MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-Spring Training Edition

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2015

MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-Spring Training Edition

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    Spring training is set to begin next week when pitchers and catchers report to camp, meaning Major League Baseball’s long and at times insane offseason is coming to an end.

    So far, much of the focus has been the movement among big leaguers due to all the free-agent signings and teams trading their top chips to new squads. However, this offseason also has featured plenty of action on the minor league front. And with spring training just around the corner, it's time for Prospect Pipeline to officially rank 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.

    Here's how all 30 farm systems stack up heading into spring training.

    Want to talk prospects? Hit me up on Twitter: @GoldenSombrero

    2015 Top 10 Prospects Index | 2014 Pre-Spring Training Edition Farm System Rankings

30. Detroit Tigers

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    2014 Ranking: 28

    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: None

    The Tigers willingness to trade top prospects for major league assets has made the franchise a perennial contender, but also a perennial bottom-third finisher in the farm system rankings. Years of aggressive trading has left Detroit’s farm system in bad shape for 2015, both in terms of the quantity and quality of talent, and it also puts constant pressure on a mostly veteran big league roster to stay healthy. 

    The Tigers traded their arguably top three prospects before the July non-waiver deadline, with right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel going to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal, and highly touted shortstop Willy Adames going to Tampa Bay as part of the three-team trade for David Price.

    The Tigers continued to ship off prospects in trades this offseason, trading second baseman Devon Travis to the Blue Jays, Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks and, finally, right-hander Jonathan Crawford (and Eugenio Suarez) to the Reds.

    However, pitching prospects Kevin Ziomek and Austin Kubitza, the team’s respective second- and fourth-round picks in 2013, are still in the picture, and they’re both coming off equally successful seasons as part of Low-A West Michigan’s starting rotation.

    Left-handed slugger Steven Moya enjoyed a monster year in the Double-A Eastern League, clubbing a career-high 35 home runs while pacing the league in most offensive categories. However, the 6’6” left-handed hitter’s swing-and-miss issues continue to fuel questions about whether he’ll make enough contact in the major leagues to utilize his robust power.

    Center fielder Derek Hill, the team's top draft pick (No. 23 overall) in 2014, gives the system some much-needed upside at an up-the-middle position, while right-hander Spencer Turnbull (second round) is another power arm who’ll be given a chance to stick as a starter.

29. Miami Marlins

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    2014 Ranking: 20

    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

    Few teams were as busy this offseason as the Miami Marlins.

    The decision to extend Giancarlo Stanton with a historic 13-year, $325 million contract thrust the Marlins into win-now mode, and it wasn’t long before the club began to aggressively retool its big league roster around the 25-year-old slugger.

    However, building a strong supporting cast around Stanton meant blowing up the farm system, and so the Marlins were forced to part with top prospects.

    First, they traded left-hander Andrew Heaney, the organization’s first-round draft pick in 2012, Enrique Hernandez and two other players to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon. One day later, they shipped right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to the Reds in a deal for Mat Latos.

    Heaney, Hernandez and DeSclafani each debuted in the major leagues in 2014, meaning that the Marlins would have had them under team control for five or six years. Meanwhile, their respective departures have left Miami with few options down on the farm.

    Flame-throwing right-hander Tyler Kolek, whom the Marlins selected with the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, has the highest ceiling in the organization and headlines a prospect pool that’s top-heavy with pitching.

    Lefty Justin Nicolino’s plus command and advanced pitchability should help him reach the major leagues in 2015, and right-handers Jose Urena and Trevor Williams shouldn’t be far behind.

    Second baseman Avery Romero has done nothing but rake as a professional, batting .320 between both Class-A levels, while 2014 draft pick Brian Anderson gives them additional depth at the position. Meanwhile, catcher J.T. Realmuto had the breakout campaign that seemed inevitable and also fared well during a brief audition in the major leagues, and he seems poised to carve out a more important role with the Marlins in 2015.

28. Milwaukee Brewers

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    2014 Ranking: 30

    Notable Offseason Additions: SS/2B Luis Sardinas; RHP Marcos Diplan; RHP Corey Knebel

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

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

    The Milwaukee Brewers’ system has been on a steep decline since the team drafted college pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley with the No. 12 and 15 picks, respectively, in 2011. Both pitchers were expected to make quick work of the minor leagues and become fixtures in the big league rotation. Instead, Jungmann reached Triple-A for the first time last season, while Bradley enjoyed an overdue resurgence and reached Double-A after three seasons at High-A Brevard County.

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

    The Brewers received a decent return from the Rangers in the recent Yovani Gallardo deal, acquiring teenage right-hander Marcos Diplan as well as a pair of cost-controlled prospects in middle infielder Luis Sardinas and reliever Corey Knebel.

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

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

27. Los Angeles Angels

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    2014 Ranking: 29

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Andrew Heaney; 2B/SS Roberto Baldoquin; 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

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

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

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

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

    Unfortunately, the few promising homegrown players in the Angels system haven’t progressed as expected to this point, especially third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who turned in a second straight disappointing season at Double-A Arkansas. Second baseman Alex Yarbrough had a strong campaign playing alongside Cowart in the Southern League, but the 23-year-old switch-hitter profiles as more of a utility player than an everyday guy.

26. San Francisco Giants

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    2014 Ranking: 25

    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

    While the San Francisco Giants’ system is undeniably top-heavy with pitching prospects, a majority of the team’s promising young arms profile as either back-end-starter types or guys who might not throw enough strikes to even stick in the rotation.

    Right-hander Kyle Crick probably still has the best stuff and highest ceiling in the system, but both his control and command were a mess last season in the Eastern League and continued to impede his overall development. On the contrary, Clayton Blackburn, another right-hander, has a high probability to pitch in the big leagues thanks to his strong command of four pitches and feel for sequencing. 

    Ty Blach, 24, is basically a left-handed version of Blackburn, as he lacks overpowering stuff but features advanced command of three pitches. And don’t sleep on hard-throwing right-hander Keury Mella, as he’s right there in the conversation with Crick for most upside in the system.

    The Giants went after Vanderbilt righty Tyler Beede in the first round (No. 14 overall) of last June’s draft, and, unfortunately, his lack of control/command puts him in the same boat as Crick. However, based on what Crick hasn’t accomplished over the past two seasons, I’d give Beede better odds of reaching his potential.

    As for the Giants’ notable position prospects—well, there aren’t many.

    Catcher Andrew Susac will likely serve as Buster Posey’s backup again in 2015 after thriving in the role late last season, while middle infielder Christian Arroyo, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, is a natural hitter with good bat speed, but he’s still several years away from the major leagues.

25. Oakland Athletics

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Ranking: 27

    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 Joey Wendle

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Michael Ynoa; SS Daniel Robertson; OF Boog Powell

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Franklin Barreto; 1B Matt Olson

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

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

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

    The A’s top prospects spent last season at High-A Stockton, where first baseman Matt Olson led the California League with 37 home runs, while third baseman Renato Nunez swatted 29. Second baseman Chad Pinder also tallied 50 extra-base hits in his full-season debut, though only 13 left the yard.

    The organization also received a breakout performance from Jaycob Brugman, as the 23-year-old outfielder posted impressive numbers across both Class-A levels and will now likely begin 2015 in Double-A.

    Unfortunately, few of the team’s pitching prospects progressed as hoped last year, as right-hander Raul Alcantara, Dillon Overton and Bobby Wahl each spent time on the disabled list. However, the organization did land a few intriguing arms in the 2014 draft in college right-handers Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves, whom they selected in the second and third rounds, respectively.

24. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Previous Ranking: 18

    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; RHP Aaron Nola; 3B Maikel Franco

    The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t launched a full-on rebuilding process, at least not yet, but the organization appears to be headed in that direction based on recent trades.

    The Phillies targeted young, projectable pitchers in trades this offseason, acquiring Zach Eflin and Tom Windle from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins deal and then getting right-hander Ben Lively from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Marlon Byrd. Those additions gave the Phillies some much-needed pitching depth on the farm behind 2014 first-rounder Aaron Nola and former top prospect Jesse Biddle.

    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 in his first full professional season. Third baseman Maikel Franco overcame a rough first half at Triple-A to reach the major leagues as a September call-up, setting him up for a potential everyday role in 2015. Lastly, be sure to keep an eye on center fielder Carlos Tocci this season. The 19-year-old is a breakout candidate after back-to-back years in the Low-A South Atlantic League.

    Beyond that, the Phillies system also stands out for its collection of young, high-upside talent in the low minors, a group that includes center fielder Roman Quinn, catcher Deivi Grullon, left-hander Yoel Mecias and right-hander Franklyn Kilome.

23. Baltimore Orioles

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Ranking: 11

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Stephen Tarpley

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

    Baltimore’s 2013 prep draft picks made a strong impression last season at Low-A Delmarva, as right-hander Hunter Harvey led the way on the mound—before he was shut down for the season with an elbow injury—while catcher Chance Sisco paced the South Atlantic League with a .340 batting average.

    First baseman Christian Walker, a fourth-round pick in 2012, took a huge step forward between the Double-A and Triple-A levels behind a career-best 26 home runs, and the Orioles rewarded his progress with a call-up to the major leagues in late September.

    Top prospect Dylan Bundy continued to work his way back from 2013 Tommy John surgery and reached High-A Frederick before succumbing to a lat strain. The right-hander’s numbers were encouraging in his highly anticipated return to the mound, although reports suggested his velocity hadn't returned to pre-surgery form. The Orioles also had a few pitchability guys take a step forward in 2014, as left-hander Tim Berry and right-hander Zach Davies headlined a strong rotation at Double-A Bowie.

    Lastly, the O's have a few young players to follow closely in 2015 including Jomar Reyes, a 17-year-old third baseman who impressed during his pro last season in the Gulf Coast League, and right-hander Pat Connaughton, who will finish his basketball career at Notre Dame this winter before joining the organization full time later in the year.

22. Tampa Bay Rays

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Ranking: 24

    Notable Offseason Additions: OF Steven Souza; SS Daniel Robertson; OF Boog Powell; 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; SS Daniel Robertson; OF Steven Souza

    It was an overall quiet year for Tampa Bay Rays prospects, as the team failed to produce impact players at the highest level like it had in previous years. Granted, the Rays received contributions from right-hander Jake Odorizzi and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, but nothing along the lines of Wil Myers, Chris Archer and Matt Moore. Therefore, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when the Rays, who were already out of the playoff race, began restocking their farm system in late July.

    First, the Rays landed 19-year-old shortstop Willy Adames at the trade deadline, receiving him from the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team deal for David Price. The club then began its offseason by acquiring two more young hitters, shortstop Andrew Velazquez and outfielder Justin Williams, from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Jeremy Hellickson.

    More recently, the Rays decided to part with Myers in another three-team trade, this time involving the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres, which netted them a slew of young talents, including outfielder Steven Souza, first baseman Jake Bauers and right-handers Burch Smith and Jose Dominguez.

    And last but not least, the Rays were able to land Daniel Robertson, another highly touted, up-and-coming shortstop prospect, and outfielder Boog Powell from the A’s in the Ben Zobrist-Yunel Escobar deal.

    Other than that, catcher Justin O’Conner has always been known for his strong defense and cannon arm, but the 22-year-old finally came into his own at the dish last season and put up solid numbers in challenging leagues. On the mound, left-hander Blake Snell continued to miss more than a bat per inning between both A-ball levels.

    As for the Rays’ 2014 draft class, first baseman Casey Gillaspie (No. 20 overall) showed good power and an advanced eye in the New York-Penn League, while second-rounder Brent Honeywell opened eyes in the Appalachian League with his low to mid-90s fastball and filthy screwball.

21. Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2014 Ranking: 19

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Matt Brazis

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

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

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

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

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

    Lastly, the organization continues to house a promising collection of young arms, with Edwin Diaz, Luiz Gohara, Victor Sanchez and Tyler Pike, all four of whom are younger than 21 and have considerable upside.

20. Cincinnati Reds

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Ranking: 15

    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 Reds' top prospects can be broken down into two groups: outfielders and pitchers.

    As you might have guessed, the Reds don’t have a particularly balanced system due to a lack of infield prospects. However, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that they have multiple players with bright futures in the major leagues.

    Outfielder Jesse Winker is the best hitter in the system (and arguably one of the purest hitters in the minors), with a sweet left-handed swing, an excellent approach and above-average raw power, while Yorman Rodriguez got his feet wet with the Reds last September. Meanwhile, shortstop Alex Blandino, the only non-outfield position player to rank among the team's top prospects, made a strong impression in his professional debut, finishing the season at a full-season level. 

    The team’s top draft pick from last year, right-hander Nick Howard (No. 19 overall), will be a project as he transitions from college closer to full-time starter, although that’s also what everyone was saying at this time last year about right-hander Michael Lorenzen.

    Lorenzen was a pleasant surprise this year, as the former two-way player at Cal State Fullerton spent his first full professional season in Double-A Pensacola’s starting rotation, pitching alongside top prospect Robert Stephenson. Meanwhile, some of the Reds’ younger arms also took steps forward last season, as Nick Travieso and left-hander Amir Garrett excelled as starters in the Midwest League.

19. Chicago White Sox

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    2014 Ranking: 26

    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

    The Chicago White Sox may not have many big names on the farm beyond Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson, the team’s first-round draft picks from the last two years, respectively, but they’ve quietly developed a deep system featuring a combination of high-probability and high-ceiling prospects.

    Right-hander Tyler Danish likely projects better as a reliever due to a sidearm delivery, but the uniqueness of his delivery and stuff allowed him to dominate older hitters this season between Low-A and High-A. Right-hander Francellis Montas missed part of the season with a knee injury, but he sits in the upper 90s with his fastball and is incredibly difficult to barrel.

    Outfielder Courtney Hawkins, the No. 13 overall pick in 2012, rebounded well from an overaggressive assignment to High-A last year with a more consistent performance in his second tour of the Carolina League. That being said, strikeouts are still an issue and probably always will be. Third baseman Trey Michalczewski flew under the radar with a solid full-season debut, and the 19-year-old switch-hitting third baseman is a candidate for a breakout performance in 2015.

    The success and development of the team’s middle infielders last season was a bright spot, as shortstop Tim Anderson blew past expectations at High-A Winston-Salem and received a taste of Double-A, and second baseman Micah Johnson would have been a September call-up if not for a season-ending hamstring injury.

    The White Sox landed NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon—the top talent and projected No. 1 overall pick when the season started—with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and the organization wasted no time putting the 22-year-old on the fast track to the major leagues. Following a similar developmental timeline as ace Chris Sale, Rodon made stops in rookie ball and High-A before finishing his pro debut at Triple-A Charlotte. Meanwhile, the South Siders also found a potential steal in right-hander Spencer Adams in the second round (No. 44 overall pick), as the first-round talent flashed his huge upside in his pro debut.

    Rodon probably will be the first to arrive in the major leagues should he not crack the Opening Day rotation, but fans should get a look at several of the South Siders’ top prospects during the 2015 season.

18. San Diego Padres

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 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 San Diego Padres and first-time general manager A.J. Preller have been busy this offseason.

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

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

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

    Outfielder Rymer Liriano returned from Tommy John surgery to light up Double-A and Triple-A, but struggled in his first taste of the major leagues. 2013 first-rounder Hunter Renfroe also enjoyed a strong first full pro season, and then continued to showcase his prodigious power in the Arizona Fall League. Meanwhile, the Padres improved their middle-infield depth at last year’s trade deadline with the acquisitions of second baseman Taylor Lindsey and shortstop Jose Rondon from the Angels in the Huston Street trade.

    There were questions about Turner’s bat when he was drafted (No. 13 overall pick in 2014), but the speedy shortstop certainly didn’t have any issues hitting Midwest League pitching last summer. However, he’ll join the Nationals in June as the "player to be named later" in the Myers trade. The Padres also landed a high-upside player in the second round in outfielder Michael Gettys, who’s loaded with tools and top-flight athleticism but is very, very raw and will need considerable time to develop in the minor leagues.

    And while the team’s crop of young arms was depleted this offseason through trades, they still have Matt Wisler and Casey Kelly to look forward to in 2015.

17. New York Yankees

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Ranking: 22

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

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Manny Banuelos

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: OF Aaron Judge; RHP Luis Severino; SS Jorge Mateo

    The 2014 season didn’t go as planned for the New York Yankees, who failed to reach the playoffs for a second straight year despite signing high-profile free agents such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

    Things went much better down on the farm, though, as the organization’s top prospects took a huge step forward individually and collectively. Outfielder Aaron Judge, who is 6'7", flashed his offensive upside with an impressive professional debut across both Class-A levels, and he then tied a bow on the year with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Luis Severino was selected to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game last July as part of what was a breakout campaign across three minor league levels.

    The Bronx Bombers’ up-the-middle prospects also put themselves on the radar last season, as shortstop Jorge Mateo and catcher Luis Torrens opened eyes in the low minors, while an unexpected offensive outburst by outfielder-turned-second baseman Robert Refsnyder has him in the mix for playing time in 2015.

    First baseman Greg Bird’s power returned after a late-season promotion to Double-A Trenton, and he improved his overall prospect stock considerably with an MVP award-winning campaign in the Arizona Fall League. And then there's the organization's former top prospect, 22-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez, whose power potential makes him anything but an afterthought within this up-and-coming system.

16. Cleveland Indians

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    2014 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; C Francisco Mejia; OF Bradley Zimmer

    The best way to describe Cleveland's farm system heading into 2015 is sneaky good. While it's thin on pitching prospects (less so after this year's draft), the Tribe have assembled a promising collection of young hitters, including several who are either switch-hitters or swing from the left side of the plate exclusively and project to remain at an up-the-middle position long term. 

    Shortstop Francisco Lindor is an absolute wizard with the glove, and after the Tribe moved Asdrubal Cabrera at the trade deadline, the stage is now set for the 21-year-old to take over as the team's everyday shortstop in 2015.

    Outfielder Tyler Naquin, the No. 15 overall pick in 2013, continued to silence his skeptics this season with a strong offensive campaign in the Eastern League. The 23-year-old also made strides with his defense in center field, easing some of the concern about his ability to handle the position at higher levels. 

    The Tribe's top draft pick from 2013, Clint Frazier (No. 5 overall), had an up-and-down full-season debut at Low-A Lake County, but the redheaded outfielder showed improvement during the second half and finished with respectable numbers.

    As for the 2014 draft class, the Indians added one of the top college bats in outfielder Bradley Zimmer (No. 21 overall), a high-probability left-hander in Justus Sheffield (No. 31), a polished (left-handed) college hitter in Mike Papi (No. 38) and a projectable right-hander in Grant Hockin (No. 61). 

    They also landed one of the best all-around bats from the high school ranks in the third round in first baseman Bobby Bradley, and suffice it to say, the slugger made a strong impression by leading the rookie-level Arizona League in most offensive categories.

    The Indians also received breakout performances from 19-year-old catcher Francisco Mejia, who has some serious raw power and a patient approach, and 23-year-old shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who has moved up the ladder one level behind Lindor.

    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 such as Dylan Baker, Dace Kime or Adam Plutko.

15. Toronto Blue Jays

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    2014 Ranking: 23

    Notable Offseason Additions: 2B Devon Travis

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

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

    Marcus Stroman’s graduation to big league starter last season put a temporary dent in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, but right-hander Aaron Sanchez, lefty Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey each picked up the slack in his absence, as all three prospects finished the year in the major leagues.

    Sanchez, who spent most of 2014 between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, proved to be a force out of the Blue Jays bullpen following a late July promotion, showcasing an upper 90s fastball and devastating breaking ball while saving three games in late September. Meanwhile, Norris and Pompey ultimately joined Sanchez in Toronto for the final month of the season to complete their respective meteoric rises through the minor leagues.

    As for last year's draft, getting right-hander Jeff Hoffman with the No. 9 overall pick, assuming he makes it all the way back from Tommy John surgery, was 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, but he’ll miss a sizable portion of the 2015 season after undergoing labrum surgery.

    It’s worth noting that Toronto’s offseason acquisition of third baseman Josh Donaldson from the A’s did cost the team three top-10-caliber prospects in pitchers Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman, both of whom have MLB experience, as well as 18-year-old Franklin Barreto, one of the better shortstop prospects in the minors. However, they did acquire Devon Travis, an all-around solid second-base prospect, in exchange for Anthony Gose.

    The Blue Jays also have a crop of promising young arms spread out across their lower levels, a group that includes right-handers Miguel Castro, Roberto Osuna, Alberto Tirado and Sean Reid-Foley and lefties Jairo Labourt and Matt Smoral.

14. St. Louis Cardinals

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    2014 Ranking: 6

    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 once-stocked Cardinals system isn’t as strong as previous years, though that was to be expected after the team graduated Kolten Wong and Carlos Martinez to the major leagues last season and tragically lost a future star in Oscar Taveras.

    Outfielder Stephen Piscotty didn't come into the system with a lot of hype but has really turned into an excellent player. Dude can flat-out hit, and he’s likely to get his first crack at the major leagues in 2015. 2012 second-round pick Carson Kelly made significant strides in his ongoing transition from third baseman to catcher, while outfielder Charlie Tilson staked his claim as one of the team’s top position prospects.

    As usual, the Cardinals’ system is also loaded with high-ceiling arms in the lower levels of the minors. 

    Alex Reyes, a 20-year-old right-hander, has the best arm in the system to go along with a projectable 6'3", 185-pound frame, but he’s still learning how to harness his outstanding stuff and throw strikes. 2014 first-round pick Jack Flaherty opened eyes in his professional debut after signing, making it clear why the Cardinals seemed to design their draft strategy around landing the prep right-hander.

    Southpaw Marco Gonzales, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, excelled toward the end of the regular season and well into October, and it’s hard to see him not receiving strong consideration for a rotation spot during spring training. Meanwhile, Rob Kaminsky, another undersized left-hander, has polish and a hammer breaking ball to complement an above-average fastball, both of which served him well last summer in his full-season debut at Peoria.

13. Kansas City Royals

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    2014 Ranking: 8

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

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Kyle Bartsch

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

    The San Francisco Giants may have won the 2014 World Series, but the season belonged to the American League champion Kansas City Royals.

    General manager Dayton Moore’s vision of building a winning organization based on strong scouting and player development finally was validated, as the Royals introduced a collection of homegrown talents to a national audience last October.

    More importantly, the Royals already have another wave of talent within striking distance of the major leagues.

    Kyle Zimmer, should he ever stay healthy for more than a half-season, has No. 1-No. 2 starter upside with athleticism, command and a near-double-plus fastball-curveball combination. Left-hander Sean Manaea took some time to adjust to professional baseball last season after making his professional debut at the High-A level, but the left-hander eventually found his groove en route to posting gaudy strikeout numbers. Right-hander Christian Binford, whose plus command helped him climb from High-A to Triple-A last year, is already knocking on the big league door headed into 2015, while 2014 first-round pick Brandon Finnegan (No. 17 overall) made baseball history last fall by becoming the first pitcher to pitch in both the College World Series and World Series.

    As for Kansas City’s other notable 2014 draft picks, left-hander Foster Griffin could receive a full-season assignment next year based on the merits of his strike-throwing ability and feel for mixing pitches, while catcher Chase Vallot already possesses arguably the best raw power in the system.

    As for hitters, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio had a nightmare season in Double-A Northwest Arkansas, though, amazingly, he was still young for the level at 21. The team’s top prospect, 19-year-old shortstop Raul Mondesi, also had a forgettable year at the dish but still impressed by battling through a learning year in the Carolina League.

12. Atlanta Braves

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    2014 Ranking: 21

    Notable Offseason Additions: LHP Max Fried; RHP Mike Foltynewicz; 3B Rio Ruiz; RHP Arodys Vizcaino; RHP Tyrell Jenkins; RHP Andrew Thurman; LHP Ricardo Sanchez; LHP Manny Banuelos; OF Mallex Smith; INF Jace Peterson; 3B Dustin Peterson; RHP Nate Hyatt; RHP Aaron Kurcz; RHP Bryton Trepagnier; C Jose Briceno; C Chris O’Dowd

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 3B Kyle Kubitza; LHP Chasen Shreve; RHP Aaron Northcraft; RHP Gus Schlosser; RHP James Hoyt; OF Edward Salcedo

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: 2B Jose Peraza; C Christian Bethancourt; LHP Max Fried; RHP Mike Foltynewicz; RHP Lucas Sims; SS Ozhaino Albies; 3B Rio Ruiz

    The Atlanta Braves’ farm system is among the most improved heading into the 2015 season, as the organization spent the last two months trading several of its top major league assets in exchange for prospect packages constructed around young pitchers such as Fried, Jenkins, Foltynewicz and Banuelos. The Braves also addressed their lack of depth at positions such as third base, catcher and center field with the acquisitions of Ruiz, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, Smith and Briceno.

    Twenty-year-old second baseman Jose Peraza's top-of-the-order speed, high contact rate and advanced feel for the game have him on the fast track to the major leagues, and there’s a good chance he’ll debut with the Braves sometime around midseason. Meanwhile, the team's top prospect from 2014, right-hander Lucas Sims, seems poised for a bounce-back campaign after a strong finish in the High-A Carolina League.

    Catcher Christian Bethancourt’s bat hasn’t developed as hoped, and questions remain about the 23-year-old’s hit-tool potential, but he’s an absolute monster defensively and ready for a near-everyday role in 2015. It's also worth noting that the Braves recently acquired an intriguing young-ish catcher from the Rockies in Jose Briceno, a 22-year-old right-handed hitter with some pop and catch-and-throw skills.

    2014 first-round pick Braxton Davidson (No. 32 overall) has big raw power and a short swing to make it play, but the left-handed hitter struggled to drive the ball this summer between two rookie levels. The Braves also grabbed a potential second-round steal in Garrett Fulenchek, a projectable 6’4”, 205-pound right-hander with an explosive mid-90s sinker. Eighteen-year-old shortstop Ozhaino Albies, one player in this system to keep an eye on, got everyone's attention last summer by batting .364 across a pair of rookie levels.

    The Braves accomplished more in about two months this winter than other teams do over a multiyear period, as the club efficiently restocked its farm system through offseason trades for both high-ceiling and high-probability prospects.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2014 Ranking: 14

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

    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; 3B Brandon Drury; RHP Touki Toussaint

    It was widely believed that top prospect Archie Bradley would spend most of the 2014 season in the major leagues, but an elbow injury in late April cut into his development and forced the organization to reassess his timeline. The right-hander looked better in this year’s Arizona Fall League, but he'll still have some questions to answer in the upcoming season.

    Braden Shipley, the No. 15 pick in last year's draft, proved to be a first-round steal with a plus fastball-changeup combination, impressive athleticism and better-than-expected command. The team’s compensation round A pick from 2013, right-hander Aaron Blair, was also been impressive last season as he dominated at three levels including Double-A.

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

    And then, of course, we have the Diamondbacks offseason signings of 24-year-old Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas (six years, $68.5 million) and right-hander Yoan Lopez, 21, whose $8.25 million bonus set a new record under the international bonus pool system.

    Twenty-two-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 24-year-old third baseman Jake Lamb, who received a promotion to the major leagues in August after raking at Double-A Mobile.

    The Diamondbacks also have a pair of promising, switch-hitting teenage middle infielders in Domingo Leyba (19), who came over from the Tigers this offseason in the Didi Gregorius trade, and shortstop Sergio Alcantara (18), who has an incredibly advanced approach for his age to go along with the defensive chops to stick at shortstop.

10. Texas Rangers

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    2014 Ranking: 13

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Anthony Ranaudo

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: 2B Chris Bostick; RHP Abel De Los Santos; RHP Akeem Bostick; SS Luis Sardinas; RHP Marcos Diplan; RHP Corey Knebel

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

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

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

    Outfielders Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams and Nomar Mazara’s tools began to play in games more consistently last season, resulting in the latter two players finishing the year in Double-A. The trio will likely spend most of the 2015 season together back in the Texas League.

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

    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. Basically, the Rangers system always has something to be excited about, even if the majority of its best prospects are in the lower levels of the minors.

9. Washington Nationals

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    2014 Ranking: 17

    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 (PTBNL); RHP Reynaldo Lopez

    Lucas Giolito emerged as the consensus top pitching prospect in the minor leagues last year, as the 20-year-old right-hander—in his first full season after Tommy John surgery—dominated hitters in the South Atlantic League with a combination of size and stuff. 

    The team’s former top pitching prospect, hard-throwing right-hander A.J. Cole, didn’t miss as many bats as he did in previous seasons, but his mid-90s fastball, improving curveball and overall control should help get him to the major leagues in 2015.

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

    Toolsy center fielder Michael Taylor turned in a breakout performance this season between Double-A and Triple-A, and as a result he saw time with the Nationals late in the regular season. The club traded its other outstanding outfield prospect from 2014, Steven Souza, to the Rays in the three-team deal for Wil Myers, which, amazingly, netted them a likely everyday shortstop in Trea Turner (No. 13 overall pick in 2014 draft) and a mid-rotation starter in Joe Ross (No. 25 pick in 2011 draft).

    Things also came together quickly for 22-year-old shortstop Wilmer Difo, as he ranked among the South Atlantic League leaders in most offensive categories and ultimately captured the league’s MVP award.

    In general, 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.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2014 Ranking: 12

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

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

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

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

    In terms of pitchers, 18-year-old left-hander Julio Urias, who's arguably the second-best pitching prospect in the game, 22-year-old right-hander Chris Anderson and 2014 first-round pick Grant Holmes give the Dodgers an impressive crop of arms to build around, and right-hander Jose De Leon isn’t far behind them.

7. Colorado Rockies

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    2014 Ranking: 10

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Jairo Diaz; RHP Gus Schlosser

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: C Jose Briceno, C Chris O’Dowd

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Jon Gray; OF David Dahl; OF Raimel Tapia; RHP Eddie Butler; LHP Kyle Freeland; 3B Ryan McMahon; 2B Forrest Wall

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

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

    Outfielder David Dahl made up for his lost 2013 season with an impressive performance across both Class-A levels, and he now enters 2015 as one of the better position prospects in the minors, while breakout prospects Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon will move up to the High-A California League next season after putting up monster numbers in the South Atlantic League.

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

    Lastly, the Rockies’ top 2014 draft picks, first-rounder Kyle Freeland (No. 8 overall) and comp-rounder Forrest Wall, were both highly impressive in their respective pro debuts.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2014 Ranking: 2

    Notable Offseason Additions: OF Edward Salcedo; LHP Stephen Tarpley

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: LHP Joely Rodriguez

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: RHP Tyler Glasnow; 1B/OF Josh Bell; RHP Jameson Taillon; C Reese McGuire; OF Austin Meadows; RHP Nick Kingham; 2B Alen Hanson

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

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

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

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

5. Boston Red Sox

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    2014 Ranking: 5

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

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

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

    Despite graduating a host of players to the big leagues last season, the Boston Red Sox enter 2015 with one of the finer collections of talent in the sport thanks to an aggressive draft strategy and outstanding player development.

    The Red Sox’s core of pitching prospects continued their steady climb up the organizational ladder, as right-handers Anthony Ranaudo (traded to the Rangers this offseason) and Matt Barnes reached the major leagues after strong showings in Triple-A, while 22-year-old left-hander Henry Owens, the team’s top pitching prospect, furthered his impressive professional career with a strong, consistent performance across Double-A and Triple-A.

    Switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart also thrived in his first taste of the high minors, hitting for both average and power while playing phenomenal defense, while third baseman Garin Cecchini made his mark in the major leagues despite an overall disappointing campaign at Triple-A. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see where he fits into the organization’s long-term plans after the offseason signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

    All that being said, 2014 will be remembered as the year Boston’s next wave of international prospects put themselves on the prospect radar. Eighteen-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers showcased arguably the highest ceiling in the system with his excellent performance between the Dominican Summer and Gulf Coast Leagues, while 20-year-old outfielder Manuel Margot put himself on the map with his power/speed combo across both Class-A levels.

    The Red Sox’s draft this year once again featured a good mix of high-ceiling, high–floor talent. Shortstop 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.

    Right-hander Michael Kopech is a projectable right-hander who has touched the high 90s with his fastball. Second-round pick Sam Travis, a right-handed-hitting first baseman, 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 at last year’s trade deadline, acquiring left-handers Edwin Escobar and Eduardo Rodriguez in separate deals, and they still have both the talent and depth to pull off a potential blockbuster deal.

4. New York Mets

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    2014 Ranking: 7

    Notable Offseason Additions: N/A

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: N/A

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

    The New York Mets' farm system is strong heading into 2015, like really, really strong.

    Besides big-name pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, left-hander Steven Matz has emerged as one of the more talked-about yet underrated pitching prospects in the minors, while right-hander Marcos Molina is a safe bet to be in a similar situation next year after his full-season debut.

    The Mets’ offensive prospects took a step forward last 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. The team also has a pair of promising young middle infielders on the rise in shortstop Amed Rosario and second baseman Dilson Herrera, who was called up to the major leagues in late August after opening the season in High-A.

    And don’t sleep on catcher Kevin Plawecki just because Travis d’Arnaud began to realize his potential last season; the 23-year-old doesn’t offer much home power, but he has a knack for making hard contact and collects his share of doubles. Meanwhile, the addition of outfielder Michael Conforto, an advanced college hitter from this year’s draft who can get on base and hit for power, makes the system even more impressive.

3. Houston Astros

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    2014 Ranking: 3

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Akeem Bostick; RHP James Hoyt

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Nick Tropeano; C Carlos Perez; RHP Mike Foltynewicz; 3B Rio Ruiz; RHP Andrew Thurman

    Potential Top 100 Prospects for 2015: SS Carlos Correa; RHP Mark Appel; RHP Vincent Velasquez; OF Brett Phillips; 3B Colin Moran

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

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

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

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

    Hard-throwing right-handers Michael Feliz and Vince Velasquez both flashed their high ceilings in the lower minors, though the latter once again failed to stay healthy, while left-hander Josh Hader took home honors as the organization’s top pitcher.

    Meanwhile, Houston’s acquisition of third baseman Colin Moran from the Marlins shortly before last season’s trade deadline made fellow third-base prospect Rio Ruiz expendable, ultimately leading to him being moved along with right-handers Mike Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman to the Braves for Evan Gattis in January.

2. Minnesota Twins

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    2014 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

    The Minnesota Twins owned the best farm system at this time last year, and so it was almost a forgone conclusion that several of the team's top prospects would reach the major leagues. But that never happened.

    Center fielder Byron Buxton, who once again is arguably the sport’s top prospect for the upcoming season, lost most of his highly anticipated campaign with a wrist injury and then a concussion, while slugging third baseman Miguel Sano ultimately missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery.

    The Twins’ first-round draft pick last year, Nick Gordon (Dee Gordon's brother and Flash Gordon's son), has a high ceiling as a true shortstop with a natural feel for hitting and the underrated strength to put the ball in gaps. The club also added several potential late-inning power 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, highlighted by hard-throwing right-handers Alex Meyer and Jose Berrios, both of whom are likely to reach the major leagues in 2015. Beyond that, the organization’s lower-level arms like Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves seem poised for breakout campaigns in 2015 and could end up being three of the more talked-about pitching prospects in the game by season’s end.

1. Chicago Cubs

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    2014 Ranking: 4

    Notable Offseason Additions: RHP Matt Brazis

    Notable Offseason Subtractions: RHP Arodys Vizcaino; RHP Jeferson Mejia

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

    The Chicago Cubs get the nod for baseball’s top farm system heading into 2015, this coming after the team graduated former top prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara to the major leagues last season.

    The Cubs have the best collection of young hitters in the game in Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, and there’s a chance the three of them will play together in the major leagues at some point next season. Meanwhile, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and Billy McKinney should all be ready the following year.

    The system still lacks high-end pitching prospects—which became less of an issue with the Jon Lester signing—but right-handers C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood each made developmental strides in 2014 and seem poised for big things next season. The Cubs also have quietly built pitching depth by casting wide nets for arms in the last few drafts, with this year’s class of Jake Stinnett, Carson Sands, Justin Steele and Dylan Cease representing the club’s best haul.

    The Cubs might not reach the playoffs next season or even finish with a winning record, but the talent they’ll have on the field each night will make them the most talked-about team in the game.

    It should be an exciting year on the North Side of Chicago.