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Farm system rankings: Position players, 10-1

White Sox stacked with Robert, Vaughn, Madrigal on the way
Along with Kyle Tucker, Luis Robert was one of two Minor Leaguers to reach the 30-30 milestone in 2019. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)
February 12, 2020

With the 2020 season rapidly approaching, MiLB.com looks at the state of all 30 farm systems and ranks them in several different ways. This first installment, broken into three parts, focuses on position players and considers the quality and quantity of talent in each system. Here are the top 10

With the 2020 season rapidly approaching, MiLB.com looks at the state of all 30 farm systems and ranks them in several different ways. This first installment, broken into three parts, focuses on position players and considers the quality and quantity of talent in each system. Here are the top 10 organizations.

 10. Miami Marlins


Miami wasn't shy about embarking on a rebuild when it dealt nearly all the top talent on its Major League roster. The trades haven't stopped and the club's depth has benefited. Jesús Sánchez, MLB.com's No. 80 overall prospect, arrived from Tampa Bay at last summer's deadline and immediately became one of the strongest bats in Miami's system, despite posting career lows in 2019. Jazz Chisholm (No. 66) came over from the D-backs that same day, hoping to rediscover the swing that led all Minor League shortstops with 25 homers in 2018. Days earlier, the Twins offered first baseman Lewin Diaz after a brilliant first half. Outfielder Monte Harrison, part of the Christian Yelich return, hit .274 with an .808 OPS and 24 steals in Triple-A. Shortstop Jose Devers, acquired from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton, missed nearly three months with a forearm strain but hit .322/.391/.390 in 47 games when healthy. The Marlins have worked more than just the phones to replenish their system. They signed outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa for $5.25 million in 2018, and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. already may have passed him as a prospect. JJ Bleday -- last year's fourth overall pick and MLB.com's No. 28 overall prospect -- began his career with an ambitious assignment to the Class A Advanced Florida State League and has plenty of power potential from the left side. Kameron Misner, the 35th pick, should rise through the system alongside Bleday. Together, this litany of names is why Miami moved up from 25th on last year's version of this list.

 9. Los Angeles Angels


Los Angeles spent a lot of money to bolster its lineup this offseason. More reinforcements loom at every level, none more imminent than No. 6 overall prospect Jo Adell. His month at Triple-A to close 2019 wasn't flawless, but his 43 games at Double-A were a reminder of why the 20-year-old was the 10th pick in 2017 and has zoomed through the Minors. Adell hit .308/.390/.533 with a 10.4 percent walk rate, the best mark for the strikeout-prone outfielder at any level. Not far behind is Brandon Marsh (No. 79), whose .909 OPS ranked fifth in the Arizona Fall League after a strong campaign with Double-A Mobile. Marsh fits the mold of the elite athlete the Angels have sought from prospects in recent years. So, too, do outfielders D'Shawn Knowles and Jordyn Adams, Los Angeles' 2018 first-round pick. Drafted in the next round, middle infielder Jeremiah Jackson broke through in 2019 with a Pioneer League record-tying 23 home runs. Led by Adell, these prospects have high ceilings, pushing this batch of Halos into the top 10.

• Farm system rankings: Position players 30-21, 20-11 »



 8. San Diego Padres


Falling five spots from last year isn't necessarily a bad sign for the Padres, who got everything they wanted from rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. and shipped out prospects to improve their Major League roster. Now, even with starting pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño as two of the headline-grabbers in San Diego's system, there's still considerable position-player talent. Sixth overall pick and No. 25 overall prospect CJ Abrams hit .401 in 142 at-bats to start his career as the Rookie-level Arizona League MVP. Catcher Luis Campusano (No. 50) earned his own hardware as the California League co-MVP with the best average of any qualified Class A Advanced hitter, hitting .325/.396/.509. Lake Elsinore teammate Gabriel Arias batted .302 with an .809 OPS and 17 homers as a 19-year-old shortstop. Taylor Trammell (No. 57) was acquired from the Reds, and some of his teammates from Double-A Texas League champion Amarillo -- Owen Miller, Hudson Potts, Edward Olivares -- provide organizational depth.

 7. Los Angeles Dodgers


Even with the Mookie Betts trade costing the Dodgers No. 44 overall prospect Jeter Downs and Double-A standout Connor Wong, Los Angeles still has top-tier talent. That, of course, starts with No. 2 overall prospect Gavin Lux, who climbed from Double-A to Triple-A -- where he finished a .347/.421/.607 Minor League season -- to the Dodgers' postseason roster in 2019. Keibert Ruiz (No. 73) struggled for the first time as a pro at Double-A but reached Triple-A to close last season and thrives at making contact as a switch-hitter. Further down, another catcher, 6-foot-2 Diego Cartaya, made his stateside debut at just 17. Infielders Kody Hoese and Michael Busch turned tremendous college careers into first-round Draft selections last year and could start their first full seasons right on the middle of the Dodgers ladder. It's possible the duo pushes 20-year-old third baseman Miguel Vargas, who hit .284/.353/.408 and reached the California League, in a race to Chavez Ravine. Lux would be enough to make this system stand out, but the depth of talent earns the Dodgers their place here.

 6. Atlanta Braves


For years, this system's bread and butter has been pitching (Ronald Acuña Jr. aside). Times have changed, with the duo of Cristian Pache (No. 13 overall) and Drew Waters (No. 26) among the best position players in the Minors. Both 21-year-olds finished 2019 at Triple-A Gwinnett and could eventually form a feared outfield trio with Acuña. Pache posted a career-best .802 OPS and projects as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder for years to come. Waters (No. 26) won the Double-A Southern League batting title and MVP award with a .319 average over 420 at-bats. Added in the Draft, first-rounder Shea Langeliers (No. 70) bolstered the Braves' catching talent, which already featured William Contreras. Langeliers, known as a defensive whiz at Baylor, threw out 41 percent of attempted basestealers in his pro debut with Class A Rome. He was joined there by shortstop Braden Shewmake, whom Atlanta selected 12 picks later, but the 22-year-old wasn't long for the South Atlantic League. Shewmake hit .318/.389/.473 and spent the last 14 games of 2019 with Double-A Mississippi. Two top-30 prospects will always provide a strong position-player base, and the addition of last year's Draft class only pushed the Braves further up the rankings.

 5. Minnesota Twins


Whether they begin the season with Double-A Pensacola or Triple-A Rochester, three key Twins prospects are coming soon. No. 9 overall prospect Royce Lewis could have had a better 2019, but he doesn't turn 21 until June and ended last year with an MVP award in the Arizona Fall League, where he moved away from shortstop and played all around the diamond. With a wrist injury behind him, outfielder/first baseman Alex Kirilloff (No. 32) should resemble the balanced hitter who broke through with a .970 OPS in 2018. (Homering in four straight playoff games to finish 2019 was a good sign). Outfielder Trevor Larnach (No. 81) and the .842 OPS he delivered in his first full season will fit right in with the power-happy Twins. Beyond those three, the Twins have 2019 first-round shortstop Keoni Cavaco, 18, and 17-year-old outfielder Misael Urbina, the prize of Minnesota's 2018 international signings.

 4. San Francisco Giants


The Giants' top four prospects all play the field and rank among MLB.com's top 71 prospects. No. 14 overall prospect Joey Bart is a rare catching specimen and the heir to Buster Posey's throne. The 23-year-old missed time after taking a pitch off the hand last year but still posted a .912 OPS in 22 Double-A games and a 1.290 OPS in 30 AFL at-bats. Shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 35) clobbered the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer at age 17 and could be the club's best international signing since Pablo Sandoval. Don't be surprised if he's a top-five overall prospect heading into 2021. And the pipeline to the Oracle Park outfield is populated by Heliot Ramos (No. 65) -- who slugged .500 in the California League before a promotion to Double-A -- and 2019 first-rounder Hunter Bishop (No. 71). The latter was one of a few promising youngsters to suit up for Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer last summer along with 19-year-olds Alexander Canario and Luis Toribio. Luis Matos, 18, is another enticing outfielder to follow after a .362/.430/.570 line and 33 extra-base hits in 55 Dominican Summer League games prompted the Giants to bring him Stateside for a brief spell in 2019. The combination of present skills in Bart, Ramos and Bishop and exciting potential in Luciano, Canario and Matos makes the Giants system potent.

 3. Tampa Bay Rays


Just imagine what the Rays' infield could look like in a few years and you'll know why Tampa Bay slotted here. Switch-hitting top overall prospect Wander Franco has an 80-grade hit tool. The 18-year-old shortstop batted .327/.398/.464 with 56 walks and only 35 strikeouts in his first full season last year, reaching the Class A Advanced Florida State League, where he was more than four years younger than the average player. He's one level behind middle infielder Vidal Brujan (No. 45), a career .294 hitter who stole 48 bases in 2019. Franco also could form a double-play combo with Xavier Edwards (No. 72); the newly acquired speedster has stolen 56 bases with a 82.4 percent success rate in two seasons as a pro. And don't forget 2019 first-rounder Greg Jones, who hit .335 in his pro debut and might have to change positions because of the organization's glut of talented middle infielders. The club's top catching prospect, 22-year-old Ronaldo Hernandez, projects to hit for both power and average while working to polish his skills behind the plate. For the time being, Brendan McKay also fits here, with the new 26-man roster keeping his chance to play both ways open in the Majors.

 2. Seattle Mariners


Both Miami and San Francisco jumped 15 spots from last year's rankings, but the Mariners made an even bigger leap, going from No. 22 to the second spot. No. 11 overall prospect Jarred Kelenic, 20, rose to Double-A and posted a .904 OPS with 23 homers after being acquired from the Mets. Julio Rodriguez (No. 18) hit .326/.390/.540 in his first campaign away from the 19-year-old's native Dominican Republic, reaching Class A Advanced Modesto. In the short term, first baseman Evan White (No. 56 overall) signed a six-year, $24 million contract in November, meaning he'll likely open in the Majors. His solid bat and elite defense at first base figure to be regular features in the Mariners' starting nine. Then there's outfielder Kyle Lewis and his surprising six-homer outburst during an 18-game Major League stint last September and 18-year-old shortstop Noelvi Marte and the .309/.371/.511 line he produced in the Dominican Summer League. If Marte keeps hitting after moving stateside, he should give the M's yet another Top-100 prospect by midseason.

 1. Chicago White Sox


No Minor League hitter had a better 2019 than No. 3 overall prospect Luis Robert, and no Minor League system has a better collection of position players than the one he headlines. Robert, 22, was one of two Minor Leaguers to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases last season, finishing with a .328/.376/.624 line across three levels before signing a contract that could pay him $88 million over the next eight years. All five of Robert's tools are above-average to elite and he'll likely get to demonstrate them as Chicago's Opening Day center fielder. Last summer's third overall pick, Andrew Vaughn (No. 16), possesses 60-grade power and slugged .449 in his debut season out of Cal. Nick Madrigal (No. 40) boasts unrivaled contact abilities -- the 2018 fourth-overall pick has struck out in 21 of 705 career plate appearances and should appear in the Major League infield in 2020. And Chicago doesn't lack depth, with outfielders Luis Alexander Basabe, Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo and first baseman Gavin Sheets finishing 2019 at Double-A or above. Don't rule out catcher/first baseman Zack Collins finding a Major League role in 2020 after getting a taste of The Show last season. It's a group with plenty of potential and is spread out well across the diamond. It's MiLB.com's top group of position-player prospects going into the 2020 season.