Updated MLB Farm System Rankings After 2016 Trade Deadline Frenzy

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2016

Updated MLB Farm System Rankings After 2016 Trade Deadline Frenzy

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    Houston Astros top prospect Alex Bregman
    Houston Astros top prospect Alex BregmanMark Cunningham/Getty Images

    The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and along with some notable veterans changing teams, there was also the usual bevy of prospect talent changing hands.

    With that in mind, what follows is an updated look at where all 30 farm systems rank, as well as an updated look at each team's top 10 prospects.

    The following factors helped determine the rankings of players and teams:

    • Potential (Player): Potential trumps production a lot of the time, especially in the lower levels of the minors and with recent draft picks. Skill set and overall tools are often a better indication of what kind of player a guy will be in the future.
    • Talent (Player): As for guys in the higher levels of the minors who are close to breaking through at the big league level, production and current talent level are the determining factors, as they are viewed as a more complete product.
    • Overall Depth (Team): Having one or two elite prospects is great, but having a deep farm system from top to bottom is the way to build a sustainable contender. The overall depth and level of talent was the biggest factor in ranking each team.
    • High-End Talent (Team): That being said, there is a difference between a prospect who has a chance of making an impact at the big league level and a prospect who could be a star. Elite prospects served as a tiebreaker of sorts when two teams were close in the rankings.

    This time around we've incorporated a tier system to help differentiate between the different levels of prospects talent. Here's a quick explanation: 

    • Tier 1: Prospects who have an elite skill set and legitimate All-Star potential. This is the cream of the crop.
    • Tier 2: Prospects who have a good chance of becoming at least a contributor at the MLB level. This is where most prospects on the following list will fall.
    • Tier 3: Prospects who profile as fringe MLB contributors or young prospects still too raw to project any higher. Having one of these players ranked among your top 10 prospects is a good indication of a thin system.

    That's all capped off with a quick rundown of how the farm system changed at the trade deadline and a look ahead to the prospect most likely to make a significant impact at the MLB level in 2017.

    Let's get started.


    Note: Players on the big league roster who have not yet used up their rookie status (130 AB, 50 IP, 45 days on roster) were included as prospects.

30. Los Angeles Angels (Previous: 30)

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    LHP Nate Smith
    LHP Nate SmithMatt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. C Matt Thaiss21imgA20202
    2. CF Jahmai Jones19imgROK20212
    3. OF Brandon Marsh18img-20212
    4. C Taylor Ward22imgA+20192
    5. LHP Nate Smith24imgAAA20162
    6. RHP Jaime Barria20imgA20203
    7. SS Nonie Williams18imgROK20213
    8. RHP Victor Alcantara23imgAA20173
    9. RHP Grayson Long22imgA20193
    10. RHP Joe Gatto21imgA20193


    Farm System Update

    While the Los Angeles Angels did not have much in the way of trade chips at the deadline, they still managed to add a few useful pieces to their paper-thin farm system.

    They picked up former top prospect Alex Meyer, who ranked among Baseball America's top 100 prospects three straight years from 2012 to 2014, in a deal with the Twins. The big 6'9" right-hander should eventually be able to make an impact, even if his control problems (3.9 BB/9) limit him to relief work.

    Reliever Joe Smith was also flipped to the Chicago Cubs for right-hander Jesus Castillo. The 20-year-old has pitched to a 3.27 ERA and 1.182 WHIP with 38 strikeouts in 33 innings at the Low-A level. He's a ways from contributing, but there's legitimate projectability in his 6'2", 165-pound frame.


    2017 Impact Prospect: SP Nate Smith

    The Angels rotation is far from set looking ahead to the 2017 season.

    Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and the recently acquired Ricky Nolasco figure to fill three of the slots, but the final two are wide open.

    Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Tim Lincecum are all free agents, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano will be recovering from Tommy John surgery and Garrett Richards is dealing with a torn elbow ligament that he's hoping won't require surgery, but very well could.

    That should open the door for left-hander Nate Smith to get a long look next spring.

    Command is the best weapon in the 24-year-old's arsenal, and he boasts a plus changeup to go along with his low 90s fastball and a pair of passable breaking pitches. He doesn't have front-line upside, but Smith should be able to settle in as a useful No. 4 or 5 starter.

29. Baltimore Orioles (Previous: 29)

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    C Chance Sisco
    C Chance SiscoGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. C Chance Sisco21imgAA20172
    2. RHP Cody Sedlock21imgA-20192
    3. RHP Hunter Harvey21imgA+20172
    4. SS Ryan Mountcastle19imgA20192
    5. 3B Jomar Reyes19imgA+20192
    6. 1B Trey Mancini24imgAAA20172
    7. LHP Chris Lee23imgAA20172
    8. RHP Matthias Dietz20imgA-20203
    9. OF D.J. Stewart22imgA+20183
    10. LHP Keegan Akin21imgA-20193


    Farm System Update

    The Baltimore Orioles had a relatively quiet deadline, giving up a decent young catching prospect in Jonah Heim and Triple-A left-hander Ariel Miranda to acquire utility man Steve Pearce and starter Wade Miley, respectively.

    Catcher Chance Sisco has taken over as the team's top prospect, thriving as a 21-year-old at the Double-A level with a .315/.403/.404 line that includes 21 doubles. He doesn't have much pop, despite his home run in the Futures Game, but he has everyday backstop potential with a good hit tool and solid receiving skills.

    The system as a whole may be thin, but the team did a nice job adding a trio of quality arms in the draft when they took Cody Sedlock, Matthias Dietz and Keegan Akin. Sedlock and Akin are both high-floor college arms, while Dietz is a wild card after taking a big step forward with his stuff and dominating at the JUCO level.


    2017 Impact Prospect: 1B Trey Mancini

    The Orioles locked up Chris Davis with a seven-year, $161 million deal last winter, but another slugger will likely be headed elsewhere this coming offseason when Mark Trumbo hits free agency.

    Pedro Alvarez was also signed to a one-year deal, leaving the team in need of a power bat in the middle of the lineup and potentially a starting designated hitter.

    Trey Mancini should be a prime candidate to seize that spot, with little left to prove in the minors. The 24-year-old put together a breakout season last year and he's backed it up here in 2016 with a .299/.378/.500 line between Double-A and Triple-A that includes 20 doubles, 18 home runs and 55 RBI.

28. Miami Marlins (Previous: 26)

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    RHP Kendry Flores
    RHP Kendry FloresAssociated Press

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. LHP Braxton Garrett18imgROK20201
    2. RHP Tyler Kolek20imgA20202
    3. LHP Jarlin Garcia23imgAA20172
    4. RHP Luis Castillo23imgA-20182
    5. OF Stone Garrett20imgA-20193
    6. OF Thomas Jones18imgROK20213
    7. OF Austin Dean22imgAA20173
    8. RHP Kendry Flores24imgAAA20163
    9. 3B Brian Anderson23imgAA20173
    10. RHP Austin Brice24imgAA20173


    Farm System Update

    The Miami Marlins already had one of the weaker farm systems in baseball leading up to the deadline and they slip even further down the rankings after giving up top position-player prospect Josh Naylor to acquire Andrew Cashner from the San Diego Padres.

    They also shipped out right-hander Luis Castillo in that trade, but he was returned in exchange for Colin Rea after Rea went down with an arm injury in his Marlins debut. The 23-year-old Castillo will be one to watch as he has the best arm in the system and could move quickly if things continue to click.

    With Naylor gone and right-hander Tyler Kolek still recovering from Tommy John surgery, No. 7 overall pick Braxton Garrett is the easy choice for top prospect honors. The left-hander is one of the most polished high school arms to come along in a while and he should move quickly toward his ceiling as a No. 2 starter.


    2017 Impact Prospect: SP Jarlin Garcia

    A Futures Game participant in 2015, Jarlin Garcia would likely be knocking on the door for a big league promotion if not for a triceps injury that has kept him sidelined since late May and limited him to just nine starts.

    The left-hander features a good four-pitch mix that he can throw for strikes, though he's still working on missing more bats with a 7.6 K/9 career strikeout rate.

    Provided he can put the arm issue behind him and finish this season strong, he should be in the mix for a rotation spot at some point early next season. He doesn't have front-line potential, but his control gives him a relatively high floor.

27. Detroit Tigers (Previous: 28)

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    RHP Joe Jimenez
    RHP Joe JimenezButch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. RHP Matt Manning18imgROK20211
    2. RHP Beau Burrows19imgA20202
    3. OF Christin Stewart22imgA+20182
    4. RHP Joe Jimenez21imgAAA20162
    5. OF Derek Hill20imgA20192
    6. RHP Kyle Funkhouser22imgA-20192
    7. SS JaCoby Jones24imgAAA20173
    8. LHP Tyler Alexander22imgA+20193
    9. OF Jose Azocar20imgA20203
    10. OF Michael Gerber24imgAA20173


    Farm System Update

    The Detroit Tigers opted to stand pat at the trade deadline, relying instead on the return of a number of key players from injury to bolster their chances of contending down the stretch.

    That leaves their fairly thin farm system unchanged since the draft, but they actually move up a spot thanks to the Miami Marlins falling behind them.

    Signing first-round pick Matt Manning away from a strong college commitment gives the organization a clear headliner atop the system and they may wind up walking away with the steal of the draft after taking Kyle Funkhouser in the fifth round.

    Outfielder Christin Stewart is also worth keeping an eye on as someone who could potentially jump up to tier one status. He's posted a .928 OPS with 22 doubles and 23 home runs in High-A and could be ready for a promotion to Double-A.


    2017 Impact Prospect: RP Joe Jimenez

    The Tigers have long been in search of quality bullpen pieces and they look to have a good one coming up through the ranks in Joe Jimenez.

    An undrafted free-agent signing in 2013, Jimenez has been nothing short of dominant over three minor league levels this year, pitching to a 1.31 ERA and 0.798 WHIP while striking out 64 batters in 41.1 innings and recording 23 saves.

    Expect him to step into a setup role next year with an eye on replacing incumbent closer Francisco Rodriguez when he hits free agency the following offseason.

26. San Francisco Giants (Previous: 22)

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    SS Christian Arroyo
    SS Christian ArroyoMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. SS Christian Arroyo21imgAA20171
    2. RHP Tyler Beede23imgAA20172
    3. 1B Chris Shaw22imgAA20182
    4. OF Bryan Reynolds21imgA-20192
    5. C Aramis Garcia23imgA+20182
    6. RHP Sam Coonrod23imgAA20182
    7. LHP Andrew Suarez23imgAA20183
    8. OF Heath Quinn21imgA-20193
    9. RHP Joan Gregorio24imgAAA20173
    10. OF Steven Duggar22imgAA20183


    Farm System Update

    The San Francisco Giants were aggressive in filling their biggest areas of need at the deadline, picking up infielder Eduardo Nunez, starter Matt Moore and reliever Will Smith.

    Nunez cost them left-handed starter Adalberto Mejia, who would have been in the running for a place inside the top 10. Moore cost them, among others, promising young shortstop Lucius Fox, who would have cracked the top five.

    However, the costly trade was the package they sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Smith. Along with surrendering former top prospect Andrew Susac, they also gave up their No. 1-ranked prospect in right-hander Phil Bickford.

    Evaluators were split on whether he possessed legitimate front-line potential, but there was no question Bickford was the best arm in the system. Losing him, along with Mejia and Fox, is more than enough to push the Giants down several spots.


    2017 Impact Prospect: SP Tyler Beede

    The addition of Moore gives the Giants a controllable starter and locks up a fourth spot in the rotation for 2017 and beyond, but the team still figures to have an opening at the back of the staff.

    Jake Peavy is a free agent at season's end and Matt Cain remains a major wild card going forward, which could open the door for Tyler Beede to seize his spot on the staff.

    The No. 14 pick in the 2014 draft, Beede has gone 6-6 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.326 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 107.2 innings while posting a career-best 2.9 BB/9 walk rate in Double-A. His floor continues to rise as he refines his command and there is still legitimate No. 2 starter upside if everything falls into place.

25. Kansas City Royals (Previous: 27)

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    SS Raul A. Mondesi
    SS Raul A. MondesiDenny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. SS Raul A. Mondesi21imgMLB20161
    2. 3B Hunter Dozier24imgAAA20172
    3. C Chase Vallot19imgA20192
    4. LHP Matt Strahm24imgMLB20162
    5. 1B/OF Ryan O'Hearn23imgAA20172
    6. OF Jorge Bonifacio23imgAAA20162
    7. RHP Kyle Zimmer24imgAA20172
    8. RHP Scott Blewett20imgA20193
    9. RHP Ashe Russell19imgA-20203
    10. RHP Jake Junis23imgAA20173


    Farm System Update

    The Kansas City Royals didn't add anything to the farm system after standing pat at the deadline, but they climb two spots nonetheless with the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants slipping below them.

    The emergence of third baseman Hunter Dozier this season gives the team another prospect on the fringe of reaching tier one status. He's hit .306/.378/.550 with 32 doubles and 21 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A and will take over top prospect honors if Raul. A. Mondesi expends his rookie eligibility before the season is over.

    Young arms like Scott Blewett, Ashe Russell, Nolan Watson, Foster Griffin and a handful of others are all capable of stepping up to tier two status if things come together. 


    2017 Impact Prospect: SS Raul A. Mondesi

    There's a chance Raul A. Mondesi could push incumbent Alcides Escobar for the starting shortstop gig as soon as next season. If not, he'll almost certainly supplant him in 2018.

    "Long term, folks believe they’ll let Alcides Escobar go and be replaced by top prospect Raul Mondesi," wrote Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball.

    Escobar carries a reasonable $6.5 million team option for next year, but with a disappointing .254/.281/.307 line the Royals could look to unload him this coming offseason if they do in fact think Mondesi is ready.

24. Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous: 23)

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    RHP Braden Shipley
    RHP Braden ShipleyBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. RHP Braden Shipley24imgMLB20161
    2. LHP Anthony Banda22imgAAA20172
    3. OF Anfernee Grier20imgA-20202
    4. LHP Alex Young22imgA+20182
    5. OF Socrates Brito23imgMLB20162
    6. RHP Vicente Campos24imgAA20172
    7. SS Dawel Lugo21imgAA20182
    8. RHP Taylor Clarke23imgAA20182
    9. IF Domingo Leyba20imgAA20183
    10. C/OF Peter O'Brien26imgAAA20163


    Farm System Update

    Considering the market for quality relievers, even those of the rental variety, the Arizona Diamondbacks landed a somewhat disappointing return from the Boston Red Sox for closer Brad Ziegler.

    While shortstop Luis Alejandro Basabe and outfielder Jose Almonte both have some upside, neither checks in among the organization's top 30 prospects at the moment.

    However, they made up for it by acquiring right-hander Vicente Campos from the New York Yankees in exchange for setup man Tyler Clippard.

    Campos, 24, has gone 10-3 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.183 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 126 innings in the upper levels of the minors. He's already at a career high for innings, but with a solid 6'3", 230-pound frame he has a chance to be a workhorse and a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm.


    2017 Impact Prospect: SP Braden Shipley

    With Archie Bradley exhausting his rookie eligibility and Aaron Blair traded to the Atlanta Braves during the offseason, right-hander Braden Shipley is all that remains of what was once a promising trio of arms headlining the Diamondbacks system.

    Shipley has a chance to be the best of the bunch with a good three-pitch mix and superior athleticism at the pitcher position.

    He has two starts under his belt since being promoted to the majors and he'll get a long look down the stretch as he tries to position himself to be part of the 2017 rotation from the onset.

23. Chicago White Sox (Previous: 20)

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    RHP Carson Fulmer
    RHP Carson FulmerJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. RHP Carson Fulmer22imgMLB20161
    2. C Zack Collins21imgA+20181
    3. RHP Spencer Adams20imgAA20182
    4. RHP Zack Burdi21imgAA20172
    5. RHP Alec Hansen21imgROK20192
    6. OF Charlie Tilson23imgAAA20163
    7. 3B Trey Michalczewski21imgAA20173
    8. OF Adam Engel24imgAAA20173
    9. RHP Jordan Stephens23imgA+20183
    10. OF Jameson Fisher22imgROK20183


    Farm System Update

    Much to the chagrin of the fanbase, the Chicago White Sox made only one significant move at the trade deadline, flipping reliever Zach Duke to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfielder Charlie Tilson.

    The speedy Tilson possess a solid hit tool and a good glove in center field, and he was brought right up to the big league club after posting a .282/.345/.407 line with 28 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in Triple-A.

    He picked up a hit in his first MLB at-bat, but suffered a torn hamstring later in the game that will sideline him the remainder of the season.

    "I can't even imagine," White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. "This is a dream. He gets called up, gets a hit in his first at-bat and after that it all gets taken away from you for a while. It's tough. All the guys on the team, as much as you want to put it out of your mind, you feel for the kid."


    2017 Impact Prospect: RP Carson Fulmer

    His max-effort delivery and inconsistent command led many to peg Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer as a future reliever heading into the 2015 draft and he wound up slipping to the White Sox at No. 8 overall.

    After being used as a starter during his time in the minors, he was called up as a bullpen reinforcement last month and he's struggled so far in six appearances.

    Despite that, Fulmer still has all the makings of a future closer, with a bulldog mentality on the mound and a devastating fastball-curveball combination. There's a chance current closer David Robertson could be moved in August or in the offseason and that would open up a key setup role for Fulmer next year ahead of Nate Jones.

22. New York Mets (Previous: 19)

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    SS Amed Rosario
    SS Amed RosarioGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornCurrent LevelETATier
    1. SS Amed Rosario20imgAA20171
    2. 1B Dominic Smith21imgAA20171
    3. SS Gavin Cecchini22imgAAA20162
    4. OF Brandon Nimmo23imgAAA20162
    5. RHP Justin Dunn20imgA-20192
    6. OF Desmond Lindsay19imgA-20202
    7. LHP Thomas Szapucki20imgA-20192
    8. OF Wuilmer Becerra21imgA+20182
    9. LHP Anthony Kay21img-20192
    10. SS Andres Gimenez17imgROK20213


    Farm System Update

    Dilson Herrera was technically no longer a prospect after exhausting his rookie eligibility last year, so losing him in the Jay Bruce deal does not impact the team's ranking here. However, the New York Mets still slip a few spots as a result of others moving ahead of them.

    Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith give the team a pair of elite-level prospects who are quickly making their way toward the majors, while the team added some much-needed high-end pitching in the draft in Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay after graduating their top arms in recent years.

    Thomas Szapucki has turned some heads with a 0.44 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 41.1 innings in short-season ball, while international shortstop prospect Andres Gimenez is hitting .353/.467/.551 in the Dominican Summer League after signing for a $1.2 million bonus last year.


    2017 Impact Prospect: SS Gavin Cecchini

    Rosario looks like the future at shortstop for the Mets, but it might be Gavin Cecchini who gets the first crack at replacing Asdrubal Cabrera, who signed a two-year, $18.5 million deal last offseason.

    Cecchini, who got off to a somewhat slow start after going No. 12 overall in the 2012 draft, turned in a breakout season last year and he's positioning himself for a late-season promotion with a strong Triple-A performance.

    He's hitting .308/.385/.429 with 19 doubles, five home runs and 41 RBI, posting nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (41). With gap power and a solid glove, he could get a look as a utility man over the final two months.

21. Seattle Mariners (Previous: 24)

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    1B D.J. Peterson
    1B D.J. Peters