Top Prospect Jackson Holliday with the Baltimore Orioles; CC by License 2.0
It’s the most boring time of the year on the baseball calendar. The World Series ended a few weeks ago, free agency hasn’t kicked into high gear yet, and we are still five months away from opening day. In this lull, many baseball publications and reporters have turned their attention to prospects as the Arizona Fall League just wrapped up and we’re now able to analyze a full season of minor league talent. Here is a look at the top ten farm systems in my opinion. Farm system rankings tend to differ drastically from publication to publication as everyone prioritizes different things. For these rankings, I am analyzing both the depth of the system as well as the presence of star power.
10) Los Angeles Dodgers
Catcher Dalton Rushing was my 8th overall prospect on my 2022 draft board. He was drafted in the second round and as of right now, it’s looking like my projection was much more accurate. Rushing consistently has top-tier batted ball data and is the best prospect in the Dodgers system. The acquisition of Nick Frasso from Toronto at the 2022 deadline was hardly reported but Frasso has turned into a top-tier pitching prospect and has forced his way into the Dodgers’ long-term plans. Despite sliding down rankings, Diego Cartaya is still a valuable asset, as are power-hitting prospects Michael Busch and Andy Pages. Landon Knack broke out last season and is an exciting name to keep an eye on moving forward. Despite picking towards the end of the draft every year, they’ve done a remarkable job of keeping an above-average farm system.
9) Tampa Bay Rays
Would it be a top-ten list without the Tampa Bay Rays? As always, Tampa has a plethora of infield talent with Junior Caminero, Curtis Mead, Carson Williams, and Oselvis Basabe, all ranking as top 100 prospects, with Brayden Taylor not far behind. They’re weaker than usual on the pitching staff, but their elite pitching development should be able to produce some major league-capable arms. We all know how the Rays operate, and it’s likely that many of these prospects get flipped, but the constant depth that this organization has allowed Erik Neander to make trades without ever decimating the system.
8) New York Mets
The Mets won the 2023 trade deadline. With all due respect to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, two living legends and future hall-of-fame members, the Mets fleeced the Rangers and Astros while sending out their top two pitchers. New York acquired former first-round pick Drew Gilbert, underrated prospect Ryan Clifford, and Luisangel Acuna, a player with an immense ceiling. Jett Williams and Ronny Mauricio are both currently at shortstop but will have to shift to fit in the major league lineup with Francisco Lindor occupying that position. Kevin Parada is a talented catcher who should continue to move through the system quickly and Blade Tidwell is an impressive pitching prospect. The system isn’t quite among the best yet, but the Mets are loaded with young talent and have a system that could easily break out next season.
7) Washington Nationals
The Nationals were a tough group to rank because Dylan Crews and James Wood are both top-10 prospects, but the depth of this group leaves a lot to be desired. Crews and Wood both seem like can’t-miss prospects who will be valuable big-league assets sooner rather than later. Although outfielder Robert Hassell has fallen a bit in the rankings, he still presents a relatively high floor and should get a shot in the majors this year. Travis Sykora was one of my favorites in the 2023 draft as the 19-year-old pitcher has a wipeout slider to pair with a triple-digit fastball. Former first-rounder, Brady House is looked at favorably by most in Washington’s front office and figures to be a part of their long-term plans.
6) Pittsburgh Pirates
It turns out that losing a lot of games can actually lead to a better farm system. The Pirates currently have the best pitching depth of any minor league system. That strong group is, of course, headlined by 2023 first overall pick, Paul Skenes. In addition to Skenes, Quinn Prestier should be ready to contribute next year, as should the funky left-hander, Anthony Solometo. Campbell’s pitching factory product Thomas Harrington is developing well, as are Hunter Barco, Jared Jones, and Bubba Chandler. Pittsburgh’s major league squad flashed a better than expected offense last year and they should be aided by Termarr Johnson and Nick Gonzalez next season. The Pirates won’t make any splashes in free agency, but their internal talent could lead them to a much better season next year.
5) Boston Red Sox
Boston’s new general manager, Craig Breslow, landed the job due to the excellent work he’s done for the Cubs in scouting and player development. He should inject a spark into an already strong Boston farm. Marcelo Mayer is one of the best high ceiling/high floor combos in all of the minor leagues and will be a mainstay on the dirt for Boston for years to come. Toolsy outfielder Roman Anthony jumped up prospect rankings in 2023 and offers excellent defense with an exciting bat. Kyle Teel, a projected top-5 pick, fell all the way to 14 for the Red Sox and gives them a near MLB-ready catcher with an advanced approach. The system is weak on pitching, but that is where Breslow has excelled in the past. It will be interesting to see how Wikelman Gonzalez and Luis Perales, two high-upside pitchers, continue to develop on their road to Fenway. Nick Yorke has a 60-grade hit tool and is similar to Ceddanne Rafaela as a “safer” prospect. While the direction of the major league squad is in question, the farm is certainly on an upward trajectory.
4) Milwaukee Brewers
While the loss of Craig Counsell to their division rivals and the rumors of a partial rebuild might leave the Brewers faithful fans upset with the organization, the future still looks bright. The player development staff in Milwaukee has consistently done a wonderful job of turning under-the-radar pitchers into bona fide superstars (Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes), and lanky flamethrower Jacob Misiorowski appears to be next on the list. Jackson Chourio is in the upper echelon of all prospects at only 19 years old, and Jefferson Quero will pair with William Contreras to give the Crew a formidable catching duo. Power-hitting Wake Forest product, Brock Wilken is a candidate to move through the system quickly and could join fellow prospect, Tyler Black, in the Brewers infield by the end of the year.
3) Texas Rangers
It’s absurd that the reigning World Series champions could be a top 3 farm system, but the Rangers have managed to pull off this incredible feat. Evan Carter (yes, the same Evan Cater that hit 3rd in the WS) will be the odds-on favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year in 2024. His stiffest competition could come from within his own organization, with 2023 fourth overall pick Wyatt Langford scheduled to make an early debut due to his advanced plate approach. Sebastian Walcott, Justin Foscue, Brock Porter, and Owen White have all found their way onto various top 100 lists, and you can never discount former Vanderbilt superstar, Jack Leiter. The upper-level talent should help Texas on their quest to become the first back-to-back champions since the 1999-2000 Yankees.
2) Chicago Cubs
Jed Hoyer and company might have just created a new model of a rebuild. Hoyer faced significant backlash after tearing down the entire roster during the 2021 season. While Cubs fans may have lost some franchise legends, it appears a new core group is on the way. The Cubs netted Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, Alexander Canario, Kevin Alcantara, and Ben Brown through the tear-down trades, all of whom rank within their top ten organizational prospects. While Crow-Armstrong and Cade Horton offer top-tier upside, the depth of this system is the best in the entirety of the MLB. Top draft picks James Triantos, Jordan Wicks, Jackson Ferris, and Matt Shaw have all developed incredibly well through the Cubs’ system and their farm currently contains 15-20 players I could see making some kind of impact at the big-league level. Moises Ballesteros and Jefferson Rojas have also emerged as young, high-upside players. The Cubs will likely trade from this depth to acquire current MLB talent this offseason.
1) Baltimore Orioles
Although I just said that there’s a lot of variance in rankings, the Orioles should be the consensus number one farm system. Baltimore has been able to steadily integrate their minor league talent into their major league squad and top prospects proved valuable in their 101-win campaign. Jackson Holliday is the best prospect in the sport and figures to make his major league debut next summer, I named Samuel Basallo as as the biggest 2023 prospect riser in my last article, and Colton Cowser, Coby Mayo, Joey Ortiz, and Connor Norby all figure to contribute to Baltimore’s success next year. The organization is in good hands and is continuing to churn out superstars.
Farm system rankings do not always equate to major league success, but they usually provide a marker of organizational health. The Rays, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Orioles, Red Sox, and Brewers all rank within the top ten in the amount of people they have in their analytics department. As seen in many articles here at The Drummey Angle, analytics work. Teams that have embraced all of the new information that is available have seen it correlate to a stronger farm and a stronger future.