Reaping What You Sow: The Best Farm Systems

One of the things I’d like to change the next time I do these is to include the young talent already on the major-league roster. Promoting such talent to the major leagues is the purpose of a farm system, and while these are “farm system rankings”, it seems a shame to just completely ignore the talent a team has just promoted to the majors. For instance, the Atlanta Braves will begin this ranking at 15th, but that might give you the impression that their future isn’t bright. Considering that they’ve recently promoted Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Jonny Venters, and Craig Kimbrel in the last couple seasons, that simply isn’t true. Should I attempt this again, I’ll try to find a way to include the pre-arbitration (thus recently-promoted) talent to the rankings and analysis. Anyway, on to why you’re here.

braves 15. Atlanta Braves.

Having Julio Teheran at the top helps, but with the seeming impending move of Arodys Vizcaino to the bullpen permanently, the pitching depth in the system isn’t what it once was. There’s still some talent, but after Teheran and Randall Delgado, it seems more of the 4/5 variety. It’s nice to have that, but it becomes trade bait more than anything else. The Braves could also use a few of the hitting prospects to develop as hoped.


14. New York Yankees.

Trading away Jesus Montero hurt the system a bit in these rankings (maybe 7 spots), but there’s still plenty to like about the top of the system in Manny Banuelos, Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Dellin Betances. There’s just not a whole, whole lot behind that, though there is some potential.


13. Washington Nationals.

Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Alex Meyer all rank near the top of their respective tiers, but the impressive, impact depth this system had took a massive hit with the Gio Gonzalez trade. What could have been one of the top systems in the game became middle-of-the-pack overnight, but I’d like to have the high-upside still left than the depth of some other systems.


12. Boston Red Sox.

I was surprised that there was some decent depth in the system. For whatever reason, I expected worse. The only real problem with the depth is that it’s talented, low-level players that may take a while to make the majors. I like the chances of those guys making it, but it is a concern. System could take a leap forward next season.


11. Oakland Athletics.

Prior to the trades, this system would have been in the 20s and possibly the lower 20s. Billy Beane, however, added Jarrod Parker, AJ Cole, and Derrek Norris to a system that really needed some talent. The perception of this farm system has changed radically, but the major-league team is way worse than it already was.


10. Arizona Diamondbacks.

I really, really love the pitching in this system, and I think Kyle Winkler and Anthony Meo could be integral pieces in the future of the organization. But the Diamondbacks have zero hitters with impact potential, other than perhaps Matt Davidson, and Davidson is the only one that really looks like a possible regular. But hey, that pitching is awesome.


9. Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies system is one of the more even systems between pitchers and position players, and it has some nice depth of impact talent. The talent kind of drops off after the top 7 or so, but it’s a pretty good top 7 or so.


8. Pittsburgh Pirates.

The second of three teams with 2 “Elite” players in the system (Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole), the Pirates have a bit more depth than the Orioles. There’s not a lot more, but the difference is significant. The lower levels also have some potential from some late-round over-slot signees, but those guys are more projection and hope than reality right now.


7. San Diego Padres.

There’s a ton of depth. A ton. And it pains me to realize that I forgot to put Yonder Alonso in the Top 100 (hey, he switched teams, got lost in the transition, and I botched it) as probably the best first base prospect because of him having succeeded in AAA and having a nice debut in the majors. Ah well, I’ll make that correction. Many of the other Padres were really close to the Top 100 and would have been in the next 10 probably. Only minor criticism is that the system doesn’t have a lot of upper-echelon types. It’s a minor critique, though.


6. Kansas City Royals.

After having the “Best Farm System Ever” coming into the season, the Royals graduated Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow, and Johnny Giavotella from their top 10, and they are still a top farm system. It’s incredible. The system still has some high-upside talent somewhat near the majors, and they have a lot of depth below. But the very tippity-top prospects graduated.


5. Texas Rangers.

The Rangers continue to bring the noise when it comes to prospects. They have Jurickson Profar and whole host of depth behind them, especially in the low minors. Trying to differentiate between systems 4-7 was pretty difficult, and if you’re a little higher on some of the “Good” prospects than I am, they could be 2 or 3.


4. Tampa Bay Rays.

Matt Moore at the top of this system makes a real difference, and having a couple excellent prospects in Hak-Ju Lee and Taylor Guerrieri behind him helps a bit more. The depth right behind them doesn’t have huge upsides, but what it lacks in upside, it makes up for in being right at the major-league level. The depth a bit further down has more upside, and I didn’t even rank any of the talented draftees past the first round.


3. St Louis Cardinals.

It shocked me, when I did this, to see just how good the system was. I really didn’t expect it. Shelby Miller is the “Elite” guy in the system, and the Cardinals add several guys in the tier below, though those guys are pretty far away from helping. The tier below that is almost the opposite – little upside but pretty darn close to the majors. Lots of guys on this list could be major-leaguers.


2. Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners lack the depth of the systems behind it, but they make up for in having the best combination of top 5 prospects in the game. And most of that is pretty close to contributing in the majors. I prefer quality over quantity, so the Mariners get the nod over some of the teams behind them.


1. Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays have the best farm system in the majors, and it’s not particularly close. At the top, there’s plenty of talent and upside (Travis d’Arnaud, Jask Marisnick, Anthony Gose), and there’s tons of depth with upside behind it. It is said that you win with stars, and the Jays have loaded their farm system with several guys who become stars. The trick now is to develop it, but it’s really fun to imagine what this system could be.