The Future Is Now: Top Farm Systems Poised To Deliver Near-Term Value

Our League Top 20 Prospects coverage wrapped in mid-October, and beginning this week we’ll barrel full-speed into team-by-team Top 10s, beginning with the National League East. To preview coming attractions, we decided to compile a rough guide to the most bountiful farm systems—or at least those most likely to pay dividends in the near future—using the 2013 league prospect rankings as a guide.

To arrive at a rough estimate of system strength, we assigned various weights to each organization’s prospects who appear on a League Top 20 Prospects list. Our simple accounting method is as follows:

• One point for ranking as a league’s top batting or pitching prospect.
• Four points for ranking as a league’s No. 1 prospect, with value descending by two-tenths of a point thereafter, so 3.8 points for ranking No. 2 on down to 0.2 points for ranking No. 20.
• Five points for ranking in a Triple-A league; four points for Double-A; three points for high Class A; two points for low Class A; and one point for any of the six short-season leagues.
• Two points for playing pitcher, catcher or shortstop; one point for playing second base, third base or outfield; no points for playing first base.
• Players receive half-credit for their league’s star rating, so that a player in a five-star league such as the Florida State receives 2.5 points; a player in a one-star league such as the California receives 0.5 points.
• Organizations do not receive double credit for having one prospect who ranks on two lists; only the player’s highest score is counted toward the total.

This method rewards organizations for having players in close proximity to the majors who stand out in talented leagues and who play demanding positions. This way, we get a rough idea which systems have the highest probability of delivering premium talent in 2014 or ’15.

You’ll recognize the names of the prospects who receive highest scores. Highlights include World Series participants such as Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (No. 1 in the Triple-A International League) and Cardinals righthanders Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez (Nos. 5 and 7, respectively, in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League).

In fact, the system sees Bogaerts as the No. 1 major league asset for the near term, followed by Pirates righthander Gerrit Cole, Diamondbacks righthander Archie Bradley, Mets righthanders Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Rays righthander Chris Archer, Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Cubs shortstop Javier Baez.

The table below recounts how the 30 organizations stack up when all the votes are counted.

 

FARM SYSTEM STRENGTH BASED ON LEAGUE TOP 20 RANKINGS
NO ORG TOTAL NO ORG TOTAL NO ORG TOTAL
1 Red Sox 122.2 11(t) Blue Jays 90.3 21 Marlins 65.7
2 Astros 111.2 11(t) Mets 90.3 22 Nationals 64.7
3 Padres 110.8 13 Mariners 88.8 23 Indians 62.8
4 Rangers 104.6 14 Pirates 88.0 24 White Sox 57.5
5(t) Cubs 98.2 15 Rays 84.2 25 Reds 50.7
5(t) Royals 98.2 16 Yankees 74.1 26 Athletics 44.3
7 Twins 98.1 17 Phillies 71.7 27 Angels 43.0
8 Cardinals 95.2 18 Rockies 68.8 28 Orioles 32.4
9 D-backs 93.9 19 Dodgers 66.6 29 Tigers 29.4
10 Braves 92.1 20 Giants 66.2 30 Brewers 26.6

 

Now let’s break out each organization one by one, highlighting the top five points-earners for each system and putting the whole thing in context. In parentheses is each player’s peak ranking on a Top 20.

 

1. RED SOX

SS Xander Bogaerts (1 IL) • OF Jackie Bradley (8 IL) • RHP Allen Webster (13 IL) • LHP Henry Owens (4 CAR) • C Blake Swihart (5 CAR)

Boston has the top major-league ready talent in the game, by this accounting method, plus ample depth beyond Bogaerts and Co. in the form of RHP Antony Ranaudo (16 EL), 3B Garin Cecchini (14 EL), RHP Brandon Workman (19 EL), 2B Mookie Betts (7 CAR) and SS Deven Marrero (13 CAR). That’s how the system built an 11-point advantage on No. 2.

 

2. ASTROS

RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2 TL) • OF George Springer (3 PCL) • RHP Jarred Cosart (11 PCL) • SS Carlos Correa (2 MWL) • RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (5 MWL)

Houston’s depth is apparent with its players who just missed the cut here: RHP Michael Feliz (3 NYP), SS Jonathan Villar (19 PCL), OF Domingo Santana (6 TL), RHP Vince Velasquez (12 MWL) and 1B Jonathan Singleton (13 PCL).

 

3. PADRES

RHP Matt Wisler (5 TL) • RHP Keyvius Sampson (7 TL) • LHP Max Fried (8 MWL) • C Austin Hedges (5 CAL) • RHP Zach Eflin (11 MWL)

San Diego boasts one of the top lefthanders (Fried) and catchers in the minors (Hedges), and beyond the top five they also have SS Jace Peterson (8 CAL) and RHP Joe Ross (14 MWL). They might have had a better showing if they hadn’t lost RHP Casey Kelly and OF Rymer Liriano to Tommy John surgery in the spring.

 

4. RANGERS

SS Jurickson Profar (2 PCL) • RHP Luke Jackson (9 CAR) • 2B Rougned Odor (4 TL) • SS Luis Sardinas (11 TL) • RHP Akeem Bostick (6 AZL)

Texas’ middle-infield depth is apparent here, and they also have 2013 first-round SS/3B Travis Demeritte (9 AZL) on the horizon. Plus they traded SS/2B Leury Garcia to the White Sox for Alex Rios in August.

 

5 (tie). CUBS

SS Javier Baez (3 SL) • SS/2B Arismendy Alcantara (9 SL) • OF Jorge Soler (8 FSL) • RHP Pierce Johnson (15 FSL) • RHP C.J. Edwards (3 SAL)

Chicago is swimming in position players—OF Albert Almora (6 MWL) and 3B Kris Bryant (1 NWL) didn’t even crack the top five—but their long-term outlook might be most dependent on the development of pitchers such as Johnson and Edwards.

 

5 (tie). ROYALS

RHP Kyle Zimmer (2 CAR) • RHP Yordano Ventura (10 PCL) • SS Raul Adalberto Mondesi (4 SAL) • RHP Jason Adam (8 TL) • RHP Miguel Almonte (6 SAL)

Kansas City placed four starting pitchers in league top 10 rankings and also has interesting position players who just missed this top five in 3B Hunter Dozier (1 PIO) and OF Jorge Bonifacio (11 CAR).

 

7. TWINS

OF Byron Buxton (1 FSL) • RHP Alex Meyer (5 EL) • 3B Miguel Sano (2 EL) • OF Oswaldo Arcia (12 IL) • 2B Eddie Rosario (12 FSL)

Minnesota’s system mirrors the Cubs in that all the strength is tied up in position-player talent, though the Twins did have some big arms such as Meyer and far-away talents like RHP Jose Berrios (13 MWL) and LHP Lewis Thorpe (7 GCL).

 

8. CARDINALS

OF Oscar Taveras (1 PCL) • RHP Michael Wacha (5 PCL) • RHP Carlos Martinez (7 PCL) • 2B Kolten Wong (16 PCL) • LHP Tim Cooney (12 TL)

Wacha, Martinez and Wong all appear on St. Louis’ World Series roster, and Taveras probably would have had his season not been scuttled by major ankle surgery.

 

9. DIAMONDBACKS

RHP Archie Bradley (2 SL) • SS Chris Owings (8 PCL) • LHP Tyler Skaggs (17 PCL) • 3B Matt Davidson (14 PCL) • RHP Aaron Blair (4 NWL)

A nice blend of pitchers and position players lead the Arizona contingent, and they have more of the latter in the low minors with SS Sergio Alcantara (4 AZL) and 3B Brandon Drury (16 MWL).

 

10. BRAVES

LHP Alex Wood (6 SL) • C Christian Bethancourt (8 SL) • 2B Tommy La Stella (16 SL) • OF Joey Terdoslavich (20 IL) • 3B Edward Salcedo (19 SL)

Atlanta probably will receive big league contributions from its top four prospects listed here in 2014, but its lower-level players—RHP Lucas Sims (9 SAL), RHP Mauricio Cabrera (10 SAL) and SS Jose Peraza (16 SAL)—might have higher ceilings.

 

11 (tie). BLUE JAYS

RHP Marcus Stroman (10 EL) • RHP Aaron Sanchez (10 FSL) • OF Kevin Pillar (19 IL) • SS Franklin Barreto (5 GCL) • RHP Chase DeJong (6 APPY)

With the exception of the top three prospects listed here, Toronto deals in volume—not star power—at the short-season levels with one representative from the Gulf Coast League, two from the Northwest League and seven from the Appalachian League.

 

11 (tie). METS

RHP Zack Wheeler (4 PCL) • RHP Noah Syndergaard (3 EL) • RHP Rafael Montero (18 PCL) • SS Amed Rosario (1 APPY) • 2B/1B Wilmer Flores (15 PCL)

New York’s organizational strength remains righthanded starting pitching, but they’ll need their young hitting prospects such as Rosario, Flores, SS Gavin Cecchini (11 NYP) and 1B Dominic Smith (4 GCL) to even things out.

 

13. MARINERS

RHP Taijuan Walker (6 PCL) • SS Brad Miller (13 SL) • 2B/SS Nick Franklin (9 PCL) • OF Julio Morban (17 SL) • SS Chris Taylor (11 CAL)

Seattle’s 2013 first-rounder 3B D.J. Peterson (3 NWL) just missed the cut, but that’s understandable because the organization’s top three already have big league experience.

 

14. PIRATES

RHP Gerrit Cole (3 IL) • RHP Jameson Taillon (6 EL) • OF Gregory Polanco (7 EL) • RHP Nick Kingham (15 EL) • SS Alen Hanson (13 FSL)

A pair of first-round pitchers and a pair of big hits on the international market highlight a promising group of young talent, but don’t sleep on the system’s low-level talent, including OF Austin Meadows (1 GCL), RHP Tyler Glasnow (2 SAL), C Reese McGuire (3 GCL) and OF Harold Ramirez (1 NYP).

 

15. RAYS

RHP Chris Archer (4 IL) • OF Wil Myers (2 IL) • LHP Enny Romero (12 SL) • RHP Jake Odorizzi (15 IL) • C Oscar Hernandez (2 NYP)

The top four contributed to Tampa Bay this season, with Archer and Myers losing their prospect eligibility, but everybody beyond them is far, far away, including Hernandez RHP Taylor Guerrieri (18 MWL) and C Nick Ciuffo (12 GCL).

 

16. YANKEES

C Gary Sanchez (7 FSL) • C J.R. Murphy (18 EL) • C Luis Torrens (10 GCL) • OF Mason Williams (19 FSL) • SS Abiatal Avelino (13 GCL)

New York hopes this class of catching prospects develops more effectively than the last one, highlighted by Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. The system’s only other prospects above the Gulf Coast League are 3B Eric Jagielo (6 NYP) and RHP Rafael De Paula (17 SAL).

 

17. PHILLIES

3B Cody Asche (9 IL) • 3B Maikel Franco (4 EL) • LHP Jesse Biddle (11 EL) • OF/1B Darin Ruf (17 IL) • SS J.P. Crawford (6 GCL)

Asche and Ruf cut their teeth in Philadelphia in the second half, but beyond Franco and Biddle, all of the help is far away. See: 3B Zach Green (4 NYP), OF Aaron Altherr (20 FSL) and OF Carlos Tocci (18 SAL).

 

18. ROCKIES

RHP Eddie Butler (2 CAL) • SS Rosell Herrera (5 SAL) • RHP Chad Bettis (14 TL) • OF/1B Kyle Parker (13 TL) • SS Emerson Jimenez (5 PIO)

Butler also ranked as the top pitching prospect—No. 1 overall, in fact—in the South Atlantic League, but Colorado suffers from a lack of impact talent at the upper levels.

 

19. DODGERS

OF Yasiel Puig (1 SL) • OF Joc Pederson (7 SL) • SS Corey Seager (4 MWL) • RHP Zach Lee (15 SL) • LHP Julio Urias (7 MWL)

Los Angeles has little in the way of depth beyond these players—at least not in terms of players who ranked in a league prospect ranking—but this would be a stout top five for most organizations.

 

20. GIANTS

RHP Kyle Crick (3 CAL) • LHP Edwin Escobar (6 CAL) • SS Christian Arroyo (2 AZL) • LHP Adalberto Mejia (10 CAL) • LHP Ty Blach (15 CAL)

All five of high Class A San Jose’s primary starters ranked in the Cal League top 20, so it’s not surprising that pitchers dominate this list. The only other position players to make a league list are OF Mac Williamson (18 CAL) and 3B Ryder Jones (18 AZL).

 

21. MARLINS

OF Christian Yelich (5 SL) • LHP Andrew Heaney (9 FSL) • OF Jake Marisnick (10 SL) • LHP Justin Nicolino (16 FSL) • RHP Anthony DeSclafani (18 FSL)

A lack of depth prevents Miami from ranking higher, as the only other prospects to crack a league list are 3B Colin Moran (7 SAL), 2B Avery Romero (8 NYP) and RHP Trevor Williams (14 NYP).

 

22. NATIONALS

RHP Lucas Giolito (2 GCL) • RHP Taylor Jordan (12 EL) • 3B Anthony Rendon (8 EL) • RHP A.J. Cole (10 CAR) • LHP Robbie Ray (16 CAR)

The only organization to feature a prospect at a short-season level as its top earner, Washington might receive contributions from Giolito as soon as 2015 if he remains healthy. Not bad for a 2012 pick out of high school who had Tommy John surgery right after signing.

 

23. INDIANS

RHP Danny Salazar (6 IL) • SS Francisco Lindor (1 CAR) • RHP Trevor Bauer (16 IL) • OF Clint Frazier (1 AZL) • 2B/SS Jose Ramirez (17 EL)

As is the case with many of the bottom-third organizations in this ranking, the cream of the crop is impressive, but the depth is lacking. For Cleveland, C Francisco Mejia (7 AZL) and RHP Cody Anderson (20 CAR) also ranked on league lists.

 

24. WHITE SOX

RHP Erik Johnson (11 IL) • OF Avisail Garcia (7 IL) • SS/2B Marcus Semien (14 SL) • 2B/SS Carlos Sanchez (18 IL) • OF Courtney Hawkins (15 CAR)

Johnson, Garcia and Semien all received late-summer callups and will be key pieces of Chicago’s rebuild beginning in 2014. Sanchez and Hawkins didn’t hit at all in 2013, which tells you a lot about system depth.

 

25. REDS

RHP Robert Stephenson (3 MWL) • OF Billy Hamilton (10 IL) • OF Jesse Winker (9 MWL) • OF Yorman Rodriguez (20 SL) • RHP Ben Lively (6 PIO)

Cincinnati 2013 first-rounder OF Phillip Ervin (2 PIO) finished just out of the picture here, and he’s also the only other Reds prospect to make a league top 20 list.

 

26. ATHLETICS

SS Addison Russell (1 CAL) • RHP Sonny Gray (12 PCL) • OF Michael Choice (20 PCL) • OF Billy McKinney (8 AZL) • OF B.J. Boyd (12 NYP)

Russell is one of the game’s top shortstop prospects, Gray might be one of the AL’s next big arms, and Choice has plus raw power, but this system could use a talent infusion from an offseason trade.

 

27. ANGELS

2B Taylor Lindsey (10 TL) • 2B Alex Yarbrough (9 CAL) • RHP Mark Sappington (16 CAL) • RHP R.J. Alvarez (17 CAL) • OF Randal Grichuk (17 TL)

Throw in summer trade acquisition Grant Green and Los Angeles’ brightest lights profile as second basemen or relievers. On the other hand, look for Grichuk’s power to play much more favorably in Triple-A Salt Lake in 2014 than it did at Double-A Arkansas this year, where he hit 16 of 22 homers on the road.

 

28. ORIOLES

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9 EL) • 2B/SS Jonathan Schoop (14 IL) • C Michael Ohlman (18 CAR) • LHP Steven Brault (16 NYP) • no fifth representative

No organization was hit as hard as the Orioles in this exercise. They lost 2011 first-round RHP Dylan Bundy to Tommy John surgery, and 2012 first-round RHP Kevin Gausman didn’t spend enough time in the Double-A Eastern League or Triple-A International League to qualify for a list. Give them those two pitchers and the probably rise to the middle of the pack.

 

29. TIGERS

OF Nick Castellanos (5 IL) • 2B Devon Travis (17 FSL) • SS Javier Betancourt (18 GCL) • RHP Zac Reininger (17 NYP) • no fifth representative

Detroit traded Avisail Garcia to the White Sox in the three-team deal that netted them Jose Iglesias, and no team has mortgaged its future to win now quite like the Tigers.

 

30. BREWERS

RHP Jimmy Nelson (18 SL) • RHP Devin Williams (12 AZL) • RHP Barrett Astin (17 PIO) • C Dustin Houle (19 PIO) • OF Michael Ratterree (16 PIO)

Little in the way of impact talent or prospects close to the majors anchor Milwaukee to the bottom of the heap. How did they get here? They traded away prospects Alcides Escobar, Brett Lawrie and Jake Odorizzi in a play for 2011, and they just graduated a fairly robust 2013 rookie class that included Wily Peralta, Logan Schafer, Scooter Gennett and Khris Davis.

 

Majors | #Boston Red Sox #Carlos Martinez #League Top 20 Prospects #Michael Wacha #St. Louis Cardinals #Xander Bogaerts

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