If case you haven’t been paying attention, the San Diego Padres and first-time general manager A.J. Preller have been busy this offseason.

Since the beginning of December, the Padres have added some of baseball’s premier right-handed power hitters through trades in outfielders Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, as well as catcher Derek Norris.

Amazingly, Preller was able to acquire the aforementioned players without giving up the organization’s three best prospects. However, that’s not to say the club didn’t part with a vast collection of promising young players: SS Trea Turner (will officially be traded in mid-June), LHP Max Fried, RHP Zach Eflin, RHP Joe Ross, RHP Joe Wieland, RHP Burch Smith, CF Mallex Smith, INF Jace Peterson, RHP R.J. Alvarez, 1B Jake Bauers and 3B Dustin Peterson.

Austin Hedges is still one of the better catching prospect in baseball thanks to his elite defensive chops, but his bat dragged behind the rest of his game this past season at Double-A San Antonio.

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The Colorado Rockies have quietly built one of baseball’s more exciting farm systems, as they have several impact prospects already knocking on the door of the major leagues and even better young talents on the rise.

Right-handed pitcher Jon Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball heading into 2015, while Eddie Butler still has the mid-rotation potential despite an injury-plagued campaign in 2014.

Outfielder David Dahl made up for his lost 2013 season with an impressive performance across both Class-A levels, while breakout prospects Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon and Jose Briceno put up monster numbers in the South Atlantic League.

Even Trevor Story, who tanked in his first taste of the California League last year, enjoyed a solid bounce-back campaign, finishing the season at Double-A Tulsa. Meanwhile, left-hander Tyler Anderson, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2011, turned in the best season of his career at Tulsa and pitched the Drillers deep into the postseason.


The Dodgers system stands out for its collection of potential star-caliber players as well as its overall depth, with a balance of high-ceiling and high-floor talents that should have the organization in a position to succeed for years to come.

2012 first-rounder shortstop Corey Seager enjoyed a historically good 2014 campaign, batting nearly .350 and pacing the minors in doubles while reaching Double-A Chattanooga for the first time.

Center fielder Joc Pederson, who became the first Pacific Coast League player since 1954 to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season, was included among the Dodgers’ September call-ups, and he appears to be the team’s preferred center fielder going forward. Meanwhile, outfielder Alex Verdugo, the team’s second-round pick last June, absolutely raked in his professional debut and should be ready for a full-season assignment in 2015.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention 24-year-old outfielder Scott Schebler, as his outstanding showing at Double-A last season proved that his power and overall production from 2013 wasn’t a California League fluke.

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For a system that graduated several key prospects in 2014, the Seattle Mariners still have plenty of talent left on the farm.

D.J. Peterson, the No. 13 overall pick in 2013, raked last season between the High-A and Double-A levels, eclipsing 30 home runs in his first full professional campaign. Outfielder Austin Wilson, the Mariners’ second-round pick following Peterson, showed off similar raw power during his time at Low-A Clinton, as did 2013 third-rounder Tyler O’Neill.

The team’s international crop of talent took a step forward, both individually and collectively, as outfielder Gabby Guerrero flashed his tools and upside in the California League, while 21-year-old shortstop Ketel Marte enjoyed a breakout campaign between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

The Mariners also added a pair of high school power hitters in the 2014 draft, selecting outfielder Alex Jackson in the first round (No. 6 overall) and then grabbing outfielder Gareth Morgan in the second.

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If you’re thinking the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system has a much different look today than it did a year ago, it’s probably because seven of the team’s newly ranked top 10 prospects were not even part of the organization at the onset of the 2014 season.

The Angels dealt second baseman Taylor Lindsey, the team’s top prospect last year, shortstop Jose Rondon and right-hander R.J. Alvarez to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline in exchange for closer Huston Street, who will become a free agent after the 2015 season. While the move cost the Angels three of their top prospects at the time, the club’s aggressiveness on the trade front this offseason has allowed it to at least partially replenish talent on the farm.

Most notably, the Angels acquired 23-year-old left-hander Andrew Heaney, the No. 9 overall pick in 2012, from the Los Angeles Dodgers in December in exchange for Howie Kendrick, while the team added right-hander Nick Tropeano, catcher Carlos Perez and third baseman Kyle Kubitza in smaller trades. The Angels also made headlines in early January when they signed 20-year-old Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin with an $8 million bonus.

The Angels added a trio of high-upside arms with their first three picks in last year’s draft, selecting left-hander Sean Newcomb, who could reach the majors quickly with improved control/command, with the No. 15 overall pick, prep right-hander Joe Gatto in the second round and Ole Miss righty Chris Ellis in the third.

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The Astros' system took a hit last season with the graduations of George Springer and Jonathan Singleton to everyday players in the major leagues, and the organization’s failure to sign draft picks Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix cost them two of the class’ premier high school arms. Yet, it’s still a system that’s loaded with potential impact talent, from top to bottom.

Top prospect Carlos Correa once again opened eyes with his bat last season, posting a .926 OPS with 20 stolen bases in 62 High-A games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in late June that required surgery. The 20-year-old has the makings of a future MVP candidate, and I have little doubt as to whether he’ll remain at shortstop.

Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, endured a rough year at High-A Lancaster, but the right-hander fared considerably better after a late-season promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi, and then ended his season on a positive note with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.

Outfielders Brett Phillips and Teoscar Hernandez both showcased a promising blend of power, speed and hitting ability last season at their respective levels, while Domingo Santana received his first taste of the major leagues.


Addison Russell was viewed as the only potential star in Oakland's farm system headed into 2014, but that obviously changed when he was dealt in early July to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade. Outfielder Billy McKinney, the A’s first-round pick in 2013, also was shipped out in the trade.

However, general manager Billy Beane and the A’s have done an admirable job restocking their farm system since the end of the season. In late November, the team traded All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays in return for Brett Lawrie and three prospects: right-hander Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and shortstop Franklin Barreto, who ultimately replaced Daniel Robertson as the team’s top shortstop prospect after he was dealt to the Rays.

The A’s then received another four-player package in early December, this time from the White Sox, as they traded Samardzija for infielder Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley, right-hander Chris Bassitt and first baseman Rangel Ravelo.

Oakland also gained a few other notable prospects in offseason trades, acquiring second baseman Joey Wendle from Cleveland in exchange for Brandon Moss, and then adding late-inning reliever R.J. Alvarez from San Diego as part of the Derek Norris trade.


Any conversation about the Texas Rangers farm system begins with Joey Gallo, the 21-year-old slugger who led all minor league hitters with 40 home runs in 2013 and then broke that mark this past season with 42, ultimately falling one shy of Kris Bryant’s MiLB lead.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro continued to flash his offensive upside and reached Double-A, though his defense is still very much a work in progress. 2013 draftee Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez is a high-probability right-hander who pitched better after a midseason promotion to Double-A, and he has the makings of a solid No. 3 starter with his plus fastball movement and deep arsenal. The organization added two impact arms in the Joakim Soria trade, acquiring right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel from the Detroit Tigers.

Outfielders Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams and Nomar Mazara’s tools began to play in games more consistently last season, resulting in the latter two players finishing the year in Double-A.

In this year’s draft, the Rangers stole right-hander Luis Ortiz with the No. 30 overall pick, and they also got one of the class’ best pure athletes in Ti'Quan Forbes (No. 59), as well as an underrated prep hitter in Josh Morgan (third round).


The Pittsburgh Pirates system took a hit last year with Jameson Taillon’s Tommy John surgery, but fellow right-handers Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham picked up the slack in his absence, with the former posting video-game numbers in the Florida State League.

Meanwhile, switch-hitter Josh Bell’s season was very encouraging, to say the least. Bell was a bonus baby as a second-round pick in 2011 but then struggled out of the gate with injuries the following year and was surpassed by other players in the system. Thankfully, the 22-year-old was fully healthy in 2014 and finished the season in Double-A, where he showcased the pure hitting ability that made him so highly sought-after a few years back.

Outfielder Austin Meadows’ season was delayed by a hamstring injury, but the 19-year-old made an immediate impact following his return to action, joining fellow 2013 first-round pick Reese McGuire at Low-A West Virginia in the South Atlantic League.

Beyond that, shortstop Cole Tucker and right-hander Mitch Keller, the Pirates’ first- and second-round picks from 2014, both received positive reviews for their performances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and they both will be players to follow closely next season.

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The Milwaukee Brewers’ system has been on a steep decline since the team drafted college pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley with the Nos. 12 and 15 picks, respectively, in 2011. Both pitchers were expected to make quick work of the minor leagues and become fixtures in the big league rotation. Instead, Jungmann reached Triple-A for the first time last season, while Bradley enjoyed an overdue resurgence and reached Double-A after three seasons at High-A Brevard County.

However, as bad as those picks look in hindsight, the system does have upside at a few spots. Tyrone Taylor is a toolsy center fielder with excellent contact skills and power potential, while Orlando Arcia projects as an above-average defensive shortstop with the potential to surprise people with the bat. Both players are likely ticketed for Double-A next season.

Outfielder Monte Harrison received glowing reviews this summer during his professional debut, as the former three-sport standout showcased loud tools as well as surprisingly advanced baseball skills. Meanwhile, there’s a decent chance 17-year-old infielder Gilbert Lara, the recipient of a club-record international signing bonus in July, bypasses the Dominican Summer League and makes his stateside debut.

Devin Williams, the team's top pick in the 2013 draft, is an athletic right-hander with a lightning-quick arm and tons of potential. 2014 first-rounder Kodi Medeiros is probably a reliever in pro ball but is also a lefty who can touch the mid-90s with deception and a plus slider. The Brewers also have a collection of potential midrotation arms between the High- and Double-A levels such as Taylor Williams, Tyler Wagner and Jorge Lopez, and they’re all coming off career-best performances last season.