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Ranking the five best farm systems: pitchers

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A look at which teams have the best collections of pitching prospects.

MLB: All Star Game-Futures Game Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already looked at the five best collections of hitting prospects in the minors, so now is a time to look at which teams have the best collections of pitching prospects.

Honorable Mention: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies

The size of the honorable mentions is much smaller than it is with the hitting prospects. That’s mostly due to the way the highest ranked teams have collected them as well as partly. Note that the Rays would have been high up on the honorable mention list if I didn’t consider Brendan McKay with the hitters.

The Yankees were the top runner up, but not particularly close to making the list after the Tigers upgraded their pitching collection in the last three months. They may not have an elite arm in the system, but they’ve got plenty of good ones led by Chance Adams.

The Phillies have some very promising arms in their system, but they’re mostly further away. This is one of those systems which could climb the rankings in a year or two as these prospects start to mature.

5. Detroit Tigers

The Tigers have moved on to this radar just based on the last three months. Drafting Alex Faedo and trading for Franklin Perez in the Justin Verlander deal accounts for two of the top three prospects in the entire system.

The Tigers also have Matt Manning, last year’s top pick, and 2015 top pick Beau Burrows as third and fourth Top 100 arms.

Matt Manning
Jay Markle, Minor League Ball/Bless You Boys

Kyle Funkhouser isn’t quite a Top 100 prospect, but he’s still a very good prospect who should be at least a middle of the rotation arm if he stays healthy. The same can be said about Grayson Long, who was just added in the last week in the deal which sent Justin Upton to the Angels.

Gregory Soto, Sandy Baez, Matt Hall, and Tyler Alexander are other starting pitching prospects, though some of them have a chance to end up getting moved to the bullpen.

The Tigers were known for having one of the best collections of relief prospects in the game under the previous front office. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that even after the graduation of Joe Jimenez they still have some strong relief prospects like Jairo Labourt, Bryan Garcia, Jason Foley, Gerson Moreno, and Adam Ravenelle.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have two top of the rotation candidates in Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez. There aren’t many teams who can say they have two legit top of the rotation candidates, even though Alvarez needs to improve his command.

Mitchell White is a third Top 100 type of arm in the system, and while he hasn’t lived up to expectations this year Jordan Sheffield could be one in a year from now. You could say the same about Dustin May.

Then there is Dennis Santana, who may very well end up in the bullpen but does have high upside in whatever his role is.

Trevor Oaks, Imani Abdullah, James Marinan, Caleb Ferguson, and Morgan Cooper are all among the other guys in the system that have potential.

3. San Diego Padres

The Padres are safely in third for right now, very much ahead of the rest of the pack but not quite ready to challenge the Braves or White Sox. That’s only because the Padres arms are far away, not because they lack talent or depth. They could very well be at the top of this list in a year or two.

Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez have both really emerged this year, while Cal Quantrill has continued on his path to the big leagues. The Padres also added in top draft pick Mackenzie Gore to give them a collection of four very talented arms, though three of the four aren’t close to San Diego.

Adrian Morejon
Jay Markle, Minor League Ball/Bless You Boys

That’s not even mentioning Anderson Espinoza, who was among the top pitching prospects in the game at this time last year before a Tommy John surgery cost him all of this year and most of next year. That’s five potential elite arms in the system, but four of them are years away.

The talent doesn’t end there since Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Logan Allen, Jacob Nix, and Enyel De Los Santos are all possible mid to back of the rotation candidates.

2. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox have the second best group of pitching prospects and are safely ahead of the Padres for now while not seriously challenging the Braves. They’ve got their own collection of elite arms led by Michael Kopech.

Kopech is arguably the best pitching prospect in the game right now, and if you believe in his command strides this year you are expecting a future ace. Lucas Giolito, Alec Hansen, and Dylan Cease give the Sox a total of four Top 100 prospect types of arms.

Beyond that group both Dane Dunning and Carson Fulmer are guys that would easily make a Top 200 prospect list. Then they have a very promising reliever in Zack Burdi, though he is battling through recovery from a recent Tommy John surgery.

The Sox have Spencer Adams, Jordan Stephens, Ian Clarkin, Jordan Guerrero, and AJ Puckett as guys not quite at that level, but guys who are still legitimate prospects themselves.

1. Atlanta Braves

The Braves have the best collection of arms in the game and it’s not particularly close. That’s what happens when you’ve got Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Luiz Gohara, Ian Anderson, Bryse Wilson, and Joey Wentz all ranking as Top 100 types of prospects. Touki Toussaint is just below that status as well.

Think about that, eight Top 100 type arms and it doesn’t even include recent graduate Sean Newcomb, young big leaguers Lucas Sims and Max Fried, one of the game’s best relief prospects in AJ Minter, or Patrick Weigel who was just below that Top 100 category when he required Tommy John midway through the season. Nor does it mention any of the young rookie ball guys in the system.

This is a historically strong crop of prospects in terms of number of Top 100 types of arms. It’s hard for anyone to compete with that.