2011 RANK: 14. 2010 RANK: 2.
IMPACT TALENT: No team is more aggressive on the international market than the Rangers, and it shows with the likes of RHP Yu Darvish, SS Jurickson Profar, LHP Martin Perez, OF Leonys Martin and 3B Christian Villanueva. They recently have used the draft to produce trade fodder, though they’ve held onto 3B Mike Olt.
DEPTH: Texas has a number of big league-ready prospects and another wave coming. Scouts rave about the talent the organization had at low Class A Hickory and short-season Spokane last summer, including Profar, Villanueva, RHP Cody Buckel, C Jorge Alfaro, 2B Rougned Odor and RHP Matt West.
2012 ROOKIES: Darvish starred in the Japanese majors, and the Rangers expect him to do the same in MLB after investing $107.7 million in him. Martin will compete for Texas’ center-field job, and RHP Tanner Scheppers could contribute to the bullpen if healthy.
2. KANSAS CITY ROYALS
2011 RANK: 1. 2010 RANK: 16.
IMPACT TALENT: Big league graduations mean the Royals don’t have nine Top 100 Prospects like they did when they ranked No. 1 a year ago, but they still have more building blocks on the way in LHP Mike Montgomery, OF Bubba Starling (who might have the best all-around raw tools in the minors) and OF Wil Myers. RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP John Lamb could help solve Kansas City’s biggest problem—big league starting pitching—and 3B Cheslor Cuthbert is another potential middle-of-the-order bat.
DEPTH: The draft is the most cost-efficient avenue to building a strong organization, and the Royals have invested $45.2 million (the third-highest amount in the game) in draft bonuses since 2007. Most of their best prospects received seven-figure bonuses, including Montgomery, Starling ($7.5 million, the most ever for a high schooler or position player), Myers, LHP Chris Dwyer, 2B Christian Colon and OF Brett Eibner.
2012 ROOKIES: After breaking Louis Coleman, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow into its bullpen last year, Kansas City has another quality reliever ready in Kelvin Herrera. If Montgomery can rebound from a disappointing 2011 Triple-A performance, he could arrive at midseason.
3. SAN DIEGO PADRES
2011 RANK: 8. 2010 RANK: 20.
IMPACT TALENT: Scoring runs is a problem in Petco Park, but the Padres hope they have the makings of a formidable offense in 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Rymer Liriano, C Yasmani Grandal, 2B Cory Spangenberg and 3B Jedd Gyorko. Most scouts regarded last year’s second-round pick, C Austin Hedges, as the best high school defensive catcher in years.
DEPTH: San Diego already had one of baseball’s deepest farm systems before it acquired Alonso, Grandal and RHP Brad Boxberger by trading Mat Latos to the Reds in December. Its position prospects overshadow its arms, with its top pitchers (RHPs Casey Kelly and Joe Wieland, LHP Robbie Erlin) also arriving via trades.
2012 ROOKIES: Many of the Padres’ top minor leaguers spent 2011 in Double-A and are another year away. Alonso should find a spot in the middle of the big league lineup, while Boxberger could surface as a set-up man in a rebuilt bullpen.
4. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
2011 RANK: 22. 2010 RANK: 28.
IMPACT TALENT: The first team ever to have two of the top seven picks in a draft, the Diamondbacks landed a pair of frontline starters in RHPs Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley last June. They have a third in LHP Tyler Skaggs, acquired the year before in the Dan Haren trade. Their hitters aren’t as spectacular, though 3B Matt Davidson could be the cleanup hitter of the future.
DEPTH: Arizona has one of the more impressive collections of minor league pitching in the game. Beyond the big three, it also has intriguing trade acquisitions (LHPs David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin) and 2011 draftees (LHP Andrew Chafin and RHPs Anthony Meo, Evan Marshall and Kyle Winkler). The system’s best position prospects are products of the 2009 draft: Davidson, OF A.J. Pollock, SS Chris Owings and OF Bobby Borchering.
2012 ROOKIES: The most advanced pitcher in the 2011 draft and a two-time NCAA Division I strikeout leader, Bauer shouldn’t need much time in the minors. LHP Wade Miley won four of his seven big league starts after a late August callup.
5. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
2011 RANK: 4. 2010 RANK: 19.
IMPACT TALENT: The Blue Jays are loaded with up-the-middle talent in C Travis d’Arnaud and OFs Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick. They also have plenty of high-upside, less-developed arms in LHPs Daniel Norris and Justin Nicolino and RHPs Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard.
DEPTH: In two-plus years on the job, GM Alex Anthopoulos has built the game’s deepest farm system. Under his watch, Toronto has been aggressive on trade market (d’Arnaud and Gose, as well as several big leaguers headlined by Brett Lawrie), in the draft ($22.6 million on bonuses in 2010-11) and internationally (four seven-figure deals, including $10 million for SS Adeiny Hechavarria).
2012 ROOKIES: Though the Jays have no obvious big league openings, d’Arnaud and RHPs Deck McGuire and Drew Hutcison could create opportunities for themselves by the end of the year.
6. SEATTLE MARINERS
2011 RANK: 18. 2010 RANK: 12.
IMPACT TALENT: The Mariners were able to trade Michael Pineda to get C/1B Jesus Montero from the Yankees because in addition to the pitching they have in the major leagues, they have three stud pitching prospects in RHP Taijuan Walker and LHPs Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. SS/2B Nick Franklin has more pop than most middle infielders.
DEPTH: After years of ineffective drafts, Seattle has turned a corner under GM Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara, tabbing Dustin Ackley and Franklin in 2009, Walker and Paxton in 2010 and Hultzen in 2011. Trading Doug Fister to the Tigers last July also helped by bringing in 3B Francisco Martinez and RHP Chance Ruffin.
2012 ROOKIES: Montero isn’t ready to catch in the big leagues, but he’s ready to hit and will get plenty of at-bats at DH. With the rotation unsettled behind Felix Hernandez, Hultzen and Paxton could pitch their way to Safeco Field this year. Ruffin should claim a bullpen role.
7. OAKLAND ATHLETICS
2011 RANK: 28. 2010 RANK: 11.
IMPACT TALENT: As recently as three months ago, the A’s had one of baseball’s worst farm systems, with little to show beyond their last three first-round picks (OFs Grant Green and Michael Choice, RHP Sonny Gray). The system took a huge step forward with the trades of Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks for a package including RHP Jarrod Parker, and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals for four prospects headlined by RHPs Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole. Then the A’s topped those moves off by spending $36 million to sign Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes.
DEPTH: Oakland seems caught in an endless cycle of trading veterans for youngsters every couple of years because it has had scant success beyond the first round of the draft. Six of its top 11 prospects were not in the organization at the end of last season.
2012 ROOKIES: Though Cespedes will have adjustments to make to quality pitching, the A’s are counting on him to bring much-needed power to their lineup right away. Parker, Peacock and LHP Tom Milone (another piece in the Gonzalez trade) all could win rotation spots at some point this season. With Scott Sizemore blowing out his knee, either C/3B Josh Donaldson or SS/3B Eric Sogard could take over at the hot corner. RHPs Andrew Carignan and Ryan Cook (part of the Cahill deal) are in line for bullpen roles.
8. TAMPA BAY RAYS
2011 RANK: 2. 2010 RANK: 1.
IMPACT TALENT: No. 1 on this list a year ago, the Rays are still formidable even after graduating Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings, Jake McGee and Alex Cobb to the majors (though Cobb will open the year back in the minors thanks to the organization’s amazing pitching depth). LHP Matt Moore is baseball’s best pitching prospect, and SS Hak-Ju Lee is one of the best at his position. RHPs Chris Archer and Taylor Guerrieri still need refinement but have no shortage of stuff.
DEPTH: The Rays don’t look like they’ll get much out of their 2008-10 drafts, so they need their 2011 crop to come through. With a record 12 picks in the first two rounds, it added such talents as Guerrieri, OF Mikie Mahtook, SS Jake Hager and 3B Tyler Goeddel.
2012 ROOKIES: The Rays may not have an obvious rotation opening, but they’ll find a way to get Moore starts. OF Brandon Guyer could fill a role as a fourth outfielder and is better suited than Sam Fuld for everyday play if a need arises.
9. BOSTON RED SOX
2011 RANK: 17. 2010 RANK: 5.
IMPACT TALENT: The most impressive Red Sox prospects are position players who haven’t yet proven themselves at higher levels: 3B Will Middlebrooks, SS Xander Bogaerts and C Blake Swihart. Most of their top minor league pitchers regressed in 2011, though the organization was happy with the progress made by RHP Anthony Ranaudo.
DEPTH: No large-revenue team has invested as much in the draft as Boston, which spent $44.1 million on bonuses from 2007-11. The new draft spending limitations that go into effect this year may hurt the Sox more than any other club, as almost all of their best prospects (Middlebrooks, Swihart, Ranaudo, OF Brandon Jacobs, 3B Garin Cecchini, RHP Matt Barnes, OF Jackie Bradley) were over-slot draft signings.
2012 ROOKIES: C Ryan Lavarnway has nothing left to prove offensively in Triple-A but no clear path to playing time in Boston. SS Jose Iglesias could take over as a starter as soon as he shows he can handle quality pitching, which he has yet to do. RHP Alex Wilson could give a reworked bullpen a boost.
10. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
2011 RANK: 24. 2010 RANK: 29.
IMPACT TALENT: Few systems can boast a pair of power arms to match RHPs Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, and RHP Tyrell Jenkins also has upside. The Cardinals have nice balance with bats such as OF Oscar Taveras, 3B Zack Cox and 2B Kolten Wong.
DEPTH: Former vice president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow’s success in helping to rebuild St. Louis’ system and international program paid off in a World Series championship for the club. It helped him get the job as Astros GM, but he leaves his former team as well-stocked in hitting and pitching as it has been in years.
2012 ROOKIES: While the Cardinals don’t have an obvious need for a starting pitcher, Miller is talented enough to create his own timetable and may be ready by midseason. 3B Matt Carpenter hit .300/.417/.463 in Triple-A this year and could help at the hot corner or perhaps the outfield.
11. PITTSBURGH PIRATES
2011 RANK: 19. 2010 RANK: 15.
IMPACT TALENT: The Pirates got the player on top of their draft board in each of the last two years, spending a combined $14.5 million on RHPs Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. They also spent $5 million on OF Josh Bell, a record for a second-rounder, and $2.6 million on Mexican LHP Luis Heredia. OF Starling Marte was a relative bargain at $85,000.
DEPTH: Pittsburgh is in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding process, and its No. 11 ranking is its highest since it was No. 2 in 1998. The Bucs have spared no expense, spending $47.6 million on bonuses in the last four drafts, including a record $17 million last June. They’ve invested in several young pitchers in addition to Taillon and Heredia, exceeding MLB slot recommendations on others such as RHPs Stetson Allie, Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes and LHP Colton Cain.
2012 ROOKIES: Pittsburgh’s system is at least a year away from providing significant help in the big leagues. The best bet for 2012 is LHP Justin Wilson, who has moved from starting to relieving.
12. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
2011 RANK: 13. 2010 RANK: 24.
IMPACT TALENT: OF Bryce Harper reached Double-A at age 18 and has some scouts saying he’s the best young power hitter they’ve ever seen. 3B Anthony Rendon was the top hitting prospect in the 2011 draft, and Washington was able to grab him with the No. 6 overall pick after an injury-plagued junior season at Rice. The team also grabbed three more high-ceiling players last June in RHP Alex Meyer, OF Brian Goodwin and LHP Matt Purke.
DEPTH: The Nationals ranked as our No. 1 system in the 2012 Prospect Handbook, which went to press before they traded RHPs Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, C Derek Norris, LHP Tom Milone to the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez. That deal took its toll on the organization’s depth, but the star power of Harper and the 2011 draft class should compensate.
2012 ROOKIES: Harper could make the Opening Day roster as a 19-year-old and seems destined to mash his way into the lineup by the all-star break. 2B/SS Steve Lombardozzi will serve as a utilityman.
13. NEW YORK YANKEES
2011 RANK: 5. 2010 RANK: 22.
IMPACT TALENT: C/1B Jesus Montero ranked as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect for three straight years until a January trade sent him to the Mariners for Michael Pineda, leaving LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Dellin Betances atop the prospect list. New York has a number of intriguing position prospects in C Gary Sanchez, OFs Mason Williams and Ravel Santana and 3B Dante Bichette Jr., though none has played above low Class A. The same is true of RHP Jose Campos, another part of the Montero/Pineda deal.
DEPTH: Even after trading Montero, New York still has an abundance of offensive-minded catchers in Sanchez, J.R. Murphy and Greg Bird. Austin Romine offers less bat but better defense behind the plate.
2012 ROOKIES: The Yankees’ acquisitions of Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda make it less likely that they’ll need Banuelos or Betances to contribute in the major leagues this year. They may not get significant contributions from any rookies in 2012.
14. CHICAGO CUBS
2011 RANK: 16. 2010 RANK: 14.
IMPACT TALENT: All of the Cubs’ best prospects are hitters. OFs Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur and SS Javier Baez are up-the-middle players selected in the last three drafts, while 1B Anthony Rizzo arrived in an offseason trade with the Padres.
DEPTH: With the big league club regressing, owner Tom Ricketts authorized a franchise-record $12 million in draft spending last summer. Chicago hopes seven-figure bonuses for Baez, 1B Dan Vogelbach, OF Shawon Dunston Jr. and RHP Dillon Maples will help revitalize the system.
2012 ROOKIES: Jackson and Rizzo likely will start April in Triple-A but should end the season as major league regulars. C Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger will win a backup job, and they could pave the way for a trade of Geovany Soto. RHP Rafael Dolis and LHP Jeff Beliveau can help fortify the bullpen.
15. ATLANTA BRAVES
2011 RANK: 3. 2010 RANK: 9.
IMPACT TALENT: The Braves have one of the game’s best collections of pitching prospects, starting with RHPs Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado. SS Andrelton Simmons is a tremendous defender who surprised with his bat by leading the high Class A Carolina League in hitting (.311) last season.
DEPTH: Atlanta has gone cheap in the draft in recent years, spending less on the draft than all but one team ($7.6 million) in two years under scouting director Tony DeMacio, so most of its top prospects have come from international signings (Teheran, Delgado, 3B/SS Edward Salcedo, C Christian Bethancourt) and trades (Vizcaino, SS Tyler Pastornicky).
2012 ROOKIES: Pastornicky entered spring training as the uncontested starter at shortstop, though Simmons outplayed him in the early going and was making a push for the Opening Day roster. The Braves have pitching depth in the majors too, so Teheran, Vizcaino and Delgado may have to wait for an opportunity, but they’re ready to contribute.
16. CINCINNATI REDS
2011 RANK: 6. 2010 RANK: 17.
IMPACT TALENT: Unless you believe Seattle’s Montero can stay behind the plate, C Devin Mesoraco is baseball’s best catching prospect. To call SS Billy Hamilton’s speed “game-changing” is an understatement. SS Zack Cozart isn’t nearly as flashy, but he’s a dependable fielder with above-average power for his position and is big league-ready.
DEPTH: Sending 1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal and RHP Brad Boxberger to the Padres for Mat Latos cost the Reds depth, but they have a solid second tier of prospects in RHPs Daniel Corcino and Robert Stephenson, SS Didi Gregorius and 3B/OF Todd Frazier.
2012 ROOKIES: Cincinnati let Ramon Hernandez go so Mesoraco could start. It turned its shortstop job over to Cozart last July, only to see him sustain a season-ending injury to his left elbow. Frazier could get playing time at third base or left field.
17. COLORADO ROCKIES
2011 RANK: 9. 2010 RANK: 10.
IMPACT TALENT: LHP Drew Pomeranz reached the majors 15 months after going fifth overall in the 2010 draft and a month after the Indians sent him to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. 3B Nolan Arenado led the minors with 122 RBIs last year and then won MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League. RHP Chad Bettis struck out 184 batters in his first full pro season, while C Wilin Rosario played in his second Futures Game.
DEPTH: Many of Colorado’s pitchers went backward last year—most notably LHPs Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich—so the system’s strength is clearly position players. In addition to Arenado and Rosario, the Rockies also have high hopes for OFs Tim Wheeler, Kent Matthes and Kyle Parker and SSs Trevor Story and Josh Rutledge.
2012 ROOKIES: Pomeranz should start the season as Colorado’s No. 3 starter. Rosario, OF Charlie Blackmon, 3B D.J. LeMahieu, C/1B Jordan Pacheco and 2B/SS Tommy Field will battle for reserve roles in spring training.
18. HOUSTON ASTROS
2011 RANK: 26. 2010 RANK: 30.
IMPACT TALENT: The Astros climb out of the bottom third of our rankings for the first time since 2002. 1B Jonathan Singleton is the best hitter, RHP Jarred Cosart the highest-upside pitcher and OF George Springer the most gifted athlete to come through the system in a while.
DEPTH: Houston has drafted worse than any club over the last decade, so most of its best prospects arrived in trades. Singleton, Cosart and OF Domingo Santana came from the Phillies for Hunter Pence; SS Jonathan Villar from Philadelphia for Roy Oswalt; and RHP Paul Clemens and LHP Brett Oberholtzer from the Braves for Michael Bourn.
2012 ROOKIES: OF J.B. Shuck could emerge as the Astros’ center fielder out of spring training. RHPs Juan Abreu and Rhiner Cruz and SS/2B Marwin Gonzalez—the latter two were major league Rule 5 draft picks in December—also could make the Opening Day roster.
19. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2011 RANK: 15. 2010 RANK: 26.
IMPACT TALENT: OF Mike Trout ranks with Washington’s Harper and Tampa Bay’s Moore as one of the game’s truly elite prospects. SS Jean Segura has the potential to be a star if he can stay healthy, which he has managed just once in the last four years. RHP Garrett Richards is unheralded but has breezed through the minors with his power stuff.
DEPTH: Several years of sacrificing draft picks as compensation for free agents—which happened again this offseason—as well as cutting back on international spending have weakened the Angels system. Most of their best prospects haven’t played above high Class A.
2012 ROOKIES: Trout got to the big leagues as a 19-year-old last July and will try to push Vernon Wells out of Los Angeles’ outfield this summer. Richards could fill the No. 5 slot in the rotation.
20. MINNESOTA TWINS
2011 RANK: 12. 2010 RANK: 6.
IMPACT TALENT: 3B Miguel Sano and OF/2B Eddie Rosario combined for 41 homers last summer in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, and their power is legitimate. OFs Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks are toolsy if somewhat inconsistent at the plate.
DEPTH: The Twins haven’t drafted well recently, especially in the first and sandwich rounds, where they have little to show for six picks from 2008-10. Those struggles have left them thin on the mound, and the farm system lacks anyone who projects as a probable frontline starter.
2012 ROOKIES: If Minnesota continues to have injury problems at first base and the outfield, that could create openings for Benson and 1B Chris Parmelee, though neither has any Triple-A experience. RHP Liam Hendriks is close to being ready for the rotation.
21. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
2011 RANK: 21. 2010 RANK: 8.
IMPACT TALENT: The good news is that the Orioles look to have hit it big with their last two first-rounders, exceptionally polished RHP Dylan Bundy and five-tool SS Manny Machado. INF Jonathan Schoop gives them a second middle infielder with a potent bat.
DEPTH: The bad news is that Baltimore’s minor league talent drops off sharply after those three. To try to fill holes and provide immediate major league help, the new front office turned to Asia to sign LHPs Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada.
2012 ROOKIES: The system doesn’t have much to provide for this season. 3B Ryan Flaherty, a major league Rule 5 draft pick, and 2B Ryan Adams are longshots to win starting jobs in the infield.
22. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2011 RANK: 23. 2010 RANK: 4.
IMPACT TALENT: For an organization built on starting pitching, the Giants shockingly have little in the minors, especially after giving RHP Zack Wheeler to the Mets in the Carlos Beltran trade last July. Most of their top prospects are position players, starting with OF Gary Brown and C/1B Tommy Joseph.
DEPTH: San Francisco hopes that its last two drafts can rejuvenate the system. After grabbing Brown and RHP Heath Hembree in 2010, the organization loaded up with SS Joe Panik, RHP Kyle Crick, C Andrew Susac and several hard-throwing relievers last June.
2012 ROOKIES: Hembree could emerge as a big league set-up man this season and eventually take over as closer from Brian Wilson. LHP Eric Surkamp is next in line if a spot becomes available in the rotation.
23. DETROIT TIGERS
2011 RANK: 25. 2010 RANK: 27.
IMPACT TALENT: The Tigers have a pair of blue-chippers in RHP Jacob Turner and 3B Nick Castellanos. LHP Casey Crosby has shown flashes of similar potential when he hasn’t been sidelined by elbow problems.
DEPTH: Detroit gave up two of its better prospects, 3B Francisco Martinez and RHP Chance Ruffin, to get Doug Fister from the Mariners last summer, a move that paid off with a trip to the American League Championship Series. The system lacks offensive prospects of note behind Castellanos.
2012 ROOKIES: Turner is the favorite to open the season as Detroit’s fifth starter, and LHPs Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver could fill any other rotation openings that crop up.
24. LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2011 RANK: 11. 2010 RANK: 21.
IMPACT TALENT: Owner Frank McCourt, who is in the process of selling the Dodgers, took a brief pause from looting the franchise to authorize a $5.25 million bonus in 2010 for RHP Zach Lee, who’s far and away their top prospect. Their next best are late-round steals RHPs Allen Webster and Nate Eovaldi.
DEPTH: If OF Alfredo Silverio hadn’t had a breakout season in 2011, it would be hard to pinpoint a Los Angeles position prospect with much upside—and he could miss the first two months of the season after an offseason auto accident. McCourt hasn’t spent on the draft or the international market, severely weakening the system.
2012 ROOKIES: Defensive-minded C Tim Federowicz may claim a starting role by the end of the year. Eovaldi could contribute in the rotation or bullpen.
25. NEW YORK METS
2011 RANK: 20. 2010 RANK: 25.
IMPACT TALENT: Another franchise beset by financial troubles, the Mets have been notoriously cheap in the draft, though they did go over slot to sign their last two first-rounders, RHP Matt Harvey and OF Brandon Nimmo. GM Sandy Alderson did a fine job auctioning off Carlos Beltran last summer, sending him to the Giants for RHP Zack Wheeler.
DEPTH: Because New York hasn’t spent on the draft, many of its better prospects were signed internationally. RHPs Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, OF Cesar Puello and INFs Wilmer Flores and Jordany Valdespin all were inked out of Latin America in 2007.
2012 ROOKIES: Valdespin may offer the best combination of offense and defense among the Mets’ second-base candidates. Scouts are divided on whether OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a regular, but he’ll get a chance to show what he can do in New York this year. RHP Chris Schwinden could factor into the rotation.
26. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
2011 RANK: 30. 2010 RANK: 13.
IMPACT TALENT: The Brewers’ pitching outlook brightened considerably in 2011, when RHP Wily Peralta had a breakthrough year and RHP Taylor Jungmann and LHP Jed Bradley came aboard as first-round picks. Additionally, RHP Tyler Thornburg had 160 strikeouts and made a Futures Game appearance in his first full pro season.
DEPTH: Milwaukee’s ability to remain a contender in the long run may hinge on its ability to develop position players. Its best options (2B Scooter Gennett, OF Logan Schafer, 3B Taylor Green) may be role players more than solid regulars.
2012 ROOKIES: OF Norichika Aoki, a Japanese import, will challenge Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez in center field. RHP Michael Fiers could help the rotation or bullpen after leading the system with a 1.86 ERA last season, while C Martin Maldonado is the club’s best defensive option behind the plate.
27. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
2011 RANK: 10. 2010 RANK: 18.
IMPACT TALENT: The Phillies tied for fourth among the 30 organizations in signing members of our 2012 Top 100 Prospects list. But of their five signees, only RHP Trevor May remains in the system thanks to trades.
DEPTH: Philadelphia has won five National League East titles, two pennants and one World Series in the last five years, thanks in large part to trades for Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence that have cost C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Anthony Gose (now with the Blue Jays) and 1B Jonathan Singleton and RHP Jarred Cosart (Astros). The system has several high-ceiling players who still need much development, such as RHP Brody Colvin and OFs Jiwan James and Aaron Altherr.
2012 ROOKIES: There are few job opportunities on a veteran club expected to grab a sixth straight division title. RHPs Phillippe Aumont, Justin DeFratus and Michael Schwimer could contribute in middle relief. Second baseman Chase Utley’s knee problems create an opportunity for Freddy Galvis.
28. MIAMI MARLINS
2011 RANK: 29. 2010 RANK: 7.
IMPACT TALENT: OF Christian Yelich combines hitting ability and power potential better than most young hitters. OF Marcell Ozuna can put on a show with his power and arm, and RHP Jose Fernandez has a power arm, but both are a few years away.
DEPTH: The Marlins rank second-to-last in 2007-11 draft spending ($21.7 million), and their farm system has borne the brunt of the stinginess. Getting little out of their 2006-09 first-rounders hasn’t helped. They don’t have difference-makers at the upper levels and many of their best pitchers project as relievers.
2012 ROOKIES: 3B Matt Dominguez was supposed to take over last year, but failed to impress in big league camp and now is blocked by Hanley Ramirez. Florida’s top rookie candidates are RHPs Chris Hatcher and Jose Ceda, both relievers.
29. CLEVELAND INDIANS
2011 RANK: 7. 2010 RANK: 3.
IMPACT TALENT: The Indians took the biggest tumble from our 2011 rankings, falling 22 spots after losing their top four prospects. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and 2B Jason Kipnis graduated to the majors, and Pomeranz and RHP Alex White went to the Rockies in the Jimenez trade. Many of the players behind them also had disappointing seasons, so that leaves SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Dillon Howard—their top two picks in the 2011 draft—as the only obvious blue-chip talents.
DEPTH: Most of Cleveland’s highest-ceiling prospects are years away from the majors. Lindor and Howard are high schoolers with five pro games between them, and OF Luigi Rodriguez, SS Tony Wolters and LHP Elvis Araujo have a combined 34 games in full-season leagues (all by Rodriguez).
2012 ROOKIES: The system won’t offer many new faces this year. LHP Nick Hagadone could help in the bullpen, but that’s about it.
30. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
2011 RANK: 27. 2010 RANK: 23.
IMPACT TALENT: When the guy who is clearly your organization’s best prospect is a reliever, you have problems. RHP Addison Reed might develop into a closer, but the White Sox can’t count on much behind him.
DEPTH: Chicago’s next-best prospects, RHPs Nestor Molina and Simon Castro, were in the middle of the pack on our Blue Jays and Padres Top 30 rankings before arriving in offseason trades. The Sox are feeling the effects of being the cheapest team in the draft ($18.3 million from 2007-11) and having their international program crippled by a kickback scandal.
2012 ROOKIES: Reed opened 2011 in low Class A and should begin this year in Chicago. LHP Hector Santiago and RHPs Gregori Infante and Dylan Axelrod also could lend a hand to a reconstructed pitching staff.