Bleacher Report's Updated Farm System Rankings Entering 2015

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2015

Bleacher Report's Updated Farm System Rankings Entering 2015

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    Led by center fielder Byron Buxton, the Twins are loaded on the farm, but do they have the top system in the sport?
    Led by center fielder Byron Buxton, the Twins are loaded on the farm, but do they have the top system in the sport?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Major League Baseball's offseason has been hectic so far, in case you haven't noticed. And with six weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, there's still more action to come.

    Much of the focus to this point has been on all of the movement among big leaguers, what with free-agent signings and teams trading their top chips to new squads. But there has been almost as much activity on the minor league front, too.

    Now that 2015 is here, it's time once again to take stock of prospects by ranking the farm systems of all 30 clubs.

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

    One last thing to remember: Any player who is no longer prospect eligible—that is, anyone who has exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues—is not considered in their team's ranking.

    That means no Mookie Betts for the Boston Red Sox, Javier Baez for the Chicago Cubs or Taijuan Walker for the Seattle Mariners, among others who exhausted their rookie status late in the 2014 campaign.

    With that in mind, here's how all 30 farm systems stack up at the outset of 2015.

No. 30: Detroit Tigers

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    Steven Moya
    Steven MoyaJose Juarez/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 29

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Gabe Speier

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 2B Devon Travis; LHP Robbie Ray; 2B/SS Domingo Leyba; RHP Jonathon Crawford

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: OF Steven Moya

    The Detroit Tigers' system was arguably the worst in baseball heading into the offseason, so it should be no surprise that it's now bottom of the barrel after general manager Dave Dombrowski sent four of his best prospects packing in order to benefit the big league club, which is perhaps in win-now mode more than any other team in baseball.

    Bottom line? There's just not a lot of high-upside young talent left in the minors. There are, however, some nearly ready prospects who should be able to provide reinforcement to yet another Tigers World Series drive in 2015, including outfielders Steven Moya and Tyler Collins, infielder Hernan Perez, right-hander Buck Farmer, lefty Kyle Lobstein and catcher James McCann.

    Ultimately, though, most of the above players are fringy second-division starters and depth options. Given the big-money contracts (Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez) and the state of the farm, when the Tigers' window closes, it could stay shut for quite some time.

No. 29: Miami Marlins

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    Justin Nicolino
    Justin NicolinoUSA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 25

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Kendry Flores; RHP Luis Castillo

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Andrew Heaney; RHP Domingo German; INF/OF Enrique Hernandez; RHP Anthony DeSclafani; C/INF Austin Barnes; C Chad Wallach; LHP Brian Flynn; RHP Reid Redman

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Tyler Kolek

    Having graduated former top prospects like Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in the past two years, the Miami Marlins didn't have a strong system, ranking 25th at the end of the 2014 season.

    Now that the club has focused on surrounding $325 million man Giancarlo Stanton with talent this winter, the few promising youngsters who remained were used as trade chips. Primary among those? Southpaw Andrew Heaney, a potential mid-rotation arm who debuted last year and could have helped the Fish in 2015—until they traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers to bring in Dee Gordon.

    Throw in the departures of fellow arms Domingo German and Anthony DeSclafani, as well as versatile utility types Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes, and the top names left in Miami's cupboard are backstop J.T. Realmuto, lefty Justin Nicolino and big, hard-throwing righty Tyler Kolek, last year's No. 2 overall pick.

    As for the club’s decision to trade away some young, cost-controlled talent, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said via Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "It is definitely a shift in philosophy and a desire to win more games than last year."

No. 28: Milwaukee Brewers

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    2014 first-rounder Kodi Medeiros
    2014 first-rounder Kodi MedeirosBill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 28

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: OF Tyrone Taylor; SS Orlando Arcia

    The Milwaukee Brewers have had one of the worst collections of prospects for several seasons now, and considering their lack of activity this winter so far—and the fact that they place 28th in these rankings yet again—it's not getting much better anytime soon.

    That said, there are some intriguing young players to keep tabs on, many of whom are talented but very raw: right-hander Devin Williams, third baseman Gilbert Lara, lefty Kodi Medeiros, outfielder Monte Harrison and "shortstop" Jacob Gatewood, the latter three of which were selected last June.

    The Brewers' biggest problem on the farm is that there's not much in the way of potential can't-miss, high-upside prospects, as even the team's top two talents, shortstop Orlando Arcia and outfielder Tyrone Taylor, fall well short of that category.

No. 27: San Francisco Giants

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    Kyle Crick
    Kyle CrickGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 27

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Kendry Flores; RHP Luis Castillo

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Kyle Crick; LHP Adalberto Mejia; RHP Tyler Beede; C Andrew Susac

    Don't let the fact that there are four players listed in the "Potential Top 100 Prospects" section fool you: The San Francisco Giants do not have much in the minors.

    The reason that many are mentioned above is more because it's unclear which Giants prospect out of pitchers Kyle Crick, Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Beede and catcher Andrew Susac is the best at this point.

    Then again, San Francisco fans don't exactly have much to complain about, what with the big league team winning it all for the third time in five seasons in October.

No. 26: Los Angeles Angels

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    Andrew Heaney, now of the Angels
    Andrew Heaney, now of the AngelsMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 30

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Andrew Heaney; 3B Kyle Kubitza; RHP Nick Tropeano; RHP Nate Hyatt; C Carlos Perez

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Ricardo Sanchez; RHP Mark Sappington; RHP Jairo Diaz

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: LHP Andrew Heaney; LHP Sean Newcomb

    The Los Angeles Angels get a bump out of the bottom spot in these rankings—albeit a small one.

    The main reason? The acquisition of the aforementioned Andrew Heaney, who practically boarded a flight to LAX as Dodgers property but stepped off the plane a member of the Angels, after the latter L.A. club traded Howie Kendrick for him.

    Along with 2014 top pick Sean Newcomb, Heaney gives the Angels a pair of premium lefties who look like legitimate mid-rotation arms with a chance for more.

    After that, this system is about as shallow as a Kardashian, but possessing two potential impact pitchers puts the Angels in (slightly) better shape than the teams behind them.

No. 25: Baltimore Orioles

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    Dylan Bundy
    Dylan BundySteven Senne/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 24

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Dylan Bundy; RHP Hunter Harvey

    On the heels of winning the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles have been as dormant as any franchise in the sport.

    Too bad, because this organization could use an infusion of talent, especially after the O's were the last team to pick in 2014, grabbing their first player in Round 3.

    Otherwise, Baltimore's system is very similar to Milwaukee's—two very highly regarded same-side starters in Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, and then a whole lot of yuck.

    As John Sickels of Minor League Ball writes: "Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are the obvious top arms, both with ace potential if not held back by physical problems."

    Both pitchers battled through injuries last year, so it's imperative that they're healthy in 2015, or this collection of prospects could plummet to the worst in the game.

No. 24: Cleveland Indians

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    Francisco Lindor
    Francisco LindorPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 2B Joe Wendle

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Francisco Lindor; OF Clint Frazier; OF Bradley Zimmer

    It’s telling that the Cleveland Indians rank this low even after having had arguably the best draft among all 30 teams in 2014, as Baseball America determined.

    There are some very young, very raw bats, like outfielders Clint Frazier, the team’s top take in 2013, and Bradley Zimmer, as well as first basemen Mike Papi and Bobby Bradley, both of whom were first-rounders last June.

    But the real draw here, of course, is one Francisco Lindor. Among the elite shortstop prospects, the 21-year-old is considered the best defensively, and Lindor’s nearly ready all-around game is going to do wonders for the Indians, who made the most errors in 2014.

    Here’s Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer:

    Francona said he feels comfortable with Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles at shortstop. Lindor, the Tribe's top prospect, is expected to be in big league camp, but [manager Terry] Francona said Lindor would not open the season with the Tribe.

    "He needs to ‑‑ his development needs to be just that," said Francona. "When he's ready, his play will show us that."

    Outside of that, whether this system craters after Lindor graduates this season is a matter of waiting to see which—and how many—prospects put together the best first full seasons in 2015.

No. 23: Tampa Bay Rays

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    New Ray Steven Souza
    New Ray Steven SouzaMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 26

    Notable Offseason Additions: OF Steven Souza; SS Andrew Velazquez; OF Justin Williams; RHP Burch Smith; 1B Jake Bauers; RHP Jose Dominguez; RHP Greg Harris; RHP Mark Sappington; LHP Travis Ott

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Jose Castillo; RHP Gerardo Reyes; LHP Adam Liberatore

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Willy Adames; OF Steven Souza

    It's not a good thing when the recent trades of ace David Price, righty Jeremy Hellickson and outfielder Wil Myers haven't done much to help the Tampa Bay Rays improve in the minors.

    Not that the Rays haven't brought in some new names—including shortstop Willy Adames and outfielder Steven Souza, two players who have the ability to make an impact in the majors—but the additions have been more about quantity than quality.

    For one of the most frugal franchises around, there was a need for depth in this system and that approach can help sustain success. That's what the Rays are hoping.

No. 22: Chicago White Sox

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    Carlos Rodon
    Carlos RodonNati Harnik/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 22

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Michael Ynoa

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Chris Bassitt; 1B Rangel Ravelo

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: LHP Carlos Rodon; SS Tim Anderson; RHP Francellis Montas; RHP Spencer Adams

    The Chicago White Sox have had a really strong and efficient offseason, which includes trading for right-hander Jeff Samardzija without surrendering any of their top prospects.

    That's a bonus because the South Siders' system, while slowly improving, wasn't yet better than mediocre at the end of last season.

    Considering the club now has a chance to return to relevance, if not contention, in 2015, the key prospect who could help with that objective is Carlos Rodon, a potential ace left-hander who the Sox took No. 3 overall last June.

No. 21: Cincinnati Reds

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    Jesse Winker
    Jesse WinkerChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Jonathon Crawford; RHP Anthony DeSclafani; RHP Matt Magill; C Chad Wallach

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Ben Lively

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Robert Stephenson; OF Jesse Winker; RHP Michael Lorenzen; RHP Raisel Iglesias

    The Cincinnati Reds’ system is decidedly top-heavy and middle of the road.

    The problem with the top-heavy part is that none of the four best prospects comes without potential pitfalls: Can Robert Stephenson improve his control and command? Are Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias starters or relievers? And is Jesse Winker going to hit enough for his potent bat to carry him to an impact role in the majors?

    If one or more of those youngsters click, the Reds will have something. But if none of them adjusts or evolves much, then there’s not much else to look forward to based on a lack of any other really high-end names, even with the additions of right-handers Jonathon Crawford and Anthony DeSclafani via trades.

No. 20: Seattle Mariners

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    Alex Jackson
    Alex JacksonElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Matt Brazis

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: C/OF Alex Jackson; 3B/1B D.J. Peterson; OF Gabby Guerrero

    The Seattle Mariners' system takes a little bit of a dip from the last ranking, primarily because two top arms, righty Taijuan Walker and lefty James Paxton, graduated from prospect-dom.

    That leaves the M's with more in the way of hitters—namely, first baseman D.J. Peterson, outfielder Gabby Guerrero, shortstop Ketel Marte and outfielder Alex Jackson, the No. 6 pick in 2014—than pitchers.

    That's not such a bad thing, considering that bats have been the big problem in Seattle since, like, forever. The real question, though, is how soon they can make it to the Emerald City to help Walker, Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

No. 19: Atlanta Braves

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    Jose Peraza
    Jose PerazaHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 21

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Max Fried; RHP Arodys Vizcaino; RHP Tyrell Jenkins; LHP Ricardo Sanchez; LHP Manny Banuelos; OF Mallex Smith; INF Jace Peterson; 3B Dustin Peterson; RHP Nate Hyatt; RHP Aaron Kurcz

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 3B Kyle Kubitza; LHP Chasen Shreve; RHP Aaron Northcraft

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: 2B Jose Peraza; C Christian Bethancourt; RHP Lucas Sims; SS Ozhaino Albies

    Upon becoming the president of baseball operations at the end of last season, John Hart took a look in the minor league cupboard and didn't like what he saw. No wonder he's spent so much time remodeling and bringing in young talent via trades of Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and others.

    The collection of goods has made the Atlanta Braves better on the farm, but not necessarily much better than average—yet.

    None of the prospects acquired comes without some sort of limitation or flaw, and arguably the four best ones—pitchers Max Fried, Arodys Vizcaino, Tyrell Jenkins and Manny Banuelos—fall into the once-elite category after they suffered significant, development-altering injuries. That makes them intriguing gambles, but gambles nonetheless.

    "The way the Braves see it," writes Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, "they’ve acquired five pitchers 24 and under: right-handers Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins and Arodys Vizcaino, plus lefties Max Fried and Manny Banuelos. All are or were top prospects."

    The surest bets right now are catcher Christian Bethancourt, who should be on the Opening Day roster, and speedy second baseman Jose Peraza, who could join him soon thereafter.

No. 18: Oakland Athletics

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    Daniel Robertson
    Daniel RobertsonUSA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 23

    Notable Offseason Additions: SS Franklin Barreto; RHP Kendall Graveman; LHP Sean Nolin; RHP R.J. Alvarez; RHP Chris Bassitt; 1B Rangel Ravelo; RHP Seth Streich; 2B Joe Wendle

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Michael Ynoa

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Daniel Robertson; SS Franklin Barreto; 1B Matt Olson; 3B Renato Nunez

    GM Billy Beane has embarked on an on-the-fly rebuild (again), trading away four of his 2014 All-Stars—Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris—this offseason. And that's just so far.

    Doing that can't help but make the farm system better, and Beane has done that. Thing is, the best prospect he's acquired since season's end is Franklin Barreto, who has tons of upside at age 18 but a looooong way to go to get to the majors from A-ball.

    The rest of the imports are second- or third-tier youngsters whose biggest value to the low-budget Oakland Athletics is their years of team control and minimal cost. This spread-the-"wealth" approach can work, but the A's really could use one or two of the newcomers to turn into a top-notch talent to help replace all those All-Stars. Eventually.

    "You sort of see when your opportunity is going to be there (to contend)," Beane said via Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. "Therefore, we also have to take a step back and say when it’s also time … to be cognizant of our future and sort of get a little back as far as getting some younger players. When we think we’ve got a shot, we’re gonna do it, and we did. Now it’s also time to think about the next few years, not just about the next day."

No. 17: Philadelphia Phillies

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    J.P. Crawford
    J.P. CrawfordHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 20

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Tom Windle; RHP Zach Eflin; RHP Ben Lively; LHP Joely Rodriguez

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS J.P. Crawford; 3B Maikel Franco; RHP Aaron Nola

    Now that they're rebuilding—finally—the Philadelphia Phillies have a lot riding on their prospects, particularly their top three.

    The system thins out dramatically after shortstop J.P. Crawford, third baseman Maikel Franco and righty Aaron Nola, their first-rounder last June. The hope, then, is that one of the three can be a potential franchise cornerstone-caliber player, along the lines of what the Phillies had with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley for so long.

    If that's going to happen, the guess here is Crawford, who reached High-A at 19 and posted a .375 OBS for the year, could take over for the departed Rollins by late 2015 and help usher in a new era in Philly.

    Speaking of Rollins, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. did rather well in dealing the 36-year-old to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two arms with mid-rotation upside in lefty Tom Windle and righty Zach Eflin. Now, if only Amaro could get something close to what he's seeking in a swap for ace—and top trade chip—Cole Hamels.

No. 16: St. Louis Cardinals

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    Marco Gonzales
    Marco GonzalesDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Tyrell Jenkins

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: OF Stephen Piscotty; LHP Marco Gonzales; RHP Alex Reyes; LHP Rob Kaminsky

    The St. Louis Cardinals no longer are a top-notch system, but that's because so much of their young talent— Michael Wacha, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez come to mind—already has reached The Show and contributed to a run of four straight postseason trips.

    The current crop of prospects isn't quite as strong, but it's a nice mix of players who either are close to the majors, like outfielder Stephen Piscotty and southpaw Marco Gonzales, or who fall into the high-risk/high-reward category, like righty Alex Reyes and lefty Rob Kaminsky.

    If this were a ranking of the top teams based on 25-and-under talent, the Cardinals would be up there with any team.

No. 15: New York Yankees

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeUSA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Domingo German; LHP Chasen Shreve; RHP Johnny Barbato

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Manny Banuelos

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Luis Severino; OF Aaron Judge; C Gary Sanchez

    First of all, let's say this: The New York Yankees' system is better than you think. That said, even if it's not too far from the top 10, there's a lot that has to go right in 2015 for this circuit to start flirting with the very best.

    For starters, injuries can't keep cropping up, as that has been a bugaboo in recent years. Secondly, it would help if one or two of the almost-old guard prospects (think: Mason Williams, Tyler Austin) managed to put together a strong bounce-back campaign to augment the more recent breakout-ers, like righty Luis Severino, slugging outfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman Greg Bird.

    With GM Brian Cashman seemingly focused on building more from within while waiting for a number of albatross contracts to come off the books (think: A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira), it's about time the Yankees' youngsters started contributing, especially on the position-player side.

    And don't laugh: The talent is in place to have that happen within the next year or two.

No. 14: San Diego Padres

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    Austin Hedges
    Austin HedgesChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Jose Castillo; RHP Gerardo Reyes; LHP Kyle Bartsch

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: SS Trea Turner (as a player to be named later); RHP Joe Ross; LHP Max Fried; RHP Zach Eflin; RHP Joe Wieland; OF Mallex Smith; RHP Burch Smith; 1B Jake Bauers; RHP R.J. Alvarez; INF Jace Peterson; 3B Dustin Peterson; OF Reymond Fuentes; RHP Seth Streich; RHP Johnny Barbato

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: C Austin Hedges; OF Hunter Renfroe; RHP Matt Wisler; OF Rymer Liriano

    The hard-to-believe aspect of what GM A.J. Preller has done in remaking the San Diego Padres on the fly this offseason by adding big bats like Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers is that he's done so without giving up any of his very best established prospects.

    Sure, the Padres surrendered a ton of talent—just look at all those names listed above!—but the club still has defensive wizard backstop Austin Hedges, hard-hitting outfielder Hunter Renfroe, just-about-ready righty Matt Wisler and Rymer Liriano, the athletic outfielder who debuted late in 2014.

    Because all four could reach San Diego this coming summer, a potential playoff-chasing roster could get a nice infusion. Of course, it also could mean that Preller isn't yet done wheeling and dealing and might move one or two of his top young talents for another win-now piece.

No. 13: Texas Rangers

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    Joey Gallo
    Joey GalloPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 2B Chris Bostick; RHP Abel De Los Santos

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: 3B Joey Gallo; C Jorge Alfaro; RHP Jake Thompson; RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez; OF Nomar Mazara; OF Nick Williams

    After going 67-95, the Texas Rangers would like to forget that 2014 ever happened at the big league level. On the minor league level, though, things weren't nearly as bad.

    Third baseman Joey Gallo proved his mashing wasn't a one-year wonder, as he smacked 40 home runs for the second consecutive season while reaching Double-A. And while former bonus-baby outfielder Nomar Mazara started to come into his own—he, too, advanced to Frisco—2013 first-rounder Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez had a fine first full pro campaign.

    GM Jon Daniels also pulled a coup when he landed righty Jake Thompson (as well as relief prospect Corey Knebel) from the Detroit Tigers for reliever Joakim Soria back in July. Thompson immediately made that deal look good, posting a 3.28 ERA and 11.1 K/9 in seven games.

    The Rangers have a well-earned rep for targeting young and raw yet uber-talented players, and that approach is on the verge of paying off when the likes of Gallo, Mazara, catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams arrive.

No. 12: Kansas City Royals

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    Brandon Finnegan
    Brandon FinneganDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Notable Offseason Additions: OF Reymond Fuentes; LHP Brian Flynn; RHP Reid Redman

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Kyle Bartsch

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: LHP Sean Manaea; LHP Brandon Finnegan; SS Raul Mondesi; 3B Hunter Dozier; RHP Kyle Zimmer

    The Kansas City Royals just reaped the benefit of patiently putting together a stacked farm system and waiting for everything to congeal into a fully formed product in the big leagues. Hence, getting not only to the World Series but also to Game 7.

    "We’ll just keep doing it the way we’ve done it," GM Dayton Moore said, per Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star. "And that’s focusing on building our farm system, keeping it strong, graduating players to the major leagues and (looking) for trades that make sense."

    The key thing for this former laughingstock franchise now? Maintaining the success from 2014 in 2015 and beyond. Doing so requires even more impact from the minor leagues, which is where lefties Sean Manaea and Brandon Finnegan—first-rounders in 2013 and 2014—come into play as arguably K.C.'s top two prospects.

    While there's plenty of depth here, too—righties Miguel Almonte and Christian Binford and outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, to name a few—the Royals would be thrilled if either shortstop Raul A. Mondesi could start living up to his vast potential or right-hander Kyle Zimmer could ever get (and stay!) healthy.

No. 11: Washington Nationals

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    Lucas Giolito
    Lucas GiolitoJim Mone/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Notable Offseason Additions: SS Trea Turner; RHP Joe Ross; 2B Chris Bostick; RHP Abel De Los Santos

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: OF Steven Souza; LHP Travis Ott

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Lucas Giolito; RHP A.J. Cole; OF Michael Taylor; SS Trea Turner; RHP Joe Ross; RHP Reynaldo Lopez; RHP Erick Fedde

    As if the Washington Nationals, possessors of arguably the best big league roster on paper, needed more talent, they have a near-top 10 system, to boot.

    Everything here starts with Lucas Giolito, the 20-year-old right-hander who is one of the very few pitching prospects with actual No. 1-starter upside now that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.

    After that, though, the Nats have a whole host of intriguing youngsters from pitchers Reynaldo Lopez, Erick Fedde, A.J. Cole and newly acquired Joe Ross to athletic outfielder Michael Taylor to speedy shortstop Trea Turner, who came over with Ross in an 11-player blockbuster in December.

    In other words, as much as Giolito is the headliner, there's a lot more than just him in this system.

No. 10: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Archie Bradley
    Archie BradleyAssociated Press

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Robbie Ray; 2B/SS Domingo Leyba; RHP Zack Godley; RHP Jeferson Mejia; 2B/SS Raymel Flores

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: SS Andrew Velazquez; OF Justin Williams

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Archie Bradley; 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas; RHP Braden Shipley; RHP Aaron Blair; RHP Touki Toussaint; 3B Brandon Drury

    It's not often that a club's top prospect has a poor, injury-plagued season and the system as a whole looks just as good as it did a year ago. But that's just what happened with the Arizona Diamondbacks and righty Archie Bradley, who made just 18 starts while battling arm trouble.

    Despite Bradley's down season, he's still a front-of-the-rotation starter whose potential is only slightly higher than that of fellow righties Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair and Touki Toussaint, the club's first-round selection in 2014.

    Beyond the pitchers, the Diamondbacks also sport a pair of second-tier third base prospects in Brandon Drury and Jake Lamb, the latter of which debuted in the desert in August. And don't forget: This is the team that inked Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, who is likely to start 2015 in Arizona. If Tomas is the real deal, and he's soon joined by some of these other youngsters, the D-backs could have a resurgence in short order.

No. 9: Colorado Rockies

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    Jon Gray
    Jon GrayGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Jairo Diaz

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Jon Gray; OF David Dahl; OF Raimel Tapia; LHP Kyle Freeland; RHP Eddie Butler; 3B Ryan McMahon

    For Colorado Rockies fans who are tired of four straight losing seasons, there actually is some hope.

    The big league club has been among the worst in the sport the past handful of years, but all that losing is starting to pay off in the form of a top-10 farm system.

    The two biggest prospects to keep tabs on are righty Jon Gray, the No. 3 pick in 2013, and athletic outfielder David Dahl, who had a strong year after his pro career got off to a bad start due to injuries and a disciplinary issue.

    But there's much more to like than that pair, as the Rockies also sport hitters Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon and Forrest Wall, who went 35th last June, as well as promising arms like Eddie Butler and Kyle Freeland, who was the club's top choice in the most recent draft.

No. 8: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Corey Seager
    Corey SeagerDanny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Notable Offseason Additions: INF/OF Enrique Hernandez; RHP Joe Wieland; C/INF Austin Barnes; LHP Adam Liberatore

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Tom Windle; RHP Matt Magill; RHP Jose Dominguez; RHP Greg Harris

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Corey Seager; LHP Julio Urias; OF Joc Pederson; RHP Grant Holmes

    The Los Angeles Dodgers might have the most top-heavy prospect collection in baseball, but not because there's no talent outside the front four.

    Rather, that's because shortstop Corey Seager (.349/.402/.602 in 2014), lefty Julio Urias (who reached High-A at age 17), outfielder Joc Pederson (who posted a 30-30 season at Triple-A) and righty Grant Holmes (the No. 22 pick) are projected to be so good that just about any other prospects pale by comparison.

    New head man Andrew Friedman has the pieces to get almost any player his heart so desires, were he to be willing to part with one (or more) from that batch.

    Also? It's not out of the question that lower-upside arms like Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and/or Chris Reed could take a step forward in 2015, thus joining the top-heavy ranks, or at least helping the club at the big league level.

    The scary thing is this system would have ranked even higher if Friedman had hung onto Andrew Heaney for more than, oh, an hour or so. But then the Dodgers wouldn't have Howie Kendrick at second base.

No. 7: Toronto Blue Jays

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    Dalton Pompey
    Dalton PompeyTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Notable Offseason Additions: 2B Devon Travis

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: SS Franklin Barreto; RHP Kendall Graveman; LHP Sean Nolin

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: LHP Daniel Norris; RHP Aaron Sanchez; OF Dalton Pompey; RHP Jeff Hoffman; C Max Pentecost

    The Toronto Blue Jays make a solid jump from middle of the pack into the top 10, thanks primarily to the big-league-ready trio of lefty Daniel Norris, righty Aaron Sanchez and center fielder Dalton Pompey, each of whom already made it to the majors late last season.

    Even though none is older than 22 or has all that much MLB experience, the team will be relying pretty heavily on all three of those youngsters. Fortunately for Toronto, Norris, Sanchez and Pompey have the skills to not only survive but perhaps even thrive right away, which is what the Blue Jays need if they're to contend in the AL East again and make a legitimate playoff push for the first time in you-do-the-math years.

    Despite trading away a chunk of their minor league talent to land Josh Donaldson from the A's, GM Alex Anthopoulos still has more beyond these three, including arms like Roberto Osuna and Jairo Labourt, as well as righty Jeff Hoffman (currently recovering from Tommy John surgery) and catcher Max Pentecost, who were taken at Nos. 9 and 11 in the 2014 draft.

No. 6: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellUSA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Joely Rodriguez

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Tyler Glasnow; OF/1B Josh Bell; RHP Jameson Taillon; OF Austin Meadows

    At long, long last, the Pittsburgh Pirates have become something of a model franchise, reaching the playoffs in both 2013 and 2014 on the strength of what GM Neal Huntington has done building from within. And there's more where that came from, even with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, among others, graduating to the majors recently.

    The Pirates should get help toward a third straight postseason run in 2015 from Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 take in 2010 who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, as well as fellow righty Nick Kingham, who wrapped up 2014 at Triple-A.

    Depending on how negotiations with Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang go, the Pirates could have even more at the ready. And there's also a possibility that hard-to-hit righty Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell's pure bat can reach Pittsburgh in the second half.

    Beyond that bunch, infielder Alen Hanson, outfielder Harold Ramirez and No. 9 pick in 2013 Austin Meadows are worth keeping tabs, too.

    The wave of young talent in Pittsburgh won't be stopping anytime soon.

No. 5: New York Mets

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    Noah Syndergaard
    Noah SyndergaardJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Noah Syndergaard; OF Brandon Nimmo, LHP Steven Matz; OF Michael Conforto; 2B Dilson Herrera; C Kevin Plawecki; RHP Marcos Molina

    Despite a pair of "N/As" above under the prospect additions and subtractions, the New York Mets' system is one of the five best in baseball.

    A lot of the talent is on the pitching side, including ready-to-go righties Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, as well as lefty Steven Matz (finally healthy) and still-raw right-hander Marcos Molina.

    But the Mets also have position players on the come, from infielders Dilson Herrera and Amed Rosario to outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto (No. 10 in 2014) to catcher Kevin Plawecki and first baseman Dominic Smith.

    For once, it seems, this is an organization on the rise, meaning the Mets' string of six consecutive losing seasons should come to an end soon—and they could start contending legitimately shortly thereafter.

No. 4: Houston Astros

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    Carlos Correa
    Carlos CorreaCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Nick Tropeano; C Carlos Perez

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Carlos Correa; RHP Mark Appel; RHP Michael Feliz; RHP Mike Foltynewicz; 3B Rio Ruiz; RHP Vincent Velasquez

    The 2014 season didn't go well for the Houston Astros, who lost 90-plus games for the fourth time in a row, and the farm system had its fair share of significant struggles, too.

    For one, consensus top-five prospect Carlos Correa's season ended early with a broken leg. For another, 2013's top overall pick Mark Appel pitched to a 6.91 ERA and at times looked lost.

    And then there was the whole fiasco when the Astros failed to sign the No. 1 selection last June, Brady Aiken, in part because the lefty's medicals made Houston think twice, which also cost them Jacob Nix and Mac Marshall, two more high-upside prep players.

    And yet, here the Astros are at No. 4 in these rankings, which speaks to how much there is below the big league surface.

    Correa should be ready to go by spring training, and Appel started to figure things out after being bumped to Double-A (and away from hitter haven High-A Lancaster). Then there's right-handers Michael Feliz, Mike Foltynewicz and Vincent Velasquez, as well as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez and third basemen Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz.

    Plus, Houston actually did import some of their 2014 draftees, including Derek Fisher and A.J. Reed.

    As rough as the past year was for the Astros, they're in position to have a big season on the farm in 2015.

No. 3: Boston Red Sox

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    Blake Swihart
    Blake SwihartKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Aaron Kurcz; 2B/SS Raymel Flores; RHP Gabe Speier

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: C Blake Swihart; LHP Henry Owens; OF Rusney Castillo; OF Manuel Margot; 3B Rafael Devers; LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

    The Boston Red Sox just might have the deepest system of all 30 MLB clubs.

    Blake Swihart, arguably the top backstop prospect in the sport, and outfielder Rusney Castillo—he of the record $72.5 million contract for an international free agent from Cuba—make for a very strong top two on the position-player side, especially since both have the defensive ability to play in the middle of the diamond.

    Sticking with the hitters for a moment, the younger, higher-upside prospects like Manuel Margot and Rafael Devers are balanced out well with the more experienced Garin Cecchini and Deven Marrero, who aren't far from reaching the bigs for good.

    The Red Sox might have even more on the mound, what with lefties Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson and Trey Ball teaming with right-handers Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, who already have made it to Boston.

    While none of the many, many names above is guaranteed to be a top-25 prospect overall right now, there's a very good chance that two or three (or more) turn into high-impact major leaguers, perhaps as soon as 2015. Boston is loaded.

No. 2: Minnesota Twins

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    Byron Buxton
    Byron BuxtonAssociated Press

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: OF Byron Buxton; 3B Miguel Sano; RHP Jose Berrios; RHP Alex Meyer; RHP Kohl Stewart; SS Nick Gordon

    Much like the Astros, the Minnesota Twins had a number of problems in the minors last year, although most of theirs were health-related. Here's counting on that not happening again in 2015.

    Outfielder Byron Buxton, the consensus top prospect in the sport entering the season, battled multiple wrist injuries and then, immediately after getting back on the field in the second half, he suffered a concussion in a scary collision that ended his year.

    Meanwhile, power-hitting third baseman Miguel Sano lost all of 2014 to Tommy John surgery, and power-armed right-hander Alex Meyer had to be shut down with shoulder soreness late in the year when he looked to be on the verge of a big league call-up.

    Thing is, all three players still are impact talents who could be in Minnesota by the second half of next season, provided they stay healthy and strong.

    And it wasn't all bad for the Twins on the farm, either, as righty Jose Berrios came into his own and the club drafted shortstop Nick Gordon at No. 5.

    With a little more luck with injuries and a little more development from some of those who lost time in 2014, the Twins easily could be back in the top spot in these rankings.

No. 1: Chicago Cubs

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantElsa/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Matt Brazis

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Arodys Vizcaino; RHP Zack Godley; RHP Jeferson Mejia

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: 3B Kris Bryant; SS Addison Russell; OF Jorge Soler; OF Albert Almora; C/OF Kyle Schwarber

    Ladies and gents, your No. 1 farm system—the Chicago Cubs.

    It wasn't a runaway, as the Twins, Red Sox and Astros have strong cases to be considered here, too. Plus, the Cubs do have a slightly worrisome lack of pitching prospects.

    But, oh, the bats they have.

    At this point, Kris Bryant should be the No. 1 overall prospect in the game, coming off a 43-homer year in which he hit .325/.438/.661 in what was his first full pro season after going second overall in 2013.

    The addition of Addison Russell, arguably the top shortstop prospect, via the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade was a master stroke by decision-makers Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. (Don't forget, they also got promising outfielder Billy McKinney in that swap).

    And Jorge Soler sure looked not only big league ready but like an impact performer at the plate in his September cameo.

    Add in what catcher Kyle Schwarber did after being taken fourth overall last June (.344/.428/.634) and sprinkle in some Albert Almora, Gleyber Torres and McKinney and, yikes, the position-player talent heading to the North Side just won't quit.

    If C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson and/or Duane Underwood can make a push to join fellow right-hander Jake Arrieta and recently signed lefty Jon Lester in the rotation, then that's almost gravy.

    Get ready, folks: With this kind of young talent coming together, the Cubs are about to return to relevance—in a big way.

    Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.


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