018 farm system rankings.

    Shohei Ohtani is now the game's top prospect with a skill set that makes him a baseball unicorn. No one has a higher ceiling and no one is capable of making a bigger impact in 2018. His presence alone probably earns them 10 spots.

    The Angels also added former Atlanta Braves prospect Kevin Maitan, who was removed from their system as part of the international signing rules infractions. His prospect star has faded a bit after a lackluster start to his pro career, but there's a reason he was so highly regarded and he's still only 17.

    Jo Adell was the best athlete in the 2017 draft and he has some of the loudest tools in all of minor league baseball. His upside is enough to also earn him a Tier 1 grade, though his overall game is still raw.

    Outfielders Jahmai Jones and Brandon Marsh have significant upside, right-hander Jaime Barria could see the majors in 2018 and first baseman Matt Thaiss should continue to move quickly. 

    At the end of the day, this remains a thin system top to bottom, though, and it's hard to rank them any higher than the middle of the pack.

17. Texas Rangers

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    Ronald Guzman
    Ronald GuzmanCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 21

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Leody Taveras191
    2. 2B/OF Willie Calhoun231
    3. 1B Ronald Guzman231
    4. LHP Cole Ragans202
    5. LHP Yohander Mendez222
    6. OF Bubba Thompson192
    7. RHP Hans Crouse192
    8. IF Anderson Tejada192
    9. RHP Kyle Cody232
    10. SS Chris Seise182

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    After several seasons spent trading away top prospects, the Texas Rangers actually added to the system last year.

    Leody Taveras scuffled to a .249/.312/.360 line in a full season with Single-A Hickory, but he'll be 19 for the bulk of the 2018 season and remains well ahead of the developmental curve.

    Willie Calhoun was the prize of the Yu Darvish trade and he should challenge for the starting DH spot if no other outside additions are made. Ronald Guzman also has little left to prove in the minors after hitting .298/.372/.434 with 22 doubles and 12 home runs in Triple-A, so expect to see him in Texas at some point.

    Much of the top talent in this system still resides in the lower levels of the minors. As a result, there's top-10 upside, but enough left to prove that No. 17 will be where they begin 2018.

16. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Austin Meadows
    Austin MeadowsBrian Blanco/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 18

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Mitch Keller211
    2. OF Austin Meadows221
    3. RHP Shane Baz181
    4. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes202
    5. SS Cole Tucker212
    6. LHP Taylor Hearn232
    7. SS Kevin Newman242
    8. RHP Luis Escobar212
    9. 2B Kevin Kramer242
    10. RHP Steven Jennings192

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Pittsburgh Pirates could vault into the top 10 if they decide to pull the trigger on trading Gerrit Cole before the start of the season.

    For now, it's right-hander Mitch Keller and outfielder Austin Meadows who rank as the two elite prospects in the system.

    Keller is one of the game's best pitching prospects, and after making eight starts in Double-A last season, he could debut this season. As for Meadows, his development has stalled a bit, but he still has tremendous upside.

    Shane Baz and Steven Jennings headlined an impressive draft haul, and the middle infield trio of Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer gives the organization impressive depth at always-valuable spots on the diamond.

15. Detroit Tigers

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    Alex Faedo
    Alex FaedoMark Cunningham/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 17

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Franklin Perez201
    2. RHP Matt Manning191
    3. RHP Beau Burrows211
    4. RHP Alex Faedo221
    5. OF Daz Cameron202
    6. OF Christin Stewart242
    7. SS Isaac Paredes182
    8. C Jake Rogers222
    9. RHP Kyle Funkhouser232
    10. LHP Gregory Soto222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Since finally committing to a rebuild, the Detroit Tigers have quickly assembled a really good farm system.

    Franklin Perez (1), Daz Cameron (5), Isaac Paredes (7) and Jake Rogers (8) join the organizational top 10 after coming over in trades last summer, while Dawel Lugo, Grayson Long, Sergio Alcantara and Troy Montgomery were among the other notable prospects acquired in the sell-off.

    Meanwhile, incumbents Beau Burrows and Gregory Soto both turned in breakout seasons, and first-round pick Alex Faedo gives them another top-tier arm in a system that is suddenly ripe with quality pitching talent.

    There's not much left to trade on the MLB roster, but they've done a great job stockpiling talent.

14. Minnesota Twins

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    Royce Lewis
    Royce LewisJim Mone/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 14

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Royce Lewis181
    2. SS Nick Gordon221
    3. LHP Stephen Gonsalves231
    4. RHP Fernando Romero231
    5. SS Wander Javier192
    6. OF Brent Rooker232
    7. OF Alex Kirilloff202
    8. RHP Brusdar Graterol192
    9. RHP Blayne Enlow182
    10. RHP Zack Littell222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Minnesota Twins reaped the rewards of cultivating in-house talent this past season as Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Jose Berrios, Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Eddie Rosario, Kyle Gibson, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger were all homegrown.

    While the system has thinned from the days when it was considered to be among the best in baseball, there is still plenty of impact talent in the pipeline.

    Nick Gordon and No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis are the headliners, while Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero could both be ready to make an impact in the big league rotation at some point this season.

    Wander Javier, who landed a franchise-record $4 million bonus in 2015, made his stateside debut in the Appalachian League and hit .299/.383/.471 with 18 extra-base hits in 180 plate appearances. He could be one of the breakout prospects of 2018.

    That said, it's the pitching talent beyond Gonsalves and Romero that could ultimately push this system back into the top 10.

13. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jack Flaherty
    Jack FlahertyJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 11

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Alex Reyes231
    2. C Carson Kelly231
    3. RHP Jack Flaherty221
    4. OF Tyler O'Neill221
    5. RHP Jordan Hicks212
    6. OF Harrison Bader232
    7. RHP Ryan Helsley232
    8. IF Yairo Munoz222
    9. SS Delvin Perez192
    10. C Andrew Knizner222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The fact that the St. Louis Cardinals were able to acquire Marcell Ozuna without giving up Alex Reyes, Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty, Tyler O'Neill, Jordan Hicks or MLB starter Luke Weaver has to be considered a monumental win for the front office.

    It even managed to offset some of the prospect talent it did lose in that deal by shipping Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, who hit .321 with 27 extra-base hits in Double-A and landed just outside the top 10.

    Dakota Hudson, Junior Fernandez, Austin Gomber, Jake Woodford, Connor Jones and Johan Oviedo are also worthy of a mention in a system that is still overflowing with pitching talent.

    It will be interesting to see if Andrew Knizner can push Kelly as the catcher of the future after he hit .302/.349/.471 with 23 doubles and 12 home runs in first full pro season, reaching Double-A in the process.

12. Houston Astros

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    Colin Moran
    Colin MoranMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 13

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Forrest Whitley201
    2. OF Kyle Tucker201
    3. 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez201
    4. RHP J.B. Bukauskas211
    5. RHP Rogelio Armenteros232
    6. 3B Colin Moran252
    7. LHP Cionel Perez212
    8. RHP David Paulino232
    9. OF Gilberto Celestino 182
    10. 3B J.D. Davis242

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    A huge 2017 season pushed Forrest Whitley to the top of the Houston Astros' prospect rankings and squarely into the conversation for the top pitching prospect in baseball.

    The No. 17 pick in the 2016 draft, Whitley went posted a 2.83 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 143 strikeouts in 92.1 innings, earning a brief taste of Double-A to close out the year. With a strong 6'7" frame and a polished four-pitch repertoire that belies his age, he looks like an ace in the making.

    Not to be overshadowed, Kyle Tucker is also a top-20 prospect in the league, and after posting an .874 OPS with 33 doubles and 25 home runs between High-A and Double-A, he's not far off. He might have the best hit tool in the minors.

    Yordan Alvarez is a prospect on the rise, and Rogelio Armenteros deserves far more attention for his results. It will be interesting to see what the team does with Colin Moran, who has nothing left to prove in the minors and no clear path to playing time in the majors.

11. Oakland Athletics

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    A.J. Puk
    A.J. PukLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 8

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Franklin Barreto211
    2. LHP A.J. Puk221
    3. IF/OF Jorge Mateo221
    4. LHP Jesus Luzardo201
    5. OF Dustin Fowler232
    6. OF Austin Beck192
    7. 3B Sheldon Neuse232
    8. C Sean Murphy232
    9. OF Lazaro Armenteros182
    10. RHP Grant Holmes212

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Oakland Athletics picked up some quality prospects when they shipped out Sonny Gray, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in a pair of deadline deals.

    Jorge Mateo (3), Jesus Luzardo (4), Dustin Fowler (5) and Sheldon Neuse (7) jump into the organizational top 10 after coming over in those trades, while James Kaprielian has a chance to be the best of the bunch if he can get healthy.

    It's close at the top between Franklin Barreto and A.J. Puk as far as who deserves the No. 1 spot in the system. Barreto should push veteran Jed Lowrie for the second base job before the All-Star break, while Puk could be in line for a 2018 debut as well after striking out 184 batters in 125 innings last season.

    Austin Beck and Lazaro Armenteros both have huge ceilings and a lot of work to do polishing their overall games, so it will be interesting to watch their development in the coming seasons.

    After a breakout offensive season and a .309/.413/.368 line in 80 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, Sean Murphy might be ready to join the top-tier catching prospect conversation.

10. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 16

    NameAgeTier
    1. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.181
    2. SS Bo Bichette191
    3. OF Anthony Alford231
    4. RHP Nate Pearson211
    5. RHP Eric Pardinho162
    6. SS Logan Warmoth222
    7. C Danny Jansen222
    8. LHP Ryan Borucki232
    9. IF Lourdes Gurriel242
    10. RHP Sean Reid-Foley222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette for most exciting prospect teammates? It's hard to argue with the numbers.

    • Guerrero Jr.: .323 BA, .425 OBP, .910 OPS, 28 2B, 13 HR, 76 RBI
    • Bichette: .362 BA, .423 OBP, .988 OPS, 41 2B, 14 HR, 74 RBI

    The fact that they're both doing it against significantly older competition shy of their 20th birthdays only fans the hype flames.

    They're by no means the only prospects worth watching in this system, either.

    Anthony Alford is an elite athlete, and Nate Pearson had as much helium as any pitcher leading up to the 2017 draft and backed it up with a 0.90 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings in his pro debut. Some might remember Eric Pardinho as the Brazilian pitcher who appeared in the World Baseball Classic as a 15-year-old.

    There were breakout seasons from catcher Danny Jansen, who hit .323/.400/.484 with 37 extra-base hits and more walks (41) than strikeouts (40), and a strong showing from left-hander Ryan Borucki, who pitched to a 2.93 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 150.1 innings. Both players reaching Triple-A along the way, making this system as compelling as any in baseball.

9. Cincinnati Reds

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    Tyler Mahle
    Tyler MahleJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 10

    NameAgeTier
    1. 3B Nick Senzel221
    2. RHP Hunter Greene181
    3. OF Taylor Trammell201
    4. RHP Tyler Mahle231
    5. OF Jesse Winker241
    6. OF Jose Siri222
    7. RHP Tony Santillan202
    8. 2B Shed Long222
    9. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez222
    10. C Tyler Stephenson212

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Nick Senzel might be the safest bet of any prospect in baseball to turn into a perennial All-Star.

    He's done nothing but hit since going No. 2 overall in the 2016 draft, posting a .315/.393/.514 line with 64 doubles and 21 home runs in 797 plate appearances. Don't be surprised if the Reds are trying to figure out what to do with incumbent third baseman Eugenio Suarez by midseason.

    Then there's Hunter Greene, a potentially transcendent talent who fell into the Reds' laps at No. 2 overall this past spring after the Twins went with Royce Lewis and his smaller bonus demands.

    Uber-athlete Taylor Trammell, MLB-ready right-hander Tyler Mahle and sweet-swinging Jesse Winker also earn Tier 1 distinction; the latter two could break camp with starting roles.

    Jose Siri filled up the stat sheet with an .871 OPS that included 24 doubles, 11 triples, 24 home runs and 46 stolen bases. However, a free-swinging approach and the fact that he was 21 playing in Single-A is enough to wait and see if he can duplicate that success.

    Right-hander Tony Santillan is also one to watch, as MLB.com wrote: "Santillan needs to keep working on harnessing his plus stuff over the course of a season while refining his command. If that happens, he could enter the conversation of some of the better right-handed pitching prospects in the game."

8. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brent Honeywell
    Brent HoneywellLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 6

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Brent Honeywell221
    2. SS Willy Adames221
    3. 1B/LHP Brendan McKay221
    4. OF Jesus Sanchez201
    5. 1B/OF Jake Bauers221
    6. IF Christian Arroyo221
    7. OF Joshua Lowe192
    8. SS Wander Franco162
    9. RHP Austin Franklin202
    10. SS Lucius Fox202

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Tampa Bay Rays might have four players crack the top 50 when we roll out our first top-100 prospect list of the new year.

    Brent Honeywell and Willy Adames are locks and they could both arrive in the majors before the All-Star break this coming season.

    Golden Spikes winner Brendan McKay will continue to be utilized as a two-way player for the time being and he has a chance to excel on the mound and at the plate. Meanwhile, Jesus Sanchez hit .305/.348/.478 with 29 doubles, 15 home runs and 82 RBI as a 19-year-old in Single-A and he might have the highest ceiling of anyone.

    Jake Bauers and Christian Arroyo also earn a Tier 1 spot and they also look ready to make a significant impact in the majors if the team opts for a youth movement.

    Right-hander Austin Franklin might be next in line behind Honeywell for an organization with an impressive track record of developing pitching. A third-round pick in 2016, he posted a 2.21 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 69.1 innings for Low-A Hudson Valley and he has the size and stuff to take a big step forward.

7. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Brandon Woodruff
    Brandon WoodruffChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 5

    NameAgeTier
    1. CF Lewis Brinson231
    2. 2B/OF Keston Hiura211
    3. RHP Corbin Burnes231
    4. RHP Brandon Woodruff241
    5. OF Monte Harrison221
    6. RHP Luis Ortiz221
    7. OF Brett Phillips231
    8. IF Isan Diaz212
    9. RHP Freddy Peralta212
    10. OF Corey Ray232

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Lewis Brinson remains the consensus top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system.

    After that, the next seven guys on this list could be slotted in any order based on how you view their current development and future ceiling.

    Keston Hiura was hailed by some as the best bat in the 2017 draft, and after going No. 9 overall, he backed that up by hitting .371/.422/.611 with 25 extra-base hits in 187 plate appearances. That's more than enough to earn him the No. 2 spot.

    Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff both have middle-of-the-rotation ceilings but look like safe bets to get there, while Luis Ortiz offers a bit more upside with a bit more risk.

    Brett Phillips revitalized his stock with a .944 OPS and 52 extra-base hits in Triple-A, and uber-athlete Monte Harrison could rocket to the top of the organizational rankings if the pieces continue to fall into place.

    The fact that Lucas Erceg, Mauricio Dubon and Tristen Lutz don't crack the top 10 speaks to the depth of this system.

6. Philadelphia Phillies

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    J.P. Crawford
    J.P. CrawfordChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 7

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS J.P. Crawford221
    2. RHP Sixto Sanchez191
    3. OF Mickey Moniak191
    4. 2B Scott Kingery231
    5. RHP Adonis Medina211
    6. OF Adam Haseley211
    7. C Jorge Alfaro241
    8. RHP Franklyn Kilome222
    9. LHP JoJo Romero212
    10. OF Jhailyn Ortiz192

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    After hitting .285/.385/.544 with 29 extra-base hits over the final two-plus months of the MiLB season and then holding his own in his first taste of the big leagues, J.P. Crawford is once again the headliner of the Philadelphia Phillies system.

    The Freddy Galvis trade also makes him a safe bet to break camp with the starting shortstop gig.

    Mickey Moniak and Jorge Alfaro remain Tier 1 players despite up-and-down seasons, while Scott Kingery has joined them after an offensive explosion in the upper levels.

    The two to watch in this system are two of the most underrated pitching prospects in baseball—Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina.

    • Sanchez: 95 IP, 3.03 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 84 K, 18 BB
    • Medina: 119.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 133 K, 39 BB

    Sanchez could see Double-A before his 20th birthday and has legitimate ace upside, while Medina looks like a future No. 2 starter if he can further refine his off-speed stuff.

    Even after graduating Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and a handful of others, this is still one of the most talented systems in baseball.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Alex Verdugo
    Alex VerdugoMichael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 9

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Walker Buehler231
    2. OF Alex Verdugo211
    3. C Keibert Ruiz191
    4. RHP Mitchell White231
    5. OF Yusniel Diaz211
    6. RHP Yadier Alvarez211
    7. OF Jeren Kendall211
    8. OF Starling Heredia182
    9. C Will Smith222
    10. RHP Dennis Santana212

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Despite graduating Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Julio Urias and trading away Willie Calhoun over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a top-five farm system.

    Walker Buehler now earns top billing and he should get a longer leash after being brought along slowly in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He has electric stuff and legitimate ace upside, while he could also contribute out of the bullpen in the short term.

    Alex Verdugo might never have corner outfielder pop, but his hit tool is as good as any prospect in baseball and he has an absolute rocket for an arm in right field.

    Breakout seasons have vaulted Keibert Ruiz and Mitchell White ahead of Will Smith and Yadier Alvarez for the title of top catching prospect and No. 2 pitching prospect in the systemthough both of those players still earn a spot inside the top 10 as well despite down seasons.

    Yusniel Diaz might be next in line for a breakout.

    The 21-year-old landed a $15.5 million bonus in 2015 and he hit .292/.354/.433 with 23 doubles and 11 home runs between High-A and Double-A.

    Pitching prospects like Jordan Sheffield, Dustin May, Trevor Oaks and Caleb Ferguson would be prized arms in most other systems.

4. San Diego Padres

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    MacKenzie Gore
    MacKenzie GoreAlex Gallardo/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 4

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Fernando Tatis Jr.181
    2. LHP MacKenzie Gore181
    3. RHP Cal Quantrill221
    4. RHP Michel Baez211
    5. LHP Adrian Morejon181
    6. 2B/SS Luis Urias201
    7. RHP Anderson Espinoza191
    8. OF Franchy Cordero232
    9. LHP Joey Lucchesi242
    10. LHP Eric Lauer222

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Already a deep and talented system, the San Diego Padres benefited greatly from a pair of breakthrough performances.

    Fernando Tatis Jr. turned loud tools into on-field production with a .278/.379/.498 line that included 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 75 RBI and 32 stolen bases. He'll be 19 for the entirety of the 2018 season and he already has 14 games at the Double-A level.

    The other was 6'8", 220-pound right-hander Michel Baez, who signed with a $3 million bonus out of Cuba in December 2016. In 10 starts at the Single-A level, he went 6-2 with a 2.45 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, showing triple-digit heat and a biting slider.

    MacKenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill join him as top-tier pitching prospects, and Adrian Morejon earns Tier 1 status as well for his considerable upside and early results.

    A return to health for Anderson Espinoza would give an already deep pool of high-end pitching talent another elite arm, while guys like Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Logan Allen, Jacob Nix and Mason Thompson represent valuable depth.

3. New York Yankees

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    Gleyber Torres
    Gleyber TorresMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 3

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Gleyber Torres211
    2. RHP Chance Adams231
    3. OF Estevan Florial201
    4. LHP Justus Sheffield211
    5. 3B Miguel Andujar221
    6. RHP Domingo Acevedo231
    7. RHP Albert Abreu221
    8. RHP Freicer Perez212
    9. 2B Nick Solak222
    10. IF Thairo Estrada212

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Evan with Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and Jordan Montgomery graduating to the majors and Blake Rutherford, Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian, Jorge Guzman and Ian Clarkin all traded, the New York Yankees still have an elite farm system.

    Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar could both assume starting roles on the infield in short order after Starlin Castro and Chase Headley were traded this offseason. Torres is still recovering from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm and could be brought along slowly, but his future is no less bright.

    Estevan Florial might have been the biggest breakout prospect of 2017 as he hit .298/.372/.479 with 23 doubles, 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases between Single-A and High-A as a 19-year-old.

    Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield are the cream of the pitching crop, while Domingo Acevedo and Albert Abreu also earn a low Tier 1 grade.

    It's also as much about depth as it is high-end talent in this system.

    Freicer Perez, Dillon Tate, Matt Sauer and Clarke Schmidt are all Tier 1 capable pitchers, while the lower levels are ripe with high-ceiling talent on both sides of the ball.

2. Chicago White Sox

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    Michael Kopech
    Michael KopechRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 2

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Eloy Jimenez211
    2. RHP Michael Kopech211
    3. OF Luis Robert201
    4. OF Blake Rutherford201
    5. RHP Alec Hansen231
    6. RHP Dylan Cease221
    7. RHP Dane Dunning231
    8. C Zack Collins222
    9. 3B Jake Burger212
    10. RHP Carson Fulmer242

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez all exhausted their prospect status last season, yet the Chicago White Sox remain firmly entrenched at the No. 2 spot in these rankings.

    Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech both have superstar talent and could debut on the South Side at some point in 2018.

    Cuban phenom Luis Robert didn't take long to show why he was worth a $26 million bonus last May, hitting .310/.491/.536 with 12 extra-base hits in 114 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League. His stateside debut will be among the most anticipated in years.

    Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning all look like potential impact starters, while Carson Fulmer has electric stuff that still might play better out of the bullpen in the long run.

    Spencer Adams, Jordan Stephens and Zack Burdi are also intriguing arms a bit further down the rankings, while Micker Adolfo, Luis Alexander Basabe and Gavin Sheets are among the hitters to watch.

    Expect to see a steady stream of prospect talent arriving in the scene for the White Sox in the years to come. They've assembled a collection of young talent that could allow them to emerge as a perennial contender once they're ready to make that push.

1. Atlanta Braves

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    Ronald Acuna
    Ronald AcunaLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 1

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Ronald Acuna201
    2. LHP Luiz Gohara211
    3. RHP Mike Soroka201
    4. LHP Kolby Allard201
    5. RHP Kyle Wright221
    6. RHP Ian Anderson191
    7. LHP Max Fried231
    8. 3B Austin Riley201
    9. LHP Joey Wentz202
    10. OF Cristian Pache192

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Atlanta Braves were stripped of 13 prospects—including Tier 1 shortstop Kevin Maitan—as a result of the international free-agent rules violations.

    And they still have the No. 1 farm system in baseball.

    Aside from Shohei Ohtani who is admittedly as a special case, outfielder Ronald Acuna is the top prospect in baseball right now after hitting .325/.374/.522 with 60 extra-base hits in three minor league stops and then posting a .325/.414/.639 line with five doubles and seven home runs to win AFL MVP honors.

    Behind him, left-hander Luiz Gohara jumps to the head of a loaded stable of pitching prospects that includes Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Max Fried as Tier 1 guys as well as Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller, Patrick Weigel, Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson as guys worth knowing.

    Austin Riley once again looks like the future at third base after he rebounded from a disappointing 2016 season to hit .275/.339/.446 with 19 doubles and 20 home runs between High-A and Double-A as a 20-year-old.

    Even if only half of the top-tier pitching prospects pan out, the Braves will be in phenomenal shape for the foreseeable future.

    It's been a long rebuild, but you can expect to see the MLB club start to reap the rewards of those efforts in the years to come.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.