MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-2017 Spring Training Edition

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2017

MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-2017 Spring Training Edition

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    Andrew Benintendi enters the 2017 season as the league's top prospect.
    Andrew Benintendi enters the 2017 season as the league's top prospect.Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Spring training is upon us, and that means it's time for another updated version of our farm system rankings.

    There have been a few notable trades since these rankings were last updated, and changes were also made regarding a player's tier status (more on that in a bit if you're unfamiliar) for the first time since the end of last season.

    At any rate, 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 these players are viewed as more complete products.
    • 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.

    We've incorporated a tier system to help differentiate between the different levels of 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 who are 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.

    Along with an updated list of the top 10 prospects for each team, you'll also find some general analysis on each team's top prospects and the outlook of the farm system as a whole.

    A player must not have passed the rookie-eligibility limits (130 AB, 50 IP, 45 days on roster) to be eligible for inclusion in these rankings.

30. Los Angeles Angels

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    Matt Thaiss /
    Matt Thaiss /Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. CF Jahmai Jones19imgA20202
    2. 1B Matt Thaiss 21imgA+20192
    3. OF Brandon Marsh19imgRk20213
    4. C Taylor Ward23imgAA20183
    5. LHP Nate Smith25imgAAA20173
    6. RHP Alex Meyer27imgAAA20173
    7. SS Nonie Williams18imgRk20213
    8. RHP Keynan Middleton23imgAAA20173
    9. RHP Grayson Long22imgA+20193
    10. RHP Jaime Barria 20imgA+20203

                          

    Outlook

    The Los Angeles Angels once again head into the season with the thinnest farm system in baseball, and it's not particularly close.

    Athletic outfielder Jahmai Jones and polished college bat Matt Thaiss are the closest the team has to a standout prospect, and both are still at least a couple years from knocking on the MLB door.

    Pitching prospects Nate Smith and Alex Meyer are ready to make an impactalbeit a fairly limited oneduring the upcoming season, and the same goes for 2016 breakout prospect Keynan Middleton, who could compete for a bullpen spot this spring.

    Infielders David Fletcher and Connor Justus, outfielder Troy Montgomery and right-hander Chris Rodriguez are a few other prospects worth keeping an eye on in the Angels' system. Given the lack of top-tier talent, those four could easily push their way into the team's top five by midseason.

29. Kansas City Royals

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    Hunter Dozier /
    Hunter Dozier /Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. RHP Josh Staumont 23imgAA20182
    2. 3B Hunter Dozier25imgAAA20172
    3. LHP Matt Strahm 25imgMLB20172
    4. LHP Eric Skoglund 24imgAAA20172
    5. OF Jorge Bonifacio 23imgAAA20172
    6. C Chase Vallot 20imgA+20192
    7. RHP Scott Blewett 20imgA+20193
    8. 1B/OF Ryan O'Hearn 23imgAAA20173
    9. OF Donnie Dewees 23imgAA20183
    10. RHP Kyle Zimmer 25imgAA20173

                            

    Outlook

    Flame-throwing Josh Staumont and rotation candidate Matt Strahm join former first-round pick and 2016 breakout prospect Hunter Dozier as the headliners in an increasingly thin Kansas City Royals system.

    Staumont has the pure stuff to be a top-tier prospect and a potential front-line starter, but 104 walks in 123.1 innings last season are a clear indication he has significant work to do refining his command.

    Eric Skoglund and Scott Blewett are both capable of taking a step forward among the team's pitching prospects, while a potentially healthy Kyle Zimmer looks like the X-factor in the system as he tries to regain his top prospect status.

    Pitching prospect Alex Mills was flipped to the Chicago Cubs for outfield prospect Donnie Dewees earlier this month. The former second-round pick hit .284/.338/.416 with 44 extra-base hits between Single-A and High-A last season.

28. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Anthony Banda /
    Anthony Banda /Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. LHP Anthony Banda 23imgAAA20172
    2. IF Dawel Lugo22imgAAA20182
    3. IF Domingo Leyba 21imgAA20182
    4. RHP Taylor Clarke23imgAAA20172
    5. OF Anfernee Grier21imgA-20202
    6. SS Jasrado Chisholm19imgA-20202
    7. OF Socrates Brito 24imgAAA20172
    8. RHP Jon Duplantier 22imgA20193
    9. LHP Alex Young23imgAA20183
    10. RHP Jimmie Sherfy 25imgAAA20173

                          

    Outlook

    Anthony Banda was nowhere to be found among the Arizona Diamondbacks top prospects at this time a year ago, and now he heads into spring training as the consensus top player in one of the league's weakest systems.

    The left-hander could compete for a spot at the back of the rotation this spring, and while he has a somewhat limited ceiling, he has a high floor and should be able to carve out a spot at the back of the rotation.

    Infielders Dawel Lugo and Domingo Leyba are both well ahead of the developmental curve, and teenage standout Jasardo Chisholm will be one to watch in 2017. He's capable of shooting to the top of the system with a strong full-season debut after hitting .281/.333/.446 with 22 extra-base hits in his pro debut.

    Future rotation candidate Taylor Clarke and relief standout Jimmie Sherfy could both arrive in the majors during the upcoming season along with Banda and outfielder Socrates Brito, leaving an already thin system that much thinner.

27. Miami Marlins

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    Austin Dean /
    Austin Dean /Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. LHP Braxton Garrett19imgA-20201
    2. 3B Brian Anderson23imgAA20182
    3. RHP Tyler Kolek 21imgA-20202
    4. LHP Dillon Peters24imgAAA20173
    5. LHP Jarlin Garcia24imgAAA20173
    6. OF Thomas Jones19imgRk20213
    7. OF Isael Soto20imgA+20203
    8. RHP Edward Cabrera24imgROK20203
    9. OF Austin Dean23imgAA20183
    10. OF Stone Garrett21imgA20193

                     

    Outlook

    If not for the presence of a top-tier prospect in left-hander Braxton Garrett, the Miami Marlins would rival the Los Angeles Angels for the bottom spot in these rankings.

    The No. 7 pick last June, Garrett is as polished as any prep arm to come along in years, and he should move quicker than most pitchers his age. His curveball is already plus-plus, and he should be able to add velocity as his 6'3" frame fills out.

    Third baseman Brian Anderson has always had the tools to be an everyday player at the next level, and after hitting .273/.360/.506 with five home runs in the Arizona Fall League, he looks like a potential breakout candidate.

    The deal last month to acquire Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds cost the Marlins a trio of quality prospects in Luis Castillo, Austin Brice and Isaiah White. Castillo would have claimed the No. 2 spot behind Garrett.

26. Baltimore Orioles

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    Trey Mancini /
    Trey Mancini /Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. C Chance Sisco 21imgAAA20171
    2. RHP Cody Sedlock 21imgA20192
    3. SS Ryan Mountcastle 19imgA+20192
    4. 1B Trey Mancini24imgAAA20172
    5. LHP Keegan Akin21imgA20192
    6. 3B Jomar Reyes19imgA+20193
    7. LHP Chris Lee24imgAAA20173
    8. RHP Ofelky Peralta19imgA+20203
    9. OF D.J. Stewart22imgAA20183
    10. LHP Tanner Scott22imgAA20183

                  

    Outlook

    Chance Sisco will benefit from some additional time in the minors to work on his receiving skills, but the team's decision to let Matt Wieters walk in favor of a short-term deal for Welington Castillo is a clear sign he's viewed as the franchise catcher going forward.

    Pitchers Cody Sedlock and Keegan Akin are both capable of establishing themselves as prospects to watch after standout collegiate careers and strong pro debuts, while hard-throwing Tanner Scott boasts a true 80-grade fastball but little else at this time.

    Trey Mancini will battle Christian Walker for a bench spot this spring, and the team also has a pair of Rule 5 picks in Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander who will get a look for the fourth outfielder job.

    The one to watch here is Ryan Mountcastle, who was the No. 36 overall pick in 2016. The rangy shortstop prospect hit .281/.319/.426 with 28 doubles and 10 home runs as a teenager in full-season ball last year, and there's potential for more.

25. Detroit Tigers

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    Christin Stewart /
    Christin Stewart /Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. RHP Matt Manning19imgA20211
    2. OF Christin Stewart23imgAA20182
    3. RHP Beau Burrows20imgA+20202
    4. RHP Kyle Funkhouser 22imgA20192
    5. RHP Joe Jimenez22imgAAA20172
    6. LHP Tyler Alexander22imgAA20192
    7. OF Michael Gerber24imgAAA20172
    8. 3B/OF JaCoby Jones24imgMLB20173
    9. OF Derek Hill21imgA+20203
    10. OF Jose Azocar 20imgA+20203

                  

    Outlook

    A case can be made for Christin Stewart joining 2016 first-round pick Matt Manning as a tier-1 prospect after he posted a .903 OPS with 30 home runs between High-A and Double-A a year ago. There's still a lot of swing-and-miss to his game, though, and his value is entirely tied to his bat, so he needs to prove himself in the upper minors.

    Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser are also capable of jumping up to that next tier. Burrows is still smoothing out his secondary stuff, though, and Funkhouser has to prove his late-spring surge after a largely disappointing final season at Louisville was for real.

    Joe Jimenez should join the big league bullpen at some point in 2017, and he has the stuff to eventually replace Francisco Rodriguez in the closer's role, while JaCoby Jones will be one of a number of guys competing for the center field job.

    The luster has faded from Derek Hill's prospect star, but he's still just 21 years old with the tools to be a catalyst atop the lineup.

24. Seattle Mariners

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    Mitch Haniger /
    Mitch Haniger /Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. OF Tyler O'Neill21imgAAA20171
    2. OF Kyle Lewis21imgA20191
    3. RHP Nick Neidert 20imgA+20192
    4. OF Mitch Haniger 26imgMLB20172
    5. RHP Max Povse 23imgAA20182
    6. RHP Andrew Moore22imgAAA20172
    7. 1B Dan Vogelbach 24imgMLB20172
    8. OF Brayan Hernandez19imgA-20212
    9. SS Drew Jackson23imgAA20183
    10. RHP Dan Altavilla 24imgMLB20173

                    

    Outlook

    It was a tough call between Tyler O'Neill and Kyle Lewis for the top spot in the Seattle Mariners farm system, even after Lewis saw his pro debut cut short by a torn ACL.

    O'Neill gets the nod after posting an .882 OPS with 24 home runs and 102 RBI in a full season with Double-A Jackson and showing marked improvement in both his strikeout (30.5 to 26.1 percent) and walk (6.5 to 10.8 percent) rates.

    Nick Neidert is now the top pitching prospect in the system after Luiz Gohara was traded to the Atlanta Braves in a series of moves that eventually ended with the Mariners adding Drew Smyly to the back of the rotation.

    Dan Vogelbach, Mitch Haniger and Dan Altavilla are all currently projected for spots on the Opening Day roster, per Roster Resource. If those three all exhaust their prospect eligibility early on in 2017, this is a system that could slide down the rankings by midseason.

23. Texas Rangers

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    Yohander Mendez /
    Yohander Mendez /Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. LHP Yohander Mendez22imgAAA20171
    2. OF Leody Taveras 18imgA20201
    3. RHP Ariel Jurado 21imgAA20182
    4. 1B Ronald Guzman21imgAAA20172
    5. 2B Andy Ibanez23imgAA20172
    6. LHP Cole Ragans 19imgA-20202
    7. RHP Alex Speas 18imgA-20212
    8. IF Anderson Tejada18imgA20202
    9. LHP Brett Martin21imgA+20182
    10. IF/C Josh Morgan21imgAA20182

     

    Outlook

    With Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate all traded last July and Joey Gallo no longer qualifying as a prospect, the Texas Rangers have slid to the bottom third of these rankings.

    There's still some quality talent headlining the system, though, as Yohnader Mendez looks like a legitimate rotation piece after a breakout 2016 season and touted international free-agent signing Leody Taveras could make the jump to full-season ball as an 18-year-old.

    Ariel Jurado doesn't have the same upside as Mendez, but he offers good pitchability and a high floor, while Cole Ragans and Alex Speas both have a ton of projection remaining after being plucked from the high school ranks last June. 

    Keep an eye on Joe Palumbo as someone who could shoot up this list in 2017. The left-hander pitched well down the stretch after moving into the rotation in Single-A, and all told, he struck out 122 batters in 96.1 innings last season.

22. Washington Nationals

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    Koda Glover /
    Koda Glover /Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. OF Victor Robles19imgA+20191
    2. RHP Erick Fedde 23imgAA20171
    3. OF Juan Soto18imgA-20212
    4. SS Carter Kieboom 19imgA20202
    5. RHP Austin Voth 24imgAAA20172
    6. OF Andrew Stevenson22imgAA20182
    7. RHP Koda Glover23imgAAA20172
    8. 3B Sheldon Neuse 22imgA20192
    9. C Pedro Severino 23imgAAA20172
    10. RHP A.J. Cole25imgAAA20172

                   

    Outlook

    Trading away Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning was enough for the Washington Nationals to slip from the top 10 to the bottom 10, though there is still some intriguing talent atop the system.

    Victor Robles is one of the game's most exciting position-player prospects and Juan Sotowho just turned 18 in Octoberis capable of making a similar leap up prospect rankings this coming season after a standout performance in his stateside debut.

    Austin Voth and A.J. Cole will likely be the first pitchers called up if the big league rotation needs reinforcements, while Erick Fedde takes over as the top pitching prospect in the system and is a top-100 prospect in his own right.

    Hard-throwing reliever Koda Glover has a chance to make a significant impact out of the big league bullpen in 2017, and catcher Pedro Severino will try to prove he's the catcher of the future by taking the next step with his offensive game.

21. San Francisco Giants

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    Ty Blach /
    Ty Blach /Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. IF Christian Arroyo21imgAA20181
    2. RHP Tyler Beede 23imgAAA20171
    3. OF Bryan Reynolds22imgA+20192
    4. LHP Ty Blach 26imgAAA20172
    5. 1B Chris Shaw23imgAA20182
    6. LHP Andrew Suarez24imgAAA20172
    7. OF Steven Duggar 23imgAAA20182
    8. RHP Joan Gregorio25imgAAA20172
    9. RHP Sam Coonrod 24imgAA20182
    10. OF Heath Quinn21imgA20192

                            

    Outlook

    It was a disappointing 2016 season for Christian Arroyo, as his OPS dipped from .803 during a breakout season the year before to .689 in a full season with Double-A Richmond.

    Injuries played a role, though, and he's still the headliner in the system and someone who could be ready to make an MLB impact during the upcoming season.

    Tyler Beede might not be a future ace, but steadily improving command should allow him to settle in as a quality middle-of-the-rotation starter. He's close to MLB ready, but it will likely be left-hander Ty Blach who is the next man up if a spot opens up in the rotation.

    Don't be surprised if five years from now we look back at Bryan Reynolds going No. 59 overall as the biggest steal of the 2016 draft. He hit .313/.363/.484 with 17 doubles and six home runs in 237 plate appearances and skipped right past rookie ball.

20. New York Mets

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    Amed Rosario /
    Amed Rosario /Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. SS Amed Rosario21imgAA20181
    2. 1B Dominic Smith21imgAAA20171
    3. LHP Thomas Szapucki 20imgA20202
    4. RHP Robert Gsellman 23imgAAA20172
    5. RHP Justin Dunn21imgA20192
    6. OF Desmond Lindsay20imgA20202
    7. OF Brandon Nimmo 23imgAAA20172
    8. SS Gavin Cecchini 23imgAAA20172
    9. C Tomas Nido 22imgAA20182
    10. SS Andres Gimenez 18imgA-20212

                               

    Outlook

    The New York Mets have one of the game's elite prospects in shortstop Amed Rosario.

    Always a standout defender with Gold Glove potential, the 21-year-old's bat finally caught up to his glove last season, as he hit .324/.374/.459 with 42 extra-base hits and 19 steals. He didn't miss a beat with a midseason promotion to Double-A, and he could push incumbent Asdrubal Cabrera for the shortstop job before the All-Star break.

    Robert Gsellman came out of nowhere to play an important role in the big league rotation down the stretch, and he could break camp as the No. 5 starter, depending on what the team decides to do with Zack Wheeler.

    Thomas Szapucki, Desmond Lindsay and Tomas Nido were all pop-up prospects in 2016 and could jump into that top tier with impressive encore performances.

19. Minnesota Twins

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    Nick Gordon /
    Nick Gordon /Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. SS Nick Gordon21imgAA20181
    2. LHP Stephen Gonsalves 22imgAA20171
    3. RHP Fernando Romero22imgA+20182
    4. OF Alex Kirilloff 19imgA20202
    5. LHP Tyler Jay22imgAA20182
    6. RHP Kohl Stewart22imgAA20182
    7. LHP Adalberto Mejia23imgAAA20172
    8. 3B Travis Blankenhorn 20imgA20202
    9. SS Wander Javier18imgRk20212
    10. 1B Lewin Diaz 20imgA20192

                    

    Outlook

    Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco all graduated the prospect ranks last season, but the Minnesota Twins still have a deep system.

    While Nick Gordon and Stephen Gonsalves are the only clear tier-1 guys at this point, it's not out of the question to think anyone ranked among their top seven prospects could potentially perform like a top-tier prospect in 2017

    Fernando Romero has the highest ceiling in the system, Alex Kirilloff impressed in his pro debut after going No. 15 overall last June and the trio of Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart and Adalberto Mejia all have the potential to be future rotation pieces.

    International signings Wander Javier and Lewin Diaz are still a ways off and the same goes for former third-round pick Travis Blankenhorn, but all three could climb the organizational rankings during the upcoming season.

18. Boston Red Sox

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    Andrew Benintendi /
    Andrew Benintendi /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. OF Andrew Benintendi 22imgMLB20161
    2. 3B Rafael Devers 20imgAA20181
    3. LHP Jason Groome 18imgA20201
    4. 1B Sam Travis23imgAAA20172
    5. RHP Roniel Raudes 19imgA+20202
    6. 3B Bobby Dalbec 21imgA20192
    7. 1B Josh Ockimey 21imgA+20192
    8. SS C.J. Chatham 22imgA+20192
    9. LHP Brian Johnson26imgAAA20172
    10. 3B Michael Chavis 21imgA+20193

                              

    Outlook

    The Boston Red Sox dropped considerably after shipping out Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and Luis Alexander Basabe in the deal that landed them Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale.

    However, they still have the game's No. 1 prospect in Andrew Benintendi.

    He's 25 at-bats away from surpassing rookie eligibility limits, so it won't be long after the start of the 2017 season that Rafael Devers takes over as the No. 1 prospect in Boston and this system slips even further down the rankings.

    The emergence of Roniel Raudes gives the team a young arm with good upside alongside 2016 first-round pick Jason Groome as the team's top pitching prospects, while sluggers Bobby Dalbec and Josh Ockimey provide some intriguing pop in the lower levels of the minors.

    This system doesn't have the depth to stick in the top 20 once Benintendi graduates, though.

17. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Alex Reyes /
    Alex Reyes /Jon Durr/Getty Images

    Top 10 Prospects

    NameAgeBornProjected LevelETATier
    1. RHP Alex Reyes22imgMLB20171
    2. RHP Luke Weaver23imgAAA20171
    3. RHP Jack Flaherty 21imgAA20182
    4. SS Delvin Perez18imgROK20182
    5. C Carson Kelly22imgAAA20172
    6. RHP Sandy Alcantara 21imgA+20192
    7. OF Harrison Bader 22imgAAA20172
    8. OF Magneuris Sierra20imgA+20192
    9. RHP Dakota Hudson22imgA+20192
    10. 3B Paul DeJong 23imgAAA20182

                                         

    Outlook

    What are the St. Louis Cardinals going to do with Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver?

    Neither young pitcher has anything left to prove in the minors, but with Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha penciled into rotation spots, there's no clear path to an MLB job either.

    Not a bad problem to have.

    Jack Flaherty has middle-of-the-rotation potential as well, and Sandy Alcantara is a prospect on the rise wi