As spring training continues to roll on, so do the prospect rankings. We here at Minor League Ball have brought you two of our own. John Sickels continues to pump out his Top 20 organizational rankings, and my “3 prospects to know” series is complete (minus a few updates as spring progresses).
Several other of our trusted friends have ranked their farm systems. Baseball America, in its Prospect Guide, listed the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays as its top five. MLB Pipeline had a different look, listing the Padres, Braves, White Sox, Rays and Philadelphia Phillies as its cream of the crop.
So, just who is the top system in baseball? What constitutes a farm system being atop the rankings? Do you value depth more than being top heavy in elite, lower-risk talent? How you view aspects like that determines the value you have in farm systems.
If I were to make a list of the top five systems today, it would probably look like this:
Even after losing a few big name prospects in the offseason penalty purge, this system is incredibly deep. After watching most of the No. 20 to No. 35-ish ranked prospects in the system for the past few seasons, it’s easy to see that those players — guys like Tucker Davidson and Anfernee Seymour for example — would be higher ranked in other systems. Throw in baseball’s best prospect (in my opinion) and the top tier pitching prospects the Braves possess, and it’s tough to find a better system.
San Diego Padres
Last season at FanRag, I debated which farm system was better, the Braves or the White Sox. The debate on the White Sox end was that their top 10 or 12 prospects all had the looks of future big leaguers, and the top heaviness of elite talent propelled them to the top. That’s where the Padres stand now. I argued that even though they were a top 10 system last year, the rise to elite-dom had them amongst the most improved in the game. Big bats — like Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Luis Urias — and a seemingly endless arsenal of pitching have the Padres in the conversation for No. 1.
Chicago White Sox
That top-heavy talent is still there, and so is some depth. A lot of the bottom half of the top 25 prospects have some question marks (like will a true catching prospect actually develop despite having some intriguing pieces?) but the top is very exciting. There’s a lot of youth on the White Sox side and Eloy Jimenez is in the argument for top prospect in baseball, while Michael Kopech may be the best pitching prospect in the game.
This team went into rebuild mold after an old team led them to a few years of sustained glory in the latter half of the 2000 to 2010 decade. Now, it looks like the kids are ready to play. J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Scott Kingery are off to hot starts in spring training, and they do have some depth. Much of the pitching stock has question marks but is still very enticing.
New York Yankees
Here’s what gives the Yankees a very close nod over the Rays. Brian Cashman has used quite a few prospects to restructure the big league team, and this system still has six or seven elite prospects in the game. Adding to that, it is dispersed, with a nice balance or arms and bats. The bottom of the minors has a lot more to be curious about than the past two seasons, but the Yankees current top 20 rivals anyone in the game.
Just missing: Tampa Bay Ray
And I mean just missing. I’m not looking at what the Rays could have gotten in some deals that may have gone undersold. I’m simply looking at what’s on the pipeline. And what’s on the pipeline is a few big-league ready stars and nice depth. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jake Bauers and Willy Adames can do in the big leagues after following their rises for what seems an eternity.
So, let the debate begin. Who’s you’re top five?