Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Farm system rankings: Overall, 10-1

Rays, Padres battle for top spot; Dodgers, Braves not far off
MacKenzie Gore and Wander Franco are two of's top five prospects. (John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles, Mark LoMoglio/
March 4, 2020

With the 2020 season rapidly approaching, is looking at the state of all 30 farm systems and ranking them in different ways. After looking at position-player prospects (30-21, 20-11, 10-1), pitchers (30-21, 20-11, 10-1) and 21-and-under talent, the fourth and final installment focuses on the overall prospect talent level

With the 2020 season rapidly approaching, is looking at the state of all 30 farm systems and ranking them in different ways. After looking at position-player prospects (30-21, 20-11, 10-1), pitchers (30-21, 20-11, 10-1) and 21-and-under talent, the fourth and final installment focuses on the overall prospect talent level in each organization. The 30-21 rankings ran Monday and the 20-11 rankings on Tuesday. Here are the rankings, 10-1:

 10. Baltimore Orioles

Position players: 12th; Pitchers: 8th
Few teams fit the rebuild mold better than the O's, and that process paid off with its crown jewel in No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman last June. The former Oregon State catcher goes into his first full season as's No. 4 overall prospect with four plus tools (hit, power, arm, fielding), and his presence alone gives Baltimore fans dreams of better days to come. Behind him, No. 94 overall prospect Ryan Mountcastle and outfielder Austin Hays should be ready to impact the Majors this summer with their strong offensive potential, and 2019 second-rounder Gunnar Henderson gives the group a potential shortstop of the future. That said, the pitching group is every bit the position player's equal and actually might be deeper. No. 36 Grayson Rodriguez and No. 69 DL Hall are the headliners headed into the middle levels, while Michael Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther and Keegan Akin could become Major League rotation options by season's end. It's still one or two potential stars away from an ideal rebuild, in part because of a previous lack of play in the international signing market, and it'll take another good pick at No. 2 in June and more development from the big names for the O's to climb in these rankings.

 9. Minnesota Twins

Position players: 5th; Pitchers: 20th
The Twins' strengths are well-known. No. 9 overall prospect Royce Lewis, No. 32 Alex Kirilloff and No. 81 Trevor Larnach would form a fearsome heart of any lineup, and they all happen to play in an organization that just set the Major League club record for home runs in a season. With all three seeing time at Double-A last year, it wouldn't be a surprise if at least one plays a big league role in 2020. The pitching took a hit when Brusdar Graterol was traded to the Dodgers for Kenta Maeda, leaving No. 86 Jordan Balazovic as the club's only Top-100 representative on the mound. Jhoan Duran -- he of the plus-plus fastball and plus splitter -- has the stuff to join Balazovic, but the dropoff from there is significant. The Twins are in full contention mode, so some slipups [like the ones from Lewis and Kirilloff in 2019] are easier to swallow now than they would have been. On talent alone, however, there's enough here to keep the good times rolling.

 8. Detroit Tigers

Position players: 22nd; Pitchers: 2nd
The Tigers are in the same category as the Orioles: a clearly rebuilding club that's still at least a year away from turning the corner. Detroit's path back to contention clearly goes through the mound, given the current state of the system. No. 7 overall prospect Casey Mize, No. 24 Matt Manning and No. 46 Tarik Skubal ended 2019 at Double-A Erie and all three would headline the pitching crop of most other farms. Add in Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo and a hopefully healthy Franklin Perez and it's not hard to envision the Tigers sporting a fully homegrown rotation within 18 months. The hitters are another story. No. 31 overall prospect Riley Greene quickly became the best bat in the system after he was taken fifth overall in last year's Draft; indeed, he's the only Top-100 position player of the bunch. Isaac Paredes has jostled up and down from that status in recent years because of a bat that hasn't quite shown it can meet its ceiling, but he'll only be 21 for all of 2020 after playing at Double-A last season. Willi Castro, Jake Rogers and Daz Cameron should provide some Major League help, though none of those project as first-division starters, barring improvements. Watch for Detroit to grab another high-caliber player with the first overall pick in June, and the organization should try to turn the corner from rebuilding to building around Mize, Manning & Co.

 7. Miami Marlins

Position players: 10th; Pitchers: 9th
This is a remade group that features a new Draft pick (JJ Bleday), players acquired in 2019 trades (Sixto Sanchez, Jazz Chisholm, Jesús Sánchez) and a breakout pitcher (Edward Cabrera) among its Top-100 contingent. That puts the Fish in a tie with seven other clubs with five Top-100 talents. [Only the Rays have more with six.] Just as promising, first-rounders Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers were healthy and returned to form at Class A Advanced and Double-A. Monte Harrison and Nick Neidert were the rare Marlins prospects to take steps back in 2019, but both have the tools and experience to impact the Major League roster in the coming months. Meanwhile, Lewin Diaz, Jose Devers, Peyton Burdick and Jerar Encarnacion will look to build on breakout seasons of their own, bringing even more enthusiasm to the group outside the bigger names. There's hope on the horizon in South Florida.

 6. Chicago White Sox

Position players: 1st; Pitchers: 15th
It's no secret that this is a top-heavy system and an older one at that -- the White Sox placed last in our 21-and-under talent rankings. But that top's as heavy as it gets. No. 3 overall prospect Luis Robert is the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year award coming off a 30-30 season across three Minor League levels. No. 16 Andrew Vaughn is arguably the most advanced bat coming out of last year's Draft class. No. 40 Nick Madrigal has elite contact skills and hit and run tools that should make him Chicago's second baseman in short order. No. 20 Michael Kopech is coming off Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for all of 2019, but his 80-grade fastball and plus-plus slider still make him a top-five right-handed pitching prospect. That core -- and its proximity to the Majors -- is a big reason why the Sox decided to invest in the big club this offseason. The dropoff from the top four is steep, although Jonathan Stiever is worth watching in his second full season, but make no bones about it: the Sox are the only club with four prospects ranked among's top 40. That counts for a lot.

 5. Seattle Mariners

Position players: 2nd; Pitchers: 14th
General manager Jerry Dipoto has this group right where he wants it. Or thereabouts. Acquiring No. 11 overall prospect Jarred Kelenic from the Mets in the Edwin Diaz-Robinson Cano deal always gets headlines, but the club deserves just as much credit for signing No. 18 Julio Rodriguez and aggressively pushing him through the system in two short years. No. 38 Logan Gilbert looked like a pitcher the M's can build around in his first full season, No. 56 Evan White showed enough to get a Major League contract and will become the club's first baseman, while No. 100 George Kirby snuck onto the elite list with three above-average pitches and stellar control coming out of Elon. The sub-Top-100 group is an interesting mix of Major League-ready players (Kyle Lewis, Jake Fraley, Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield), promising youngsters (Noelvi Marte, Juan Then) and in-betweeners (Cal Raleigh, Isaiah Campbell, Brandon Williamson). Given the youth of Kelenic and Rodriguez, this is a ranking that has every chance to stick a year from now.

 4. Atlanta Braves

Position players: 6th; Pitchers: 5th
Ronald Acuña Jr.Ozzie Albies. Mike Soroka. Max Fried. All are Braves player development success stories from the latter half of the last decade, yet the system continues to send more youngsters through the pipeline. The marquee names this year are a pair of 21-year-old outfielders in No. 13 overall prospect Cristian Pache and No. 26 Drew Waters. Both are athletic types who could feature near the top of the Atlanta lineup and cover lots of ground in the Georgia grass. No. 37 Ian Anderson has climbed past No. 52 Kyle Wright and former Top-100 prospect Bryse Wilson in the rankings, but all three enter 2020 as legitimate upper-level starting options. That list gets deeper when you add Tucker Davidson and Kyle Muller, who are likely to contribute to the traffic jam on the pitching staff at Triple-A Gwinnett. First-rounder Shea Langeliers enters his first full season as's No. 70 overall prospect, and William Contreras and Alex Jackson also feature in the catching depth chart. If there's a weakness here, it's on the dirt. First-round shortstop Braden Shewmake -- the Braves' No. 7 prospect -- already looks like a quick clmber coming out of Texas A&M, but you have to go all the way down to CJ Alexander at No. 19 until you find another infielder. The conveyor belt continues almost everywhere else.

 3. Los Angeles Dodgers

Position players: 7th; Pitchers: 3rd
It isn't supposed to work this way. A team that's won seven straight division titles, is coming off a franchise-record 106-win season and just picked up a top-five talent in Mookie Betts is not supposed to have a top-10 system, never mind top-three. Yet the Dodgers' developmental system is such that it has made the 20th (Gavin Lux) and 101st picks (Dustin May) from the 2016 Draft into the No. 2 and 23 overall prospects, respectively. Josiah Gray, acquired from the Reds (along with Jeter Downs), climbed to No. 67 overall following his first season in the system. Keibert Ruiz (No. 73) remains one of baseball's most promising catching prospects. Oh, and the Dodgers also managed to pick up No. 83 Brusdar Graterol in a trade with the Twins, adding another powerful arm. Those are only the six Top-100 prospects. Tony Gonsolin will likely get Major League rotation looks this summer, while Kody Hoese, Michael Busch and Diego Cartaya bring promise to the bottom of the system. The Dodgers haven't mortgaged their future to build a farm this strong, and it's a big reason why the future remains sunny in Los Angeles.

 2. San Diego Padres

Position players: 8th; Pitchers: 1st
This was a tough call. The San Diego system comes with significant hype and for good reason, even after graduating Fernando Tatis Jr and Chris Paddack last season. No. 5 overall prospect MacKenzie Gore is the highest-ranked Minor League pitcher and the reigning Starting Pitcher of the Year MiLBY winner. His stuff is ace-caliber and the results back that up. As if he wasn't enough, Luis Patiño (No. 27) would be the top pitching prospect in most other systems and is on the same relative level as Gore, having ended 2019 at Double-A. Shortstop CJ Abrams (No. 25) jumped onto the scene as Arizona League MVP, shortly going sixth overall in the Draft, and already is showing a plus hit tool and 80-grade speed. Catcher Luis Campusano (No. 50) and outfielder Taylor Trammell (No. 57) add to the Top-100 base and give San Diego five players among the top 60. That's the goal of any rebuilding club. The depth is good, too, especially on the pitching side with Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, Ryan Weathers and Joey Cantillo filling out the depth chart. Shortstop Gabriel Arias also has Top-100 potential and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pop up there by midseason. A few more good bats -- or ones closer to the Majors -- could have pushed the Padres over the top, but that's being picky. This is a strong group overall.

 1. Tampa Bay Rays

Position players: 3rd; Pitchers: 4th
Want star power? The Rays claim the game's top overall talent in Wander Franco, a 19-year-old switch-hitting shortstop with an 80-grade hit tool and plus power potential. They also have No. 15 overall prospect Brendan McKay -- one of the Minors' most effective pitchers in 2019 and a potentially unique two-way talent. Take those two away and Tampa Bay still claims four more Top-100 prospects: No. 45 Vidal Brujan, No. 72 Xavier Edwards, No. 90 Shane Baz and No. 91 Brent Honeywell Jr. The six Top-100 prospects are the most of any organization, and of that half-dozen, three are position players and three are pitchers. That's balance among the top group, and that balance continues the further down you dig. Shane McClanahan, Joe Ryan and JJ Goss would be standout hurlers for other organizations but sit between 7-12 in the Rays' rankings. Same goes for first-round shortstop Greg Jones, outfielder Josh Lowe, catcher Ronaldo Hernandez and outfielder Moises Gomez. There's actually a glut of good middle infielders among Franco, Edwards, Jones, Brujan and Taylor Walls, but if anyone can move around talent, it's this organization. If the Rays track down the Yankees in the American League East, their farm will play a big role, and that could be just the beginning for the club with the game's top system.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.