F2814eb1958a8df50bc032c49959f7ea_crop_north
USA Today

Even though the games in spring training don't count, their value for all 30 Major League Baseball teams and every player is incalculable. 

It's the one time of the year where the established big leaguers will play on the same field as the young prospects making their way through the system, preparing to join the ranks of MLB stars. 

As we get set for the start of camp in 2014, teams are preparing to get another extended look at their future stars. Some of them will be fighting to make the 25-man roster out of camp, while others are looking to show that they are advancing faster than expected. 

Putting these talented young stars alongside big leaguers will help show how far along they are on the development curve, as well as the work that still remains before they can take that final step. 

A03868fc4dd549b2d1f23eff3888ef65_crop_north
Getty Images

The New York Yankees’ barren farm system was exposed in 2013 through injuries at the major league level, as the team was forced to use a franchise record 56 different players during the regular season.

As a perennial contender in the American League East, the organization has shown a preference for replenishing its talent over the years, opting to replace departed players with free agents or international players rather than relying on internal options.

Yet, while the philosophy is understandable given the lofty expectations associated with the franchise, it isn’t the only reason why the organization currently features a bottom-third system.

Here’s a look at several different ways in which the Yankees can begin to fix their poor farm system in the coming years.

Hi-res-f3b412340d1d5d70bcc468e7d6889ba4_crop_north
27-year-old Suk-min Yoon wants to pitch in Major League Baseball next season.
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon threw a bullpen session on Friday in front of scouts from the Orioles and Giants, according to a report from Korean news service SBS translated by Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.

The interest in Yoon doesn’t come as a surprise; last week, it was reported that four clubs had already made contract offers to the 27-year-old, who is represented by mega-agent Scott Boras.

The last player to make the jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to Major League Baseball was Dodgers’ left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2013 after posting a 3.00 ERA and 119 ERA+ in 192 innings spanning 30 starts.

So Yoon should be expected to make a Ryu-like impact next season, right?

D4997384a8b03659e9804d9467dbb1ce_crop_north
USA Today

When it comes to spring training, every fan is interested in getting an early look at baseball’s top prospects.

This year, all eyes will be on Byron Buxton, Prospect Pipeline’s No. 1-overall prospect for the 2014 season, who was invited to major league camp by the Minnesota Twins.

Without a game of experience above the High-A level, it’s extremely doubtful that the 20-year-old outfielder will make the Twins’ Opening Day roster. However, with five legitimate plus tools to his name and baseball skills that transcend his age, Buxton is poised to open eyes this spring and assert his proximity to the major leagues.

 

2013 in Review

Selected by the Twins with the second-overall pick in the 2012 draft, Buxton had a good (but not great) professional debut later that summer during which he showcased loud tools but also a lack of consistency—especially at the plate.

B7ade33814f146feda471e89dd534a4b_crop_north
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Given how the market in Major League Baseball works today, prospects have become more valuable than ever. 

Teams are finding that it costs less to promote, say, a back-end starter who will only cost $500,000 in pre-arbitration years from the minors than to give $45-50 million to a mid-rotation pitcher like Ricky Nolasco or Matt Garza. 

Because of this new market inefficiency, teams are less likely than ever to trade prospects they have multiple years of control over.

The biggest prospect traded so far this offseason is Matt Davidson, who went from Arizona to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for closer Addison Reed. I like Davidson as a third baseman with above-average power and contact issues, but he's not a star. 

A61d3a5fe326d71a8ec465aeee867fda_crop_north
AP Images

Chicks dig the long ball; at least that's what the old commercial featuring Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine told us. 

Even though Major League Baseball has shifted toward a pitching and defense game, it's still exciting to see a hitter step in the box and launch balls over the fence. After all, the best part of the All-Star festivities is the Home Run Derby. 

As we prepare for the start of spring training in February, there is a wave of hitting prospects coming through the minors who will be starring in a few of those Home Run Derby events and taking part in many All-Star games. 

Pitching is also plentiful in the minors right now, but the hitting talent that is on the way has the potential to bring offense back to the forefront. 

94e49652c5a48ec4e500224915bfcadd_crop_north
Ted S. Warren/AP Images

The arrival of generational stars Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Manny Machado in the major leagues during the 2012 season set a new standard for all future rookie classes.

Yet, in spite of the lofty expectations, the overall influx of young talent in the major leagues last season as a whole was more impressive than the now legendary 2012 class.

In fact, 30 of Prospect Pipeline’s preseason top 100 prospects for 2013 debuted in the major leagues last year, including 12 players that ranked in the top 25.

Many of those top-ranked prospects, such as Wil Myers, Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and Christian Yelich, made an immediate impact and quickly justified the hype ascribed to them at the onset of their respective professional careers. However, except for Fernandez, who to everyone’s surprise opened the season in the Marlins starting rotation after pitching at High-A in 2012, all of the aforementioned players were promoted to the major leagues later in the season.

A18d2d231330b4e347b237dc5a32e65b_crop_north
USA Today

With 15 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, most organizations have already extended invitations to their non-40-man-roster players. 

As expected, this year's crop of non-roster invitees features high-ceiling prospects such as Byron Buxton, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa and Addison Russell. 

Besides providing an opportunity for players to fine-tune their skills in anticipation of the season, spring training also offers prospects the chance to make a strong impression in front of the entire organization.

Even though there aren't expected to be many prospect-related roster battles this spring, there undoubtedly will be countless young players who improve their stock and estimated time arrival in the major leagues.

6b48ba146d61841390c23dcd5d852717_crop_north
Getty Images

It doesn’t take an industry expert to point out that the Boston Red Sox boast one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball.

Since the beginning of the 2009 season, the Red Sox have been quietly collecting a combination of high-ceiling talent and depth on the farm that now has the organization poised to compete at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

The emergence of top-billed prospects Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Webster and Brandon Workman last season marked the commencement of an influx of young talent that’s arriving at the perfect time, with the team’s core and veteran players beginning to decline or head elsewhere.

Boston’s impressive farm system extends well beyond those four players, however.

Hi-res-7900950_crop_north
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It's that magical time of year where websites and prospect writers have gathered all their information to provide readers with the list of top 100 minor leaguers who will impact Major League Baseball in the near future. 

With these lists comes a lot of praise—especially for the work that goes into it—but also a lot of backlash. Fans want to see their favorite prospects appearing on a top 100 list because it provides hope and optimism. 

Everyone has their own opinions and methods for determining why a player does or doesn't make a top 100 list.

In analyzing some of these lists, which combine scouting reports from various sources and the writer's opinion, there are a lot of things to agree with. Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton as the No. 1 player, according to MLB.com, is a no-brainer.