After running through each organization’s top 10 prospects – and going in even more in-depth in my first book, The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual – the next step, of course, is ranking the farm systems beginning with the Astros and ending with the lowly Angels. Click here for each club’s top 10 prospects.
1. Houston Astros
Three elite blue chippers – Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, and George Springer – accompanied by a handful of others that could be held in the same regard if a few things break the right way. Plenty of depth around the diamond and as many as 16 players with the ceiling of a solid, league average MLB regular. Keep an eye on former second round pick Nolan Fontana.
2. Boston Red Sox
After winning the franchise’s third World Series title in the last 10 years, Boston’s potentially building a late 1990s/early 2000s New York Yankees-like dynasty – savvy front office, payroll flexibility, veteran core in place, and baseball’s second best farm system with plenty of depth and high ceiling talent.
3. Chicago Cubs
After having the best player in the draft fall in their laps with the #2 pick last June, Chicago added Kris Bryant to their growing stockpile of high-upside offensive prospects. Of the club’s top 10 prospects, eight are of the offensive variety: Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, and Mike Olt.
4. Minnesota Twins
Owner of not only the game’s most dynamic youngster, Byron Buxton, but also one of the premier power-hitting prospects too (Miguel Sano). The farm offers a nice mix of pitching prospects with solid swing-and-miss ability (Kohl Stewart, Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios, and Trevor May) and potential everyday players. Minnesota’s revival could begin as soon as mid-2014.
5. New York Yankees
Several of the Yankees’ top prospects stumbled in 2013 – Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott – but the emergence of Gregory Bird helped buoy the farm. New York had a top 10 system before adding Masahiro Tanaka. And for the record, if he’s eligible for the Rookie of the Year then he’s technically a prospect in my eyes.
6. San Diego Padres
Sans top prospect Matt Wisler, the farm isn’t so much about blue chip talent but plenty of potential above-average players. They’ll get a nice little boost as several players make comebacks from Tommy John surgery. Big, big believer in teenaged outfielder Franmil Reyes.
7. Texas Rangers
A couple big seasons by Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor helped to mitigate the implosion of the club’s former top pitching prospect Cody Buckel. Very, very toolsy farm, though that comes with plenty of risk. Gallo, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro all come with a red flag or two.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh renaissance is clearly underway as the team made the playoffs for the first time in a millennium. Several of the club’s top prospects – Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, and Nick Kingham – are knocking on the big league door. Outfielder and former bonus baby Josh Bell is poised for a huge – HUGE – breakout in 2014.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Headed by the now underrated Oscar Taveras, a lost season to injury tends to do that, the club once again finds itself among the top 10 farm systems in baseball. Several safe, solid prospects in Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty, Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzalez. Watch for right-hander Zachary Petrick, great story, better numbers.
10. New York Mets
Mets fans are already dreaming upon a future rotation consisting of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero. Let’s hope they fare better than Generation K.
11. Kansas City Royals
The one-two combo of Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura would probably rank among the top half in all of baseball. Right now, not during their peaks. Raul Mondesi and Jorge Bonifacio could both come up big in 2014.
12. San Francisco Giants
Following the status quo of pitching, pitching, and more pitching, the Giants boast one of the most impressive collections of minor league arms in Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar, Clayton Blackburn, and Adalberto Mejia. Mac Williamson could be another Hunter Pence-type performer.
13. Cleveland Indians
One elite prospect, Francisco Lindor, and a trio of potential elite prospects, Clint Frazier, Trevor Bauer and Dorssys Paulino followed by a lot of depth. Right-hander Cody Anderson looks to be in the same mold as Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister.
14. Tampa Bay Rays
Lost top prospect Taylor Guerrieri to Tommy John surgery which, of course, will be followed by a 50-game suspension. Very, very intrigued by the return of outfielder Josh Sale.
15. Cincinnati Reds
A potential ace in fast-moving Robert Stephenson, who could very well find himself in Cincinnati before the end of the season, and a trio of highly athletic outfielders in Jesse Winker, speed demon Billy Hamilton, and Phillip Ervin. Still not sold on Hamilton’s bat, though.
16. Oakland A’s
Owner of not one, but two potential above-average everyday shortstops, Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, though the former is far and away the better option. Oakland’s sporting a nice collection of potential power bats in Russell, Matt Olson, Max Muncy, and Mile Head.
17. Philadelphia Phillies
Third baseman Maikel Franco and southpaw Jesse Biddle, the franchise’s top two prospects, have a chance to spend some time in Philly in 2014. Hopefully, GM Ruben Amaro doesn’t yo-yo the pair a la Dominic Brown.
18. Seattle Mariners
Coughed up a lot of the system’s riches last season, but the crown jewel, Taijuan Walker, is among the game’s top prospects. First rounder D.J. Peterson tore the cover off the ball during his pro debut and Ji-Man Choi could be the type of player Justin Smoak was supposed to be. Danny Hultzen is just another cautionary tale. Hopefully he makes a full recovery.
19. Baltimore Orioles
Kevin Gausman, who was governed so as to keep his rookie eligibility, is an ace in the making (powdered donuts or not). And so is Dylan Bundy, assuming he makes a complete recovery from Tommy John. Patiently waiting for Jonathan Schoop to finally have his coming out party. A full season from Michael Ohlman could help ease the potential loss of Matt Wieters via free agency.
20. Chicago White Sox
Rick Hahn has done wonders during the offseason by infusing the once lagging farm system with the likes of Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu as well as adding the underrated Adam Eaton to the big league roster. Watch out for right-hander Francellis Montas, who is supremely underrated.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman’s the real deal. And Aaron Sanchez could be…if he stays healthy. There’s a lot of and, ifs and question marks in this system.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers
LA’s loaded at the top with Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Julio Urias, and Zach Lee. Then it gets thin – FAST.
23. Detroit Tigers
Nick Castellanos should be capable of putting up some Victor Martinez-like offensive numbers. But the club really didn’t do itself any favors by dealing Doug Fister for Robbie Ray and spare parts.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s the Archie Bradley show, folks. Though third baseman Jake Lamb could be a Garin Cecchini-lite. It will be interesting to see how third baseman Brandon Drury follows up his MiLB-leading 51 doubles in 2014.
25. Colorado Rockies
Once seemingly impossible, the Rockies now own not one, but two – TWO! – front-of-the-rotation-type hurlers in Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler. Not ready to buy-in on Rosell Herrera’s magnificent 2013, though.
26. Atlanta Braves
The club hit a homerun in the first round with Lucas Sims a couple years ago. Christian Bethancourt finally started hitting. Wes Parsons is going to explode. Trust me.
27. Miami Marlins
Five pretty good prospects – Jake Marisnick, Andrew Heaney, Colin Moran, Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino – and then it’s a who’s who of nobodies. Of course, that’s after burping up several high quality youngsters last season.
28. Washington Nationals
Washington has a pair of promising hurlers in Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole. They recently dealt right-hander Nate Karns, an older prospect who could slide into the middle of a rotation today.
29. Milwaukee Brewers
Tyrone Taylor is a long ways away, but looks like a potential five-tool center fielder. And the franchise swiped Nick Delmonico from Baltimore. Victor Roache could be a breakout player in 2014.
30. Los Angeles Angels
Taylor Lindsey and then… There’s maybe – maybe – three potential better-than-average big leaguers on the farm. And that’s if everything break the right way, which never happens.
Photo of George Springer Courtesy of Arturo Parvadilla via Flickr.com.