Minor League Top 10 Prospects Flashback
Minor League Top 10 Prospects rankings have been a staple of Baseball America prospect coverage from the very beginning. Our rankings of the top talent in every minor league, from Triple-A to Rookie ball, appeared annually for 39 seasons until a pandemic halted the procession in 2020.
The minor leagues will look different when they return, perhaps dramatically different. So to celebrate the end of a common era of the minors, BA is digging into its archive to spotlight one signature Minor League Top 10 Prospects ranking for each minor league. We endeavor to highlight as many players and as many seasons as possible, and at the end of each installment is a complete accounting of every BA No. 1 prospect in league history.
The source for data throughout was supplied by FanGraphs, but note that the runs allowed version of wins above replacement (WAR) was used for pitchers.
While other prospect rankings would surpass them in popularity, the Minor League Top 10s helped BA gain early credibility in the industry.
As the minor leagues prepare to enter a new era in 2021, we reflect on the past four decades of Minor League Top 10 Prospects rankings.
The top 10 Minor League Top 10 Prospects classes ever, as measured by WAR, plus a few others that just missed the cut.
Dwight Gooden, Fred McGriff, Lenny Dykstra and Bobby Bonilla highlight an astonishing breadth of talent in this eight-team high Class A league.
The defunct Triple-A league's class of 1986 features Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Barry Larkin, along with several longtime contributors.
Led by Ken Griffey Jr., the short-season NWL had a banner year in 1987, the year the draft was streamlined into one June phase.
The Double-A league has a rich prospect tradition, none better than the class of 1987 headlined by Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Larry Walker and a future MVP.
Transcendent young catcher Ivan Rodriguez headlines, supported by Kenny Lofton and Jeff Kent, two late-round draft picks out of college who exceeded expectations.
Albuquerque teammates and future Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza headline an unusually strong prospect class.
The 1995 Rookie-level GCL featured 10 first-round picks from that year’s draft, including future Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.
An historic class even for a historic league, with four players who would go on to accumulate at least 50 WAR, including Vladimir Guerrero and Scott Rolen.
No MiLB Top 10 has produced more WAR than the Texas League class of 1998. Among its top 10 were five future all-star position players, including Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman.
This prospect class was headlined by two future greats—Albert Pujols and Jake Peavy—whose greatness snuck up on people because they were late-round draft picks.
No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Mauer and fellow franchise icon David Wright began their pro careers in style in the Appy League.
Rays Minor League Affiliates Establish A Major New Benchmark
New research by Baseball-Reference indicates that Rays domestic minor league affiliates won at an unprecedented rate in the modern era of the minor leagues.
This prospect class had a distinctly international flavor, with South Korean outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and Dominican pitchers Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano leading the way.
Multi-time all-stars Hanley Ramirez and Curtis Granderson headlined the 2002 New York-Penn League.
The class of 2009 had an incredible volume of future major league regulars, led by Nolan Arenado, Patrick Corbin and Wil Myers.
Mike Trout jumped on the fast track to superstardom in the second half of 2010, while Brandon Belt and Patrick Corbin inched closer to the majors.
The crazy deep class of 2011 included future MVPs Bryce Harper and Christian Yelich as well as high quality regulars Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Marcell Ozuna.
Future impact big leaguers Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner and Aaron Judge shine in a deep International League class.
An all-star team of major league stars who never ranked as Minor League Top 10 Prospects.