Re-Ranking All 30 MLB Farm Systems Post-Trade Deadline

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterAugust 1, 2014

Re-Ranking All 30 MLB Farm Systems Post-Trade Deadline

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    As we put a final bow on the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline, it is a great time to look at the state of the farm systems.

    The passing of the deadline, which occurred at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, allows us to do an examination of the job MLB clubs have done developing the talent already in the pipeline. It also gives us a look at how some the trades—even though most of Thursday's deals involved big leaguers—impact the farm system rankings

    Our rankings are based on two criteria: impact potential and depth. Since a team may have more of one than the other, it's therefore necessary to have more than a couple players who project as quality big leaguers in order to have a good farm system. 

    Also, even though there are young players in the major leagues who still have prospect eligibility (fewer than 50 innings pitched or 130 at-bats), they were not considered on their team's ranking. 

    With all that being said, here is an updated ranking of all 30 farm systems after the trade deadline.

30. Detroit Tigers

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: RHPs Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel (to Rangers); SS Willy Adames (to Rays)

    The Tigers have spent the last few years putting all their resources into the MLB club and ignoring the farm system. Therefore, while they’re winning at the highest level, the organization’s lack of impact talent and depth on the farm puts a lot of pressure on its big league roster to stay healthy. 

    It certainly didn’t help the state of Detroit’s system that it traded arguably its top three prospects before the deadline, with right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel going to the Rangers in the Joakim Soria deal, and highly touted, 18-year-old shortstop Willy Adames going to Tampa Bay as part of the three-team trade for David Price.

    That being said, center fielder Derek Hill, the team's top draft pick (No. 23 overall) in 2014, gives the Tigers system some much-needed upside. Second baseman Devon Travis is having a strong campaign in Double-A after missing a good chunk of the first half with an injury. However, he lacks a clear path to playing time in the major leagues due to the presence of Ian Kinsler at the keystone.

    Lastly, left-handed slugger Steven Moya has made strides this season at Double-A Bowie, with a .274 average, .859 OPS and 27 home runs in 105 games.

29. Los Angeles Angels

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: RHP Trevor Gott from Padres

    Losses: 2B Taylor Lindsey, SS Jose Rondon and RHP R.J. Alvarez (to Padres)

    The Angels system recently took a hit when the team dealt Taylor Lindsey, Jose Rondon and R.J. Alvarez to the Padres in exchange for Huston Street.

    The few players the Angels have who projected as solid to average regulars aren't performing well for the current team, especially third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who hasn't hit well for the last two years and currently sports a .629 OPS through 102 Double-A games.

    The Angels did well with their first two picks in this year’s draft, selecting left-hander Sean Newcomb (No. 15 overall), who could reach the majors quickly with improved control/command, and high-ceiling right-hander Joe Gatto in the second round. 

    With few bright spots in the system, this summer has been big for the development of left-hander Hunter Green, the team's first pick last year, and 17-year-old left-hander Ricardo Sanchez, who is currently pitching in the Rookie-level Arizona League.

28. Oakland Athletics

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: SS Addison Russell and OF Billy McKinney (to Cubs)

    Addison Russell was the only impact talent in Oakland's farm system, but that obviously is no longer the case after he was dealt to the Cubs earlier this month in the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade. Last year's top draft pick, outfielder Billy McKinney, was also shipped out in the trade.

    As a result of the deal, virtually all of the A’s top talent is in A-ball or lower right now, so don't expect to see big results soon.

    Right-handed hurler Raul Alcantara is just 21 and a 6'3", 225-pound man with a plus fastball-changeup combination, while third baseman Renato Nunez is enjoying a breakout campaign with a .287/.347/.556 batting line and 26 home runs in 97 games at High-A Stockton.

    Similarly, shortstop Daniel Robertson has emerged as the team’s new top prospect thanks to an .857 OPS and 42 extra-base hits in 105 games at Stockton.

    Injuries have also impacted Oakland's system this season, as Alcantara, Michael Ynoa and Bobby Wahl have all missed time so far in 2014.

27. San Francisco Giants

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: LHP Edwin Escobar and RHP Heath Hembree (to Red Sox)

    The Giants are so pitching-heavy—even after trading Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree to the Red Sox for Jake Peavy—that you wonder where the offense is going to come from in the future. On top of that, the arms they do have are either back-end-starter types or don't throw enough strikes to reach their ceiling. 

    Right-handed hurler Kyle Crick has the highest ceiling in the system, but his control issues have continued this season at Double-A Richmond, evidenced by his 5.7 walks-per-nine-innings rate in 82.2 innings. He still misses plenty of bats (10.8 K/9), but his lack of feel and overall consistency is a legitimate concern.

    Clayton Blackburn, also a right-hander, has the highest probability to reach his ceiling in the big leagues, as he has good command and an above-average fastball-curveball combination. And don’t sleep on hard-throwing right-handers Keury Mella and Luis Ysla.

    The Giants went after Vanderbilt righty Tyler Beede in the first round (No. 14 overall) of the draft, and, unfortunately, his lack of control/command puts him in the same boat as Crick. Dylan Davis is a good college hitter to get in the third round. The right-handed batter has power and a good approach, but his lack of bat speed and long swing could prevent him from tapping into that power. 

    Christian Arroyo, who was an overdraft in the first round last year, has good bat speed and plate coverage but not enough power to profile at second base, which is where he will end up. Andrew Susac is technically the team's best position-player prospect as a catcher with above-average power, but his path is blocked by Buster Posey for the foreseeable future.

26. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Anthony Banda (to Diamondbacks)

    The Brewers system has been on a steep decline since they drafted college pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley with the Nos. 12 and 15 picks in 2011, respectively. Jungmann finally made it to Triple-A this season, where he’s posted a 5.13 ERA in 66.2 innings, while Bradley has enjoyed an overdue a resurgent campaign between the High- and Double-A levels.

    However, as bad as those picks look in hindsight, the system does have upside at a few spots. Outfielder Tyrone Taylor is a toolsy athlete who can play center field and has above-average raw power, though it mostly comes in the form of doubles at the present.

    Milwaukee took a step in the right direction in this year’s draft, targeting players with a high ceiling even though they're raw and will take a long time to reach their potential.

    Kodi Medeiros (No. 12 overall) is probably a reliever in pro ball but is also a lefty who can touch the mid-90s with deception and a plus slider. Monte Harrison and Jacob Gatewood are exceptional athletes with big-time potential with the bat. Harrison needs reps and to start using his lower half in his swing, while Gatewood has to prove capable of actually shortening his swing and not trying to kill everything. 

    Devin Williams, the team's top pick last year, is a projectable right-hander with a power fastball. Victor Roache has intriguing power as long as he can develop some kind of approach and improve his contact rate. Orlando Arcia projects well as a leadoff hitter with a good glove at shortstop. 

    However, after dealing Mitch Haniger on Thursday, all of the Brewers’ talent is in the lower levels of the minors right now and has a huge gap between the present and future.

25. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: SS Willy Adames from Tigers

    Losses: N/A

    They Rays started out at a disadvantage this year with former top-prospect right-hander Taylor Guerrieri having Tommy John surgery last July. Meanwhile, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee is yet to regain his form from previous years after missing most of 2013 with a knee injury.

    Last year's first-round picks, catcher Nick Ciuffo and right-hander Ryne Stanek, are still getting acclimated to professional baseball. It's going to be a process bringing this system back into the top tier, but the front office is always aggressive drafting and making deals to add talent.

    First-round pick Casey Gillaspie (No. 20 overall) has power and a good eye but not much else. Cameron Varga is almost 20 years old as a high school right-hander and battled arm problems this spring prior to the draft. Fourth-round pick Blake Bivens has the highest ceiling among the draftees with a plus fastball-curveball combination and some pitchability.

    That said, the team did land a potential impact player in 18-year-old shortstop Willy Adames on Thursday from the Tigers in the Price trade. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ranked as the Rays’ top prospect by the end of the season.

    Basically, the Rays system is a shell of what it was just a few years ago.

24. Atlanta Braves

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: C Victor Caratini (to Cubs)

    The Braves system may be weak, but the cupboard is far from bare with 20-year-old second baseman Jose Peraza showing exciting tools and an advanced approach this season between High- and Double-A.

    Right-hander Lucas Sims isn't missing bats at High-A Lynchburg but has the control to get hitters out, while former top prospect J.R. Graham hasn’t looked the same since suffering a shoulder injury in 2013. Hard-throwing righty Mauricio Cabrera has been limited to just 24.1 innings this season, 20.1 of which have come at Lynchburg, after spending considerable time on the disabled list.

    2014 first-round pick Braxton Davidson (No. 32 overall) has huge raw power and a short swing to make it play. He's also a polished high school hitter who displays good pitch recognition and should have no problem projecting as a first baseman if that's where he ends up due to lack of foot speed.

    The Braves also lost a quality prospect on Thursday when they dealt catcher Victor Caratini, the team’s second-round pick in 2013, to the Cubs in exchange for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio.

23. Miami Marlins

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: IF/OF Enrique Hernandez and OF Austin Wates from Astros

    Losses: OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran and RHP Francis Martes (to Astros)

    Miami's system is in much better shape now, especially with the addition of flame-throwing righty Tyler Kolek (No. 2 overall pick in 2014), than it was a few years ago. However, the system as a whole took a step backward Thursday when it lost outfielder Jake Marisnick and third baseman Colin Moran (No. 6 overall pick in 2013) in a trade with the Astros.

    Left-hander Andrew Heaney, who struggled during a stint in the major leagues last month, doesn't have an overpowering package but commands three above-average pitches so well that he could be a No. 3 starter. Justin Nicolino is a lefty with a plus changeup, good delivery and advanced pitchability, while Trevor Williams was a steal in last year's draft and is throwing well in High-A, with a 2.71 ERA in 113 innings.

    And finally, 2012 third-rounder Avery Romero is hitting up a storm this season, with an impressive .328/.368/431 batting line and 28 extra-base hits in 89 games across both A-ball levels.

22. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    Graduating Marcus Stroman to the big leagues put a dent in Toronto's system, and it’s only a matter of time until Aaron Sanchez, who’s currently working out of the Blue Jays bullpen, comes off the board too.

    Getting Jeff Hoffman with the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s draft, assuming he makes it all the way back from Tommy John surgery, is like adding a top-five draft talent at a bargain price.

    Max Pentecost, the No. 11 overall pick, was viewed as the best catcher in the draft class with good potential on both sides of the ball. The Blue Jays continued to shoot for ceiling throughout the draft, as they tend to do, with Sean Reid-Foley and Nick Wells in the second and third rounds, respectively.

    Daniel Norris, a second-round pick in 2011, is throwing strikes and moving up the ladder in a hurry, with a 2.45 ERA and 117-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 95.1 innings between High-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire.

    The Blue Jays system also stands out for its collection of raw but toolsy prospects, a crop of talent highlighted by outfielder Dalton Pompey, and shortstops Franklin Barreto and Dawel Lugo. However, except for Pompey, all the aforementioned prospects are housed at the lower levels.

21. New York Yankees

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: C/1B/OF Peter O'Brien (to Diamondbacks)

    As you can see watching the MLB team, especially in light of injuries to starters CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, New York's pitching depth in the minors is terrible.

    Undersized right-hander Luis Severino (6'0", 195 lbs) has emerged as the Bronx Bombers’ top prospect this season, as the 20-year-old has dazzled with a 2.36 ERA and 118-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 103 innings across three levels (including Double-A Trenton). Meanwhile, left-hander Ian Clarkin, last year's first-round selection, has made strides this season while pitching at Low-A Charleston.

    To make matters worse, the Yankees’ top position players have struggled to adjust to advanced pitching this season, whether it be Gary Sanchez/Tyler Austin/Mason Williams at Double-A, Greg Bird at High-A or Gosuke Katoh at Low-A. Right-handed slugger Peter O’Brien also would be in the mix, despite his 33 home runs across two levels this season, had he not been traded to the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

    That being said, the organization has seen several prospects make developmental strides this season, including outfielders Aaron Judge and Jake Cave, second baseman Robert Refsnyder and catcher Luis Torrens.

20. Chicago White Sox

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The White Sox landing left-hander Carlos Rodon—the top talent and projected No. 1 overall pick when the season started—with the No. 3 pick was an absolute gift. However, in all honesty, I like the organization’s selection of Spencer Adams, a first-round talent, in the second round with the No. 44 overall pick. 

    Unfortunately, the South Siders don’t have much in the pitching pipeline, even with the additions of Rodon and Adams.

    Chris Beck is a command/control right-hander with stuff that will get crushed at the highest level; Tyler Danish likely projects better as a reliever due to a sidearm delivery, but the uniqueness of his delivery and stuff could lead to unexpected success as a starter; right-hander Francellis Montas sits in the upper 90s with his fastball and is incredibly difficult to barrel.

    Outfielder Courtney Hawkins, the No. 13 overall pick in 2012, has rebounded well from an overaggressive assignment to High-A last year with an .822 OPS and 17 home runs back at the level. However, he’s also struck out 107 times in 98 games.

    The success and development of the team’s middle infielders this season has been a bright spot, as 2013 first-rounder shortstop Tim Anderson has blown past expectations at High-A Winston-Salem, while second baseman Micah Johnson is knocking on the door of the major leagues.

19. Seattle Mariners

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: RHP Stephen Kohlscheen (to Padres)

    Seattle’s 2014 draft was good because it had a top-10 pick and was able to get the guy it wanted all along, catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson at No. 6 overall, but its system has been hit hard with graduations and injuries in the last 12 months. 

    Taijuan Walker dealt with a shoulder injury early in the season and since has bounced between the minor and major leagues. The 21-year-old right-hander’s mechanics have looked off this season, as he’s remained more upright through the finish in his delivery and appears to be putting more stress on his arm. 

    D.J. Peterson, last year's top pick, has raked this season between the High- and Double-A levels, with a .311/.368/.570 batting line, 23 home runs, 29 doubles and 89 RBI in 94 games.

    A lot of the top talent after Walker, Peterson and the perpetually injured left-hander James Paxton is in the lower levels of the minors with years to go before reaching the major leagues.

    However, the team’s international crop looks strong as usual, with outfielder Gabby Guerrero, nephew of Vladimir, tapping into his enormous potential, and shortstop Ketel Marte holding his own this season as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

    However, pitching continues to be the system’s greatest strength thanks to promising young arms such as Tyler Pike, Luiz Gohara, Victor Sanchez and Edwin Diaz, all four of whom are under the age of 21 and have considerable upside.

18. Washington Nationals

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: IF Zach Walters (to Indians)

    Everything in the Nats system starts with Lucas Giolito, who has emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect in the minor leagues this year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

    The 20-year-old right-hander has had his workload monitored at Low-A Hagerstown, but that hasn’t prevented him from posting a 2.17 ERA, .181 batting average against and a 10.2 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate in 83 innings.

    The team’s former top pitching prospect, hard-throwing right-hander A.J. Cole, hasn’t missed bats this year as he did in previous seasons, but his mid-90s fastball and improving curveball give him two weapons that could have him working out of the Nats bullpen in September.

    The Nationals, likely encouraged by the success with Giolito, took UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde in the first round (No. 18 overall) of this year’s draft. Fedde, 21, was viewed as a top-10 talent in the draft before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The organization also added the best high school catcher, Jakson Reetz, in the third round.

    Outfielder Brian Goodwin continues to frustrate by getting on base against Triple-A pitching while struggling to hit for average or any kind of power. On the other hand, toolsy center fielder Michael Taylor and Steve Souza both have turned in breakout performances at Double- and Triple-A, respectively.

    The Nats system doesn’t have much depth at the present, but the talent at the top remains very strong and can make up for some deficiencies down the list. 

17. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    It’s been a successful year on the farm for the Phillies.

    J.P. Crawford, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was lauded for his offensive potential and ability to remain at shortstop, but no one could have predicted how advanced the hit tool would be when he got in pro ball.

    The 19-year-old has shot up the rankings this season behind a .285/.379/.390 batting line, 25 extra-base hits, 17 stolen bases and a 59-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 97 games between both A-ball levels.

    Unfortunately, Crawford's overwhelming success has come at the expense of third baseman Maikel Franco's bat, which has been disappointing this year after a monster 2013 campaign.

    However, after struggling through the first half of the season as a 21-year-old with his first taste of Triple-A pitching, Franco appears to have finally turned the corner this month with a .343/.371/.596 batting line, 15 extra-base hits (four homers) and 23 RBI in 25 games.

    Tools are always important to the Phillies in the draft, which is why they’ve targeted Crawford, Cord Sandberg and Dylan Cozens in recent years. Between those players and the aforementioned arms, the Phillies have an underrated exciting collection of talent, though the majority of their top prospects are below the Double-A level.

    In terms of pitching, Aaron Nola, the No. 7 overall pick from this year’s draft, features superb command and feel for everything he throws, while his natural deception and difficult arm angle should help his stuff play up against advanced hitters. The Phillies also grabbed Cal Poly left-hander Matt Imhof in the second round, a high-floor college arm who’s loaded with deception and has some physical projection left. 

16. Cleveland Indians

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: OF James Ramsey from Cardinals; IF Zach Walters from Nationals

    Losses: N/A

    The best way to describe Cleveland's farm system right now is quietly impressive. It's not a top-15 system at the moment, but the ceilings of players in lower levels could improve the franchise significantly over the next couple of years. 

    Francisco Lindor is an absolute wizard with the glove, and after the Tribe traded Asdrubal Cabrera on Thursday, it’s seemingly only a matter of time until the 20-year-old takes over as the team’s everyday shortstop.

    Last year's top pick, Clint Frazier (No. 5 overall), has struggled to adjust to full-season ball with a 29.3 percent strikeout rate in 406 plate appearances. However, the 19-year-old, red-headed outfielder has shown improvement over the last two months, with a .281/.370/.481 batting line, seven home runs and a 45-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past 35 games.

    As for this year’s draft, the Indians added one of the top college bats in Bradley Zimmer (No. 21 overall), high-probability left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 31), polished college hitter Mike Papi (No. 38) and a projectable right-hander in Grant Hockin (No. 61). 

    They also added one of the best power bats from the high school class in Bobby Bradley (third round), who is batting .369/.454/.631 with 16 extra-base hits (five home runs) and 31 RBI through his first 25 professional games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.

    The Indians also have received breakout performances this season from several position prospects, including outfielder Tyler Naquin (.795 OPS in Double-A), high-ceiling catcher Francisco Mejia (.726 OPS in Short Season New York-Penn League) and 22-year-old shortstop Erik Gonzalez (.774 OPS, 18 SB between High- and Double-A).

    The organization also did a good job getting hitters with realistic MLB futures at the trade deadline, as it received outfielder (and former first-round pick) James Ramsey from the Cardinals in the Justin Masterson deal, and infielder Zach Walters from the Nats in exchange for Cabrera.

    Unfortunately, the Indians’ crop of pitching prospects isn’t nearly as impressive or projectable as their young hitters. Overall, the Tribe’s top arms are back-end types like Cody Anderson, or guys who lack the command/control profile to stick in a rotation (Mitch Brown, Dylan Baker, Dace Kime).

15. Baltimore Orioles

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: N/A

    Losses: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (to Red Sox)

    The Orioles put themselves at a disadvantage this year by forfeiting their first two picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. As a result, the organization was only able to add system depth. However, that doesn't significantly hurt its ranking, nor does the graduation of Kevin Gausman to the major leagues.

    Right-hander Hunter Harvey looked like one of the great steals from the 2013 draft, as the 19-year-old opened eyes at Low-A Delmarva by posting a 3.18 ERA and a 106-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 87.2 innings. However, the young right-hander’s impressive campaign came to an abrupt end earlier this week when he was shut down for the season with an elbow injury.

    Meanwhile, top prospect Dylan Bundy continues to work his way back from 2013 Tommy John surgery, and if all goes as planned with his future rehab outings in the low minors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 21-year-old back in the major leagues come September.

    The Orioles were forced to part on Thursday with 21-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, the organization’s top left-handed pitching prospect, as they sent him to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for reliever Andrew Miller.

    However, beyond Bundy and Harvey, the only real standout in the Orioles’ system is catcher Chance Sisco, the team’s second-round selection in the 2013 draft. This season, Sisco, 19, is batting .345/.414/.452 with 26 extra-base hits and 50 RBI in 87 games.

14. Cincinnati Reds

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    Cincinnati's farm system is exciting thanks to the sheer volume of hard-throwing right-handers—led by 21-year-old Robert Stephenson—and hitters with projectable power. It's not a particularly balanced system due to a lack of infield depth, but there are numerous players with realistic futures in the major leagues.

    Outfielder Jesse Winker is the best hitter in the system, boasting a sweet left-handed swing with an excellent approach and above-average raw power. He could be ready to take over in left field at some point next season

    The team’s top draft pick this year, right-hander Nick Howard (No. 19 overall), was a late riser after showing three above-average pitches this spring and his usual impressive athleticism. Alex Blandino is an advanced hitter who will have no problem sticking at second or third base in pro ball, though the Reds will try to keep him at shortstop for as long as possible. 

    Right-hander Michael Lorenzen has the power fastball, pitchability and solid control to project well as a mid-rotation starter, though this is just his first full season as a starter.

    A lot of the Reds' top arms lack the command to profile as starters, but Nick Travieso, Jackson Stephens, Ben Lively and Amir Garrett still have plenty of developmental time ahead of them.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: Acquired C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien from Yankees; OF Zach Borenstein from Angels; OF Mitch Haniger, LHP Anthony Banda from Brewers

    Losses: N/A

    The Diamondbacks have done a good job adding impact pitching to their system, even if some of it has come at the expense of position players.

    It was widely believed that top prospect Archie Bradley would spend most of the season in the major leagues, but an elbow injury in late April cut into his development and forced the organization to reassess his timeline.

    Braden Shipley, the No. 15 pick in last year's draft, already has proven to be a first-round steal with a plus fastball-curveball combination, impressive athleticism and better than expected command. The team’s compensation-round A pick from last year, right-hander Aaron Blair, has also been impressive this season, with a 4.13 ERA and 10.5 K/9 rate in 126.1 innings across three levels.

    The Diamondbacks landed another potential steal this year when Touki Toussaint fell in their lap at No. 16 overall, followed by ultra-athletic outfielder Marcus Wilson in comp-round B.

    21-year-old Brandon Drury, who was acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton deal, has a good eye at the plate, makes a lot of contact and has grown into some power. The same applies to 23-year-old third baseman Jake Lamb, who is batting .318/.399/.551 with 54 extra-base hits (14 home runs) and 79 RBI this season in 103 games at Double-A Mobile.

    The Diamondbacks also have quality talent at the lower levels of the minors in Stryker Trahan, who was moved from behind the plate to the outfield early in the season, and toolsy shortstop Sergio Alcantara, who has an incredibly advanced approach for an 18-year-old.

12. Kansas City Royals

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Royals had a top-10 system headed into the draft but didn't really do much to improve it. First-round pick Brandon Finnegan (No. 17 overall) has reliever written all over him with a delivery that requires a lot of effort and inconsistent command, but at the same time, there’s something to be said for his ability to miss bats.

    Foster Griffin is a low-ceiling high school left-hander who throws strikes and mixes his pitches well. 

    What makes the system so good is the work done by the scouting and development staff in recent years. Kyle Zimmer, should he ever stay healthy, has No. 1-2 starter upside with athleticism, command and a double-plus fastball-curveball combination. 

    Sean Manaea is still adjusting to pro ball with 3.94 ERA over 19 starts at High-A Wilmington, but the left-hander also has 102 strikeouts in 82.1 innings (11.2 K/9) on the year. On the other end of the spectrum is 21-year-old Christian Binford, whose plus command has already led to a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

    As for hitters, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is still growing into his power and, amazingly, is still young for the Double-A level at 21. Raul Mondesi is just 19 years old, but he’s playing in High-A and is loaded with tools. Bubba Starling, meanwhile, continues to struggle, with a .223/.302/.361 batting line and a 120-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 102 games at Wilmington.

11. Texas Rangers

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: RHPs Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel from Tigers

    Losses: N/A

    No team bets on tools in the draft and international market more than the Rangers. This strategy does lead them to missing a lot, but it also pays huge dividends when the player hits.

    Enter Joey Gallo, a 2012 draftee with other-worldly power but no approach. Well, it’s now two years later and he's currently in Double-A and leading the minor leagues with 37 home runs through 102 games. Gallo's always going to swing and miss a lot, but the fact that he's walking more and still hitting bombs at an alarming rate bodes well for his future. 

    Texas has had to dip into the prospect pool sooner than expected because of all the injuries at the MLB level, promoting Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas, but it still has a large collection of talent in the minor leagues.

    Catcher Jorge Alfaro has star potential behind the plate; Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez is a high-probability right-hander who should be in Double-A by the end of the summer; Lewis Brinson and Nick Williams’ tools are starting to play in games more consistently.

    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). The organization recently added two impact arms in the Soria trade, acquiring right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel from the Tigers.

    It's always an exciting system to watch, even if the majority of Texas' best prospects are in the lower levels of the minors.

10. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: LHP Corey Littrell from Red Sox

    Losses: OF James Ramsey (to Indians)

    The once-stocked Cardinals system isn’t as strong as it was a year ago, though that was expected after the team graduated Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.

    Outfielder Stephen Piscotty didn't come into the system with a lot of hype but has really turned into an excellent baseball player—dude can flat-out hit. Carson Kelly, 20, isn't likely to stay behind the plate despite moving to the position last fall, but there's enough raw power in the bat to profile at third base. 

    The system is also loaded with high-ceiling arms in the lower levels of the minors. Alex Reyes, a 19-year-old right-hander, has the best arm in the group behind a projectable 6'3", 185-pound frame, but he’s still learning how to harness his outstanding stuff and throw strikes.

    Southpaw Marco Gonzales, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, has breezed through the minor leagues thanks to plus command and a near-elite changeup. Meanwhile, Rob Kaminsky, another undersized left-hander (5'11"), has polish and a hammer breaking ball to complement an above-average fastball. 

9. Colorado Rockies

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Rockies have a sneaky-good system in that the top-level talent, with the exception of Jon Gray and Eddie Butler, is so far away that it's hard to put a definite label on it at the moment. 

    Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is arguably the top right-handed pitching prospect in baseball. David Dahl has come back from his lost 2013 season and is playing well, though his home park in Asheville, North Carolina, has a reputation of inflating offensive numbers with a short porch in right field.

    Meanwhile, Trevor Story is enjoying a solid bounce-back year after a dismal showing at High-A Modesto last season.

    Shortstop Rosell Herrera and outfielder Raimel Tapia could end up being the top two prospects in the system by this time next year, as they are loaded with tools and show quickly developing secondary skills. 

    Lastly, the Rockies’ 2014 draft picks, first-rounder Kyle Freeland (No. 8 overall) and comp-rounder Forrest Wall, aren't high-ceiling talents but project to be quality big leaguers for a long time.

8. San Diego Padres

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: RHP Stephen Kohlscheen from Mariners; RHP Rafael De Paula from Yankees; 2B Taylor Lindsey, SS Jose Rondon and RHP R.J. Alvarez from Angels

    Losses: N/A

    The San Diego Padres farm system doesn't command the same attention as a lot of systems in the top 10, but with some of the best depth among all 30 teams, it definitely should. 

    Austin Hedges is the best catching prospect in baseball with elite defensive tools and the ability to hit for average and modest power. Rymer Liriano has returned from Tommy John surgery to light up Double-A this season, while 2013 first-rounder Hunter Renfroe has already clubbed 20 home runs—while posting an .872 OPS—in 100 games between the High- and Double-A levels.

    There are questions about Trea Turner’s (No. 13 overall pick in 2014) bat, but he can play shortstop and has the plus speed to offer value on the bases. Outfielder Michael Gettys was an excellent value in the second round, as he's loaded with tools and possesses top-flight athleticism, but is very, very raw and will need considerable time to develop in the minor leagues.

    Beyond the 2014 draftees, there's just as much depth in this system as anywhere, especially after acquiring middle infielders Taylor Lindsey and Jose Rondon from the Angels in the Huston Street trade. Furthermore, the team has a ton of pitching on the way, as Matt Wisler, Max Fried, Casey Kelly, Joe Ross and the recently acquired Rafael De Paula (from the Yankees) all are expected to debut within the next two years.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Dodgers system stands out for its mix of projectable depth and potential star-caliber talent. In fact, it’s so balanced with high-ceiling/floor position players that the organization should be in a position to succeed for years to come.

    In terms of arms, soon-to-be 18-year-old left-hander Julio Urias, Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and 2014 first-round pick Grant Holmes give the Dodgers an impressive crop of arms to build around. Even Alex Verdugo, the team's second-round pick, who is beginning his career as an outfielder, projects favorably as a high-floor pitcher if the whole position-player thing doesn’t work out.

    Meanwhile, shortstop Corey Seager and center fielder Joc Pederson appear poised to be impact players at the highest level, and they’re both likely to reach the major leagues during the 2015 season.

    Now all the Dodgers have to do is find room for some of these guys at the MLB level. 

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Pirates' ranking has taken a slight hit because Jameson Taillon is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Luckily, fellow right-handers Tyler Glasnow (1.74 ERA, 10.8 K/9 in 88 IP) and Nick Kingham (3.11 ERA in 127.1 IP) have picked up the slack in his absence.

    Overall, it's telling how deep Pittsburgh's system is that it can have a top-tier prospect such as Taillon take a step back and still remain in the top 10. 

    The most encouraging sign is switch-hitter Josh Bell's performance. He was the big bonus baby as a second-round pick in 2011, but he struggled out of the gate with injuries and got surpassed by other players in the system.

    The 21-year-old is healthy now and showing the hitting ability that made him sought after three years ago, with a .326/.377/.472 batting line and 35 extra-base hits in 99 games between High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona.

    Reese McGuire, one of Pittsburgh's two first-round picks in 2013, is showing a mature approach at the plate in Low-A and playing his usual solid defense behind the dish. Meanwhile, 19-year-old outfielder Austin Meadows is putting up solid numbers at Low-A West Virginia after missing the first half with a hamstring injury.

5. Boston Red Sox

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: LHP Edwin Escobar and RHP Heath Hembree from Giants; LHP Eduardo Rodriguez from Orioles

    Losses: LHP Corey Littrell (to Cardinals)

    Despite graduating Xander Bogaerts to the big leagues, the Red Sox still have one of the finest collections of talent in the sport thanks to an aggressive draft strategy and outstanding player development.

    Mookie Betts, the diminutive second baseman/outfielder, reached the major leagues in June after a red-hot start in the minor leagues, and catcher Blake Swihart isn’t far away from being MLB-ready, either.

    Left-hander Henry Owens still has some command issues, but a 6'6" southpaw with control and three above-average pitches is a valuable asset. The 22-year-old has been highly impressive at Double-A Portland this season, with a 2.60 ERA, .201 BAA and 9.4 K/9 rate in 121 innings, and should join Boston’s rotation at some point in 2015.

    The Red Sox’s draft this year once again featured a good mix of high-ceiling, high–floor talent. Michael Chavis, the team's first-round pick at No. 26 overall, is a player who does a lot of things well—including a short swing and advanced approach—without dazzling in one area.

    Michael Kopech is a projectable right-hander who has touched the high 90s with his fastball. Second-round pick Sam Travis got lost behind Kyle Schwarber at Indiana, but his bat is very good with above-average pop, and he has a good idea of what to do in the box.

    Boston also added some fresh faces before this year’s trade deadline, acquiring prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree from the Giants in the Jake Peavy deal, and then left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles in exchange for Miller.

4. New York Mets

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Mets graduated Travis d'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores and Jacob deGrom to the major leagues this year, but they've built such a deep crop of talent that their system actually looks better today than it did headed into the season. 

    Besides big-name pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, left-hander Steven Matz has emerged as one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the minors, while right-hander Marcos Molina might be the guy everyone’s talking about by season’s end.

    Meanwhile, the Mets’ offensive prospects have taken a step forward this season, individually and collectively. Brandon Nimmo's approach is among the best in the minors, and his play in center field has improved to the point where he might be able to stick at the position.

    Dominic Smith is having a respectable first full professional season at Low-A Savannah, though he’s yet to hit a home run through 102 games.

    The team also has a pair of promising young middle infielders on the rise in shortstop Amed Rosario and second baseman Dilson Herrera, who is batting .344 with a .960 OPS and six home runs in 37 games since a midseason promotion to Double-A Binghamton. And don’t sleep on catcher Kevin Plawecki, who is batting .310 with 29 extra-base hits this season in 76 games between Double- and Triple-A.

    The addition of a polished college bat in this year’s draft such as Michael Conforto, who can get on base and hit for power, makes the system even more impressive.

3. Houston Astros

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    Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes from Marlins

    Losses: OF/IF Enrique Hernandez and OF Austin Wates (to Marlins)

    Even with the promotions of George Springer and Jonathan Singleton this season, as well as the organization’s failure to sign draft picks Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix, Houston's system is still loaded with high-end talent in the upper and lower levels of the minors.

    Carlos Correa, the No. 2 overall prospect in baseball, once again opened eyes with his bat this season, posting a .926 OPS with 20 stolen bases in 62 High-A games but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in late June that required surgery. The 19-year-old is a superstar in the making, and I have little doubt as to whether he’ll remain at shortstop.

    Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has endured a rough season in the minor leagues, though there's nothing overtly wrong with the stuff. That being said, the organization recently promoted the right-hander to Double-A, where he allowed two hits over five scoreless innings in his debut.

    Mike Foltynewicz still brings the heat, though he's likely to work out of the bullpen at the highest level due to inconsistent command and a fringy breaking ball. The most improved player in the system is definitely Rio Ruiz, 20, who has knocked about California League pitching this season while showing emerging power.

    Lastly, hard-throwing right-handers Michael Feliz and Vince Velasquez both have been impressive this season, although the latter has struggled to stay healthy.

    As if the Astros system wasn’t already stacked, the team acquired a pair of notable prospects from the Marlins shortly before the July 31 deadline in outfielder Jake Marisnick and third baseman Colin Moran.

2. Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions/Losses: N/A

    The Twins' drop from the No. 1 to No. 2 farm system has more to do with another team’s (no spoilers) system getting stronger and less to do with the performance of their top prospects.

    Byron Buxton, who is widely considered the sport’s top prospect, lost most of the season with a wrist injury, but he’s now fully healthy and swinging a hot bat back at High-A Fort Myers. Given his abbreviated season, I expect the 20-year-old to begin 2015 at Double-A and receive a call-up to the major leagues sometime after the All-Star break.

    The loss of slugger Miguel Sano for the season following Tommy John surgery was a blow to the system, though it doesn’t affect his projection as an All-Star corner infielder with 30-plus-home run power. 

    The Twins’ first-round pick this year, Nick Gordon (No. 5 overall), has a high ceiling as a true shortstop with a natural feel for hitting and the underrated strength to put the ball in gaps. They also added several notable bullpen arms in the draft in Nick Burdi, Michael Cederoth, Sam Clay and Jake Reed.

    Beyond that, the Twins have an intriguing mix of high ceilings and depth on the mound, with highly touted pitching prospects Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves.

1. Chicago Cubs

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    Trade Deadline Activity

    Additions: SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney from A’s; C Victor Caratini from Braves

    Losses: N/A 

    The fact that the Cubs rank No. 1 overall without a high-end pitching prospect speaks both to the quantity and quality of bats in their system.

    Kris Bryant has been the talk of the minor leagues this season, as the 22-year-old has posted a 1.123 OPS with 35 home runs in 109 games between Double- and Triple-A. Meanwhile, Triple-A teammate Javier Baez has bounced back after an atrocious start to the season, batting .280/.339/.551 with 13 home runs and 15 doubles since the beginning of June.

    Jorge Soler, who missed most of the first half with a hamstring injury, recently joined Baez and Bryant in Triple-A after posting a robust 1.355 OPS with six home runs in 22 Double-A games. Outfielder Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2012, was promoted to Double-A as a result of Soler moving up to Triple-A.

    The Cubs also added an impressive bat in Kyle Schwarber with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, and he’s rewarded the organization by reaching High-A Daytona in his professional debut. Furthermore, drafting Schwarber and signing him to an under-slot bonus allowed the team to grab several promising arms in later rounds such as Jake Stinnett, Carson Sands, Justin Steele and Dylan Cease.

    The Cubs also received a killer haul from the A’s earlier this month in exchange for Samardzija and Hammel, netting top-10 overall prospect shortstop Addison Russell as well as outfielder Billy McKinney.

    Russell and McKinney were the A’s first-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Shortly before the July 31 deadline, the Cubs received 2013 second-rounder Victor Caratini from the Braves in exchange for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio.