Ranking the 2015 Farm Systems

Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!

For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.



  1. Chicago Cubs Boasting the minors’ best collection of power bats, Chicago’s farm system has reached a boiling point with several of club’s top prospects – Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell – knocking on the door to the big leagues. With several important building blocks already in place – Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Starlin Castro – the Cubs could be contenders by the end of 2016.


  1. Minnesota Twins Owning the top overall prospect, five-tool budding superstar Byron Buxton, as well as the promising power bat of Miguel Sano, who missed the year recovering from Tommy John surgery, better days are certainly on the horizon for the struggling franchise. There’s an incredible amount of depth with several promising power arms working their ways through the system. Look for 2014 second round pick Nick Burdi to move quickly.


  1. Houston Astros The farm system’s lost a surprising amount of talent over the last 12 months as prospects graduated – George Springer, Jon Singleton, and Robbie Grossman, Brett Oberholtzer – and others have been dealt away (Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman). Of course failing to sign the #1 overall pick, Brady Aiken, hurts as well. But the system remains incredibly deep.


  1. Tampa Bay Rays Sneaky good and built more on depth than on upper-tier talent, Tampa Bay’s offseason brought in a plethora of intriguing minor leaguers: Daniel Robertson, Steven Souza Jr., Jake Bauers, Andrew Velasquez, Burch Smith, Justin Williams, Jose Dominguez, and Greg Harris. There’s a lot of risk, more so than the average system, but it has the potential to extend the Rays’ competitive window.


  1. San Francisco Giants Built on the high ceiling arms of Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, and 2014 first rounder Tyler Beede, San Francisco is another sneaky good farm system. There’s not much upside when it comes to offensive players, but the Giants’ calling card over the past several years has been better than average starting pitchers – a trend that should continue.


  1. Boston Red Sox Sporting one of the three best left arms in the minors, Henry Owens, with the heir apparent to Jason Varitek’s old spot (Blake Swihart), the system could see a tremendous fall come this time next year as many of the better prospects graduate or are dealt for big league pieces.


  1. New York Mets Two years ago I listed the Mets as one of the top surprise teams for 2015. Potentially franchise-changing rotation built around (a healthy) Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Jake deGrom, Bartolo Colon/Jon Niese/Dillon Gee and plenty of reinforcements developing in the minors (Rafael Montero, Steven Matz, Matt Bowman).


  1. Texas Rangers Like many of the club’s prospects, Texas’ farm system is a potential boom or bust as most of their minor leaguers – Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Luke Jackson, Jorge Alfaro – have above-average ceilings with more than a red flag or two.
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates Led by the minors’ ultimate swing-and-miss arm, Tyler Glasnow, the Pirates have a couple of high impact players (Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Nick Kingham). Pittsburgh’s glory days are far from over.


  1. Cincinnati Reds Underrated for their ability – and willingness – to convert dominant collegiate arms into solid starting pitchers (Tony Cingrani, Michael Lorenzen, and Nick Howard). The system’s sporting two Top 15 prospects in Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson.


  1. Los Angeles Dodgers Buoyed by the three-headed monster of Julio Urias, Corey Seager, and Joc Pederson, the farm gets incredibly thin, incredibly fast. 2014 high round picks Grant Holmes and Alex Verdugo have a chance to help pick up some of the slack in the coming years though.


  1. Arizona Diamondbacks Plenty of interesting starting power arms available – Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, Touki Toussaint, and Robbie Ray – with a pair of high leverage, impact relievers (Jimmie Sherfy, Jake Barrett). Not entirely solid on the club’s younger bats. And neither must the office after signing Cuban-import Yasmany Tomas to man third base ahead of the smooth-swinging Jake Lamb.


  1. Toronto Blue Jays The system could easily find itself among the game’s five worst come this time next year. Toronto’s top three prospects – Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Aaron Sanchez – each figure to see plenty of action with the big league club. There’s a couple low level wild cards arms that could pay off in a big, big way in the coming years.


  1. Philadelphia Phillies Taking the anti-Cubs route by collecting polished older arms (Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle, Tom Windle, Ben Lively, and Matt Imhof). Maikel Franco has extreme bust potential. J.P. Crawford is likely to slide into Jimmy Rollins’ old spot for a decade-plus.


  1. Atlanta Braves New GM John Hart has pulled the franchise’s minor league system back from the depths of despair in his busy first offseason. A lot of high impact, highly risky arms, though, which is a dangerous foundation to build upon. It’s basically the opposite approach that he took during his famed years in the Cleveland front office.


  1. Cleveland Indians Re-stocked with plenty of intriguing talent after the club’s strongest draft in recent memory. Francisco Lindor is knocking on the door. Otherwise, many of the team’s top prospects remain years away from making any type of impact with the big league club. Fourth outfielder types James Ramsey and Tyler Naquin are likely to see a good chunk of action in 2015.


  1. New York Yankees Solid depth spread throughout the entire system. Plenty of high end collegiate talent (Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo, Jacob Lindgren), midlevel developing talent (Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Greg Bird) with a dash of high ceiling youngsters.


  1. Seattle Mariners A ton of younger prospects in the mid- to upper levels with limited ceilings that have been aggressively-pushed through the system (Ketel Marte, Gabriel Guerrero, Victor Sanchez). Corner infielder D.J. Peterson has some middle-of-the-lineup thump. And backstop Tyler Marlette remains one of the more underrated prospects in the minors.


  1. Colorado Rockies A trio of arms that have big league starting potential (Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, and Eddie Butler) with a pair of promising bats (David Dahl and Ryan McMahon). After that there are a ton of prospects that had their ceilings inflated because of some production in Low Class A.
  2. Washington Nationals Not a tremendous amount of depth, but there are several high ceiling, impact players in the system. The Lucas Giolito gamble is paying off in a big, big way, which convinced the front office to take another gamble on an injured right-hander in the first round (Erick Fedde). Washington also did well in adding 2014 first rounder Trea Turner in the club’s three-team deal with San Diego and Tampa Bay.


  1. St. Louis Cardinals Very heavy in mid-rotation arms (Marco Gonzales, Luke Weaver, Rob Kaminsky, and Andrew Morales) and equally limited in offensive firepower. This is one of the weaker farm systems for St. Louis in a long while. Stephen Piscotty remains one of the minors’ most overhyped prospects.


  1. Kansas City Royals If Kyle Zimmer’s injuries prove to be nothing more than a speed bump (fingers crossed), Kansas City may well sport the best trio of minor league arms when paired with Brandon Finnegan and Sean Manaea. Underrated right-hander Christian Binford is far behind either.


  1. San Diego Padres Dealt most of their prospect depth during the offseason, but San Diego, nonetheless, was able to hold onto their top three minor leaguers: Matt Wisler, Austin Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe – at least for the time being.


  1. Oakland A’s Matt Olson is one of the most overlooked power bats in the minors. The slugging first baseman is built in prototypical fashion: big power, huge strikeout totals, and an abundance of patience. There are some interesting former college arms, but Oakland’s dealt away an awful lot of MiLB’ers over the past months.


  1. Chicago White Sox Definitely taking important steps towards minor league respectability, Rick Hahn added the best collegiate player (Carlos Rodon) and one of the most dominant debuts from a prep player (Spencer Adams). Don’t sleep on Francellis Montas.


  1. Los Angeles Angels Pathetically thin. And that’s after the club acquired two of their top three prospects during the offseason (Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano).


  1. Baltimore Orioles A pair of high ceiling, promising right-handers on the mend (Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey) with a couple second tier prospects. This is definitely a system on the decline.


  1. Milwaukee Brewers Shortstop Orlando Arcia is going to be the breakout prospect of the year in 2015. Clint Coulter rebounded with a dominant performance; Tyrone Taylor has intriguing five-tool potential. Then there’s very little elsewise.


  1. Miami Marlins Ridiculously thin – obviously – but Tyler Kolek owns one of the best arms in baseball. Adam Conley is a solid southpaw. A lot of very fringy big league prospects.


  1. Detroit Tigers Not a whole left after poor drafts and dealing their prospects away. A ton of former polished collegiate arms with incredibly limited ceilings




After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.