Written by: Ray Butler
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Immediate disclaimer: This is not my attempt at ranking the best farm systems at baseball. Allow me to repeat myself: This post is NOT a ranking of the best farm systems in baseball.
As you know, my #Top200 prospect list has been making its way throughout the interwebs for the last week or so. I also took a deeper dive and offered my prospect obsessions for the 2018 season. With Opening Day rapidly approaching, it’s about time to turn my focus to active players in hopes of helping you win your fantasy baseball league championship THIS SEASON. However, before I shift gears, I want to give you an overview of how my #Top200 list is distributed amongst MLB organizations. It’s obviously important to know WHO to follow and target throughout the upcoming regular season, but it’s also pertinent to know about the long-term state of the game and to possess the ability to pinpoint organizations on the rise and organizations on the slippery slope.
As I’ve already stated twice, this is not a farm-system ranking (maybe the third time will be the charm). I am simply listing organizations in descending order based on the number of Top 200 prospects within each organization. Teams with the same number of Top 200 prospects are listed in alphabetical. Prospects listed for each organization are listed in ascending order from #200 to #1.
Clear as mud? Let’s take a look:
Atlanta (13): A.J. Minter, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, Max Fried, Kolby Allard, Cristian Pache, Joey Wentz, Austin Riley, Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara, Ronald Acuna
The outlook: Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb are already on the big league staff. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Ender Inciarte, and Dansby Swanson are already everyday position players. Oh, the Braves have THIRTEEN top 200 prospects on their way, too. My biggest long-term question pertaining to the Braves: Do they have enough elite offensive talent to win a World Series? I’ve tweeted this before, but my gut tells me the Braves will trade multiple young arms at some point to acquire the position-player talent that unquestionably puts them over the top. Fanbases of ~20 teams should absolutely envy the spot the Braves are currently in. The future in Atlanta is phenomenally bright.
Philadelphia (11): Mickey Moniak, Arquimedez Gamboa, Adam Haseley, Franklyn Kilome, Jorge Alfaro, JoJo Romero, Adonis Medina, Jhailyn Ortiz, Scott Kingery, Sixto Sanchez, J.P. Crawford
The outlook: I was totally prepared to talk about how underrated the Phillies’ farm system is in this post… then I realized they had the second most #Top200 prospects of any MLB organization. I think it’s very possible that Jorge Alfaro puts it all together once he’s given a shot at an everyday role in the big leagues. It would be foolish to give up on a number 1 overall pick after only one season, so I’m willing to monitor Mickey Moniak’s progress throughout the 2018 season before making any rash decisions. Sixto Sanchez, J.P. Crawford, and Scott Kingery are the household names on this list, but if I were a betting man, I’d bank on either Franklyn Kilome or Jhailyn Ortiz breaking out in a big way this season.
Chicago White Sox (10): Luis Alexander Basabe, Jake Burger, Blake Rutherford, Zack Collins, Dane Dunning, Dylan Cease, Alec Hansen, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez
The outlook: I know there’s been a lot of talk this spring about Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Micker Adolfo eventually manning the outfield in Chicago. I think it’s a relatively safer bet to assume that either Blake Rutherford or Luis Alexander Basabe assumes the third outfield position instead of Adolfo. The White Sox have laid the foundation of their rebuild quickly and efficiently. Robert, Jimenez, and Michael Kopech all have the chance to someday be top 30 OVERALL fantasy players.
Los Angeles Dodgers (9): Starling Heredia, Dustin May, Will Smith, Yusniel Diaz, Mitchell White, Yadier Alvarez, Keibert Ruiz, Alex Verdugo, Walker Buehler
The outlook: A fantastically-run organization, it made complete sense for the Dodgers to acquire Yu Darvish at least season’s trade deadline, even if they had to move Willie Calhoun in the process. For now, the Dodgers’ #Top200 prospects are simply above average. But there’s some real potential here for the Dodgers to eventually jump back into the running for the best system in baseball, which is nice when you consider their major league team is already a perennial contender as it is.
Milwaukee (9): Luis Ortiz, Corey Ray, Mauricio Dubon, Tristen Lutz, Lucas Erceg, Brett Phillips, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Keston Hiura
The outlook: If Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz hadn’t been traded to Miami for OF Christian Yelich, the Brewers would undoubtedly be higher on this list (I also suspect they would be currently challenging the Braves, White Sox, Padres, and Phillies for the best farm system in baseball). The door isn’t shut on Corey Ray’s baseball future, but evaluators are currently much more excited about Keston Hiura’s potential.
Minnesota (9): Akil Baddoo, Wander Javier, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Zack Littell, Nick Gordon, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Royce Lewis
The outlook: I know the Twins seem to be one of the least talked-about organizations in baseball, but they’ve had a fantastic offseason. After missing out on prized-SP Yu Darvish, Minnesota has added Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison, Zach Duke, Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney for less than $50 million COMBINED. That’s fantastic value, folks. What’s more, they did it all without shipping any of their premium prospects to opposing teams. I tend to think Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker will be above-average major leaguers. I think Zack Littell, Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero will be (at least) average major league starting pitchers. And don’t get me started on Royce Lewis. From his skillset to the outstanding makeup, Lewis has ‘face of the game’ potential. I’m bullish on the Twins’ future.
San Diego (9): Michael Gettys, Anderson Espinoza, Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, Luis Urias, MacKenzie Gore, Fernando Tatis Jr.
The outlook: The Padres are already closer than you think to being relatively competitive in the National League. There’s more help on the way, too. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias should eventually become two staples in the infield for the Padres, and there are a starting rotation’s worth of arms rising through the minor league system. I remain completely mesmerized by Anderson Espinoza’s potential, even if we won’t see him again until next season.
Toronto (9): Rowdy Tellez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Sean Reid-Foley, T.J. Zeuch, Danny Jansen, Nate Pearson, Anthony Alford, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The outlook: Though they already have a very solid minor league system, there’s potential for the Blue Jays to have FOUR prospect stars by the end of the 2018 season. Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have already arrived, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Nate Pearson have immense potential as well. Durability will be the biggest key for the latter two players, but Toronto has a bright future regardless.
Miami (8): Braxton Garrett, Dillon Peters, Jorge Guzman, Brian Anderson, Isan Diaz, Sandy Alcantara, Monte Harrison, Lewis Brinson
The outlook: The Marlins’ farm system has certainly gone from nothing to something over the past few months, but at a drastic price at the major league level. I’ve tweeted in decent detail about the Marlins system in general, but I’ll repeat my consensus here: Miami has a lot of sky-high ceiling, rock-bottom floor prospects in their system. The reward is potentially developing the positional-player core to compete against any team in the big leagues. The risk is potentially dooming your organization for a decade. No worries, Marlins fans. Also, Miami should definitely move their remaining big league assets to continue stocking the shelves of their farm system.
Pittsburgh (8): Jordan Luplow, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Colin Moran, Shane Baz, Austin Meadows, Mitch Keller
The outlook: The Pirates have several seemingly-good prospects, but I’m skeptical as to how many materialize and develop into above-average big leaguers. Mitch Keller seems like a sure-fire middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher at the very least, and I think Colin Moran will be an above average big league third baseman. After that? It gets much fuzzier. If Meadows can improve his durability, he’ll almost certainly be a big league factor relatively soon. Other than the trio, I’m in “wait and see” mode with Pittsburgh’s other #Top200 prospects.
Tampa Bay (8): Wander Samuel Franco, Anthony Banda, Justin Williams, Jake Bauers, Jesus Sanchez, Brendan McKay, Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell
The outlook: Don’t let a select-few Rays fans convince you otherwise: Tampa Bay is not in a better position now compared to where they were at the end of the 2018 regular season. You swear you’re not rebuilding? Fine. But adding riskier players with similar skill-sets as players you’ve basically given away WITHOUT overwhelmingly improving your farm system seems….. less than great. Not to mention that top prospect Brent Honeywell will at least miss the entirety of the 2018 season due to undergoing Tommy John surgery. Maybe I’m wrong and Tampa Bay shocks the world and competes in the AL East this season. I don’t think I am, though.
Cincinnati (7): Jose Siri, Shed Long, Tyler Mahle, Jesse Winker, Taylor Trammell, Hunter Greene, Nick Senzel
The outlook: I didn’t mention this in the write up I had for him in my rankings, but I see Nick Senzel as an Andrew Benintendi-type player with less speed. If Senzel becomes a full-time shortstop, he’ll also play a much more premium position than Benintendi. You know my love for Taylor Trammell. Hunter Greene is a long, long way away but is obviously oozing in talent and projection. I still think the Reds need to find ways to add solid farm talent in order to someday compete with the likes of the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central.
Colorado (7): Colton Welker, Garrett Hampson, Ryan Castellani, Peter Lambert, Riley Pint, Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers
The outlook: The Rockies’ position player prospects inside of my #Top200 all have one thing in common: They possess some of the best pure hit tools in the entire minor leagues. I really hope Colorado gives Ryan McMahon a genuine shot at proving his worth at the big league level this season. It would stun me if Brendan Rodgers wasn’t a top 5 overall prospect at the end of the regular season. Riley Pint had a rough first professional season, but early reports from minor league camp are promising. He has plenty of time to reach his immense potential.
Detroit (7): Christin Stewart, Jake Rogers, Daz Cameron, Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez
The outlook: Detroit certainly has more minor league talent than they had a season ago, but the Tigers still have a long way to go. Alex Faedo, Matt Manning, and Franklin Perez ALL have top-of-the-rotation potential, but the position-player talent is slightly less promising. I’m a big fan of Daz Cameron, but Christin Stewart has the floor of a 4th outfielder and there are questions as to how Jake Rogers projects as a big league catcher. The Tigers are certainly in full-rebuild mode, but there’s still plenty of work to be done with the overall talent in the farm system.
Los Angeles Angels (7): Taylor Ward, Jaime Barria, Brandon Marsh, Kevin Maitan, Chris Rodriguez, Jahmai Jones, Jo Adell
The outlook: If athleticism is your thing, the Angels farm system is the #squad for you. Brandon Marsh, Jahmai Jones and Jo Adell are ALL elite athletes, and each member of that trio has potential to be a top 30 prospect someday. Kevin Maitan’s stock took a hit following a small sample and a move (I couldn’t think of a better word for that whole situation) from Atlanta’s farm system to Anaheim’s. There’s an old contrarian cliche that says “sell-high after good news, buy-low after bad news”… now seems like the perfect chance for you to acquire Maitan stock without forfeiting an arm and a leg.
New York Yankees (7): Freicer Perez, Albert Abreu, Chance Adams, Miguel Andujar, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Gleyber Torres
The outlook: The Bronx Bombers have shipped a ton of prospect talent to other teams throughout the past calendar year, yet they still remain above average on the farm system talent spectrum. A couple of in-the-know folks I’ve talked to think Freicer Perez will be the big mover of this group this season. 2018 will be a critical year for the perception of Estevan Florial’s status. The variance is high; he could be a top 10 prospect by the end of the regular season or he could be outside of the top 100 by the end of the regular season. Prediction: Chance Adams plays a large role out of the Yankees’ bullpen before the season’s over.
Oakland (7): Renato Nunez, James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler, Franklin Barreto, Jesus Luzardo, Jorge Mateo, A.J. Puk
The outlook: I can’t help but look at the entire Athletics’ organization optimistically. They have some legitimate big-league pieces already in place, and there’s plenty of help on the way. A.J. Puk seems like a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, Jesus Luzardo has the chance to be a fast-riser this season, and James Kaprielian has a strong chance to reattain top 50 prospect status after returning from Tommy John rehabilitation. Dustin Fowler will almost certainly figure into the Athletics everyday plans this season, and Franklin Barreto should be up for good at some point this season. What’s crazy: Jorge Mateo likely has the highest peak-ceiling of this group, which is saying something.
Texas (7): Yohander Mendez, Hans Crouse, Ronald Guzman, Mike Matuella, Cole Ragans, Leody Taveras, Willie Calhoun
The outlook: The Rangers have a solid mix of position player and pitching talent in my #Top200, and that’s before you put recently-signed Juan Pablo Martinez into the mix. I’m bullish on Cole Ragans and Leody Taveras especially, but I really think Ronald Guzman is close to putting it all together too. The bullpen risk is super-high with Mike Matuella, but he could eventually be the x-factor of this farm system.
Baltimore (6): D.L. Hall, Tanner Scott, Hunter Harvey, Chance Sisco, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays
The outlook: I’m not a gigantic fan of position player prospects with minuscule walk rates, so I’ll readily allow my leaguemates to acquire stock in both Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays while also admitting it could come back to bite me in the butt. He’s certainly not the safest pitching prospect ever, but my favorite Orioles prospect is Hunter Harvey; I think he’s going to put it all together and become a top-of-the-rotation arm by sometime in 2019. Predicting good health and success for an Orioles pitching prospect feels like a dying man’s final wish, but here we are.
New York Mets (6): Thomas Szapucki, Justin Dunn, Peter Alonso, Marcos Molina, David Peterson, Andres Gimenez
The outlook: From a star-power standpoint, the Mets current farm system is entirely MEHHHHHHHHHHHH. Thankfully, both Amed Rosario and Dom Smith barely forfeited their prospect status at the end of last season, so the Mets aren’t completely void of big-name young players. Out of the Mets prospect that made my #Top200, it’s easy to conclude that Andres Gimenez has the brightest future, though there’s a good chance he’s a better real life player than fantasy asset.
St. Louis (6): Delvin Perez, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes
The outlook: He won’t be a prospect by midseason, but I’d be willing to wager a large amount of money that the baseball world will know all about Alex Reyes before the end of the regular season. Carson Kelly is without-question one of the best catching prospects in baseball, but he’s in one of the worst situations possible as a catching prospect. Yadier Molina may still be catching 140 games a season when he’s 70. Harrison Bader may back his way into making the Cardinals Opening Day roster, though he figures to be a spot-starter unless one of Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham, or Dexter Fowler suffers an injury. It’s a phone-booth comparison, but Jack Flaherty could be getting the Luke Weaver-treatement this time next season.
Cleveland (5): Nolan Jones, Bobby Bradley, Yu-Cheng Chang, Triston McKenzie, Francisco Mejia
The outlook: I don’t really view the Indians as a team that will need a ton of minor league talent (other than to potentially trade) for the next 3-5 seasons, but Cleveland’s got a few dudes in their farm system nonetheless. Some of the burning questions throughout the entire prospect world heading into this season revolve around Francisco Mejia’s long-term defensive position and Triston McKenzie’s long-term status as a starting pitcher. He barely missed my prospect obsession list, but Nolan Jones has potential to someday be a big time prospect.
Houston (5): David Paulino, J.B. Bukauskas, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley
The outlook: For a defending champion that boasts a very young core of position players, status amongst other organizations in the world of prospects seems deeply unimportant. Opposing teams are almost certainly less-than-thrilled to know the Astros possess one of the best outfielder prospects in all of baseball as well as a potential #2 starting pitcher that could play a big-league role by the end of the upcoming regular season.
Washington (5): Seth Romero, Erick Fedde, Carter Kieboom, Juan Soto, Victor Robles
The outlook: The hope for Seth Romero overcoming the red-flags that caused his stock to draft in last summer’s MLB draft got punched in the mouth last week as the southpaw was dismissed from the Nationals’ camp due to a violation of team rules. Even with Romero’s cloudy future, the Nationals still have four prospects who project to be above average major leaguers. Victor Robles is already a star, and Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom both look like future MLB regulars at the very least.
Arizona (3): Domingo Leyba, Pavin Smith, Jon Duplantier
The outlook: The Diamondbacks recently traded Anthony Banda to Tampa Bay, so they’re stuck with a trio of prospects inside of my #Top200. Jon Duplantier is obviously the headliner of the group, but Pavin Smith could eventually become the best first base prospect in baseball. Arizona will have some interesting decisions to make about Smith’s positional future if he nears big league readiness while Paul Goldschmidt is still posting elite numbers.
Kansas City (3): Nick Pratto, Nicky Lopez, Seuly Matias
The outlook: The Royals are undoubtedly in one of the toughest spots in the entire league: Nowhere near enough big league talent to compete, but limited prospect talent as well. Though they just resigned Mike Moustakas to a one year deal with a mutual option for a second year, Kansas City’s best-case-scenario might be to move the third baseman to a contender at the trade deadline to continue stocking the farm system. Of the three prospects who made my list, Seuly Matias is my obvious favorite. Depending on the development of his hit tool, Matias might eventually project to hit .280 with 25 HRs.
San Francisco (3): Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, Heliot Ramos
The outlook: The Giants won’t legitimately compete for a World Series title this season, but I do think they’ll be better than most people give them credit for. San Francisco isn’t young by any stretch of the imagination, and their farm system is certainly imperfect as well. Thankfully, Heliot Ramos has the peak-ceiling to be an organizational cornerstone someday. Hopefully the Giants will continue to acquire talent similar to Ramos in the near future.
Boston (2): Michael Chavis, Jay Groome
The outlook: By rough estimate, I count four current #Top200 prospects that Boston has traded away to acquire active-player talent. The Red Sox also have a ton of young big league talent (hello Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts). I’m bearish on Michael Chavis, but Jason Groome could be the best southpaw pitching prospect in baseball eventually.
Chicago Cubs (2): Adbert Alzolay, Aramis Ademan
The outlook: It’s okay to be at the bottom of this list if your active roster is built to compete for the next decade. Thankfully, the Cubs have an abundance of young talent already in the major leagues. For what it’s worth, I think Aramis Ademan could develop into an absolute star. I also expect GM Theo Epstein to take steps to replenish the Cubs’ farm system throughout the next calendar year (without harming the big league talent).
Seattle (2): Evan White, Kyle Lewis
The outlook: Words cannot describe how fitting it is that the Mariners are listed last in a post about prospect depth. Seattle has a few prospects that would probably be listed somewhere in the #201-300 range, but Kyle Lewis isn’t exactly the safest prospect listed in my top 200. Evan White has a chance to someday be the top 1B prospect in baseball, but with inadequate active player talent to compete for a World Series, the Mariners have some organizational work to do as quickly as possible.
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