Top 10 Farm Systems That Produced The Most Major Leaguers

Image credit: (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, we released the results of our comprehensive study examining how many future major leaguers a team has in its farm system in a given year.

From 1998-2012, the average team had 35 future major leaguers in its farm system each year. The range was extremely wide, ranging from 15 to 58. 

Here is a look at the 10 farm systems that had the most future major leaguers in a given year. Players are counted if they were in the team’s system at the start of the season.

A major leaguer is defined as having played one game in the majors. All totals are updated through the end of the 2020 season.

In the days ahead, we will look at the farm system that produced the most regulars and the farm system that produced the most future all-stars.

1. 2012 Rangers
No.: 58
General manager: Jon Daniels
Farm director: Tim Purpura

The 2012 Rangers hold the top spot on the strength of an incredibly productive international program. Odubel Herrera, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, Nomar Mazara, Hanser Alberto, Jose Leclerc, Leury Garcia, Jorge Alfaro and Ronald Guzman all signed internationally and led the system, while Yu Darvish (Japan) and Leonys Martin (Cuba) signed as foreign professionals and count toward the total as prospect-eligible players, too. The system’s most recent player to become a major leaguer was also an international signee: Ramon Urias, who made his debut with the Orioles last year, initially signed with the Rangers out of Mexico. The Rangers did have one significant prospect come through the draft in Kyle Hendricks, who was traded that summer to the Cubs at the deadline. Jerad Eickhoff, Alex Claudio, Carl Edwards and Robbie Ross make up the best of the rest of the system’s drafted players.

2. 2007 Yankees
No.: 55
General manager: Brian Cashman
Farm director: Mark Newman

The Yankees had an impressive ability to identify and develop pitchers during the late 2000s, which helped them consistently have some of the game’s most productive farm systems in that era, capped by their 2007 system. Ian Kennedy, Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Tyler Clippard and Joba Chamberlain led an impressive group of arms in the system, buttressed by many more future major league pitchers including George Kontos, Zach McAllister, Mike Dunn, Phil Coke, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Wilton Lopez. The position player group wasn’t too shabby either, with Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Francisco Cervelli and Eduardo Nunez headlining the group.

T-3. 2005 Rockies
No.: 54
General manager: Dan O’Dowd
Farm director: Marc Gustafson

The 2005 Rockies farm system contained many of the key players who would help Colorado reach the World Series in 2007 and return to the postseason in 2009. Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis, Brad Hawpe, Garrett Atkins, Ryan Spilborghs and Manny Corpas all went from the system to playing significant roles on the 2007 National League pennant-winning team, while Dexter Fowler, Jhoulys Chacin, Chris Iannetta, Seth Smith, Clint Barmes, Pedro Strop and Franklin Morales lead an additional contingent of players from the system who went on to have sustained big league careers.



T-3. 2009 Padres
No.: 54
General manager: Kevin Towers
Farm director: Grady Fuson

The Padres had a large group of future major leaguers in their 2009 farm system, but in a recurring problem throughout the franchise’s history, they traded away or let go of most of the best players before they reached their peaks. Corey Kluber, Logan Forsythe, Eric Sogard, Brad Brach and Brandon Kintzler headline the group of players in the system who all had their best seasons after leaving San Diego. The prospect-eligible players who gave the Padres the most significant direct contributions were Mat Latos and Everth Cabrera, the latter of whom went from Rule 5 draft pick to all-star but was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs and was out of the league soon after. Nick Vincent, Ernesto Frieri and Anthony Bass lead the other players from the system who gave the Padres some solid contributions.

5. 2011 Cardinals
No.: 53
General manager: John Mozeliak
Farm director: John Vuch

The Cardinals were in a great place in 2011 as the eventual World Series champion with a farm system that ensured they would remain competitive throughout the decade. Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, Tommy Pham, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Matt Adams and Trevor Rosenthal led their deep 2011 system and eventually became key players for the franchise. David Peralta, Adam Ottavino and Donovan Solano, meanwhile, headline an additionally strong group of prospects who found success elsewhere. The late Oscar Taveras was also a member of the system, just before he began his meteoric rise that led him to become the No. 3 prospect in baseball until his life was tragically cut short.

T-6. 2012 Mets
No.: 51
General manager: Sandy Alderson
Farm director: Adam Wogan

The Mets ability to identify and develop pitching gave them a productive farm system and helped lay the groundwork for their 2015 World Series appearance. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Collin McHugh, Michael Fulmer, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia were all members of their 2012 system, as were Hansel Robles, Adam Kolarek, Rafael Montero, Luis Cessa, John Gant and Jenrry Mejia. The Mets’ position player crop had more modest success, with Brandon Nimmo, Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares the best of the group, but the team found impactful position players in other seasons and used some of their pitching depth to acquire more, namely trading Fulmer and Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes.

T-6. 2011 Rangers
No.: 51
General manager: Jon Daniels
Farm director: Scott Servais

The 2011 Rangers farm system featured many of the same players as their 2012 farm system. Pedro Strop and Robbie Erlin are the only significant players who were part of their 2011 system but were no longer with Texas a year later. Most of the future big leaguers remained in the system through 2012, when the additions of Darvish, Hendricks, Martin, Mazara, Edwards, Guzman, Eickhoff and Yangervis Solarte helped elevate it to even greater heights.

T-8. 2011 Royals
No.: 50
General manager: Dayton Moore
Farm director: Scott Sharp

Even though other systems had more future major leaguers, the 2011 Royals have a strong case as the best farm system of the era because of their star power. The Royals had 11 future all-stars in the system, the most of any team from 1998-2012: Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Whit Merrifield, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith and Aaron Crow. On top of that, they also had Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Mike Montgomery, in addition to many more productive future big leaguers. With so much talent in the ranks, and the club deftly keeping most of its best players while using others in beneficial trades, the Royals reached the World Series in 2014 and won it all in 2015.

T-8. 2012 Yankees
No.: 50
General manager: Brian Cashman
Farm director: Mark Newman

With most of the top players from their loaded 2007 farm system having graduated, the Yankees kept the pipeline flowing with strong international signings and a continued ability to identify and develop pitching, particularly impact relievers. Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar led a new wave of talent from the international ranks, while Shane Greene, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Giovanny Gallegos and John Brebbia became the next wave of future relievers. Jake Cave, Ben Gamel and Greg Bird were the best of the domestic position players.

T-8. 2012 Cardinals
No.: 50
General manager: John Mozeliak
Farm director: John Vuch

The 2012 Cardinals farm system featured many of the same players that made up their 2011 farm system, but there were some key additions. The Cardinals drafted and signed Kolten Wong, Sam Gaviglio, Seth Maness, Ryan Sherriff, Charlie Tilson and Nick Martini in 2011 to give the 2012 system a boost, and there was more on the way. While not officially counted here because the players were not in the system at the start of the season, the Cardinals 2012 draft is worth highlighting. They drafted and signed eight future major leaguers that year, including Michael Wacha, Stephen Piscotty and Carson Kelly.

Just Missed

49: 2004-05 Dodgers, 2009 Yankees, 2009 Cardinals, 2009 Rangers, 2012 Padres

48: 2001 Braves, 2006 Rockies, 2008 Yankees, 2010 Indians, 2011 Yankees, 2011 Padres, 2012 Blue Jays

47: 1998 Expos, 1999 Braves, 2003 Diamondbacks, 2003-04 Braves, 2010 Pirates, 2010 Cardinals

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