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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workout Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Minor League Ball MLB Farm System Rankings

Be careful with lists like this. As with everything it is a moving target and the general tiers are more important than exact placement. Also remember that the rankings refer to talent currently in the minor league system, or players on the projected big league roster who are still rookies entering 2018.

A team could be in a down phase cycle on the farm but still have a talented young MLB roster and a good reputation for talent development.

The lists look for a balance between upside and broader depth. This is based on my personal opinion and analysis. All responsibility for good or ill is mine.

ELITE: These organizations clearly rank as the top group in my opinion, though you could quibble about the exact placements. I did not plan it this way but the top three are the same as last year.

1) Atlanta Braves: Widely regarded as the best farm system in the game, the Braves feature mega-prospect Ronald Acuna as well as a bushel of young arms on the way up. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 12th, 2016 Rank: 2nd, 2017 Rank 1st.

2) New York Yankees: The Yankees have enormous financial resources but have also built up their farm system to being second only to the Braves, putting them into position to dominate the American League in more than just the short term. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 13th, 2016 Rank 14th, 2017 Rank 2nd.

3) San Diego Padres: Development of Fernando Tatis Jr. and drafting of Mackenzie Gore keep an already rich system near the top of the pack. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 25th, 2016 Rank 23rd, 2017 Rank 3rd.

4) Philadelphia Phillies: Rapid rebuild job will bear fruit soon in system that has both hitting and pitching. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 20th; 2016 Rank: 10th; 2017 Rank: 9th.

5) Tampa Bay Rays: Loss of Brent Honeywell to injury is an annoyance but the Rays have plenty of depth; keep an eye on breakthrough candidate Ronaldo Hernandez, a catcher. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 19th; 2016 Rank 9th; 2017 Rank 12th.

STRONG: These organizations may not have quite as much firepower or depth as the top five, but they should be considered very productive with a chance to move into the top group soon.

6) Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays have two of the top five prospects in baseball and have improved rapidly over the last two years but don’t have quite as much overall depth as some clubs. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 8th; 2016 Rank: 25th; 2017 Rank 19th.

7) Chicago White Sox: Thinned a bit due to graduations but still a very strong system with toolsy outfielders and power arms. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 25th; 2016 Rank 23rd; 2017 Rank 4th.

8) St. Louis Cardinals: I said last year that the Cardinals system was often under-rated and has a good balance of hitting and pitching. I think I say that every year. It is still true. Click here for overview. 2015 rank: 15th; 2016 Rank: 15th; 2017 Rank: 8th.

9) Houston Astros: Trades and graduations have thinned depth but they won a World Series and retain a strong farm system headlined by excellent young outfielder Kyle Tucker and top-flight pitcher Forrest Whitley. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 10th; 2016 Rank 3rd; 2017 Rank 11th.

10) Los Angeles Dodgers: A well-balanced system; like the Astros it has descended compared to recent heights but remains one of the strongest organizations in the game; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 4th; 2016 Rank: 1st; 2017 Rank 13th.

SOLID: This is the broad mass of farm systems that are neither extremely strong nor especially weak. Some have good impact talent but need more depth, others have depth but need more potential stars. These systems have nothing to be ashamed of.

11) Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have had a strong mid-rank farm system for years, not in the elite range but consistently and sustainably productive. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 14th; 2016 Rank: 11th; 2017 Rank: 14th.

12) Minnesota Twins: Like the Astros and Dodgers, the Twins are down from recent previous highs but remain in good shape going forward with considerable depth. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 3rd; 2016 Rank 8th; 2017 Rank 15th.

13) Oakland Athletics: Another solid organization with a balance between pitching and hitting; don’t underestimate lefty Jesus Luzardo; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 27th; 2016 Rank 18th; 2017 Rank 16th.

14) Milwaukee Brewers: Thinner after trades but overall a solid organization which made rapid progress after being quite weak a few years ago. Click here for overview. 2015: Rank 24th; 2016 Rank 5th; 2017: Rank 7th.

15) Cleveland Indians: Few teams can match Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie at the top but depth drops off after that; still a solid system overall, watch for INF Willi Castro; Click here for overview. 2015: Rank 21st; 2016 Rank 13th; 2017 Rank 10th.

16) Detroit Tigers: Improving very quickly after the Dombrowski years thanks to trades and renewed focus on drafting, putting them firmly in the middle rank. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 30th; 2016 Rank 28th; 2017 Rank 26th.

17) Colorado Rockies: Less depth than typical for the Rockies but much of that is due to recent graduations and the system is far from empty. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 9th; 2016 Rank 4th; 2017 Rank 6th.

18) Washington Nationals: Intriguing mixture of high-ceiling hitters but arm depth could use some work; still solid overall; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 16th; 2016 Rank 17th; 2017 Rank 22nd.

19) Miami Marlins: Recent trades give this system a big boost, pushing it from the bottom into the middle rank. The key now will be sustaining this progress while improving the big league roster. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 29th; 2016 Rank 29th; 2017 Rank 30th.

20) Los Angeles Angels: Like the Marlins, the Angels have improved quickly with more upside than in the past to go with gradually improving depth. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 28th; 2016 Rank 30th; 2017 Rank 28th.

21) Pittsburgh Pirates: There’s some broad-base depth here with many potential contributors however definite impact guys seem limited to Mitch Keller and the oft-injured Austin Meadows. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 7th; 2016 Rank 12th; 2017 Rank 5th.

22) Texas Rangers: Certainly weaker than a few years ago. I felt Texas could recharge quickly but they seem to be in a holding pattern instead; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 5th; 2016 Rank 7th; 2017 Rank 21st.

SO-SO: These are systems that have weaknesses but are not hopeless. Some could improve into solidness soon; others are reputable systems in a temporary down phase.

23) Baltimore Orioles: Improved drafting has boosted the talent base recently and there’s some depth in mid-range prospects; more impact players are needed and lack of significant investment in Latin America still stands out; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 26th; 2016 Rank 27th; 2017 Rank 27th.

24) Chicago Cubs: Graduations and trades have knocked the Cubs well down the farm rankings but for a good cause with a winning youthful MLB roster; they’ve developed some depth in mid-range pitching on farm but need more impact. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 1st; 2016 Rank 20th; 2017 Rank 18th.

25) Boston Red Sox: Dave Dombrowski’s asset-moving plus graduations have lowered the relative ranking of this system, now lacking impact and with mediocre depth. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 2nd, 2016 Rank 6th, 2017 Rank 24th.

26) Arizona Diamondbacks: 2017 draft looks promising after some down seasons and further progress could improve their standing more rapidly than usually realized. Still thin, but an upward trend. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 11th; 2016 Rank 19th; 2017 Rank 29th.

27) San Francisco Giants: Trades have chopped into depth and lowered the current ranking but the Giants have a long record of getting the most out of C+ type prospects; no need for despair among Giants fans at this point. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 22nd; 2016 Ranks 20th; 2017 Rank 17th.

28) New York Mets: Like the Giants the Mets are far off their peak as a system, particularly with hitters, but still have enough talent to push off despondency. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank 6th; 2016 Rank 21st; 2017 Rank 20th.

THIN: These systems have a weaker current minor league talent base than the ones ahead of them and will take more time and focused effort to recharge.

There is a distinct dividing line between spot 28 and 29/30.

29) Seattle Mariners: Thin all around due to trades; could look better in a few months if Kyle Lewis, Evan White, and Sam Carlson meet expectations but lack of depth in general stands out; Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 17th; 2016 Rank 26th; 2017 Rank 23rd.

30) Kansas City Royals: Not much to be excited about here at all, as the farm will provide little in the way of impact help anytime soon and has just mediocre depth in role player types. Click here for overview. 2015 Rank: 18th; 2016 Rank 22nd, 2017 Rank 25th.