White Sox, Padres, Brewers, Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies, Reds, Rays round out Top 10
By Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, Mike Rosenbaum
What makes an organization rank as one of the top farm systems in baseball? Simply put, it's a combination of quality and quantity. The MLBPipeline.com staff ranked the Top 10 systems in the game by considering which organizations have an abundance of elite-level prospect talent as well as depth, in terms of future big leaguers up and down the system.
Prospect Points are determined by awarding a team 100 points for the No. 1 prospect on the Top 100 list, 99 points for No. 2 and so on, down to one point for No. 100. Points are then tallied by team.
Over the past few seasons, the Braves have worked tirelessly to restore the farm system to where it once was, providing a constant source of young talent to the big leagues. It was the No. 9 farm system in 2015, then climbed to No. 2 a year ago. And now it sits in the top spot, and for good reason. There are seven Braves on the Top 100, tied for most among all clubs, starting with National League Rookie of the Year Award front-runner Swanson. Beyond that magnificent seven, there are several players who could very easily join the Top 100 as the 2017 season progresses. Atlanta has gone after high-ceiling talent, particularly on the pitching side, both in the Draft and via the trade market. Some of those arms might have to prove they can perform, that it's not all potential, but there's a very good chance the Braves will hold on to this spot for a while to come.
The Yankees' system hasn't been this bountiful since Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams were on the verge of greatness in the early 1990s. While acquiring shortstop Torres, Frazier and Sheffield in the Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller deals shone the spotlight on the system, New York also has done well early (Rutherford, Judge and Kaprielian) and late (righty Chance Adams, outfielder Dustin Fowler) in the Draft and on the international market (Mateo, third baseman Miguel Andujar).
No one in these rankings made as big a jump as the White Sox, whose system languished in the bottom 10 before their Winter Meetings trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton brought in Moncada, Giolito, Kopech and Lopez -- all Top 100 Prospects -- as well as promising outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and righties Dane Dunning and Victor Diaz. Nine of Chicago's 10 best prospects weren't in the organization last May, which is also a reflection of a banner 2016 Draft class led by catcher Zack Collins and righties Zack Burdi and Alec Hansen.
One of baseball's biggest sellers in 2016, the Padres acquired a slew of promising youngsters through trades, including Espinoza, Chris Paddack, Josh Naylor and Fernando Tatis Jr. San Diego also made a haul in the Draft, selecting right-hander Quantrill with the first of five picks on Day 1, and then made a huge splash during the 2016-17 international signing period by spending roughly $60 million -- including penalties and taxes -- to land some of the top international amateurs.
In the first full season of a rebuilding process, Brewers general manager David Stearns used well-timed trades of big league assets to acquire a slew of promising young players, including Top 100 prospects Brinson, Ortiz and Diaz, as well as Phil Bickford, Mauricio Dubon and Ryan Cordell. Those trades have helped the Brewers climb four spots in MLBPipeline.com's farm system rankings after checking in at No. 9 a year ago.
The Dodgers ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, when eventual National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Corey Seager was the top prospect in baseball and Julio Urias was the top left-handed pitching prospect. They're established in Los Angeles now, but the system remains strong with Bellinger, right-hander Brock Stewart and catcher Austin Barnes capable of starting immediately but having to wait for openings. Alvarez headlines their eight-figure signing class from the 2015-16 international signing period.
Having the Pirates on the Top 10 farm systems list has become a regular occurrence, and it's for good reason this year. They have elite talent at the very top, with two players in the Top 10 -- Glasnow and Meadows -- and another, Bell, in the Top 30. All three could help out in Pittsburgh this season, with Glasnow and Bell almost certain to graduate off the list. Luckily for the Pirates, there's more talent to come in behind them, with Keller, a Top 50 prospect, ready to take over as the system's top pitching prospect. Newman could be the team's shortstop in another year, and Ke'Bryan Hayes, a member of the Top 10 third baseman list, could jump on to the Top 100 this season. Beyond the elite talent, there is some depth, with potential big leaguers up and down the entire Top 30.
The Rockies remain strong on the farm despite graduating David Dahl, Jon Gray, Trevor Story and several other rookies to the big leagues a year ago. They have one of the most balanced systems around, with depth in both position players (led by Rodgers and Tapia) and pitchers (headlined by Hoffman, Pint and Marquez) and talent spread among their four full-season clubs. Hoffman, Marquez and catcher Tom Murphy front another strong rookie class as Colorado looks to return to contention with a heavy homegrown flavor to its roster.
The Reds have four players in the Top 100, with 2016 first-rounder (No. 2 overall) Senzel leading the way at No. 26. Winker, Garrett and Stephenson round out that quartet, and they all have something in common: All were acquired via the June Draft. Taylor Trammell, another draftee, isn't on the Top 100 now, but he has as much upside as anyone in the organization and should join that list at some point this season. There's good depth in this system fueled largely by -- that's right, you guessed it -- the Draft, with 19 of their Top 30 coming via that route.
Headlined by four Top 100 prospects, the Rays' system stands out for its elite prospects and its overall depth. It's a system replete with impactful upper-level players on the verge of contributing in the big leagues, and enough high-ceiling youngsters to keep Tampa Bay from experiencing a drastic turnover on the farm in the coming years.
Braves edge Yanks for MLB's top farm system
White Sox, Padres, Brewers, Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies, Reds, Rays round out Top 10 This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.