New Year's Resolutions For All 30 MLB Farm Systems
As we welcome 2023, we’re looking at a New Year’s resolutions for all 30 farm systems with looks at how all 30 organizations could improve over the coming year.
2023 Resolution: Turn MiLB pitching prospects into MLB pitchers.
Behind the D-backs impressive quartet of impact position prospects (Corbin Carroll, Gabriel Moreno, Jordan Lawlar and Druw Jones), the team also has a bounty of close-to-the-majors pitching prospects. Righthander Brandon Pfaadt not only led the minors in strikeouts, he also led in innings while surviving tests at Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno. With nearly 170 innings in 2022, he’s more ready than almost anyone to carry a full MLB starting pitcher’s workload in 2023. But he’s got plenty of company with righthanders Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson and lefthander Blake Walston. It’s unrealistic to expect all of them to pitch significant innings in Phoenix in 2023, but if the D-backs can get 60-70 starts from the quartet, that will be an important step forward for a team with a now fascinating young core.
2023 Resolution: Improve the position player depth.
Atlanta has done an excellent job of producing productive big leaguers from the farm system year after year. But graduations combined with trades have left the team’s minor league system almost devoid of position player prospects. WIth most of the lineup locked up for years to come, that won’t hurt the Braves significantly in the short-term unless the team is hit with multiple injuries, but it’s a clear long-term problem to rectify.
2023 Resolution: Get an offensive boost from rookies.
The Orioles have had a surprisingly quiet offseason. The team has spent very little money so far to upgrade a lineup that is going to need some help to keep up with a division with at least three other plausible playoff teams. Last year, the Orioles’ biggest improvement came from working baseball’s No. 1 prospect (Adley Rutschman) into the lineup. This year, it’s reasonable to expect shortstop/third baseman Gunnar Henderson to join the everyday lineup, but he may get plenty of additional help as outfielders Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers and infielders Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz are all ticketed for either Baltimore or Triple-A Norfolk. If the Orioles can get solid production from two or three of these rookies, as well as help from pitchers like Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, it will help Baltimore fans quickly forget a rather quiet winter.
Boston Red Sox
2023 Resolution: Prove the skeptics wrong.
Of all the offseason signings, the Red Sox’s five-year, $90 million deal for Masataka Yoshida ranks was probably the most controversial. Most other teams that scouted Yoshida projected him as a useful complementary player, but he’s being paid a contract that indicates he’s more than that. The Red Sox see Yoshida as a player whose swing could match up very well with Fenway Park. After an offseason where the team lost Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez, Boston needs to have nailed their evaluation of Yoshida.
2023 Resolution: Get healthy
Brennen Davis and Miguel Amaya’s injuries in 2022 meant two of the team’s best position prospects enter 2023 no closer to the majors than they were at the end of 2021. Getting full seasons out of both of them are crucial for the Cubs’ rebuild. Getting Alexander Canario back to health after a serious winter ball injury (fractured ankle and dislocated shoulder) would be an additional bonus.
Chicago White Sox
2023 Resolution: Develop one top-tier pitching prospect.
The White Sox have done an excellent job of bolstering their rotation by adding young pitchers in trades. Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech have all had their moments. But the help from homegrown pitching has been less consistent.
It’s not for a lack of recent effort. The White Sox’s selected pitchers with their top three draft picks in 2022. That comes two years after the White Sox picked pitchers with every pick they had in the five-round 2020 draft. Chicago also picked a pair of $2 million pitchers in the 2019 draft. So far, that has led to 60 innings of relief work in the majors by lefthander Garrett Crochet, who is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
But with Noah Schultz, Sean Burke, Cristian Mena, Peyton Pallette, Norge Vera, Jonathan Cannon, Matthew Thompson and Jared Kelley in the system, Chicago needs to find at least one arm who can give the team a potential front-line or even mid-rotation arm to dream on.
2023 Resolution: Figure out where all the shortstops play.
The Reds had a very busy 2022 season adding prospects in trades. But the position players they added were largely infielders, and the team’s strength was already its shortstops/middle infielders. So in 2023, the Reds will have to develop some positional versatility so that Elly De La Cruz, Edwin Arroyo, Spencer Steer, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte and Cam Collier (as well as some lesser-regarded prospects and graduated shortstop Jose Barrero) will all be able to get a full season of at-bats. These are the types of problems that usually work themselves out, but the Reds’ logjam of infield prospects and dearth of outfield prospects is also true in the lower-levels of the minors, where Ricardo Cabrera, Victor Acosta, Carlos Jorge and Leonardo Balcazar are also worth keeping an eye on.
2023 Resolution: Make the right decisions in a crowded middle infield.
Cleveland has a well-established pair of starters at shortstop and second base in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. The Guardians also have Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, Angel Martinez, Jose Tena and Richie Palacios who will all start the season at Double-A or higher. It’s not possible that all of them will end up sticking with the Guardians, but figuring out which are the right prospects to keep and which ones should be dealt will be important for the Guardians’ future.
2023 Resolution: Ease Ezequiel Tovar into the lineup.
The Rockies’ farm system is on the upswing, and Tovar is a key part of that as a young shortstop with a chance to be an above-average all-around player. There are legitimate concerns that Tovar’s extremely aggressive approach could cause him some issues against big league pitchers, so it will be important that the Rockies successfully pull off one of the trickier parts of a young player’s maturation process--development at the big league level.
2023 Resolution: Fix Spencer Torkelson.
Torkelson is no longer a prospect, but he’s yet to establish himself as a big leaguer. Torkelson’s 2022 season had few bright spots. For years, Torkelson has been a hitter who managed to hit for power and average. He was one of the most productive sluggers in college baseball history, and he had hit 30 home runs in the minors in 2021.
In 2022, his power production largely disappeared, and it didn’t get much better in a demotion to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers have struggled to develop homegrown position players for much of the past decade. Getting Torkelson back on track is vital to the team’s rebuild.
2023 Resolution: Rebuild the team’s pitching depth.
Hunter Brown is ready for a spot in the majors, but the Astros have so many homegrown big league starters that there isn’t a spot for him in the rotation even after Justin Verlander left as a free agent. Houston’s pitching development is worthy of envy, but after Brown graduates, the system will be quite thin on pitching prospects. That’s not a short-term concern, but if Houston is going to sustain this success for another five years, it needs to start developing the next wave of rotation help.
Kansas City Royals
2023 Resolution: Fix the pitching development pipeline.
In 2018, the Royals selected five college pitchers in the top 60 picks. The hope was that this massive push for polished pitching would meld nicely with the team’s position prospects to kick start the team’s rebuild.
Brady Singer has established himself in the Royals rotation, but the rest of the draft haul has yet to find success in the major leagues. That by itself has set the Royals’ rebuild back. But the Royals have kept adding pitchers with high draft picks in the years since then, and as of yet, they’ve seen little payoff for their effort.
Getting Asa Lacy, Frank Mozzicato, Ben Hernandez, Ben Kudrna, Alec Marsh or any other of the numerous top 10 round pitchers the Royals picked in 2019-2021 to turn into a solid big league is vital for a team that is not going to sign top-tier pitchers on the free agent market.
The Royals’ revamp of their hitting development system a few years ago has paid off. Now the team’s revamp of its pitching development needs to do the same.
Los Angeles Angels
2023 Resolution: Turn catcher into a team strength.
Like many MLB teams, the Angels have been willing to sacrifice offense for defense at catcher for much of the past decade. That may start to change in 2023, as Logan O’Hoppe could give the team a chance to have a catcher who can contribute both offensively and defensively. Edgar Quero is further away, but if he develops as hoped, he could give the team another well-rounded catcher in a few years. The Angels’ farm system remains relatively thin, but if O’Hoppe and Quero can continue to develop, catcher is one position where the team could produce some above-average talent.
Los Angeles Dodgers
2023 Resolution: Graduate the next wave of prospects without taking a step backwards at the big league level.
Year after year, the Dodgers have managed to slowly work in a player or two a year from a perennially productive farm system onto the major league roster. This year, the Dodgers may need a little more help than normal from the farm system, as the team has openings in the infield and outfield that likely won’t be filled from free agency.
The core of this team (Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and several others) should allow Los Angeles to give rookies like Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch and or James Outman a chance to show what they can do as complimentary players in the lineup. Similarly, this should be the year that Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Gavin Stone get a shot to help as well. The Dodgers have a number of viable options to fill holes on the MLB roster, but the rookies will likely have only a few months to show they can contribute. If not, Los Angeles could patch the remaining holes at the trade deadline.
2023 Resolution: Develop position players.
Since the 2017-2018 offseason the Marlins have been devoid of homegrown stars on the positional side. Despite high draft pick investments and highly touted international signings on positional talent, players like J.J. Bleday, Connor Scott, Victor Victor Mesa and Kahlil Watson have struggled to fulfill even the most conservative expectations in recent years. It’s imperative that the Marlins begin to develop average or better everyday regulars on the position side. With a deep and talented young staff, a group of young talented positional talents could serve two-fold in supplying the major league club with the type of players needed to compete in the vaunted NL East.
2023 Resolution: Claim the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year award.
Thanks to his breakout season, Jackson Chourio was a very viable candidate to be Baseball America’s MiLB Player of the Year in 2022. He enters 2023 as the favorite to win the award this year. He’s the best prospect in baseball who is ticketed to spend most or all of 2023 in the minors. The level of competition Chourio will face in 2023 will be tougher than it was in 2022, but if he has a POY-caliber season this year, he’d likely enter 2024 as the No. 1 prospect in baseball as a nearly MLB-ready 20-year-old.
2023 Resolution: Keep Royce Lewis healthy.
With Carlos Correa seemingly headed elsewhere, the Twins biggest need is at shortstop, where Kyle Farmer and Nick Gordon are the best options on the current MLB roster. Gordon is coming off of a solid offensive season, but he’s played more games at three other positions (center field, left field and second base) than he has at shortstop, while Farmer is a 32-year-old who has never been league average offensively. If Lewis can quickly return from his second knee injury and show he can still handle shortstop, he could fill a dire need for the Twins. His ability to play center field as well is useful for a team that knows Byron Buxton is unlikely to play everyday in the field because of his own injury issues.
New York Mets
2023 Resolution: Work Francisco Alvarez into the lineup.
The Mets don’t need Alvarez to make the opening day roster. But Alvarez should be ready to help the team, especially offensively, at some point in 2023. Figuring out a way to balance Alvarez’s remaining needs developmentally with the chance to get his potent bat into the Mets lineup by midseason is an important part of the Mets’ 2023 postseason push.
New York Yankees
2023 Resolution: Fix the shortstop hole at the MLB level.
The Yankees’ top two prospects are both shortstops (Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza). With New York sitting out the free agent shortstop market again this offseason, it’s time to find out what the kids can do. While Volpe is the better prospect, Peraza is a better defender and he’s a few months ahead of Volpe developmentally. The two should be the Yankees’ middle infield duo for years to come, but New York needs one of them to claim the shortstop job full-time in 2023. The biggest hurdle
2023 Resolution: Turn a couple of second-tier prospects into Top 100 Prospects.
Oakland has traded away a bevy of productive big leaguers in recent years, but so far, they haven’t gotten a lot of top-tier prospects in return. The A’s added a lot of pitching, but they need at least one or two of the acquisitions (Ken Waldichuk, Kyle Muller, Luis Medina, Ryan Cusick, J.T. Ginn, Gunnar Hoglund and Joey Estes) to turn into rotation fixtures to kick start a rebuild that seems destined to stretch into the second half of the 2020s.
2023 Resolution: Get one of the team’s top pitching prospects to the majors.
Philadelphia’s aggressiveness in free agency means the lineup is relatively set, and the rotation is in reasonably good shape as well. But getting Andrew Painter, Mick Abel or Griff McGarry to the majors by late this year could provide a very useful late-season boost for a team that should be busy in October once again. All three finished the year in Double-A or higher last year, so it’s not unrealistic that one or more of them could provide some help, especially in the second half of 2023.
2023 Resolution: Turn high draft investments into stud prospects.
Few teams have drafted as high as the Pirates in recent years. They’ve done a good job of using their bonus pool to secure high level talents. None of those players have truly broken out in the minor leagues. Sizeable steps forward from their 2020 and 2021 draft classes could push the Pirates system to the top of the midseason talent rankings. The fresh crop of draftees led by infielder Termarr Johnson could go a long way toward solidifying the talent at the top of the system. With the top pick in this July’s draft in hand, the Pirates system could rank among the best in the game with improvement from their highly drafted players like Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales and Bubba Chandler.
San Diego Padres
2023 Resolution: Keep the churn going.
As long as A.J. Preller is running the Padres, the team is going to be aggressive. And Preller has demonstrated a key component of prospect development that often gets missed by fans: for a well-running farm system, prospects are an ever-renewing resource.
San Diego has traded away more than a full roster of prospects in recent years to land Juan Soto, Josh Hader, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and more. But even after all those moves, the Padres’ farm system continues to have some premium prospects to build around, led by shortstop Jackson Merrill.
What the Padres have done well is trade away prospect depth. That can always come back to bite a team if a young prospect turns into a star (see the Yordan Alvarez-Josh Fields trade for an example). But more often, the team adding the solid big leaguer wins the deal. San Diego has the ammunition to keep making moves to bolster the big league club while trading away prospects who are unlikely to fit in San Diego for several years to come.
San Francisco Giants
2023 Resolution: Nail their first-round pick.
In the 2000s, San Francisco found stars in the first round. Between Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Zack Wheeler, the Giants had a draft run worthy of envy that paid off in three World Series titles.
Since 2010, that draft magic has disappeared, as first rounders like Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, Chris Stratton and Christian Arroyo have proven to be role players at best, and others like Hunter Bishop and Will Bednar have a lot of work to do to simply reach the majors. San Francisco is slated to pick 16th. For a team working to try to keep up with the Dodgers and Padres, getting this pick right is an important resolution for 2023.
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2023 Resolution: Grow some more pitching prospects.
The Mariners reworked their pitching development program a few years ago. George Kirby, Logan Gilbert and Matt Brash’s success played a large role in the team’s return to the playoffs in 2022, and the team’s depth of pitching prospects have helped it add Luis Castillo and Eugenio Suarez in trades.
But between 10 graduations and 23 prospects being traded, the system’s pitching depth isn’t nearly what it was a couple of years ago. That’s OK, especially with a rotation that doesn’t have many immediate holes. But if Bryce Miller, Taylor Dollard, Emerson Hancock or Bryan Woo can become the team’s next pitching prospect to watch, it will put Seattle in a better spot for 2024 and beyond.
St. Louis Cardinals
2023 Resolution: Install Jordan Walker into the lineup.
Walker comes into 2023 as one of the favorites to be the 2023 National League rookie of the year. The move to the outfield ensured he won’t be blocked by Nolan Arenado, but it may end up being a way to take off some defensive pressure. The Cardinals are bringing up Walker in an excellent environment to succeed. With Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Willson Contreras set to anchor the middle of the lineup, St. Louis can break in Walker slowly. But he has the power to be a hitter pitchers fear by the end of the season.
Tampa Bay Rays
2023 Resolution: Get more out of young position prospects.
The Rays constantly turn over their roster, figuring out ways to trade players at their peak value to get the next player who is ready to turn into a star. But the Rays success also relies on getting steady production from an always-deep farm system.
In 2022, the Rays saw plenty of pay-off from recent trades like the ones that brought Drew Rasmussen, Isaac Paredes and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay. But Vidal Brujan, Josh Lowe and Taylor Walls all proved to be liabilities at the plate in their first extended chances to help the MLB club. Whether it’s bounce back seasons from them or boosts from Jonathan Aranda, Curtis Mead, Rene Pinto or Kyle Manzardo, the Rays need to get some production from some of the team’s younger hitters.
2023 Resolution: Get Kumar Rocker and/or Jack Leiter on track.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Vanderbilt duo of Rocker and Leiter were carving up college lineups week after week. Neither pitcher showed many flashes of that dominance in 2022. Leiter’s season had few high points. He struggled month after month and has to figure out a better pitch mix. Rocker showed plenty of rust and inconsistency in his control and command in his Arizona Fall League stint.
Both are better than what they showed in 2022, but the Rangers need to get one or both of them back to their college form in 2023.
Toronto Blue Jays
2023 Resolution: Develop the next group of impact hitters.
With the trade of Gabriel Moreno to the D-Backs the Blue Jays are now devoid of an impact position player at the top of their system for the first time in many years. Orelvis Martinez took a step backwards in 2022 and while Addison Barger was a welcome development, he’s hardly the type of impact everyday regular the Jays have produced over the last half a decade. The Jays made steps toward addressing this, selecting four position players between rounds two and three in last July’s draft. Now the goal must be to develop the next core of contributors around franchise cornerstones Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2023 Resolution: Set the foundation for 2025.
After three consecutive awful seasons, the Nationals are still a long way away from competing in a division that has the defending National League champs (Phillies), the 2021 World Series champions (Braves) and the team that is spending more than anyone (Mets). The players who could drive the Nationals into playoff contention again are largely devoid of upper-level MiLB experience. But if the Nationals can properly develop a couple of the James Wood, Robert Hassell, Elijah Green, Jarlin Susana, Brady House and Cristhian Vaquero prospect-group into cornerstone big leaguers, the Nationals could be frisky in two or three more years.