MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-2018 Spring Training Edition

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2018

MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-2018 Spring Training Edition

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    With spring training officially underway, 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 shortly after the new year—notably the Christian Yelich, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole trades.

    We'll likely update and tweak these rankings again before Opening Day, but the following will serve as a baseline as spring training begins.

    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 find a quick snapshot of the current state of each farm system, followed by a closer look at the one prospect who is most likely to make a significant impact in 2018 for each team.

    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

    After reaching back-to-back World Series in 2014 and '15 largely on the strength of a homegrown core, the Kansas City Royals will once again look to build from within.

    Unfortunately, they'll be starting that process with arguably the thinnest farm system in all of baseball. While there are some intriguing low-level prospects, at this point, the organization is lacking a true impact talent in the minors.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: 3B Hunter Dozier

    Trading veteran Brandon Moss should open up a starting job for Dozier at one of the corner infield spots, with Cheslor Cuthbert manning the other.

    The 26-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2016 season before injuries limited him to just 33 games last year. He has a chance to be a long-term piece, albeit one who looks more like a steady contributor than a potential star.

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

    After graduating Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith last season, there is no longer a clear-cut Tier 1 prospect in the New York Mets system.

    Teenage infielder Andres Gimenez and 2017 first-round pick David Peterson are both capable of making that leap, but for now, the farm system is made up mostly of organizational depth and wait-and-see guys in the lower levels.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Chris Flexen

    Despite the fact that the starting rotation was decimated by injuries a year ago, the Mets have yet to add any viable depth to the staff this offseason.

    That could mean that Flexenwho went 6-1 with a 1.76 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 61.1 innings in the minors last year before a midseason call-up—sees significant time in the rotation if injury strikes again.

28. San Francisco Giants

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    Steven Duggar
    Steven DuggarJennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 26

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Heliot Ramos181
    2. 1B/OF Chris Shaw242
    3. RHP Tyler Beede242
    4. OF Steven Duggar242
    5. C/1B Aramis Garcia252
    6. 3B Jacob Gonzalez192
    7. OF Sandro Fabian192
    8. LHP Garrett Williams232
    9. LHP Andrew Suarez253
    10. OF Heath Quinn223

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The San Francisco Giants traded some key pieces from an already-thin farm system to acquire aging veterans Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen—most notably infielder Christian Arroyo and outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

    With plus-plus raw power and an impressive pro debut under his belt, Heliot Ramos gives the team one legitimate top prospect. Beyond that, there's a handful of players knocking on the door for a chance in the big leagues, though there's a ceiling on their potential impact.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Steven Duggar

    Ideally, the Giants would find a left-handed hitting platoon partner for free-agent signing Austin Jackson in center field after he shined as a part-time player a year ago.

    Duggar, 24, could be the guy after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. He doesn't have the loudest tools, but with good speed and solid plate discipline, he's ready for an MLB role.

27. Chicago Cubs

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    Mark Zagunis
    Mark ZagunisLynne Sladky/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 Zagunis252

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    After churning out a steady stream of impact position players in recent years, the strength of the Chicago Cubs farm system is now on the pitching side of things.

    Adbert Alzolay and Jen-Ho Tseng are the closest to majors, while Jose Albertos has the highest ceiling of the group and is the most likely to make the leap to Tier 1 status. There's plenty of high-ceiling talent in the system; they just need to back up their tools with on-field performance before they climb any higher in the rankings. 

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Dillon Maples

    Adding Yu Darvish means the team will be less likely to call on Alzolay or Tseng for anything more than a spot start or two this coming season.

    That leaves the flame-throwing Maples as the most likely prospect to have a significant impact in 2018. The 25-year-old struck out 100 batters in 63.1 innings in the minors last year before getting his feet wet with six appearances in Chicago.

26. Seattle Mariners

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    Kyle Lewis
    Kyle LewisJohn Froschauer/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

    Another offseason of wheeling and dealing by general manager Jerry Dipoto leaves the Seattle Mariners with a thin farm system once again.

    First-round picks Kyle Lewis and Evan White are both Tier 1 talents. Braden Bishop has a high floor, and teenagers Sam Carlson and Julio Rodriguez both have the raw talent to shoot up these rankings. There's a steep drop-off behind those five guys, though.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Matthew Festa

    A seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft, Festa spent all of last season at High-A, but that doesn't mean he's not capable of reaching the majors in short order.

    He'll be 25 in March and after posting a 3.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 69.2 innings, he should be on the fast track to a spot in an MLB bullpen.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Jon Duplantier
    Jon DuplantierRob Carr/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 24

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Jon Duplantier231
    2. 1B Pavin Smith221
    3. RHP Taylor Clarke242
    4. OF Marcus Wilson212
    5. C Daulton Varsho212
    6. LHP Anthony Banda242
    7. SS Jasrado Chisholm202
    8. OF Eduardo Diaz202
    9. IF Domingo Leyba223
    10. RHP Matt Tabor193

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The emergence of Jon Duplantier and the drafting of Pavin Smith with the No. 7 overall pick last year give the Arizona Diamondbacks a pair of marquee prospects to headline the farm system.

    Others like Marcus Wilson, Daulton Varsho, Jasrado Chisholm and Eduardo Diaz have breakout potential, while pitchers Taylor Clarke and Anthony Banda are essentially ready for big league action. They've added some quality, but they're still thin on the overall quantity of prospect talent.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Jimmie Sherfy

    A 10th-round pick in 2013, Sherfy turned in a dominant season at Triple-A, posting a 3.12 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 20 saves and a 61-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49 innings of work.

    He finished the season with 10.2 scoreless innings out of the big league bullpen and will have every chance to win a spot this spring.

24. Cleveland Indians

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    Francisco Mejia
    Francisco MejiaJason Miller/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 20

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

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Cleveland Indians have two of the game's top 50 prospects in Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie, while recent draft picks Nolan Jones, Quentin Holmes and Will Benson all have significant upside as high-ceiling prep selections.

    The system is very thin on pitching talent beyond McKenzie and 2017 breakout prospect Shane Bieber, which ended up dragging down their overall rating.

          

    2018 Impact Prospect: C Francisco Mejia

    Mejia is MLB-ready with the bat after hitting .297/.346/.490 with 37 extra-base hits in 382 plate appearances at Double-A. It's simply a question of his defensive skills, which have continued to improve but are still not up to par with incumbents Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

    One way or another, the Indians will find a way to get his bat into the lineup before the 2018 season is over.

23. Baltimore Orioles

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    Chance Sisco
    Chance SiscoG Fiume/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 15

    NameAgeTier
    1. C Chance Sisco221
    2. OF Austin Hays221
    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

    Breakout seasons from Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Tanner Scott, Cedric Mullins and Alex Wells sent the Baltimore Orioles steadily climbing up these rankings last season.

    Getting the oft-injured Hunter Harvey back on track and sorting things out with recent early draft picks like Cody Sedlock, Matthias Dietz and D.L. Hall will be necessary if they hope to avoid sliding back down, since Austin Hays and Chance Sisco are both expected to exhaust their prospect eligibility early in 2018.

         

    2018 Impact Prospects: RF Austin Hays and C Chance Sisco

    All signs point to both Hays and Sisco being part of the Opening Day lineup.

    Hays rocketed through the system after going in the third round of the 2016 draft and is the clear front-runner for the starting right field job.

    Sisco, who carries a .311/.390/.425 line over five minor league seasons and has made steady progress with his receiving skills, has a clear path to the starting catcher job following the departure of Welington Castillo.

22. 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. LHP Seth Romero212
    6. OF Daniel Johnson222
    7. RHP Wil Crowe232
    8. SS Luis Garcia172
    9. OF Yasel Antuna182
    10. OF Blake Perkins213

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Washington Nationals system is as top-heavy as any in baseball, with elite prospects Victor Robles and Juan Soto as the headliners.

    Carter Kieboom, Erick Fedde and Seth Romero are all fringe Tier 1 guys, and international signings Luis Garcia and Yasel Antuna have tremendous upside. It's slim picking beyond the top nine guys on their prospect list, though, as they've been aggressive on the trade market in recent years.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Erick Fedde

    The 2017 season wasn't a great one for Fedde, who posted a 3.69 ERA and saw his strikeouts per nine innings drop from 9.1 to 7.9 in the minors before getting rocked to the tune of a 9.39 ERA in 15.1 innings in the majors.

    That said, with Joe Ross starting the season on the disabled list, he's clearly in the mix for the No. 5 starter job and could see significant time in the majors early on with a strong spring.

21. Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Chavis
    Michael ChavisJennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 23

    NameAgeTier
    1. LHP Jay Groome191
    2. 3B Michael Chavis221
    3. RHP Bryan Mata182
    4. RHP Tanner Houck212
    5. RHP Mike Shawaryn232
    6. OF Cole Brannen192
    7. RHP Alex Scherff202
    8. 1B Sam Travis242
    9. RHP Roniel Raudes202
    10. LHP Darwinzon Hernandez212

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Graduating two of the game's top prospects in Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers sent the Boston Red Sox tumbling down the organizational rankings.

    That said, the system is loaded with pitching talent. Jay Groome is the only Tier 1 guy right now, but others like Bryan Mata, Tanner Houck and Darwinzon Hernandez are all capable of making that leap in 2018. It's a top-to-bottom lack of position-player talent that keeps Boston in the No. 23 spot.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: 2B Esteban Quiroz

    Someone will need to man second base while Dustin Pedroia recovers from knee surgery.

    That someone might be Quiroz, who will be in camp as a non-roster invitee after spending the past seven seasons starring in the Mexican League. The 25-year-old hit .293/.428/.488 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs and more walks (64) than strikeouts (41) in 358 plate appearances last season.

20. Texas Rangers

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    Ronald Guzman
    Ronald GuzmanBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 21

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Leody Taveras191
    2. 2B/OF Willie Calhoun231
    3. 1B Ronald Guzman231
    4. LHP Cole Ragans202
    5. LHP Yohander Mendez232
    6. OF Bubba Thompson192
    7. RHP Hans Crouse192
    8. IF Anderson Tejada192
    9. RHP Kyle Cody232
    10. SS Chris Seise192

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Texas Rangers have one of the bigger boom-or-bust farm systems in the league, evidenced by the fact that there are five teenagers ranked among their top 10 prospects.

    Willie Calhoun has an MLB-ready bat, Leody Taveras has legitimate five-tool upside in center field and Ronald Guzman is a polished left-handed hitter. Beyond those three guys, expect to see plenty of movement in the organizational rankings based on the early returns in 2018.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Willie Calhoun

    Calhoun looks like the leading contender for the starting DH spot.

    The 23-year-old has done nothing but hit since the Los Angeles Dodgers took him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of JUCO powerhouse Yavapai College. He hit .300/.355/.572 with 27 double and 31 home runs at Triple-A last year and could be a sneaky AL Rookie of the Year contender with all the attention on Shohei Ohtani.

19. Los Angeles Angels

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    Shohei Ohtani
    Shohei OhtaniJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2017 Rank: 30

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP/OF Shohei Ohtani231
    2. OF Jo Adell181
    3. OF Jahmai Jones201
    4. SS Kevin Maitan182
    5. OF Brandon Marsh202
    6. RHP Jaime Barria212
    7. 1B Matt Thaiss222
    8. RHP Griffin Canning212
    9. C Taylor Ward242
    10. RHP Chris Rodriguez192

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Los Angeles Angels had the worst farm system in baseball when the 2017 season came to a close.

    After emerging as the surprise winners in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes and also adding Kevin Maitan following his removal from the Atlanta Braves system, they're now a middle-of-the-pack system with some legitimate top-tier talent.

    Jo Adell might be the breakout prospect of 2018—don't be surprised if he's a leaguewide top-25 guy by midseason.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani

    Who else?

    If everything goes right, he'll help anchor the starting rotation alongside Garrett Richards while showing plus power and run production skills in 200-plus plate appearances between starts.

    His debut will be among the most anticipated in recent memory.

18. Miami Marlins

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    Lewis Brinson
    Lewis BrinsonMark Brown/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 28

    NameAgeTier
    1. OF Lewis Brinson231
    2. OF Monte Harrison221
    3. RHP Sandy Alcantara221
    4. RHP Jorge Guzman222
    5. 2B Isan Diaz212
    6. LHP Braxton Garrett202
    7. LHP Trevor Rogers202
    8. 3B Brian Anderson242
    9. RHP Nick Neidert212
    10. RHP Merandy Gonzalez222

           

    Farm System Snapshot

    Trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon has brought a much-needed influx of prospect talent to what was a paper-thin Miami Marlins system.

    Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Sandy Alcantara, Jorge Guzman, Isan Diaz and Nick Neidert were all acquired this offseason among the team's aforementioned top prospects, while other additions like Magneuris Sierra, Zach Gallen and Christopher Torres just missed the cut.

    Brinson and Harrison are still the only elite-level guys, but there's far more depth.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: CF Lewis Brinson

    Brinson should be given every opportunity to break camp with the starting center field job this spring.

    The 23-year-old hit just .106 with 17 strikeouts in 55 plate appearances in his first big league action, but a .331/.400/.562 line with 39 extra-base hits in 340 plate appearances at Triple-A shows the five-tool threat has little left to prove in the minors.

17. 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 Peter Lambert202
    6. 2B/SS Garrett Hampson232
    7. RHP Yency Almonte232
    8. 3B Ryan Vilade182
    9. RHP Ryan Castellani212
    10. 3B Tyler Nevin202

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    It speaks to the overall depth of the Colorado Rockies system that they were able to graduate the likes of Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Raimel Tapia, Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland and they still reside in the middle of the pack.

    Riley Pint has a precarious hold on his Tier 1 status, and he'll need to make major strides with his command to tap into his potential. With that in mind and with Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon both knocking on the door, this system could soon be bereft of any top-tier prospects. 

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: 1B Ryan McMahon

    It's the middle of February, and the Rockies still haven't made an outside addition to replace Mark Reynolds at first base.

    That bodes well for McMahon's chances of being part of the Opening Day roster. Even if they do sign someone or decide to bring Reynolds back, his ability to play first, second and third base could open the door for him to see semiregular time in a super-utility role.

16. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Austin Meadows
    Austin MeadowsJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 18

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Mitch Keller211
    2. OF Austin Meadows221
    3. RHP Shane Baz181
    4. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes212
    5. 3B Colin Moran252
    6. OF Bryan Reynolds232
    7. SS Cole Tucker212
    8. LHP Taylor Hearn232
    9. RHP Luis Escobar212
    10. SS Kevin Newman242

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Pittsburgh Pirates traded away the two faces of their franchise when they sent Andrew McCutchen to the Giants and Gerrit Cole to the Astros.

    Yet, they were unable to land any Tier 1 prospects in those deals.

    Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds both have a chance to be solid MLB regulars, but they don't move the needle much in terms of the club's place in these rankings.

    That said, following an impressive draft haul last year and with some high-ceiling talent already in the system, this could be a system on the rise in 2018.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Austin Meadows

    Injuries have limited Meadows to 87 and 81 games the past two seasons, and his development has stalled as a result.

    Now that McCutchen is playing elsewhere, he has a clear path to a starting job. He just needs to stay on the field and demonstrate the tools that have made him one of the game's top outfield prospects since going No. 9 overall in the 2013 draft.

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 Manning201
    3. RHP Beau Burrows211
    4. RHP Alex Faedo221
    5. OF Daz Cameron212
    6. OF Christin Stewart242
    7. SS Isaac Paredes182
    8. C Jake Rogers222
    9. RHP Kyle Funkhouser232
    10. LHP Gregory Soto232

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Detroit Tigers added Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, Isaac Paredes and Jake Rogers in trade deadline deals, shortly after selecting Alex Faedo with the No. 18 overall pick.

    That has helped reshape one of the league's worst farm systems as the influx of high-end talent has shot them back in the middle of the farm system. Now it's a matter of developing those talented arms at the top of the rankings into MLB starters.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Victor Reyes

    With the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers plucked Reyes from the Diamondbacks.

    The 23-year-old hit .292/.332/.399 with 38 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases at Double-A last year and should get a chance to compete with Mikie Mahtook, Leonys Martin and JaCoby Jones for one of the two open outfield spots alongside right fielder Nicholas Castellanos.

14. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Keston Hiura
    Keston HiuraDylan Buell/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 5

    NameAgeTier
    1. 2B/OF Keston Hiura211
    2. RHP Corbin Burnes231
    3. RHP Brandon Woodruff251
    4. OF Brett Phillips231
    5. 3B Lucas Erceg222
    6. RHP Luis Ortiz222
    7. OF Corey Ray232
    8. RHP Freddy Peralta212
    9. OF Tristen Lutz192
    10. IF Mauricio Dubon232

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The move to acquire Christian Yelich cost the Milwaukee Brewers a pair of Tier 1 prospects (Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison) and another on the fringe (Isan Diaz), which is enough to send them toppling out of the top 10 in these rankings.

    That said, there's still an abundance of talent led by 2017 first-round pick Keston Hiura and breakout pitcher Corbin Burnes. While they may only have four Tier 1 guys, the Brewers system is loaded with potential MLB talent and they have had good success with unheralded prospects breaking through in recent seasons.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Brandon Woodruff

    Woodruff will be in the running for the No. 5 starter job this spring as the former 11th-round pick is a perfect example of one of those unheralded prospects mentioned earlier.

    The 25-year-old made eight starts with the big league club in the heat of a pennant race last year, holding his own to go 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 43 innings. The burly right-hander might not have ace upside, but his floor is high and he can be a valuable innings-eater.

13. Houston Astros

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    J.D. Davis
    J.D. DavisBob Levey/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 13

    NameAgeTier
    1. RHP Forrest Whitley201
    2. OF Kyle Tucker211
    3. 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez201
    4. RHP J.B. Bukauskas211
    5. RHP Rogelio Armenteros232
    6. LHP Cionel Perez212
    7. RHP David Paulino242
    8. OF Gilberto Celestino 192
    9. 3B J.D. Davis242
    10. RHP Jorge Alcala222

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Houston Astros were able to acquire Gerrit Cole without giving up any of their elite prospects. Colin Moran was blocked by Alex Bregman, while Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz had already exhausted their prospect status and Jason Martin was ranked outside the organizational top 10.

    Forrest Whitley emerged as the best pitching prospect in baseball last season, reaching Double-A in his first full season. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez look like impact everyday players, and behind them is an impressive collection of pitching talent for an organization that has done a good job cultivating it in recent years.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Rogelio Armenteros

    Signed for a modest $40,000 bonus in 2014, Armenteros has moved quickly since making his way stateside.

    Splitting last season between Double-A and Triple-A, the Cuban went 10-4 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 146 strikeouts in 123.2 innings. He doesn't have the highest ceiling, but those numbers are tough to ignore; at the very least, he can be a useful multi-inning bullpen piece in the near future.

12. Minnesota Twins

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    Fernando Romero
    Fernando RomeroBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 14

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS Royce Lewis181
    2. SS Nick Gordon221
    3. RHP Fernando Romero231
    4. LHP Stephen Gonsalves231
    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 already have the league's most impressive collection of homegrown talent and they have more reinforcements on the way.

    Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves should both be ready for the majors at some point in 2018, and even when they move on, this system still has a chance to rank high thanks to a terrific draft class last year and a ton of high-ceiling prospects in the lower levels.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: LHP Stephen Gonsalves

    While Romero has the higher ceiling of the team's two top pitching prospects, it's Gonsalves who is a bit further along in his development and will likely get the first chance to win a rotation spot.

    The 23-year-old lefty went 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 110 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He could conceivably win the No. 5 starter job out of spring training if no outside addition is made between now and then.

11. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Alex Reyes
    Alex ReyesNam Y. Huh/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 Munoz232
    9. SS Delvin Perez192
    10. C Andrew Knizner232

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The fact that the St. Louis Cardinals were able to acquire Marcell Ozuna and still have a farm system that ranks just outside the top 10 in the league is a testament to their ability to draft and develop.

    Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley, Andrew Knizner, Austin Gomber and Dakota Hudson are all capable of reaching Tier 1 status before the upcoming season is over.

    Few teams do a better job consistently funneling talent from the minors onto the big league roster, and guys like Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Yairo Munoz are next in line to reach St. Louis.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Alex Reyes

    Reyes will be handled carefully in his return from Tommy John surgery and he could actually wind up pitching in relief for the bulk of the 2018 season.

    He's had success in that role before when he first debuted in 2016, and it's not completely out of the question to think he could work his way into a key setup role before rejoining the starting staff in 2019.

10. Oakland Athletics

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

    2017 Rank: 8

    NameAgeTier
    1. LHP A.J. Puk221
    2. SS Franklin Barreto211
    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 acquired Jorge Mateo, Jesus Luzardo, Dustin Fowler and Sheldon Neuse at the trade deadline last year, along with right-hander James Kaprielian, who could quickly jump into the top 10 once he proves healthy.

    That's helped solidify what was already a deep system that has a good mix of players on the cusp of reaching the majors and lower-level prospects with considerable upside. There's not quite as much star-caliber talent as the systems ranked above them, but there's terrific overall depth.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Dustin Fowler

    Fowler hit .293/.329/.542 with 40 extra-base hits in 313 plate appearances with the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate last season before earning a call-up. Unfortunately, he ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee crashing into the wall during his MLB debut.

    The center field job is up for grabs in Oakland this spring, and as long as he's healthy, the 23-year-old is a strong candidate to win the job.

9. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Bo Bichette
    Bo BichetteBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    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 Pardinho172
    6. SS Logan Warmoth222
    7. C Danny Jansen222
    8. LHP Ryan Borucki232
    9. IF Lourdes Gurriel242
    10. RHP T.J. Zeuch222

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Two of the most dynamic prospects in baseball help vault the Toronto Blue Jays into the top 10 in these rankings, but there's plenty of prospect talent beyond Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

    First-round pick Nate Pearson was one the fastest-rising prospects in the draft, Eric Pardinho is nothing short of a prodigy, and Danny Jansen emerged as the catcher of the future with a breakout season—that's just a sampling.

    There's talent up and down the minor league ranks, and it will be interesting to see what direction this franchise takes in the next year or so.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: LHP Ryan Borucki

    Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez are locked into four spots in the Blue Jays rotation.

    The No. 5 job will be a toss-up this spring, and Borucki should be in the mix after going 8-8 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 157 strikeouts in 150.1 innings while reaching Triple-A. Good overall command and a polished three-pitch mix that includes a terrific changeup give him a high floor.

8. Cincinnati Reds

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    Hunter Greene
    Hunter GreeneJulio Cortez/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 and Hunter Greene are potentially transcendent talents, and the Cincinnati Reds farm system stretches well beyond that duo.

    A good mix of early round hits, late-round successes and a willingness to spend on the international market has given them a diverse group of prospects across all levels.

    The biggest thing moving forward in their rebuild will be developing pitching prospects into legitimate rotation staples, as they've had a tough time getting anyone to stick at the MLB level this point.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Jesse Winker

    Despite strong seasons from both Adam Duvall (100 OPS+, 31 HR) and Scott Schebler (103 OPS+, 30 HR), there's a good chance Winker will be occupying one of the corner outfield spots this season.

    His smooth left-handed stroke and advanced approach should allow him to hit for a high average with gap power. Winker showed well in his debut, hitting .298/.375/.529 with seven doubles and seven home runs in 137 plate appearances.

7. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brent Honeywell
    Brent HoneywellBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    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 Lowe202
    8. SS Wander Franco162
    9. RHP Austin Franklin202
    10. SS Lucius Fox202

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames, Christian Arroyo and Jake Bauers could all be in the majors by midseason, depending on what direction the Tampa Bay Rays decide to go in the aftermath of the Evan Longoria trade.

    For a small-market team, it's crucial to keep filtering talent through the system and onto the MLB roster, and Tampa has done a terrific job of it over the years. With a ton of low-minors talent headlined by Jesus Sanchez and 2017 international signing Wander Franco, there are more than a few players capable of stepping into the top-tier spots once that aforementioned group makes the jump to the majors.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Brent Honeywell

    Honeywell might be the most MLB-ready pitching prospect in baseball.

    With a five-pitch repertoire that includes his signature screwball, 60-grade command and a durable 6'2", 180-pound frame, he has all the tools to be the next homegrown front-of-the-rotation starter in Tampa Bay.

    The 22-year-old went 13-9 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 172 strikeouts in 136.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017.

6. Philadelphia Phillies

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    J.P. Crawford
    J.P. CrawfordRich Schultz/Getty Images

    2017 Rank: 7

    NameAgeTier
    1. SS J.P. Crawford231
    2. RHP Sixto Sanchez191
    3. 2B Scott Kingery231
    4. RHP Adonis Medina211
    5. C Jorge Alfaro241
    6. OF Mickey Moniak191
    7. OF Adam Haseley211
    8. OF Jhailyn Ortiz192
    9. RHP Franklyn Kilome222
    10. LHP JoJo Romero212

           

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Philadelphia Phillies will lose a pair of Tier 1 prospects shortly after the 2018 season starts as J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro are both expected to secure starting spots this spring.

    Still, with a pair of elite pitching prospects (Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina), a slugging second baseman on the cusp (Scott Kingery), a pair of former first-round picks who have yet to break out (Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley) and plenty of lower minors talent capable of breaking out, there's a good chance they'll be able to hold onto a top-10 spot.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: SS J.P. Crawford

    Crawford's stock was trending downward at this time a year ago, and he stumbled out of the gates in 2017 as well.

    However, he recovered to hit .279/.378/.530 over the final two months of his minor league season and then showed enough in a late-season debut that the Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres this offseason to clear a path.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Walker Buehler
    Walker BuehlerG Fiume/Getty Images

    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 Kendall221
    8. OF Starling Heredia192
    9. C Will Smith222
    10. RHP Dennis Santana212

           

    Farm System Snapshot

    Even after graduating Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Julio Urias the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a top-five farm system.

    Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo are both MLB-ready, it's just a matter of opportunity. For the time being, there are five other Tier 1 prospects behind them, but there are probably another 10 guys in the system capable of joining that group during the upcoming year.

    A free-spending approach on the international market and a terrific job drafting and developing outside of the first round has given them as deep a system as any team in baseball.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Walker Buehler

    After unloading Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir on the Braves in the Matt Kemp swap, there's no longer high-priced veteran depth in Buehler's way.

    He won't win a rotation spot out of camp, but he looks like the next man up for a rotation spot. The team could also opt to utilize him in the short term as a reliever, and he has the power stuff to serve as a key setup man for Kenley Jansen if that's the route they decide to go in 2018.

    Either way, he'll make an impact in Los Angeles this season.

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 Quantrill231
    4. RHP Michel Baez221
    5. LHP Adrian Morejon181
    6. 2B/SS Luis Urias201
    7. RHP Anderson Espinoza191
    8. OF Franchy Cordero232
    9. LHP Joey Lucchesi242
    10. LHP Logan Allen202

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    The unexpected emergence of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Michel Baez as legitimate top-tier prospects has made a good San Diego Padres farm system one of the best in baseball.

    Adding MacKenzie Gore with the No. 3 pick in the June draft added another elite pitching prospect to the likes of Cal Quantrill and Adrian Morejon, and there's no shortage of depth behind them in a system in which Dinelson Lamet came out of nowhere.

    The X-factor here is Anderson Espinoza and whether he can regain his pre-injury form.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Franchy Cordero

    If Jose Pirela regresses from his surprising 2017 form or Hunter Renfroe fails to take a step forward in his second season, it could open the door for Cordero to step into a significant role.

    The 23-year-old hit .326/.369/.603 with 21 doubles, 18 triples and 17 home runs at Triple-A last season, then followed that up with a .323/.393/.495 line that included 17 extra-base hits in 211 plate appearances in the Dominican Winter League.

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. IF Thairo Estrada212
    10. RHP Luis Medina182

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    Gleyber Torres, Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Miguel Andujar are next up for the New York Yankees as they continue to infuse the MLB roster with dynamic young talent.

    What will become of the farm system when those four players move on?

    Their system isn't quite as deep as the two teams ranked ahead of them, but guys like Freicer Perez, Thairo Estrada, Luis Medina, Nick Solak, Dillon Tate, Matt Sauer and Clarke Schmidt are all capable of taking that next step.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: 3B Miguel Andujar

    Torres and Andujar are both in a position to compete for starting spots in the infield this spring, and both could wind up seeing 500 plate appearances if everything breaks right.

    While there's no question that Torres has the higher ceiling and all the makings of a future star, Andujar might be the more MLB-ready of the two at this point and seems like a better bet to be on the Opening Day roster.

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. RHP Alec Hansen231
    5. OF Blake Rutherford201
    6. RHP Dylan Cease221
    7. RHP Dane Dunning231
    8. C Zack Collins232
    9. 3B Jake Burger212
    10. RHP Carson Fulmer242

          

    Farm System Snapshot

    GM Rick Hahn has done a sensational job building up the Chicago White Sox farm system and putting them in position to really build something special in the years to come.

    Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Blake Rutherford, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning were all acquired in trades, and this list doesn't include Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who exhausted their prospect eligibility last year.

    Just off the organizational top 10 are guys like Spencer Adams, Gavin Sheets, Zack Burdi and Micker Adolfo, who would all be among the headliners in most other systems.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: RHP Carson Fulmer

    With Carlos Rodon likely to start the season on the disabled list, there's an open spot in the Opening Day rotation.

    Fulmer looks like the front-runner for the job after going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 23.1 innings last season. There are still concerns that his max-effort delivery and spotty command will land him in the bullpen, but he has the stuff to make a significant impact in whatever role he fills.

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 Fried241
    8. 3B Austin Riley201
    9. LHP Joey Wentz202
    10. OF Cristian Pache192

         

    Farm System Snapshot

    The Atlanta Braves have the largest collection of Tier 1 prospect and the deepest overall farm system in baseball, and it's not particularly close.

    A case can be made for Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint both being Tier 1 prospects; neither cracked the top 10. Kyle Muller, Alex Jackson, Patrick Weigel and A.J. Minter deserve attention as well.

    The future of the Braves' rebuild might hinge on the development of those six Tier 1 pitching prospects. If they can develop three of those guys into legitimate long-term rotation pieces, we could once again be looking at a perennial contender in Atlanta.

         

    2018 Impact Prospect: OF Ronald Acuna

    Service time consideration will likely mean Acuna starts the season in Triple-A, but he won't be there for long.

    The game's most dynamic offensive prospect hit .325/.374/.522 with 31 doubles, 21 home runs and 44 stolen bases and reached Triple-A as a teenager. He'll be the odds-on favorite for NL Rookie of the Year honors and could be hitting in the middle of the order alongside Freddie Freeman before his 21st birthday.

          

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.