With Spring Training under way and the 2017 season almost upon us, MiLB.com looks at the state of all 30 farm systems over the next couple weeks and ranks them, according to certain changing criterion with each edition. This opening edition focuses specifically on position player prospects and considers the quality and quantity of top talent in each system in its current state. Part I of these rankings can be found here and Part II here. Part III is below:
10. New York Mets
Amed Rosario, MLB.com's No. 5 overall prospect, and Dominic Smith (No. 63) -- both at big league camp -- made the 2016 Double-A Binghamton season something special following the arrival of the latter from Class A Advanced St. Lucie in late June. Rosario, a shortstop who turned 21 in November, batted .324/.374/.459 with 19 stolen bases and 13 triples across the two levels, while Smith, a 21-year-old first baseman, was good for a .302/.367/.457 line with 14 homers, 29 doubles and 91 RBIs in 130 Eastern League games. They may spend significant time in the Majors this year and certainly have the potential to affect the NL East for several seasons to come. Gavin Cecchini, a "greater than the sum of his parts" middle infielder, already made an impact there, enjoying the stretch run with New York last year. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo raked against PCL pitching last year and batted .274 in 32 big league games. He's ready when there's an opening for him, even if it's as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Don't sleep on 2015 second-rounder Desmond Lindsay as a speedy center fielder who posted a .418 OBP in 32 games for Class A Short Season Brooklyn last summer.
9. Colorado Rockies
After missing half of his debut campaign due to leg problems, 2015 third overall pick Brendan Rodgers stayed healthy last year and hit .281/.342/.480 with 19 homers and 31 doubles in 110 games for Class A Asheville. He was rewarded by being named the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. In January, MLB Pipeline ranked the middle infielder as its No. 15 overall prospect. Outfielder Raimel Tapia, 23, raked at Double-A all season, was even better through a short stint at Triple-A and held his own through 22 games in the Majors. Corner infielder Ryan McMahon didn't connect with the ball with the same consistency in his first crack at Double-A. The Rockies had him play predominantly first base in the Arizona Fall League, but the left-handed hitter continued to drive the ball to all parts of the field. Catcher Tom Murphy, who hit .327 with a 1.008 OPS and 19 homers in 80 games for Albuquerque, should contend for the starting spot behind the plate for Colorado.
8. Boston Red Sox
Even after the blockbuster Chris Sale deal that cost Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz, the Red Sox boast two prospects among Pipeline's top 20. Andrew Benintendi, who's ranked No. 1 but will lose his prospect status after 25 more at-bats in the Majors, showed what he can do when he reached the game's highest level in August. He put up a .295/.359/.476 slash line in 34 games, then went 3-for-9 with a homer and a double in the playoffs. Rafael Devers (No. 17) has pop, hits consistently and has a strong arm and good instincts at third base. His speed rates a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he stole 18 bases as a 19-year-old in the Class A Advanced Carolina League last year -- a nice complement to his 11 homers, eight triples, 32 doubles and .335 on-base percentage. Beyond that incredible pair, the position-playing talent in the Boston organization thins. Look for Sam Travis, who has the potential to be a solid big league hitter without much more seasoning, to reestablish himself after losing almost all of last season to a torn ACL.
7. Chicago Cubs
It's a testament to the scouting and player development departments that even though the Cubs feature a young core that carried them to a World Series title, there's still some top-tier talent in the system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez's breakout year made him MLB.com's No. 14 overall prospect -- he hits for power and gets on base, he's a superb defender in the corner spots, reportedly has great makeup and is extremely bright. Fourteen spots behind him on the top-100 list is second baseman/outfielder Ian Happ. The 2015 first-rounder finished last year at Double-A and totaled 15 homers and 16 steals in 134 games. Albert Almora (No. 75) and Jeimer Candelario (No. 96) continue to excite, although the big club's depth has yet to give either the chance to settle into a role in The Show.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
With Adrian Gonzalez playing in Chavez Ravine, Cody Bellinger saw a bit of time in the outfield last year, and that versatility may get him to the Majors fairly soon if Gonzalez's balky elbow doesn't give him an opening first. Bellinger is a marvelous defensive first baseman, making him extra valuable in that spot. That said, his bat is what will make him a thrilling player in any role -- Bellinger has hit 56 dingers in 245 Minor League games over the last two seasons and has a .349 career OBP. While he's the Dodgers' only position player ranked among the top 50 at No. 13, outfielder Alex Verdugo (61) and slugging second baseman Willie Calhoun (82) give Los Angeles three on the top-100 list. First-rounder Will Smith, catcher Keibert Ruiz, third baseman Edwin Rios and outfielder Johan Mieses also bear watching, while catcher/utilityman Austin Barnes may not be long for prospect status.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
With shortstop J.P. Crawford and center fielder Mickey Moniak among MLB.com's top 20 prospects and catcher Jorge Alfaro ranked 72nd, the Phillies feature an up-the-middle trio with sky's-the-limit potential. A handful of outfielders -- Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn, Cornelius Randolph -- contribute to an exceptionally bright future. With less touted but intriguing infielders like Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Malquin Canelo and Cole Stobbe -- not to mention catcher Andrew Knapp -- also coming along, it's no wonder the Phillies won the staff vote for Best Farm System MiLBY.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
No. 10 overall prospect Austin Meadows soon may be knocking on the door and raking first baseman Josh Bell (No. 27) already has seen enough time in the Majors that he's seven at-bats shy of losing his prospect status. With Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen patrolling the outfield at PNC Park, there's no reason to rush Meadows. And Bell's offseason knee surgery means that although he's vowed to be ready for Opening Day, he may stick around in the Minors a bit at the beginning of the season. A tick farther down the ladder but also of great promise is shortstop Kevin Newman (No. 59), who scores 60s on the 20-80 scouting scale in hitting, running and fielding. Additional depth can be found on the left side of the infield in third basemen/first-rounders Ke'Bryan Hayes and Will Craig and shortstop Cole Tucker.
3. Atlanta Braves
Considering how deep the Braves are in thrilling young arms, it's hard to believe there's room in one system for three of the game's best middle infield prospects. Dansby Swanson (No. 4 overall prospect) and Ozzie Albies (No. 11) have the potential to make Atlanta's new ballpark a special place for years to come, and the future is wide open for shortstop Kevin Maitan (No. 32), a 17-year-old switch-hitter signed out of Venezuela last July. Also in the system is second baseman Travis Demeritte, who belted 28 homers and posted a .361 on-base percentage while splitting 2016 between the Rangers and Braves organizations. Alex Jackson, the 2014 sixth overall Draft pick, was perhaps ready for a change of scenery when Atlanta acquired him from Seattle in November for hurlers Rob Whalen and Max Povse. Don't be surprised to see 19-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, who hit .311 in 40 games for Class A Rome last year and has plus speed, jump into MLB.com's top 100 by the end of the year.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers may not have the flashiest system, but they make a case for the deepest in terms of legitimate prospects up and down the Minors. Over the last two seasons, Milwaukee's rebuild has come together with a couple blockbuster trades (Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips and Isan Diaz weren't even the whole packages in deals with Texas, Houston and Arizona), a few slightly lower profile swaps (Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington, big leaguer Travis Shaw and a player to be named from the Red Sox for Tyler Thornburg; Jacob Nottingham from the A's with pitcher Bubba Derby for Khris Davis) and some nurturing of Draft picks (Corey Ray, Lucas Erceg and Trent Clark are three recent position players). Brinson, Ray and Diaz are ranked among MLB.com's top 70 prospects. While it may not have an upper-echelon name like Swanson, Milwaukee's depth among position players puts it second behind only the ...
1. New York Yankees
The Bombers were pretty stacked with standout position players across the Minors through July, but as the Trade Deadline passed, they were sitting in the catbird seat. Shortstop Gleyber Torres, whom the Yankees got from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman deal, is MLB.com's No. 3 overall prospect, while outfielder Clint Frazier -- the key piece in the Andrew Miller swap with Cleveland -- comes in at No. 24. Beyond that duo, New York took Blake Rutherford (No. 37) with the 18th pick in last year's Draft, and he batted .351 with 14 extra-base hits across two Rookie-level leagues in his first crack at pro ball. Add in Aaron Judge (No. 45) and Jorge Mateo (No. 47), and the Yankees have five top-50 prospects -- all of whom are position players. Dustin Fowler, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade have been in the system longer than the new guys, but they still have lots of potential. It's a good time to be a pinstriped prospect.