Top 10 MLB Farm Systems

MLB Farm Systems
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Wander Franco #80 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action during a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 28, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Top 10 MLB Farm Systems

Having a deep and talented farm system plays a vital role in the current and future success of all 30 MLB franchises. A robust farm system can provide depth to a contending ballclub, as well as help a struggling franchise surge into contention as they debut their city’s next superstar.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 MLB farm systems.

Note: Player rankings are compiled from MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list.

No. 10 – San Francisco Giants

Although the Giants finished 2019 with their third straight losing season and completed their worst three-year stretch since 1983-85, the future is bright in San Francisco. This is due to the great draft selections and superb international scouting the Giants have rendered over the last few years. As a result, their farm system is stronger than it has been in a decade.

The Giants system is highlighted by catcher Joey Bart (No. 14), who is expected to eventually take over behind the dish for Buster Posey. Another drawing card is shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 35), who is considered by many to be a superstar in the making. The system also features three more players in the Top 100 — outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 65), outfielder Hunter Bishop (No. 71), and starting pitcher Seth Corry (No. 99).

No. 9 – Minnesota Twins

The Twins are accustomed to having one of the strongest farm systems in MLB, and this year is no different. Even after trading starting pitcher Brusdar Graterol (No. 83) to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Twins still feature four Top 100 prospects in their farm system — shortstop Royce Lewis (No. 9), outfielder/first baseman Alex Kirilloff (No. 32), outfielder Trevor Larnach (No. 81), and starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic (No. 86). Out of these four, the spotlight remains on Lewis, who has five-tool potential and is a consensus top 10 prospect among national publications.

While the talk remains on Lewis and the other capable bats of Kirilloff and Larnach, let’s not forget about the exciting arms in this system. The two most notable arms are those of Jhoan Duran and Balazovic. Per Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report, “Balazovic (2.69 ERA, 129 K, 93.2 IP at A+/AA) and Duran (3.76 ERA, 136 K, 115 IP at A+/AA) were among the biggest breakout pitching prospects of 2019.”

No. 8 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Through drafting and acquiring high-ceiling prospects on the trade market, the Diamondbacks ended “with perhaps the most impressive haul of talent of any organization” last season. The Zack Greinke trade and a stacked 2019 draft class were significant contributors to this haul. As a result, they landed five prospects in the Top 100 — outfielder Kristian Robinson (No. 43), outfielder Alek Thomas (No. 49), catcher Daulton Varsho (No. 76), shortstop Geraldo Perdomo (No. 82), and outfielder Corbin Carroll (No. 89). However, the system is considered to be a bit “top-heavy” with position players. But there is massive upside with pitchers like Matt Tabor, Blake Walston, and Luis Frias.

No. 7 – Seattle Mariners

Excellent draft choices, trades, and international scouting have turned this system into one of the best in the majors. Seattle places three prospects in the Top 40 — outfielder Jarred Kelenic (No. 11), outfielder Julio Rodriguez (No. 18), and starting pitcher Logan Gilbert (No. 38). Kelenic, who was acquired from the New York Mets in 2018, is considered to be the gem of this system, but Rodriguez is right behind him after turning in a breakout season in 2019. First baseman Evan White (No. 56) and starting pitcher George Kirby (No. 100) are also included in the Top 100.

No. 6 – Miami Marlins

Derek Jeter‘s plan is finally coming to fruition, as the Marlins have vastly enhanced their farm system through trades and a solid 2019 Draft. The stars of this system include starting pitcher Sixto Sanchez (No. 22) and outfielder JJ Bleday (No. 28). Sanchez, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2019, is the eighth-highest ranked pitcher in the Top 100 and is considered to be the future Marlins ace. As for Bleday, his powerful middle of the order bat will give the Marlins lineup a jolt that they so desperately need.

Also, keep your eyes on shortstop Jazz Chisholm (No. 66), outfielder Jesus Sanchez (No. 80), and starting pitcher Edward Cabrera (No. 85) — all of which could soon make an impact at the major league level for Miami.

No. 5 – Atlanta Braves

No, the Braves farm isn’t as stacked as it once was, but they still boast one of the top systems in the majors. The faces of this system consist of three Top 40 prospects –outfielder Cristian Pache (No. 13), outfielder Drew Waters (No. 26), and starting pitcher Ian Anderson (No. 37). The combo of Pache and Waters is considered to be one of the best outfield prospect duos in all of baseball. Starting pitcher Kyle Wright (No. 35) and catcher Shea Langeliers (No. 63) are also ranked in the Top 100. And don’t forget to keep an eye on outfield prospect Trey Harris, who hit a combined .323/.389/.498 while reaching Double-A in his first full professional season.

No. 4 – Detroit Tigers

The Tigers youth movement has been built around pitching since the start of their rebuild in 2017. As a result, starting pitchers Casey Mize (No. 7), Matt Manning (No. 24), and Tarik Skubal (No. 46) all rank in the Top 50. Skubal, in particular, appears to be one of the biggest steals of the 2018 Draft. In 2019, he posted a 2.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP while holding batters to a .196 average and compiling 179 strikeouts in 122.2 innings between High-A and Double-A.

Add outfielder Riley Greene (No. 31) to the mix, and the Tigers net four players in the Top 50. However, outside of Greene and infielder Isaac Paredes, the Tiger’s farm is a bit thin on offensive threats. But the good news for Detroit is that they can improve this area of weakness, as they will receive the first pick in the 2020 Draft.

No. 3 – Los Angeles Dodgers

No team in baseball consistently wins at the big league level while developing elite talent in the minors like the Dodgers. They’ve won seven consecutive NL West titles and are coming off a franchise-record 106 victories in 2019. Their homegrown talent is a substantial reason for this, and they’ve got plenty more of it waiting in the wings. Many of the prospects on top of the Dodgers list have already seen time in the majors, and are expected to contribute in the very near future.

The Dodgers prospects in the Top 100 include the likes of second baseman/shortstop Gavin Lux (No. 2), starting pitcher Dustin May (No. 23), starting pitcher Josiah Gray (No. 67), catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 73), and starting/relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol (No. 83). Lux is the prized possession of this system, and he showed his potential in limited time at the major league level last season — including a solo blast in Game One of the NLDS.

No. 2 – San Diego Padres

Although San Diego has graduated some of their top prospects, such as Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack, Francisco Mejia, Cal Quantrill, and Josh Naylor, they still have plenty of talent left on the farm. The headliner of this system is starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore (No. 5). Gore, who is considered by many as the best pitching prospect in the minors, recorded a minor league-best 1.69 ERA and 0.83 WHIP to go along with 135 strikeouts in 101 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A. As a result, he was named MLB Pipeline’s Pitching Prospect of the Year.

Other Padres prospects in the Top 100 include shortstop CJ Abrams (No. 25), starting pitcher Luis Patiño (No. 27), catcher Luis Campusano (No. 50), and outfielder Taylor Trammell (No. 57). Also, keep an eye out for starting pitcher Joey Cantillo. In 2019, Cantillo posted a 2.26 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 111.2 innings and allowed a greedy .179 opponents batting average.

No. 1 – Tampa Bay Rays

It doesn’t get much better than this. The Rays farm system is led by Wander Franco (No. 1) and showcases an MLB Pipeline-high six Top 100 prospects. Between Class A and Class A Advanced, Franco slashed .327/.398/.487 with nine homers, 43 extra-base hits, and 18 steals in 114 games. However, the most impressive thing was that the switch-hitting shortstop recorded more walks (56) than strikeouts (35) in 495 plate appearances. And get this, he’s only 18 years old.

The other five Rays prospects in the Top 100 include starting pitcher/designated hitter Brendan McKay (No. 15), second baseman/shortstop Vidal Brujan (No. 45), second baseman/shortstop Xavier Edwards (No. 72), starting pitcher Shane Baz (No. 90), and starting pitcher Brent Honeywell (No. 91). Another player to watch out for is starting pitcher Joe Ryan. He was among the minor league leaders with a 1.96 ERA (fifth), 0.84 WHIP (second), and 183 strikeouts (second) in 123.2 innings.

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