The following are rankings for the top farm systems in baseball. The list is primarily based on minor leaguers only, but in certain cases, players with limited major league time are also considered.
1. Texas Rangers—this system could be split in half and makeup two systems both ranking in the top 10. Offensively, the Rangers have solid prospects at every position except third base, and Julio Borbon and Justin Smoak both have the potential to develop into stars. Most importantly, the Rangers have seven young pitchers—Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Michael Main, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, and Kasey Kiker—projected as good major leaguers. With one of the best farm systems compiled in recent memory, the future of the organization seems exceptionally sound.
2. Cleveland Indians—the Indians decent farm system was bolstered by acquiring three solid, mlb-ready, prospects from Philadelphia for Cliff Lee, and they have more players on our Top 100 list than any other team (10). Moreover, Carlos Santana is one of the game’s best catching prospects, and OF Michael Brantley should become a solid leadoff hitter. Missing, however, is a potential ace who could bolster the rotation following the departure of Lee and Sabathia.
3. Cincinnati Reds—the Reds have done an excellent job bolstering their farm system, especially on offense. Look for outfielders Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs to join Jay Bruce and Chris Dickerson in an outfield which should be good for years to come. Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, and Juan Francisco should all become good infielders. The system’s only weakness is pitching, but picking Arizona State standout Mike Leake in last season’s draft went a long way towards solving that problem.
4. Boston Red Sox—the Red Sox are one of the few farm systems which has been consistently good over the past decade. The 2010 farm system has a number of excellent prospects. Most notably, “dual-threat” P/IF Casey Kelly should become an excellent player, Ryan Westmoreland is a highly-touted offensive prospect, and Cuban signee Juan Iglesias should become a good middle infielder. The team also has a number of major-league ready prospects such as Michael Bowden and Lars Anderson waiting to receive a major league opportunity.
5. Tampa Bay Rays—like Boston, Tampa has placed impressive focus in building their farm system. The current system is slightly less talented due to the graduation of several great prospects (i.e., David Price and Evan Longoria). But Tampa has multiple prospects close to reaching the major leagues. Most notably, Desmond Jennings, a Carl Crawford-like will provide a good replacement for Crawford if the leaves. For pitchers, Wade Davis has been solid throughout his major league career, while fellow pitching prospects Jeremy Hellickson and Jake McGee are also extremely talented. Finally, former #1 overall pick Tim Beckham could develop into an excellent player, but not for several years.
6. Baltimore Orioles—General Manager Andy McPhail has done an excellent job quietly bolstering Baltimore’s farm system in recent years. In the past several years, he built an extremely strong outfield in Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, along with catcher Matt Wieters. The current farm system is loaded with pitching, with a group of starting pitchers led by Brian Matsusz, Jake Arrieta, and Matt Hobgood. The team’s offensive prospects are less impressive, but look for Josh Bell to develop into a good infielder.
7. San Francisco Giants—the Giants’ organization is extremely “top heavy,” with their high ranking being attributable primarily to two elite prospects. Catcher Buster Posey should be an excellent backstop while future battery-mate Madison Bumgarner possesses talent on the level of current stars Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
8. Kansas City Royals—Dayton Moore has been working on developing young talent in Kansas City, but at this point, the results seem mixed. The team’s luck has been bad, as the returns on Luke Hochevar and Alex Gordon have been less than expected so far. But the organization still has lots of young talent. Mike Moustakas, Eric Homser, and Kila Kia’hue could all become excellent corner infielders. Moreover, the team also has two excellent pitching prospects, as former Missouri standout Aaron Crow should join the rotation quickly while Cuban signee Noel Arguelles could become an excellent pitcher pitcher after several years of development.
9. Florida Marlins—the Marlins’ farm system is lead by several hitters. Most notably, OF Mike Stanton and First Baseman Logan Morrison could form a great combination hitting behind Hanley Ramirez . But also look for prospect Gaby Sanchez to challenge Morrison at First Baseman. Third Baseman Matt Dominguez is another talented infielder.
10. Atlanta Braves—a “top-heavy” organization led by prize prospect Jason Heyward, who projects to become a star outfielder. Freddie Freeman could develop into an excellent First Baseman. The organization’s pitching is weaker than normal, but the future rotation improved with the drafting of Vanderbilt Pitcher Mike Minor.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates—Neil Huntington has been changing the philosophy in Pittsburgh to focus on bringing in lots of young talent. The team’s best prospect is Corner infielder Pedro Alvarez. In addition, OF Jose Tabata and Catcher Tony Sanchez are both good players close to the majors. Pitcher Tim Alderson could provide assistance in the middle of Pittsburgh’s rotation.
12. Oakland Athletics—the Athletics never have a bad farm system, but this season they are just average. The team added a great prospect in outfielder Michael Taylor, and Chris Carter is one of the best hitters in the minor leagues statistically. International signing Michael Inoa could develop into an excellent pitcher, but he is several years away.
13. Colorado Rockies—the Rockies have a deep farm system. While nobody projects as a superstar, they have several players who should help the organization in the near future. Most notably, future leadoff hitter Eric Young possesses excellent speed while pitchers Jhouyls Chacin and Christian Frederich should bolster the rotation.
14. Washington Nationals—it’s difficult to classify an organization whose ranking depends mostly on one player: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg. But in addition to Strasburg, the team also has several hitting prospects, such as Derek Norris, Ian Desmond, and Chris Marrero.
15. Milwaukee Brewers—the Brewers’ system is led by young Shortstop Alcides Escobar, who should have a good first full season in the majors. Assuming the team can find a position for Matt Gamel, he should provide decent assistance. Outfielder Kentrail Davis was an intriguing draft pick out of Tennessee who possesses excellent athletic ability. The farm system seems low on pitching, however.
16. Chicago White Sox—the White Sox have a decent system despite the graduation of Gordon Beckham and the Jake Peavy trade. Offensively, the organization is led by Cuban export Dayan Viciedo and LSU draftee Jared Mitchell. Pitcher Daniel Hudson should provide help this season at the major league level after an excellent ’09 campaign.
17. New York Yankees—the Yankees farm system is at it’s lowest point in recent years, but who needs a farm system with their payroll? The team’s best prospect is Jesus Montero, an excellent hitter who the team hopes can show sufficient defense to become the team’s future Catcher.
18. Seattle Mariners—Seattle’s average farm system was bolstered with selection of North Carolina standout Dustin Ackley in last season’s draft. Ackley, an excellent “pure hitter,” should arrive in the major leagues very soon. Joining Ackley in the Mariners outfield will Michael Saunders, an underrated, MLB-ready prospect. The team’s weakness is no apparent pitching help from the farm system.
19. Detroit Tigers—the recent efforts at current success took a toll on the farm system, but things could be worse for Detroit. The best long-term prospects are pitchers Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby. Short-term, Austin Jackson has the potential to become an excellent Centerfielder and can hopefully replace Curtis Granderson. Alex Avila might surprise people with a good season if he becomes Detroit’s starting catcher.
20. Philadelphia Phillies—recent trades (which brought in great players) depleted what was one of the best organizations in baseball a few months. But the Phillies still have elite outfield prospect Dominic Brown, and Phillipe Aumont could become a very good pitcher assuming he stays healthy.
21. Minnesota Twins—Minnesota has an average farm system with several intriguing prospects. Most notably, outfielder Aaron Hicks is an incredible athlete who should become the team’s future centerfielder. Ben Revere is another good prospect, but unfortunately, his similarities to Hicks makes it difficult to imagine them both providing full contribution to the same organization. The team made an excellent selection in last year’s draft, selecting Missouri standout Kyle Gibson, a solid, non-flashy, pitcher whose abilities sort of resemble Scott Baker.
22. Toronto Blue Jays—Alex Anthopoulos takes over a team with a depleted farm system which he went a long way toward replenishing with the Roy Halladay trade. Infielder Brett Wallace is a major league ready hitter, but his defense is questionable. Kyle Drabek is a great pitching prospect who should be very good assuming no health issues resurface.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers—the Dodgers have several excellent long-term prospects, but unfortunately, very few players who can provide much help this season besides possibly Pitcher Scott Elbert. The team’s best prospects are young pitchers Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin, and athletic shortstop Devarus Gordon (Flash’s son). The Dodgers’ “organization ranking” should increase next season.
24. Los Angeles Angels—the Angels have many players with major league potential, but the fact that I cannot find a single Angels’ prospect especially worth mentioning epitomizes why this organization ranks fairly low.
25. Chicago Cubs—the Cubs’ system is pretty weak, and would have ranked even closer to the bottom if not for the development of Infielder Starlin Castro over the past year. Castro has “star potential,” and is surprisingly close to the major leagues for his age, but it will take at least another season to know whether he is an elite prospect. At third base, Josh Vitters could develop into a good player within 2-3 seasons.
26. St. Louis Cardinals—the Cardinals organization is fairly weak this season, but look for them to work on bolstering it during the upcoming draft. ’09 first rounder Shelby Miller, an elite high school pitcher from Texas, could develop into an excellent starter in several years, and Jaime Garcia should fit well into the back-end of the Cardinals rotation this season. Catcher Robert Stock, picked last season out of USC, was an elite high school player who could surprise people by developing into a very good catcher.
27. San Diego Padres—San Diego has new management who should be looking to rebuild a depleted farm system. Georgia High School standout Donavan Tate could provide an elite bat, but he is several years away. Currently, pitcher Aaron Poreda could help this season.
28. Arizona Diamondbacks—what was one of baseball’s best farm systems several seasons ago suddenly finds itself depleted. The team’s best prospect is pitcher Jarrod Parker, but health issues are a concern. First Baseman Brandon Allen is a good power hitter who could post decent numbers assuming he can crack the lineup.
29. New York Mets—the Mets farm system is not impressive, especially with the “graduation” of rookie outfielder Fernando Martinez. First baseman Ike Davis is a pretty good hitter, and while some think Venezuelan Infielder Wilmer Flores will develop into a star, he is still at least 3 years from the major leagues.
30. Houston Astros—still bad, but the good news is the decision to place the Astros farm system dead last was less clear than the previous two seasons. The improvements are primarily due to assistant Bobby Heck, who oversaw the addition of prospects Jason Castro and Giovanni Mier. Heck also looks to have made a tremendous find drafting pitcher Jordan Lyles.