The Top Farm Systems That Produced The Most Major League Regulars
In the 15 seasons from 1998-2012, the average farm system had about 11 players who would go on to amass 1,500 career at-bats, 450 innings pitched or 150 appearances in the major leagues, roughly the equivalent of three full seasons.
Some individual farm systems, however, were much more prolific. After reviewing the farm systems that produced the most major leaguers earlier this week, we move on to the top 10 farm systems that produced the most future regulars, as measured by reaching 1,500 at-bats, 450 innings pitched or 150 appearances in the major leagues.
There is some crossover between the farm systems that had the most future major leaguers and the ones who had the most future regulars, such as the 2007 Yankees and 2012 Rangers. There are also farm systems, however, that did not have an overwhelming number of future major leaguers but had many future regulars, such as the 2003 Diamondbacks and 2005 Angels. Some farm systems had a large quantity of prospects, but that did not always equal a high quality. Conversely, some farm systems had a lot of high quality prospects, even if they didn’t have a huge number of future major leaguers.
Here are the farm systems from 1998-2012 that produced the most future regulars in the major leagues.
All totals are updated through the end of the 2020 season.
1. 2007 Yankees
General manager: Brian Cashman
Farm director: Mark Newman
The Yankees hold the top spot due to their ability to identify and develop pitching. Sixteen of the MLB-best 21 future regulars in their 2007 farm system were pitchers. Ian Kennedy, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes led the starters, while Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Joba Chamberlain and John Axford led a group of standout future relievers. Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez and Jose Tabata were the five position players in the system who went on to amass more than 1,500 career at-bats.
T-2. 2003 Diamondbacks
General manager: Joe Garagiola
Farm director: Tommy Jones
The Diamondbacks were an underrated scouting and player development machine in the early years of the franchise. Fresh off winning the World Series in 2001 and returning to the postseason in 2002, the D-backs entered 2003 with a loaded farm system led by future three-time all-stars Brandon Webb, Carlos Gonzalez, Dan Uggla and Jose Valverde. They were buttressed further by longtime regulars like Lyle Overbay, Miguel Montero, Chris Capuano, the latter two of whom were also all-stars at their peaks. The D-backs traded Gonzalez, Overbay and Capuano and let Uggla get away in the Rule 5 draft, but they still reached the NLCS in 2007 with many players from this system playing key roles.
T-2. 2012 Rangers
General manager: Jon Daniels
Farm director: Tim Purpura
The Rangers system that produced the most major leaguers of any MLB team also produced 20 future regulars, a testament to the quality of the farm system in addition to its quantity. Notably, half of those future regulars were signed internationally, including Odubel Herrera, Rougned Odor, Martin Perez, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar as amateurs and Yu Darvish and Leonys Martin as foreign professionals who were prospect-eligible entering the season. The number of future regulars in this system, it should be noted, stands to increase. Jorge Alfaro, Hanser Alberto and Ronald Guzman have yet to reach 1,500 career at-bats, but have a chance to in the coming seasons.
T-4. 2003 Indians
General manager: Mark Shapiro
Farm director: John Mirabelli
The Indians dominance from 1995-2001 had ended, but hope was on the horizon. Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Phillips, Coco Crisp and Roberto Hernandez (then-known as Fausto Carmona) gave them a loaded 2003 farm system that provided both future stars and ammunition for trades. As that talent base ascended to the majors, the Indians returned to their winning ways with a 93-win season in 2005 and an ALCS appearance in 2007, coming up one game short of reaching the World Series.
T-4. 2005 Dodgers
General manager: Paul DePodesta
Farm director: Terry Collins
The Dodgers returned to the playoffs after a nine-year hiatus in 2004 and entered the following season with a farm system that ensured they would remain a playoff contender. Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Kenley Jansen, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and A.J. Ellis became key players for the Dodgers, while Carlos Santana, Edwin Jackson, Cody Ross and Joel Hanrahan led the contingent of players who found success elsewhere after being traded or otherwise let go. That talent base helped form the core of the Dodgers back-to-back NLCS teams in 2008 and 2009, and a few were still around when the Dodgers began their run of eight straight division titles in 2013.
T-4. 2011 Royals
General manager: Dayton Moore
Farm director: Scott Sharp
The 2011 Royals had both quantity and quality in what may have been the most talented farm system of the last 20 years. Kansas City had an MLB-high 11 future all-stars in their system, led by Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers and Whit Merrifield, and their list of future big leaguers continues on with the likes of Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and the late Yordano Ventura. In all, 14 of the 19 players in the system to reach the three-year career threshold were pitchers.
T-4. 2008 Yankees
General manager: Brian Cashman
Farm director: Mark Newman
The 2008 Yankees system had many of the same players as their MLB-best 2007 system, although with a few key differences. Once again, their ability to identify pitching stands out. Alfredo Aceves and Arodys Vizcaino were added to the system before the 2008 season, giving them two more arms who went on to have sustained careers in relief.
Phillies Bolster Rotation In Deal For Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy From Rangers
The Phillies bolstered their pitching staff in a move that netted the Rangers one-time top prospect Spencer Howard.
T-8. 2005 Angels
General manager: Bill Stoneman
Farm director: Tony Reagins
The Angels churned out stars from their farm system as well as anyone in the early to mid 2000s, a big reason they made the playoffs six times in eight seasons, reached three ALCS’s and won the franchise’s first World Series in 2002. Their 2005 system was the most productive, with Jered Weaver, Howie Kendrick, Mike Napoli, Ervin Santana, Erick Aybar, Mark Trumbo and Joe Saunders leading a group of future all-stars and longtime future big leaguers like Maicer Izturis, Miguel Gonzalez, Alberto Callaspo, Sean Rodriguez and Martin Maldonado in support.
T-8. 2012 Blue Jays
General manager: Alex Anthopoulos
Farm director: Charlie Wilson
The Blue Jays had one of baseball’s best farm systems entering the 2012 season, but many of the top players were traded and flourished elsewhere. Kevin Pillar, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna headline the list of players in the system who remained with Toronto and helped them reach back-to-back ALCS’s in 2015-16. Noah Syndergaard, Yan Gomes, Jake Marisnick, Joe Musgrove, Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony DeSclafani and Sam Dyson lead the long list of players who went on to have sustained careers after being traded.
T-8: 2005 Diamondbacks
Farm director: Bob Miller
The Diamondbacks farm system had some of the same players as their vaunted 2003 system, but they ably replaced graduated players by continuing to add talent through the draft and internationally. In addition to Gonzalez, Uggla and Montero, who were still in the system at the time, they added Stephen Drew, Gerardo Parra, Carlos Quentin and Mark Reynolds among many other future longtime big leaguers to keep the talent pipeline full. They continued to add talent during the year, highlighted by selecting Justin Upton with the first overall pick in the draft.
T-8. 2006 Marlins
General manager: Larry Beinfest
Farm director: Brian Chattin
The Marlins are known for their teardowns, but they actually didn’t quite do that after their 2003 World Series. They posted winning records in 2004 and 2005 and entered 2006 with a talented farm system, led by Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla among a long list of other players who had sustained major league careers. In part due to the strength of the system, they would post winning records again in 2008 and 2009 even after trading away Miguel Cabrera, but they never quite reached the postseason.
17: 1999 Diamondbacks, 2001 Rays, 2004 Cubs, 2004 Rockies, 2004 Dodgers, 2006 Dodgers, 2006 Rockies, 2007-08 Braves, 2008 Reds, 2009-10 Cardinals, 2012 Cardinals, 2012 Mets, 2012 Red Sox
16: 1999 Phillies, 1999 Twins, 2000 Diamondbacks, 2000 Rays, 2001 Braves, 2011 Phillies, 2002 Cubs, 2003 Angels, 2003-05 Braves, 2005-07 Twins, 2006 Diamondbacks, 2006 Rockies, 2008 Cardinals, 2009 Padres, 2009 Rangers, 2011 Astros, 2011 Braves