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Biggest Strength, Weakness For Every MLB Farm System Entering 2020

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Gunnar Henderson (Photo by Tom DiPace)

MLB Talent Organization Analysis
*Click each team to go directly to that team's outlook. 

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosLos Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City RoyalsMiami Marlins
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland AthleticsPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

Arizona Diamondbacks

Best Depth: Outfield

Kristian Robinson (3), Alek Thomas (4) and Corbin Carroll (5) give the D-backs a trio of potential standout outfielders, although none has played above the Class A levels yet. Wilderd Patino (16), Dominic Fletcher (22) and Eduardo Diaz (24) provide solid outfield depth in addition to the potential stars.

Biggest Weakness: Righthanders

The D-backs have a lot of righthanders in their system, but almost all have significant question marks including injuries (Corbin Martin (7), J.B. Bukauskas (10), Jon Duplantier (11), Taylor Widener (26), relief risk (Luis Frias (8), Levi Kelly (9) and wildness (Drey Jameson (15), Ryne Nelson (25). With Luke Weaver and Zac Gallen in the rotation, however, the D-backs are good on young righthanders even if none of the prospects pan out.

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Atlanta Braves

Best Depth: Outfield

Cristian Pache (1) and Drew Waters (2) may be ready to help at some point in 2020 and both could earn everyday jobs in 2021. There is a nice mix behind them with first-rounder Greyson Jenista (19), toolsy Michael Harris (13), polished hitter Trey Harris (21) and the speedy Justin Dean (26).

Biggest Weakness: Corner infield

Bryce Ball (18) has big power, but a long way to go defensively. C.J. Alexander missed all of 2019 with a broken bone in his elbow. Beyond him, there's almost no one to rely on as a future MLB bat. 

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Baltimore Orioles

Best Depth: Catching

There's actually very little behind Adley Rutschman (1), but in a system that has its prospects very well distributed around the diamond, Rutschman's outstanding potential sticks out.

Biggest Weakness: Second base

Yes, there's always a chance a shortstop will slide over to second eventually, but the Orioles first-round pick Gunnar Henderson (7) projects more as a third baseman if he moves positions. Adam Hall (18) could fit at second, but right now the farm system is relatively bereft of players who project as a potential everyday second baseman.

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Boston Red Sox

Best Depth: Starting Pitchers

There's some uncertainty in this projection as Jay Groome (8) is coming back from Tommy John surgery and Noah Song (10) is currently on the shelf while he serves his military commitment. But if they eventually join Bryan Mata (4) and Thad Ward (7), it's a nice mix of projectable pitching prospects.

Biggest Weakness: Catching

Acquiring Connor Wong was a big help, as he immediately became the club's best catching prospect. Kole Cottam was the best prospect before that but he has a ways to go both as a defender and at the plate. The Red Sox had their catcher of the future lined up, but the tragic passing of Daniel Flores in 2017 continues to resonate today.

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Chicago Cubs

Best Depth: Middle Infield

While the system as a whole is still in a bit of transition, it is currently stocked with a plethora of (mostly lower-level) middle infielders. Two of its top five prospects—Nico Hoerner (2) and Chase Strumpf (5) project to stick up the middle and should provide plenty of offensive impact. Beyond those two, six more shortstops or second basemen populate the team’s Top 30 Prospects list. That group mostly includes low-level, high-upside players like Pedro Martinez, Kevin Made (19), Rafael Morel (21) and Fabian Pertuz (23) as well as more seasoned players like Aramis Ademan (26) and Zack Short (28).

Biggest Weakness: Corner Infield

The Cubs are shockingly bereft of corner-infield prospects. Just one, 3B Christopher Morel ranks among the team’s Top 30, and none of the 11 players in the system who hit 10 or more home runs last year plays first base or third base as his primary position.

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Chicago White Sox

Best Depth: Righthanded pitchers

Michael Kopech (3) is big league ready and was excellent in his MLB debut at the end of 2018. Newcomers Matthew Thompson (5) and Andrew Dalquist (7) have excellent upside potential, and Jonathan Stiever (6) was one of the biggest breakout pitchers in the minors in 2019.

Biggest Weakness: Lefthanders

Just one southpaw, Konnor Pilkington (17), made the team’s Top 30, and there were few options to even consider. Bernardo Flores is interesting but was hurt for a good portion of the year, and Taylor Varnell had a good season at the Class A levels but pitched most of the season at 23 years old.

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Cincinnati Reds

Best Depth: Starting pitching.

Beyond young ace Luis Castillo, Cincinnati has some arms on the way. No. 1 prospect Hunter Greene is on the mend from Tommy John while lefthander Nick Lodolo (3) impressed in his debut. In addition, Tony Santillan (5) and Vladimir Gutierrez (12) both have good stuff and profile in the rotation. Former two-way player Lyon Richardson (7) is now focused on pitching and should move up the system quickly.

Biggest Weakness: Outfielders

The Reds haven’t had much luck developing outfielders over the past few seasons. Aristides Aquino has provided thunder with the bat, but there isn’t much impact down on the farm. Former top prospect Nick Senzel still has yet to show the form that helped him get selected second overall in the 2016 draft.

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Cleveland Indians

Best Depth: Shortstop

Three of the team’s Top 10 Prospects—Tyler Freeman (2), Brayan Rocchio (5), Gabriel Rodriguez (10)—project to play shortstop, and four more members of the team’s Top 30 are among the group. If Francisco Lindor is traded, Cleveland will have plenty of contenders for the unenviable task of filling his shoes.

Biggest Weakness: Volatility

Prospects are, by nature, volatile, but the Indians’ system is so youthful that it carries more risk than most. Seven of the team’s Top 10 prospects were born after the year 2000, and the oldest of the group—righthander Triston McKenzie (7)—has pitched just 91 innings over the last two seasons due to a variety of injuries. Beyond the Top 10, the system has five more teenage prospects among its Top 30.

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Colorado Rockies

Best Depth: First base

Michael Toglia (3), Grant Lavigne (4) and Tyler Nevin (10) give the Rockies a bevy of first base options, and Colton Welker (5) may end up there too.

Biggest Weakness: Catching

The Rockies have struggled to develop homegrown catchers since Chris Iannetta and Wilin Rosario, and there's no sign of the slump ending anytime soon. Willie MacIver is the only catcher in the Rockies Top 30 Prospects conversation, and he hit .252 with a .741 OPS last year at low Class A Asheville, a hitter's haven.

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Detroit Tigers

Best Depth: Starting pitching

The rebuilding Tigers are looking forward to seeing Casey Mize (1) and Matt Manning (2) at the front of the rotation. Tarik Skubal (3) has also proven to be a valuable weapon from the left side, while Alex Faedo (6) has regained his form that saw him dominate at Florida in the collegiate circuit.

Biggest Weakness: Middle Infielders

There are plenty of open spots on the Tigers’ roster, but few options that look to be answers down on the farm for their middle infield situations. Willi Castro (9) and Sergio Alcantara (21) fit the profile defensively but lack any offensive upside long term.

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Houston Astros

Best Depth: Hard-throwing righthanders

Houston's ability to scout and then develop velocity ensures they still have a bevy of hard-throwing righties with a plus breaking-ball. Many of them project best as relievers, but most teams would dream of having so many fireballers that can sit at 95-100 mph.

Biggest Weakness: Lefthanders

The Astros have no lefties in their Top 30 and Parker Mushinski is the only lefty the Astros have drafted in the top 20 rounds in the past three years.

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Kansas City Royals

Best Depth: Starting pitchers

Five of the Royals top 10 prospects are college arms. Between Daniel Lynch (2), Jackson Kowar (3), Brady Singer (4), Kris Bubic (8), Austin Cox (9) and Jonathan Bowlan (11) the Royals have a whole lot of starters close to the majors.

Biggest Weakness: Power bats

The Royals only had one minor leaguer hit 20 home runs last year, and Jorge Bonifacio is now a Tiger. Kansas City needs Nick Pratto (10), M.J. Melendez (12), Seuly Matias (16) or Kyle Isbel (5) to mash in 2020.

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Los Angeles Angels

Best Depth: Outfield

Jo Adell (1) and Brandon Marsh (2) are both Top 50 Prospects who have proven themselves in the upper levels, while the freakishly athletic Jordyn Adams (3) is one of 2020's prime prospect breakout candidates. Even beyond those top three, D'Shawn Knowles (13), Orlando Martinez (18) and top 2018 international signee Alexander Ramirez (15) hold plenty of promise as well.

Biggest Weakness: Catching

With Jack Kruger taking a big step back at Double-A last year, the Angels don't have a single catcher in their system that projects as a future big leaguer in the eyes of opposing evaluators. That's a big problem for a team that's about to have its fifth different Opening Day catcher in the last six seasons and has no long-term solution in the majors.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

Best Depth: Infield

Even after trading Jeter Downs, the Dodgers are loaded with infielders who can hit. Gavin Lux (1), Kody Hoese (8), Michael Busch (9), Edwin Rios, Cristian Santana (16), Omar Estevez (17), Devin Mann (19), Miguel Vargas (22) ... the list goes on and on of players who can play in the dirt and make an impact at the plate.

Biggest Weakness: Lefthanders

The Dodgers are perilously short on lefthanders who project as big leaguers, both in the rotation and the bullpen. Aside from Robinson Ortiz (29), who has yet to pitch above low Class A, no Dodgers lefthanded starter ranked among their Top 30 Prospects.

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Miami Marlins

Best Depth: Shortstops

The Marlins acquired Jazz Chisholm (5) from the D-Backs in last July's Zac Gallen trade. They had picked up Jose Devers (13) in the Giancarlo Stanton swap. Drafting Nasim Nunez (18) in the second round in 2019 and signing Jose Salas (23) on the international market further added to the club's large number of athletic shortstops who should be able to stay at the infield's most demanding defensive position.

Biggest Weakness: Catching

Will Banfield (19) has the tools to be a solid defender, although he has some work remaining on improving his receiving. The bat is a much bigger problem, as he hit .199/.252/.310 last year in low Class A. Behind him there are very few other options.

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Milwaukee Brewers

Best Depth: Catching

Between Mario Feliciano's (7) bat, Payton Henry's (16) glove and grinder's mentality, Nick Kahle's (17) baseball IQ and Jeferson Quero's defensive potential, the Brewers have a number of backstop options in the minors, although there may not be a 100+ game guy in the group.

Biggest Weakness: Righthanders

Drew Rasmussen (9) is one of the few Brewers' pitching prospects who took a step forward in 2019. Most of the others, including most notably Zack Brown (10), struggled to match their previous performances as they climbed the ladder. The Brewers have a mix of power arms and control specialists, but few of them project as MLB starters.

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Minnesota Twins

Best Depth: Outfield

The Twins just traded Luke Raley to the Dodgers. They needed to clear the space for Alex Kirilloff (2), Trevor Larnach (3), Gilberto Celestino (13), Brent Rooker (14), Lamonte Wade (19), Matt Wallner (20), Akil Baddoo (21) and potentially Royce Lewis (1) in the outfield in full season ball. The club has a nice mix of power corner bats and plus defenders in center field who can run.

Biggest Weakness: Middle Infield

Wander Javier's (30) return from missing all of 2018 with shoulder surgery did not go well, as he looked overmatched in low Class A and lacked the explosiveness he'd shown before. Royce Lewis (1) is the team's best prospect, but there are debates over whether his arm accuracy fits at short long-term. Nick Gordon (16) is the only other Top 30 prospect who projects to stay up the middle.

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New York Mets

Best Depth: Righthanders

The Mets acquired three high-upside amateur righthanders in 2019, drafting Josh Wolf (No. 8) in the second round and Matt Allan (4) in the third and signing Venezuelan righthander Robert Dominguez (15) in July. Allan ranked as the top high school pitching prospect in his draft class thanks to having the best breaking ball among preps. Fellow high school standout Wolf also owns a sharp curveball to go with an athletic, projectable frame. Dominguez has incredible arm strength and already touches 99 mph as an 18-year-old. The Mets added Allan, Wolf and Dominguez to a corps of righties that includes 40-man roster arms Jordan Humphreys (11) and Franklyn Kilome (13) and emerging short-season arms Junior Santos (12) and Michel Otañez (14).

Biggest Weakness: Outfield

The Mets' most promising outfield prospects are years away from Queens. Powerful right fielder Freddy Valdez (18) and power-speed center fielder Alexander Ramirez (16) are still teenagers who signed out of the Dominican Republic in the 2018 and 2019 international classes. No other outfielder in the organization profiles as more than a big league extra or up-and-down type.

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New York Yankees

Best Depth: Big-armed righthanders

Clarke Schmidt (2), Deivi Garcia (3), Luis Gil (4), Luis Medina (7), Roansy Contreras (8), Alexander Vizcaino (9) and Albert Abreu (10) each rank among the system’s Top 10 Prospects, and there are plenty more where they came from. Michael King (13) could see plenty of big league time in 2020, and Miguel Yajure (11) and Yoendrys Gomez (12) are poised to make huge jumps in 2020.

Biggest Weakness: Lefthanded pitching

Just one pitcher—2019 supplemental first-rounder T.J. Sikkema (15)—made the Top 30, and the only prospect-eligible lefty remaining in the organization who made at least one start at Double-A or Triple-A in 2019 is Josh Maciejewski, the team’s 2018 10th-rounder.

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Oakland Athletics

Best Depth: Lefthanded pitchers

The A’s top two prospects—Jesus Luzardo (1) and A.J. Puk (2)—are also two of the best lefty pitching prospects in baseball. Each made his big league debut in 2019 and looks to be a significant piece of the team’s short- and long-term plans. If they each pan out, the A’s will have struck a goldmine of young, talented, controllable pitchers at the top of their rotation.

Biggest Weakness: Corner outfield

Although some of their center field prospects could shift in time, the A’s currently lack much in the way of corner outfield help. Lazaro Armenteros (12) and Greg Deichmann (16) ranked among the team’s Top 30 prospects, but each has plenty of warts as well. Armenteros has yet to turn his enviable tools into results, and Deichmann has shown a game built around power with a lot of swing-and-miss in between.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Best Depth: Catching

A full sixth of the Phillies Top 30 are catchers and that doesn't include Juan Aparacio and Rodolfo Duran, another pair of names to remember. Deivy Grullon (16) is the closest to the majors. Rafael Marchan (6) is the best defender. Andrick Nava (14) is the long-term name to remember.

Biggest Weakness: Power bats

Alec Bohm (2) can hit for average and power, but beyond him, the Phillies have a lot more potentially solid hitters than sluggers. Jhailyn Ortiz (28) and Darick Hall have big power, but their swing-and-miss issues lead to questions about their ability to hit in the majors.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

Best Depth: Righthanders

Twelve of the Pirates current Top 30 Prospects are righthanded starters including Mitch Keller (1), Cody Bolton (5), Tahnaj Thomas (6), Quinn Priester (7), Brennan Malone (8), Braxton Ashcraft, (10) Michael Burrows, (11) Travis MacGregor (15) and JT Brubaker (16). The acquisition of Malone in trade gives the Pirates two of the better prep arms in last year's draft class.

Biggest Weakness: Lefthanders

The Pirates love their projectable power righthanders, but they don't spend as much resources on lefties. The Pirates do not have a lefty in their Top 30 and they have not drafted and signed a lefty in the top five rounds since picking Braeden Ogle in the fourth round in 2016.

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San Diego Padres

Best Depth: Lefthanders

Topped by MacKenzie Gore (1), the Padres have an enviable collection of lefthanded starters that feature both upside and depth. Gore has ace potential and Adrian Morejon (6), Ryan Weathers (10), Joey Cantillo (11) and sleeper Omar Cruz are backing him up.

Biggest Weakness: Corner infield

It's not really a problem due to the presence of Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, but the Padres don't have much in the way of first or third base options, especially outside of mid-tier prospect Hudson Potts (16).

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San Francisco Giants

Best Depth: Outfield

Heliot Ramos (3), Hunter Bishop (4), Alexander Canario (5) and Luis Matos (8) reside in the system’s Top 10 Prospects, and there is plenty more behind them. Perhaps more impressively, the system’s outfielders should be spread neatly throughout the organization. Matos, Canario, Jairo Pomares (15) and Victor Bericoto (24) should play in the lower levels, while Ramos spends most of the year at Double-A and Triple-A and Jaylin Davis (16) vies for a spot in the big leagues.

Biggest Weakness: Corner infield

Just two corner infielders—Luis Toribio (6) and Logan Wyatt (13)—made the team’s Top 30 Prospects, and Wyatt has significant work to do with his approach to unlock the power required at first base. Keep an eye on Connor Cannon, though. The massive slugger, whom the Giants drafted out of UC Riverside in the 17th round last year, annihilated the Rookie-level Arizona League and posted exceptional exit velocities.

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Seattle Mariners

Best Depth: Outfield

Julio Rodriguez (1) and Jarred Kelenic (2) give the Mariners two potential all-star outfielders, while Kyle Lewis (10) and Jake Fraley (11) made their big league debuts last year and are ready to help now.

Biggest Weakness: Middle infield

Noelvi Marte (6) gives the Mariners a huge upside prospect, but he also has yet to play above the Dominican Summer League. Beyond him, the Mariners have only fringy utility types like Donnie Walton (27), Tim Lopes and Juan Querecuto.

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St. Louis Cardinals

Best Depth: Catching

Ivan Herrera (5) and Andrew Knizner (7) are two of the top catching prospects in the minors, while Julio Rodriguez (15) would be the top catching prospect in a few other systems. While no one can truly replace Yadier Molina, the Cardinals have lots of potential options for when the time comes.

Biggest Weakness: Middle infield

Recent top picks Delvin Perez, Kramer Robertson, Zach Kirtley and Nick Dunn have yielded middling returns, at best, as has trade acquisition Max Schrock. With homegrown successes Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman in the majors, however, it's not much of a problem for the Cardinals long-term outlook.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Best Depth: Middle infield

The Rays have more shortstop and second basemen than they can play, which is why Lucius Fox (23) may need to learn how to roam center field. With No. 1 prospect Wander Franco, first-round pick Greg Jones (12) and Taylor Walls (19) at shortstop as well as Vidal Brujan (4), Xavier Edwards (8), Nick Sogard and Tristan Gray at second base, the Rays are loaded in close-to-the-majors middle infielders. And that's on a team that has youngsters Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe playing up the middle in Tampa.

Biggest Weakness: Catching

The Rays have struggled to develop catchers throughout the 21st century. Ronaldo Hernandez (9) could change that, but he took a step backwards in 2019 and behind him there are few players who project as potential MLB regulars.

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Texas Rangers

Best Depth: Lower level prospects

From low Class A down to the short-season and Rookie leagues, the Rangers have a strong collection of talent. Third baseman Josh Jung (1) and right-handers Hans Crouse (6), Ronny Henriquez (10) and Cole Winn (14) should all jump to high Class A Down East this year. Below them, the Rangers have infielders Maximo Acosta (5), Luisangel Acuna (8), Osleivis Basabe (13) and Keithron Moss (25), outfielders Bayron Lora (9)and Heriberto Hernandez (20), along with righthander Ricky Vanasco (12) among their breakout candidates at the lower levels.

Biggest Weakness: Upper level impact

Nick Solak (4) and lefthander Joe Palumbo (7) should be able to help the Rangers in 2020, but the Rangers otherwise are light in the upper levels of the system. Center fielder Leody Taveras (3) could help change that with a breakthrough year, but most of the upside in the organization is still a few years away at the lower levels.

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Toronto Blue Jays

Best Depth: Shortstops.

Or at least "shortstops.” The Blue Jays have a bundle of promising offensive-minded shortstops, many of whom will likely move off the position. With Jordan Groshans (2), Orelvis Martinez (6), Miguel Hiraldo (8), Otto Lopez (12), Estiven Machado (13), Leonardo Jimenez (16), Rikelvin de Castro (17) and Santiago Espinal (20), there’s a good mix of shortstops throughout the system.

Biggest Weakness: Outfielders

The Blue Jays don’t have an outfielder ranked among their top 10 prospects. Griffin Conine (15) has huge power but swing-and-miss risk that’s just as big, while Dasan Brown (22) is an elite runner and athlete in center field, but still quite raw.

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Washington Nationals

Best Depth: Righthanded pitching

Four of the Nats’ Top 10 Prospects are big-armed righthanders who should make hay mostly at the lower levels in 2020. That group includes Jackson Rutledge (3), Wil Crowe (4), Andry Lara (7) and Mason Denaburg (8). Crowe, Lara and Denaburg each boasts potential plus fastballs while Rutledge’s heater checks in as a true 80-grade pitch. Ten more Nats righties made the system’s Top 30 Prospects list.

Biggest Weakness: Third base

Although Carter Kieboom (1) might end up shifting over there in time, the system lacks any true third base prospects at the moment. None appeared in the team’s Top 30, which is striking considering the loss of cornerstone Anthony Rendon to the Angels in free agency. If Kieboom doesn’t pan out, there’s not much behind him to fill the void.

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